Estrangement in the New Year: The Blanket of snow

by Sheri McGregor


Photo source: Pikwizard

Don’t let the pain of estrangement ruin your New Year.

On this beautiful morning, no matter where you live or what the weather is like, imagine the world before you as if a soft blanket of snow has gently fallen in the night.

Gone are the muddy footprints and trails to nowhere. Erased are the well-worn ruts to unhelpful thinking, worries, whys? and what ifs?

On this blank slate of the New Year, take a little time to imagine the trails forward you will make. While it’s true that any of us can start fresh anytime, today it’s official.

Are you excited? I am.

Even in estrangement, make this a terrific year.

It’s time to start.

Think of the changes you will make. Maybe it’s to alter how often you reach out, or to let go of expectation or a desired outcome. Perhaps it’s to leave the strife behind entirely, and embrace your own happiness—and if so, what does that mean? Your goals are your own. Make them now and begin to work toward them. Yes, work may be involved. But it doesn’t have to be grueling. Even tiny steps inch you forward.

Take a few minutes to really consider what you’d like to leave behind. Get a pen and paper and jot down your thoughts.

Estrangement: Time and energy wasted

For many parents of estranged adult children, so much time and energy has been consumed by the emotional pain that they’ve missed the good that’s beside or in front of them. Others have striven for a goal that is beyond their control. Don’t let next year dawn with regret. Consider how 2019 will be different.

Turn back to the goals section in Done With The Crying, and consider what improvements you can make. One mother wrote to say that she had read the book but would start the exercises today. Her responses will be her own unique road map to make 2019 about moving forward with purpose.

Just want peace and happiness?

Some who have suffered the raw emotions and hurt of estrangement say all they want is peace and happiness in the coming year. Even this takes a plan. Without preparation, the same old issues, hurtful thinking, and habits will return. Consider:

  • What will you do when your mind wanders to the same old pointless questions?
  • How will you handle an uninformed question?

Consider whatever it is that robs you of peace and happiness. And then you can make a plan. Without forethought, even the most useful resolutions can go awry. In Done With The Crying, there is an exercise to get you thinking about each area of your life and how you can make it better. Try it. Work on just a few areas at a time. Make a plan to move forward, and also how not to slide back.

I would love to hear about your plans for the New Year, and what you share by leaving a comment will help other parents, too. You’ll also find a few links below, to articles here at the site that can be of use as you move forward.

estrangement New YearEven if estrangement has muddied things up for you this past year, imagine that beautiful blanket of snow for the New Year. What helpful trails will you make in it? Where will your tracks lead?

HUGS to all. ~~ Sheri McGregor


Related Reading:

Estrangement: Shape your new normal

Give yourself a break

How to cope when your adult child cuts you out of their life

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17 thoughts on “Estrangement in the New Year: The Blanket of snow

  1. candleinthewind

    Hello. Although not a fan of New Year’s resolutions and the like, I am learning not to be afraid of the blank page, which, in this case, is the year ahead. I’m quite surprised that I’m rather excited about the new year too, having survived Christmas, which I consider to be an uphill struggle, but when you get to the top of the mountain there are lovely views across the landscape. I’m currently revamping my wardrobe because I have felt for ages that my clothes no longer reflect who I am, so, as another mother said, the money that’s not going to my two estranged children, I’m spending on clothes from my favourite stores. Plus, today I was reading about eliminating the word “should” from my vocabulary; the overuse of which just makes me unhappy. It is my daughter’s birthday soon, and I do not intend to try to communicate. It just hurts. Instead, I’ll be going shopping or doing something else enjoyable. I think as each year of separation passes, I need to align myself with my children’s actions and match their disengagement with a greater emotional detachment on my part, and try to replace the negatives with something positive.

    1. rparents Post author


      I absolutely love the image you created of those views from the top! It’s wonderful to revamp the wardrobe now and again. Today, I have jeans with sparkles on them, and they make me feel happy (plus, they have tons of stretch and feel like pajamas!). Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I know other parents will draw inspiration from your words.

