Dear Dr. Archer,
I am the single mother of a 17 year old daughter. She is the love and light of my life. She's been in the gifted program since the second grade, and I have always preached the value of education. I am completing my doctoral studies now, but for the past eight years I have been an editor, writer and reporter of news.
My daughter never liked the fact that I had to balance so many jobs at one time, and I now see that I was working all the time, and although she was home most of the time, I was typing away.
About a year ago a crisis happened and the bottom fell out of our lives. My mother passed away and instead of dealing with it in a brave manner, I resorted to abusing pain killers. I used the excuse of my old knee pain, and the doctor prescribed medication to justify it. I was so addicted that I called for my prescription early and was arrested.
The Lord has blessed me and I do not have a criminal record; it's behind me now, but my daughter has not wanted to move back home since the event happened. She's been living with my sister who lives nearby, but my sisters and my daughter all abandoned me during the worst time of my life.
For the past year I have been to therapy and reflected on my l life. I can now say that my life is manageable and no longer overrun with workaholic living and addiction.
How do I get through to my daughter who has been living with me her entire life and doesn't want to talk to me? I send gifts, letters, flowers, texts and emails and anything else you could think of to get through.
I'm at my wits end and do not know how to communicate. How do I mend broken hearts? How can I show her that she can trust me as her mother? Please help me, Dr. Archer!
One thing for certain is that you cannot force, cajole or beg your daughter to forgive you. Think of it from her perspective; I'm sure she's angry, hurt, sad, disappointed and more. Saying you're sorry, texting, and sending flowers is easy enough for anyone to do. From now on, let your actions speak louder than words..
Also, you cannot hold a grudge against her or your sisters. The probably had little insight into addiction and didn’t know what to do so they withdrew. That is now water under the bridge.
Your daughter owns her own feelings, Rebecca, and she's entitled to them. Let her have this time to recover from what has happened. For you, just do your best to concentrate on your work, and develop new friends and hobbies. Let go, don’t force the issue and let your daughter heal on her own terms, while you heal on yours.
My advice is to write her a from the heart email explaining what happened, how you realized that your life was out of control and how you changed. Tell her your happy and doing well and understand it will take time for her to heal, but that at some point when she is ready you would love to have lunch together. Then drop it- and wait.
It’s ok to continue an occasional text or emails dealing with an activity or a quote- but nothing more about trying to get together. She needs to be the one to bring that up. Remember, just as it took time for you to heal and recover, the same goes for her. We each heal at our own pace.