May 15, 2021, 08:01:48 am


"Welcome to -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

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Long story.  I married the wrong man 48 years ago.  He was abusive almost from the start but he always made me feel like it was my fault.  Six years later we had our only child.  He got worse and eventually I was forced to leave with my child (pulling guns).  So I left and filed for divorce.  I got custody of our son.  He literally drove me crazy for the next 8 years.  He taught our son cuss words and he would cuss me out from a very early age.  He taught him I was the scum of the earth.  He basically brain washed our son.  I tried EVERYTHING!!  We were in church, in counseling, every thing the Lord led me to do.  We would have knock down dragouts over a glass of water.  It was horrible! For a couple of years he would have a friend of his come flatten my tires a couple of times a week.  I had to get up at 5am just to see if I needed to fix my tire.  I know it was him because it never happened to anyone else and when I moved it continued to happen.

Fast forward, at 9 years old I had to let my son go live with my ex-husband.  He was finally happy and left me alone.  My life was much better.  Although I suspected ex had not changed -- I had no choice but to let him go.

Fast forward, at 18 my son asked if he could come back and live with me, he was tired of dad.  I moved and turned my living arrangements upside down to accommodate him.  He lived with me for 6 years and it was our best 6 years ever.  He even told me one time that his dad had lied about me all his life and that he know saw I wasn't what he had been told.

So, he got married a few years later and everything was good for a few years.  Then they got pregnant and things started to change.  They spent all their holidays with her parents -- her mother wouldn't tolerate a Thanksgiving etc without them - and I went along with everything to keep peace.  About 10 years ago my son got really weird.  We'd be talking about something and all of a sudden he would go into this rant 'WE ARE TRUTH SEEKERS.  WE'D RATHER HEAR THE TRUTH.'  It was strange -- but because our eggshell relationship I'd say nothing.  We be talking about some simple subject and I wasn't lying.

Now, I had seen him display rage with on a few occasions with others -- but of course never expected him to treat me that way.  He was acting like his dad.

They had gotten distant.  Christmas Day I'd show up about noon for our Christmas and they were still in bed.  My birthday or Mother's Day he call me about 10 o'clock at night.  Although I did go over to their house often, I now realize they didn't want me there.  I was not any kind of priority.  I'm embarrassed to say I never called them on their behavior.  I just went along with it because I wanted to be in their lives.

10 years ago, my dad came to live with me and after about a year we needed to clean out his home because it was not safe just to leave as it.  So, I offered them some furniture and they went down to get it and I kept the two children.  I had planned to take the children to a birthday party while they were gone, but I got lost and never found the party.  So we went to eat and went back to their house.  Well, later in evening my 2 year old grandson who was potty training had a poop accident and cleaned him up.  I was going to put the training pants in washing machine but there was clothes it so I decided to call and ask them where they wanted to put them.  My son threw a total FIT!!  He demanded to know exactly how I cleaned him up and very ugly and rude.  Said some ugly stuff.  For god's sake, I'm not a child abuser - I cleaned up the mess.  He never believed me.  He knows I'm directionally challenged even with GPS.

Things got worse.  My brother was having some health issues and I let him move into my dad's house.  I did not ask my son.  It was not planned - it happened very suddenly.  Well, a few weeks later my mother and I went down to visit my brother. We had left a car at my son's house -- he wanted to know where we were going.  He drilled me like a drill sargent -- and because I didn't want to tell him, I did lie.  I admit it.  I told him we were going to visit relatives.  I told him we'd discuss it when I got back.  Well when I told him he went off on me and my mother.  Seriously ugly and disrepectful.  I left in tears and have never been back.  I assumed everything would work itself out, but it did not.  Over the next few months he would call and tell me the real problem.  He had been invading my privacy for years and I didn't know.  Stupid me.  He was on my checking account and watched my every move.  I like slot machines and he was very angry about that.  My dad lived with me for a while and then I had to put him in a nursing home.  He was more than I could handle.  My son demanded that I give him bank statements from my dad's bank accounts and account for every penny he had (he only had about $17,000 and we had to spend that down when he went into the nursing home). He said the most horrible things to me that you can imagine.  He accused me of lying, cheating, stealing -- said when he was a child I lied about his age at a restaurant buffet (really?).  He said that if I did not meet his demands I would not be allowed to see the children and that I'd never see them again. 

