Why can’t she be my mom?

A letter writer really, really misses a coworker who left her job.

Can our elder help her?

Dear EWC

I’ve grown attached to my coworker. She’s 53 and I’m 26, but when we’re together, we forget that there’s such a big age difference between us. We share many similarities, interests, and hobbies. Every day during our 30-minute lunch break, we go out for a power walk. I look forward to these walks because it’s a time for us to talk about whatever is on our minds. We share secrets, gossip, and important matters. Since she is so much older than me, she gives me the best advice on family matters, relationships, and general issues. I have never met someone as selfless, motherly, and friendly as she is — and I desperately wish she were my mother. My biological mother and I don’t get along, and since she remarried, she has been very distant and cold towards me. Hearing how much my coworker does for her children (who happen to be around my age) has made me realize how little my own mother has done for me.

Recently, my coworker confided in me that she was going to leave for one month to recover from arthritis surgery. I was torn, but kept a straight face and wished her the speediest of recoveries. It’s now been two months, and I’ve received notice that she won’t be returning due to permanent restrictions that impede her from performing her job. I’ve been awfully depressed since she left, and now with the news that she won’t be coming back, I just don’t know what to do. She is all that I think about, and I cry all the time because of how much I miss her. My walks are lonely, and I have even more spite towards my own mother now. I hate this obsessive feeling! It’s time to move on, but I just don’t know how. What advice do you have for me?

Lawry replies

I would be happy to answer your letter. I can understand that you would feel sad that this good friend and colleague is no longer around. However, I don’t think that means you can’t continue your friendship with her. I would imagine that she misses you, too.

If you were both working at the same place I am guessing you both live relatively close to each other. What is to prevent you from calling her and asking if you couldn’t visit her while she is recuperating? Then you can take it from there. You can perhaps take her out for a ride in the car so she has a change of scenery from her home.

You can tell how you feel about her, how you feel about your mother and that you wish she were your mother. At some point, if you continue to grow closer, you might even ask her if she would be your substitute mother.

In regard to feeling sad, I have a suggestion of something I have been doing recently and that is keeping a gratitude diary. I write in it every night before I go to bed. I list three things that I am grateful for that day. It helps to go to bed thinking of positives and forces you to think of the good in your life. Today, for instance, I will probably write down that I am grateful for the student that was in a seemingly endless line of cars going into the high school. She stopped her car so my car could cross the road in front of hers. I might also be thankful for my husband preparing a wonderful dinner and washing the things he used in preparing the meal. You get the idea.

If you find that doing these things still leaves you angry about your mother, I would suggest that you consider consulting a therapist. You can enter online free therapy on the Internet for a start. If that doesn’t help, your primary care doctor could give you the name of a therapist. I did that some years ago when I was dealing with some issues and it was the best thing I ever did.

I hope that this has been helpful to you, and I wish you a great deal of luck as you move forward with your life.  I truly believe things will work out. Be good to yourself. Think positive. I am a great believer in that.

I would love to hear how things work out.

Letter #: 401937
Category: Friendship

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