Dear Miss Emily:

I just turned eighteen, and my problem is my mom, or not her as much as what's she's doing. Not too long ago, my mom and i moved to California and we moved in with my half brother[we have the same dad] and not long after we moved in with him i was on my mom's phone one night and i saw theses text messages between the two of them -- talking about how they should ask me if they can date and my mom was saying that she couldn't bring that up to me so they decided to become"secret friends with benefits".I didn't confront my mom at first because i didn't want to jump to conclusions. I wanted to wait and see if it actually happened -- well, a few night later i woke up and went to get a glass of water and i looked over and saw my mom had made a body in her bed out of pillows! I didn't freak out, i waited like 30 minutes and made sure i made a lot of noise and my mom came out and i went up to her and asked her what the hell she was doing. She pulled me outside and asked me why i was freaking out and i confronted her about the text messages and she sat there promising me that nothing had happened and nothing was going to happen. I told her that if it did  i would have to leave because it's inappropriate, and disgusting. She potty trained him -- she changed his diapers, she raised him till he was like 8 years old  and now theyre having a sexual relationship?! He use to call her mom! Anyway, i said i would have to leave n she said she wasn't doing anything and that it wouldn't be worth losing me, as me and my mom are veerryy close -- were best friends -- talk about EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING. She is or, was, the closest person i had in my life since my step dad, but the person i called dad walked out on us 4 1/2 years ago. Well, a few days later i went to talk to my sister, and she told me about theses messages she read on my brothers phone between them talking about how last night was fun and cuddling was nice and before this, i didnt know anything had further happened. Well after she told me that, i had an anxiety attack, and i went home planning on confronting them both
together. Well my brother went to town to go get dinner and my mom knew that somthing was bothering me and she got it out of me and we got in this huge fight over it, and she somehow convinced me not to say anything to my brother or we would leave because it would make everyone feel awkward. Well a few nights later, i told my brother i knew wat was going on and he sat there holding me crying telling me that he was sorry and it would never happen again because it wasnt worth losing me over -- and i believed him until like the next night i caught my mom sneaking into his room and i finally had enough and i left. My mom and brother were both texting me calling me telling me to come home. Well i find out from a guy who was living in the house that, every night since I've been gone they've been going to bed together and cuddling on the couch n la bla bla, so i decided that i had enough and i called them both and told them i was done!! What they are doing i s not appropriate at all! This is my blood brother, and my mom is having a sexual relationship with him. I didn't talk to my mom for 4 months which was soo hard then, one day, she showed up at the door tellin me that she's sorry and she loves me and misses me and feels like she lost her best friend. I felt the same way, and she told me that she knows sacrafices were going to have to be made..oh by the way, afer i left for good, they moved into a different house and were sharing a room, and are officially a couple and everything. But anyway, she told me that she wasnt going to lose me again and said she just needed a little time, and i said ok and we've been trying to rebuild our relationship. But i told her that i would give her time, it just couldnt be months later and nothings changed. Well, here we are months later and i feel like my mom's playin me-- telling me this stuff i want to hear, with no intentions of following through with what she said she would do. I don't want to lose my mom again, but i can't sit there and act like it's ok for her to be with my brother either. So what do i do?

------------------------------Miss Emily's advice-----------------------

I wholeheartedly agree with you that what your mother is doing is a bit unusual  (to put it mildly). The definition of being "a cougar" has taken on new meaning. But you know, sweet one, it's her life and her choice. And yes, it's selfish because it looks bad and she knows how it's hurting you and your relationship with her -- and she's still doing it. She can't have it both ways, however. She shouldn't be telling  you one story, yet live out another one in order to blindside you. It's called duplicity, and it's insulting to your intelligence. If she thinks what she is doing is okay for her, then she should stand by that decision. That said, you do not have to approve. But you are eighteen now, you are ready to strike out in the big world on your own, and what your mother does is her business. When you do get together with her, and I know it's hard because up until now she has been your best friend and confidante, tell her you cannot talk about the step-son (your brother), and you no longer want her to make excuses or promises concerning their relationship. You simply do not approve, you see it as an embarrassment, but what she does is not a reflection of you. At 18, now it is time to get busy with your own life, and let your mother do what she's going to do. I would suspect, at some time, she'll regret all of this and the emotional damage it did to those she loved. But she's human, she's going to make mistakes, and I would think she is rather lonely. I'm not making excuses for her, but it's a rude awakening when we find out the person we thought was the pillar of morality, and the rock that was always there for us, turns out to have weaknesses and human frailties. Distance yourself,  because if you don't, you'll take this personally and, in truth, this kind of thing happens between two people who are risking a lot of scrutiny, and ridicule. It's their cross to bear, not yours. Again, you are powerless to change it, and it is not a black mark on who you are as a person. You are this woman's daughter, and your mother is the master of her ship. If she's headed for a storm, only she can find her way to shore. And yes, it's altered your relationship with her and your perception of her, but these are the bitter pills that life sometimes forces us to swallow, and we must learn to move on and, maybe, somewhere down the line, forgive and forget.