Shutting Me Out

by Gerry O'donoghue - Boot Camp Advisor

Shutting Me Out

Another week has gone by, and Natasha's situation has become even more
precarious, maybe spiraling beyond fixing.

Despite my pleas for her to contact me, it appears that communication
between us is still broken down. I left her a message at work last week, and
sent her several emails — but no answer. I'm not mad or upset because this is
not about me. It's about Natasha and her boys. I'm worried for them, I'm
afraid that I can't help them, and I'm concerned that they will have missed
the chance to use Parenting's Boot Camp to create a more secure future.

I have been learning of Natasha's situation via her blog posts the last
couple of weeks, and feel helpless for her. I understand why she probably
has been unable to bring herself to communicate with me; she feels out of
control of her situation and the reality of this is overwhelming. She
probably fears, ultimately, what I'm going to say: ­ "You need to stop
spending $X on such and such." She knows this herself, so why have to hear
it from me ­ just another voice, along with all the other voices and
opinions competing for her attention. Our response is often to shut it out.

But as I've said all along, unfortunately, the problems will not go away.
Instead, they will compound. This funeral in Ghana for Natasha's aunt has
apparently become her financial burden, or at least a portion of it.
Natasha's caring nature makes it impossible for her to say, "No, I'm sorry,
but I can't afford $X for this right now." And she probably fears that if
she speaks to me, that's exactly how I will try to convince her to respond.
I can't promise that her fear is unfounded, but I would have loved the
chance to be an ear and to offer my thoughts as a person not caught in the
day-to-day pressure. But I can't provide my insight in a vacuum. Without
knowing her real financial situation, I have to be very careful what I say
and limit the advice I can give, because I might inadvertently cause more
damage than help.

Family is important. I'm Irish, I know. If I had succeeded in building the
type of relationship I wished we had, maybe we could talk about this trauma.
How it impacts her and her children, how will they might feel about it in
the long run, maybe how she feels about it relative to the future for her

I had hoped to help Natasha change her life for the better, but I have
accepted that I most likely will not in this case. I'm frustrated, yes, but
it's not eating away at me anymore. Being able to at least give her an
outline of a plan before the holidays has helped me feel that my time was
not wasted. I can't force her to do anything with it, but I can sleep at
night knowing I am giving it my best try.