My Adult Daughter Hates Me: My StoryMy only daughter hates me. She is 27. Sometimes when I grieve for her and cry for her, I vivid memory come to me--- a day I was sitting out in the backyard and the school bus dropped her off in front of the house. My little girl with her long brown hair, came running to me with flowers she had (illegally) picked at school. She was so happy to see me...running toward me as if I was the light of her world. There was so much love in her eyes. I remember how my heart warmed to see my beautiful little girl that day and so many day. When the grief overtakes me, I remember moments like those that cannot be taken away from me.
I feel I have failed at something more important than anything else in life, motherhood. I feel I worked so hard to be a good mom. I was young. I had my son at 24 and my daughter at 27. I did all the things for my daughter and my son that had never been done for me. I did all the things I thought good moms do--including abstaining from alcohol, my family's curse. I didn't want my kids to have a drunken mother and I was the only one of my four siblings that did not succumb to alcoholism. I wanted them to be proud of me and I was the only one in my biological family to become a college graduate. I hugged them and told them I loved them everyday because my parents never did that for me. I could go on and on about all the things I did that I thought were being a good mother. Most of all, I loved them. They were my life. I can't believe it turned out like this.
I don't know when the trouble started exactly. I know she was only 9 years old when my sister died at age 35 with 3 small children. It was a tragedy of the most painful kind. Sometimes I feel: "My daughter would rather it was me that died as little as she cares for me." When my sister died, I know I had a lot of grief and a lot of fear because the cancer that killed her runs in families and the doctors were treating me like I was a cancer waiting to happen. It was a terrible time filled with fright and grief. Thinking back, I realize now I must have not been there for my daughter completely with all of this on my mind. Only five years later, I divorced her father. He had been my first boyfriend and we never had a real partnership or intimacy. Seeing my sister die at only 35, the sober reality of how short life really is hit me in the face like cold water. A strong desire to experience life and live fully came over me. It drove me. I did not want to model: "stay together for the sake of the children" to my daughter the way my mom did to me. My mom was so unhappy. No, I wanted to model a strong women with self respect and courage to create a happy life. Ah, the best laid plans.......
In only three months after the divorce (I guess I was pretty naive and "raw meat") I hooked up with a very manly man who paid so much attention to me and seemed to be everything I ever wanted. We fell deeply in love and eventually married. He was a good step-dad to my daughter. She once told me during a particularly hard time in High School "If it weren't for Joe, I'd be on drugs or pregnant." I was so happy that he took delight in listening to all of her teenage problems, give her counsel and advice. I was so glad she had a strong male father figure because her read dad was not. It seemed to me that the divorce had been a good thing for my daughter. Even before I remarried, she had rose buds in her cheeks again, looked better, ate better, seemed happier.
Several years later, when my mom died, I took in my other sister's 3 girls because my sister was a serious alcoholic and unable to care for them. No one else stepped forward to this incredible responsibility. I was scared to death. My own two children were grown and out of the house. I loved my nieces very much and by now my daughter was 20 years old. I had a labor-intensive teaching job and I attend to them and took each of them to therapy several days a week after school. I enrolled them in the private school where I taught and paid tuition. One had abandonment issues. One had learning disability. One had Type I Diabetes. These kids had had it very rough, and I wanted to be there for them. Besides, contrary to what some people would say later, I was the ONLY one who came forward.
My second husband, I believe, just couldn't handle it. I knew he had an anger problem all his life after a head injury from a motorcycle accident when he was young. He told me about this anger management issue on our very first date. He said he managed it well. But once the 3 girls came into our home, I do believe the stress on him caused the anger problems to arise. I started walking on pins and needles in my own home for fear I would make him angry. Those were horrible times because I thought my second marriage would be the "love of my life". I didn't want to fail again. But when he hit my daughter and was verbally abusive to her, he had to go. I got a 2 year Protective Order and divorced him. Then I became like a "single parent" with my three nieces. I started having financial problems trying to raise them on a teacher's salary.
My daughter, now a young adult, had moved out and gotten hooked up with a boyfriend involved with drugs. I didn't even know he was into that---he had me fooled. I had thought he was a pretty nice young man. Anyway, my daughter got kicked out of their apartment and came to me begging to move back in to my home. I told her truthfully that being that she had been so disrespectful to me during her teen years and that we hadn't gotten along very well, I just could not handle any more stress in my life and I did not think it good she move back home. I remember telling her exactly "My plate is overflowing and I can't take one more thing." She begged and promised that she would help me take care of the girls, babysit, help with the housework, all of this but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me move back home..."Mommy". Of course, I said "yes". I remember having a bad feeling in my stomach that this would not work out.
