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Is there anything I can do?


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#1 seabreezy

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 02:54 PM

Hi everyone. This is my first post here, i've been mostly lurking for a while.  Not sure where to start, but the beginning sounds like a good place, lol.

I was married for over 20 years when my ex and I divorced. We have 2 children, daughter who is now 33, and a son who is 29.  Most of my marriage was really unhappy, and there came a time when I decided something needed to change. After many years, I finally got it, I figured out that my husband was abusive, and had been since the start. But I was married in a time when abuse was not really known about, and I was SO young, didn't know any better. 

So, after deciding I wanted out, hubby became very angry, and more abusive. I asked him to try marriage counseling with me, nope he would not hear of it. So I went alone, and once I did that, he accused me of having an affair with the counselor. He locked me out of the house in the middle of the night once, threw the phone at me after grabbing it from my hand. It was awful.  I knew that I had to go. Women's shelter would not help because I had no physical signs of abuse.  So one morning, after taking my son to school, I packed my car and left. This is where I completely messed up. I went to stay with a man that I had met. We were not having an affair, we were just friends. I was so desperate to get out of that marriage, when this man told me to pack  and come stay with him, I did. He has left his wife as well.  Our marriages did not end because of any of this, they were already ended. 

My daughter had already left home and moved to another state to be with her new husband since he was in the military. My son was still in high school when I left.  I have no doubt now that he feels that I abandoned him, which I guess that's what it should be called.

Several months later, my divorce was final. I received a letter from my daughter, announcing that she was having a baby. I was so excited. At that time, our relationship seemed to be just fine. They had been stationed to California. so I was not able to see her.  I always wrote, sent cards, gifts, etc.  I was able to visit with my son as well, since he lived with his dad.  After a while, the man I was living with, Tony, and I split up. He decided he wanted to try and make his marriage work, but it didn't.  While we were apart, he flew me to California to visit my daughter and new granddaughter. My granddaughter was 6 months old then.  Things were stressed between us, but good.

After coming back, Tony and I decided to get back together, we loved each other very much.  Turns out my daughter became angry about this, saying that I don't need a man in my life to be somebody. Well I knew that.

Her and I continued to talk on the phone, send email, etc.  But after a few years, her contact became less and less. They moved to Virginia, but I found that out from other family members. I continued to email her, and write letters. Mothers Day 10 years ago, was the last time she contacted me. I got an email later from her, telling me to stop contacting her, she "did not have time for the stress". That is the only explanation I have ever gotten from her. I have tried calling, but her husband always answered the phone, saying the she was not home, gone to the gym or something. They have since had another little girl, who is now 5 years old. I've only seen a few pictures of her, and that's all.  I don't ask my son about them because I refuse to put him in the middle of all this. In the past when i've asked him, he acts like he doesn't want to tell me anything..either she has asked him not to, or he honestly does not know anything.  I simply don't know what to do at this point, or if there is even anything I can do.  My son does not live far from me, and I don't see him as often as I would like to either. If and when I hear from him, he always says he's been so busy.  I don't know if he wants anything to do with me or not. When I do see him, it's uncomfortable for us both, but he's talkative, and seems to be fine. 

Tony and I got married in 2007, and have never been happier.  But my children are missing from my life, my grand children too. They don't even contact my parents anymore.  I know I messed up, but at some point, now that they are adults, shouldn't they accept things as they are?  Is there anything I can do?

Thanks.

Brenda



#2 MrsKitty

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 05:51 PM

Brenda,

I honestly don't think there is much you can do except do therapy on your own and leave the door open to your kids. I would also advise reading up on how people raised in domestic violence are impacted. Perhaps you can go to a therapist who specializes in treating abuse in families. From what I understand, it is not uncommon for people raised around abuse to suffer the effects into adulthood. I found this resource online: http://www.domesticv...n-children.html



#3 seabreezy

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:44 PM

MrsKitty,

Thank you for your reply, but i'm really unsure as to why you think I need therapy. There is nothing wrong with me.   As for the door being open to my kids..it is, always has been, always will, and they know that.  

What my post was about was if there are any suggestions here of anything else I could possibly do to have contact again with my daughter and her family.  She is the one who has pushed everyone away, especially me.



#4 SueSTx

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:55 PM

Hi again seabreezy.  If your DD is the one who has pushed you away, and you have apologized for whatever she has indicated the problems are and indicated that you would not do them again, I do not believe there is anything else you can do except wait.

 

I'm sure MsKitty only suggested therapy because many times the counselors do have many ideas of what to do and can help you figure out a way to make contact that might work.



