Hello all, I will be very grateful for any support you members can offer. My husband's daughter, who is in her late 30s, became estranged from us about 2 1/2 years ago. As far as we know she lives alone with no partners. She has had multiple bouts with anorexia in the past and still keeps herself very slender, so her personality is not without issues. She also grew up in a household where twin siblings, born when she was about 6, had significant birth defects ansd therefore compromised the attention she was receiving from her parents, who became busy with taking care of the new babies. She has been successful in her career so far but works a lot of hours to achieve that. Formerly she lived on the West Coast but now has moved to NY. We would love to see her again, or at least be in some kind of contact. My husband has always been very good to her and supportive as well. We have a 12 year old daughter and I think that may trigger some jealousy, probably becasuse my daughter is an only child, and benefits from a lot more attention and opportunities than she probably got as a child. We have taken the estranged daughter on several trips with us, paying her expenses, the last of which was just three months before the incident that follows.
The issue that semed to precipitate the estrangement was one in which she called and wanted to come stay with us for a few days. She gave us only a couple of days notice, and we responded that unfortunately one of my own relatives was going to be staying with us for those days, but if she could just come three days later than what she had proposed that would be fine with us. Rather than go into it in detail, there were speciflc reasons why I didn't think it a good idea for the two to be there at the same time. Different family branches, while she can be high maintenance and her dad tends to spoil her and pay her lots of attention while she is with us. The other relative, my stepfather, who is very straitlaced and careful with money, had already had to cancel his trip to see us twice due to flight cancellations, and also my mother had passed away months before after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He would not have been comfortable with my husband's daughter visiting at the same time, he would have felt like he was intruding, and probably wold have cancelled. Given the circumstances I didn't want that to happen. She was a fully grown adult at the time, but I guess this must have seemed like a rejection to her although I find that a bit far fetched given the short notice she gave us and our offer to come just a few days later. It wasn't as if she had the trip already planned and we told her to cancel. I do think that the estranged daughter is very vulnerable inside although she acts tough on the outside. Isn't that true of all of us after all? But do adult children need to feel that they can come to stay any time they want, even if that conflicts with other plans their parents/families had already made? Does anyone have any experience with this type of issue?
Anyway, soon after this transpired she began ignoring my husband's emails and calls and that has persisted. She sent one or two presents for my daughter (who is now 12) for a while after this happened but eventually this stopped as well. I tried writing her a handwritten letter, totally nonconfrontational, at one point, using the excuse of sending an article with it I thought she would like. No response.
I thought my husband should travel to see her the summer after this happened to kind of mend the breach. I feel like seeing people in person is so much warmer and easier. It's hard to ignore someone when they're standing right in front of you. But he didn't want to, he felt her behaviour was nonsensical. I agree but yet I think she has vulnerabilities that somehow are implicated and maybe we had to treat her more like a much younger person. Time has passed and nothing has happened...
She has also failed to be in touch with one of her brothers who lived only a short flight from her. The brother has a 5 year old child, her nephew, whom she has never met. So it's not just us that she has abandoned. she seems to be rejecting her entire family, as far as we know her mother as well and even a younger brother who still lives at home.
Any suggestions on creating a rapprochement with this person? Obviously if she wanted to pick up a phone or send an email she could. I even texted her when her dad was hospitalized over a year ago asking that she give him a call. No response. I didn't feel great about the fact that she didn't respond to that. I also don't feel good about the fact that she has almost completely ignored my daughter, her half sister, while all this has gone on.
I also feel like after you've created a rift like she has, it's hard to come back from, whether you think it might be awkward, or embarrassing to admit you've been childish about something. Is there a way to create a scenario in which it's more comfortable for her to "come back" or have contact with us again? Or do we just let her stew in her own juices forever??
I would appreciate anyone's insight on this sort of situation.
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