Ask Amy: Mother-in-law triggers traumatic experience
It is literally like a terrifying flashback to those hard days when my pain was so excruciating. I was struggling every day simply not to give up!
How do I get her to stop talking about these things that seem to be so triggering for me?
– Gutted in Illinois
Dear Gutted: My first recommendation is that you pay very close attention to your own health. Your traumatic experience giving birth (and it sounds truly and extremely painful), could have triggered postpartum depression – and/or PTSD.
I am not being deliberately alarmist, but your flashbacks are “terrifying,” and if these feelings don’t ease considerably with time, you really must seek mental health support and treatment.
Regarding your mother-in-law, a frank and respectful talk is in order.
She created a bright boundary regarding exactly how she was willing to be “helpful” to you.
She will hold the baby, if she wants to.
You can initiate a challenging conversation by saying, “This is a hard topic for me to bring up. I hope you will understand that I need to be honest with you. I am still struggling to recover from an incredibly challenging birth. You’ve made it clear that you aren’t willing to help out around our house, and I accept that. But every time you complain about your own burdens, I’m reminded of my own. I really wish you wouldn’t do it.”
Dear Amy: I’ve been following questions in your column from parents whose adult kids keep “bouncing back.”