#5 MrsKitty

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 10:30 PM

MrsKitty,

Thank you for your reply, but i'm really unsure as to why you think I need therapy. There is nothing wrong with me.   As for the door being open to my kids..it is, always has been, always will, and they know that.  

What my post was about was if there are any suggestions here of anything else I could possibly do to have contact again with my daughter and her family.  She is the one who has pushed everyone away, especially me.

Seabreezy,

I don't personally think that something has to be "wrong" with you to seek therapy. You were in an abusive relationship for years (decades?). This can create many issues with depression, PTSD and other challenges. Therapists can be wonderful helpers in sorting out your thoughts and feelings after you have been through years of abuse and also if you are experiencing strife in your family.

 

I have been to therapy twice in my life and I don't see myself as a damaged person--it is no different than going to an MD to seek advice and treatment if you have broken a limb. Therapists help to heal.

 

My suggestion to you is to seek therapy because that is what you can do to make your situation better. It can also help you understand your daughter better (even if she chooses not to have contact with you). If she does choose to have contact with you, working with a therapist can help you get the relationship on steadier footing.

 

You cannot force, convince, cajole your daughter into doing anything--that is why my advice in these situations is to always look to take care of yourself and get professional help to help you sort through the tough questions.


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#6 rosered135

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:49 PM

Welcome seabreezy! I'm glad you brought your concerns to us! And thank you for being honest with us for the mistakes you've made in the past. It must have taken a lot of courage to tell us about them and I truly appreciate it.

 

I'm so very sorry that you suffered abuse for so long in your first marriage! But I'm happy to hear that you now enjoy a beautiful love with your 2nd husband. Then again, my heart so aches for you in your estrangement from your DD (dear daughter) and her family and even the tension you seem to feel with DS (dear son). As well as, I admit, your DD and DS and everything they've been through.

 

You ask if there's anything you can do to reconnect with DD and family. It's hard to guage, IMO, based on your posts, so far. I'm not clear, for example, on whether or not DD has cut off all contact with you or not, even though I know she said she asked you to "stop contacting her." After all, you say you have "seen a few pictures" of your YGD (younger granddaughter). Did DD send them to you or did you see them on the Internet or did someone else show them to you? B/c if she sent them, then maybe there's a door open and we can talk about how to walk through it.

 

If she didn't - and if she hasn't contacted you in any other way since she made that statement - then, right now, I'm afraid I don't think there's anything you can do to influence her to reunite. I agree that counseling might help you figure this out - and/or figure out how to aprroach her if she ever does reach out to you. As PPs have said, it doesn't  mean that there's something "wrong" with you - it simply can be a wonderful guide to dealing/coping wth difficult situations.

 

In fact, since your relationship with DS seems to be strained, as well, counseling might even help you to improve that. Especially since it isn't clear, to me, anyway, as to whether it's really strained on both ends or if you're the only one who feels "uncomfortable" (whether b/c of the past or whatever reason). After all, you say he;s "talkative and seems to be fine." But whether just one or both of you are tense with each other, counseling may help you begin to ease those tensions. I know you didn't ask about that but I thought it might be helpful, anyway.

 

I'm glad you don't ask DS, anymore, about DD and family. You are very wise, IMO, not to want to put him "in the middle." Not only is that not fair to him, it would, most likely, end up backfiring on you. Chances are, as you say, DD has asked him not to discuss her family with you. Or maybe she has pushed him away, too? That's another thing I'm not clear on - did she distance herself from him, too, or just you and your parents?

 

Actually, if DD stopped contacting your parents, it might be b/c  they were arguing, quite understandably, on your behalf and she doesn't want to hear it, anymore, Or it could be b/c they have reason to believe your parents, again, very understandably, give you info they don't want you to have, for whatever reason. It isn't unheard-of. But I'm very sorry about it and I feel for your parents, too.
 

Regardless, here's a thought... Some estranged GPs keep a FB page - not  in the hopes of trying to find their GC online when they're old enough (which won't be for a while, I suppose, in your case, anyhow) but so that if  the GC ever want to find them, they can. That's a big if - the GC aren't always interested, but sometimes they are (of course, that won't be for several years, either). Perhaps that's an idea for you? (If there's anything about this idea that could backfire, people, please feel free to say so.)

 

Meanwhile, I hope you continue to enjoy your life with Tony, consider and take us up on counseling, and keep reaching out here, as well! :)


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#7 Ginnie

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:46 PM

When you look at the situation, you need to look at it from your children's perspective and not just your own.

