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  #851  
Old 06-10-2014, 01:46 AM
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FullofLove1052 FullofLove1052 is offline
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Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
I'm sure the vague response is because each situation is unique. Walking down the street arm in arm with your best friend may seem completely harmless to him, while if you did the same with someone else, it might set off triggers.
Each is situation is unique. I just get the feeling that is that he has been tolerant and accommodating out of respect for something that was pre-established. It is like buying something used and accepting it "as is." He will never admit if it bothered him then or if it was bothering him before I made the recent changes.

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I have good friends that I'm comfortable being much more touchy/feely with than others. I've stopped censoring that for myself, but my problem has never been being too touchy/feely, but the opposite. If your pulling away is causing a disconnect between the two of you, find a middle ground (less than it used to be, but more than your allowing yourself now).
More than it is now could be a hug. As I told Kevin, the most contact we have had is a handshake. World of difference between cuddling, touchy/feely moments and shaking hands. I have been distant. For the first few weeks that she was in the area, I was avoiding her.

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It seems like you may be super sensitive about the image you are trying to portray and your shutting down certain things that are just part of who you are.
I am very sensitive about the image I am trying to portray. I do see where there is an area of conflict. He does not want to be out or even affiliated with a poly marriage, so my public behaviour had to be curbed. The new normal cannot just include certain things. I am not doing the half-arse commitment because I do not need to give him any reason to question my level of commitment. Changes had to be made on all fronts. I just feel like I cannot say I am giving up poly, but still be in what can easily be described as an asexual romantic relationship with someone outside of my spouse. That is contradictory and obviously going against his wishes to not be part of a poly marriage. IMO, it comes off as deceptive because we are masking it under the guise of, "We are best friends." As if we are all in love with our best friends. They are two different extremes. If I am going to give up poly, I am inclined to believe that I must give up anything that falls out of the scope of monogamy. That especially includes the emotional aspect with her. I already feel guilty about being in love with her, which is why I started distancing myself to begin with. What a mess.

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I don't think your best friend should be treated like all your other friends, because she's not, there is a whole different level of familiarity and respect and long term friendship.
I agree in theory. Naturally, she is not quite like my other friends. We were literally in nappies together, and we have always been inseparable. Babies, break-ups, engagements, weddings, long-distances, deaths in our families, parenting challenges, etc. We have been through it all. I know her like I know the back of my hand. I know I should not treat her like the rest, but I have to in order to maintain some level of control. I may not be able control my feelings for her, but I can control how I interact with her and how much time I spend with her. That might be where I am going wrong. I am going against what feels and always has been natural, and it is causing strain and a noticeable disconnect. Jesus, there has to be a happy medium.

Quote:
Definitely talk to your therapist, but also talk to both your best friend and your husband.
I have therapy later in the week. I am meeting her for a lunch date in a couple of hours, and today is as good a time as any to discuss this. I am not even going to attempt to talk to him about this again. His vagueness frustrates me. I would love to know what he really thinks about it, but we have had countless conversations. They all end the same. I have never been able to get an accurate read on his feelings regarding this. He maintains a poker face and makes sure to avoid interjecting his personal views. It is almost like he has a built in arsenal of responses to any questions asked about this situation. Every response is devoid of any emotion, which makes me think he has numbed himself to it to deal with it.

Quote:
I'm not sure what you mean by go "on dates" with your best friend. Going out to dinner and/or a movie or whatever with just your best friend is normal best friend behavior.
It is normal behaviour, but not all interactions with my other friends have a romantic vibe about them. I may have dinner with friends of the same sex, but I am not kissing them or being affectionate outside of cheek kisses or hello/good-bye hugs. Also, they are not in love with me, and I am not in love with them.
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  #852  
Old 06-10-2014, 02:48 AM
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Interesting that Kensi is turning out to be a good confidante for certain conversations. It's good because it's an opportunity for her to make some amends for her prior misdeeds. Not that anything could really make up for it, just that she's making some tokenary payments into her overdrawn account.

