DEAR ABBY: I got divorced a year ago. Before it became final, there were many court appearances. My husband told my mother we were divorcing because I was unfaithful, which is true. What he didn’t say was I felt neglected, abandoned and unwanted, all things he knew because I had discussed them with him and he ignored me.
Either way, she is my mother, not his, and she showed up with him to a couple of court dates to vouch for him to have custody of our kids! I was sad, mortified and angry. It happened with no warning. Mother and I had not severed contact. As a matter of fact, she had recently spent a week with me and our kids in our home.
Our relationship had never been great, but now it’s over. It has been a year since we last spoke, and I feel no remorse, no sadness, no regrets, only anger that she turned against her own daughter. Regardless of what I did, I am her child. As a mother, I would never betray my children, no matter what they did. I was awarded full physical and legal custody of both of them, by the way. Is there something wrong with me for not feeling sad or missing her and being so angry after an entire year has passed? — NUMB IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR NUMB: Wrong? In your words, your relationship with your mother had never been great. That she appeared in court as a surprise witness for your husband must have been a terrible shock. I assume your mother has not tried to apologize for what she did. If that’s true, there is nothing wrong with your justifiable anger unless it’s eating at you and negatively affecting your quality of life. If that is what’s happening, talking with a licensed psychotherapist will help you straighten out your thinking. (c) DEAR ABBY
I’m not certain yet if the husband “stole” her mother out of anger at being cheated on or out of a manipulative personality. If he was devastated by the affair, he might’ve been seeking revenge; alternatively, maybe he used the affair to try to work things to his advantage because he’s manipulative like that. It’s unclear but intriguing. I’d sympathize a lot more with possibility #1, that he was wounded by the affair and therefore acting out. Possibility #2 makes him a heartless, manipulative jerk.
And she was awarded full custody. Not majority custody? Not half custody? Full custody? If her mom spent a week with her prior to these proceedings, presumably gathering intel to support her husband, we can assume the mom came up with nothing bad about her daughter’s parenting, or she would’ve told it to the judge. This also adds credence to the possibility that her ex is a manipulator, because most judges would give some custody to the dad. Add in that he was a completely inattentive husband. So now the picture being painted makes the husband out to be a narcissist.
One thing the letter writer might want to consider is the possibility that her dad cheated on her mom, or that her mom was otherwise cheated on. It would explain how her mom was so easily persuaded to the other side. With hot-button issues, it can be easier to sway someone if it’s happened to them. I’d also posit that the mother is smallminded and not good at independent thought. Those are bad qualities in a mother.
Is there something wrong with me for not feeling sad or missing her and being so angry after an entire year has passed?
I wouldn’t think so. If a relationship is wrong somehow, just not working out, there’s going to be an awakening moment of realizing it; and after that moment, there’s just resignation. I recently quit being friends with Jennifer. She and I often chatted on FB, and she started ignoring my messages and not reading them, even though she logs onto FB multiple times a day. (She must’ve “muted” me, or something?) After several days passed, I just realized that there’d never been the basis of a strong friendship between us anyway. She’s far too cerebral and unemotional. I valued our friendship anyway, because I don’t think that everyone in my life has to be exactly like me, but she flaked out or ghosted me, or whatever, so I just left it. There’s that moment of realizing, yeah, it’s not happening. Now, I’m sure that moment would be much more massive if it’s your mother. Oh, totally. I can’t imagine. Well, I can. My own mother is… rather mercurial. I just had a lovely phone talk with her. It’s complicated. But for this letter writer, I think she had a moment of zen where she knew her mom wasn’t there for her. I think her reaction is normal and healthy, but I agree with Dear Abby that if she’s troubled by it, she should seek help.