Lens of Estrangement

This topic contains 20 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by rparents rparents 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #74445
    SerenityP
    SerenityP
    Participant

    Recently I was talking with a good friend of mine about the latest twist and turn of the estrangement. My friend had some insight of how she would approach situation. At first, I responded her idea with “here’s why THAT won’t work.” I acknowledged my defensiveness :), not wanting to be hurt again, etc. She could see why I would feel that way. She then had another idea (more reasonable and a rather a good one in a way.) I appreciated her perspective and told her so. It hadn’t really thought of it the way she did. She said “well, I guess it is easier to know what to say when you aren’t the one going through it.” Since you can’t read tone here, it was nice, genuine, caring, etc. Her intent and attitude was not “here’s how to fix this.”

    Upon reflecting on this later, I wondered, what keeps me from seeing it the way she did? It is a healthy response that conveys we care about my ED and respect her choice as an adult. Would my friends words/idea change estrangement? No. I doubt we will even get a response. Would it help ME? Perhaps… My current response has been no-response because I don’t know what to say, and I feel paralyzed. I think ED sees it as “Mom doesn’t care about me.” Am I seeing things through the “estrangement lens” (lots of hurt) so much that I’m not seeing the big picture?

  • #74454
    Avatar
    Rainbowmom
    Participant

    Dear SerenityP,
    Wow! Your words are my thoughts! As we spin and twist through life, trying to decide what to do to help the situation, we do feel paralyzed. When we do not reach out or try to connect, we feel guilty. If we do reach out, we are rejected and scolded. I think the problem is this isn’t a normal conflict. In normal conflicts, people talk, yell, cry, hug, e-mail, and attempt to communicate, resolve, and understand. It might be messy. It make take time, but there is some attempt to address the issue. Perhaps the problem is so one-sided that it isn’t person vs. person, but person vs him/herself. It is not something we can fix by normal conflict resolution. We are paralyzed because we are shut out. We are shut out because it isn’t our conflict to resolve. As mothers, we innately try to fix all that hurts our children. Estrangement feels horrible because we are led to believe we are the source of the hurt. I am not saying we don’t contribute in some way, but that there is a deeper root to the problem. Maturity? Values? A significant other?
    Ambiguous loss is tortuous! I focus on the good times. The person I once knew. I do not know my ED. She is a stranger. As with literary characters, she must address her internal struggle. Then and only then, the plot will continue. The rest of the story is a mystery.

  • #74459
    wkgmom
    wkgmom
    Participant

    My response was no response for months. I hurt, thought I was going to die but I refused to respond to my son.

    Months and it was reaching a breaking point with me, my husband and my other child. I was a complete wreck. My husband had spoken face to face with him however, I had not and he didn’t reach out to us after that meeting and it made the hurt all the worse.

    The day I decided to reach out to my son to pretty much say enough and if this is what you want fine but understand what it means……. the moment I sent the text he returned with a phone call. I mean it was like he saw it was me and he called, not text back, call. He wasn’t nice or warm, he was still putting on the tough guy persona but he responded immediately.

    We are now working on rebuilding our relationship and trust. It is hard and it is messy. However, it is possible too.

    I can only give you my experience, and I can’t tell you that you will get the same response. I do know that it was hurting him too. I can tell you that his immaturity was stopping him from reaching out to me and my stubbornness was stopping me from reaching out to him. In the end, being the adult and taking the first step led to an open communication and over time a better understanding of where our relationship needed work, what I was doing to hinder the growth and what he needed to do to better. It will be a year in June. June is when I would say the reconciliation really started. When it was moving forward and not looking at the past. When we decided that we would do what it took to make it work.

    My son has matured so much his this last year. His wife,,,,,,,, well we are seeing some improvement and although I have a long way to go with trusting them I do feel that we are on track.

  • #74456
    Avatar
    Blackeyedsusan
    Participant

    I have questioned the same thing. I do not want to present that I do not care.
    Relationships, even healthy ones, take effort on both parts. If no one is making effort then all you have is a stalemate.
    It seems to be a popular opinion to draw the battle lines and see who blinks first. There has to be a better way.