Re: your best friend ... it seems to me that your biggest roadblock is Matt's reluctance to communicate freely about it. He's protecting himself and it's forcing you to try to be a mind-reader. For all we know, he might not mind at all if you took your friend to the movies and gave her a hug. But he has to be willing to open up and talk about it before we can be sure.

Personally I vote to upgrade those handshakes to hugs ... but I'm not Matt. Hopefully your therapist can offer some ideas on how to navigate this dilemma. It seems apparent that therapy is still needed for multiple reasons. You have some guilt to work through -- and, perhaps we could say, some jealousy! You are feeling jealous about Matt's (seemingly superior) relationship with the kids. And I know five is awfully young for therapy, but I would consider it for your daughter. She seems to have a lot of anger buried deep inside that she could use some help with.

Life is flawed and imperfect and broken, but we have to love it for the good things that it offers. Think about how far you've come in a year's time, and be glad for that much.

Sincere regards,
Kevin T.
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  #853  
Old 06-10-2014, 03:51 AM
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Kensi is easy to be around and easy to talk to. It has become an opportunity for her to make amends.

Of all the issues we have worked through, the situation with my best friend is the one that was never resolved to a satisfactory level, IMO. He is still in protection mode. I feel like I might be walking in a field with buried landmines and not even know it. He has no opinion one way or the other. I continued...he said nothing. I stopped...he said nothing. One misstep and it might explode. People say women are complicated. Hardly. He is a mystery that I sometimes cannot understand. It is similar to not knowing if you are doing the right thing or the wrong thing because the feedback is nonexistent.

I told my therapist I would be back. I was not thinking it would be this soon. Maternal guilt is a pain in my side. I have never experienced jealousy, so this is a new one. I know some children generally favour a parent, but her retorts and little jabs hurt. She will do things like tell me she needs to talk to me and proceed to ask why I was not there when she wanted/needed me? I have no idea how to answer that. I operated from the perspective that she was young and would not remember. I was wrong because she remembers wanting and/or needing me and me not being there. I do need help with trying to reconcile that. I believe she is protecting herself from me because she keeps me at a safe distance. She can rely on him because he has proven that he will always be there. Yes, I have been there the past year. He was there from day one and always close if she needed him. She does not have the same level of trust and faith in me. I hate to say it, but I believe there is some buried anger or resentment towards me somewhere in her heart. I do not want her to get in to the habit of burying her feelings and not confronting them. Those behaviours are learned in childhood, and nothing good ever comes of that.

We have close moments at random like before she goes to bed or when she is open to me doing something with her that she likes, but these days that is rare. It is little things like after school, I will ask how her day was, and she will get in the car and say, "good," or "fine," but she gives him a play by play of her whole day from 8:15-3. We recently went to a party in her class, and she was clinging to him. She introduced him to her friends, gave him a tour, etc. It was not until one of her friends asked if I was her mum that she IDed me, and it was the most dismissive response. It was like, "Yes. [Change of subject] Do you want to go do xyz?" I felt great at that moment, and I wanted to leave because I felt like I served no purpose. He urged me to stay, so I did. When we got ready to leave, she started crying because she wanted him to stay. During the whole exchange, she never once looked in my direction. That day really did make me feel awful. She confides in him, and if it is important like her having an issue with one of her classmates, he will ask her if he can tell me. She will not say a word to me about it, though. They have inside jokes and cutesy moments. She is more likely to curl up next to him or ask him to watch her favourite telly shows/movies with him. My efforts and attempts at bonding with her have been futile because she is not generally receptive. It is specifically with me, though. She jumps at the chance to spend time with her father, sister, godmother, grandparents, friends, cousins, and basically every one but me.

Enough of this. I am depressing myself.
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  #854  
Old 06-10-2014, 05:39 PM
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I know five is awfully young for therapy, but I would consider it for your daughter. She seems to have a lot of anger buried deep inside that she could use some help with.
This! The therapist should at least be able to get a feel, if there is real deep seated resentment, did something happen that you don't know about or is this is just a power trip on the child's part.

