Maternal separation anxiety after relationship breakdown(7 Posts)
Hello. I have never posted on Mumsnet before but feel compelled to do so as I am trying to seek advice for my sister. I hope that someone on this forum can help. She is 42 and has been separated from her partner for 3 years. They have a 7 year old daughter. The ex has a crazy work schedule which in large part led to the break up in the first place. Whilst some time ago, they agreed that he could have access to his daughter once during the week and every other weekend, if he has been working away for 3 weeks, he often wishes to catch up on nights lost and see his daughter for two or three nights in succession on his return.
Whilst my sister understands that it is important for her daughter to see her father and can just about deal with her being away for one night at a time, any longer than this and she is finding it very hard to deal with her daughter's departure. She shows all the symptoms of deep anxiety, worrying that her daughter will not be safe until she returns. She feels depressed and lonely and cannot stop crying. She finds it impossible to control her mood and only returns to her normal self once her daughter returns.
What hasn't helped is that the ex works in the music industry and travels long distances to visit the stars he has now befriended. Last week, he took his 7 year old on one of these journeys with him. Whilst my sister knows that she cannot dictate what activities the father does with their daughter, it only adds to her anxiety. In her own words, if she knew he was spending good quality time playing with his daughter, she would feel much more reassured.
I have suggested counselling to my sister but she is not open to this as her first experience of therapy was not a good one. My sister has not found a new man in her life although she has formed a very good circle of supportive friends.
If anyone can throw some light on this situation, with a fresh perspective, similar experience or with useful links or positive outcomes, I would be very very grateful. It is so hard to see my sister in such a bad way and whilst she tries hard to hide her distress from her daughter as much as possible, there is no telling what her daughter is picking up now that could have consequences in the future. Many many thanks.
So essentially, she has to agree to him seeing his daughter on his terms, depending on his schedule? How soon in advance does she know of his plans? i would imagine that any uncertainty will add to her anxiety.
Having said that, does she suffer from anxiety in general ? Does she have any concrete reasons to believe that her daughter is at any risk during contact visit?
Am wondering if mediation may be useful ?
I think you've kind of hit the nail on the head, this is her anxiety and I feel she needs to find a solution to that whether it be via her GP or therapy. I don't think he exes' requests for access are unreasonable but I do worry that an anxious mother might pass on some of her anxiety to her DD.
I think this is an area she needs to work on, on her terms and in her comfort zone. Medication can help ease the symptoms and she might find a very sympathetic response from her GP.
I feel your sisters pain but as everyone has said her DD is being looked after albeit around his work schedules which your sister may be able to address. But I too feel it is her anxiety and loneliness that is more of a problem- I really think it would do your sister the world of good to start to think about her own needs when she is without her DD and plan some nice things to do. Three years is a long time and whilst if contact is not on a structured basis it makes it harder for her to plan regular things she needs to do things that make her happy. At 7 if her DD was really unhappy about things she would say and I don't think she is saying that is she? Glad to see she has good friends and you for support. The children are little for a very short time, it will pass.
Thank you all for your replies. No, Fleecyslippers she does not suffer from anxiety in general, and no, I do not believe that there is any real risk once her daughter is in her father's care. What I have seen happen, as a witness to the darkness that my sister has experienced going through this separation, is how easily lots of separate issues (Financial worries, the weight of the responsibility of being a single parent) knot together into one big mess of a ball and how it can completely overwhelm her to the point that she cannot function normally. Teasing out the separate issues can in some way help, although this is not always easy. What is fuelling a lot of the distress about being without her child for 2 or more nights is the hatred and anger she still feels for her ex for leaving the family home, and the financial poverty that has fallen upon them since he left. She hates him for taking her child away from her. Is there anybody out there who has managed to overcome this anger? Does it really take meeting someone else to let go of this, or can it be done without? Many thanks for your continued support.
she needs a good therapist - she cant rely on someone else (meeting someone else) to let go of eher anger. she has to do it herself. if she meets someone else she wills till be full of anger . she needs to see a good therapist. really. she needs to work on herself and on letting go of her anger it is only destroying her and eating her up. serves no purpose .
or try hypnotherapy or acupuncture or SOMETHING
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