      Sheri McGregor

  2. Frangipani

    Dear Candleinthewind,
    Thank you for your posts especially ‘it could be worse’. I am five years into block out. ES all but completely ignored us for 5 years before that. For the first two years I was a complete mess, as were my four other children. The only thing I could clasp onto was that they (ED & ES) where okay. They are both successful in their careers, are married with children, successful financially, and appear to be happy. As I have climbed out of the depths of dispair I have many times been tortured as to how they could do this to us…because it isn’t just me, they boycott the celebrations of the younger four. Its really sad to watch my other kids hearts break over this. They don’t understand how their older siblings can do this. They have all tried to maintain relationships with ED & ES, and each have their own level of success but EC make it so difficult for them with rules and intolerance. But day by day we have all began our healing journey. My heart doesn’t break for EC now, but it does for the broken hearts of my four younger kids…they don’t deserve this and neither do the grandchildren or extended family. As I continue to heal and grow into my new normal I am feeling moments of real joy, I am listening to music again, I am enjoying my garden, love my job, making new friends, reconnecting with old ones….most of which have waited for me to be well enough to enjoy our friendship again. Even in all the loss, I have so many blessings and now thats what I focus on. Yes, there are still occasions when I have to let myself have a good cry and mourn…celebrations that I’m blocked from, EC birthdays… but I am mostly happy now. In this new normal there is a new feeling …guilt! I find myself feeling guilty for being happy, for being ok?? I guess this is just part of the course of this journey and I will address it as I have all the other feelings. The two things that have helped me move forward have been 1st my EC are okay, they are safe, healthy and doing well. 2nd is that my four children who want to be in my life need and want me. The cruelest twist of all this bloody estrangement that adult kids decide to do is the heart break that it brings to their sibblings….and the EC just don’t give any thought or compassion to their sibblings and how estrangement effects them. I have had all four younger children crying with broken hearts because they are torn appart by EC choices and actions. So now my new focus is to continue to heal, get well, be happy is 1st…and foremost now, the wellbeing of my four younger kids (1 daughter and 3 sons) and I will also be greatful that my EC are doing okay. My thoughts and energy are now being directed at helping all of us that are devastated to move forward and find a new normal that is filled with love, joy and contentment. Thank you all for sharing your stories with me, this forum has played a big part in getting me through to this point. I wish each and everyone of you a safe and loving 2019. God Bless.

    1. Stephen

      Frangipani, if I closed my eye’s and had someone read me your post, I would thought it was me who wrote it. Only difference is there is only 2 siblings my ED has turned her back on. These 2 loved their sister and did not get involved with me and her estrangement. It did not take her long to ES them both. One of 2 people she did not estrange, we do not under stand why. One is my mom (her grandma), but grandma got a taste of my daughters wrath at Christmas time. No reason, in fact, it was another head scratcher and grandma was waiting for her time. We call it guilty by association and grandma is now feeling it. ES adult children can be very ruthless this day and age and there is only one way to fight this epidemic and that is to shut it out completely from your life. Forever? Who know, but at least until they come running, because they are in need/trouble. God Bless and may are healing come quick and final someday.

  3. rparents Post author


    Thank you for your comment. What you say about siblings is so true. I hope to be sharing more about siblings and how this affects them soon. We can’t protect them from the harsh reality of a sibling that abandons them, but we can be strong, love them, and work to make our families whole (which you are obviously doing) first by making ourselves whole (you’re doing that too!).

    HUGS to you with such a wonderful username! May 2019 be a time of renewed joy.

    Sheri McGregor

    1. Stephen

      I can take the punches (figuratively speaking), the abuse, the neglect and so on from my estranged daughter. But I can not take the punishment she gives to her youngest sibling (my only other child). My other child is old enough to know and understand, but is still not of adult age. She ignores and wants nothing to do with my other child. This is something we do not understand why. What did her sibling ever do to her, except love her unconditionally. She is very jealous of her sibling and other family members for that matter. We try not to discuss her when our other child is around and lately he has shown disgust for her. We tell our child to not give up hope on the sister, but then he see’s us giving up hope. My other child does have a half sister and she loves her half sibling to death and the half sister loves us to death. The half sister is also neglected by my daughter. Again, I am very strong, but I hurt more for what my daughter is doing to her sibling.

  4. Getpastit

    Thank you for this. Two ideas really struck me. Time and energy wasted. How true!!! I need to focus on using my time to heal and be productive and my energy to propel me forward. I will remind myself that I choose what to spend my time and energy on. Also, the blanket of snow idea of having a clean, fresh layer to make new paths upon. I really like that vision and I am going to try really hard to keep it in mind. You have helped me and I very much appreciate it Sheri.