To me it sounds like she is testing your boundaries and she has figured out how to push your buttons. However, you both (you and Matt) need to decide to be a team and certain behavior needs to be addressed by the both of you. Her disrespect of you should not be tolerated and if Matt is the "good guy" in her eyes, it may be him that has to step in and put his foot down. I've noticed with mine, that if the kid pulls bs with one parent and the other parent appears to ignore it, they take it as acceptance of said behavior and it continues. Yes, five years olds get spiteful, mean and vindictive towards parents, just because they figured out they can - it's about that time that they also figure out how to play one against the other. Hopefully the therapist can give you both some ideas on how to deal with the situation together and put a stop to what seems to be her way of gaining power.
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  #855  
Old 06-10-2014, 06:31 PM
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SNeacail's right ... Whether it be due to latent anger, special favors she hopes to squeeze from you, or just becasue she's five and she can, your daughter has taken to giving you the cold shoulder and tweaking you for maximum guilt about the times when Kensi had the lion's share of your attention. If you don't do something to address the problem now, it could grow into a downright disaster by the time she gets into her teen years. It's fine to apologize to her and admit you were wrong, that's probably one of the coolest things a parent can do (and one of the best examples they can set) for their child. But your daughter can't just go through her whole life in a state of bitter non-forgiveness. That's not good for her; nevermind what it does to her mum.

I see she has a bit of her dad in her. When she has been hurt, she goes into self-protective mode and shuts you out, cutting you off from her feelings and the details of her mind and life. Could be genetic, the product of Matt's example, or both.

I would give your therapist a thorough description of the difficulties you're experiencing with your daughter, and then I'd have your daughter meet with the therapist one-on-one, so she can tell her side of the story. Finally, have a talk with Matt about the situation, and ask for his help in correcting it.

You already know it's not good for your daughter to be deprived of a mum. The only difference is, that before, it was Mum doing the depriving. But now, your daughter is depriving herself -- and that's no healthier. For her sake alone if nothing else, you must find a way back into her life.

It looks that way from my vantage, anyway.
Sympathies,
Kevin T.
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  #856  
Old 06-10-2014, 08:10 PM
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It Is definitely not just defiance or pushing my buttons. I overheard her talking to Matt. She has it in her mind that she was not special enough to have my attention then. She talks down on herself. It is like blames herself for not being good enough. She has concluded that I liked/loved Kensi more than her because I spent more time with her. She does not believe that I love her either. The icing on this bitter cake? She thinks I only like her and want to spend time with her because I am no longer with Kensi. I am feeling like mother of the year. I wish I could say she was just being dramatic, but she was calm and emotionless when she was talking to him.

It is already a disaster. I have apologised time and time again. Nothing I say matters. I cannot make her believe that I love her. I have no idea what is going on with my child, and it breaks my heart. People keep saying, "She will grow out of it." We keep growing apart. It will only get worse before it gets better. I would honestly rather hear her say, "I hate you," than her not saying anything and acting like I am invisible. My only link to her is through him.

She is going to therapy today. Matt has wanted her to go since last year. I was hesitant because of her age. At the very least, she needs a safe haven. He has tried to help bridge the expanding gap. She has been resistant. All efforts have been futile. It is impossible to bond with a child who will not communicate with you or shrugs off questions. Almost every conversation we have attempted ends up being one-sided and about as fun as having wisdom teeth extracted with no numbing agent. She talks everyone's ears off, but she shuts down around me. I cannot help but take it personally.

I know it is not good. I hope my baby will let me back into her life. I am feeling like a distant stranger. My strained relationship with her was the trigger for my maternal depression. I cannot get through this if our relationship does not improve.
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  #857  
Old 06-11-2014, 08:05 PM
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Sounds like a latent anger on her part to me. She experienced a loss of self-esteem and identified you as the reason for that loss. Every child wants to believe that they can count on mum for the warmth and company that they need.

