Reader Q & A: Missing a second mum

October 8, 2008 | By | Reply Continue Reading

QUESTION:

Hi Irene,

I have a much older friend than myself. She is old enough to be my Mum and I do think of her as a second Mum. We’ve been through a lot together, and she has fulfilled the gap of being my Mum. I have a family and husband myself but have not been close to my parents. That’s another story.

The problem is my friend has been distancing herself from me the last couple of months and I don’t really know why. She says she is busy with family and other commitments. I have asked if we could meet up for a face-to-face chat about our relationship but she always says she’s busy, however we have been corresponding via e-mail and now our e-mails have become ‘messy’ and I think I’ve become misunderstood in what I am trying to say.

I love her dearly and I miss our outings and phone calls. I don’t know what to do. I think I have really messed things up or maybe she feels that I’m too demanding. The thing is I don’t really know without speaking to her. I think she is trying to give me the brush off without hurting my feelings. I don’t want our friendship to end but if it is over I’ll have to move on and accept that. Do you have any advice you could give?

Thanks
Alice

ANSWER:

Hi Alice,

When it’s nearly impossible to make sense of a situation, it is usually because you are missing a piece of information. Similarly, in your case, you really don’t know what is going on, because your "Second Mum’ hasn’t been willing to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.

It could be that there are things going on in her life, completely unrelated to you, which are consuming her time or emotions. Or, as you suggest, it could be that you have become too needy or demanding, relying on her too much, and she wants some distance.

Whatever the reasons, it must be frustrating that you can’t talk openly with her on the phone or face-to-face, and as you’ve found, it’s very difficult to resolve emotionally charged topics by email.

Could you try writing a letter to her, snail mail, expressing how important the relationship has been to you in the past and how much you value it? You could tell her that you recognize that she wants more space and that you respect her feelings. Then you will have to wait and see what happens. Whatever the outcome, you will have taken an active (and gracious) step in trying to seek conciliation or resolution, and in expressing your love.

Then when you’ve done that, focus on other people and things in your life so that you aren’t completely focused on this loss, which may or may not be permanent.

Thanks for sharing your situation. I hope that it resolves in a way that brings you some closure.

My best,
Irene

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