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

I can't afford Christmas presents

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 27 November 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,
 
My grandchildren always expect big expensive Christmas presents from me, but this year I just don't have the money to spend like I used to. I can't even afford to buy my daughter and son-in-law a gift.
 
I haven't told my daughter this, but I'm dreading Christmas Day because my son-in-law's parents are going to be there and I know they're very wealthy.  I can't bear the idea that my grandchildren are going to be disappointed by my presents or that they'll start to see me as the poor relation.  What do you suggest?

Patricia Marie says...

For most people who can't afford Christmas presents, the situation can create feelings of worry, disappointment and stress. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty - you are not obliged to celebrate Christmas by someone else's standards.

Don't be too proud to admit to your daughter you're having a tough time. Simply be honest and ask her to suggest something reasonably priced that the children would really like. Even a nice book linked to their favourite character would thrill them.

Children love looking at photographs, so perhaps you could make them their very own album, to include past and present family, which will give them great pleasure, and provide much enjoyment for the whole family.

With regards to your daughter and son-in-law, you could consider sending personal gift vouchers to include anything from an offer of two hours' ironing, to a day of spring cleaning or an overnight stay of babysitting - treats which I am sure will be very well received. This will also highlight the fact that the best gifts do not have to have monetary value.

As for trying to compete with your son-in-law's wealthier parents, do not  waste another moment worrying about that. Grandchildren love their grandparents in their many varied forms, indeed it is the most special relationship.
The true meaning of Christmas runs far deeper than a present could ever represent. Spend quality time with your grandchildren, give your daughter a helping hand with the extra work Christmas brings and remind everyone that Christmas is about love, not spending power.

That's what your grandchildren will remember in years to come - not some present, however lavish.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.



In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I am having an affair with my best friend's husband

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 20 November 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,
 
I have done something unforgivable and I feel so bad about it. I am having an affair with my best friend's husband.
 
It started in April and I want to finish it, but he is my soul mate. He says he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but I can't stand the worry of my friend finding out. I know she would be devastated if she knew, but I just cant help myself.  I have been on my own for a year or so, and the three of sometimes go out together.  I knew he was keen on me, but it was me who instigated the affair.
 
I love him so very much. Should I just carry on seeing him and act like nothing is happening, or should I tell my friend and ruin our friendship?

Patricia Marie says...

Women do tend to believe they are in love when they have an affair.  Men can be more opportunistic, but women need to feel more emotionally engaged - and the effect can be devastating.

You say this man is your soul mate, but the reality is what sort of man has an affair with his wife's best friend? If he means what he says about wanting to spend the rest of his life with you, why have you not run off into the sunset together?

Many mistresses wait forever for their lovers to leave their wives, and when forever never comes, they are left heartbroken. How do you know your not just a bit of escapism for him - just a bit of fun?  It may not be the first time he's had an affair and promised his mistress the world.

If your friend did find out about the affair, there's every chance your lover would go running back to his wife, and you'd be left with nothing. I urge you to find the strength to end this relationship before this situation becomes destructive. Consider shifting your energy into finding your very own man, rather than waste your time on somebody else's. We can't help who we fall in love with, but everyone is worth more than being someone's mistress.

However, if you two are genuinely in love, then he should do the decent thing and tell his wife, who deserves to know her husband has cheated on her and her best friend has betrayed her.

You need to be sure he's worth it because you are set to lose your best friend forever.



Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.



In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I hate my appearance

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 07 November 2014
Dear 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 also a misshapen nose.  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?

Patricia Marie says...

In a world obsessed by perfection, those living with facial 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 you're lovely on the inside, but 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 so problematic to you? I believe you could benefit from having some counselling, which may help you begin to learn to love yourself because of your uniqueness, and not in spite of it.

Furthermore, because your 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. Whilst you feel surgery may be the answer for you, I would still recommend you consider all options before making such an important decision.

