That's different!

The Opposites


Note: This post was written on December 1, 2005.

Just two days ago someone, a stranger, emailed me to thank me for leaving a compliment on a post on his blog. I had never met him, just admired his writing. I suspect he is young enough to be my son. I had checked out his website and saw that he and his wife are the parents of a newborn baby girl. They have named her Madeleine. He wrote to me, thanked me for the compliment, and asked if I had a blog. I hesitated for several hours before replying.

I hated to tell a stranger who was a new father about this sad blog. In the midst of their joy which is about as far from estrangement as anyone can be when they are new parents and filled with the fear and ecstasy of bringing home this tiny little person with the delicate hands and adorable feet, who would want to hear about Estrangement? Especially estrangement from a beloved adorable wonderful daughter? How grim! What a morbid thought! Get away from me, oh depressing estranged woman on the internet! He is probably wishing that he hadn't asked and I wouldn't blame him. I did tell him about this blog and haven't heard from him again.

Once upon a time I too was filled with the joy of having a newborn baby girl and the anxiety over ever unintentionally hurting her. Her father and I would panic at anything that might be wrong. Some baby clothing had elastic at the wrists that could catch on her little fingers and pull them back. That happened once when we first brought her home and her finger bent way back so that it touched the back of her hand. I was horrified and thought I had injured her permanently. She was okay. (Babies have looser joints than we big people have.) Then there was the time that we took her to an emergency room because she started to cry in the car and we thought something had flown into her eye. They called an eye specialist. Nothing was found. Her eye was just irritated. She was okay.

A couple of months ago I read a post by a woman who said how she hoped that when her children were grown, that they wouldn't act towards her as my daughter has acted towards me. I hope it doesn't happen to her either. I wish it didn't happen to anyone. Speaking for myself, I can say that hoping that it doesn't happen makes no difference on whether it happens. Doing the best that you can as a parent (or as a kid) is no guarantee that it won't happen. My experience is not one that is unique to me alone. People write to me to describe their own estrangements and their grief and shock to find themselves estranged from those they loved.

I have written previously how I read about the comedienne Roseanne Barr/Arnold/Karpolsky and her accusations that her parents abused her and how her parents took a lie detector test and passed. Since then Roseanne's accusations and estrangement from her parents have been included in writings on false memories.

Back when I read about Roseanne and her parents I would wonder what the truth was and if someone could believe that something had happened that hadn't happened. I felt thankful that nothing like that could ever happen between me and my daughter, felt thankful that we had such a good relationship that she would tell me even things that many kids wouldn't tell their parents. She was in her twenties then and I in my forties. Those were the "good old days". In retrospect now I feel irony that I believed that we had a good relationship and that nothing like what had happened to the relationship between Roseanne and her parents could ever happen to me and my daughter. Never ever ever!

This morning I looked at my sitemeter statistics and see that the first hit on my site this morning and the last at night is coming from the same place, the area where my daughter lives. This has been the same pattern for several days with a couple of visits from the same place during the day. It isn't a place like New York City where I might expect to get hits from several people in a day. I saw the statistics and cried.

It is so sad that a mother and daughter, me and my daughter, the only contact that we have now is a remote contact on the internet where she monitors what I am going to say on my site and I see the evidence of her visit. This is unutterably sad. I am filled with grief and sadness.

People can tell me to move on. Yes, I go on with my life. I have lots to do. I have friends. I have a supportive and loving friend in my husband. This sadness is an obstacle to getting things done. But this sadness will always be with me even if it isn't obvious to the world outside of this website.

There is something about being a parent. Not all parents are like this. I know that I'm not like everyone. Some don't think about their kids at all once they've been rejected by them. I am not that kind of parent. Even now when I'm not sure that I'd really be happy to be back in a relationship with my daughter if she feels the way that she says that she feels.

I mourn the loss of one of the neatest relationships I had in my life. Not because we each were all that super incredibly terrific people. We were both normally imperfect people. I just enjoyed being her mom and seeing her grow up. I thought we'd be friends until I died. Now I don't know if I want to tell her to go away and stop looking at my website or if I'd feel sadder if I didn't see the evidence of her watching. This is so bizarre and painful and sad.



