Dear Annie: I have an abusive mother, and for many years I put myself in her path. Any time I opened up to someone about her behavior, I heard, “But she’s your mum,” or “She means well,” or “You only have one mother,” much like the letter writer “Chosen Family.”
All that did was to cement my mother’s accusation of my nastiness.
I do know why she is the way she is. My grandfather was a horrible man who was very uninterested in a daughter. But I also learned about narcissists (her) and how they use scapegoats (me).
I understand it is not me. But just because I understand doesn’t mean I will put myself in a situation where I could be abused again. And, more importantly, I will not allow my daughter to be subjected to the same judgment I have heard her spout about my nieces. I will not allow this toxicity to hurt another generation.
As for all those who are lucky enough to not understand, I look them in the eye and unashamedly tell them that my mother is a nasty woman and I don’t see her.
Just because she’s my mum doesn’t mean much.
— Staying Away
Dear Staying Away: I am sorry that you didn’t have a mom who was as loving, accepting and nurturing as you deserved. Sadly, you are correct that not everyone gets a good mother. Your awareness about why your mother treated you the way she did is commendable.
The next step would be to see your mom as a victim of abuse from her father, and then, with time, you can forgive her for the way she treated you. Forgive her, not for her sake, but for yours. Holding onto that anger for years can be toxic to you and your daughter. Thank you for sharing your story.
Dear Annie: I am reacting to “Kitchen Confidential” and the problem with her boyfriend who doesn’t eat a healthy diet.
He has no history of proper meals, and she really can’t expect him to suddenly change. In order to learn, and to spend fun time as a couple, I suggest they take cooking lessons together. She said they are now living in a larger city, so there are likely to be several options available.
Not only will he — and she — learn good cooking and eating options, but they will also have a great time.
— Love to Cook
Dear Love to Cook: Cooking classes are a great idea! They could be a fun and healthy activity for the couple to do together. Thank you.
Dear Annie: Your sage advice to “Helpless and Powerless,” who is frustrated because ever expanding technology has made modern life more complicated, was on the mark.
You offered understanding for his feeling of being powerless, and you showed him a way out by informing him that “you do have the power to change your perspective.” That reminded me of an Alexander Pope quote I learned from my fourth-grade teacher: “Be not the first by which the new is tried; nor the last to lay the old aside.”
— Wise Words
Dear Wise Words: Thank you very much for your kind words. Your fourth-grade teacher sounds like a very astute person.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.