Question: Dear Luise: My problem is a long one, but I will try to make it as short as possible. In 1997 my then husband and I divorced. I was kicked out as we were living in his mother’s house. Unfortunately I really don’t have any family to speak of that are supportive etc, and never did. I have been on my own since 17 years old. I was a stay at home mum with no job, not a nickel to my name and no home over my head. I had no idea about legal aid back then so there wasn’t any sort of fight in divorce court. I lost by default and the judge awarded full custody to my ex. I had to make a choice about where to physically go to try and make a new start. Unfortunately I had to go to my father’s home in Florida (which my ex mother in law purchased a bus ticket to get rid of me). I spent 3 days on a bus, literally had $20 in my pocket for food which I got by selling my cheap wedding ring to a neighbor. My destination was not a happy one as my father is one of those “monsters” that you read about in the news. Yes, I mean the kind that sexually abuses kids, and yes he is now in jail awaiting trial. Even if I could have taken our children away with me, there is no way I would have ever put them in the sights of the proverbial wolf.
It is now many years later, and through the years I sent cards and parcels and made phone calls. Never was a call returned, and half the time the cards or boxes were returned unopened and marked “return to sender”. For years I kept each returned item. After a while I gave up bashing my head against the brick wall. Now it is 2011 and I am finally back into contact with my oldest daughter, albeit it is secretly through email only. Her father has been informed by me of telephone numbers, addresses and email accounts to reach me at over the years. Of course he says all this is untrue and that basically I am the devil incarnate. His mother has also preached to our kids her hatred of me. Now I am trying to understand how to rebuild my relationship with our children. Our daughter asks about the past, I reply, then she gets angry because she doesn’t accept what I am saying as being the way things actually happened with regard to sending items and calling. She is 16 due to be 17 soon. She has been fed a steady stream of lies and anger about me practically all her life. I am doing my utmost to hear her out and let her rant at me. The abuse her father heaped on me I have never made mention of, not even once! I refuse to badmouth him as that is dragging a child into a fight that is not theirs. I am now happily remarried and have been for 11 years. We have three happy and incredibly wonderful children…loads of laughter and love in our home. I have never kept my other children a secret and have wished for so long for all of them to have a relationship. My oldest daughter gets very snippy in her remarks about why hasn’t her little sister written her an email yet and that she is waiting. My 9 year old daughter will write to her when she is ready, so I leave it alone. I’m so sorry that this is so long, but what I really need to know is simple. At what point do I stop accepting my daughter’s emotional bashing via email and respond with my own list of needs for this relationship to continue. I have a thick skin and am willing to take a thrashing as my children are worth the pain, but I know I can’t do it forever. The only thing I responded to her was to at least just consider the possibilities that her father wasn’t entirely forthcoming with the facts of our history, and that divorce is never pleasant. She said that, and this is a quote, “what really matters is what I think and how I feel.” I have never thought this way, as I always felt that facts are more important, not opinions…but I have not told her this. Let’s ask someone that was wrongly convicted of a crime how they feel…go with opinions or facts? So presently, I am an emotional punching bag that is expected to just take it. At least my nose isn’t getting broken now, so I’m thankful for the little things. Please send me a few words of wisdom. I’m a firm believer in fairness at all costs. Help me to understand the injustice of it all. My ex stole all those years with our kids and I really don’t want him to keep the future all to himself as well. Warm regards, C.
Answer: Dear C.: I doubt that your daughter is remotely interested in hearing about your feelings or what you need. Please bring this over to my Web-forum at www.WiseWomenUnite.com Your situation calls for a great deal more than a single answer. That’s why I established a community where interaction is possible. You deserve so much better. Blessings, Luise