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Sad Mom in MD

Hi Ginny,
It seems strange to say I am "glad" to have found your website and blog, since neither would exist if you didn't have this great sadness in your life, but having said that, I'm grateful to have found this community.

This is a VERY LONG message, because I need to tell my story to someone who has been there/is there. My family has been wonderful to me, as has my best friend; I was in counseling for months and saw a psychiatrist for awhile, and am still on anti-depressants. This whole situation still seems so unreal to me, and as you'll see at the end of my message, I think I've inadvertently just made it worse. I am heartsick over this.

I don't know your story with your daughter, but I am going to read the blog archive to find out more. I am so sad for you, because your anguish sounds like mine, which is so acute and horrible even 16 months after my daughter left.

Here's my story: I was a single mom for most of my five children's childhood, which took place in Florida and then Arizona. We moved here in 2000 for a job move for me, and I was lucky enough to re-encounter and then marry my high school sweetheart. All the kids love him; he's a great guy.

I have three daughters and two sons. The daughter who left (are we supposed to use names, or not?) - Barbara -- is one of the two youngest. She and her brother are twins, now 19 and 18 when she left home in 2004. Her twin is still at home as is my middle daughter (22); my oldest daughter (27) is married and my older son (23) lives away from home finishing college.

We have an extraordinarily strong, close family. We are truly a unit and the years raising my kids were the happiest of my life (despite the fact that I received no child support from their father whom I divorced, so money was always an issue). All my kids are bright, very, very kind and considerate of other people and their feelings, funny and devoted to each other and to me. Having one of them literally leave in the middle of the night and then be estranged from me would have seemed about as likely as an asteriod hitting the house.

It was Oct. 2004. Barbara had been dating a troubled guy (foster homes which he said were abusive, everybody out to get him) who is 3 years older. I befriended him even though everyone else in the family instinctively disliked him, because he immediately became very possessive of Barbara and seemed to direct her every move. I thought she was strong enough to withhstand that and didn't worry excessively about it.

Just out of high school that previous May, she was thinking of going back to AZ, to ASU, with her best friend. She had a job at a local golf course for the summer. Out of the blue she asked me if it was okay with me if she went to live with this guy in his foster parents' home. we talked about it and I said I wasn't in favor of it. He said it was an abusive situation; it's a tiny house with no heat in the wilds of West Virginia; and it went against our family values. I said if she wanted to live on her own she should think about college and/or working, getting her own apt. etc.

It got tense, because the guy knew how I felt . I said I would like to talk to his foster parents to see how they felt about an 18-year-old daughter moving into his bedroom (because of course I thought they'd agree with me) and he said no. They wouldn't talk to me. (And I didn't have their last names or phone number at that time.)

Two weeks later she didn't come home from work on a Friday night. I called her cell phone at 3 a.m. and she said she was in Richmond with him, and that she was coming back to the area but not back home. I freaked out, crying, etc.

It went badly from there on for a few months. I was hysterical, angry at him, begged and pleaded for her to come home, and for me to be allowed to come visit her. He said no when I called to ask that, and hung up the phone on me. she was right there and I was so amazed that she would stand for this treatment of me!

Now it's been nearly a year and a half. I hardly ever see her. She never answers her cell phone; sometimes she'll call me back. He said he'd have me arrested if I showed up at their house, so I haven't done that. When I've gone to pick her up (the first christmas she was gone, and her last birthday) for short visits, I've asked if I can come in and meet the parents and see where she's living. She says no, they won't allow it.

The guy seems very controlling, even going so far as to answer text messages her sisters and best friend have sent, on her cell phone. (They confronted her because they knew the words didn't sound like her, and she agreed but it didn't seem to bother her.) He has hung up her cell phone when I call. There's lots, lots more to this story, none of it good. He's been hugely emotionally abusive to her twice that I know of (that she told me about) and keeps her on a very short leash. Other reasonable people agree this is such a strange and bad situation; it's not as though I've just reacted overemotionally to this.

Here's my biggest worry now: I may have alienated her further. She came by briefly last week to pick up something I had bought her (she could only stay as long as he allowed; he dropped her off in HER car, drove around a little and then called on her cell phone to have her come back out of the house. He won't look at any of us or speak to us, despite my attempt to make things right by taking them both out to dinner 4 times last fall.)