But as I said, she's not just hurting you, she's also further hurting herself. In the 1981 film "On Golden Pond," they portray the ongoing pain caused by a rift between a daughter and a father. The father has an amusing way of being very abrupt with everyone, but the daughter has always taken his mannerisms to be a personal campaign against her. By the time the movie starts Dad is quite old, and is going to pass away soon. His daughter doesn't have much time left to mend the fences between her and him. Fortunately she takes the first step in that direction at the very end.

What's sad is to realize that this anger she has had for her father has probably been wounding her internally over and over from childhood on right into adulthood. It has made her not want to visit her parents at all, even though she and her mum get on well. Making amends with Dad is her key to the door locking her out of contented happiness.

Let's hope your daughter doesn't wait quite so long to reconcile her hurt feelings about Mum's shortcomings. It seems that she's got something pretty complicated going on in that five-year-old mind, and professional therapy definitely seems like the appropriate response. As long as your daughter goes on hating you (and she can hate you and love you at the same time), she will go on suffering inside, and not living the happy life that she could be living.

Your therapist can hopefully also give you suggestions about how you can approach your daughter in such a way as to have a productive discussion with her. I'm sure there are no quick or easy answers, but at least you can research your options so to speak.

I don't think you would have carried on with Kensi like you did for so long if you had known what it was doing to your daughter. What I mean is, yes your actions hurt her, but you did not deliberately hurt her. It was done out of ignorance, not out of indifference. So try not to beat yourself too much about it. It's all in the past anyway, where it can't be changed. The present is the thing to focus on (and your daughter's issues too are linked to her likewise being glued to the unchangeable past). The past can't be fixed; only the present can be fixed.

Pulling for you,
Kevin T.

P.S. If anyone hasn't seen "On Golden Pond," I highly recommend it. You're in for a treat. Even if you've seen it it's worth watching again. Easy movie to fall in love with.
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  #858  
Old 06-12-2014, 12:40 AM
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Her therapist suspects this has been ongoing for at least two-three years, and it has reached a fever pitch. Her belief is that the catalyst was Maternal Deprivation and has now evolved into an attachment disorder, self-esteem issues, self-worth issues, episodes of anger, and hint of depression. Basically, somewhere between 0-2, my child classified me as unavailable, since I was not physically present. I have never shaken that title in her eyes. What I am doing now or have been doing the past year is neither here nor there. The damage has already been done. She goes along with it, but her interest is not in it.

Due to my lack of presence in her life from I will say from 1-4 1/2, she never securely attached to me. This is why she is closer to her nanny, maternal grandparents, etc. The attachment disorder is why she is closer to the grandparents she saw once a year than me. By not being there physically, when she was unable to talk and communicate with me in person. I was not there to facilitate opening the lines of communication, and I was already deemed as a source of instability. When she needed me, I was not there, so I failed to be someone she could rely on, if she needed help. This explains why she never seeks me out now but will go past me if she needs even the most menial task done like getting a bottle of water out of the pantry. The first two years are pivotal because children that age lack the ability to understand why a parent is gone. They just know the person is not there.

The difference between her relationship with Matt and the one with me is she is securely attached to him. Our dyad is more accurately described as insecure. She does not trust me, believes she cannot depend on me, and "accepts" that I do not love her. My behaviour proves what she has thought all along. She equates love to spending time together. There might have been separation anxiety if he had to work, but she knew he would be back. He always made time for her, too. When or if I leave, it would not matter if I came back. When he left last year, the amount of time did not matter. She understood his absence, and he stayed in communication with her. I cannot say I did the same when I was gone. It would have made no difference because her hearing my voice on the phone equated to unavailability.

Other issues? My second pregnancy. She was further pushed down the totem pole. I was available, as in she could see me, but from my 26th week of pregnancy on, I could not pick her up or have much interaction with her. At that point, she was close to 3 1/2. After my son was born, I was tied up with PND/working to ignore it by being a workaholic and my other relationship. At that point, I would have had a small window of time to try to repair what I had damaged. I passed my son off to Matt and the nanny. I chose to bury myself in work and my fellowship. I started travelling weeks after her fourth birthday, so I showed her yet again that I could not be there for her. The sad part is my son would be walking this path, if I had not made changes last year.