I refused to be bullied and told him no.  Because it was none of his business and I knew he'd be trying to control me for the rest of my life.  He even accused me of making my dad change his will.  I sent him wills so he could see what had happened and he never believed me.

So, it's now been 8 years-- starting the 9th year.  I'm still heart broken.  I reach out a couple of times a year and sometimes I get short response and sometimes nothing.  I have not seen the kids since they were 4 and 2 (they are not turning 13 and 11).  I have had no pictures in all these years -- and no pictures are very posted on FaceBook.  I'm blocked from anyone that might post a picture.

I don't think I'll ever get over this.  I just try and stay busy.

First of all, what a relief to find this place.  I had no idea such a forum existed and found it by looking up "What to do when your child hates you."  It grieves me that I'm not alone; that so many others are experiencing similar pain, but I am also comforted in that this says I'm not alone; somebody(ies) understand.
Here's the Cole's Notes version of where I am:
I'm 62 years old.  I was widowed very suddenly and unexpectedly last August.  DH and I had 3 children.  A son, from my first marriage, and two daughters of ours.  There were also 2 sons from his first marriage which is a whole other mess for another time perhaps.
DH suffered from bi-polar disorder which, after many years and medication trials (I thought, as did our doctor) was under control.  One of the common manifestations of the 'manic phase' is out-of-control spending.  I had NO IDEA it was happening, and take full responsibility for not having been more vigilant re: our finances.  However, DH always assured me things were fine, and I took him at his word.  Imagine then, my shock and horror to find that every penny was gone, and a further 61 thousand dollars in debt had been racked up.  In the past 8 months I have managed by going back to work (had been retired), taking on every available overtime hour, and cutting my budget beyond the bone and right into the very marrow, to pay off almost half of that.
Our youngest, who was always a "challenging" child, and also suffers from bi-polar disorder has concluded that I, and I alone, am to blame for, well, everything.  Her father, in her mind, is now Saint Daddy who did no wrong ever.  (DH was, indeed, the "fun parent", and I carried the weight of most of the practicalities.)  Side note: as part of her challenges to us, she once accused her father of being abusive (physical and mental but not I hasten to add sexual), which lead to Family Services removing her from our home.  She was back within a few days.  She made a LOT of questionable friendships and decisions in her teen years, but we were always there to pick her up, give her and her kids a place to live, money, gifts etc.  As it turns out, her dad spent a lot more on her and her children than I knew.  In any case, when he died, that tap was turned off quickly and forcefully. 
I have received several poisonous text messages from her since accusing me of being a bad, distant and neglectful mother and grandmother.  These notes are absolutely viscous towards me, and canonize her dad.  I suspect there is a lot of guilt behind that on the latter part. And so much anger!  I am, as I entitled this, The Target of Choice.  Yes, she is receiving medical attention for her illness, but so was the case with her dad....the results aren't quite as hoped. 
Honestly?  I do NOT need this added stress.  Not at my age.  Not in my financial position.  Not while I'm still adapting to being a widow for crying out loud.  Thus far, whenever I get one of these texts (and there have been several), I do not answer them as I need not attend every argument to which I am invited.  She is utterly convinced that her accusations represent the pure unvarnished Truth.  DH was also like that in his depressive while I have seen this before (and survived it), I feel like I'm being kicked when I'm down.
Is this all self-pity (another accusation I get) or....  I don't know...what?
Thank you for reading/listening.  It helps just to put it down and out there.
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Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by lmc - April 29, 2021, 09:45:46 am
*hole...not whole
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by lmc - April 29, 2021, 09:41:01 am
Thank you for taking the time to reply!
My youngest is in grad school now, and yes, she is trying to make plans for the weekend.
After numerous discussions, my siblings and closest friends have decided to not attend the wedding. They feel they no longer know who this person is. The beautiful, kind person they once knew no longer exists. I am keeping the porch light on, just not standing at the door anymore.
I found out her dog passed away and reached out to her with words of comfort. I got a two word "thank you" response. At least she responded...
I know that each person in this world is responsible for their own happiness. I try to not perseverate about this. There is a whole in our lives that I am learning to live with; some days are more difficult than others. I do not have a choice but to move on.
I am taking joy in moving my youngest into her apartment, shopping and decorating...sad my oldest isn't there to share in the laughs and fun as we did for her grad school apartment. But, life isn't a straight many curves.
Work, golf, travel, good friends keep me busy, but I'm sure as you know, I would trade it all for a loving day with my first born.
Happy Mother's Day... My youngest and I plan on breakfast at our favorite place followed by a day of fun things to do together after visiting my mom's grave. (I'm glad my mom is not around to see the change in my oldest daughter. I am embarrassed that I failed at being a mother; something I thought I was good at. I hope you have a beautiful day...your son is lucky to have a mother who is kind, and wise!
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by Stilllearning - April 22, 2021, 11:25:45 am
Hi IMC!!  Since you are giving your younger daughter her choice of whether to attend or not I am assuming that she is a young adult and not a teenager.  If I am wrong please forgive me. 

