Going batty

estrangementWhat if I told you this was Batman? You wouldn’t believe it. This little guy is too cute and not nearly muscular enough to be the caped crusader. I was excited to happen upon him in a parking lot in town one day. Resting in the crook of a small tree, he seemed to mug for the camera when I got up close to take his photograph.  

It wasn’t anywhere close to Halloween when I spotted the bat, but I’ve been saving this picture to share this month. I’m no joker but have added a few bat and Batman puns for fun. I hope you’ll hang around to find out how this bat fits the theme of this article.  There are links to other articles included as well.

Estrangement: Parents get a BAT RAP 

Many people don’t know that bats are avid pollinators and important to dispersing the seeds of the fruit they eat. Farmers love them because they also eat pest insects that can harm their crops. There are many species of bats, and although many are beneficial, they get a bad rap. They can carry rabies, as most people have heard, but so do other mammals, and only through the saliva of a rabid specimen. Did you know that bat guano is one of the world’s richest fertilizers? Bat guano can spread histoplasmosis, but most people aren’t in contact with it.  

In our society where rigid stereotypes shape the societal ideas about what sort of parents could possibly be rejected by their adult children, even the kindest, most caring parents who are abandoned can get a bat rap. That’s why it’s important to work at healing, and eventually, move past the worry over what others might think. You can reclaim your identity, or even reinvent yourself. Like the little bat in the photo, you can come out of the shadows, bat your eyes, and let your light shine.  

NOT QUITE READY? 

One mother of an estranged adult child recently related that she puts on a smile all week at work. Then when Friday evening comes, she closes the door and “cocoons” all weekend. One father called his weekends cave time. If this is how you feel since your son’s “no contact” rule or your daughter’s blame-fest, you’re certainly not alone.  

Our fast-paced society doesn’t often make room for the time and space to grieve or even allow a person the right to feel sad. We’re expected to just robot along, emotionless in our various roles. Feeling down can be an inconvenience, and emotional displays can make people uncomfortable. At the same time, you have very real things to grieve.  

This mother is wise not to let her sadness interfere with her professional persona. The decision to allow yourself some alone time isn’t necessarily a negative thing though. Cocooning can be positively beneficial. Staying perpetually stuck in distress isn’t good for anybody, but neither is masking the hurt or burying your feelings. 

Cocooning through time

In the past, the value of solitude held more prominence. Today, the immediacy of communications seems to have detracted from meaningful connections. News was once longingly anticipated. People pored over another’s written words and pondered their own useful reply. Twitter and texting have made shorthand of the pleasantries, and have shaped our interactions even in person. 

Also, traditional mourning periods were once expected. The duration allowed for the processing of emotions and adapting to a new role. Traditional dress helped others to understand and offer patience.  

estrangementMany tribal cultures incorporated alone time for the coming of age. During isolation, men learned how to fend for themselves. With only their own ingenuity to rely upon for survival, they then recognized the value of community and interdependence—and fostered that attitude upon return. 

In some cultures, women spent their menstrual time in isolation or with other women. Can you imagine the deep reflection, the emotional processing, and the peaceful rest they enjoyed?  

MAKE YOUR SOLITUDE PRODUCTIVE 

On the surface, restorative periods can seem inactive, but just as the dormancy of winter is alive with action beneath the cool exterior, your cocoon time can be productive. It can be a time of reflecting, letting go,and growing. 

The lore of butterflies infuses the word “cocoon” with promise. Maybe a little rest will help you process your sorrow, bud new growth, and emerge with eye-catching wings. 

If you’re like this mother who cocoons on her weekends, what can you do to remain productive rather than hang around in the dark (or in a Dark Knight gown!). Can you purposefully reflect? Reclaim your identity? Eat well? Start a new hobby? Work on some stretching … physically and emotionally? Turn to the listed strategies in Done With The Crying. Do the exercises if you haven’t.

READY TO FLY 

While an adult child’s rejection can ground a parent in a woeful rut, with compassionate self-care, you can emerge revitalized from your cocoon and flutter into the shiny new normal of a life you design. 

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93 thoughts on “Going batty

  1. Pamela S.

    Great article, Sheri. Appreciated all the links to other pearls of wisdom and related information, too. Many thanks.

