Dear Annie: I divorced an extremely wealthy, abusive and narcissistic man five years ago. My divorce was a horror. He hacked my phone, email and Facebook account and put a tracking device on my car. He put listening devices, maybe even cameras, in my home and had private investigators follow me. (I have witnesses to all this.) He told me he would "ruin" me when we got divorced, and believe me, he has tried. He has taken my mostly adult kids away on almost every holiday (great trips they don't want to turn down) since the divorce, even flying them all out of town on my 50th birthday. I want to add that I was a faithful wife during our 30-year relationship, while he was a cheater. I left him once in the marriage for having an affair with a friend of mine.
I was a good stay-at-home mother, highly involved in my three kids' activities. My kids were and are my life. My eldest daughter called me "a dream mom" before the divorce. But since the divorce, that daughter has turned on me, calling me crazy. She's blocked me from communicating with her in any way. I also have had problems getting ahold of my college-age son. (I found out his dad blocked my number on the cellphone he pays for.) I believe they learned to abuse me from their father.
I feel that my ex is still controlling my life. And there is nothing I can do, considering his power and money. How do I get back control of my life? How do I ever get my daughter back? I have tried writing her snail-mail letters explaining my hurt, but that has not solved this problem. How do I get through to my kids? Do I ever get my kids on holidays? They are all older than 18, so going to court would not help. -- Ostracized
Dear Ostracized: First, I'm so sorry for what you've gone through. I understand that you're extremely focused on getting your children back in your life; any parent would feel the same way. But right now, I'm more worried about you. You were in an emotionally abusive relationship for 30 years. Those psychological scars don't heal overnight -- especially when your ex-husband is doing everything he can to see that they don't. Before reconnecting with your adult children, who are still under the spell of their father, you must learn how to love yourself and set boundaries. I strongly encourage you to seek counseling.
Let it go
Dear Annie: One year ago, I notified my sister about my daughter's wedding so that she could save the date. She just received the formal invitation, and she called and said that her best friend had asked her to be maid of honor in her second wedding on the day before my daughter's wedding and that she had decided to accept her friend's invitation. She still can fly in the next morning and make the late-afternoon wedding. I'm totally stunned and deeply hurt. I thought she was a loyal family member. I flew my three children and wife to her daughter's wedding at quite an expense, so you can see why I'm shocked over this. Any suggestions? -- Snubbed by Sister
Dear Snubbed by Sister: As long as she still makes it to your daughter's wedding -- and you should make crystal clear to her how important it is to you that she be there -- I say let this one go. Staying angry won't help. To quote Mark Twain, "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."