a middleSage publication

My Dear Daughter

Your Facebook message took me by surprise. We don’t communicate any more, we don’t see each other anymore and we don’t even play Words with Friends any more. Your response to my message said you wanted things to be different. Better.

You said that you loved me. You said “I realized I’ve never doubted that you loved me, I think I had to come to grips with the fact that you don’t like me”.

I reviewed all my communication (texts, Facebook messages, etc) and they were all very warm and ended with your signature lyl. You were always a great writer.

I want you to know how I really feel.

You were my first in many ways. My first child, my first human that allowed me to FEEL what love actually felt like, and the first human I ever had a sense of belonging with. Through two failed marriages of my own, the only sense of family I ever had was you and your brother. There was nothing in my childhood to show me a sense of what love felt like.

I’ve been on my own journey of self awareness since Grandma died. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about the relationship I had with her and the rest of my family.

As I think you know, my mother was the biggest bully I ever had in my life. She had a narcissistic personality that prevented her to empathize with anyone else, especially me. From the very earliest of memories to the very last memory I have of her, she couldn’t offer any love and support if her life depended on it. I found myself jumping through hoops trying to pacify her. The last thing she even said to me was “I always appreciated the things you tried to do for me”. That was the sum of my worth to her – what I did for her…not who I was. After her death, I wanted to explore both the way she treated me and why, along with how I continually felt about it. It’s been a good journey, an enlightening journey. I’ve worked hard at letting go of multitude issues that stood in my way of just feeling comfortable in my own skin.

And I am the healthiest (emotionally) I have ever been.

My awareness of the broken relationship between the two of us came when we FaceTimed together. We FaceTimed because I had just sent you a new computer…an iMac. We had planned to give you (and your brother) each a new computer when you all came for Thanksgiving that year. We really enjoyed planning how we were going to give it to you both and enjoyed dreaming about how happy you both would be. I’ve never had enough money to give such an extravagant gift, but when Grandma died she left just enough money for me to finally get my chance. You know the old saying, “It’s better to give than receive”, well I can attest to that because I was over the moon at getting a chance to do something like this. I debated at first what to get you, but since I lived so far away and keeping in touch was difficult I thought being able to talk face to face would be awesome.

I need to back up just a little though. Shortly before Thanksgiving that year, you accidentally pocket dialed me. I could hear you talking to someone. I shouted HELLO….HELLO….you didn’t hear me. Your conversation was all about how you were not coming for Thanksgiving that year. I heard more than I cared to and I hung up fearing I would hear something I didn’t want to know. Thanksgiving trips were kind of our tradition, you had assured me you were going to try and make it. When I called you later to chat, I made no mention of the pocket dial, and you made no mention of not coming that year. You assured me you were still really trying to make it. I knew you were lying to me and you never called me back to tell me you weren’t coming. You just didn’t show up. Being lied to left me feeling hurt and betrayed.

I wasn’t going to let my feelings rob me of an opportunity to give you a gift I had been planning for quiet some time. I just needed to make a new plan to give it to you. I ordered one computer for your brother and had it sent to my house. I ordered another computer and had it sent to your house. We had such a great time giving the computer to your brother and I was anxiously awaiting being able to give you yours. I tracked the package and imagined your surprise when you unwrapped it. When I saw that it had been delivered I had imagined getting an phone call. When you did finally call (via FaceTime) it was the most somber conversation I believe I had ever had. There were no smiles, there was no excitement, there wasn’t even any gratitude. Just several statements with the longest and saddest faces telling me I shouldn’t have done it. I told you I could help you learn anything you wanted to do on the computer and it would be great to FaceTime again. You never called back. When we finished FaceTiming, I turned to Kelly and asked “Was it my imagination or was that the most strained conversation I had ever had”.

I began to review our relationship over the years and I had an epiphany. Our relationship (and the way I felt) was beginning to mirror the relationship I had with my mother. Just like the relationship I had with my mother, I was never going to do anything to make you as happy as I wanted you to be. I reflected on all our phone calls and the style of conversation we had. It was always more like an interview….you would talk (even with the heavy sighs that seemed to signal I was keeping you from something) as long as I continued to ask questions. You were always in the middle of something and passed me off on the kids. I love them dearly, but I could tell I was being foisted off on them and you had nothing to say to me. It dawned on me, I was allowing you to treat me exactly as my mother did. Being in a relationship like this is incredibly painful. I didn’t call you while I was in Grand Rapids because it seemed to offer the least pain.

This lengthy explanation is meant to purely give you a clearer picture on what I feel, and why I feel that way.

You said in your Facebook message “After multiple examples, like learning you were in GR and visiting, just not us, appearing uncomfortable when I did show up, etc”. As your mother, I don’t know how to separate love and like for my daughter, I simply love you and that will always be the case, but I will agree with you…this situation makes me very uncomfortable.

I realize this is the only way you know how to treat me – growing up, you never saw anybody treat me any other way. I’m sure it’s not a purposeful action to hurt – nonetheless it takes it toll. It’s taken plenty of therapy and time to realize I am worthy of love and respect and I feel such regret and loss not teaching you this as a child. I realized through my journey that chasing someone and trying to gain their love and respect is something I’m not capable of doing with a high cost to my own emotional well being – that’s the being uncomfortable you say you detected.

I’m not sure where we go from here either, you’ll always be my daughter and I’ll always love you.


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