Estranged Adult sonYour feelings change over time. You’re on with your life. You’re well and wise and happy. You figure so much time has passed that there is no chance. You accept that—everyone else has after all.

But on a quiet night, you still wonder. You send a text, or call. And then you discover that nothing has changed. The person you think might have changed, has not. He has grown worse.  He (or she) has settled into the sick, loveless person who estranged to begin with.

You listen to the self-righteous talk. Hoping to break through, you mention that you’re getting older. And then you hear the laughter. You’re surprised, sickened even, by the comment that  people do die; that you will too; that that’s what happens.

You realize there is no remorse. It is all about a lie … A story … A tale that makes what they have done ok–in their mind, and to the people near them.

And you realize that you are really done. It is sad, but also freeing. So, so freeing.

It is the story I have heard from thousands of parents. It’s my story, too.

Good bye you say. And for the first time ever, you know you mean it.



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14 thoughts on “Done

  1. missmarleygirl

    Oh, Sheri. My heart just breaks for us all, but especially for you. You have helped so many and done so much. Having had similar conversations with my ED’s, I struggle to understand how anyone, EC or not, can be so unforgiving and callous. I am so very, very sorry you are going through this, too. You deserve better.
    We all do. The punishment our EC mete out far out weighs our crimes which are, for the most part, to be human, flawed and misguided sometimes, but not deserving this horrific punishment.
    Cosmic love from the bottom of my heart , Sheri,

  2. sunset

    It is just so sad….there are days where I deal with the pain better and there are other days that I’m simply overcome by sadness. I’m new here and I want to thank everybody for sharing their stories and for making this journey a bit bearable. Thank you Sheri…I feel so grateful and blessed for having found you and this forum!

  3. wkgmom

    Thank you for this. Thank you for starting a place where parents can go to understand they are not alone. It is so hard to admit that you will no longer have a relationship with a child. Through reading these stories of other parents and seeing the years and years they try to “fix” it, I have decided that I will not allow myself to do that. I am not going to spend decades mourning his choice. Life is too short. I will always love him but I will not allow him the power over my family again and again. I will not allow him to do this to his father and sister again. I am done.

  4. writergal

    Thanks for sharing, Sheri. There is a part of me that thinks I would like to say I am “done” but it hurts too much right now to say that in my heart. I guess I haven’t completely let go yet. It has been 16 months since I got the official notice that my ES was separating from me/us. I felt that I got through Christmas well and had steeled myself against any hurt that could arise. Then he called two weeks after Christmas and it all came flooding back again. He didn’t say anything hurtful but he really didn’t say anything. I carried the entire 20 minute conversation talking about the weather and our new pup. I was mad at myself later for not asking why he called but would that only drive him further away? I am trying to live by my new mantra, Be Kind…kind to others and mostly be kind to myself. Thanks for the input from everyone on this forum.