Obviously, my career. Staying on for 24-hour rotation and sleeping almost immediately after walking in the door certainly did not create opportunities for bonding.

The big one is my relationship with Kensi. This is where it gets muddled. She did not understand why I was gone the first two years of her life. Partially work but mainly my other relationship. Silly me for thinking two co-primaries, who had no interest in being around one another was conducive to parenting a child or that it would not cause damage to the children in the picture. She was too young to understand. As she got older, lying to her was impossible, and she formulated her own thoughts and opinions. My child is advanced for her age, so her level of understanding and thought processes mirror that. She knew where I was because one of us would tell her. She understood me having to work. She will tell anyone, "Mummies and daddies have to work to take care of us." She was fine with that. The problem came in when I would say things like, "No, I cannot play. I do not have time right now. I have to go to Kensi's." She took that as me saying: "I do not have time for you. She is more important." It is similar to someone constantly rejecting you or your friends putting everyone above you. It starts to mess with you and knocks your confidence around.

Her therapist is creating a care plan. She offered some tips for at home. She wants to start with 12 sessions of creative therapy in 50 minute increments. She has her work cut out for her. It was a fight to get her to attend yesterday. She lashed out when she found out she would be missing her dance class. She told Matt she wanted to go after practise. It is not possible because of traffic at that time of day. When she realised I was not caving to what she wanted and rewarding her meltdowns, she told me she hated me.

Kensi did come up. She lashed out again when her therapist asked too many questions. The first trigger was her asking her to tell her about her "other mum" and mentioning "Kensi" in the same sentence. My daughter does not conflate the two. She quickly corrected her by telling her she was never her mum. That statement was filled with anger. She told her she did not want to talk about her. She should have left it alone. I am sure her screaming, "Je la deteste," was not the reaction she hoped for, but it was the one she got. I am going to wish her therapist luck on trying to find out why she hates Kensi. I am not exactly in the position to tell my child to not hate someone. It is not my right to tell her how to feel. She is an autonomous little human.

I am feeling quite "wonderful" today. Thank you to the doctor who formally confirmed that I royally screwed my child up. I was already feeling like a failure as a parent to her, but now I have it in black and white. If all of this was not bad enough, she is feeding off of my depression, and it is more than likely exacerbating her issues and certainly going to wreak havoc. The last thing I need is her performance in school to dip or her to lose interest in the things she loves.

It is impossible not to be hard on myself. I am facing facts. My child is fucked up because of me. There is no polite or diplomatic way to put that. It all stems back to me in the end. She thinks I do not love her, but I have to wonder if she even loves me. Judging by the way she reacts towards me and mentions me in conversation, I would say no. If someone asked, the answer would be no. Any love that she had has been replaced with hatred and disdain.

Last edited by FullofLove1052; 06-12-2014 at 12:43 AM.
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  #859  
Old 06-12-2014, 10:45 AM
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FoL, I'm sorry that you and your daughter are both in such pain over your relationship. I hope that therapy does turn out to be a useful resource for her - that it provides an opportunity for her to acknowledge and process her feelings, and then move beyond her anger.

I have not been in parent-child relationships as fraught as yours, but my relationships have had some trust issues. I think it's very important to listen to your daughter with acceptance, even if she's saying something you don't want to hear and that makes you feel terrible. At any rate, with my kids,
1-giving them space to express their feelings
2- making an effort to not fight back against statements that feel critical
3- making extra effort to empathize, experience the situation from their point of view
4- being judicious with criticism, so they do not feel constantly subject to it

- all of these things seem to provide them with a greater sense of safety and comfort, and so built their trust in me. Building is a slow and incremental process though.

Sometimes it's really hard to not react defensively to criticism or a general negative attitude, but for me anyway it seems beneficial to avoid that if I can, and to practice letting negativity roll off me.

It has also been helpful to compare the relationships in which I do and don't trust people, identify the behaviors that help me to feel comfortable and trusting towards others, and try to emulate them.

