I don't know how to repair the broken relationship with my daughter

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by so unsure of myself, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. so unsure of myself

    so unsure of myself New Member

    My relationship with my 20 year old daughter has been difficult since she was in her early teens. She has always been extremly close to her father. For reasons I am not sure of when she was around 12 she started competing with me for her fathers attention. He in many ways allowed it. When the three of us went anywhere together she was extremly disrespectful and just flat out mean to me. I tried many things to put an end to this, but nothing worked. Her father was not supportive of my efforts and many times sided with her. I continued going to her functions and events with her and her dad knowing I was not wanted. I actually thought that if I stuck it out and endured the painful treatment towards me they would evently see how badly I wanted to be there and stop being mean to me.. As time went on they both lost any respect for me they might have had and I lost all confidence in myself. I stopped going to the events and for the most part I stopped being her parent.
    I gave up on most things, isolating myself, falling into depression and often self medicating. I made alot of mistakes during that time and I was not a mother to her.
    Her father and I divorced and she stayed with him while I moved out of the family home. She was so angry with me following the divorce she would barely speak to me. I insisted we go to counceling. She saw that as a betrayel to her father and would not participate. Slowly her anger subsided and we began to see each other more often, but I was still not viewed as her mom. She never came to me for advice or shared with me the events of her life. I have never regained the confidence to take control and left it up to her to define my role in her life. Till this day I remain unsure of myself around her even fearful that I will do or say something to make her mad. This last year things between us were better than they have ever been. She would visit regularly and even brought her boyfriend to meet me. Then all of a sudden it stopped. I have not seen her in at least 6 months not even over the holidays. I often text her, tell her i miss her and ask if we can get together. Sometimes she replys but most times she does not. The other day i finally just flat out asked her why she wont come see me and if she was angry with me. She said she had to study for a test but after that she would talk to me. I promise she said. That was a week ago and shehas not responded to me at all.
    I know I failed her. I get that i should have been a mother to her and I am so very sorry. I would do anything to try and change things between us and begin to build some kind of relationship. At this point I dont know what to do. I dont know what she wants from me. Again I feel like I am a nuiesance to her and am intruding on her life. Then on the otherhand I feel like if I do not reach out to her I lose her all together. I am at a lose I do not have any idea what to do next. Is it too late? I pray that it is not. I have never talked to her about how I see and felt throughout all this and I really do not know how she sees the event of her childhood in regards to me. I am not even sure what started all her anger towards me.
    Please any advice. I am just at a loss, but I don't want to give up again.
  2. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Have you seen a therapist just for you? I think I would start there.

    And it's not my place to tell you what to do, as I don't know you or your daughter. But here is what I think I would try.

    I would limit my texts to once a month. Maybe reach out on her birthday and Christmas with small gifts and card.

    Then I would go out and find activities that you enjoy, classes to take, get involved involved in your community and church (if you attend).

    Part of me thinks your daughter knows she holds all the power in the relationship and she enjoys using it. Maybe the less interest you show, the less she will manipulate. In the meantime, try to find people who value you! Volunteering is a great place to start.


    Ps... My situation is slightly different, we adopted our two granddaughters after they ended up in foster care. One has some mental issues (bi-polar) the other has had addiction issues. I am tired of being lied to and manipulated. But, I still want to be a part of their lives. It's hard... I just don't want to be a checkbook...I want to be the mom/grandma...
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  3. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I agree with KSM- get counseling for yourself. You need to turn the focus onto yourself before you can even think about improving your relationship with your daughter. A therapist will help you learn to deal with your grief and help you learn to find ways to rebuild your self confidence. When our kids are adults we have very little sway over their behavior. I agree that she likely enjoys the power she knows she holds over you. I think if you back off and take some time to work on yourself the dynamics will naturally change and you can start from there. Good luck.
  4. so unsure of myself

    so unsure of myself New Member

    I think you may be right. I should get some kind of counseling. I have been been through so much in the last few years. Ending a 16 year marriage, leaving my home of 20 years, living on my own for the first time and this heartbreak with my daughter.
    Despite everything, I am kinda proud of myself, I haven't completely fallen apart, came very close. I started making myself get out of the apartment daily. I got myself a dog. He sure brightens my days. I am enjoying long walks a couple times a day with him. Maybe next i will actually try to talk to people..:) Thank you for your kindness and taking the time to share your advice.
  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I agree with the others.

    You are learning now to have your center of gravity be yourself, who you are, what you need. You feel like you need and want her, and I relate entirely. But the person we really need, is ourselves. To be connected to our real feelings, our real needs and wants. To be centered in the real women we are. Getting to know that person, know what she wants.

    You're doing it. The long walks. The dog. Living on your own. Getting out each day, because that's what you need. Seeking kindness.

    Your daughter right now has nothing to give you. Who knows the real story? But as she matures she may discover that she needs and wants her mother. This can't be forced. She will discover it in her own time. But right now you have your own work to do.

