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Hi Peter, I am having a miserable issue.  To get started, you should know that I am a 31 year old woman, living at my mother's house, with no job.  My father passed away a decade ago.  Following my dad's death, my mom included me in various activities with a friend (I'll call her Rachelle), such as antiquing.  I had some of the best times of my life during the whole thing, and found that I actually wanted to be friends with Rachelle.  As a result, ten years ago, I got Rachelle to go for a walk with me, and she agreed not to tell my mother, and I soon confessed.  A few months later, I had coffee with Rachelle, while Mom was with other friends.  After a while, Rachelle found me clingy, and although I didn't want to be separated from her, I learned the hard way that it was not a choice I was free to make.  I have since toned it down.  Anyhow, back to the point, we then had a bit of a spat, and have since spent far less time with her.  Usually today, Mom and I go to dinner with Rachelle and her son.  Now, here is what I'm hurt and upset about~ now Mom says she is going to make plans with Rachelle, and leave me out.  I AM NOT COOL WITH IT!!!  I feel I can't speak up though, and I am hurt!!  I do have a neighbor a lot like Rachelle, who I am trying to open a door with, however, I just didn't want this now, and I can't fix it.  Please help!!!  I am so unhappy!  Thank you in advance.

Hi Kate - it sound like you have several fixable problems:

1] you're having trouble accepting that your Mom can have a relationship with Rachel without always including you - you're not peers. I suspect your Mom wants you to form your own set of similar-age friends;

2] for unspecified reasons, you're having trouble speaking honestly with your Mom and doing win-win problem-solving with her about your respective needs, expectations, and boundaries;.

3] you may be at risk of codependence with "Rachelle" and/or other people:

If so, you may have unknowingly inherited psychological [wounds and unawareness] from your ancestors. If so, these are probably causing a number of personal and social problems in your life:

This is a LOT to absorb, Kate, so take your time with them. If you have questions about any of these, please ask.

- Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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