Ask Amy: In this relationship, the ‘comfort zone’ is a Twilight Zone
I’m hurt and alone.
– Crying All the Time
Dear Crying: It is ironic that sometimes in tough divorces, the children take their pain out on the parent who does the most with (and for) them. In your case, if their father really “went about his life” and didn’t see his children that often, the parent they had the most negative experiences with is the parent who raised them because their father wasn’t there.
You admit to having made a lot of mistakes. “Owning” your mistakes does not erase them for your children. Depending on the nature of these mistakes, they may be looking for more from you.
If one of the mistakes you made was to basically bury your own life and live mainly through them, that would create a dynamic where they essentially flee the intensity and emotional responsibility you’ve placed upon them.
If one of the mistakes you made was to give them too much, then they would not have learned how to give.
Many parents report being completely in the dark about why children choose estrangement, but parents’ own lack of insight and empathy, along with their ability to sustain that sort of denial, might actually be a factor in the estrangement.
You would benefit from reading “Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them,” by researcher Karl Pillemer (2020, Avery).
I’ve interviewed Pillemer several times. His study of estrangement is grounded in research; his recommendations are compassionate.
Dear Amy: “At a Loss” described how her fiancé had placed a “tracker” on her phone.