Well, sure enough it wasn't good. At the end of the story, the very things she promised to do because I was so overwhelmed to help me, became the things she resented. To her credit, she did keep her promise and babysit for me. I began dating again. But mostly I just needed some time to get away from the stress-filled misery that was my life by this time. The financial problems were worsening every day. The girls were so much work...I loved them but still it was just a ton of work! My teaching job was exhausting all of my energy. A creepy new principal came in who didn't like me and made my life miserable. My nieces needed so much attention. It wasn't their fault their mother was a drunk and the only person they ever could depend on had died on them. My heart went out to them and I wanted to do all I could to give them a safe, dependable, loving life. My nieces paternal grandmother (who wanted nothing to do with them when Mom died and they needed a place to go) criticized me constantly to the girls which caused them to behave disrespectfully to me at times and belligerent to each other. So they started fighting for the first time between themselves. My daughter carried through with her promise and I got some much needed "escape" on occasional weekends because she babysat for me. She helped with cleaning the house and there was always a ton of housework. But there were problems. She wanted to be in the same bedroom with them and she was by now, in her early twenties and they, much younger, were influenced by her smoking in their bedroom, cursing and cynical, critical attitude. I felt she was not the best influence on them though she was still young herself, only in her early 20's.
I took my nieces for a trip out of town for Christmas. I thought it would be good for them to connect to some of their distant relatives on my mom's side of the family. Also, I did not have money for Christmas and this was a good way to get around the problem. I don't know why I didn't invite my daughter to come. Later, it was mentioned to me that this hurt her very much and I can certainly understand how that might have happened. I thought at the time, she would spend Christmas with her dad and it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. If I could do it over again, I would. But by now, I was in survival mode. I was trying to manage so much at once. I felt if my daughter came on this trip, she would take all the attention away from the girls because she always had to be the center of attention. I wanted them to have the attention from the family because I felt they were more needy than she. I must have been wrong about that. So I decided to take the girls without my daughter. I know with certainly I didn't intend to be hurtful to my daughter by doing this, but I think I felt we all needed a break from her. She had become very bossy of the girls as if she owned my house, owned me and owned them. It was a strange dynamic that had evolved. I think it is interesting that I can't really remember the details of this incident. But I do remember the trip and I do not remember having any feelings of ill intent toward her, only that I felt it was better for everyone if she did not come along. That may have been my biggest mistake in contributing to her hating me now. I wish she would forgive me....if only she would talk to me I would beg her forgiveness for hurting her...if this, is, indeed what it was.
I don't know because I have asked to talk with her and I have told her I just want to listen. I have implored her to allow me to hear how I had hurt her and/or let her down and I would break my neck to understand and that I would apologize. I have made it clear over and over that I want a positive relationship with her--that I love her and she is important to me. But she has refused to allow me this....for years now.
The girls eventually went back to their parents. I was free. My daughter moved out with her new boyfriend whom, I believe, does not love her as much as she loves him. I believe she would like to marry and have children but that he will not do it which I worry is a source of great unhappiness for her.
The last several years she has barely spoken to me. Last Mother's Day I received nothing which broke my heart. Late in the day, I finally received a phone call from her but she sounded like she couldn't wait to get off the phone. I was so happy she called finally on Mother's Day. But her voice was cold. There was no love or warmth.
Just recently, the nieces mother, my sister still living, had revealed to me the extent of the verbal/emotional and physical abuse she has been enduring at the hands of her husband. Even the children, some now adults, some young, were abusive to her too, with his blessing. They do what they see and hear. I knew all along it was not good over there but I used to drop in frequently to check on things and I maintained my relationship albeit more distant with my nieces. But I had no idea until recently just how bad things had become. When my sister finally became sober wild horses could not dissuade her from her recovery. He was still using but she managed to stay sober with drugs and alcohol in her face every day. The more sober she got, the worse the abuse got. He spit in her face. He called her "dumb *****" constantly. He talked so badly to her and about her to the children, her attempts and rebuilding her relationships with her children were difficult. But she was making some fragile progress.....that is, until my daughter showed up.
My daughter had not paid much attention to my nieces after moving out, until now. She always focused on one friend, almost obsessively until that friend dumped her. My daughter could not maintain a friendship. Over and over I saw this pattern occur. It was as if a light bulb went off in her head. My daughter began hanging around at my nieces house. Her plan was hatched: she would re-establish her relationship with my nieces and they would become her source of love and affection. It worked like a charm. She started with the eldest girl. She drove her around, took her out places, and gave her a place to stay. The eldest niece and I had chatted online every night for 3-5 hours at a time, night after night, but when my daughter entered the scene it completely stopped. The middle niece was often in tears because she wanted to come with my daughter and the eldest, but was told "no". But soon, the middle one would be included....then the baby...the one who had been most close to me. She was almost 13 by now. She had come to me when she was only four and we were very close. I knew she heard bad things about me from her father and his mother and sister who are enablers and the kind of people who make others look bad to make themselves look good. The little one and I still had a most precious relationship until the day I helped her mom get out of that abuse. That day all hell broke loose.
