My daughter and I are estranged. We have been for the last four years. The reasons why aren’t important; in fact I really don’t know the reasons why. I’ve been offered some hints over the years – perhaps too much information during the time of my breakup with my ex, perhaps something else. Through the various grapevines, she tells me that it isn’t me. But then sometimes it is me. Sometimes I’ve done something wrong, but I am left to guess at what it was.
It’s been impossibly hard , and heartbreaking. I can’t help but think of other families I know, where parents were terribly abusive, and yet children still speak to their parents. I know this wasn’t the case here, and I remain baffled. I remember being angry at my mother on several occasions, often not talking to her for weeks, but if she called me, I always spoke to her. I loved the woman, no matter how difficult our relationship was at times. How could I hate her or treat her so hurtfully?
Last night my ex, who still speaks with my daughter, texted me to tell me that she had finished the last course for her BA. He ended his text with a cheery little smiley. How sweet. How destroying. I don’t even know for sure what her BA is in. I hear it’s a double major. I have to send my congratulations to her through him, not knowing how or if it will be delivered. I am hungry to hear of her, devastated to hear of her.
As the years pass, I find I miss her more and more, not less and less. I read books and I think about how she might enjoy them also – but I don’t know, for sure, since she has grown and changed so much in the past four years. I wonder about her hopes and dreams. I fret about her a little, knowing that she has had some challenges to overcome. I know she is dealing with them admirably – at least I think so. My ex is an imperfect translator – we’ve always communicated with our kids differently, and I find it frustrating to hear what he thinks she is about, without having the chance for a coffee or tea or whatever it is she is drinking these days and a good long chat of my own.
I get differing advice about how to deal with this. Some people, therapists, mainly, tell me to let it go. There’s nothing I can do to repair the situation if she won’t even see me, let alone speak to me. I should move on.
How does one do this with one’s first-born, only daughter? The child I spent years with, dreamed of, held to my breast? It is intolerable.
Others say I should confront her. So I tried that, a year ago. Let’s just say it didn’t go well, but I’d like to add I think I was more damaged by the encounter than she was. After all, she had her father to comfort her. I had no one.
I know this happens to so many other parents. I know of at least three other parents who are in my same situation, and one who may end up in it if his ex has her way. To my knowledge, none of these people have done things that deserve such estrangement – no abuse, no cruelty, no neglect. Just love, and perhaps a difficult life situation. One that had to be dealt with. Unfortunately.
What I don’t understand is how these kids can be so openly hurtful to the parents that raised them. What went wrong in the raising that they feel they can inflict such callous cruelty? Do they even realize how horrible this is for we parents left out in the cold? Why don’t they care? What piece is missing?
I’m lucky. I have two sons who love me even in my imperfect state. It makes me feel a bit better – perhaps I really am not the horrible person my daughter seems to think I am. But, after this length of time, I’d really really like to hear from her what this is all about. She can go away and never speak to me again after that if she chooses, but I’m tired of being left hanging. It’s unfair, painful, and cruel.
I’ve remained living in central Canada to be within easy reach should she ever wish to contact me. I’ve given phone numbers and emails and contact stuff to everyone around her, made it easy for her to find me. And still she does not. I even moved to a town which I knew she’d visit, hoping for some sort of contact, however brief. When she is in town I am told to stay away from family gatherings lest I upset her.
I don’t know how much longer I can do this. How long does a mother wait? Forever, of course. But I’m getting angry now, angry at being held hostage to her behaviour.
I’m moving again, probably next summer, farther away. Once I do that, I realize I will probably be seriously severing any hopes of seeing my daughter for years. But perhaps it’s time for me to stop trying to fix this. I can’t have my heart broken every time she comes to town and refuses to see me. It is destroying my soul.