Life is difficult due to non-Difficult Child adult daughter


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Short history......divorced ex in Jan 2011 after 40 years. Remarried at age 62, Oct 2012. Adult daughter (45) has barely spoken since. She lives out of state, is fully aware of WHY of divorce (initiated by me, but caused by her father). Has yet to even SPEAK name of new husband, let alone meet him. I continue to be devastated over it all. She has all four of my grandchildren, very little contact with any of them. Every time I get to talk to any of them I cry for three hours. HOW can I move on? Daughter and I had a wonderful relationship and spoke nearly three times a day. We went MONTHS with no contact, now I'm lucky if it's once a month. Holidays, of course, are terribly difficult. If she sends a gift, there's one for me, but no mention of new husband. Christmas card is addressed to only me. My heart hurts and it's not getting any better.


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Hi your daughter obviously has a lot of feelings about the divorce. I sympathize with her because my parents got divorced after 38 years of marriage. It was very hard on me and my brother and put a huge strain on my relationship with my dad.

So my suggestion is you contact your daughter, want to come see her by yourself. Then go and listen to how she feels....don't say anything bad about your ex...just listen and if need be explain why you left. The important thing is that she feel heard. She won't be able to have a relationship with your new husband until she works out her relationship with you.

New Leaf

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She has all four of my grandchildren, very little contact with any of them. Every time I get to talk to any of them I cry for three hours.
HI WUC. I am so sorry for this, I know how it feels, my grands are stuck in the middle, too. It hurts.

Holidays, of course, are terribly difficult. If she sends a gift, there's one for me, but no mention of new husband. Christmas card is addressed to only me. My heart hurts and it's not getting any better.
I think TL has some really good advice. It seems your daughter is still trying to have some kind of relationship with you, but has not accepted your marriage. If you are open, it seems she may be open for a heart to heart.

You certainly have time to think on this, and do what is comfortable for you.

Take care.

Scent of Cedar *

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I agree with TL, too.

But I think the ex-husband is the engine here, and I think he is doing what he is doing skillfully and with malice aforethought.

A forty year marriage....


It helps us to have a place like this where we can determine what it is we are feeling, where the primary hurts are. Then, we can address those specific things in the best way we know or can learn.

What is the father's role, the ex-husband's role, in this?

To me, that is where the answer will be.

You left him after 40 years for a reason. And you stayed with him for 40 years. You had children to raise; and he was that good a manipulator of your emotional reality.

You must be a very strong woman.

I would say he is doing the same subtle, blatantly out in the open manipulation with the daughter that he practiced on you, and on her, for all those years that you lived with him and were at his mercy.
And that eventually, you left him because of, once your children were safely raised and there were no more hostages to protect.

Now, there is no one between the daughter and him. He may be using her as he uses everyone.

I am sorry this is happening to you and your daughter. I read once, a long time ago, that the kids will act out most honestly with the parent they most trust. They know beyond the need of questioning that we love them rock solid. I don't know whether that thought will help you, but it helped me to understand from a different perspective and then, what was happening did not seem such a gummy, dark thing I could not get a handle on.

The thing I keep wondering about is whether the father is using the daughter's empathy for him with malice aforethought. Triangulating to beat the band and playing the same, predatory game he's always played, he could be using your daughter to hurt everyone involved by intentionally drawing her into an alliance against you.

This is the nature of the game for my mother, too.

I don't know why they do it. I do know the name of what they do is called gaslighting. They weave a hurtful reality out of little shimmerings of things. They cry loud and long about loneliness, and about how they have been done wrong. They are viciously determined to create division, like a cat playing with a terrified mouse hour after hour with limitless patience and endless joy in the smallest win in the game.

Maybe, he is using loneliness; maybe, regret for the things she knows him to have done but which you, heartless thing that you were, left him for without giving him a chance and now he is old and alone and needs someone, needs the much beloved woman who left him instead of helping him and on and on ad nauseam.

Or maybe, he is playing that he was the one who sacrificed his life for the sake of his children. Maybe, he is preying on her, is destroying you to her, telling her lie after lie. And there he is, alone in the world now, except for he and his daughter, who knows now, the truth of the sacrifice he made for her.


Is your daughter especially caring, especially empathic?

