Dear Annie: My mother passed away earlier this year. I’m sad to say that I did not like her. She was never nice to me. I was having a hard time in my life and for a while didn’t talk to anyone. My mother would say mean things to me like, “Your father wants to take you out of the will,” along with her favorite line: “I hate you!” She said that to me so many times over the years; it killed my self-esteem. Since she died, I’ve been curious about reconnecting with my dad. But I have no idea what he thinks of me. Maybe he hates me, too. I’m afraid to ask. What should I do? — Confused About Family
Dear Confused: I absolutely think that you should try reconnecting with your dad. But first, I’d encourage you to seek some professional counseling. A therapist can provide guidance and emotional support as you take this step. They can also help you process the years of emotional abuse that your mother inflicted on you. Visit https://www.psychologytoday.com and select “Find a Therapist” for a database of mental health care providers who are in your area or available for tele-appointments. Talkspace and BetterHelp offer online therapy appointments. For more affordable options, visit https://www.openpathcollective.org, which offers a database of therapists willing to offer sliding-scale rates for those who need it.
I am so sorry that your mother treated you so abhorrently. She must have not been well mentally to say such things to anyone, let alone her own child. That’s not to excuse her behavior, just to remind you that it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with her. Please reach out for help to begin the healing you so need and deserve.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Still Hurting,” who had a verbally abusive stepmom during her teenage years, thinking I could have written that myself. When I was 8 years old, my dad married a woman who had four kids. She treated me like dirt, but never in front of him, and lied about it when I tried to tell him. I, too, felt like Cinderella. I was fortunate that when they split up, he finally saw her for what she was, and he did apologize, without my needing to ask. I hope, for her sake, she can learn to forgive her dad anyway. My dad died at 54 years old, and I’m so happy we got to spend what time we had without the wicked witch coming between us. — Been There
Dear Been There: Thanks for speaking from the other side of this experience. It’s wonderful that you had that time with your father before he died so young. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I’m sure you still miss him every day.