DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a woman with a husband and a 19-year-old son, and recently I’ve been finding it difficult to be the only woman in the household. Sometimes it feels like I can be heard only when I raise my voice. What course of action can I take to convey these feelings to my husband and my son in a healthier manner? -- Mother's Voice
DEAR MOTHER’S VOICE: Start by talking to your husband. Remind him that this is an important time for you both to have a good rapport with your child, and you need his support. Tell him that you have noticed that the two of them often exclude you and that you find it necessary to shout in order to be heard. Ask your husband to help the family dynamics by noticing when each of them needs to stop and give you the floor, or at least welcome you into the conversation.
Next, talk to your son. Tell him about the importance of having meaningful conversation. Ask for his support. Be mindful not to ask too many questions. Teenagers don’t like that.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Occasionally, I have difficulty with bouts of loneliness. I have good friends and a good support system around me; however, sometimes it feels that I cannot express feelings that I internalize. I’ve been going to therapy to deal with this, but I’m having difficulty opening up to the therapist, and it seems like the therapy will not be beneficial to me. Is there any way for me become more comfortable expressing to others the thoughts that I’ve been internalizing for so long? -- Mr. Lonely
DEAR MR. LONELY: It is difficult to open up and share what’s going on inside for you. That is normal. In order to get past that, you need to convince yourself that getting support from a professional may help you to be free of your challenging feelings. You have to be committed to your mental health and to allowing yourself to be vulnerable so that you can sort through your feelings and come to a place of peace. Tell yourself that your mental health professional is there to help you reach your goals. If you don’t trust the professional you are using, find someone else. You must be able to trust your therapist.
Tell your therapist about your trepidation. Ask this professional to help guide you into a calmer, more trusting space. The relationship that you develop with your therapist is key to your ability to recognize your issues and tackle them.
As you have pointed out, you are the most important person in this equation. You have to want it bad enough to have the courage to do the work to reveal your true self. Have patience as you keep showing up. By sticking to this course of therapy, you may be able to work through why you are experiencing this type of loneliness and how you can climb out of it. Good luck!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)