That is the favorite target of the narcissist and of the sociopathic person. Not that your ex-husband is either of those things, but there are people in the world who are like that. If we are being hurt in ways we don't understand, if the pieces just somehow do not ever seem to fit, it can help us to learn a little bit about these personality types. I resisted learning about these kinds of internet diagnostics at first. When I did do some exploring on Family of Origin issues where these kinds of personality types could be involved, I learned much that was useful to me and even, comforting.

Things that had never made sense began to fall into discernable patterns, patterns I could make sense of, and I began to heal.

Something is fueling your daughter's animosity. Something is creating a feeling of disloyalty in her when she sees you or interacts with you. From the clear, non-judgmental tone of your post, I think you are not creating the problem.

That leaves the ex-husband.

And he is using his own child, hurting her, to do it.

Does this pattern fit for your family situation?

How would it be possible to create a relationship with your daughter without addressing or accusing the father? (He would love that too much. He would play hapless victim. The enmity would become an open thing and the father would, says me and no one else, suck the life out of the daughter to get back at you and at her because he can.)

But I am just a person and I could be wrong as can be.

Still, the way I see it, it is the father.

He could be doing it to celebrate the hurt in it for you and to get back at you for escaping him. Here is a horrible but terribly important thing I learned: When our people we love are people who do things like this? None of it, however painful, is personal. People who do this, do it to everyone in their lives. They are different than we are. That is why we don't get it, and have trouble believing it when we finally do see what they do.

I am very sorry he is using your daughter this way.


It may be that the daughter sees only his "unremitting pain". (In quotes for a reason and I think you know why I did that.) If this is the dynamic at the heart of this, the daughter cannot see beyond her father's pain and the father will have done everything in his power to make certain this is so and somewhere at the core of it will be that you betrayed him.

So, how could we unravel the father's game?

I never was able to unravel my mother's game.

The father will be blaming you for what he willfully has done, and for every shortcoming in his parenting. He will, if he is like my mother, tell blatant lies and believe them and repeat them until the daughter has heard them so many times she believes them, too. My mother did that very thing to my father (and upped the virulence of her attack on his mother, my paternal grandmother) immediately after my father's death. Until I could step back enough to gain some perspective, I was certain I could love us all out of it.

I was wrong.

If she were my daughter...I might ask point blank how the father is, and whether he is doing well. If it comes out that the father is doing what I think he is, then I think the thing to do is to say, "I'm sorry, honey. I know you worry about your father. You are such a good daughter." Or, "Oh, that must have been hard, to hear your father in such pain."

And then, drop the conversation about the father. Keep it light and welcoming and love her where she is and love yourself, too.

There is nothing more you can do, I think.

In her heart, the daughter will be protective of the father. He has worked very hard to create this vulnerability in her so that he can use her love for him to hurt you both.

Mostly, to hurt her.

You have escaped.

She cannot.

So, that is how I see what is happening in your family. I do think the way to approach this with the daughter is to demand nothing. To understand where she is probably being groomed toward hatred instead of closure. That is the wound the father is exploiting. That is the pain he is funneling toward hatred for you. The father will have exploited the daughter's confusion about how the divorce could have happened when it did, after so long a time.

Says me, and I am no one in particular, but that is what I see happening here.

You sound like such a nice mother in your post, wakeupcall. If any of this makes sense to you regarding what I think the father is doing, then you will know how to cherish yourself and your child into a healthier place all on your own. We will be right here too though, as you both come through it.

You will know the second you read this whether the father is responsible.

We never think it, because we cannot imagine anyone would comport themselves in these ways, especially where their own children are concerned.

But they do.


When my father was going to leave my mother after all of us were grown and on our own and she did a series of unbelievably pointless and rotten things, my mother told me she had threatened my father with never seeing his "kids" again.

We were all in our thirties.


Had they divorced, we would finally have been able to cherish our father cleanly.

They did not divorce.

Other bad things have happened.

The common denominator has been my mother.

These people are such clever manipulators. They target the empathic people in every area of their lives because we are sympathetic by nature. That makes us easy marks.

I am sorry this is happening to you and to your child.

Very hurtful, and especially so when we cannot seem to make the pieces fit or understand why.

But I think it is not the divorce. It is the ex-husband, and this is just how he wants it to be.

I keep saying I am sorry. I am, for all the levels of hurt, here. I just don't know how to communicate that. I do know you must have been very courageous to leave him.

You did that.

You recreated your life.

