THE ART OF MISPERCEPTION OR
How one person can see purple and the other orange ...
Well, back to discussing estrangements using myself and my daughter as lab rats to observe, dissect, and draw conclusions. Some will consider this callous and cold. A certain person with the first name of Robin most certainly will. Empathy isn't her long suit. She is clueless about why I have this website.
It is futile to attempt to communicate with my daughter. We are on such different planets. If I read text one way, she reads it in an entirely different way and vice versa. It is just futile. But this is good fuel for writing about this phenomena. It is not that I feel cold and without feeling about my daughter's hatred of me. It is that I can't do anything about it and it has gone on so long that I no longer have intense feelings about it. I have developed callouses. We cannot communicate as there is no common ground of understanding. Our lack of relationship now is only good for one thing ... as an example for others on what happens in an estrangement.
So ... I will discuss it on that basis.
Here are some basic differences in how I see things and how my daughter sees them. This may be similar to what some of you who visit here have experienced about your own estrangements.
REASON FOR WEBSITE
My perception of the reason for this website is that it began as a means of coping with the loss of my relationship with my daughter which was a deep and painful loss. I continue this project as my contribution to others who find themselves in painful estrangements and struggle to cope with them.
My daughter's perception of this website is that it is a sick obsession and is evidence of my mental illness.
BEING THE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
My perception of being the photographer at my daughter's wedding was that I was doing what she wanted me to do.
Her perception is that it kept me from being part of the wedding and that she wanted me to be part of the wedding. I guess she thinks I did the photography to keep myself from being part of the wedding or for some other probably narcissistic reason.
My perception of whether I obsess or not: Of course I obsess. I am a bit obsessive. I go back and check the door knob to make sure I locked the door. I go back and check other things to make sure I've done them. Yes. I do obsess but not so much that it impairs my life or is a mental illness. I am not as obsessive as the character Monk on the TV program. Sometimes my obsession is the driving force behind my getting stuff done and can be a positive thing as well as a sometimes inconvenient thing.
My daughter's perception of whether I obsess: My daughter thinks that I am mentally ill and that I should not still think about her or visit her website to learn about her life and that my obsessing is a mental illness. She, of course, never obsesses and is a poster woman for Mental Health.
PAYING FOR HALF OF THE WEDDING
My perception of my payment of half of her wedding: I did so at her request. She may have called it a "wedding gift". It was not my idea.
My daughter's perception of my payment of half of her wedding: It was an offer from me. Either way, apparently my daughter sees this as a negative. I'm not sure how she perceives it. The way she writes about it doesn't sound positive but maybe it's just me. "MEMEMEMEMEMEME", as she likes to say.
HOUNDING HER WITH LETTERS
My perception in 1995 of my relationship with my daughter was confused. I didn't understand what was happening or why she seemed to be angry. I did continue to send her letters when I shouldn't have. This was due to obsessing about it and to missing her. I missed her a great deal. I acknowledge that my writing those letters was a mistake.
Her perception of the letters in 1995: I was "hounding her" and that I should have left her alone for 6 months as I had said I would do. She does not understand how much anxiety I felt as a mom in imminent peril of losing her daughter nor does she empathize with it. To her it is merely "sick" behavior. But on this we apparently agree: I should not have written her that one more letter. She is absolutely correct.
My perception of sending apologies to her and trying to reconcile is that I was sincere and wanted to have a relationship with her. I was apologizing for not knowing what to do in 1995 and for upsetting her. I may not have said all that but that is what I meant.
Her perception is that I was insincere and that she cannot trust me. That I sent an apology for "nothing".
My perception of whether I listen to her or not: I always loved to hear about whatever she was doing. I have not been able to listen to her for 10 years because she won't talk to me. Even today she says that she has put a block on my emails. In 1995 she said she put a block on her phone. She has told me very little about herself. If I talked about my own projects on the phone when we were talking, that was because that was what I had to talk about. I was happy to hear her news. In fact she told me when she got angry at me in 1995 that she hated to hear me ask, "What's new?" whenever we talked. I wasn't trying to irritate her.
Her perception of whether I listen to her or not: She thinks that I don't listen to her and that everything she wants to do is considered by me to be stupid.
My perception of whether she listens to me: Um ... she hasn't listened to me for 10 years and when she did listen to me, she resented whatever it was that I wanted to talk about, especially if the subject was me.
Her perception of whether she listens to me: Um ... she didn't like hearing me talk about myself or ask her what's new. Rather than listen to me, she has refused to speak with me for 10 years.
HOW I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO BE
My perception of how I want her to be: I would love her no matter what music she likes, what activities she likes, what job she has. None of that matters. I don't need her to be like me. At the time she estranged herself from me, I was just learning how different she was from me which was a surprise as I hadn't known those things before but it was okay and I always loved her.
Her perception of how I want her to be: She thinks that I want her to be a mirror image of ME and that I am disappointed if she isn't.
My perception of giving gifts: I love to give gifts to people I love but gifts are not important. They are just fun to give. I love to receive gifts that are attune to who I am, not because I am materialistic. It is just fun but not necessary.