  5. Diz

    I was married for 10 years and had four children. The dad had started to drink & have behavioral changes, becoming verbally abusive. I found he was smoking marijuana (also doing heavier drugs, which I did not know at that time). He went into a rehab for a couple of weeks (just for show, I later found out). That didn’t work. We went to counseling, the counselor recommended a clinic in the Midwest for 30 days, he was furious – because it was the real deal. I also hired a private detective a found he was having an affair. He went to a fancy rehab in LA, but I filed for divorce anyway. It took 10 years to divorce him. During this time I spent $200K on legal fees, hundreds of hours fighting, and finally got full custody of the kids. Turns out the judge and the children’s attorney were involved in pedophilia, and the dad was molesting the children when they were at his house, so judge ignored psychiatrist’s recommendation that I have full custody (they did not tell me the findings at that time). It wasn’t until my girls were adults that I found out. My son was given hard drugs at the dad’s house, and now I realize that he knew what was happening, possibly he was being molested, and he became mentally ill from the drugs. He took keys from the dad and died in car crash at 17. I was heart broken beyond belief. The judge allowed dad not to continue to pay child support, I worked 7 days a week to support kids after a second counselor declared they didn’t have to go to his house (she did not tell me they had been molested – they kept the cover-up for the judge, attorneys, etc). As adults, they are now dealing with the fall out, dissociative identity syndrome, depression, etc.., and it’s a heartache. NOW they have decided that I am the problem. Even though they know without a doubt that I did not know about the molestation, that I was a loving Mom, worked at their schools, let them have lots of friends, parties, worked lots of hours to provide for them – they seem to have turned on me. They say that they are deathly afraid to talk to me, afraid of my criticism???? I’m shocked. First off, the oldest one was so bitter. She drove a 7 series BMW, was so spoiled before the judge allowed the dad to take all the money and my business away. She screamed at me as a teen, and never had to go to her dad’s house, I tried to get her to counseling, she went to private school, had anything she needed. She won’t talk to me and wants me to apologize for being the way I am???? For all that I did wrong? The middle one said that she developed a “personality” because she couldn’t talk to me about anything because she afraid of me!!!! This is not true. We talked about everything. If she dropped clues about being molested, like saying a weird thing about picturing a man naked, I thought it was because they saw the Playboy channel on at the dad’s house (this was a fact, and I reported it to my attorney and the judge, to no avail). I have not been molested and didn’t know the signs. Had I known, I would have driven over the Dad with my van and killed him. The youngest one told her sister (she’s 24 yrs. old) that she’s afraid to talk to me. This is all new to me. I have never ever had my kids ever say they were ever afraid of me. I never hit or yelled. They had a secret emergency cell phone growing up so they could call me if their d ad was scaring them. I read them books at night before bed, included fun voices for different characters. Prayed with them. Church stuff. We did lots of fun activities. I used all the money I had from the house I sold on them. It was hard when they were teens, and I had to work 7 days a week. I sometimes wonder if I spoiled them too much. It seems like the hard Moms, who didn’t coddle their kids, get more respect. Or, is it because of their disgusting dad, he’s gone, so I’m the punching bag? I’ve cried for a year and I’m exhausted. What they want me to do is accept that I’m mean, unapproachable, and all those years made them scared to talk to me. It seems like insanity. I just threw out hundreds of cute, sweet letters they drew and wrote me of all the fun stuff they liked that we did, what I said to them, etc… I am so befuddled. It’s like high school and three mean girls have ganged together to bully me. Some of it reminds me of what their dad used to do. I feel like I’ve endured so much, carried such heavy burdens, for 25 years, and now my girls have put this “deal” on the table, and I feel like the oldest is calling the shots. She did this four years ago, she’d pick a certain thing I’d do, find fault, make a huge deal out of it, and I confronted her and said she couldn’t do that anymore, she was an adult. Now she has her sisters involved. I’m single, confused, sad, alone, wish my girls were grateful what I tried to do for them.

  6. Empty1

    Hi Everyone
    I am new to the site and can’t find the tab where you introduce yourself, so sorry for using this comment field.
    However, the subject resonates with me and I agree and feel so much for all of you going through this. I don’t think there is a word that fully explains how you feel when you are estranged by your child.
    Briefly my story:
    My middle son decided to have limited contact with his family about 5 years ago, then when my husband left me 2 years ago and moved to be near our son, my son made a couple of phone calls and I endured emotional abuse for an hour each time, saying how despicable I was. My son and I had the closest relationship whilst he was growing up, it was always me who he came to for advice. I have apologized to him on numerous occasions for anything he feels I have done. In my heart I know I have been a good enough mother, when he has needed me I have dropped everything and gone down to support him.
    My greatest pain is that I have two grandchildren, I have had such a close relationship with them, so not sure what they have been told why I don’t see them anymore. I send birthday and Christmas presents and do not know whether they even receive them. One of my grandchildren has a life limiting illness and I was not even allowed to she them when they were seriously ill in hospital.
    I am starting to doubt myself, is there something about me that I do not see? Everyday I think of them all and grieve so much, the inner pain is so great.
    My biggest fear is that my other two children will do the same, it seems that I am judged and looked at on everything I say and do and I feel if I say something that doesn’t fit, they will make the same decision, I am constantly on tenterhooks to try and ‘be’ what they want me to be. I give 100% to my children and grandchildren, so not too sure what it is I am doing wrong, I just want to be ‘me’ and be accepted for the person I am, as I do them, why is this so difficult for someone else to do for me?
    I find I can’t speak of my pain to anyone, as they look at me as if to say ‘well there must be something about you for your child to abandon you’, even my own family members are not supportive. I ask myself if it was them how would they feel? It seems that people pore on the pain when they no, they are determined to push how perfect their life is and how wonderful their relationship is with their own children and how much their children spoil and love them. People do not realize how this feels like a knife being put inside of you and being twisted until it cannot hurt anymore. I am happy for other families I am not jealous, I just think people should think first.
    I sound bitter when I read this back, however, I know I have my own resourcefulness, within a year I lost my husband, son and family and some other relationship and even though I nearly folded, I have kept going. I never understood what that gut wrenching feeling felt like until then.
    I am doubting me at the moment and that is hard……..
    I am so glad I have found this site and my surprise is that we all sound like wonderful mothers, which confuses me more.
    Thank-you for reading.
    Warmest Empty1

