Dear Annie: I have a daughter who is sometimes very kind and sweet to me but other times feels like a cancer who destroys every cell in my heart. I have limited the time I spend with her because, when we are together, her criticism leaves me feeling devastated for weeks.
I avoid her for a while after she does a number on me. But when she senses I have calmed down, she starts to be really sweet again to draw me back. She has never once apologized to me for her hurtful and inconsiderate ways.
I raised both her children from birth while she ran off with her friends all the time and pursued her career goals. Not once did she try to help me with raising them, other than the occasional times she came around and offered to help, which would consist of her lying down and sleeping or ignoring the kids with her cellphone.
When I raised her, my life was very difficult. I was divorced and poor and didn’t have any help from my family or the father, but I spent my entire life trying to make her and my son have a happy life. I put aside my needs completely and gave my children every last bit of love and money I had. I took my daughter to all kinds of fun activities, and she had never-ending sleepovers as well.
Even though she was a very happy and confident kid and teenager with lots of friends, she tells me I was a terrible parent. Mind you, she also says I am the best grandmother ever to her children. She never complained once to me about anything, but when she was abandoning her children, she started saying I was the reason because I was too nice to her when she was growing up.
She still calls me regularly and wants a relationship with me, but inside I don’t trust her and I know the same hurt is coming again. I don’t know how to deal with this. In the past, and even now, I haven’t put up with toxic behavior from friends, boyfriends or my family of origin. I have love and hatred in my heart toward her, but mostly hurt from all of the selfish and careless ways she has displayed toward me.
I am going to visit tomorrow, but I feel sick inside and don’t know if I can forgive and forget her evil toward me. And if I try to resolve anything through communication, she always excuses her behavior.
This year, she has taken my 15-year-old grandson to live with her, and I don’t want to alienate him from my life, so I have to keep dealing with her. I am feeling trapped in this emotionally abusive relationship with her and don’t know what to do. Please help! — Trouble With Adult Daughter
Dear Trouble With Adult Daughter: Your daughter might have borderline personality disorder or bipolar depressive disorder. It’s understandable that you are feeling trapped and want to avoid the entire situation altogether. But walking away from your daughter and your grandkids is not the answer. The best way to handle this toxic relationship is to detox it through honest and open communication. If she continues to make excuses for her behavior, try and see through them to the root of her avoidance and anger. I would suggest therapy for both of you individually, or seeing a family therapist together.
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