Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.
I believe that I can help.
It is harder to heal from a long distance. You also have to expect that if she lives near or with a foster son, then they have an ongoing relationship in which they mutually help each other.
It is the long distance that is the hardest.
She has issues of being able to express her love for you and these must be old ones. It hurts to be abandoned or neglected, and when you see it carried over to your children, especially your younger son, then it hurts even more.
If it hurts to be around her, if visiting her doesn't make it better, then don't visit. You can still love her but you must develop more realistic expectations of how you will be treated.
She hasn't changed. If she is capable of feelings (and she may be a narcissist and be incapable), then she must love you and your family.
Her foster son is there and more useful to her than you are, and you must understand that.
That fact does not make it right or justified, but it is the way she feels and thinks, from a practical and self-centered point of view.
She is not a romantic like you are, and the longer you are apart, the more you will grow apart.
If she is a narcissist, then she will do what she always does: blame everyone else to get them off balance and control them, while never taking responsibility.
Unfortunately you cannot change her.
Give what you want to give or are able to give, but don't expect much in return. Your relationship is what it is and will not change, especially from far away.
Save your love for your family and try not to let this hurt you too much. You are not to blame. You are not guilty of anything.
You are sending love and doing your best.
Continue to give out the positive and don't have expectations. That way you cannot be disappointed, but only pleasantly surprised.
I wish you the strength and courage to endure this.
I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
Have a blessed year ahead.
Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder
(DSM IV - TR)
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
You are not doing anything wrong. This is the way narcissists control others, but makin them out to be the bad ones, the perpetrators, while they play the part of the victim, when in reality it is the other person who is the victim. You are HER victim and she does not care how you feel about her treatment of you (she has no empathy).
This is classic narcissistic behavior - and they usually will not/cannot change.
Don't let her get to you, or at least don't let her see that she is. Each "victory" propels her to repeat the same "successful" behavior.
God bless, and thank you so much.