S1: Your produce, you’re put in jeopardy here. Prudent. Put into your proof here pre. Do you think that I should contact him again? Help! Help! Thank you. Thank you.
S2: Hello and welcome to another mini episode of Dear Prudence and your host, Danny M. Laverick. And this show is for you. Our plus subscribers. Our guest this week is Jasmine Sanders, a writer from the South Side of Chicago. And now here’s our first letter.
S3: Oh, oh, oh, oh.
S4: So we should move on to the next one. Also, hard and painful, but also at least some. At least they don’t have to live together, I guess. So would you would you read this one for us?
S5: Yes. Subject is frienemy making videos about me. Dear Prudent, I am a single mother who balances a career on top of three kids with no financial assistance or help from my ex. I usually take a night once a week to play table games at the casino. I don’t spend a lot of money there. I just take this as my only mean time of the week to unwind. While I’m there, my oldest, who has baby sitter certification, is responsible for taking care of her two younger siblings. I found out through some Web sleuthing that one of my so-called friends has a huge problem with this and the social media account I didn’t know about. She has been mocking me. She makes videos pretending to be me, saying that I’m going to the Hollyhock Casino. My kids either starve to death or eat Hot Pockets. Other moms I’m friendly with have posted laughing emojis in response to these posts. Prudy, I’m livid. I am not neglecting my kids by taking one night a week for myself. My friend has a husband who helps her out and she has no right to mock me behind my back when I am doing the best I can by myself. How can we confront her in the most humiliating way possible to her?
S4: I like that last question, which is like I just really want to own that. I hate this woman and I want to make her miserable. Yes, I appreciate that sort of admirable thing to be able to own where you’re at.
S2: I don’t know how you could humiliate her. I don’t want to go down that road. But if if you just want to tell her, hey, I saw your cruel videos about my bad parenting and we’re not friends now. Yeah. You know, go go ahead and do that at least. Yeah.
S5: I only as I understand the impulse though, because I too always there on the side of like, you know, like you’re going to burn the bridge, really have to. Look, I would like fireworks and a really like large fire and that’s no, absolutely.
S4: Like the fact that this woman has been dedicating like hours of her time to making videos mocking you for this. Like, I sorry if I if I seem like I’m disconnected. That’s awful.
S5: That’s horrible. Also from a woman who has a husband. You know what I mean? Like, don’t mock the single mom who is like doing her best.
S4: Like, better than I would do for, you know, everything about that is like vicious, cruel. Absolutely. Like, part of it involves, like reveling in the financial and logistical support that she gets from her partner. And you have, again, every right to you know, if you want to in that last conversation with her, like really elucidate the ways in which it is cruel and shitty and involves reveling in her good fortune. You have my total permission, but I think, honestly, the most humiliating thing is just gonna be being found out and letting her know like you’re weird, creepy little blog vlog series about me is pathetic and you suck like that. I think she’s gonna be stewing in her own juices for a little while after this.
S5: Yeah, I agree. I think being found out and confronted and no matter the way, is going to take a lot of air out of her. But also I would sort of bring it up to her. Or maybe you’re thinking about, too, that like there’s such a fine line between what she’s doing, which is like calling you a bad mom and sort of blithely making fun of the way that you treat your children. But there are situations where that could get you in trouble or, you know, like have people or whatever authorities possibly called or questioning your parenting, like, legitimately.
S4: Right. It is a it’s not a huge step from you’re like making a video about how you’re leaving your kids to starve to taking that. Yes. Trolling, too. Actually, I’m really worried the kids aren’t getting enough to eat, so I’m going to make it.
S5: So I think I would impress that a project like how serious and like potentially harmful what she’s doing is, but also how actual you like her qualities. That makes sense.
S4: Yeah. But beyond that, I think that’s a single conversation to have. I think she will be. I hope. I think she will be embarrassed enough by just the reality of what a fucking vindictive child she’s been towards you. And then simply having to like live with the consequences of that I think will be enough like beyond that. I think just like the humiliation of, like, your weird, creepy little video series, I have seen it and I don’t think much of it. And I’m going to move on with my life, like the very fact that you draw attention to how much time and energy she’s been wasting on this, which is, I assume at this point, like she’s probably logged more hours making videos about you than you have at the casino.
S5: And it makes me so sad that at the beginning of the letter starts, why, where you defending yourself? You know, like saying I don’t spend a lot of money and sort of presenting, you know, I mean, that made me really sad. And maybe what your friend could do is offer some mutual aid and babysit.
S4: Right. Right. And I just like her that like leaving your kids alone one night a week when one of them is old enough to get like certified as a babysitter is not I don’t like literally when you and I were growing up, there was a whole book series about this. You know, it was called The Babysitters Club.
S5: And it was greater. It’s not how we turned out.