    Reply
    1. Cookiecrumbs

      Thank you Sheri! I needed to read this today. I’m a big Halloween fanatic. My grandkids and I used to go all out for the holiday. Today I went to the school carnival all dressed up. I looked longingly but true to my ED nature, she kept them out. I miss them so much but I am determined to keep reinventing, staying positive, and yet hopeful too. I so appreciate your book, articles, and the community of caring. God bless us all! Happy Halloween!

  2. Jill

    IT IS WHAT IT IS
    I know I was a good mother. I know I went thru an antagonistic divorce. On Labor day I saw my daughter at the park on my work out path. I hadn’t seen or heard from her since my son’s death 5 1/2 years ago. She was with my granddaughter who was six months old at the time. My daughter’s beautiful smile was shining. I couldn’t believe it was her and asked her if she could talk for five minutes. “No.” She introduced me to her daughter by my name. I said to the six year old, “I’m your grandma.” She pulled the little girl on. “We have to finish our work-out. You finish yours.” I was about to cry, but instead determined that she’s an adult. This is the way she wants things to be. I’ve tried so hard, sending her letters, records, old pictures, books and letters she sent to me. They were all rejected, “Return to Sender.” It is what it is. She is very much like her father’s family. It’s so sad.

    Reply
    1. Mary59

      Jill, my heart goes out to you. Losing a son and having an estranged daughter is excruciating. I have two estranged daughters: one hasn’t spoken to me since 2015 and the other since April.
      Today is Halloween and I was thinking back in time remembering all the Trick or Treats I did for them. Happy times…Things got sour after a very, very bad divorce in which I was a targeted parent. My daughters were exposed to domestic violence and verbal abuse. When I finally mustered the courage to leave with my 3 kids in the hopes of saving all of us, that’s when my ex really did his very best in telling my kids what an awful person I was. All that poison seeped in and resulted in estrangement. My ex has disappeared from my daughter’s lives years ago. Strangely enough, he also estranged himself from his family – very unusual, they were such a tight knit clan.
      I did everything for them and more but it was never enough. If I didn’t do what they wanted me to then the berating and verbal abuse began. I, as you, wrote cards, sent emails and either they returned or she blocked me. Two years ago I stopped. I know I’ve become a Grandma. The other daughter started acting up this year, 35 yrs (!) and when I denied money, she cut me off.
      Thus, I spend a lot of time on my own. I have a loving second husband but he has long work hours and honestly I think he’s had enough of listening to my sadness and grief. Friends are, as you might know, uncomfortable and at times I wonder if they doubt my story. So, I put on my smile, try to make the best of every single day even though some days are pretty difficult i.e. birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas etc.
      Sheri’s book was the beginning of an eye opener: it made me feel that I wasn’t an alien. I live in Southern Europe where this sort of situation is absolutely unheard of. I’m sure it exists but haven’t found any trace of it on the internet. Families are sacred and that makes me feel like a freak.
      This forum gives me the chance to vent, to find resources and connect with other parents like you.
      Jill, I wish you peace and hope that you will be able to find respite from so much pain.

    2. Gina

      I am horrified at your daughter’s response. I am so very sorry. This makes my heart hurt. I only have 1 grandchild. I no longer consider myself a grandmother. For my son believes lies about me told to him by someone we both know. He is refusing to let me hold my grandchild or even visit. This has been going on since late April. Keeping you in my thoughts & prayers, our kids & grandkids too. The babies are learning the wrong things here. Disbelief that this is happening. Big hug

    3. Emily

      The way your daughter treated you in that moment is one of the meanest things I’ve ever heard. I’m so sorry. What an incredible loss for your grandchildren. Your granddaughter will remember that moment and I bet she will remember you as beautiful and someone she wishes could’ve been there for her.

    4. Silvia M.

      I feel for you Phyllis C. I am in a very similar situation. I have three daughters and all three have resorted to gang up against me and heed their father’s advice to not maintain any contact with me. I miss my six grandchildren. It was my husband who cheated on me and I am the one getting a bat rap. I have not even met my youngest granddaughter. They tell me that my mail and presents for the children go in the garbage. I was a good mother, although I made mistakes, I am sure; just like everybody else. I have had to pick up the pieces and go on with my life. It is very difficult, especially at this time of year when I used to host the entire family for the Holidays . I have tried to start a new life for myself, but still feel very lonely.

