I hate my mother for spoiling my brother but being hard on me

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 30s. I hate my mother for always being so strict with me while spoiling my brother, who is four years younger than me. To be honest, I want to cut ties with her.

In my life, I’ve been like a puppet for my mother who made me do everything she wanted on every occasion: lessons, club activities, high school and university entrance exams, and so on. I would question myself about what was the difference between me and my brother, and I have even attempted suicide.

About 10 years ago, I unintentionally got pregnant, so I got married. When I told my mother about it, she was furious with me. She kept on telling me to abort the child and get a divorce, among other things.

However, when my brother does something selfish, she doesn’t get angry at all. Just the other day, it turned out that my brother got married without telling anyone and also had a child. My mother defended him, saying, “He just didn’t have a chance to tell me,” and she doted on the child. I was so shocked to realize that she could be so different when it came to my brother.

When I found out about my brother, I asked my mother to apologize for everything she had done to me, but there has been no apology. My loathing for my mother grows more and more with each passing day.

— E, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. E:

It is quite common that siblings are treated differently, or that parents adore and show a preference for one of them. However, it is not acceptable if there are those who have been treated harshly. I understand your feelings of wanting to at least be treated equally.

There is no point in trying to reason with your mother. There is only one way to think of this: You have been trained. It seems that you are living happily with your partner and your child. It’s probably thanks to your strict mother that you were able to become independent at an early age, meet someone you love and build the life you have today.

While you say you want to cut ties with your mother, you still want her to apologize, and this means you still have feelings for her. It is OK to hate her. It is also OK to be estranged from her. But resenting the past will not add anything to your present life. In any case, try to think about how you can make the present more fulfilling and enjoy it.

If something concerning your mother crosses your mind, you can bad-mouth her when no one is around. Then, chant a mantra like: “What happened in the past doesn’t affect me now. I know I will be happy.”

— Masahiro Yamada,university professor