I gave her a letter I had written, telling her how sad I still am about her being gone and cut off from us, and that I am so sad that she isn't defending me to him and the family, so that I can at least come and visit her where she lives. She hasn't called me since. (She had said she was coming over today to go out to lunch with me, which would have been a big deal.) I called her last sunday and left a voicemail, but nothing. I am SO HORRIBLY DISTRESSED that I have somehow made this hideous situation even WORSE!! I can't believe this! In the letter I said how much I loved her and respect her decisions, even when I don't agree with them, but just wanted to tell her how I felt. Didnt say anything bad about him at all.

I have been struggling so hard for more than a year to be patient, realize she has to go her own way on I am frantic again. Because I have no regular contact with her, and the contact I do have is only when it is okay for her (when the boyfriend isn't around, which is practically never since they work together too), I have NO WAY of knowing how she feels about what I wrote. I don't know if I'll hear from her tomorrow, a week from now, on my birthday (end of month) or not for a long while. I feel like I'm blind or something.

I realize what I'm describing may not seem very impactful compared to what many others have gone through. It's just so completely out of the realm of anything even possible for my family that I still can't believe it. I am in so much pain and will stay in touch with your blog to try to keep my head above water. I promise, no more long messages like this one!

Thank you,


Hi Cindy,

I'm glad you found my blog too. I hope you found the website also? There is a lot of information there that might be helpful.

What you're describing sounds just as impactful and painful as just about every estrangement from a daughter that I know of. It's okay if your messages are long. I am forever writing long posts. It's okay.

I can't imagine that your letter to your daughter made things worse. Sometimes it seems that there isn't anything that can be said that sits right with someone once they decide to estrange themselves.

I wish my blog and website could give you a means to end the estrangement right now and let you know how to have your daughter back in your life the way things were before. I haven't figured this out myself. Some mothers and daughters eventually do reconnect. When someone decides to estrange themself, they have to be the ones who want to un-estrange themselves.

Reading about the guy that she is living with, have you wondered if there is any foster family at the house where he lives? That is what occurred to me. I would be very troubled too by someone who wouldn't look me in the eye or talk to me. I would be troubled by the whole situation. I think you are normal in being fearful and concerned for your daughter's welfare.

I hope that she misses her family soon and gets in touch with you. Is she also staying away from her brothers and sisters?

I understand what you mean when you say that this is out of the realm of the possible.


I don't think this happened because you did something wrong. Barbara needs to find her way and find her way back to you and her family.


Sad Mom in MD

Thanks for your message, Ginny -- it helps so much to hear and receive comfort from someone who has been/is there.

Here's a question: Yes, there are foster parents in the house, and my husband thinks I should just show up and ask to talk to them. Barbara told me once the foster dad said, "Let her in!" when I dropped her off in the driveway, and the guy yelled, "NO!" The other time when I dropped her off I could see the foster mom in the window. I asked Barbara to ask her if I could come in and meet her. Barbara left me standing in the driveway, went inside and came back out and said no, she had been cleaning house and didn't feel ready to meet anyone. I think Barbara probably didn't ask her. I also wrote a note to the mom (very early on) asking to have contact and thanking her for caring for my daughter (arrrgggghhhh!!!) and asked Barbara to give it to her. I found out later she didn't give it to her, probably out of fear of how mad the guy would be.

Do you have any experience with something like this, to know if it would be a good idea to call these people or not? (I did research and found their names and phone number.) I could invite her out for coffee or something. I just want to know her take on this situation, and if she thinks Barbara is okay.

One other thing to note: I treated this guy like a son for months and months before this happened. I felt so sorry for him that he had had such a bad life. I don't mean to sound weird, but I am one of the NICEST people you'd ever meet, and no one (that I know of) has EVER hated me! And now this weirdo who has run off with my daughter hates me. I know it's just part of the alienation technique.

Thanks again for listening.



She is only 19 years old? I understand the quandary. She is very young to be off on her own in someone else's house living with a boyfriend who is living with them even if she is legally an adult .... sort of.

What about your husband? What does he think? And her siblings?

This would be a good question to bring to the other group where several of us can give input.


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