Her perception of my attitude towards gifts: I am materialistic and I measure people by the gifts that are given or received.
MY DAUGHTER'S OPINION OF ME
My perception of comments that she makes about me: She hates me and has disliked me for a very long time that began long before she estranged herself from me. This is extremely sad and is something that I don't understand but accept.
Her perception of comments that I make about her: She perceives anything that I say in the blackest possible terms and doesn't accept that I can say something and not be meaning it in a critical sense. She is supersensitive to anything that I write. If I wrote it, it must be a criticism. Even if I mean it to be particularly nice and supportive. It is always seen as a criticism. This makes writing to her or about her a no-win situation. It is impossible for her to see anything that I write as being a positive about her.
MY DAUGHTER'S IDEA OF KINDNESS
My idea of kindness: Being kind and gentle with people. Expressing sorrow for their hurts. Listening. Being there for them. Enjoying hearing from them.
My daughter's idea of kindness: Her email to me in which she expresses her absolute disdain, dislike, and hate for me that extends back over the years. She calls it "kindness". Really she does.
My perception of why Robin's Online Rant amuses me: Because they all deserve it. Everyone of them. Robin, Betty Ann, and Tony. They deserve to be angry at each other and estranged from each other. I have been estranged by two of them and have been hurt by Tony & Robin estranging themselves from me. If they are now estranged, good! Yes, that amuses me. My amusement is not directed at Robert or his mom and her impending death. That is very sad and not at all amusing. I am disgusted by the thought that anyone would think that I would consider her impending death amusing. But I consider it consistent that Robin would interpret my post in that manner.
Robin's perception of my amusement: She perceives that the amusement that I feel on reading her online rant includes the news about her mother-in-law. Robin is consistent. She enjoys the fantasy that I am an ogre.
My perception of whether I am human: I am most definitely human. I FEEL. I feel grief, love, affection, sadness, guilt, annoyance, anger, indignation, maternal, offended, sorrow, admiration, loss, and more. I feel. Most definitely. If I didn't feel, I would not have this website. If I didn't feel, I would not care if anyone estranged themselves from me. I would go on with my life and not care.
I am not capable of allowing a serious loss to affect me for only a couple of weeks and moving on as though I never had a daughter. In fact, said daughter on one of her websites has an essay on the grief that dog owners feel when they lose a beloved pet and how no one can dictate how long it will last. Maybe she thinks that the loss of a daughter is somehow less than the loss of a dog?
She thinks that I only think about ME. I suspect she thinks that I have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am not even insulted by that possible thought as I am not even going to try to defend myself against that one. I could but I'm not.
I am most absolutely definitely human.
My daughter's perception of me: That I don't act like a human and that I am mentally ill because I continue to miss her and for other reasons that are strangers to my experience of myself. I agree with her that I may be nuts in the sense that most mothers would be driven somewhat nuts by the loss of a child because the loss of a child, grown or small, is a serious loss that impacts a woman far more than my daughter will ever know because she has no children. She has dogs and cats. They are her children and I guess she thinks it is the same thing or if it is similar, that losing a child is less of a loss than losing a dog. Losing a child is far far worse than losing a pet, even a pet that one thinks of as a child. Maybe you have to have experienced it to understand and empathize.
MY GUT FEELING
I was never a Joan Crawford sort of Mommy Dearest mother. I was never the kind of mother who deserved to be estranged or whom it would make sense to estrange. In my gut I know this about myself and no amount of analysis and accusations by Robin will get me to believe anything different. For whatever reason, Robin chooses to dislike me and even hate me. I have been lucky enough to have had two people in my life ... oh wait, three counting her father ... who find it easy to denigrate me, call me mentally ill, and estrange themselves from me when I was not behaving as they wanted me to behave. The three people are my ex-husband, my mother, and my daughter.
My ex-husband has "issues" with my having left him. Was he bitter? Um .... YES!!! Did he want me NOT to leave? Um .... YES!!! Does he think that I should not have left him? YES!!!
The second person is my mother who has called me crazy throughout most of my life with no insight on her part that she qualified for a mental health disability long ago, that she goes to a psychiatrist and has gone to one for over 50 years, and that she was in an institution for 3 years in the fifties. In a letter to me in 2002 she called me dumb and stupid and credited my stupidity to my paternal genes.
And the third person who calls me mentally ill and denigrates me is Robin. I will not stoop to analyzing the reasons behind this and pin labels on her as she tries to do to me. The reasons why she does this and estranges herself from me are in her own heart and mind. In this case it is all about HERHERHERHERHERHERHER. Whatever the reasons are they have little to do with me.
In my heart it is not that I know I am right. This is not about being right or wrong. It is about recognizing love and the ability to love and the ability to hate. Robin is very good at hating. I do not know the reasons for this. I just accept it. But it reminds me of my mom and how she has treated me. I am just so lucky to have had both a Mommy Dearest in my life as well as a Daughter Dearest. But I won't write a book about it. I just have this website.