For a really nice example of a positive therapy process for kids, and an incredible demonstration of the power of simply listening, I'd recommend the book Dibs in Search of Self. I found it inspiring and moving even before I had kids of my own.
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Old 06-12-2014, 07:01 PM
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Re (from FullofLove1052):
Quote:
"I am sure her screaming, 'Je la deteste,' was not the reaction she hoped for, but it was the one she got."
Ah, but the poison has to come out somehow. We can't expect it to be a pretty sight when it does.

Re:
Quote:
"The last thing I need is her performance in school to dip or her to lose interest in the things she loves."
One of the reasons why I think professional therapy has become a must at this point.

Ry, from your latest description here, it seems possible to me that you have lost the crucial formative years and as a result, your ability to have a maternal relationship with your daughter is permanently dinged, perhaps even smashed beyond repair.

My parents were "there for me," but they were far from accepting of who I was (and am) as an individual. My mom in particular had some kind of fetish for verbal punishment. She repeatedly, viciously, and I might add expertly put me (and my siblings) down over the years. I came out of that childhood feeling (as an adult) that I deserved punishment and didn't have the right to defend myself against other people I'd soon meet who'd not only put me down, but physically terrorize and assault me as well.

When I finally hit bottom and realized that my mom had laid the foundation for the damage that these other people did, I felt an anger toward my mother that I can't even describe. Never again would I stand for her rewarding herself with a parental title. If she ever properly apologized and made sufficient amends, the most she'd ever get from me was a nonfamilial friendship. I have since refused to refer to her as my mother in anything except the strictly biological sense.

But, she did feel remorse for how she had acted when I was a kid, and though it was difficult for her to do, she made improvements in her behavior little by little. As of today, the result is that she did obtain that nonfamilial friendship from me that I was still willing to offer (under the much-improved circumstances). It's all she'll ever get from me, but I'm quite sure that she values it nonetheless, and perhaps what's more remarkable is that I value it too. But never again will I address her as "Mom." Whenever possible, I refer to her using her first given name and frankly, that's as much as she deserves given the way she damaged me and caused me to waste decades of my adult and pre-adult life.

She refers to herself as "Mom" when signing her emails to me, and I tolerate that. In my mind and my heart, I reject the title, but I try to be forgiving enough to put up with her granting herself the title. Perhaps it's just too painful for her to realize that she's not my mom anymore -- and never can be. I can understand that. She doesn't object to me denying her the title, so maybe we're even in some twisted fashion.

I say all this mainly just as a way to admit to you that it's true that some damage can't be undone -- not completely, at least. If you have lost your chance to truly be "Mum" to your daughter, maybe you can just start the whole relationship over from scratch. Maybe your daughter will never want to call you more than a (nonfamilial) "friend," but if you can even salvage that much from the wreckage, you have salvaged something precious and good and can treasure it.

During this painful process in therapy, I think it is important for you to respect your daughter's will in terms of how she is willing to relate to you. Maybe the best you can get right now is an acquaintanceship that isn't very important to your daughter. It's a depressing place to start, but it's a place to start nonetheless. Instead of trying to build on the years when you weren't there for her, try to build on the here and now. By being there for her here and now, and by offering her whatever services she is willing to accept.

That's about the farthest I can go with my limited expertise. Beyond that, you need the considerable knowledge your therapist can bring to bear. Lean on her counsel about what boundaries are appropriate, and about how to handle the role of motherhood when your daughter doesn't want you to be her mother.

I know this post isn't all rainbows and sunshine, but I don't want to minimize the feelings you're experiencing or the seriousness of the situation as you can see it. I only want to offer some little tidbit that might help us build from what we actually have, rather than what we wish we had.

The most important thing, here, is for your daughter to get healing from the psychological damage she has sustained. If she can only heal by severing you from her life, then you'll need to be prepared to accept that, though it's got to be an unthinkably painful prospect. It probably won't come to that but I'm just saying, put your daughter's internal needs first, and put your relationship with her second. It is the only way you can be her true friend.

I feel bad saying all this. Get as much help as you can with this problem, it's as serious as if you had woken up to find the whole house on fire. Maybe even more serious than that.

Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
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