I often receive emails from readers. Sometimes the questions and dilemmas are ones that are common. Therefore, I’ve decided to begin sharing some, in the hopes they will be helpful to other parents of estranged adult children.
As always, my thoughts are based on my own experience as well as knowledge about estrangement gleaned from researching my book. At the time Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children went to print, I had heard from 9,000 families. As of this date, nearly 30,000 have answered my survey. Thousands more have participated in the forum, commented here, or emailed me.
Below, I’ve included a recent exchange. Perhaps it will be helpful to you.
Note from Sandra,
mother to twin estranged adult sons
Thanks so much. You have been a tremendous source of inspiration, strength, support and encouragement for me (and many others) throughout these difficult years of mine. I am doing well, all things considered. However, as Mother’s Day approaches, as well as my sons’ 36th birthday, I find myself experiencing different pockets of emotion–sadness, guilt, anxiety, depression, anger. I am sure this is normal.
Those times are still very challenging as the families celebrate and it certainly brings back memories. It has been 3 years for me in terms if my twin sons being estranged. After reading your “wonder” book “Done with the Crying”, I have tried to use many of the strategies which you suggested. I still have bad days, but the good thing is, I am not where I was, however, still not where I should be.
I am always holding out that my twin adult sons will somehow reach out to me. It has been 3 years and everything has gone silent. No phone calls on my birthday. I have had to block them from sending me emails, for all I ever received were horrible, slanderous emails and text messages full of vitrole. I feel bad having to block them both. I had to find a way to preserve my heart from crying whenever I received those messages. However, my home address has not changed and they are still able to contact me if they ever wanted to.
I recently heard that I have a new, second grandson. I do not know where my sons reside. But I was able to look up one of them on the internet and saw where he works and his phone number. My other son, I also have a phone number. Both of these adult men have been horrible, very abusive, and so I am unsure if I should contact them. I truly do not want to subject myself to more verbal abuse. Especially as Mother’s Day approaches. I have come a long way in terms of my depression, grief and anxiety. I still suffer from insomnia.
Question for you:
I am tempted to make a connection with my sons at their workplaces. Would this be a good idea? I would like your honest input. I truly would like to see my sons and know how they are doing.
Thanks so much, Sheri, for taking me that far. “Done With The Crying” has worked wonders for me.
Answer from Sheri McGregor
My inclination would be to discourage you from going to your sons’ workplaces. They might feel like it’s an invasion of privacy, an embarrassment or stress of some sort. Even if you contacted them by letter, or by phone in an unobtrusive way, it may be a mistake in terms of your hard-won forward progress that you mention.
Before you make any calls, consider very carefully what the intention is. If you’re hoping for a good response, and have had horrible verbal abuse in the past, I wonder how you will feel if you receive that again.
Here are a few more thoughts:
- Your sons know where you are and/or how to reach you. (They could at any any time and have not. Do they want to?)
- What do you hope to gain from the call?
- What if you don’t get that?
- If you want to know how they are (as you said) is there another way to satisfy this curiosity?
The decision is up to you, obviously. It is wise to think it through from a variety of angles, and then consider which is best for you:
- call or don’t call?
- try or don’t try?
In light of all contemplation and full accepting of all possible results, which of these can you live best with?
Consider your thoughts
Pay close attention to the thoughts that come up for you. Get out a pen and paper, and jot down some notes.
- What are your worries?
- Are they things you can influence or are in charge of?
- Are your worries about uncertainties that are beyond your control?
I hope this helps a little bit… It’s so difficult to answer questions like this because the possibilities are so wide.
I’m so sorry you’re faced with this and the continued loss of your sons. As you said, you’re not where you once were with all of this. You’re turning a corner though. That may be one of the things that is propting the big question for you about the birthday.
HUGS, Sheri McGregor
I later received another note from Sandra. In it, she shared what many parents do: the feeling of an echo that occurs. Feelings that run so deep they’re like habits. Parents who have loved and nurtured their children experience echoes, hiccups of what once was. In Sandra’s case, there was clearly verbal abuse. She decided not to subject herself to the abuse again at this time. And it is true that her sons know where she lives. If they wanted to reach out, they could.
Have you had experiences similar to Sandra’s? I hope you will share a few thoughts by commenting on this article. Monthly, there are thousands of visitors to this website who can benefit from other parents’ thoughts—-many so fearful of judgment and filled with shame over this situation they didn’t choose and cannot change that they are silent. Won’t you help them by letting them know they are not alone?
Hugs to all of you,