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

The Birthmark Support Group is a fantastic organisation that offers support for anyone with a birthmark.  info@birthmarksupportgroup.org.uk 



Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I am bereft

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 30 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My beautiful old dog Sally died six months ago and I am just bereft.  She was always with me whatever I did or wherever I went,  and as I live on my own she was my companion and I would talk to her all the time.  When I walked her, people would come up and talk to me sometimes - somehow when you have a dog with you it makes you more approachable.

I just feel so lost without her, and so lonely, made worse by the lack of understanding of those around me. I have thought about getting another dog, but just don't think any dog could replace her.

Patricia Marie says...

Many people, even our closest friends, feel uncomfortable talking to us about our losses. Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time when we need support. This applies especially for the death of a pet, as our society often does not acknowledge loss of an animal to be a cause for grief. However, the reality is you are not alone, as there are many dog owners who have to face the loss of there most loyal companion.

Allow yourself time to come to terms with your sorrow.  Recollect the wonderful memories that can never be taken away from you, and in time hopefully you will soon begin to remember your beloved dog with more smiles than tears. Display a photograph of 'Sally' - it will help you to feel connected when she is in your thoughts.

There are many dog rescue organisations desperate for help, where you could perhaps volunteer to temporary foster, or help to look after the dogs at the centre - therefore, benefit from having them in your life, but without full responsibility, although I cannot promise you won't become attached to these vulnerable animals. Attending a place of work will also enable you to make friends and not feel so isolated.

If the only reason you can't face getting another dog is because you feel the new one wouldn't replace the old, of course, no two dogs could ever be the same, but having a different dog could prove preferable to having no dog. Do consider this, and you may just want to begin a new unique and perfect bond with another furry friend, who will benefit from the love and care you could clearly offer.

For a comforting read, I recommend: Goodbye Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with a Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I dislike my daughter's boyfriend

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 23 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie

I was so thrilled to see that The Lady now has an agony aunt as I have been deeply concerned lately about my daughter and would welcome some help.

Jenny (my daughter) who is 19, and lives at home with me, has a boyfriend who seems intent on controlling her life.  He tells her he loves her but from my point of view he seems to be very dominant over her.  If she gets ready to go out and he doesn't like her outfit, he will tell her and she will immediately go and change.  If she suggests that she would like to go out with her friends, he will say he wants to accompany her, and that it is strange if she doesn't want that.  If she doesn't text and ring him constantly, and be always available to receive his phone calls, then he accuses her of seeing someone else.

They have now been dating for six months, but he has mentioned getting engaged and I feel this would be disastrous.  What can I do to make her see what he is doing? I really dislike him to the point I just want him to find another girlfriend and leave my daughter alone.

Patricia Marie says...

You're a mother and of course you worry about your daughter. She may be 19, but is still your little girl and your need to protect her from an abusive boyfriend is perfectly understandable. However, if she's not complaining about him and prepared to put up with his behaviour, then you have to accept she is a grown woman with her own mind and capable of making her own decisions.

By telling your daughter what to do would merely be mirroring her boyfriend's controlling behaviour, and the last thing you want is to cause friction between you and your daughter by expressing your dislike of her boyfriend. She will not only resent you for interfering, but worse, she could even consider leaving home. At least whilst shes living with you, you're able to keep an eye on her, and be there for her when she needs you.

Concentrate on bonding with your daughter - spend some quality time together. Offering a loving, compassionate, concerned and non-judgemental presence will create trust. And if she does open up to you, be prepared to advise. Remind her that domestic violence often starts as mental abuse, with the abuser controlling their partner, including choosing what they wear and dictating their friendships.

Standing back and watching our children make mistakes is the hardest thing for any parent.  Nevertheless, you can still be her hero, but let her be her own hero too, by allowing her to solve her own problems, and learn from any bad decisions.

For your continued support I recommend reading:  BUT I LOVE HIM: Protecting your daughter from controlling, abusive relationships by Jill Murray. Finally, the National Domestic Violence Helpline offer a free 24 hour helpline: 0808 2000 247. It may be wise to make this number available to your daughter.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows


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