Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fanny Mail: A Problem At Home

This morning I received an email from a young woman in Los Angeles who is having trouble communicating with her mother. She writes: “My mother often insults me, but I find it difficult to respond to her, because she takes on the pretend voice of our bird, Cheeky. So when I respond, I have to respond to Cheeky and not my mother. The problem is I’m not at all upset with Cheeky and have no wish to yell at her. I fear that raising my voice might alarm or even harm the poor old bird. Though there have been times when, I’m sad to admit, I’ve thought about killing Cheeky in order to force my mother to talk directly to me. After all, it seems Cheeky says some very hurtful things. And even afterwards, when my mother is calm, if I try to bring it up to her, she still insists it was the bird talking and not her.  She refuses to engage in any sort of meaningful conversation about the argument. Thus nothing is resolved, and I find the argument repeating fairly regularly. It reached a horrible new level on Christmas, with Cheeky using offensive language she’d never used before. The whole thing left me in tears, but did not affect my mother at all, as she maintains this is a problem between me and Cheeky. I’m just not sure I can take it anymore. What should I do?”

Well, Sweetie, I think your instincts might have been correct. Just kill the bird. That will force your mother to use her normal voice when insulting you. Then you can respond to her directly. And to keep her from replacing the bird, tell her that Cheeky escaped and will likely return at some point in the future.

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