Trauma Following Mother’s Death
My childhood was pretty rocky; there was lots of moving around, my father was involved in dangerous illegal operations that often put us in traumatizing situations, so once my mother passed it felt like a lot of emotions I had tried really hard to let go of and control came spilling over into my life again. After she died I felt like a very critical part of me died with her. I have a hard time distinguishing friends from foes. I used to be very empathetic but now I feel really detached emotionally from people. I feel like I have a harder time reading them. This has added to my mistrust of people. Recently, I was upset at my boyfriends sister because she blew me off while I was trying to tell her something. She later told me she was sorry and that she was just grumpy from the morning. Later that day I discovered texts between my bf and her talking behind my back. It hurt me deeply because I thought the apology was sincere and now I feel my feelings are disregarded and I can’t go back and talk to him about that.
We have been together for 6 years. I usually get a long fine with his family, but reading those texts just completely threw me off. I could not stop crying that night. I felt like my fears were validated; I could not trust anyone. Another part of me felt sad that I lacked a relationship like the one my bf had with his sister, unconditional. It makes me want to move out because I know I lost that type of love when my mom died and losing touch with people I care about, people who feel like family, sends a rush of complicated and painful emotions into my system. I live with my bf and his sister. It bothers me that this has affected me to this point. We have a great relationship but this hurts so much and if he has failed to understand where I was coming from before, he won’t get it now. I don’t know what to do. How can I be an effective person when I analyze everything like this? What is wrong with me?
A. The death of a parent is a monumentally difficult life experience. It’s not something that people simply “get over.”
After the loss of your mother, you began to detach emotionally and mistrust people. It was traumatic for you. The lingering effects of that trauma remains an issue.
Your main inquiry involves an issue with your boyfriend’s sister. You feel as though she betrayed you. You did not include details about what the text messages said. Without that information, I cannot determine if you are appropriately reacting to what she wrote.
Miscommunication is a very common occurrence. Even under the best of circumstances, communication is extremely difficult. You might think that you know what she said but you can’t be certain that she properly communicated the intent of her message.
It’s also important to note that texting is a poor form of communication. Texting essentially is a short-form version of communication. When people are texting, they’re typing in words very quickly. They do not have time to fully contemplate what they are communicating.
With texting there’s also the issue of auto-correction. Auto-correction is supposed to make texting easier and quicker. Someone may choose to use an auto-corrected word rather than type out, in long form, precisely what they wanted to say. In essence, auto-correction weakens communication.
Even if she said what she wanted to say, perfectly, her words are being interpreted by you. You may be making assumptions about what you think she wanted to say. You’ve been struggling with issues of mistrust since the death of your mother and it may be impacting your interpretation of what she wrote.
Before you decide to move out of your home, it’s important that you speak to your boyfriend and his sister about the texts. Be honest about how they made you feel and give them an opportunity to explain. It might be a matter miscommunication, simply a big misunderstanding but you won’t know if you don’t ask. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Randle, K. (2013). Trauma Following Mother’s Death. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/11/26/trauma-following-mothers-death/