Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
My mom has been divorced for about 2 years now. At first, she was pretty bummed, because my father left her for a much hotter and younger chick (I’d call her a woman, but I’m not sure she’s old enough.) At any rate, after about a year of moping and antidepressants, she finally found some guy who is interested in her. He seemed OK, but who knows.
Anyway, here’s the problem. She is getting really insecure about holding on to this guy- dressing in revealing clothes, wearing heels (she NEVER wore heels before) and she seems lit every time she comes home. I feel like she’s trying too hard and it’s all because of the lame brain stunt my dad pulled. When they were together, and she thought he loved her, she didn’t dress like this.
I think she’s headed for trouble and the guy seems to take a little bit longer to call her back every time. Her necklines get lower and she looks more messed up every time she comes home. She won’t listen to me because I’m “only 16, what do you know?” I don’t want to just watch this happen but what can I do? She doesn’t have any close friends I can ask to help. Her only family is a brother who disappeared and who knows where he is.
What am I supposed to do? This is messing with my head.
People tend to keep repeating the same mistakes in different ways. Your mom’s self esteem is wrapped up in how she feels others view her. She needs to be needed. She probably did too much for your dad and now in a different way she is doing too much for this new guy. Unfortunately, she can’t buy love. The more she tries to hold onto him the less he knows who she is or values her.
I’m guessing he’s a goner but there is nothing you can do. She will realize it eventually. If you want to do something to help I suggest you get the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Write down passages from it and leave them around the house. Sign each one “I love you.” Some day it might sink in.
Regardless, you can learn from her mistakes. I also suggest that you not blame your dad. He didn’t make your mom codependent, she came preprogrammed. Codependents find partners who allow them to do too much for them so they become invisible as an individual. Couples such as these lack communication and true appreciation of each other, making partners easy to throw away. Age and looks aren’t the real factors, but I don’t think your mom knows that.
It’s not all your mom’s fault either. Our culture is so superfluous that it takes many crashed relationships before anyone starts asking the important questions and grows beyond it.
Real life has growing pains,
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: my heart always goes out to children who have to watch their parents do foolish or destructive things. It is a thankless position. Parents are supposed to be role models. What if you know what they are doing is wrong?
My own mother had some serious and damaging flaws, chain smoking and psychotic episodes of claustrophobia among them. From the time I was in 4th grade, I knew what she was doing to her lungs. I took to leaving little notes around the house citing the reality of the damage she was doing to herself. I told her I loved her in every note. All it did was irritate the crap out of her. She was so insecure that she took everything as criticism and blame, even love.
Your mother is giving you an excellent example of how not to live your life. In a way, it is nearly more educational than having a good role model. You don’t have to guess at what dysfunctional coping methods are, and at an early age you can learn to avoid them.
Your mother will not change because you need her to. Find some better role models to guide you along your path, and try to be understanding of what your mom is going through. Maybe your reactions can be a role model for her. Acting on your beliefs speaks louder than words.