    Her father did very wrong by encouraging triangulation. He hurt her and he hurt you. Who knows what kinds of wounds she carries, because of this?
    This is very blaming. Every single one of us fails our children sometimes. We can only start where we are, today: By trying very, very hard to not fail or abandon ourselves any longer. This is where we heal. We heal all of our relationships (even those with our loved ones who have died), I believe, by healing ourselves.

    If we start thinking this way, we can see our healing as a way of connecting with our children. But to do this we need connection with ourselves and our real needs, through listening to ourselves and living our deepest knowing, in order to relate fully and completely to those we love. This is the work your're doing now. And me too.
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    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Rushing a bit...apologies.

    It bothered me that your husband "in many ways allowed it." Sounds like 'triangulation." I think this can and often happens in families. But, its up to both parents to DIS courage it.

    Best to build yourself up. Health, career, hobbies, interests, friends etc. Be a complete person. A self confident woman is hard to resist. She might end up drawn to you.

    Don't blame yourself. This was unfair to you. If you have a close, honest, true family member or friend...stick with this person for support. See a therapist, if you are not already. Move forward....run forward. Blessings.
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  7. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    My dogs have many, many times been what keeps me going and forces me to get up and get moving. Dogs need food, water, exercise, love. When they wake me in the morning I know they depend on me. They have also been very healing for me. I have MEGA trust issues with people (all people) and I have found the perfectly trustworthy relationship I've always craved with my dogs. They never let me down. They have also taught me to live in the moment, enjoy what's happening as it's happening. My old lady dog has vestibular disease and I think dementia as well. That's OK- I'll do what I can to make her happy and comfortable until she is ready to move on. I can't imagine my life without her- she has brought me so much comfort, happiness and joy. I'm so glad you have a dog. They truly can make life so much better. Keep taking walks with your dog- I find that really clears my head and makes me think more objectively.
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  8. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    You've gotten a lot of sound feedback. Glad to know you've got the love and company of your dogs.

    My experience with my daughter feels similar to some aspects of yours. What others have called triangulation, with which I concur, I call parental alienation - a term used to describe when one parent consciously or unconsciously turns children against the other parent. In my case it started after my divorce - my husband bad mouthed me, gave in to our two children, enabled them, so I was the 'bad parent' by not doing the same. My kids took his side on everything, and my ex fought me on so many levels.

    Their dad died at 51, and they see him as a saint in a way. My daughter has not talked to me in 1 1/2 years, which means I also don't get to see my grandchildren.

    After much therapy, reading, spiritual work, and 12 step, I am still making my way, but I know I was a good mother, and I choose to detach and find other ways to bring joy and good things into my life. I will always have a broken heart on some level, but I am choosing to be thankful for all the blessings I do have in my life.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    After reading Acacia's post I have been reading a little bit about parental alienation, and read about mother shaming. It sounds as if this is what was happening. And that you felt all of this was your fault and you internalized the shame and guilt. The last thing it was was your fault. Nor should it be your shame.
    The original mover was your husband. He was the one whose needs and motivations pulled for and created and manipulated and maintained this triad. He seems to have decided that your daughter was his real "partner," setting up a situation where you were the interloper in your own marriage and home.

    While it looked like it was your daughter doing the rejecting of you, she was only being manipulated like a puppet by her father.

    There was no way to win for you, because number one, you were normal, and as such did not and could not have seen such a dynamic. But worst of all, because your daughter was the real victim.

    Your baseline was to care for her, to protect her, and to help her develop. It was this that her father sabotaged. She was victimized by her father in so many ways: he turned her against her mother who she needed and still needs. How can she develop as an adult woman, without resolving her feelings towards you? And then, how could she not be angry at you for not protecting her, FROM HIM?

    None of this is your fault. She was victim number 1. You were victim number 2. He set up and controlled the whole thing.
    This is sick. And very, very wrong.

    I will add something here. As long as you beseech her (some of this is inevitable, we do yearn for them), giving the set-up the power, I think, you are acting from the bottom position in the sick triad that your ex husband set up. Your job now (I think) is to put yourself in the center and on top in yourself and your life. In that center, your daughter, in time, will come to you. And you will be there for her whole and strong. So. Every single thing you do to care for yourself, I believe, is the way FOR HER TO WALK BACK TO YOU, and to herself.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  10. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    What a tough position but you have gotten great advice. I am 100% in favor of therapy. The tools lie within us but it sometimes takes a third party - trained - to help us see what we need to do and how best to handle the situation.

    I would start there. Good luck.
  11. so unsure of myself

    so unsure of myself New Member

    Thanks to you all for the kind words and encouragement. I had my first counseling appointment today and will see her again on Wednesday. I like her. I do think this is going to be good for me.
    Again, thank you. It felt good to not feel so alone, like I finally had someone on my side. It is sometimes hard for me to look at this situation. I get stuck in the emotion. Does that make sense?
  12. so unsure of myself

    so unsure of myself New Member

    I am so sorry. It is shocking to me what some people are capable of doing to meet their own selfish needs. How can we defend ourselves against such? I hope that someday your children find their way back to you. You seem like a very strong, logical and kind woman with much to offer them. I wish you much luck.