Image: AP

Melania Trump seems to be very much alone in her position. 

Donald and Melania Trump’s remarkably separate daily routines begin with him getting up around 5:30 a.m., watching cable news shows and tweeting. The first lady wakes in her own bedroom a bit later, according to two close friends of the Trumps.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump lead separate lives and have sometimes gone days without contact despite living in the same building.

Amid all the chaos, Melania is yearning for the peace and simplicity of her pre-White House life.

“She is very, very unhappy with her life,” says the insider.

A Melania source counters that “she is very happy with her life and supporting her husband and family.”

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Unlike other modern first ladies who wielded influence behind the scenes, friends say Mrs. Trump has insulated herself from the chaos and leaks of the White House by directing the East Wing to operate independently from the West Wing. 

According to her old friend Lisa Bytner, Melania’s attitude has always been “Live and let live.”

Her East Wing has only nine employees, fewer than half the number employed by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.

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The relatively empty first lady’s office is a break from Melania Trump’s predecessors.

The first lady has maintained a limited political portfolio since the president entered office while signaling an interest in tackling issues facing children, like cyberbullying.

People in Melania Trump’s Upper East Side set haven’t been surprised to see her take a low-key approach to her new role. “She’s sort of like Rapunzel in the tower,” said one New York City socialite who knows Trump from her infrequent appearances on the New York social and charity scene.

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Melania Trump is a Rorschach test in Louboutins, inspiring praise from those who see in her inscrutable gaze an elegant, dutiful mother charting a new role for the first lady; compassion from those imagining her as the president’s unhappy captive, her penthouse-turned-prison costing taxpayers ungodly sums to secure; and contempt from those rendering her as her husband’s chief enabler, abiding his sexist and anti-immigrant bluster, and echoing at one time his baseless questioning of President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

But Mrs. Trump remains a Rorschach test for public perceptions of Mr. Trump’s White House: People tend to see in her what they already believe about the president. To conservative supporters of the president, she is a quietly loyal helpmate. To Mr. Trump’s critics, she is an enabler trapped in a gilded cage, occasionally breaking out to express a divergent opinion or make a high-profile gaffe before retreating again into silence.

While her husband has sought out a very public life, first lady Melania Trump has chosen to remain fairly private.

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“I’m very strong. People, they don’t really know me,” she said. “People think and talk about me, the—like, ‘Oh, Melania, oh, poor Melania.’ Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t feel sorry for me.”

“Melania is unhappy with how her life ended up,” alleges a family source. “She is miserable.”