Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm really freaked out right now cause my friend has a lot of issues with her parents (issues being them verbally abusing her) and she e-mailed me saying she wants to kill herself. I am really, really scared. I don't want to tell anyone cause I don't want her to freak out but I don't want my friend to get hurt. I'm really scared. What should I do?

Dear Scared,
I URGE you to tell someone. It is the only way to help your friend. Go to your school counselor today. He/she will have experience with this issue and know how to help.

Also, this number (215) 831 6300 is the Friends Hospital Crisis hotline.

Give it to your friend and have her call if you think she might. You can offer to call with her so she knows she has your support. If you think you can go to your parents for help, perhaps one of them can take her to the crisis center. There are five centers in the Philadelphia area.

If you aren't able to do any of these, get back to me and I'll have more ideas.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hi Truth Teller~

I am visiting your site from the link on Angie Ledbetter's Gumbo Writer blog!

I have a question about how to handle a problem my husband and I are having with good friends. We've been friends w/this couple since we moved to Ohio almost 3 years ago. We do a lot w/them socially and they have a daughter who is the same age as our oldest daughter (11) and the girls had been friends up until the beginning of this school year (5th grade). That's when things started to go south. Their daughter, "B", started being mean to our daughter, "H". B began hanging out w/another group of girls that really didn't like H. B is condescending to H, she ignores her, rolls her eyes when H says something, etc. My friend, B's mom, and I discussed the trouble w/the girls, sat them down and had a talk w/them about their feelings, etc., but the girls have since drifted apart. It's made things a little weird and strained between me and B's mom, especially, even though we still do a lot together socially.

My friend has made a number of unsettling and sarcastic comments about different things over the past few months. I'm thinking it's because of the girls' relationship and the fact that our daughter no longer seeks "play" time with their daughter. Our daughters don't eat lunch or play together at recess like they once did. The relationship has become uncomfortable for me and my husband and I don't know how to handle it. The man and woman are a nice couple--sweet, caring, fun, they go to church, they have a lot of the same family values we have. We do have a lot in common with them and we've enjoyed their company over the past few years. But my friend's comments are getting harder to tolerate and we don't want to continue bemoaning the issues between our daughters--especially because my friend defends her daughter's actions all the time. I'm simplifying here, but in the past when I've said to my friend, "H said B was mean to her today" my friend will respond with, "Well, B tells a different story and B thinks H is mean to her." Ugh. I realize there are two different sides to every story, but my friend has never said B came home crying from school because H was mean to her, or B hasn't been sleeping because H is mean, etc. My daughter has chosen to separate from B. She no longer wants to hang out w/her and play with her after school or on weekends. We're fine with this as we think H seems happier now.

So how to handle our friends, B's parents? We have a dinner date w/them this evening and we're not looking forward to it. We'll have to listen to my friend's comments and we'll have to listen to her go on and on about how wonderful B is when we've seen a completely different side of their "angel." What would you do in this situation? It's sad that the girls have gone their separate ways, but can we, as the parents of these girls, still have a good relationship?

Thanks so much for any help/insight you have to offer.

Dear Mom,

Yes, this is a sticky wicket. You've definitely got a case of "Mama-bear syndrome" and for good reason.

Once, when I was young, I overheard a conversation between my mom and an older, African-American woman. They were discussing how someone had wronged one of her children and she said to my mother, "You can pretty much do anything you want to me, but don't F___ with my baby!". I was initially shocked by the language of this very genteel woman. But the real reason it stuck with me was because of its utter and complete truth.

It doesn't matter whether it is another child her own age--your daughter has been hurt and you are compelled to protect. Since B's mother doesn't share your concern, everything she says is rubbing you the wrong way. Having said this, I believe it still may be possible for your relationship with this other couple to survive--but it will need some transition time.

For now, I would only see the couple when it is effortless--when neighbors or other friends are getting together in a larger group, but don't try to hard to maintain the relationship as it was once. It sounds like, although you had lots in common, it was also based in part upon the girls, and that part is no longer. As your daughter's each find their way into middle school, they will naturally gravitate to others, and possibly even back together again.

When the feelings are less raw, you may find yourselves in a better place to pick up the friendship, but in the meantime, let it drift and take its natural course. If B's mom keeps trying to get together, just be busy with other plans--and try not to feel guilty about taking a time out. You need it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dear Truth Teller,

I'm a 46-year-old woman, married, two beautiful, well-adjusted, engaging, teenagers, that are both good students, involved in great activities, and have friends I couldn't have chosen better myself. I have a lovely home, and an exciting in-home business that I run with my husband - who, by the way, adores me.

So what's my problem?

I feel like I'm not living up to my potential.

Although things are on an even keel now, I don't have a sense of well-being. Is it the traumas from the past that haunt my future - and this family has had their fair share - is it the tapes that play in my head, old recordings of voices that aren't mine (probably my dad's) that I'm allowing to drown out my higher self?

Is it ego?

Is it all the recent, and hard fought attempts to break my ego, that is generating this ultimate "final exam?"

Tell me, Truth Teller, how do I let go of this sense of not enough?

Full Life in Philly, But Struggling with Lost Potential

Dear Struggling,

I have a sense it may be a combination of all of the above. We all have tapes in our heads whose time has come and gone and it's definitely time for your tapes to be gone. Both your "trauma response" as well as your dad's pressures may run deep. Try to unhook both of them by replacing them with something new.

I want to ask you to try an experiment. Every time you feel the anxiety of "not enough" rising up in your chest, say these words to yourself, "All that I have is all that I need". You have to trick yourself into a new view. Keep doing this until you really believe it. It may take a while, but be patient.