There will be a way to do this too, and I think you will know how to do that once you are more clear about why it is happening.

I think all this because the marriage was a forty year marriage. The ex-husband will be a master at manipulation, for you to have stayed as long as you did, and to have been destroyed enough to have left after forty years.

Well okay. I am repeating and repeating myself here. So, I will just sign off, then.




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Cedar, I read your words over and over...the insight you have is nothing short of amazing. My very best friend has stood by me through all this...she and her husband have said exactly what you have said. Pure manipulation. (I never considered that if I believed him all those years, why wouldn't our daughter believe him now??) I think she was devastated that I moved on so quickly, but all I can say is that I'm not a young person with a long life ahead. Trying to make her understand was smothering her, so I backed way off to give her space. The problem is that I feel that "space" has lasted so long that we will never have a relationship again. Shunning my husband through all this is reprehensible. He did nothing, has never met her or spoken to her. It's been five years since the divorce (new husband and I have been married three), that's a long time when one is in their sixties! I left ex only after very, very careful consideration....two years worth. Being "destroyed" is putting it mildly. My daughter is beautiful, intelligent, a terrific mother...and I miss her beyond words.

By what you wrote, you obviously have been in my shoes. Aren't families wonderful? I'm sorry for your pain. The holidays don't help. I continue to send Christmas presents, birthday presents, etc. with nary a thank you. Guess it's about time to stop that, too. It's hard to detach from her and Difficult Child at the same time....

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
The problem is that I feel that "space" has lasted so long that we will never have a relationship again.

How do you think you will proceed from here, wakeupcall?

The father will have been using this time to whine and bemoan and accuse. He will have been lying, will have been watching the daughter's responses and tailoring his "poor, poor betrayed me" to deepening and manipulating her through them.

I wonder whether you would be able to find just that right Hallmark card to send your daughter apropos of nothing ~ not a holiday, not a birthday. Nothing too mushy. Maybe, keeping a watch for that card can be a form of reclaiming your power in this situation. It seems that you are accepting the "person designated to be punished" role (I did that, too). There is no one to be punished, or to punish. You are out of it. The daughter will learn in time. If you could keep it light, keep it accepting, begin to establish boundaries around the daughter's hurtful behaviors as you come to understand she is being victimized and manipulated too ~ and by a freaking master, at that ~ then I think you will do better.

Much of this is about taking our power back in our own lives.

Shunning my husband through all this is reprehensible.

Sometimes, we take out hurt out where we can. To me, your daughter is being victimized more coldly than you are. Though ex-Hubris Boy can hurt you through controlling, or at least, confusing, your daughter's understanding of who her mother is, he cannot hurt you, anymore. He will have turned this onto his daughter ~ every belief system, everything you know that he said that was wrong in his thinking, he will be doing the same, pouring the same poisonous interpretations into your daughter. That is probably why she refuses even to meet your new husband. She is hating him so that in her heart, she can protect you from the hurt the father, knowing exactly how to do what he was doing, will have set to burn.

This hurt, all of it, for you and for her, will have come from the ex-husband.

So, if you should look for that card for your daughter, I would try to find one to bring back memories of those times and places between you and your daughter that Hubris boy was not aware of and so will not have been able to poison. If you can find that place, she will hear you.

That is the Sleeping Beauty kiss Copa posts about.

That place where love can break through.

She wants you. You are home to her; you are Mother.

Your ex kept you enthralled for forty years. This guy knows what he is doing.

You will need to be very wise.

Even your feeling that the daughter's behavior regarding your husband is reprehensible will have been orchestrated, I think, long distance by ex Hubris Boy. Which doesn't mean it's okay for her to do that. It isn't. But we will do better I think, if we can be very sure about who is listening to who about what in our families. Then, when we take a stand (and we will) we will know why, and it will be for the right reason.

Your daughter is a victim, here.

She has been required to choose against her mother/herself.

And that is an impossible choice to make. If she were not hurt by her own actions, she would be casually interacting, not caring much one way or another. She isn't doing that.

She is very hurt by this, too.


Your daughter sounds lovely. How old are your grands, if you don't mind sharing with us?


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Your insight scares me, almost. Both your posts have caused me to sob like I've not for awhile. What you write, all of it, is SOoooo true and no one has said it out loud to me. I do know that ex belittles me, but I have never, ever, ever belittled him to my children. My daughter knows the truth about what happened, but I'm not sure Difficult Child does. I've chosen to not tell Difficult Child all of it since they still live under the same roof....and he seems so out of it all the time I'm not sure he'd understand...

