Q. My eldest daughter died three years ago. My other daughter has two sons in their early 20s, who both live at home. The youngest is autistic and, for over 20 years, I have supported and helped her with him – often staying with the family. But two weeks ago, my daughter told me to hand back my key and move my things from the room I always thought of as mine.
She said I was smothering her by being there on a daily basis. She told me that her eldest son wanted my room because it is bigger than his. This has hit me so hard. Now it feels like I am a stranger in her house. I’ve moved out and live full time with my brother. He’s been kind but my heart is broken. I didn’t think she could be so cruel to me. We now just make polite talk. I miss going to see them every day. I’m 74 and it has affected me badly.
A. This is desperately sad, especially when you’ve already lost your other daughter. Without knowing the whole situation, it is difficult to understand why she is acting this way when you sound as if you’ve been supportive for many years. If your daughter was close to her sister, perhaps it’s a reaction to grief or depression over her death. Sometimes, if these feelings are repressed they can reappear later as anger or bitterness.
Another possibility is that your daughter has a new relationship and wants space for this person to stay sometimes. If so, she could be making excuses rather than just being honest about her real motive. Alternatively, could there be any truth in how she views things, perhaps seeing your help and support as taking control instead? However, I really hope and believe there can be a way forward. It sounds as though you have spent 20 years effectively living with your daughter instead of leading your own life, so there is some need for change.
I’m guessing that you’ve been single all that time, which could have made you too dependent on her. Although you have supported the family out of love, not many people of your daughter’s age want to live with their mum. So firstly, try to develop your own social life by reconnecting with friends, taking up new hobbies or perhaps studying. The organisation U3A has locally run interest groups across the country and is a good way to make new friends while doing a fulfilling activity. Also many would say that you are not too old to try online dating.
Meanwhile, write to your daughter, saying you miss her and her sons – and ask where she feels things have gone wrong. Explain how much you love them and that you’re happy to change to win back that closeness. Explain you don’t want to lose her as well as her sister. Perhaps she would be willing to go with you to family therapy – relate.org.uk could help you reconnect in a neutral space. I do hope that she will be able to see how sad you are and that your closeness to her can be restored.
‘Does a drunken kiss mean anything?’
Q. A couple of weeks ago, my husband came home drunk from a party with colleagues. The next morning he seemed grumpy and distant. It was more than just being hungover. After a couple of days he was back to normal and has been very affectionate.
I was suspicious and he eventually admitted that he had snogged a colleague in the car park when they were waiting for taxis. He was remorseful and told me that it really had been just the alcohol. He said that he had since seen her once at work, and that she was embarrassed, too. They both want to forget it happened. I do believe him – we usually have a good marriage – but should I be worried? We’re in our late 40s.
A. Obviously this is upsetting for you, but, no, you probably don’t need to be worried. I’m not excusing your husband’s actions, but I think on this occasion that the kiss was just alcohol-fuelled. It doesn’t sound as if it was going to go further or be the precursor to an affair. Especially as the woman in question was embarrassed too (if your husband is telling the truth, which your instinct tells you he is).
That said, your husband needs to look a little at his behaviour. Why did he get so drunk? Does it happen often? It’s important that he continues to be affectionate and reassure you that you are the only woman for him. You need to talk about your relationship to make sure that both of your needs are being met and neither of you is taking the other for granted. A date night or two is in order – ending in him snogging you romantically in a dark car park.