  5. candleinthewind

    I said I didn’t much like new year’s resolutions and on days like today, I know why. I can accept the separation from my children better than I could x years ago, I think I can reason it through well enough. But there are quite a few days like today when, after not sleeping well and being up during the night reading, I’ve not been out of my pyjamas all day, although I had plans to go out. I have achieved some things at home nevertheless, and pyjama days have been the way I’ve coped after other significant losses in my life. I can’t find anything much on days like this that motivates me to fill the void. I might look at my sewing and then turn away. I read a few pages, but I’ve got the day free to read chapters. I don’t want to pick up the phone or call on people to share my sorrow. My family (two sisters and their families) have stopped mentioning my children’s names in conversation, so I am noticing have others. This is difficult and hurtful. I can only make polite conversation for a couple of hours maximum and am thinking of not attending the next family meet. Thus isolation builds upon isolation. My progress seems very slow indeed, and let’s hope there is a merciful God with all this time wasting. But frankly no-one needs to know. I’m still not contacting my daughter on her birthday. That I know won’t move me any further forward.

    1. beryl

      Hi candleinthewind. I can relate to your sisters not mentioning your children’s names in conversation. This has happened to me, too. My sister will now just mention my younger daughter and not the older one who has cut me out of her life. My sister lives in a different place, but she knows my older daughter better than I do by now as my daughter (23) has driven to visit and stay with her a few times in the last 3.5 years that she has wanted nothing to do with me. I know my sister does not mention her out of consideration for me (i.e., I hope you and (younger daughter) have a nice time on Thanksgiving), but, you’re right, it is hard and I find myself left with a sudden feeling of sadness and bewilderment as to how things ever could have turned out like this. I think my sister is just as bewildered as me over it all. I just wanted to let you know that I understand how you feel. For 2019, my goal is to become proficient at a new job I just started last week: medical transcription. Over the past two years I’ve managed to complete an online course in this and I’ve been able to get a job working from home. This is great as my husband also left me in the summer and I need to work, but I have two senior dogs who are not kennel trained. The problem is that I am really, really slow at it and so, like I said, my goal is to increase my production. I have been given a quota that I am trying to hit, and then I want to see how far I can go with my company. I am finding it very interesting and I am always learning with it, so it is keeping me occupied and engaged. This is my next step in the struggle to try to live a normal life again. I also do still live with my other daughter (21) and we are getting closer all the time and now have a very good relationship (whereas at one time, in her teens, she thought I was a “monster”. Her moving out at 18 fixed that, and she came back with an appreciation of me.) We don’t always see eye to eye, but that’s the generation gap. (Incidentally, the older daughter also moved out at 18 and one year later decided she officially wanted nothing to do with me. I have always felt that a counsellor she was seeing at the time had something to do with it, although I don’t know for sure.) I am always praying for and thinking of this older daughter and in this way I always feel connected to her and that I am doing the best I am able to do for her. I know that God is watching over her. I did not make contact with her this Christmas for the first time, as I did not go to my husband’s family’s, due to the fact that he left me. This was always humiliating and extremely painful for me anyway as I would say hello and she would often completely ignore me, like I hadn’t said anything. (Just an aside, I don’t know how I would react if I were in my mother-in-law’s shoes, but after going through this I sure as heck would hope that I would not allow blatant bullying to go on in my house. I know my mother-in-law is trying to do the best she can in a difficult situation and I am not trying to put her down; I’m just saying what I’ve learned from this.) My older daughter has made it quite clear that I am not to contact her in any way, not even through another, such as giving someone a card to give to her. It was hard but I did it, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do. After all, she herself requested it. And, as a matter of fact, this Christmas was really nice. Amongst the few that were here (myself and my younger daughter, my two dogs and cat), there was love and peace. There was no resentment or bitterness or animosity, and it was actually pretty wonderful. God bless you, candleinthewind, and all of us in this forum. I pray for us all and all abandoned parents and their children.

  6. Rebel

    I’m so very new to this group. I live in a nursing home and all three of my children are estranged from me, I had another daughter but she was killed, the poster child! My husband committed sucide! I have no one, yes I know I’ve got the lord and to be real honest, I’m mad at him! He’s taken everything I have! I have no friends, if I do they are to far to visit! Yes I’m in another group for losing a child! It helps! But my God, what have I done to deserve this, one has never even told me why! They had a baby no one told me! Please , please help me, say something!

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Rebel,

      Please forgive my tardy reply. I was out of town and then returned and came down with a terrible flu. Still a little weak, but trying to get back in my saddle!

      I’m so sorry you are alone. Is there anyone there where you’re living that could be a friend? Someone to play cards with? A group you could start? Is there a recreational director who might need a few ideas?