There was a time in my marriage when my DH would leave me about twice a year for a weekend (sometimes longer) and go on a 'guys trip' with his buddies.  I was left at home with our two children to deal with everything while he went off and had fun.  I was happy for him to go once or twice but over the years resentment built up because I never got a 'girls trip'.  When I brought up the fact that I never got to go on a 'girls trip' he would say "go ahead, have fun!" but the truth was I didn't want to go on a girls trip.  I wanted a family trip or a get away with just my hubbie.  Actually what I wanted was for him to WANT to stay at home with us instead of going at all.  The more I thought about it the more I resented it and the more my resentment affected our marriage.  It got to the point where I would just seethe the whole time he was gone.  I did the only thing I could think of to do......I asked my sister what to do.  She is brilliant with things like this and she proved her brilliance once again with this advice!

She told me to plan something that would be fun for me and my two children while my DH was gone.  I found out the dates of their 'trip' and planned a camping trip to coincide with those dates.  I don't know if you camp or not but the planning that goes into the trip is extensive and takes days to get everything properly set up.  My sons and I talked about our upcoming trip all the time.  We got the equipment out, set the tent up to air out, talked about our menus, bought food together and, well you get the idea.  We had a great time!!  When my DH got back we reveled him with stories of our adventures!  Shortly after that I started bugging my DH about the dates for his next 'trip' and we did the same thing again!  It was awesome!  It only took two trips for him to start begging off of the 'guy trips' and joining in on the family camping trips.  We built a wonderful cache of memories for years with our camping trips all over the place and it all started because I did not want to resent the fun my DH was having.

So now for the advice to you.......maybe your youngest daughter needs to plan something that she loves to do to occupy her during the wedding.  Maybe she could get a friend and do a 'spa day'?  Maybe she could visit some town she has always wanted to see or plan a nature hike.  Surely there is something she would adore to do that would take her mind off of the wedding and give her some incredible memories so that when the wedding is brought up in 5 years she can go....."No I didn't go to the wedding but I went _______.  I had so much fun!"  The possibilities are only limited by your pocketbook and your imagination.  More planning is better than less because the wedding is going to be the center of conversation and she will be able to retreat to her thoughts about what her plans are.  This thought also adds that you can stay for the reception (if you want) and enjoy your relatives who will be there.

Another thing, you are going to need someone at the wedding that will understand how difficult this is going to be on you.  My DS's wedding was incredibly difficult.  I was supposed to be happy but I knew it was a mistake.  People came up to congratulate me and I wanted to cry or scream.  It took every bit of my emotional fortitude to get through that ceremony and reception.  My heart goes out to you.  Just remember that it is not over, marriages only start at the wedding.  Your eldest DD is young and has a lot to learn.  Life is an unforgiving teacher, she may need you later so try very hard not to slam any doors but don't stand at any doors knocking either.  Go out and enjoy your life.  You deserve happiness, go get it!!

Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by lmc - April 22, 2021, 05:39:37 am
I have another dilemma I was wondering if someone could please give me advice?
My estranged daughter wants me at the wedding, but her only sister refuses to go. Her sister was originally the maid of honor then demoted to co-maid of honor, then demoted again to bridesmaid. Her sister feels it is a slap in the face and humiliated with these demotions. Their relationship is practically non-existent after being inseparable and so close for years - close that is until the oldest got engaged - from there my daughter's relationship us deteriorated to the point of estrangement. I want to go to the ceremony only and then leave the reception to be with younger sister. I am torn between both children because my oldest, the bride, has been so unkind to everyone, and my youngest will be left alone. What should I do?
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by lmc - April 13, 2021, 09:37:39 am
Thank you for responding; your kind words have much wisdom.
Funny, I respond to questions about my daughter with "no news is good news" already, and when I hear things that are atypical about her life I usually respond, that "I am not dipping my toe back in that crazy pool." I like your "not my circus, not my monkeys" better. It is less offensive.
I just mailed a letter to my daughter yesterday. My therapist took out my self-deprecating, and self-blame statements. Sending this final letter has given me some peace of mind/closure. It is up to my daughter now...

Thank you again for reaching out. Please keep me posted about your new relationship with son; I am truly happy for you. I am indebted to you. 
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by Stilllearning - April 10, 2021, 09:56:09 am
Hello Imc!  I am so sorry that it took me so long to reply but I was on Spring Break.  I know that you must have read some of my sordid story but if you want to go back and read the posts when I was where you are you might find yourself with a more kindred spirit than you think.  I thought I was going to loose my mind.  I tried to talk my son into waiting to get married and they moved the wedding up.  I was absolutely determined to fix things.  It was all I ever thought about and the more I tried to fix things the worse they got.  I finally had to stop trying.  I had to give up, throw in the towel, bow to defeat.  I couldn't fix it and what's more, all of my trying had just made it worse.  It was the wonderful women on here who helped me get on with my life.  They told me that I deserve to be happy and then they told me how to accomplish that happiness. 

Think of something that makes you happy.  Whenever your mind wanders back to the horrible thoughts about your DD you have to force your mind back to things that make you happy.  Plan trips, include your younger daughter.  Have some fun!!  When your DD decides to talk to you you need to revel her with stories of all the fun you and your youngest are having.  Stop trying to get your DD to join in, go do things without her!  It doesn't have to be expensive, you can join a gym with your youngest and talk about how well you are both doing in your classes.  You can go camping, haunt estate sales, make Goodwill an adventure.  I made a trip to an Oriental store an adventure yesterday.  I am going on a nature walk this morning.  There are so many inexpensive or free things that you can do to have fun!  A picnic, go pick wildflowers, hunt for blackberries, try a new recipe.  I am learning how to cane chairs with the 7 step method.  There is so much fun out there to be had but I just got so stuck in the abyss (my name for the chasm my mind falls into when I think about my DS and his horrible wife) that I could not see any way out. 

I have since learned to look around me and see the good things I have and not focus on the things that I feel I deserve and am not getting.  So here are the three mantras I try to live by now:

1)  What you focus on expands (so focus on the good things you have)
2)  No news is good news (what I say to anyone who asks me how my DS/DIL are doing)
3)  Not my circus, not my monkeys  (When someone tells me something about my DS/DIL that is happening and      
       they are concerned about it)

The truth about the matter is that I have been relieved of duty as the teacher in my DS's life.  I did my job and now he has the reins and life is his new teacher.  If it helps any my DS has gradually drifted back into my life and I have gotten the pleasure of getting to know him as an adult who makes his own decisions and takes credit for his good decisions and does not try to shift blame for his mistakes. 