  • #74468
    Avatar
    emily38
    Participant

    This is a difficult crossroads on the E journey. Each of us knows, or will know, if making contact after silence is OUR right thing to do, not THE right thing to do. This is where the details unique to every situation are at play.

    SerenityP, I can only speak from my experience. After years, yes years, of making the first contacts, without reciprocity, I could not continue as I was doing. The efforts had literally drained my insides. And so I stopped. And silence has followed from the two estranged households, which has given me emotional space to confront this reality and live into another new one, taking care of myself.

    As timeheals wrote here……..time heals. To use a cheap phrase I cannot stomach, I ‘let it go.’

    It did not come back.

    I did not see this as a situation where the first one would blink. I did not initiate the alienation that led to estrangement. I tried everything I knew to do to fix what was not my responsibility to repair.

    Again, in my experience only, I did what I had to do for MYSELF. And it changed everything about the way I saw the situation and coped with it.

    yes, RainbowMom, we worry in the beginning that we’re messaging our EC with an “I don’t care” attitude when we withdraw from the conflict with unmet contact. Eventually, we see it’s like Sheri wrote yesterday……..we keep banging our heads against a wall and all we have for it is a headache.

    This is really big stuff. Really. And when you’ve had enough, when your self-esteem is shredded, you look long and hard at not only what you are doing but WHY you continue.

    And then, that’s when you stop. With a clear conscience, mindful motivation and, yes, a heavy heart.

  • #74470
    rparents
    rparents
    Keymaster

    This part about how our actions are seen by the EC is addressed in the early part of my book.

    Emily38, you state it well. There comes a point when you stop living based on worry about what message it will send, because to do so becomes less than living. There comes a point where you cannot begin to guess what a person you know longer know might think.

    There’s a study that demonstrates that parents routinely try on other perspectives. Eventually, though, it can become a trap.

    I am not sure where you got the idea that forming a stalemate is a popular opinion, BlackeyedSusan. It’s not what I see (and I hear from thousands of parents). Quite the contrary is the norm, to the point of hurting oneself.

    Hugs to all,
    Sheri McGregor

  • #74479
    Avatar
    Blackeyedsusan
    Participant

    Stalemate is only one analogy. I did not mean that in a derogatory manner.
    I’m simply saying that it takes active participation by both parties for any relationship to work. That’s what many of us are trying to find our way through.

  • #74513
    Yellow Rose
    Yellow Rose
    Participant

    We can’t assume that our values are the same values for other people. We can consider, but not assume, that our EC miss us contacting them or think we don’t care. It’s never wrong to consider a new perspective but we can get hung up thinking our EC share our values. My experience is some EC want to be left alone by their parents and some EC want contact as long as it comes with gifts, money, free babysitting, etc. Some situations might be able to be worked out if both parties want it so. To torture ourselves that we must or should do more, because of this or that notion or assumption that our EC are whatever – missing us, unhappy – may not be true. And may not be in our best interests. Sometimes it’s a stalemate when the part who has always cared more stops trying or caring so much. This is not necessarily wrong, we parents don’t have to keep our lives totally involved around trying to fix or change another person. It might be a fallacy to expect that our actions will change the EC, especially if we have been trying and trying already or for years. For some of us in the early days, perhaps it’s worth considering if we are at such a thing as a stalemate that might improve with action on our part. Wisdom is knowing what we can or can’t change as the saying goes.

  • #74535
    Avatar
    MJmom
    Participant

    In my case, I totally drew the boundary line. It wasn’t about a stalemate, it was about my survival. I have expectations. One being to treat me with respect. Anything less will not do. Because she could not or would not abide she blocked all calls, texts and emails. Pretty much tells her story. I will not invade her ideas of self righteous. However we are downsizing now and I have important papers of hers. Should I shred them or mail them. I don’t have desire or time to play the game I played with her sister. ( rent locker). There isn’t much to fill a small box. My mind says shred and not regret. The emotional side says try again. Always a new scenario!! Mjmom

  • #74550
    Dotty
    Dotty
    Participant

    Mjmom – I did the same thing. My son was rude, demeaning and gas-lighting. His partner was lying about things I did and said, which my son confronted me about. He would not believe me, and it all just became too hard. He blocked me on every way of contacting him – emailing me to tell me this, saying ‘ Don’t try to respond because I have blocked you’. My husband visited him to tell him that we had both decided to go along with him cutting contact with me – he can’t just cut contact with me and think things are just going to carry on as normal. He was actually surprised and visibly shaken. We had just had enough.

