Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

Mother's Day

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 24 March 2017
As Mother's Day approaches, not everyone will be happily celebrating. For those who have lost a mother, it can be a daunting day, especially if this is the first one without mum. The day may also bring mixed and complex feelings to women who have experienced the loss of a child, infertility or miscarriage. They may struggle to cope with the memories and emotions which this day triggers, and may feel very unsettled.

For those who need a little support at this time, I offer some guidance to help you get through...

The Loss of a Mother

If you have lost your mother, this day could prove to be overwhelming, so be gentle on yourself. Do something positive, and perhaps choose an activity that will connect you - be comforted by looking at photographs of her, revisiting places you know she loved, spraying some of her favourite perfume, or listening to significant pieces of music, to relive those special memories. You may find this upsetting at first, but it will allow you to feel her presence, and as time goes on, it could become your own ritual. To honour her memory, plant a living memorial in the form of a tree or rose bush. You may still want to buy a Mother's Day card, to celebrate this day in your own unique way. She may not be here - but is still very much your mum.

The Loss of a Child

The death of a child is a loss like no other. If you feel yourself struggling during this significant day, light a candle in their memory, which could make you feel especially close to your child at this time. You may feel anger, sadness, or guilt, because they died before you. These emotions are very common with grief - don't try to suppress them. No matter how long since your loss, if you are still suffering, consider joining a bereavement group which could help you to feel understood, and give you hope, that if others can survive their loss - so can you. In time your focus can hopefully shift away from your child's death towards remembering your child's life.

And celebrating the day....

If you are celebrating this Mother's Day with your family, relish and enjoy every single wonderful minute. If you are wanting to treat mum, try not to be influenced by the multitude of gifts on sale. Instead treat her to something far more worthwhile like breakfast in bed, an offer to clean the house or work through that pile of ironing. Perhaps bake her a cake, and get to enjoy some quality time with her. These gestures from the heart would, I'm sure, mean far more to her. And if you know anyone who may be reminded of a heart breaking loss on this day, perhaps help ease their pain by a small act of kindness, such as offering a card, flower, or words of encouragement, which could make a huge difference to the way they are feeling.

Life goes on, and we must embrace it. Hopefully there will be plenty to look forward to in the future, and, however you do, or don't, celebrate this occasion, I wish each and every one of you a very happy Mother's Day.

For additional help, advice and support, contact: Cruse Bereavement Care: 0844 477 9400 www.cruse.org.uk 
 
SANDS is a national charity which can offer support when your baby dies during pregnancy or after: 020 7436 5881 www.uk-sands.org 
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I hate the way I look

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 17 March 2017
Hello Patricia Marie,

I am writing to you because I don't know where to turn. I hate the way I look.

I have a dreadful birthmark across one side of my face and I feel like everybody stares at me and laughs, even though I try and turn away and never look directly at people as I can't stand the shock I see in their faces when they look at me.

I was born with this, and I know by now at the age of 41 I should have learnt how to deal with it, but I haven't. I have become so introverted, and hate ever going out, and at times feel suicidal. I don't have the money for cosmetic surgery, and make up doesn't seem to make much difference. I only have one close friend, and of course she tells me to take no notice and that I am lovely inside, but I just can't bear it.

Is there anything that you could suggest?

Thank you so much for reading my problem.

Patricia Marie says...

In a world obsessed by perfection, those living with face disfigurements often find this a struggle. One of the biggest problems people with birthmarks experience are psychological, including low self-esteem and crippling shyness.

It's all about how you choose to see yourself. Your friend means well when she says your lovely on the inside, however everyone is unique and beautiful on the outside too - although many have difficulty accepting themselves in this way. Nevertheless, there are those who feel their flaws define them and would feel neither the same or complete without their familiar blemish. I am wondering what is happening in your life at this present time for your imperfections to have become of such significance and problematic to you.

As you are feeling seriously depressed, I would suggest an urgent chat with your G.P, who could consider referring you to a cosmetic surgeon through the NHS. Nevertheless, whilst you feel surgery may be the answer for you, I would still recommend you consider all options before making such an important decision. Counselling would be particularly beneficial at this time, and most importantly, could help you learn to love yourself because of your uniqueness, and not in spite of it.

The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy have a directory where you can find a qualified registered therapist in your area. www.bacp.co.uk 01455 883300

The Birthmark Support Group is a brilliant organisation that offers support for anyone with a birthmark.info@birthmarksupportgroup.org.uk 07825 855 888
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I have a job that my mother-in-law doesn't approve of

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on Friday, 10 March 2017
Dear Patricia Marie

I have a job that my mother-in-law doesn't approve of. She never misses an opportunity to say I'm irresponsible, unethical and an embarrassment to her. But that doesn't stop her from coming to our house all the time and enjoying our hospitality.

Recently she was here for three weeks because her house was being redecorated as she was getting headaches from the smell of paint. She drove me crazy with her high-handed comments about my work. Now my wife wants her to join us on our spring holiday. She says it will be nice for the children to have granny around, and even though she agrees her mum can be interfering, for the sake of a quiet life she puts up with this.

I love my wife very much who is easily influenced by her mother, but why should I put up with the company of my mother-in-law who clearly doesn't respect me?

