Estranged from my Daughter

bookworm_2007May 15, 2008

I'm 31 years old and have been divorced for 3 years but seperated for almost 4 years from daughter's father. My daughter is 10 years she was 6 at the time. Here is the story...

I moved out of the marital home (which I have learned was a BIG mistake on my part). My ex-husband though gave me a fit and was coming back to the home after he agreed to move out. So...that wasn't working out very well. Plus his parents lived one street over. True...I should have dealt with it in order for me to stay there with my daughter but I didn't. I got an apartment about 15-20 minutes away. The night that I moved out my daughter was at her aunt's house (my ex-husband's sister) staying while everything was being done. Anyway she ended up staying there for a couple of days because my ex-husband said she needed time and that this was going to be a lot to put on her. So...I gave it a few days then he told me she wasn't ready to come to my apartment yet because it was just to much at once. So...I agreed to allow more time. BIG mistake. Finally after a couple of weeks went by she came to the apartment and stayed for a night or two. She seemed a little distant and zoned out a lot. I understood though considering everything that had happened. I found out that her dad was telling her that it was my apartment and not hers...things like she can't put up a christmas tree at my apartment..she could only do that at home with him...etc etc. So...things started going down hill...fighting with him and her pulling more and more away from me. Several times we had fights and on one occasion the police even had to be called out with my daughter there. Basically though she viewed me as the bad I had caused it all to happen. My life started going down hill after that. I gave up on everything because I felt that I lost her. I turned to alcohol and hanging out with the wrong people. Obliviously I look back now I have regrets about all of that...I only dug the hole deeper than it already was. I was hanging on to everything by a thread. I lost my job, my apartment...pretty much everything. I had to move in with my parents and get help. I did and a year later I was standing tall again and felt great. family informed my ex-husband of everything that I had done. It has been 3 years ago that all that happened. I now have a great job, really nice apartment and I take care of myself but he will never let me live it down. He told my daughter about the alcohol problem and me having to get help for it. Anytime I talk to her...she brings it up and it feels like someone has stabbed me in the chest to have to talk to her about something like that. That is something that she is too young to know or understand. I am now the bad mommy who can never do right again. What do I do????

I call her everynight and leave voicemails every single time telling her that I love her, I'm here for her and that I am sorry about the mistakes I have made in the past. I miss her so much that there are times I feel like I can't breath. Like the world is moving in slow motion and leaving me behind. It takes all I have to carry on and get up and face each day knowning I may not see her again for a long time. I do have joint custody of her but her dad threatens me that if I take him to court he will fight for full custody and take all my rights away. I feel like I'm up against a wall with no way to get to her. I know he tells her things like..."mommy's family is not your family anymore and you don't need mommy. You have me." On the few times I do get to speak with her on the phone...she crys and tells me how I ruined her life because she now doesn't have a mommy and no family. I tell her over and over that I am still her mommy and love her with all my heart. I am scared to death that I have totally lost her and I don't know how to live with that. My relationships fail and I have emotional problems all the time. I still manage to work and support myself but inside I have a void that nothing will fix.

I hate that because of the mistakes that I made...I will be haunted and judged forever. Living with these regrets is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I need some advise desperately. My ex-husband told me I would pay for leaving him....I guess taking her away is what he meant.

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You know what hun, you need to forgive yourself so that you can be the kind of mother your daughter needs. Yes, you have made some BIG mistakes but it sounds to me like you have done and are doing the work to make amends for those mistakes. Your ex can only attack you with your past as long as you let him. Just because you made mistakes in your past does not mean that for the rest of your life you are an awful person.

The one thing that I have found very important to teach my three boys is resilency. By that I mean that I have taught them (unfortunately through my own experiences at times) that sometimes things happen in our lives that we wish did not happen. Sometimes those things are our own "fault" because we made poor choices or it could be something totally random that happens because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. When these things happen we have two choices...spend the rest of our lives moaning and fretting and wishing things were different OR choose to pick ourselves up, get over it as best we can, and forge ahead with our lives. You need to choose which path you will take going forward and by doing so you will teach her a very important life skill.

Your daughter at 10 years old is young but not too young to know that yes, Mommy made some mistakes but that you now all need to move forward and grow and learn from our mistakes. It will take some time for her to regain the trust it sounds like shes lost. Things will be more complicated for you because she has her Dad feeding her "poison" against you, but please don't ever give up.

If I were you I would hold my head high and be proud of the progress you've made. Do you have any idea how many people live their entire lives without acknowledging their problems, whatever they may be. You have reason to stop being ashamed and for your daughters sake, you need to.

Good luck to you. Being a parent is never easy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 1:08PM
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Thanks are right. I have been trying to hold my head up high and remember that I came through all the garbage that I put myself through and that I have to keep trucking on. I am a lot stronger now than I was then. I guess the fear that I have now is that she is getting comfortable with the idea of me not being in her life and I am getting used to coping with her not being in it. Don't get me wrong...everyday I carry around this sad feeling deep down inside. I tell myself to be happy because it doesn't come naturally on it's own. That sad feeling though never goes away....ever...but I have learned to cope and keep on living life. Where as before I think the drinking problem was my escape from it because I didn't know how to cope without her. I wanted to stay numb to everything and not face it. Now...I have to face it on my own without medicating myself to block it out. I'm afraid sometimes she will forget what I look like or she will forget the times we had together. If I sit long enough and think about her I feel like I am going to fall apart.

