This time I won't post a personal problem. It's something that happens to two people very dear to me. The only help I have provided is listening to both. What I would like is your opinion, how you would solve this issue, so I can help them or suggest them to do something.
These two people are mother and daughter. Let's suppose the daughter is called Kayla and her mother, Ruth.
(Excuse me if I make some grammar mistakes, English is not my first language).
Kayla is 34 years old, she lives with her parents and she is morbidly obese. As a child she was chubby, and both her parents were fat as well. Ruth developed diabetes and she started caring more about her diet. She realized her daughter weight problem, but the more she told Kayla to stop eating, the more she ate.
As a child, Kayla was sweet but hyperactive and rebellious. When she was around 5, Ruth caught his husband having a relationship with another woman, and he left home but ocassionally would visit his daughter. When Kayla wasn't in school, she would be looked after by one of her grandmothers.
Things were never easy for Ruth; she started working at the age of 14, when she was expelled from school for a mischief she did -climbing to the roof of her school and dancing like Elvis in front of everyone- and her father punished her by not signing her into another school. She always strived to make some money for her daughter and her (her husband would, ocassionally, buy some gift for her daughter but never supported Ruth with money, making excuses he didn't earn enough while providing for his lover).
Some years later, the relationship between her husband and his lover would end and he would beg Ruth to take him back. Around the time Kayla was 12, she did. As a way of making up for the time he wasn't around, he would please his daughter in anything she wanted, never scolding her, and he would yell at Ruth if she wanted to reprimand Kayla. Kayla turned out a wild; she always did well on school but she would party, drink, smoke marijuana, be in the street for hours nowhere to be located. She developed terrible character, very arrogant, with no filter, insulting people, etc. Ruth felt she couldn't handle her character; no one would, and some of Ruth relatives and friends would stop inviting her to their homes or to any events if she was going with Kayla.
At age 19 Kayla got pregnant from a boyfriend two years younger than her. Everyone thought she would finally settle down, but she didn't. She didn't feel love for the child, and she would "feel" or "realize" her motherhood until much later (she still feels somehow disconected emotionally from her son). Her relationship with her boyfriend was an on an off for years (now completely off; she married another woman and now has another child), but he would be there for the boy.
After having the child her weight issues got worse. She reached 300 lbs. She asked her mother for a gastric sleeve surgery. As expected for a surgery such as this, her life turned around. She was happy for a while, happy with her looks, trying clothes she never could have worn before, dating with more boys, etc. However, she would say "my doctor says that, with this surgery, I can eat anything I want without gaining weight" (I don't think her doctor actually said that, but she would put it that way, or maybe she misinterpreted his words). So five years later, her surgery stopped working and she started gaining weight again. Now, with 34, she must have reached the 300 lbs again.
She completed a career in a private university, a tourism degree. She always says she chose any degree because her mother forced her to. After graduating, she worked in an office for two month, but she resigned; she said his boss was an old man who would always yell at her and humilliate her. That has been the only time she had a regular job.
When she turned 30, she fell into depression. She would take pills and sleep for days and days, not caring about her son or anything. She felt empty and uncomprehended. She would always blame her mother, and say her mother didn't give her enough love. "You gave me material things: you maintained me, you bought me toys, clothes, anything I wanted; you paid me a career, you paid my surgery, you gave me vacations abroad. But you were never there for me, I needed affection".
Ruth didn't know how to help her. But I don't know how, she ran into "complementary therapies". She would start taking courses and having some interest that gave meaning to her life. She would take courses about gem therapy, Bach flowers, astrology, reiki, aromatherapy, regressions, Bioresonance, meditation, sound therapy... anything you can imagine. She doesn't believe in everything, but she has chosen a few things that have worked for her; she specializes in Bach flowers, crystal healing and numerology. She attends patients now that pay for her therapies, but she earns most of her money selling therapeutic jewelry. Now she believes our souls choose our parents and all people around us are our masters that run into our lives to teach us something. Also she believes all illness are emotional.
I must say I don't care much for these therapies. But since Kayla took that path, she has grown a lot. She is more respectful towards people, more responsible, more humble and she is taking care of herself and others. Ruth has a hard time accepting her daughter won't be a traditional professional, feeling she wasted money on her college tuition. She thinks those therapies are for gulligle people. But I have talked her into seeing how much her daughter has progressed thanks to them.
Last week Kayla and I met. She told me the following: "After all these years of therapies and learning, I still can't lose weight. I think I have sugar addiction. And I still hate my mother to the guts." "Why do you hate her so much, if she has been so good to you?", I asked. "I don't know. I don't like the woman. She is whiny, she is always worried about anything, she always complains, she always yells at me, she always rubs everything she does for me in my face." I replied: "But your father is the same way and you always seems to be on his side". "I don't know, I know is my biggest issue". She told me she went to see a very known and respected "guru" in my country, master in some of the therapies she has studied. This therapist told her something like this: "You have to put your mother into a pedestal, into a mind pedestal. Everytime you start to feel rage against her, send her messages of love; tell her 'you are the greatest thing that has happened to my life', 'you are the best and I love you'." Kayla says it hasn't worked out.
As I said before, Kayla (and her son) still lives with her parents. The four of them fight and yell at each other all the time. The kid turned out a mirror of her mother, except for the weight issue (he's skinny and athletic). He is rebellious, always getting into trouble and he's risking being expelled from his school for unassistance and bad behaviour. Kayla wants to get him in the right track, she tries to teach him to be more obedient and responsible. But both his grandparents step in the way everytime she tells him off. They always take the kid's side, even when they know she's right. They please him in everything he wants and he knows how to manipulate them. She has threatened him to take him to live with his father, but he doesn't want to, because he's very severe.
Kayla is saving money, every penny she earns, for a place of her own. She says she doesn't want to rent because that's throwing away the money. She can't get a bank loan because she doesn't have a regular job. She could eventually get help from the State if he saves enough. Now her mother retired and she asked her for some money to build a second floor in their house, so she and her son would live there and she would have a place to attend her patience (it's a nuisance for Ruth to see strange people coming in an out of her house). Kayla spent all her saving building it.
Well, both of them come to me to complain about the other and I listen to them. I wanted to know what do you think of these issues, how would you help them, or what you would say to them.
I would hope that you would just smile at them and say, "I am sure you two will figure this out."
Really - this family's lifestyle is very entrenched and supported by both the perpetrators AND the victims. No one really wants to end the dysfunction of this family. They feed off each other.
Kayla needs to grow up. She may have been taught things, but never learned. She has chosen to blame her parents for all her woes, then turns around and demands they "fix" her problems. Now her son mirrors her same behaviors.
Professional therapy is needed, for all involved. But don't bet they will take this advice, anyway.
Smile - and detach. You are not a therapist.