Sober mom strug­gles with amends

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

Dear Amy: I am a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic and the mother of two beau­ti­ful adult daugh­ters.

While I have been sober for seven years, my re­la­tion­ship with my elder daugh­ter, now 30, is nonex­is­tent. I con­tinue to do the work I need to do through a 12-step pro­gram, but her es­trange­ment puz­zles me. She said she could not have a re­la­tion­ship with me un­less I quit drinking. Well, I did quit drinking.

I have tried to make amends for not be­ing more present as her mother dur­ing those years when drinking took over my life. I have con­tin­ued to send ran­dom texts let­ting her know that I think about her. I’ve sent care pack­ages, as well as birth­day and Christmas gifts. She al­ways replies with a cor­dial text, thank­ing me and telling me it was thought­ful and kind of me to do so.

She left home be­fore she turned 16. I’ve seen her maybe five times in 15 years. She is a vir­tual stranger to me, and I feel that my ef­forts are use­less.

Some peo­ple tell me that “she’ll come around,” but oth­ers tell me to stop my ef­forts and move on.

Amy, I’ve car­ried sadness and re­gret over this bro­ken re­la­tion­ship for 15 years. I’m los­ing hope. Any sug­ges­tions? Dear Don’t Know: Apol­o­giz­ing is a “call to ac­tion” for the other per­son. When you apol­o­gize, you are ask­ing the per­son to for­give you and to ac­tively move on in a re­la­tion­ship with you.

Mak­ing amends is a per­sonal call to ac­tion for YOU. You are the one who will work the change, re­gard­less of the out­come.

What a sad, chal­leng­ing child­hood your daugh­ter had! She likely faced the burden of not only try­ing to mother you, but to try to shield and pro­tect her younger sis­ter. And then when other girls her age had far lighter bur­dens, she had reached her limit and was out of the house.

You can­not undo the past. You can only treat her with lov­ingkind­ness now.

You are do­ing that. You are also hop­ing to per­suade or ma­nip­u­late her into a fuller re­la­tion­ship with you. You are do­ing what you need to do for your re­cov­ery. But what about her re­cov­ery? Be­ing in a closer re­la­tion­ship with you might not be good or healthy for her.

You should con­tinue to love her any­way, in the way that you are do­ing. Her cor­dial and kind re­sponses to you are evidence that she val­ues your ef­forts, and that is some­thing. It might have to be enough for you.

Dear Amy: I am strug­gling with heart­break from three years ago. Last night, I dreamed about her, where she pro­fessed her love for me again. I woke up feel­ing worse than ever.

Long story short, her par­ents broke us up be­cause they did not ap­prove of a same-sex re­la­tion­ship (nei­ther did my par­ents).

I put it all on the line fight­ing for our love, but she didn’t, af­ter her par­ents broke her phone, threat­ened to send her to a psych ward, and left her locked up in her house.

I waited for over a year. Then I re­al­ized she had re­gained ac­cess to Face­book and had a new phone, and yet no mes­sage to me!

I never got clo­sure, and I was left with a bro­ken heart and long-last­ing emo­tional hurt. I re­ally want to know how some­one can do this af­ter say­ing they love you and want to marry you.

I’ve thought so many times of mes­sag­ing her, but I don’t know what to do. Dear Destroyed: Please do mes­sage her. You may not hear what you want to hear, but know­ing where she stands should help to pro­vide the clo­sure you seek. You both had the odds stacked against you, and I agree that this is heart­break­ing.

Dear Amy: “Up­set” was a mother up­set that she was asked to share the ex­pense for a restau­rant meal with her fam­ily. I was so sur­prised at your re­sponse. Most wait­staff will not do a sep­a­rate check for a big party.

Usu­ally it is the par­ents who pick up the tab (and not the kids), if they can af­ford it. If she is needy, she should talk to her son. Oth­er­wise, she should pay for them! Dear Sur­prised: You and I live in dif­fer­ent worlds. In my world, work­ing adults take care of their par­ents, in­clud­ing pick­ing up the tab for their wid­owed mother’s mod­est slice of pizza when they go out.

Copyright 2019 by Amy Dickinson

Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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