Like Mother, Unlike Daughter
Dear Annie: Several years ago, at a party of 50-some people, my daughter brought up politics and confronted me about my political pick. I tried to assuage her emotions, but she kept on. I finally decided it was best to leave as her hostility was becoming more pronounced. I got my coat to leave with a friend when she got in my face and declared in a loud voice, "We never liked each other. We just pretend to like each other."
My mother died a few weeks later. When my daughter learned her grandma was dying, she texted me an apology that seemed very sincere. Four years later, I stopped by my daughter's house to see if she wanted to have lunch. No to lunch, but she did begin rambling from one negative subject to another -- all of which she assigned the blame to me. "You put 90-year-old grandma in assisted living" (she had a broken hip); "You caused me to lose a million dollars" (she and her husband did not buy a house in New York); "'Tom' was my best friend" (someone she dumped as soon as she met her husband), and so I decided it was time to leave.
As I am heading to the door, she says the reason she is really mad is because I told her sisters that I love her children -- yes, hers -- more than I love her sister's children! I was shocked! I told her I never said that. She, at that point, was on my heel as I tried to leave. She was inches from me, and I was pretty sure she wanted to hit me. I called for her husband, and she laughed in my face and said, "He doesn't care!" I left quickly. She has never apologized.
I do things with the kids and her husband but am not invited inside their home, so it is clear she does not want me there. I drop off presents for all at Christmas, Easter, etc., still to be kind. I spend holidays alone or with my other daughter in another state. Her dad committed suicide when she was in fourth grade, so I try to just deal with her outbursts, but these are overwhelming.
I'm seeing a therapist after this last incident as I was totally shocked and depressed. As a Christian, naturally, I do not believe in retaliating and have sent her a text apologizing for mistakes made after I lost my husband, but there's been no response. Is there anything else I can do to improve this relationship? At this point, I am afraid to be alone with her. I am healthy and 74, and she is 45 and undergoing menopause at a young age. Still, as a teenager, she was violent toward me and destructive at times. Thank you for your help. -- Mystified Mom
Dear Mystified: I'm so sorry. It's clear how much you love your daughter and her family, and just how much her words and actions have hurt you over the years.
As painful and difficult as it is to grapple with, especially when our children are involved, relationships are two-way streets. If your daughter is unwilling to meet you halfway, there's not much more you can do except hope and wait for her to make her way back to you.
For now, choose to focus on yourself and your healing. Therapy is a great outlet, as is spending time with your other children and grandchildren, pursuing friendships and devoting time to your faith.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.