I have been reading. It turns out that 1 in 10 families live with one sort of parent/child estrangement or another. People stay silent about it due to shame, guilt, and other reasons. I myself have kept reasonably silent about it. Only people closest to me know about what is going on in my life, at least with my kids. I am not at all quiet about the fact that I’ve not spoken to my mother in about 25 years now. That is a story that legally I should not share. But, suffice it to say that her side is that I betrayed her. My side is that I choose my seven-year-old daughter. It is impossible to betray a person who SAID, “I had to protect myself from ***** because I was afraid that he would divorce me and marry her.” ***** was a total of seven years old when the statement was made. My stepfather was 57 years old, and my mother was in her early 50’s. In her very sick thought process, though she probably never saw it in concrete terms (due to denial) she made my daughter the ‘other woman.’ This made a seven-year-old a threat to a 50 something-year-old. There was no comparison, and there was never an excuse for any kind of thought process that came to a deduction such as this. I could never in a million years betray that sickness. Not that I am incapable of the behavior, but that it is impossible for a daughter to betray a mother whose thought processes are so sick that she blames a child for behaviors that she can only honestly, blame on her husband who was a predator. It is impossible, betrayal is not possible–when you are placing the blame for a lost cause marriage on a seven-year-old child. So, this particular estrangement, while it is sad, and I have cried a lot over the years, is probably something for the better. We are at such an impasse, and she denies that she ever said the things she said. Emotionally, it is obvious that my mother is every bit as emotionally abusive as my father, and stepfather ever were.
I have kept quiet about the issues with the kids exactly because of guilt and shame. Even though, I know I did not do anything major wrong. In fact, even one of the daughters sent me a text and told me that no matter what happens, it’s not my fault. No explanations as to why I am being treated as I am. That is what is going on between ourselves and our 2nd oldest.
Let me just say now, before I move on, that I am sorry for the way things worked out. I would have approached the situation differently if I had to do it all over again. But, the end result would have probably been the same. As keeping a child away from an abusive mouth was the goal. Moving on….
With our oldest, the story is quite different. She said some things that caused red flags to fly. I decided to try and protect a child as best I could, and it bit me in the butt. I knew it would. I did not know what else to do. She is a confrontational
The truth is, I’ve been afraid of her for years, because of her rough, tough, macho attitude. As I age, I’ve protected myself more and more by wrapping myself up with tools such as never being alone with the said child. The bottom line here is that I’ve seen this train wreck coming for years. In the long run, I do not harbor a lot of guilt about this other than perhaps, I could have chosen a better father for my children. And I wish I had known what domestic violence was when I was young. So much of this could have been avoided had I only had the education.
You know, I never considered myself a perfect mom. Just never happened. Never will.
One sees what they see, they hear what they hear, they mull the situation over and contemplate what the best way forward is. I have pretty much consistently done the best I could in each situation. My daughter knows that I put children’s safety first and foremost and if she’d think about it, considering that I was trying to protect a child from that harsh and angry mouth. (and only from that mouth). A mouth that had already done damage (according to what she told me, she did not realize it, else she’d never shared). No child deserves to be confused or manipulated (intended or not). So, my imperfect ways created a rift that will probably be life long.
Hence, a mourning process. One does not estrange themselves (purposely or accidentally) without emotional pain. When it comes to children, regardless of the reason for the estrangement the pain is in the extreme. Nothing in this life has ever hurt me more. And I’ll tell you, my father left our family when I was 16, and then he died when I was 21. As stated earlier my mother and I quit speaking 25 years ago, and my eldest daughter had already divorced me once before when she was around 12 years old. Emotionally, I’ve been through the wringer. But, nothing, and I mean NOTHING hurts as much as losing two kids to estrangement.
It took quite some time of mourning. This has been going on for about three years, perhaps longer. I have purposely not been timing it all, I don’t want to know. It just hurts too much. The mourning process has gone through the normal phases several times:
1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance.
The kids themselves may read this and laugh at the isolation part, but the truth
The last time I was estranged from my oldest, I waited until she was around 16 years old, and it then dawned on me that, I’d purposely chosen to stay in the same town so that when she was ready and able she could find me. I’d made a website dedicated specifically to her, a communication and invitation to come home. I went through all the same stages, in that I thought it through, and tried to figure out why, and I tried to bargain, beg and plead. I even legally tried to get her back. But at a point, I realized she was old enough to get what she wanted, and if she wanted me in her life she could choose to make contact. At that point, I lit a candle, and I said goodbye. I choose to move on.
Today, I have yet to light the candle, which I think will finalize the situation in my mind.
This time, I will light three. One for my mother, one for both daughters. In fact, maybe I will light six. Two others for other family members who are deceased, or that I am just not on good terms with because of the stress of these situations over the years. One for my own heart, and it’s healing, and a conscious renewal of health.
I’ll light these candles because emotionally it’s just time. But, I’ll also light those candles because of the physical toll this has taken on my body. One heart attack later, which was due specifically to the mourning process. I think this speaks volumes about how serious I have taken these situations, and also speaks to the very real and deep pain, I just need to let this go. For me to heal from this heart attack, I need to let
In a final note, to all the parents in similar situations, know… I feel your pain. There are websites (I very recently discovered) that are there for the specific reasons
Some search terms you may wish to put into any search engine (each is a link that will go through Google):
estranged parents blog, estranged family stories, how to deal with estranged child, estranged child birthday, accepting family estrangement,estranged child definition,family estrangement causes
Links to specific resources:
Psychology Today, The Persistent Pain of Parental Estrangement
PsychCentral, 5 Stages of Loss & Grief
EmpoweringParents.com, Estranged from Your Adult Child? 5 Things You Can Do
www.verywellfamily.com, For Parents of Adult Estranged Children
Greater Good Magazine, How Parents Can Start to Reconcile with their kids