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11 Feb 2004

Unhappy friend
Hi Doc and Readers,

Does anyone have any advice I can give my friend. First a bit of background. She was in an abusive marriage and had 2 kids from that marriage. Her husband died when the kids were still young, and she got married again - this time to an unfaithful husband. In this marriage, she had a bay, that drowned in the swimming pool before it was even a year old, and another child, a boy. She got divorced when the youngest one was just starting school, the middle child was in matric, and the eldest had just gotten married. She's been in an unhappy relationship for 7 years. She says that if he left, she would not be able to afford accommodation as her boyfriend pays the rent. Her ex-husband pays minimum child support, and she's had many court hearings to get money that he owes her - he does not even pay school fees! She says he never phones his son on birthdays or Christmas, does not even give him gifts or money. She had a fight with her boyfriend and gave him an ultimatum - that either he treats her like his girlfriend, or they end it now...this happened on sunday, and he hasn't spoken to her since. She's incredibly stressed out that she will get home to find that he's left, leaving her with the worries of finding a new place to live. Her daughter, the eldest child is 6 months pregnant and in an abusive marriage, staying together for the sake of the children. The middle child has seemingly forgotten about his mother and only calls her when he wants something. To add to the stress, the youngest now wants to contact his father and confront him as to why he wants nothing to do with him. She's petrified that he's going to twist the story and say that she kept him away from him. She's like a mother to me, and it's upsetting to see her crying and all stressed out like this. I've told her to go and see a psychologist, but she said that she's worried about what people will think of her then. I told her that there's absolutely nothing wrong with seeing one, and that if she holds everything in like she's doing now, she's going to crack. She's also said that she won't be able to afford seeing one... Is there anything I can say or do to comfort her? She's like a mother to me, and I would really like to help her.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

wth,
With all the problems she has been and is facing, she hardly needs to worry that anyone will think any the less of her for seeing a shrink or other counsellor ! As she's a repeated victim of abuse and neglect, she could try calling a group like POWa fo practical advice in specific local terms. She mustn'y take all her childens problems onto herself as if they were her own --- if a daughter now adult has got involved with an abusive man, she needs to get that daughter to call POWA or some similar group asap, and get their help to sort out her own problems, rather than letting it all just distress Mom. With the middle child who only calls when he wants something ? Mext time he does that, invite him to just carry on wanting it, but to think about how he might help his mom, for a change. As for the youngest who wants to confront his father --- let him go ahead, and simply talk with him ahead of such a confrontation, telling him the truth about what has happened, and how his "father" might try to twist things.
Also, apart from POWA, she could check out the local Lifeline number, and get their advice on the best source of free or nearly free counselling near where she is.
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