When my sister left that abusive drugged up, drunken house with her baby, my daughter was right there to proclaim what a horrible wretch I was to "break up the family". The ring leader. The orchestrator. This was the day she was hoping for. I was the horrible person who came in and wrecked the family because I had helped my sister, now in Recovery, escape her abuser. No matter he was high and drunk in front of the children. No matter he cursed their mother day in and day out in front of the children. No matter he threw things and accidentally hit the baby. No matter he used his power to control and belittle her as if she were a sub-human. No he was not the bad guy--the mom who had become sober was and WORSE--me because I helped her.
I believe that my daughter had always had a horrible jealousy with my nieces. I had given them more attention than to my daughter but at the time, I reasoned my daughter was an adult, I could reasonably expect her to assume adult responsibilities while living in my home. The nieces were still minor children and most needy. I guess I gave her more credit. I thought she was stronger than she was. I considered the nieces in more need of my attention, time and resources. It's not that I gave my daughter no attention, but I certainly gave my nieces more. I wasn't God, after all, and there was a limit to my ability to be all things to all people so I did what I thought at the time was the right thing to do. If I knew she needed more from me, I would have responded. If she had communicated it to me, I would have given her all that she asked for and needed. I loved her. I appreciated her. But I wasn't cognizant that she needed that much from me. I didn't realize she was resenting me and feeling jealous of my love and attention toward the nieces.
By the time I had reached 18, my parents taught us we were on our own and they had no more responsibility. We didn't expect anything after 18. I suppose unconsciously that was playing in my mind. She was well over 18, an adult. But apparently she felt neglected by me and unloved and that I preferred the nieces to her. So my daughter had developed a grudge toward me and a jealousy toward them that is the kind of thing that makes a person's soul dark and cold.
Over the past several years, I never heard from her until she needed something. But every time she called, I went running---whether it was to give her money, or support of her Art Club or support of her Hair Cutting or buying her art so she could get some money....whenever I heard from her, I went running, fully cognizant she was only calling me because she needed something and not because she loved me. But it was an open door and I took it. Anything....anything that might help us reconcile and repair, heal.
It didn't work. She completely disowned me. She has melded with the dysfunctional family from where my sister escaped to safety with her youngest baby to start a drug-free, alcohol-free, abuse-free new life. The end of that story is yet to be seen. The whole dysfunctional enabling gang are out for blood against my sister and they may win. But at least I know I did the right thing in helping her.
I believe in things like forgiveness and "He who is without sin cast the first stone." And most of all, I believe no woman deserves to be emotionally tormented and abused, verbally demeaned, physically assaulted due to the sins of her past. My daughter is there at the abuser's home all the time. They speak of their hatred for me and my sister in Recovery. The mock and criticize. My daughter and my nieces exchange love notes on Facebook, deliberately leaving me out....passive aggressive hurtful things just to get me. I want to tell her: "If you are trying to hurt me, you are succeeding. Does it comfort you? Is that the kind of person you wish to be? Well so be it. I choose a different path." Now my daughter is buddy-buddy with all three of my nieces and with her influence guiding them, they hate me too. They dare not love me when my daughter and all of them hate me. I have no family left at all.
Sometimes I cry a million tears and my heart aches with breaking. Other times I think of all that I have to be grateful for because I have created a beautiful life for myself with a wonderful man and a new career working only part-time. No more of the constant exhaustion I experienced all those years teaching. We've created a beautiful life together but without my daughter there will always be something precious missing in my life. She actually called me for something not too long ago and when I heard her voice say "Mom" my heart stirred. I have missed hearing that SO much.
There is no one that can replace my daughter. The sitting and talking....laughing and sharing.....the special bond that only mothers and daughters share.....these are non-existent with us. The empty hole in my life can only be filled by one person, my daughter, and she does not want that hole to be filled. I know I let her down. I know I screwed up. I have only asked for a chance to make it up to her, to apologize to be forgiven. I don't think she has any compassion for just how much I was suffering. I did not know at the time, how much I was letting her down. She refuses my offers to talk, get past it, my olive branches are rejected....for years now this is going on, and it only gets worse over time. She does not want to heal. I have to let her go. I can find other people who love and care for me but my daughter's love is irreplaceable. On the day she was born, I became her mother. There was no one else there but her. It is like a death.
Any feedback or support you can give me is appreciated.