Post-Divorce Estrangement

18 Dec

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I divorced three years ago. Couples therapy didn’t work, so he pushed for the divorce against my wishes. He was very angry at things he thought I had done in our marriage. It still hurts me to see him at my family parties and barbecues, which he attends. Our middle daughter is particularly close to her father and has taken his part. She was married several months ago, and I chose not to attend because he was going to be there and was walking her down the aisle. She refuses to speak to me, and my two other children can’t soften her feelings towards me. What can I do and say? I think I made a big mistake.

–Mommie Scarcest

Yes, my dear, you made a big mistake. Most of the problems around this situation rest with you. You’ve allowed the pain from your divorce to stop you in your tracks. Everyone in your family – your children, certainly your ex-husband – is moving on in life except you. Three years is long enough to realize that life isn’t always fair, that we can’t always have things go the way we want and that we have to soldier on and grow. If you are in therapy, your counselor may not be challenging you to accept these difficult truths. You might want to raise these issues (or consider another therapist who also can help you with unresolved regrets about your marriage). Ms. L.B. has had to advise others about not attending life celebrations of loved ones out of pique or fear, and this is your case. You’ve harmed yourself and your daughter. How sad not to be the mother of the bride on the most important day of your child’s life. Please write a letter to your daughter and give it to her favorite sibling to hand-deliver. Discuss the letter with no one. Write an abject apology from the heart with no expectations:

Dear Winnie,

I’m guilty of one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made, and how awful that I did it to you, my dear daughter. You have every right to be hurt and angry and want me out of your life.

Not to be there for you as your mother on your wedding day was a terrible thing to do, and I know I hurt you deeply. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

You are so important to me. I promise I’ll do all I can never to hurt you like that again. My love, I hope you can forgive me and make me a part of your new life.

With love,

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