Thank you for reading my problem. I look forward to your reply.

Patricia Marie says...

I suspect your mother-in-law feels that she can get away with saying anything she likes because no one ever challenges her. Perhaps she does not see how intrusive she is being. To her it may just be she is showing caring behaviour and trying to help. She could be feeling vulnerable - scared she may not be wanted or needed, and by displaying authority allows her to feel she has some control.

It would be a good idea for you to meet up with your mother-in-law somewhere on neutral territory so you can level with her. Insist your job enables you to provide a home and fund holidays for your family, and is of no concern to her. Explain you are not happy with her constant criticism and recognise she seems very unhappy around you. This saddens you as you would like her to be at ease in your company. However, if her unacceptable behaviour continues, you will not be wanting her to visit as much. Once she realises her feelings are important to you, hopefully things will change for the better and you will enjoy each others company.

Your wife needs to understand the importance of you spending quality time alone with your family, otherwise it could create problems within your relationship. Albeit, you need to remember there are advantages to having your mother-in-law join you on your break. It means you and your wife can get to spend time alone together whilst your children are being looked after by their doting granny. Although your mother-in-law may have been taking your generosity for granted, it seems you may have been focusing on the negatives, therefore, not noticing the enormous help and support she must be bringing to your family. And remember, for all the things you find irritating about her - she raised the woman you fell in love with.
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My husband's driving is reckless

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 03 March 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My husband's driving is becoming driving increasingly alarming. We are both in our mid-60s and retired, and frequently travel to visit our son and his family some 50 miles away.

Trips with him at the wheel feel dangerous, with him ignoring speed limits and road signs, and crossing lanes with scant regard for other road users. He is terribly impatient and constantly swears loudly. After a car journey, I feel a nervous wreck, yet he seems to get pleasure out of upsetting me. I also worry when he is out driving on his own as he is often fiddling with the radio or adjusting his satellite navigation device. Any attempt to pass comment or discuss this simply meets with hostility, however I approach it.

What can I do?

Patricia Marie says...

Enraged drivers are so out-of-control that they endanger the life and health of their passengers, fellow motorists and pedestrians. Therefore, with your safety and those of others at issue, your husbands erratic driving is an extremely serious problem.

You need to sit down with him at home - don't leave it until you are in the car, and ask him directly about his unacceptable behaviour behind the wheel. Talking about his anger and loss of control, could well prove an outlet for your husbands feelings, rather than him suppressing them until they explode on the road.
How does he handle other difficulties in his life? People who display road rage often have many issues and if addressed could improve their aggression. It's unmanaged stress and emotions that cause bad driving. Could your husband be angry at you, and consciously or not, be using his driving to make a statement? He is failing to show you respect and it seems to me there may be problems within your relationship that need to be sorted. Whatever the reason, there is no excuse for his dangerous driving, and he needs to find new ways to manage his bad temper. I would urge him to make an appointment with his G.P. who can refer him for some anger management.

However, if he gets defensive, dismisses your fears or blames other road users for his attitude, I would make alternative travel arrangements. Just because your husband won't put your safety first, it doesn't mean you can't.
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I want my family back

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am writing as I need some advice on a terrible decision I think I have made. I am a 45 year old man. I had a lovely life, an excellent job, comfortable home and 3 adorable children along with a doting wife. However, I met a younger lady, and after seeing her clandestinely for some time, left everything for her. Six months on, the excitement of being with somebody new has worn off, and the grass is definitely not greener on the other side as some might say.

I have just ended the relationship with her and would do anything to have my old life back, but am so ashamed and embarrassed over the way I have treated my family. My wife refuses to answer my calls and ignores my texts. I no longer get to see her, as her mother drops the children to me when they come to stay. My sister-in-law contacted me recently to tell me my wife still loves me, but at the same time despises me for what I have done to her and our children.

With your professional guidance I am hoping that I can fix this and my family. Any advice would be highly appreciated.

Patricia Marie says...

The decision to leave your wife and children for another woman would almost certainly have had a huge effect on your family, and you cannot expect everything to fall back into place just because things haven't worked out for you. Wanting your wife to conform to your wishes so soon after the hurt you have caused her would be unreasonable.

The commendable thing is that you have not only recognised you were wrong, but have understood the consequences of your actions. Nevertheless, you are going to have to do a lot of hard work to convince your wife to consider taking you back. I would suggest you initially write her a letter, which she would be able to digest in her own time. Explain that you do not want to put any pressure on her at all, but would love to meet up to tell her in person how very sorry you are for the hurt you have caused. Hopefully you can give some consolation to your wife by accepting and owning your share of the blame, and most importantly, whatever the outcome, be able to continue a positive relationship with your children.

A major concern and something you need to ask yourself is - why did you feel the need to walk away in the first place? Clearly something wasn't right between you and your wife, and this needs to be addressed before any thoughts of a reconciliation, otherwise, you could end up in the same situation as before. Perhaps before any decisions are made, you could both benefit from attending Relate, as having professional help would enable you to explore any issues that contributed to the breakdown of your relationship. It is very sad, but sometimes we search long and hard for something that we fail to see we already have.

Relate.org.uk
 0300 100 1234
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