 

Your daughter grew up in an abusive, dysfunctional household. I know you loved her very much and did the best you could, but very often when a marriage is troubled, there isn't much emotional room left over for parenting the children. Loving mothers can actually be more absent than they realize and mothers who can't cope with the dysfunction in the marriage, of course cannot effectively help their children cope with a dysfunctional family. This is not about loving, it's about the quality of daily life.  It's likely your daughter associates you and her childhood with no-so-pleasant memories.

 

She seems to have married young and to a military man and moved far away.  Shortly after she left, you abruptly abandoned her brother and father and moved in with another man. I understand you were not having an affair and he did not steal you from your family or cause your unhappiness. But you have to understand that just about no one will believe that except for your friends. I believe you, but many, many people will not--and most likely your daughter and son don't.

 

You and the man broke up, you flew to CA to visit your daughter and granddaughter.  At that time your daughter only knew that you abruptly left the her brother and father, moved in with a strange man claiming it was platonic and then moved out on your own (when you and Tony broke up).  She knew what the house was like and what her father was like, and while she might have wondered if Tony was the cause of the divorce, she might have given you the benefit of the doubt. 

 

Then you moved back in with Tony and married him, so maybe she feels like you lied to her and made a fool of her.  I'm not saying you were wrong to marry Tony, you absolutely deserve your happiness or that you should have done anything differently--but from your daughter's perspective this may seem like you were dishonest with her.

 

Next, you say her complaint is there is too much drama and stress associated with you.  Since you've always lived out of state since she moved out, this is very puzzling.  It sounds like your marriage was drama prone and the divorce as well.  But that was over for years before she cut you off.  There was likely drama with Tony and his marriage and breaking up and getting back together.  But that's been over for years too.  She let you visit to see the baby after your divorce and the Tony break up drama, so it can't be those incidents she's referring to that she finds stressful.  What drama has occured since that last visit that you have shared with her from out of state?

 

If you say you can't think of any; it may be that your 'drama point' is set higher than most people's: in other words you can tolerate a lot of drama and generate a lot of drama and it seems not like drama to you but normal living. This would be common with people who lived a lot of their lives in dysfunction. You clearly had a long term dysfuctional dramatic marriage, what was your life growing up?  Dysfunctional and dramatic?  If so, you may have a high drama set point--most drama in your life you don't notice because it's not as bad as the really bad stuff that happened in your marriage, etc...

 

Your daughter growing up observing abuse, dysfunction and drama, may be more sensitive to it.  Having felt helpless, she may have withdrawn and seeks to avoid it at all costs--it's very painful for her.  So if you have a high tolerance for drama and she has a low tolerance for drama, you are going to stress her out.  And what she considers 'drama' from you, you consider normal living and it flies under your radar.

 

This is where therapy can be helpful.  Identifying patterns like this. It doesn't mean you are wrong or a drama queen or she is over sensitive, it's just different--like people tolerating different levels of saltiness.  If this is the case a therapist can help you modify your approach to her so make interacting with her easier and more pleasant.

 

This may also help your relationship with your son too.

 

Next thing: you say you visited when the baby was 6 months, what was that visit like? Was it the only visit you had with her since she married and moved out of your house? 

 

Then over the next couple years her responses to your dwindled and she cut you off because of drama and stress.  This is what is odd: how much drama and stress can be transmitted to another person living out of state who is withdrawing from you?  Something was going on in that time between when you visited and that Mother's Day that was the last contact 10 years ago.  The only clue you have given is, you and Tony got back together, you married, and are happy.  And her reaction was to say, you don't NEED a man. But it sounds like you and Tony got married 3 of 4 years AFTER the cut off, so I'm wondering what happened while you and Tony were split, how long, could you support yourself (since he was the one who paid for your CA trip).  There's a lot not being said about this time, and it's important, because it is the events from the visit to the cut off that caused the cut off. 

 

If you can't think of anything that did it, you either are not trying and in denial or are shockingly unaware of what's going on in your own life.  A therapist can help here.  Once you know what went wrong, you will know how to fix it.

 

One clue though: you said she asked you not to contact her again--and you admit you did.  I'm sure it felt like loving to you, but to her it likely felt like a slap in the face, you went and did EXACTLY what she asked you not to do.  My guess would be that this lack of respect/boundaries is not a one time thing between you and her.  And if it isn't, this is a BIG problem.

 

You say she knows the door is always open. But you are missing the point. Whether she knows that or not (and you don't know what she knows), she clearly doesn't want to go through it.  And solving the problem with her is for you to understand WHY she does not want to go through that door you have so lovingly left open for her.