Dear Therapist Within:
My mom has always been there for me in the past but now she is stealing money from everybody including me. She cheated on my dad and she is in a relationship with another man. She led a double life for almost a year and was lying to both men, lying to my father that she wasn’t seeing another man and lying to her boyfriend that she divorced my dad. She lies and has stolen over $100,000 from different people.
Not long ago, the cat was out of the bag: everybody found out everything. She has been changing and paying everybody back and my dad moved to Iowa. But recently she started lying to my dad again saying she isn’t seeing anybody and is only keeping connections with him because of his money. I recently moved out because she stole $2,000 dollars from me, my school money. Will she ever change? Will I be able to trust her again? Does she need help?
ANSWER: I sure wish I could give you good news on this, but I can’t. Does your mother need help? Of course she does, but does she WANT help? That is the 1 million dollar question. Someone who is a professional needs to help her unravel the emotions behind her lying and stealing – is she doing drugs? Is she “addicted” to this guy? Has she ever demonstrated this behavior before? Until she recognizes the dysfunction and wants help there is little you can do. Some possibilities are the following:
Tell her that unless she starts telling your father the truth, you will. Then do it. Don’t be her confidant, don’t allow her to suck you into her deception. Make sure she is responsible for her behavior.
I don’t know if anyone has filed charges against her for theft, but someone ought to consider it – at the very least, tell her that unless she gets serious professional help, they will have her arrested. It seems to me that she is motivated to change if there is a price to pay, but as soon as it gets easy for her to get away with more lies, she does it.
Will you ever be able to trust her again? Perhaps in time, but you will need to see proof that she has changed – over not just weeks or months, but years. You will also need to know – and she will be the person who must let you know – that she truly understands how much harm she did to people, and be deeply sorry. You must be able to feel to the depths of your soul that she has truly changed – and only time will tell you if you are right. MORE