Dear Amy: I have a question about my daughter.
She and I were estranged from the time she was 16 until she was 28.
I don’t know why this estrangement happened. I haven’t asked — and I won’t.
We’re back together now, and now we have the relationship I’ve always wanted.
She visited me for a week over the holidays and we had a wonderful time.
She and I are going to Ireland on holiday in October.
I’m concerned that I might do the same thing that alienated her years ago, but not knowing what it was, I can’t monitor my behavior against it.
Should I ask her to tell me if I annoy her? (Annoyances are bound to happen.)
Should I keep quiet and hope for the best?
– Adoring Mom
Dear Adoring: It’s hard to imagine not even being curious about the reasons behind over a decade of separation between an adoring mother and her child, but your lack of curiosity about it tells me that either you already know, or that you have a very high tolerance for being controlled by another person.
If it were possible to put all of those years into a completely locked box, never to be opened, and to start with an absolutely clean slate – then I’d tell you to go for it, but you are already worried about the possibility of setting off another estrangement simply by being annoying.
I have news for you: Everyone is annoying.
Until you two are brave enough to at least attempt to discuss those missing years, you will continue to be destabilized by the possibility of it happening again.
Intimacy can be hard and courageous work.
You can try to open a conversation by asking her some open-ended questions about the estrangement. What was it like for her? What is it like for her now to be in touch again? Can she describe from her perspective what led to this break?
Dear Amy: My ex and I had been together for six years when he ended things. We are in your late 20s and have been apart for eight months.
I made big changes in my life – all things he asked me to do.
I tried to make things work for a long time.
The only time he seemed to contact me was to show off and tell me that he’d bought a new car and had plastic surgery. Other than that, anytime I texted or called him he would tell me he didn’t want to hear from me; then he would say he misses me, but then would get angry.
I stopped contacting him for a few months until last week. He kept texting me “hey,” so I responded. He said things were hard and that he misses me and wanted to see me.
He took me to dinner and told me he bought a new house and is moving.
I also just bought a new house.
He started telling me about all the things he’s purchasing for his house. I asked where it is, because I have a feeling it’s out-of-state.
He told me, “I’ll let you know when the time comes.”
He made it clear that he doesn’t want to be with me, but only calls or texts me to show off or hurt me.
He knows I still love him and it’s been really had for me to distance myself.
I really don’t understand why he does this and why one moment it seems he wants to work things out, and then the next minute he hates me.
I wish he felt as heartbroken as I am.
What should I do?
Dear Heartbroken: Block his number, and then raise your standards.
If receiving a series of “hey” texts can completely disrupt your own healing and recovery, then you should make sure you don’t receive them.
Dear Amy: Your response to “Holding a Secret” was terrible.
No! Please! Do not reveal when someone is not the biological son of the father who raised them, and they think is their real Dad.
I have seen this revealed, and it totally devastates the person.
Many secrets like this will go to the grave with me. People confide in me for their healing, knowing this and that I care for them. It develops a trusting bond and we deeply enjoy our friendships.
Dear Disappointed: The situation “Holding a Secret” described was the opposite of yours. In this case, he let a secret destroy a friendship, not cement one.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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