My daughter has four children, three girls and one boy; 19, 16, 12, 9. I'm particularly close to the 12 year old girl...or I used to be. Life has gone on. But you are right, I am mother...

Scent of Cedar *

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It's okay, wakeupcall. We are all anonymous here. That is how we can be honest with one another, and say true things to one another, and heal.

Holding you and yours in my thoughts and prayers, wakeupcall. I have a daughter too. She has four children, as well. 22, 16, 10, and 6. We were very close with our oldest two, and with our daughter too, through that time. Then, she married and moved away. We see them now in summer, or talk to them on the phone. Our son has two boys. We have one half-brother of one of our granddaughters who is honorary grandson.

He is 24.




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Hi Wakeupcall,

I am seeing this from your daughters point of view because that was the experience I had. I would be careful in blaming her reaction on your ex husband. He may very well be giving her his point of view and that may be coloring her perspective but she is an adult with a mind of her own. My dad blamed my mother for my brother and my reaction and I find it offensive that he did that. My mother was not at all trying to turn us against him, it was the way he did not sonsider our feelings or let us be heard that caused the problems along with some actions that he took that we didnt like.

I am not saying you did anything wrong at all..... but just give your daughter the credit that she is an adultl and can think on her own. Dont waste time or energy blaming the ex.... and dont push her to accept your husband before she is ready. My dad made that mistake of pushing my step mother on us before we were ready and it made it all harder. I did end up having a good relationship with my step mother eventually but it took me some time. My brother never did.

So really it is time to have a heart to heart with your daugther and acknowledge that your divorce had a direct impact on her even though she was an adult when it happened. It sounds like you had a good relationship with your daughter before the divorce so I think it is totally possible for you to have one again, but she needs to feel heard and understood in all this.

I think often when the children are adults and on their own in the case of a divorc


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Ugh I hit send before I meant to... So I think often in the case of divorce when the children are adults and on their own, the assumption is this doesnt really involve or affect them. I think this is blatantly untrue as many of our beliefs and thoughts about relationships and marriage are based on our parents and so when your parents split you have to rethink all of that.


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Toughlovin, I understand all that, I really do. I have given her SO much time, five years already. FIVE! Now it feels like if I go visit, alone of course, that I'm betraying my new husband. I've been to visit her alone the last four times. Husband would never tell me not to go...its me who feels this way. He never did a thing, wouldn't know her if she rang the doorbell....


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So does she talk about what she is upset about and why she does not want a relationship with your husband. It really isnt about him, of course he has done nothing wrong.... this is about you, your relationship with her and the divorce. Somehow those issues have not been resolved in some way for her... and I think thaat is what needs to happen. And maybe she is still too angry in which case there is not much you can do.


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He never did a thing,
To your daughter, he probably did. He married her mother who was married to her beloved father for forty years and my guess is for that reason alone she wants nothing to do with him and is angry that ex was hurt? Did that happen?

I know of several people whose young adult children took sides during a divorce. The only difference is your daughter is older. This probably hurt her a lot. A divorce can really make adult children's worlds change...all that they believed in...."my parents love each other" She could be hurting over your divorce too. Do I think she's doing the right thing? I don't think so, but I'm not in her shoes either.

Not blaming you at all. Just perhaps presenting how she feels.


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You've given me a lot to think about. Guess I'm mostly just tired of all the drama. If it's not Difficult Child, then it's adult non-Difficult Child daughter. Some kind of drama seems to be happening all the time. My daughter is a grown woman; suppose I expected her to act like one and to have my back. I've never, not one time, expected her to not have a relationship with her father...don't care. But I DO care that I seem to have a very limited relationship with her.


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Divorce after a very long time, unless physical abuse is involved, is hard on even grown kids. I can think of many examples. It destroys what an adult child thought about her family in some cases and I'll bet if you asked your daughter what she has against your husband it is that he married you and so soon and that it hurt her father. I may be all wrong, but t here is no other reason for her to refuse to meet him. Sounds like she is angry at you too. Maybe she will listen if you sit her down and kindly explain that you understand how she feels and ask if you can present your side.

Good luck!!! Hugs!!!!