Dear Abby: To beat shopping addiction, I need my mom out of my life

Woman realizes her mother’s putdowns are bad for her mental health.

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DEAR ABBY: I’m a woman in my mid-30s without much family. I’m an only child and have no relationship with my father. The relationship I have with my mother is extremely toxic.

I have suffered my entire life from a severe shopping addiction. I recently relapsed, and I’m trying to recover financially. I can’t afford counseling right now, and I can’t ask for help from my mother because of how horribly she shames me about my addiction. In fact, I have realized that having her in my life at all is a massive trigger because she constantly puts me down for not being financially stable as an adult. She also constantly compares me not only to herself when she was my age, but to others in my generation.

How can I tell her I no longer want her in my life for the sake of my mental health and addiction recovery? — PULLING BACK IN TEXAS

DEAR PULLING: I’m not sure if you are already aware of it, but many people use shopping as a way of coping with depression. You may be one of them. Before taking on that difficult conversation, do some research and find out what county mental health services may be available in your area. They are usually offered on a sliding fee scale. There are also 12-step programs for compulsive shoppers that you might find helpful. Please go online and research some of them as well.

As to what to say to your mother, try this: “Mom, I know I need help for my shopping addiction. I am seeking it now. While I am in recovery, you won’t be hearing from me for a while, so don’t worry. We will talk eventually.”

DEAR ABBY: I lost my best friend of 32 years in a car accident three months ago. She was the best friend a person could possibly have. She would not only give you the shirt off her back, but she would then ask what else you needed. We had been through so much together. This would be the kind of thing I would turn to her for comfort while going through. She was cremated, and I didn’t see her before that, so I didn’t get closure. I feel so empty and unfinished. What do I do? — NOT WELL IN THE SOUTH

DEAR NOT WELL: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your dear friend. The circumstances of your loss make it more difficult, but it is not insurmountable. Because there is no “place” you can go to mourn her, you might find closure by writing her a letter telling her all the things you weren’t able to say before her death. Then choose a private site you both used to enjoy, read it aloud to her and burn it, knowing she will always be alive in your heart. If this is not sufficient, consider asking your physician or religious adviser about a grief support group to help you work this through.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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