    Since then I greeted him in a very welcoming and friendly way when I saw him at my uncle’s funeral, which was rudely rebuked. I was shaken, but then I got myself together, and decided that I shouldn’t really have expected anything different.

    I don’t know if it’s a stalemate as such.

    It’s just the way things are, and I don’t expect any change. I’m actually ok.

    Love,
    Dotty

  • #74569
    BeeHere4Me
    BeeHere4Me
    Participant

    Dear Mjmom,

    I understand your position. Involving matters of importance, our true character is revealed by our actions. Regarding my son’s belongings:
    – My actions came from the heart of a loving and caring mother. His things were package and shipped with care, and I spared no expense insuring their safe arrival.
    – His actions included refusing to cooperate or communicate, inflicting guilt and he failed to express any appreciation for my efforts or expense.

    There are people who think that when another fails to meet their expectations, that they are justified to mistreat and cause them to suffer. 🎱 However, the rest of the world regards this thinking as unhealthy, and indicative of a character disorder. These behaviors are regarded as rude, ill-mannered and ungrateful and a reflection of one’s true character.

    We don’t have to feel bad, unworthy and deserving to suffer just because another found a reason to mistreat us. Poor behavior is a reflection of a person’s own character. Agreeing with this is one thing, but applying it, is the difference between suffering or not. This is the 2nd Agreement from Don Miguel’s “The Four Agreements.” Through the years, this agreement spared me a lot of pain. Dis-empower those who inflict pain by realizing their actions are about them.

    An analogy: You realize you were betrayed. Not taking it personal = not blaming yourself, feeling bad or thinking that you are unworthy or deserved the mistreatment. Instead, accept what they are revealing about their character. It is painful to realize that someone you thought a lot of, does not have the good character you once believed, it can be devastating. But if your pain is radiating from within, then you fell in alignment with their thinking, which is disordered.

    MJmom, I guess my suggestion is for you to do the right thing and allow your daughter’s actions to speak for her character. Sorry I took the long way 🙂
    🐝

  • #74581
    rparents
    rparents
    Keymaster

    MjMom,

    I think you could simply mail the small box of items. That way you have remained true to your own integrity, without requiring contact.

    That’s what I thought when I read your note.

    Sheri McGregor

  • #74598
    Avatar
    MJmom
    Participant

    Thanks to all. I probably will mail import documents. Since she wants no contact, I feel I should honor that. Frankly, I want no contact, but leave avenues open. Heaven help her if her Dad becomes critically ill again. She will never know. Mail just won’t get there in time! Mjmom

  • #74601
    BeeHere4Me
    BeeHere4Me
    Participant

    Mjmom …. My situation was different. But I was advised to scan documents and send them certified mail with a return receipt.

  • #74606
    Yellow Rose
    Yellow Rose
    Participant

    Make it simple on oneself. Ship via fedex or UPS or USA priority mail that gives a notice of delivery. No signature required, which can add another layer to the complexity. Get it moved along and off ones plate. We parents so often agonize over some of these things, wanting to take the high road, be good human beings. Not saying we need to be ugly but sometimes abandoned papers, belongings, etc. truly mean nothing to the owner. We have tax returns for the ES because a CPA does it and husband cares way too much about this and ES cares nothing. I believe our keeping of these allows ES to escape adulthood but husband feels he should or must be the bigger person. and so we also get the ES’s traffic tickets- yes, we still do. Many of you know the two year drama over these tickets. ES wanted them forwarded to the one aunt who then told me not to mail to her — and husband told ES. What triangulation from those that enable the ES. I told aunt I wasn’t in charge, and husband told her to tell ES, and then husband told ES. Sometimes we parents just can’t help ourselves from getting caught up in the drama. Perhaps is okay to just step back sometimes.