S2: We’re alive. We’re fun. Yeah. I’m sorry that your friend is such a fucking loser. It’s truly shitty. And I think that’s all we got for her. All right. Moving on to a classic problem. When is estranged really estranged, Dear Prudence. I am a college student recently estranged from my father and his partner. I never felt comfortable around them growing up. So I put my defenses up and they responded with rage at me for being. Quote, Withholding and demanding, I give them the reason I didn’t like them, which I couldn’t ever articulate. After a really over the line text message in December, I haven’t spoken to either of them except for a few texts reiterating that boundary my father’s partner has sent me and my mom, who has live with some angry emails. But my father hasn’t tried to contact me at all, which I’m grateful for. My question is this when can I stop waiting for the other shoe to drop? When can I officially be, quote, estranged instead of not talking right now? I spent so many years dreaming about the day, I could never speak to them again. But now that it’s here, I’m having trouble processing that I’ve done it and can stop worrying now. I think part of the reason I love this is this is a real like distillation of a kind of question that I get a lot, which is basically like I think I’ve estranged myself from this very, very painful relationship.
S4: But they don’t really seem to like we didn’t agree on the terms. And I feel kind of unsettled and incomplete. And I think that that’s actually almost a universal response to estrangement, because you usually don’t have to become from estranged from someone that you can agree on something with. Right.
S5: Yeah. And then it’s kind of like a breakup, you know, like it can be mutual. It can be one sided. You could be ghosted. You can’t predict the future in any way. Like, you can know what outcomes are likely based on, like prior behavior. But there’s I guess my answer is I like been estranged before from family members. And I always, you know, like with those particular relationships. It sort of floated back around and better. But it doesn’t mean like if you don’t want the. It’s understandable, and I guess my answer to the main question is when it’s a strange, really strange and I guess it’s.
S2: It can. Or like you realize that when you’re on your deathbed and you’re like, well, I guess we never talked. Yeah. Right. Yeah. I think my read here is this sort of sense of like I’ve spent years dreaming about what this day would be like. But now that it’s here, I don’t know what to do. And I wonder if part of the thought process was like, once I’m able to finally be estranged from my dad and his partner, I’ll feel good. I’ll know when the moment was. I won’t worry about what they’re gonna do next. I’ll be done. And I think it actually makes sense that you don’t quite feel that way. I think that it’s often really difficult to, like, line up your internal emotional experience with reality. So I think what you’re experiencing right now is a sense of like is estrangement going to do for me everything that I thought it would? Or are there still ways in which I have unresolved, like resentments, fears, anxieties, feelings about my dad that now I simply have to process without being in contact with him? But those feelings still exist. Like, I don’t speak to my father either, but my feelings about my father still exist. I wasn’t able to just, like, cut those off. You know what I mean? So that’s sort of the question of like, okay. The relationship’s over, but the feelings aren’t gone. I can’t as strange that I can’t just declare that, like, canceled. So what do I do? And like. Part of that question is like, great question. Write it down. Talk to friends. Talk to a therapist. Keep a journal. Give yourself permission to have complicated feelings towards the person you’re estranged with. Give it time. You may eventually feel a sort of like catching up sense of like, oh, yeah, that really does feel done. But you’re really allowed to just never talk to your dad again. You are.
S5: And you’re also allowed to, like, change your mind the other way. You know what I mean? Yeah, I agree with what you said regarding sort of estrangement is only one element of addressing this, like wrongdoing or this hurt, like, OK, you can cut your dad off. And there’s so many other things that. You need to do also what you’re trying to do, as you know.
S4: Yeah. And the healing is going to be at the risk of sounding cliche, like the work of a lifetime. Yeah, little buddy. Think. Yeah. I think the sort of underlying question is basically like I’ve never been able to articulate the reason why these people her and upset me, even though they always have. And because I feel like I was never able to convince them that my dislike of them was justified, I never felt like I was really allowed to pull away. And now that they finally did, one thing I can point to and say that’s not acceptable. If I look for some reason, we’re like thrown into estrangement court. And the judge said, what do you got? I’d be able to point to that text message and everyone would say, good for you. I wonder if that’s why they kind of feel like. But is that enough? That’s only one thing. Am I really being fair? You know, this is my dad, after all. Aren’t I supposed to be forgiving, blah, blah, blah? So I think the fear is basically like if they only did one over the line thing. Am I really allowed to use that as justification to be a strange for the rest of my life? Shouldn’t they keep hedging my bets and say we’re not talking right now, even though what I actually want is to be estranged? All of which is to say, I think as you investigate the feelings of a lifetime, you will probably be able to identify other moments where they did or said or expected unreasonable, cruel, hurtful things of you that you will be able to kind of like build a narrative around.
S2: But you also are just allowed to say we are estranged. You can say that right now. You got both issues thrown.
S6: That’s Armony episode of Dear Prudence for this week. Our producer is Phil Circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. As always, if you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message at four zero one three seven one, dear. That’s three to seven. And you might hear your answer on that episode of the show.
S2: You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request, we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short, 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.