    5. Donna D.

      You are right, it is what it is and it is sad. It is also sad that it may not seem like it, but the absence of you, a loving grandparent in their life is a loss too. Her daughter will be affected by the distance as well. I have not yet met, nor likely to, meet my grand daughter who is now turning 10! My daughter in law’s mother said, “Oh, they would never do that! It would be too cruel!” Yet this is precisely what they have done; my son, his wife and his wife’s family. Anyone participating in the abandonment is responsible.
      It became more poignant these last couple of years due to losing my youngest son in an accident. Now we are childless but shouldn’t be.
      It is what it is.

    6. Kristi R

      I’m so sorry for the pain this rejection must have caused you. I dread the day this happens to me, and it likely will as I don’t live far from my daughter. I’m glad you were able to understand this is your daughters choice. It doesn’t stop the pain but realizing our adult kids have their own hang ups they are responsible for their own choices and the way they treat us, we can only choose how we respond, makes the hurt a little easier to take. God bless you and heal your heart.

    7. Lydia

      I ask myself often “why can’t my adult children see the positive in me!?”

      I put myself through nursing school and after 20 plus years I’m sought after and currently under a professional contract.

      I feel that it is unfair to shine a bright light on someone’s struggle during a short period of time. What about education, success and being a positive role model?

      I went through a very painful divorce years ago. My daughter doesn’t want a relationship with me until I apologize for my divorce. My younger son has a no contact rule.

      In time they will experience more life’s lessons and hopefully realize that I’m human…what a blessing that day will be!

    8. Linda

      More and more I can’t believe the stories of hurting parents. Parents who were very good to their children. I have tried and tried to understand why or what I have done wrong. The truth is….most of us have done nothing wrong. Something seems to be very wrong with this generation. How can they so openly hurt their parents and feel nothing? I know I haven’t done anything to deserve the lack of respect or care from either of my sons. Selfish might be a very good word to use for them. They take and they give nothing back. No, that is not the way I raised them. They have to take responsibility for the way they hurt their parents, but one thing to think about is “people are the company they keep”. It’s not the entire problem, but if your child marries someone hateful and mean and they don’t want anything from you except money, then it rubs off. It’s the choice my sons both made. One day they will have to face their own demons. I’m one of those who isolates myself. I’m not well and I have no help. They don’t care. That’s the society that we seem to live in. I don’t blame myself for everything and neither should you. You tried and tried. All I know, is so many parents are suffering. I pray a lot.

    9. Mary R.

      Yes Jill I can relate to your experience with your daughter and grandchild…..We Retired 10yrs ago and we are living OUR LIVES, OUR WAY…We have been on 5 overseas trips, we come and go as we please without any “crap” to put up with…Our children (2 daughters age 49yrs 47yrs, and our son 35yrs old) they deserted us , oldest daughter 22yrs ago, second daughter 12yrs ago, our son 8yrs ago when the “gravy-train” stopped because we had to say “NO” to their requests…We fell through the cracks of life over 25yrs ago lost everything, through financial-loss, and job-loss…So we reinvented ourselves to live “another” way. We moved away and started all over again…So here we are in Australia, we are doing GREAT without the “hurt”. We love them and hope they are healthy and happy, with their husbands, and wife, and (1) grandson that we know of…sent him gifts, got no response…Good luck to you…MARY

  3. Phyllis C.

    I definitely hide away on my days off from work. The only interaction I have with people is at work. No family. No close friends here. Very lonely life. Sometimes I wonder when it will all end.

    Reply
    1. R

      Understand your pain as I’m going thru the same. I also left my job so I feel all the more likely. Just waiting for it to end as you said