I think the reason I have relationship problems is because I feel guilty for being happy. Like I don't deserve to be happy. I made a mess of my child's life (of course I blame her father too) but he takes no blame for it so I feel like it all falls back on me. Every tear she crys and every bad night she has when she can't sleep from now until forever will be my fault some how. It's hard to live with that feeling everyday. People around me tell me that I have let this go on so long that I can't expect things to get any better. I backed off from pushing her into being in my life out of fear....her dad told me to leave her be for awhile and let her settle down and get used to the idea that we were divorced. I think during that time he was doing everything he could to convince her she didn't need me anymore and now she believes it. Talking to her is like talking to a brick wall. She shows no emotion and doesn't want to talk about anything with me. She will continually repeat the same thing over and over again...."i don't want to talk right now" she will say that throughout the whole time I am trying to talk to her.

I can't seem to prove to an attorney or a judge that I think he has emotionally abused her. They tell me to prove it. It is my word against his. There was a day that I went to the was on her birthday last year to see her and when I got there she started crying and told me her dad might be there too. Well....he never showed up and once she realized he wasn't going to be there too...she looked at me and said "well I just won't tell you daddy that you came up here". I found it very odd but didn't say much about it because all her friends were around and I didn't want to make a big deal out of it in front of them. Later that night I called her dad and asked about giving her presents to her. I told him that they wouldn't let me leave them at the school so I need to meet up with him so I can give them to him. He told me I was lying and that I had not been up at the school because when he asked our daughter about whether I had been there or not she told him no. She lied to him about it. Why would she feel the need to lie to her dad about having seen me???? She even lied to her grandmother about it (his mom) and I really think there is something up with that. She acts scared to be with me or even speak with me. Part of me wants to go back to court and fight this out there but then I worry as to what he may do or say to our daughter. I feel like she is in a horrible position where she has to act like she hates me otherwise he will be angry with her. She won't admit that but I know something is wrong. I just don't know what to do about it.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 2:11PM
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Do you have a court order for visitation? If not, that is the VERY first thing you need to do. If you do, you need to inform your ex-husband that you intend to enforce it. BEFORE you do that, you need to get yourself in a mental state where you will follow through with what you say. In my state, if visitation is withheld and you have a valid court order the police will assist. I'm sure that would be pretty scary for your daughter but it sure would emphasize to her that you mean business, that she is your daughter, and you will do what you have to do to be with her.

Call his bluff. If you let him keep getting away with withholding visitation and you do not follow through with enforcement he will walk all over you, which is what he is doing. And really, who cares if he calls you a liar... you know the truth and it his opinion really doesn't matter. Its not his opinion you can change (it will never happen) its hers.

Here's the thing...your ex is a bully. He may be custodial parent but unless a court has said so, he simply does not have the right to keep your child away from you. Contact the court and find out what your legal options are. I think you should focus on regaining the visitation that is rightfully yours, NOT the emotional abuse at least for now. It can even be supervised visitation with a counselor so that she feels safer.

I know you feel hopeless right now, but you need to figure out an organized plan on attack on how you can get from where you are now to where you want to be. And you have to try to do it without getting too emotional or letting him boss you around.

You may want to read the StepFamily forum here to get a good idea of what other people have done. It helped me. There are several books that have been recommended, Divorce Poison is one that might help.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 3:04PM
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"I do have joint custody of her but her dad threatens me that if I take him to court he will fight for full custody and take all my rights away"

If you have joint custody then you have scheduled visitation days. Keep trying to see her on those days and document all the times/dates that he has refused visitation. Next time he refuses go to the police dept. in his town and show them your court papers. I am not sure if they can "force" him to hand over your daughter for visitation, but at least it will be documented that he wouldn't adhere to a court order. Also, save your phone records showing your calls to your daughter so you can show that you have attempted to have a relationship with your daughter.

You have stopped drinking and have a job and your own apartment. Judges know the importance of a child seeing both parents. They do not want to keep a child away from a parent for no reason.

Contact a lawyer and see what your options are. Many lawyers will give you a free consultation.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Strawbarryl said:

"Your ex can only attack you with your past as long as you let him."


"When these things happen we have two choices...spend the rest of our lives moaning and fretting and wishing things were different OR choose to pick ourselves up, get over it as best we can, and forge ahead with our lives."

Thank you for those words of wisdom. If only all the estranged children could learn the lessons you are teaching your children, there would not be nearly as many threads on the subject of estrangement as are in this forum.

Again, thank you.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 6:56PM
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i agree with visitations. if you have join custody, you have rights to see her. i agree with mom2emall in regards to keeping a documentation. i hope it all is going to get better with time as DD gets older. you do have to keep trying to see her at least once in awhile. keep calling her. and keep track of it.

whatever happened to your other relationship? weren't you remaried or living with someone with his children that you were having some problems with? Or am I confusing you with someone else?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 10:48PM
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I noticed that I had never responded to your question from back in May! Sorry about that. have the right person. I was in a relationship and planning to get married but then called the whole thing off because of my emotions of dealing with my daughter. I am living alone now and my ex-fiancis living with his twins full-time now.

I am still trying to work things out with my daughter. Not getting very far with that though. She is still shutting me out. I have made it clear that I live alone now and she can feel more comfortable now about coming over and visiting with me. She won't though and I still believe that it is due to her dad making her feel like she can't be in my life...he denies that of course. I call and leave her voicemails all the time telling her how much I love her and that I am here for her. I send her cards etc in the mail. I stay in touch with her teachers and get reports cards in the mail. Her school counselor has talked with her and has let her know that I am here for her when she is ready. Despite any efforts I make though my daughter just pushes me away more and more as time goes on.
Not having her in my life controls everything...whether I marry again or not...whether I have more children one day or not...even whether I have a happy day or not. People tell me I have put my life on hold waiting her to come around and that I shouldn't do that. That is should keep trying but to also enjoy life as well. That just seems too hard to do. Guilt eats me up and controls how I feel everyday. I won't give up though and I do believe that one day my daughter will be back with me again.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 9:15AM
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