  7. alyballybee

    Thanks Sheri,
    I know I am done unless he makes the first move, what you have written resonates with me as I read this, I almost heard his voice saying the words because I believe that is exactly how he would react if I made the contact. He has not only rejected us but also his two children whom he idolised.
    I add my voice to the others for the pain you have been and are going through, sometimes I think for any professional it must be harder as you are expected to have all the answers and be able to apply them, however, that doesn’t take away the same pain and hurt we are all experiencing.
    You are a lifeline to so many who I believe might have crumbled without your support me included.
    Aly x

  8. Diane Morrow

    “Done” is such a powerful 4 letter word. The connotation can be so different. Done could mean absolute despair and yet done can mean becoming free. I am done. I thought I was done so many times before in the twenty odd years but emotion ( can I say love) kept driving me back. Just as a battered wife, the question I always asked myself was, “How do I know if it still might work?” I’ve asked myself a thousand questions over the years, but never was I “done” until I read Sheri’s book. Years of my life wasted in hoping, hoping, hoping. I am done because I cannot lose anymore of my life. I have already lost so much time, opportunity, joy. As I read through this site most nights, it brings back so many memories of how I was shamed, mocked, left to rot by my 3 EC and spouses. My “done” this time is that never again will I allow myself to go through what my children put me through and never again will I allow them to heap guilt and shame in me. Whether it is parental alienation, Stockholm Syndrome , Narcisstic behavior from them, I want the rest of my life without this oh so great grief. I am done.
    Lovingly, Fairydust

  9. Dotty

    Thanks, Sheri. Yes, the word ‘Done’ is an interesting one. You think you are over it all, and feel so pleased with yourself! Then you dust his photos, or look at his teddy, and the sadness sends you a wee wave from the shadows. ‘I’m still here’, it says. I try and just say ‘Hello’, and carry on. But it’s always there. Just peeking out to greet you when you least expect it.

    I bumped into a really good friend of his a few weeks ago. We had a hug. He told me my son was ‘struggling’ and asked if there was anything he could do. He said he had heard ‘his side’, but knowing me as well as he did, he knew there would be another side. I said thank you. We had another hug, and he wished me well.

    It was really lovely to have seen him and to have had that hug. And to have had that validation that he knew there would be another ‘side’, but mostly that I didn’t need to tell him what mine was. He just knew there would be one.

    I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘done’ either.

    Hugs and love to everyone. Just say hello to those dark thoughts. Hello and then good-bye, and get on with the job at hand.

  10. Niecey

    Thanking for sharing. I met one of my EC’s old friend last week. I am not sure what he knows. It was hard but I got a huge hug. Still workin on the “done”.

