January 11, 2019 at 10:35 pm #68345
So, when my daughter left a little over five weeks ago, I reached out to someone I’ve known for over 20 years. She lives far away now but knew my daughter when she was growing up. She has a background in mental health and has done volunteer work with people going through rough times. I thought she would be good to talk to.
Anyway, when I reached out to her, she kept asking why it would happen and made me feel like I did something. All I did was tell my daughter that I was worried about the person she was involved with and that their goal seemed to be to take her away from her family (which ended up being the case).
I just let it go and decided my friend was not the person to talk to. Our “friendship” is one of emailing lots of news about once a month.
Anyway, after the five weeks have gone by, I just got an email asking how I was doing. And how are my daughter and I are doing. And, I had mentioned that I was seeing a therapist because I was having a very hard time, she wanted to know if I was still in therapy. Actually, her exact words are “I hope you have been keeping up with your visits with the therapist, and getting support from the website you found.”
I started to write back but then stopped. I am sitting here shaking and feeling betrayed by someone who was supposed to be my friend. I feel like I have to explain that “no, I haven’t heard from her” and “yes, I’m still seeing a therapist”. Wow… feels like a giant leap backwards.
So, I’m asking my friends here… what do I do? Do I respond? And if so, what do I say? Her email was full of “what did you do for New Years… we did xxx…”. And it just makes me sick. I wonder if my child had died if she would be this way.
Anyway, I’d appreciate any help here… Thanks!!
January 11, 2019 at 11:18 pm #68362
I should add…
Even though it’s only been five weeks – I have five children and they are all estranged.
My oldest ED was on and off for many years – only back when she wanted something. I finally stopped contacting her and haven’t heard anything in about seven years.
My oldest ES was also on and off for many years and now he won’t respond to me at all. Also, I always had to reach out.
My middle ES and I were very close until he was in his 30’s and then he met someone and that was it.
My youngest ES had seizures as a teen and became a different person – he told me when he was 18 I would never see him again – that was over 12 years ago and I’ve never seen him – don’t know where he is.
So, when I had my youngest, in my middle age, and her father left, it was just the two of us. I never imagined that she would also leave and totally break off from me.
So yes, it’s only been five weeks – but it’s been many years of pain. And this last one has been beyond devastating.
January 12, 2019 at 4:10 am #68381
Hello Healingheart, I’m so sorry you have to struggle with this. I don’t know your friend but it sounds like she is just trying to reach out to you. People who don’t have EC’s can’t really comprehend the pain of our situation and don’t really know what to say to us. We on the other hand may be overly sensitive to others comments because we have been so badly hurt/damaged. Do you value this friendship? If so, respond. You could simply say, “Thank you for asking about my ED. Our relationship isn’t where I would like it to be but I hope it gets better someday.” and leave it at that. Then you can go on and tell her about other things in your life. . . or not 🙂 Either way, take care of yourself and do what you think/feel is best. Hugs. Swoosh
January 12, 2019 at 11:10 am #68386
Dear Healingheart, I second everything that Swoosh has said. The hurt and shame and anger that is mixed in with a myriad of other feelings is hard to explain to others, and it is certainly hard for them to understand. One thing I have realized is that it is not good for us to isolate ourselves. Even just trying to talk with a friend helps. I just recently had lunch with a friend to specifically talk with her about my ED. It was very helpful to sit and have lunch with her and talked face to face.
Mainly be kind to yourself. We cannot take the blame or the credit for the choices our adult children make. We can only do the best we can do, then hope they will thrive and prosper and be happy. When things turn out differently from how we envisioned, it is a letdown, but for our sakes and souls, we must move on. If at some point our children wish to reconcile, we can cross that bridge if WE want to. Even though it hurts at this moment, I believe after a bit, you are going to find you feel lighter without the constant second guessing and walking on eggshells. I am sending you Love and Light!
Take Good Care!!!
January 12, 2019 at 11:13 am #68389
Dear healing heart: Your friend sounds like my dear friend of many years. Our children played together, went to school together and she is fortunate that all her 4 adult children adore her and are living close to her so she enjoys not only their company but also the company of her grandchildren. Her DIL’s love her (she has 3 sons and a daughter, divorced, she moved in with her.) She knew me for a long time and knows what kind of mother I am. My husband worked all the time (workaholic) so I was a “single” parent most of the time. She never understood why my “kids” turned against me. She was sympathetic. But when I try to reach out to her, when my heart was breaking, she was not there for me. She was busy with her Grandkids and AC. Now, after several years, she calls me on the phone. I am no longer crying and have accepted the estrangement. I did not want to talk about the past with her any longer. So I mail her a letter, told her that I was OK and that I was not up to talking on the phone. I also told her that I still loved her and I wished her well.
