Dear Annie: Family relationships after a divorce
Dear Annie: I divorced over a year ago after a 35-year marriage that was very dysfunctional — although my adult children and ex-husband did not see it that way. Initially, I did not handle the divorce with any tact or finesse, I’ll admit. I am sorry for that and have apologized, but my kids still refuse to have any contact with me.
My middle daughter is extremely angry because I got the family home, and she tells me, “Dad is destroyed.”
Ironically, he has moved on already and is engaged to be married to the woman he was “seeing” while we were married. I spent most of my free time with my kids and grandkids. I thought we had a good relationship, but this divorce has shown me differently. I have reached out to the kids and offered to go to counseling, meetings, etc., but have gotten no response. My counselor has advised me to figure out how else I can be happy in my life and move on.
I am really struggling with this! Any other advice from you or someone reading this who has been there? I am so sad and heartbroken. I wish now I would have just ignored the affair, beatings and sexual abuse just to keep my kids and grandkids in my life. — So Lost and Lonely
Dear So Lost: The last line of your letter is devastating. Leaving your husband was the right thing to do. You didn’t deserve that awful treatment, and abuse is not a price anyone should have to pay to be close to her family. Divorce is messy. Perspectives get muddled, but clarity often comes with time. It’s only been a year, though I’m sure it’s felt like an eternity for you. Let’s hope your children will see things more clearly in the future and reach out to you.
In the meantime, commit entirely to your own healing process. Continue going to therapy, even when you feel as if it’s not working. Join a support group for victims of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse or even a support group for divorced women. (Your therapist can refer you to groups in your area.) You must learn to love yourself, first and foremost.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to the letter from “Mary,” the person who is offended by her good friend’s interrupting their personal conversations at church to greet others. There is a difference between hospitality and fellowship. When we are in a place of gathering, especially at church, and there is a good possibility of newcomers in our midst, we exercise hospitality. When we are in a group and know everyone in the group, we exercise fellowship.
Before or after church is probably not the best time for deep personal conversations. Instead, hospitality toward the newer folks should be the rule. Please advise the writer to be hospitable to others at church, especially those who may be less than comfortable. There is a time and place for friends to visit, but church may not be the place. Focus outward, not inward, during these conversations. — BJEC
Dear BJEC: I appreciate your insight, and I feel you’ve offered a nuanced, accurate reading of the situation. I’ve passed it along to “Mary” for consideration.
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