I know that while in the midst of the horror that was consuming my happiness it was exceedingly difficult to refocus on things that made me happy.  It took lots of practice and many times I found myself deep in the abyss.  The ladies here gave me a hand up.  Hopefully I can return the favor.

Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Distancing daughter
Last post by lmc - April 05, 2021, 03:10:33 pm
I have never reached out on the Internet. I am so heartbroken that I can barely function. My daughter got married without me. She invited her in-laws, but not me or her sister to a small Covid beach wedding. The pain I feel is insurmountable. I blame myself and have apologized, even groveled to my daughter and son - in- law for forgiveness. She must have been in a lot of pain to make that decision, and I caused it.

It all started when she dropped out of a fully funded Phd program at an Ivy league school. I was against this decision begging her to give the program a year before she made a life-altering decision to drop, but she dropped out anyway, and her husband (then boyfriend) and his parents helped her move out of her apartment into their house. From there the estrangement got worse and worse.

My daughter and I were inseparable before she met her husband on the Internet. He is an only child, and engineer. My daughter has a Master's degree and an excellent job in healthcare, and a sister four years younger.

My ex-husband and I paid almost all of her student loans leaving her a nominal amount to pay so that she had some "skin in the game." She attended private high school, private college and grad school. She had the best childhood, and even she would admit that.

Unfortunately, my husband and I divorced when she was in grad school, and it was an acrimonious divorce after 30 years of marriage. I have moved on, and plan to get remarried to a wonderful man from my childhood.
All of this plays into her creating boundaries that alienate me, and her younger sister who now attends grad school locally.

My daughter is angry with me for a few reasons:
1. because I insisted she stay close with her sister. I saw her pulling away from her sister from the beginning of her new relationship. We all live within 30 minutes of each other.
2. because I was telling her to slow down with the wedding plans, she planned on a two year engagement, and I wasn't jumping to get everything done within the first month. She saw this as not being supportive. If I could only go back, I would do everything the instant she wanted. I was just finalizing my divorce, moving out of my home of 20 years, and I work full time.
3. I was upset that she bought a house in a bad neighborhood within months of getting her first job. (No real savings yet.) She included her in-laws on the decision but not me. They helped her find it.
4. because I asked to have an engagement dinner rather than lunch celebration that her fiance was planning. I didn't know that was not okay to ask. I thought the proposal was private for just the two of them, but the celebration could be discussed. I was wrong.
5. because she felt I was not supporting her decisions, and quite honestly, I wasn't. I never thought not supporting her decisions would result in estrangement. We always discussed everything in the past. She would always so,"NO, NO, NO, and then process what was said, and come back with " I guess you were right." It is the standing joke in the family. It was our dynamic... until she met her now husband. If I only knew then, I would have kept my mouth shut.

I feel used, and yes, that awful word that is so overused...I feel abused. The verbal assault she attacks me with would make a lion cower. I have been in therapy for a year, and my therapist wants me to stop reaching out to her because she feels my daughter is abusive to me. She didn't call me on my birthday, Christmas, Easter, etc. I have never stopped calling, sending cards, texts. It is so painful to have them go unanswered. At one point when she had a crisis, she called me and I helped her think it through. She thanked me but the next conversation, I didn't agree with what she said, she told me to go away, that she couldn't handle the emotional roller coaster.
I planned her bridal shower, but it was not what or where she wanted. Her sister was the host, and sent out beautiful invitations. She no longer wants a shower there. She had decided to throw her own shower. I ended up losing my deposit on the restaurant that I booked, and brought her to where she originally agreed was perfect.

There are always three sides to every story, hers, mine, and somewhere is the middle is the truth.
She is now going through with her big wedding now that Covid is lessening the restrictions, but insists on not telling anyone she is already married. I think it is manipulative...
She asked her sister to step down as maid of honor, and hasn't spoken to her in over a year. They were soooo close. She has invited me to her "wedding" as a guest, and I don't know what to do.

I don't know my beautiful daughter anymore. Please can't believe this has happened to us. I feel like I am in a nightmare that wont' go away. I miss my daughter so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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