  11. Animaluver

    To Empty1, I feel your pain and it took me a long time not to take other people’s happiness with their kids and grandkids as a slam. No, our friends are not gloating but are simply trying to share their happiness. I know it can even feel like a taunt at times like …look what I’ve got and you don’t. That comes from within ourselves, the pain and yes maybe a little jealousy too making us feel that we’ve somehow failed. We did not fail as mothers. Most of us have even written letters, sent cards and gifts only to be rejected again and again. It may be addictions or other influences that have fed into it. I’ve been through this with my well meaning friends who love me and their kids look at me as a 2nd mom. I just have to remind myself that I was good mother and enjoy my friend’s grandchildren. Remember no one will truly understand unless it happens to them personally.
    That is why this book and site are so invaluable. Keep your chin up. : )

  12. Materi

    I am sure you have heard this quote before “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Looking back, I see that I have actually been very upset and depressed for more than a year now. Symbolically, a large elephant in the room piled up in our bedroom. My husband doesn’t like how I fold his laundry, so he doesn’t fold mine. Instead, when he does our laundry, he lays mine out unfolded on a chair in our bedroom. For the past year, I have let that unfolded laundry pile up on the chair, not put away. I would grab what I needed from that pile, and over the year, it grew and grew until it was really huge. Yes, seriously, for a year. Also, books and unread NYT book reviews and magazines all piled up, too.

    On this site, we all know “Done with the Crying.” So yesterday, I decided I was “Done with the Pile.” It took about three hours, but I got all that laundry folded and put away, all the magazines thrown away, the books sorted and some reminding me of my estranged child boxed to be donated, and the other books moved into my office and I went through my closet, too. I have four bags of clothes and shoes and handbags to donated.

    I feel so good to get that pile gone. It is a manifestation of sweeping away piled up bad feelings and now taking good active clean care of myself. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I had recently found rejectedparents.NET and bought Sheri’s book which arrived a week or so ago. Two days later, my estranged oldest child sent me an email that said she needed space in our relationship and I was not to contact her. Thanks to the book and the website, I knew not to “try” any more and to not contact her.

    After three years of increasing estrangement, and the past year of terrible suffering and grief and being denied my grandchild, her email cutting contact actually came as a relief. I don’t have to agonize over what to say, or whether to “try” or whether to send a text or a card or what to do. I can just not contact her. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I’m more than half-way through the book now, and I am Done with the Pile. I expect to still cry from time to time, but I hope I am mostly Done with the Crying too. Thanks to everyone on the site, and a huge thank you to Sheri for sharing her estrangement experience in such a helpful way and form.

    Big hugs.


    1. Springgal58

      Materi: I am new here but I wanted to say that your post really made my day! I loved the idea of getting rid of all that stuff, it reminds me of what I do when I want to feel better–throw stuff out! And I know what it feels like to be relieved not to agonize over what comes next and when and how and why. Geepers, life is not supposed to be like this. My son cut contact nine months ago (again, I’ve lost count how many times this has happened—CORRECTION, I have let him do it to me!! I should have said leave me alone years ago). His birthday is soon and I sent a text to say HB and said Love u. His loss if he doesn’t reply, and I am more relieved if he doesn’t. But no card, no money for the last couple years, so that is progress.

      I met with an attorney about what to do about beneficiaries, etc. She said your kids will automatically be the beneficiaries no matter, even if you have a will (if you have a retirement account). So now I am on a mission to not be so conservative. Dr. Phil says “Don’t reward bad behavior.” Well, my kids have behaved badly for years, why am I saving up money for them as a reward? And they have turned my grandkids against me too. I am thinking of not going to my granddaughter’s wedding this fall (daughter’s daughter), but then that might be spiteful, guess I should take the high ground? I was surprised I even got an invite to tell the truth.

      The best wishes to you and now I have to clean the pile of clothes off my bedroom chair!!
      Spring Gal

  13. Materi

    Dear Spring Gal,

    Thank you for your kind wishes! The same to you! Down with the Piles!

    About your will and retirement accounts, you are not getting the right legal advice. You have to be careful about it, but it is doable. Get a better lawyer!

    As for the wedding, I’d weigh the pros and cons. You say your estranged children have turned the grandkids against you, but you are invited to the wedding of one of the grandkids. So maybe at least that one grandchild is not totally turned against you, and that you should go for her sake.

    Take Care! Materi


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