      Sheri McGregor

  7. AArichmond

    I am new to the group. My 26-year-old son wants nothing to with me. He won’t speak to me.he doesn’t want me to know where he’s living. He gets mad at me ex and my older son if they tell me where he’s living. I’ve been sending him cards apologizing, telling him I love hime, I’m available.Nothing. Now I’m getting the crds sent back to me. It’s crushing. Sometimes I can’t breath. But I can’t live this way. He hates me and I can’t imagine that kind of anger. I am so sad. I would like support group were i could attend.

  8. lisa

    I try to move on; to be a well-rounded individual with friends, hobbies, volunteer work, and a few social activities. My “new” husband’s family has been remarkably accepting, though it does leave me feeling cheated when no one asks me about my 2 EDs (& 1 EGS), the only children and remaining family I have. It’s perplexing, but suppose understandable & don’t really need to have this basic acknowledgment anymore. The oldest ED moved back to the hometown (as a teen moving in with a now deceased aunt) and inserted her narrative, winning much of family/friends over and that’s fine. It’s no longer my home, or “my” state even & never will be again. Her father lives in same state as oldest ED & her son (who I never met) & seems to have forgotten how we all arrived here, estranged. His long-time GF has helped that. Youngest ED lives close to me, minutes away. There was a time when I desperately wanted us all to reach out to oldest ED, but their father (my ex) and youngest ED both refused, still very angry & distrustful of her and this continued for a decade plus. An argument with my youngest changed all that. It was a normal mother-daughter tiff that morphed into this monstrous estrangement thing that I just cannot wrap my head or heart around, no matter how long I’ve tried. Youngest reunited with the oldest, they both migrated to dad & GF and everyone seems fine without the one person who loved them the most & hardest. It’s like I never existed. It’s a level of cruelty that is most astonishing. I sort of get that with ex/dad, though I would have never allowed them to shut him out if shoe were on other foot. Why I’m writing now; youngest is in a dangerous job that puts her out-front/center in one of our most dangerous cities. Whenever one such public servant makes the news, like a few days ago, I’m hanging on an emotional thread. The news never releases names unless a death, just gender, so I only know it’s a female in serious condition. I won’t call her “boss” due fear of upsetting her, but have reached out to news agencies and called hospitals to no avail. I often have nightmares that are morbid and about funerals that I can’t attend. In reality, I don’t even know if I’m listed as a contact. Or if her father would even contact me. While I’m very happy that both EDs are successful adults, I’m struggling with youngest ED’s profession and more so due being an estranged mother. Worry compounded by darkness. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Thank you for listening.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Lisa,

      The worry you describe is not unlike the feelings other parents face when a natural disaster occurs. Fire, hurricane, tornado… They wonder and wait.
      Ultimately, accept the feelings as completely normal. You would have these concerns even if you were not estranged. The part that’s different is that your fears are disenfranchised because of the estrangement. It helps to have people you can openly share the feelings with. Consider joining the peer support forum. Eventually, you can work to get beyond them (Done With The Crying can help). Meantime, speaking to those who understand does help.

      HUGS to you. I’m sorry you have the need to comment here.

      Sheri McGregor

  9. Lisa

    Thank you Sheri. I feel very fortunate to have found your site, as do we all, I’m certain. Reading everyone’s (familiar) struggles and hearing the advice you offer, a godsend.

  10. Donna B.

    I just found this site yesterday and I am so relieved that I am not alone. I have read so many of the stories and the emotions that I go through are felt by all. It has been almost 12 years that my youngest son decided that he wanted nothing to do with me. Now, it’ been 7 months that my oldest son decided the same thing. I have 4 grandsons and have never seen 2 of them. Growing up, all I wanted was to be a mom and grandmother…now, I live with the emotions of being neither. I was the mother that did everything in her home to make extra $$ so I could stay home and not have to send my sons to daycare. How did all those sacrifices pan out for me? Not very well.
    I knew there had to be mothers out there going through the same thing, I just didn’t know of any. I am thankful to have found this site and know that there are many with the same struggles.

  11. Patricia

    I am also new to the site. It’s very helpful to know that I am not alone and that other’s know how it feels to deal with estrangement of adult children. I’m sad and disappointed that my children feel the way they do about me. I’m a single senior citzien and feel very alone. But, I’m determined to keep moving forward. I have many things to be grateful for in my life and it’s difficult to think about leaving them behind. It’s something I never wanted to do. But, I feel I must. The emotional turmoil of staying involved takes a toll on me. I work full time due to financial need and have to have the energy to do my job. I do plan to take one tiny step at a time and begin to enjoy my life instead of waiting for them to change. I realize I can only control me and, that isn’t always easy either. Baby steps on the road to health and happiness is my goal for 2020.


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