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Harriette Cole: This family rumor about my parentage is taking a toll on me

Harriette Cole: This family rumor about my parentage is taking a toll on me

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m the eldest of eight siblings and the only one who looks like my mother’s side of the family, which has led to insinuations that I may not be my father’s child.

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This constant rumor that I may not truly belong has been emotionally challenging for me. It has created a sense of disconnection and a questioning of my identity.

While I understand that physical appearances can vary within families, the persistent remarks and implications have started to take a toll on my self-esteem and overall well-being.

I want to find a way to address this issue within my family and to have open and honest conversations about my feelings without causing tension or discomfort. It is important for me to find resolution and acceptance, both within myself and among my loved ones.

— Deep Sense of Isolation

DEAR DEEP SENSE OF ISOLATION: Drum up the courage to have a private conversation with your mother. Ask her if the insinuation has any merit, if you could be another man’s child. Be direct, even though it will surely be an awkward conversation.

If the answer is no, ask her to speak to the family and invite them to quit their harassment. If their assessment is accurate, however, encourage your mom to reveal who your father is.

Either way, your mom should speak to the family and urge them to stop harassing you. You are her child and their family member, regardless of how you look.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Following the birth of my child via a C-section, I started to experience what I believe is postpartum depression. It has been overwhelming and emotionally exhausting.

One of the hardest parts for me is feeling an immense pressure to always appear OK. Despite the emotional turmoil I am facing, I feel like I have to hide my true feelings and put on a brave face for the sake of my family.

This expectation is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. I have been struggling silently, feeling like I have to suppress my emotions and not burden my loved ones with my struggles. It’s as if there is an unspoken rule that I must always be strong and put others’ needs before my own.

While I understand the importance of being there for my family, I also recognize the need to take care of myself and seek help.

I want to break free from this cycle of pretending and find the strength to reach out for support.

It is my hope that by sharing my experience with you, I can begin to navigate this difficult journey and find the help I need. Thank you for providing a safe space for me to express myself.

— Postpartum Depression

DEAR POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: Statistics show that 1 new mother in 8 experiences postpartum depression. You truly are not alone. Still, it can feel isolating and debilitating.

Medical professionals suggest that you do the opposite of what is in your nature: Open up and talk about how you are feeling. Tell your family members. Ask for help with the baby and your household duties. Do your best to get rest — very hard to do with a newborn, I know.

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Harriette Cole: Being the oldest child has ruined my life

Join a support group where you can talk to other women who are going through the same thing. They exist online and in person.

For more recommendations, go to: postpartum.net/resources. If you are ever feeling unstable, call the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262).

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions toaskharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.