    2. Loris G.

      Hey…we’ve all spent healing time commiserating with ourselves. Wondering what to do, locking ourselves away. I’m retired so lots of time now but have enrolled in hobby courses. I’m doing painting, which takes up lots of my time and gives me some end results. I’m copying images of artists work, currently painting flowers and just did Mrs Matisse. Not only does it absorb my time, but gives me a sense of achievement. Have also become a gym junkie. I’ve joined the local gym and do three or more classes a week. Squeeze in a morning yoga class on the way to work, or after work, and see how you feel. And I’m doing some online writing classes. See what community classes are available for you, or look online. Lots to do. Think back to your childhood. What did you want to do? What were your dreams? Reach back inside yourself and find that dream, idea, thought, dust it off and begin. Slowly, slowly. Bit by bit. It takes ages to develop the skills I’ve discovered. You don’t have to good at it, that dream, that takes practice. But take that small first step. Alone time is great for reaching back inside yourself. I’m also trying to practice gratitude for all that came my way – when I remember to do so – and develop self-compassion. Be kind and loving to myself. Look after myself. Sorry if I’m lecturing you – not my intention. But time to become your own best friend, your own close friend. Do things that you like, so you’ll enjoy time hanging out with yourself. And be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Take care.

    3. Kristi R.

      Phyllis C.,
      I don’t know your situation, but I feel your pain. You are not alone. I do have family but no friends. I actually am ok with no friends but you need someone. If you are like me you just started shutting people out because the pain of going through yet another rejection would just be too much so, it’s easier to shut down. It’s not healthy though. I’m just starting (after 2 years of rejection from 2 of my kids) to realize, we get 1 life. There are no do-overs. It’s up to me to make the most of it. I can’t just sit around and wait for my 2 kids to realize they are wasting so much precious time we will never get back. I’ve got to make the most of my precious time for myself. Otherwise I’m going to die waiting for something that may never happen. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, every day is a conscious effort to live my best life and it’s not easy to do but it is getting easier. Please hang on. You are worthy of love and you are enough. Treat yourself like you know that even if nobody else will.

    4. Louise K.

      I live in Columbus, Ohio.
      I have walked away from a 26 year friendship. I am so sad a lot of the time because I did the same with my husband’s family. So my husband goes without me. At first he couldn’t believe I stayed home. He kept expecting me to go, and I didn’t. It’s going on 4 years now, I have missed weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, and Christmas.
      He has contact with out daughter since the very beginning of her alienation of me. After all these years, he says he still doesn’t know why. Go figure.

      I so understand .

    5. Toomuchpain

      I so relate to all this…As time goes on and I get older (I’m in my late 60’s) it gets harder. Loneliness is a big issue and it has become harder for me to find purpose and truly enjoy my life. I’m semi-retired because it forces me to leave the house and have some social interaction. I seem to go through the motions without experiencing true joy. It is just overwhelmingly sad…

    6. Linda

      Wow…you just described me, another mom hurting. I don’t work, so my socialization is doctors. Hugs to you…..

    7. Sarah

      I too can relate. I’ve been trying to reinvent myself, put it in the back burner, etc… but honestly I too can’t wait for this all to end one way or another. I am no longer a mom. I was not invited to my daughter’s wedding. I will never meet my grandchildren. Life without family is no life at all.

    8. Mariah

      Try meetup.com and look for groups that interest you. Get up and get out of the house one time. The next time will be easier I promise and the next time will be easier still.

      Or, on the same sight, you can start your own support group for, specifically, Estranged Adult Children.

    9. Karen

      Hang on. Many of us in this situation feel the same and you are not alone. It doesn’t take the pain away completely but take comfort that life can change and in positive ways……

  4. Cindy

    Hi Sheri, I am recently joined your group and I was so excited this morning when I received your email. I loved the article “Going Batty” and all of the bat puns. I work at the University of Florida where we have Bat houses, so I share in your joy of these lovely creatures! I also, want to share with you, I have a friend who is new to estrangement and is struggling so discovering your book and website has been a blessing for both of us. Thank you so much! Best, Cindy

    Reply
    1. Kenan K.

      My daughter stopped speaking to me last august. Last year at this time i could barely get out of bed. I wanted to crawl into the woods and die. The ex-wives family has uniformly banished me. Finding this forum and the ‘rejected parents club’ I call it has saved my life. I am getting through this like I got through the agonizng life and ascendancy of our son, who was damaged at birth and went at three and a half years. To hear the agony of others breaks my heart so bad, so bad…Its just a horror what all of You brothers and sisters in our club have to endure. You do give me strength to press on, because most of You have it worse. You Ladies who have risked Your lives to produce Your kids…I cant imagine how bad it must be for You. I will pray for You like I weep for You…Its all so heartbreaking.

