Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I don’t know who I am anymore, because the certainty is I’m not who I used to be! I have become a mother whose children look to stay far away from and a wife who has alienated her husband due to extreme acts of safety and worry for her family all in the name of love. I am afraid of losing my family and irreparably damaging the relationship with my children, especially my eighteen-year-old daughter with whom I had a very close bond because she was born with a minor disability. My husband and children were always at me for favoring her and for putting them after her needs but I tried to do whatever I could to compensate for her physical shortcoming.

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When Covid struck and we were all in lock-down for almost two years, I will admit I became neurotic about sanitizing everything, wearing masks even in the home and not allowing anyone out of the house even in the evenings. The two oldest kids were taking college courses via Zoom as were my ten, thirteen and sixteen year olds. My husband was working from home as well. Even with every precaution I took, washing laundry every day so they could change into fresh clothes each morning, washed and put on fresh bedding each night and installed air purifiers in every room of the house, my husband still managed to come down with Covid and I put him into a small room for fourteen days of solitary confinement’ as he called it, where I slipped food on paper plates with plastic utensils at his door each meal and didn’t allow him to speak with any of us except via cell phone. He hasn’t forgiven me for this treatment but I couldn’t risk having him infect anyone else. I watched over the kids like a hawk and if anyone tried to sneak out for air or break any of the house rules dealing with Covid protection, I would come down on them hard. But it was for their own good and the safety of everyone in the family. After all, people were dying and the disease was destroying so many lives.

But their resentment against me grew and then, when the government and states began easing up on the Covid restrictions of social-distancing and mask-wearing and opened up the schools for in-house learning, I still demanded that they keep learning via Zoom and that my husband continue to work from home. The arguments and fights were endless and wars were fought day and night. But the worst thing that happened is when the airports opened up and everyone could once again travel unhindered. My eldest daughter, who had attended seminary in Israel had managed to convince my now eighteen-year-old who has physical limitations (that have somewhat improved with therapy) to go to seminary after her graduation this June. They quietly consulted with my husband about this and he encouraged my daughter to apply and if accepted he would send out the check to cover the seminary expenses. I only found out about this when I received information from the seminary as to when the classes were to start, her travel information and what she would need to bring with her. I confronted my husband and yelled at him for going behind my back on this, knowing how I worried about this child. with the kids hearing the commotion and yelling back at me that I was smothering them with my ‘care and love’ and my husband telling me that I had become mentally unhinged and was causing everyone more health and mental anguish than Covid had and that I was the cause of angst and depression of nearly all the family members. They all agreed that I needed medical intervention and counseling to regain my former self. I stood frozen in place with shock after they all ganged up on me and hearing what they said, a great sadness and disbelief enveloped me.

Mrs. Bluth, am I really mentally unbalanced and delusional as they have painted me to be, all because I want to keep them safe and well? Is this how you repay a mother’s loving sacrifices for bending over backwards to do what’s right for them, to save them from harm? Please tell me how I can open their eyes so they can see I meant only for their own good. Am I really mentally ill and psychotic as to need professional help?

 

Dear Friend,

I feel your disappointment and pain upon being informed that all you have done for your family has gone unappreciated or adversely acknowledged. It must have been terribly painful for you to be accused of the very things you were trying to protect your family from, your hurt was palpable in every line of your letter. So please listen to my words to you with an open mind and gentle spirit and understand that although I understand your broken heart and sadness, I want to help you understand the people you love and what they were really trying to bring to your attention.

First of all, please allow me to explain that there is a great difference between ‘caring’ and ‘controlling.’ When we care about others, even though we see things one way, we also consider how others feel and we try to come to a middle road of compromise to reach a solution that will benefit, if not all, then most, so that everyone comes away reaping the best outcome. Control on the other hands, considers only what you feel, what you want and what you need to have, without any care at all with what it will do to others or how it will make them feel. Caring is good, healthy and brings about feelings of love, security and encouragement. Control, on the other hand, brings on misery, depression, arguments and ill-will. It is the polar opposite of caring and it fractures the family unit rather than unite it. Someone who is controlling very often is the last person to see him/herself in that light. He/she insists that it is only their choice or decision that is acceptable or correct for the well-being and success of others and anyone else’s thoughts on the matter are completely unacceptable. People who are controlling usually have been, in their childhood or young adulthood, the victims of controlling adults and thus normalize this behavior, incorporating it into their adulthood.

Are you beginning to see a certain pattern here? People with control issues are often good-intentioned, loving and caring people, as long as they aren’t challenged or disobeyed, but can be helped with professional guidance to correct and replace control issues with help and guidance provided in therapy.

It is obvious that you love your family and care deeply for their well-being but you do have obvious control issues that block your messages from getting through. A good therapist will help you collate the wants, needs and ideas of any and all the members of your family and allow you to HEAR what they have to say and then also allow you to inject your views and ideas in order to have a fruitful and interactive exchange that will lead to a beneficial outcome that will be acceptable and pleasing to all parties involved.

Your children and husband love you, but that love is stunted under your absolute rule of law in your home. Covid is over, open the windows and let fresh air in along with fresh ideas and considerations. Make an appointment to a therapist and see the changes that it will bring about in your relationships with your spouse and children. This is in no way to diminish you, it is good advise meant to help you to love yourself in a healthy way, so that your family can show you how important you are, how valued your opinions are and how loved you are.

About your husband, well, I really can’t fault him for having a hard time getting past his Covid experience, it did seem a bit harsh, but I’ll give you a pass on that one! Now go and make a call that will change your life for the better and your family will rally around you.

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