Losses and Rejections

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Ill try to make this short & sweet,the complications started w/ the untimely death of my son,as tragic as it was I was thankfully supported by numerous family and friends ,and would not have made it though all the hard decisions as well as the neccessary arrangments w/o the support of my daughter[his sister] my current wife who helped me raise them as their stepmother from a very early age was devastated.

I have always been an objective and thoughtful person as it relates to analyizing events and willing to put myself on trial as to my role in how such things happen.He died of an accidental drug overdose 2 years after leaving us abruptly over circumstances due to being repremanded for abusing a privelige provided to him after extreme financial self induced hardship. In short his stepmother and I supported and provided opportunities, food,shelter and financial aid for him to get back on his feet.The right thing to do ,but not unconditional enablement.

After leaving he became distant and neglected the one payment he had that was secured by us.The only communication we had was the loan source looking to collect as he was constantly changing cell #s with no forward to us.He only stayed in touch with his sister who was deployed in the Navy.We spent New Years eve 8 mos before his death w/ him and his sister and made a pact that any talk of loan,money or dissappointments we had w/ him were not spoke. However we begged him not to shut us out.The rest is history.

Later My daughter became pregnant out of wedlock & his namesake in a female form came into our life. there was a new life and my wife and daughter were never closer. Bottom line – My daughter has turned into an evil fire breathin narrcassist who at any moment no matter how supportive ,caring and above all tolerant we are if things dont go her way she will say anything from blaming me for my sons death,to accuse us of being sick,twisted and manipulative and completely shut us out of our grandaughters life. Something that was never done in her upbringing no matter how hurtful her bio-mom could be.

We dont want to have a back-door relationship w/o our daughter but no one is exempt from her selfish wrath including her husband of 9 mos. we live 2 states away it hurts and has caused me to now more than ever be more aware of and quick to reject a multitude of people in my life w/ similar tendancies and my wife has too and will here it all. This has happened numerous times before and will inevidabily happen again if we allow ourselves to forgive and forget. Advise Please

A: What a sad, sad story. I’m very sorry for the loss of your son. You did so much to save him but his problems were bigger than your love and help could conquer. And now you stand to lose your daughter and grandchild too. You must feel bereft.

All I have to go on is your letter so my guess may be far from accurate but I’ll give it a try: It sounds like your kids only know how to be too close or too distant. It seems like maybe you are doing the same by rejecting friends. Consider, please, if you and your kids know how to be connected with those you care about but still be your own separate self. If I’m right that maybe you don’t know how, there are only two ways to be in relationship – close to the point of a kind of co-dependency or distant at the cost of the relationship.

If that rings at all true, I suggest you find a trained family therapist (preferably someone who is familiar with Bowen’s work) to help you find new ways to relate to your daughter and your friends that allows for both individuality and connection. I realize this may sound like heady stuff. But I’ve seen families break apart when adult kids can’t find a way to be different from their parents (even a little) without going overboard or distancing. It’s as if they have to slam the door to feel like they have won their independence. Hurt parents then sometimes start slamming doors of their own and the breach gets wider and wider.

You can’t make your daughter come back to you. But you can learn some new skills for inviting her back into the fold in a way that feels safe for her – and for you and your wife. I hope you will look for a therapist to give you the support and coaching you need. You’ve already lost so much. I think you deserve to give this a try.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jun 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Losses and Rejections. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/06/21/losses-and-rejections/