Step out of the story

My daughter and I have had a strained relationship since she was 4. Her father and I divorced after I learned he molested her. Eventually, he kidnapped my daughter and son. He told my daughter that I hated her. To this day, she believes this lie. I am 57 years old; my daughter is 37 with two children. She tells them negative things about me to turn them against me. History is repeating itself. I offered to go into therapy with her; she refuses. I have counseled others professionally for over 15 years, but I can’t find peace within my soul until my daughter and grandchildren are united with me. I pray constantly about this. I am not angry with my daughter. She is my child and my beloved. But I need guidance about this heartbreak.

It is tremendously painful to be separated from those you love. I cannot begin to imagine the suffering that you have experienced from this story. But you have suffered enough. This is the moment—yes, now—to step out of the story of how you have been misunderstood, denied and debased by your daughter and former husband. Exorcise this story from the center of your life. It is not worth the peace of your soul.

I am clear that your daughter was your child (she is now an adult) and that you love her very much. However, it is sanity to recognize that you should not surrender your peace for something that you cannot control. You cannot control the choices of your daughter and ex-husband. If you decide that your life spins on the whim of your daughter’s attention (or lack thereof), you are not living, but dying. This will not inspire her to believe that you really love her. It will inspire her to believe that you are needy, melancholy, dependent and desperate. And it inspires me to wonder whether you were abused as a child and whether some of your energy about this situation is related to a pattern of “attachment to the perpetrator.”

When you take this situation to prayer, ask only for a release of attachment to the desire to be reunited with your daughter and grandchildren. Pray for the dignity to manage this situation and to be a source of hope to others who suffer similarly.

For 16 months, I’ve swung between wanting to ignore my ex-girlfriend and wanting her back. She does not want me back, because, when I was depressed, I left her angry phone messages that eventually became harassment. (It temporarily relieved my sad state of mind.) I asked for forgiveness. She granted it, but the cycle repeated. I know I need to move on, but I have contempt for her decision to date a mutual acquaintance. Sometimes when my ex greets me in social situations, I don’t respond, because I’m hurting and can’t take the rejection. I’m 32, and this is my first love. I’ll never give up my true feelings for this person.

Oh, honey! What are those true feelings? Animosity? Infatuation? You’ve had big feelings to be sure, but nothing that qualifies as love. Attachment and feelings of hate are primal stuff, dating back to when you were an infant. It’s best to see a qualified psychotherapist to excavate the source of this rage so that you can truly love someone in the future.

Consider this: When a relationship based in genuine love ends, you still care for the former partner and still like her. There are no harassing phone calls. You are pleased if she is dating, because you wish for her happiness. You do not present your wounds and act sullen when she says hello socially. Above all, love is patient, kind, selfless and consistent.

Meditation of the Week

I recently served as the guest host on <i>Insight</i>, a daily feature on KXJZ 88.9 FM. The topic was adultery. I’ve been interviewed frequently, but it’s been more than 20 years since I sat on the journalist’s side of a radio news desk. It was a privilege and a huge challenge to manage the interviews as well as some of the technical aspects of the show. (You can hear the show at www.capradio.org.) What step can you take to make one of your dreams come true?