She called again, after receiving the letter, she said she understood and she just wanted me to know that she cared. That was a couple of months ago.
You need to do what gives you comfort, what gives you peace. This gave me the peace I needed. I also have decided to no longer put up with the verbal abuses on the phone from my EC. If my husband wants to talk to them when they call, is up to him. I am not going to. It has been 17 years. I don’t believe I owe them one more day of suffering.
I wish the very best for you dear friend.
January 12, 2019 at 11:16 am #68392
I am so sorry that all five have estranged and can understand how the final one must be a virtually unbearable blow. Frankly, I don’t know how you are staying vertical at all. I have two children, their spouses and 4 small grandchildren, all estranged.
When reading about your friend and how it made you feel, the “Karpman triangle” popped into my mind. It might help to read about that, and about “Rescuers”, which it seems to me your friend my operate from. Doesn’t make her a bad person or have to be dropped as a friend. But your feeling so disempowered and made small by her response, is a bit of a red flag I think .
You have years more experience at this than her, regardless of “qualifications”. I do find and think that unless someone has actually experienced this, they just simply cannot “get” what this is like. And it is virtually impossible to describe.
I have read the term “living losses” , and how one mother lost both children. One to cancer, one to estrangement. You don’t need me to tell you which one she found the worst and hardest to live with.
I sometimes (at my worst) feel like some kind of holocaust surviver, where people in the holocaust lost all family members. I am not levelling my experience with those who experienced those horrors, but it feels the nearest equivalent.
Something else which has helped me has been to do ancestral healing work, family constellation work. Books like “it didn’t start with you” can help give a more “birds eye” view on immediate situations, as these patterns which result in estrangement can come down generationally, starting with ancestors who died way before you were even born. The newish science of epigenetic is proving that. It helps me to see this isn’t all down to me and mine. Doesn’t mean they reconnect though!
You have good instincts. You feel in your gut how your friends response has made you feel e’g’ that you are the one with the problem who needs therapy. Rather than you are getting support with an intolerable situation, and it was not “your stuff’ you wanted her opinion on!
Trust your instincts. She can still be your friend but she may not be helpful for you to be around right now
January 12, 2019 at 11:17 am #68393
I just re read your post. As to what you say, I think Swoosh has nailed it.
January 12, 2019 at 11:23 am #68400
healingheart, that’s a hard one. I’m four years on from leaving my husband and my daughter who was alienated from me by him. I also lost a child many years ago (she died aged five) so I know what people who have no clue are like!
A friend and neighbour from when I lived with my husband was ‘aware’ of what was going on with
my husband (as much as I myself was aware at the time) and she and her husband were there (they offered and I gladly accepted) on the day I threw my belongings into the back of a van and left him.
She sent/sends emails every now and again full of what they’re doing and the visits from her two children and now grandchildren but absolutely no mention of the situation I had left behind – my husband still lives just a few doors away from them. For the first year I can only describe my emails to her as anguished but she never once touched on any reference. Instead she continued to write about her children and grandchildren, she still does (I’ll never have grandchildren but I accepted that years ago; daughter doesn’t want children).
It hurt reading her emails and I so wanted to ask her what husband was up to without me, but I never did. Now I’ve trailed off replying to her emails. I’m in a much better place but her emails are more like generic newsletters!
January 12, 2019 at 4:34 pm #68442
Thank you everyone!
I took Swoosh’s advice and just answered that there is no change here and then followed up with some small talk.
And Delilah, I ordered that book (“It didn’t start with you”). Could be very interesting! As far back as I know, I have a family (both sides) that all live in silos. There is no real involvement with each other – mostly just polite conversations. I don’t remember ever being hugged by a grandparent, but they were nice (polite) to me. I never thought much of this before. I am the youngest of nine and one of my sisters died two days ago. I received a polite email from another sister telling me that she had been informed of the death. Wow…
Thanks again to all of you. This community means more to me than I can say.
January 12, 2019 at 9:43 pm #68479
glad you ordered the book. Shows an open mind. Family constellation work is good, and enlightening as to the “roots” of many things which show up in our lives.
January 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm #68446
It took me quite some time n moving away from my old life to come back to myself. I chose to try to recover from the estrangement by taking back my life someplace new. It was the best thing for me.