  • #74610
    rparents
    rparents
    Keymaster

    Completely, Yellow Rose. Get it off the plate and out of the mind.

    I do think it’s important to conduct ourselves with integrity. But that’s the end of the obligation in so many cases.

    We really can’t be expected to remain someone else’s post office, bank, safe deposit box, storage unit, closet, or message taker forever.

    I remember when I finally said, “He doesn’t live here. I am not in contact with him.” It was a horrible admission but me being fearful or too ashamed or embarrassed to say it didn’t make it a different reality. It just meant I would still be contacted!

    Your husband may be worried that if he doesn’t let the tickets come they will be ignored. If one resulted in a warrant, and ES was arrested, would he be able to let it be? At some point, it would be wonderful to allow an adult son to stand on his own feet. It gets heavy when we’re letting someone who doesn’t care about us to use our good standing. This isn’t my business, of course.

    Hugs to all,
    Sheri McGregor

  • #74608
    Avatar
    Rainbow
    Participant

    Mjmom, I would just place the important papers in the mail to your ED. Send them certified so you can track them and have a record that they were sent. Love, Rainbow

  • #74648
    AUSSIEMOM
    AUSSIEMOM
    Participant

    Serenity, I think when you are the one who has been directly hurt as a parent, mother/father with estrangement, you have an emotional investment in a relationship that turns into rejection. It is that personal connection to the problem of estrangement that no-one can voice an opinion on, other than one who has experienced it. Your friend has good language skills. That was a thoughtful and also caring response to something she hasn’t experienced personally herself. Estrangement is similar to a serious illness or any serious or devastating experience in our lives. We can empathize, we can sympathize, we can imagine how we might feel, but unless we experience it personally ourselves, it is all in our head and not in our heart.

    I have a friend who died this past month. She had oesophageal cancer, was on a food bag for a year, could not swallow food in spite of the operation, she never really recovered. I’d called her briefly every day for many years. I learned to ask ‘how are you?’ to which she’d respond “fine” in a different manner. I finally learned to ask “how are you managing” to which she replied “not well”. Language, which we do not always have present in our communication with others, needs to be carefully thought out. I learned from this experience. I finally asked her for her interpretation of the word ‘fine’. She said “I’m not at death’s door”. Communication, language skills, it’s not easy but when you have had such a devastating emotional experience it’s pretty hard to step back and see it in a more rational way. That’s my take on it, anyway.
    Aussiemom

  • #74700
    Yellow Rose
    Yellow Rose
    Participant

    Ah, Sheri, it’s hard for husband to allow the consequences of the traffic tickets. He’s not happy about it but his fall back is passive aggressive behavior. So he’s passive now as he sees this as minor. Plus that old a good father should, must do type of stuff. There is some communication with ES which makes my husband happy. Husband has set major boundaries with ES and now sticks to them but this traffic ticket stuff is different. It’s not my kid and I would have to lie and shred the mail in order for us to stop forwarding the tickets. Which I have thought about doing but one lie always leads to needing another. That’s my integrity that I won’t do that and lie and hide from husband. Because the abuser always makes it about you are the bad guy because of … that you did. I am told this traffic ticket stuff is not my business either! I have given the ES’s phone and address to collection agents when they call. The ES’s inability to lead a life of integrity is his problem not mine.

  • #74702
    Yellow Rose
    Yellow Rose
    Participant

    Part 2: and the good news is I no longer get all angry about having to forward this mail, all these traffic tickets. I have realized I am not in control of this traffic ticket, the IRS stuff, and I can choose to detach. The major boundaries like giving money and not allowing ES to live or stay with us in our home, are at this moment being held strong by husband.

  • #74711
    rparents
    rparents
    Keymaster

    LOL. No, Yellow Rose, it would not be good to lie about it and shred the mail. It would come back to haunt you (and maybe play into the ES’s hands, too).

    Sheri

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