Your attempts to break your ego are steps in the right direction. Your realization that any time we compare ourselves to others, it's an ego response, rather than a "true you" response, the ego lessens. It would be wonderful if this were just a big test. Try to look at it that way. I've heard it said we are either either going into a trial, in a trial, or coming out of a trial pretty much all the time until we become enlightened. So, perhaps you are now coming out of a big trial, but still a bit shaken.

Please use your new mantra for 30 days and let me know if you get results. TT
I am remiss...in not extending my thanks to you for you comments and advice from

This situation is still "going" believe it or not! I think as of last night
this is where things are:

The insurance company offer is actually more financially attractive than
last time.
I did negotiate a very small amount of flexibility into the job but they are
not willing
to have me less than full time for the time being...bummer, however...
What I did get is M, W and every other T an 8-4:30 (rather than 8:30-5)
schedule so that I can still get my 10 year
old to Tae Kwon Do MYSELF (some people would be relieved to hand this trip
off to others, I am not
one of them.)
I was able to enlist one of his classmates and Scouts moms to drop him at
home after school each day
as they live in our neighborhood. She was amazingly nice about it and
wouldn't even take gas money. He will have a key and let himself in each
day but even on the days I work until 5PM he will only be there alone for
about an hour and a half or so (he gets home from school at 3:30)--just
enough time
to let the dog out and play with him, get a snack and get his homework done.

My current employer truly wants to keep me but simply cannot pay me more or
offer benefits, particularly with the recession. We have had several long
very mature conversations and she wants to keep me on as a paid consultant
(either on a monthly retainer or paid hourly) to her company.
This would involve some weekends and evenings but I will be working on
bigger long range projects that I enjoy and have already laid out and have a
passionate vision for. I will remain connected to her and the company for
as long as we both need and want the relationship, with the caveat that if
we totally take off she intends to "steal me back" from the insurance
company! (While this seems a bit fantastic I have seen amazing things
happen when she is involved which is why I love her so and love working with

So...I will be very busy but still involved in my son's life--at first I
balked at the afternoon "latch key" thing but he is excited about the new
big kid responsibility and thrilled to death to have his own key! I still
get to take him to both of his activities (scouts starts later in the pm so
isn't a conflict and TKD works with the negotiated schdule mentioned above)
so I don't feel like an absentee mom. AND I will have a nice new salary that
actually pays the bills... and probably more side work than I could ever
want from the consulting firm---I may be able to actually get new carpet in
my house before my son's college graduation!

Thank you for your advice~I felt very stuck and trapped and scared. It is
difficult to see alternatives when you get mired down in the either/or
scenario. This outcome is not the picture that I imagined but it will
work...and it isn't awful by any means... and that is all I can do...the
best I can do... for TODAY. And, also my attitude about all of it is what I
CAN control ie I can choose to be enthsiastic and embrace this and consider
it a blessing and give my best self to it (or not). Yes, I am having to
"give up" picking my son up every day from school but what I am getting
isn't really too far off from that and the burden of my financial concerns
will be relieved. I think so much of acceptance and flexibility has to do
with letting go...I had to let go of what my internal picture was of being
there for my son. I still will be. It will be ok.

PS I don't know if you are a man or a woman but I suspect that you are a
woman. Let me just say that one of the great tragedies of my life was that
I was never close to my mother. In my entire upbringing I never once heard
her tell me "I love you". I know that I am resilient as a result, but I
really could have used a mentor at many points (now even!) in my life.
People need wisdom and guidance and people they can process things with as
they navigate life. I am not sure why you are motivated to maintain this
blog but I appreciate it...I think there are a lot of people out there just
like me. Thanks for meeting a need.

Please let me first say you are not at all remiss. I am not doing this for any reason other than for the benefits I get from it...you know the saying "we all teach what we need to learn", therefore, I believe if I help anyone at all, I am helping myself.

I am thrilled by the way this is playing out. Most importantly because of your attitude about it. Your son will most definitely continue to thrive with your choice to have both financial security and consulting work that energizes you. I bet you'll also see him "rise to the occasion" with a new level of responsibility and maturity--an added bonus.

PS You are so right--we all need people to help us process and navigate. It takes courage to reach out and ask for it. You certainly aren't lacking in courage--and you are very welcome.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I see crosses everywhere - I have going on 4 years. Usually just before sleep. They are not crucifixes - I'm not a "recovering" catholic - just grew up episcopalian. I love what I believe is Jesus's message. Love Period. I'm not really struggling with anything but would love to get your perspective. Thank you in advance.

Dear Seeker
I believe this means you are blessed--and it's a sign telling you that you are on the right path. From what I've learned, crosses symbolize the horizontal path of our everyday life, coupled with the vertical soul--the essence of who we are that lives on. (Maybe you should've been a Catholic!--TT IS a recovering Catholic)

Monday, February 2, 2009

My parents are getting divorced and my dad who hasn't smoked in years smoked today. Im so mad at him i cant even stand the sight of him, What do i do?!??!

Arrgghh! I'm sure you are beyond frustrated. It is horrible to watch someone you love do something harmful to themselves.

As soon as possible, ask him for some time alone where you won't be interrupted. Then, voice your concern in a thoughtful, concerned manner, not accusatory. Remind yourself that people tend to revert to old behaviors when under stress. It doesn't mean he has started up for the rest of his life. Hopefully, it may just be a temporary reaction.

By letting him know you understand he is under stress, and you can appreciate what he is going through, he will be more likely to be able to "hear" you. Then, ask him to stop. Directly.

You also may be harboring some other angry feelings toward your dad related to the divorce. If you aren't in counseling already, it may be something to consider. This is a rough time for everyone in your family, and a good therapist can be invaluable. If you need the name of a good one, please let me know.