Initially, I shut myself off because even people who meant well had no clue about what I was going through. N the judgments after I finally dug up enough courage to talk to people about it? Eventually it all comes down to judgments because others can’t n don’t want to imagine being in ur shoes! Heaven forbid it makes THEM uncomfortable!
I ventured out slowly. When I got stronger I disclosed the estrangement to a few people. Big mistake! N I won’t do that again! Aside from my sister, my therapist n my peeps on this forum, NO ONE else gets it!
2019 is the year when I embrace not talking about my ED without feeling like I’m not being totally honest. The truth is my daughter chose to sever all ties with me to the extreme that she said that “I am dead to you”!
My therapist says you don’t tell someone how much money you have in the bank so why tell them that which u feel the most vulnerable about? Good point right?
January 12, 2019 at 4:48 pm #68458
Dear Violet and all,
You don’t have to tell. It’s your right to protect yourself. It’s something so very personal and awful and yes, often brings others’ judgment.
On the other hand, it hides the shame that belongs to the one who chooses to abandon the parent. Maybe even hides the gravity of this societal problem.
I choose to speak despite judgment that is still heaped, and sometimes even bothers me. I understand the feelings and reasoning behind not talking though. It can be so difficult. But I can’t go back to being shamed into silence. I’ll do my best to represent those of you who remain silent. I hope my voice will help when given the chance to speak. And I support your decision for yourself.
January 14, 2019 at 4:14 am #68604
As the politicians say, I can see the benefits to both sharing WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE, and the benefits of being very careful with whom those people are. I’ve had an aquaintence of 30 yrs. who very well knows what kind of mother I was, because she was there. When she was offended when I stood up for myself and asked her to stop something she was doing toward me, she took vengence upon me by telling me if I “behave myself I will get my children back”. She might as well have stuck a knife in me, even though I knew it wasn’t true and was in a spirit of revenge. I shared with the pastor of my church (about EC) that I had attended and worked in for 6 yrs. A distant cousin of my deceased husband had literally kidnapped my now estranged daughter from the church parking lot (to rescue her from her terrible home life), then when I had asked that pastor would go talk to her, which I had trusted to do, found out two months later that they had mother bashed me, which was swallowed wholeheartedly, they all turned against me. Just the kind of support I needed, right after I buried my husband. When I asked why I wasn’t told that the church intended to do nothing so I could get other council to visit her, I was told that they didn’t think I could handle the fact that my child didn’t want anything to do with an abusive mother, and I was handed some reading material on raising Christian children (these were not children, they were well raised and in their late 20’s). I would just like to reiterate, be VERY CAREFUL who this is shared with. These people nearly took my faith away, which is my lifeline. Another long time “friend” of years who was in the same boat with her EC was fine until her situation turned around (and yes, I can be happy for her), then I heard a constant barrage of detailed accounts of all the great things they do together; she has not asked about my children in 2 yrs. I also have another aquaintance who told me when I needed to vent that all I do is complain, be glad they are not dead. By the way, I’ve been available for her 4 am talk sessions quite often.
I wasn’t aware this was a one way street. These kind of experiences can be as abusive as the estrangement. We can all yell from the rooftops that we shouldn’t care what others think, but when those things happen with people we care about, who we think are in our corner—it hurts. And yes, I also get the value of this horrific wrong put before the people who can actually see this situation for what it is. As always, this will be people like Sheri, a very small percentage of people, with credibility and experience who will stand up and say STOP, it’s not always the parents. Or people who are sworn to secrecy such as a good councilor. I don’t want this to come off as bitter, but it’s risky to believe that the majority of people are going to be deep enough to see beyond their own nose, and we’ve all heard of the game of “telephone”. You don’t know what is going to happen to information in the wrong hands. Getting someone to understand the pain of estrangement is like finding people to help you move. Only your true friends show up-all one of them if you are lucky. Sometimes I think all the nicest people are on this web-site.
January 14, 2019 at 1:48 pm #68622
I wanted to comment on this too as I’m at a place where I have found my other family members I’ve shared this with do not feel comfortable talking about the estrangement issues we are dealing with. I did share this with a few of my closet friends as well and observed the same response. They don’t understand how this could be when they have been in our lives closely and acknowledge what great loving parents we are and were to our children.
I’ve never been one to share my most personal situations to many. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, I felt only comfortable telling my immediate family and a few of my closest friends. It is still that way today by choice. People don’t truly understand something until it happens to them. How can I expect someone to understand all that I’m dealing with when I’m having a difficult time coming to terms with it all myself. However, I do find it easier to share this here on this forum then any other place, so thank you for that. We all need a safe outlet to express our experiences and feelings from it all.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.