Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Stuck in the Middle” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Stuck in the Middle,” a 26-year-old woman who wondered if she should try to intervene in her parents divorce on behalf of her mother who felt like she wasn’t getting a fair settlement. Many readers told her to keep out. After the jump, find out how she she decided to handle the situation.

Thank you for posting my letter. I really appreciated all the advice and sympathy I received DW readers. This is a great community. I decided to take the overwhelming majority’s advice and not bring up issues of alimony to my Dad. This was my initial thought but it felt very good to be reinforced and supported by everyone.

Since I wrote in I have been more careful about setting boundaries when on the phone with my mom (she lives on the opposite side of the country from me, so I don’t see her often). When she starts going into dangerous territory I tell her that it is uncomfortable for me to listen to and we move the conversation to something else. She has also hired a new lawyer that she is more comfortable with and thus I no longer have to hear about how my dad’s offer is unfair because her new lawyer agrees with her, where her previous one did not.

I have also taken this opportunity to encourage my mom to get out and do some volunteer work and send her interesting articles I come across, as I am a graduate student in a field she is interested in. This allows us to have more interesting and neutral conversations.

Since there was so much speculation over my mom’s health, allow me to elaborate. My mom stopped working in the mid-90s when we moved out of the country for my father’s job. We moved back to the US three years later, and her physical health deteriorated. She has a couple chronic inflammatory diseases, depression, and has also had problems with slipped and crushed disks in her spine. She is in near constant pain and as AKchick mentioned, her depression is making the physical pain worse. After looking up disability benefits, on paper she is not eligible because she has not worked in the past 10 years. If she wanted to argue for disability she probably could make a case, but she does not want to because she is already so overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this is a consequence of her supporting my father’s career.

I’ve also begun therapy to deal with my parents divorce and the ripple effect is has caused. Thanks to everyone for your advice and support!

Thanks for the update and good luck to you and your family!

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

3 comments… add one
  • Carolynasaurus December 19, 2011, 12:15 pm

    YAY! Although it’s still a sucky situation, I’m glad you took an incredibly healthy response to all of it.

    I love when it’s a great update from someone who’s not yelling at the commentors for not understanding and it’s not their fault and blah blah blah…

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  • AKchic December 19, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the update LW. Not knowing which side of the country she is on, I can only hope your mother is seeing a decent pain clinic.

    After all of the divorce stuff is taken care of, SSDI can be applied for. Or, going back to school for a desk job of some sort. Trust me, even with a pain condition, work can be done. You just have to find the right furniture, know your pain triggers, be good with your medications, etc.

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  • Calle December 19, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Maybe it is because I live in California (when you divorce without a pre-nup it is 50/50) and if you are married over ten years you are entitled to indefinite alimony, but I thought your Mom was getting kind of a raw deal. I’m glad she has a new lawyer…I definitely think you are going the right route by talking about neutral subjects and volunteering. One suggestion I have is Americorps. The VISTA program has no age limit and many of the opportunities don’t require an extensive work history. The money isn’t really enough to survive on (usually about $1,200 a month) and you get a check for about $2,500 at the end or an education reward, but it would look great on her resume and would be rewarding.

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