  5. Carol R.

    This was a lovely and kind reminder to take time to grieve and that solitude is not necessarily loneliness. 🙂 Your book was one of the main things that has helped me cope with over five years of estrangement from my only child. I have recently been trying to re-frame the estrangement as different paths for me and my daughter that we have to walk separately. Stay well. CAR 🙂

    Reply
  6. Máire

    I read your book the minute it arrived in the mail. And often return to it when I feel myself slip into sadness. I now have a therapist helping me with the awful loss that just comes over me like a web of pity that almost suffocates me. It’s a process and the fighter in me just can’t give up on the hope that he’ll pop back up again when he can’t take another minute with his new controlling wife. Right now I’m working on not looking back and just pointing my every being forward and keeping real busy.
    One other thing I am telling everyone one therapist, Doctor , friends about your book and especially my therapist as I’m sure she’ll have other parents who are estranged from their grown son or daughter.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  7. kathy

    Thanks Sheri, I needed this. I do a lot of cocooning. I will reread the strategies in your book so maybe I can feel more productive

    Hugs
    Kathy

    Reply
  8. Kathy V

    This was a good article. I often find that I need “alone” time just to process my emotions because they can make others uncomfortable. I am glad there are others that do this. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. MonaLisa

    This was a great article. We have to remember to take care of ourselves. I appreciate the time that I had raising both my son and daughter. But they are both adults and I have decided that I won’t let their choices affect me anymore. I now choose to put my time and energies into things that bring me joy.

    Reply
  10. Tina

    I loved the going batty article. I sometimes just want to find a hole and hide forever. This article is just what I needed to read today. I had been thinking about when my son was little and how much fun we had dressing up on Halloween. Your book has helped me so much and your articles seem to come when I need them the most. Thank you so much

    Reply
  11. kathleen

    This is the most painful experience of my life. I am 71 years old and 16 months ago my son, my only child, told me he did not want to see or talk to me. I miss him and my 3 young grandchildren.

    Reply
  12. Angie

    Some encouragement for you all, my son, who is 35 and been estranged for approximately 2 years recently contacted me and asked if he could come and stay for a few days. We got on well while he was with us and he text after to say he had enjoyed spending time with us. He seems to have grown up in the last two years.

    Reply
    1. Katie

      How wonderful! I’m glad to hear this hopeful news. I think most of these kids have other issues and we are the scapegoats. Growing up helps.

  13. Roselyn R.

    Excellent article and I can relate to everything you have written. I find just 30 minutes of alone time changes my entire attitude. I get it out of my system and then I feel back to myself again. Thank you for always picking me up. Love Ruby66

    Reply
  14. Cheri

    My Son and I have had little contact for 5 yrs. He and his wife had a baby 14months ago, the baby is our only grandchild if you can call her that, as we have never met her or even been given a picture of her. I have reached out too many times to list and been rejected and I guess the final straw was when my Son texted he wanted no relationship with anyone in the family. It has been crushing to know that this is how he feels and you can’t force someone to see how this has devastated the entire family. My husband and our other kids find it easier to no longer speak about him. I go back and forth on whether this is the right way to handle the situation but when his name is brought up, the tension and stress level and sadness is overwhelming. I pray for this little girl that she will grow up in a family that cares and is raised to be a healthy and happy child. I would like to thank Sheri for her book and it was very helpful and comforting when I was a my lowest and could not understand how this was happening to our family. I hope everyone can find their path to living a happy life and not letting the decisions of our children determine the happiness we all deserve.

    Reply
    1. snoopy62

      Hello Cheri, I’m in a sort of same situation. My oldest daugther estranged from us almost three years ago.
      She has a baby of 4 months old, we have never seen the little girl. My dayghter didn’t let us know she had a baby. It’s hartbreaking … I think that there is a long way to go in this process of greeving. I now realise that I have to accept the situation. The book of Sheri McGregor learned me a lot although I have days that I cry all day…
      It’s a double greeve, one for my daughter, the other one for my granddaughter…

    2. Linda

      I had the same situation. As soon as first grandchild was born we were cut off completely. No concrete reason, several different reasons, a new one each time we tried to re-establish relationship. Wife is very controlling and evil, he has no relationships with anyone pre-marriage. That was 11 years ago. We were a close family until he married. My husband, his father passed away 5 years ago, would not sit with us at funeral, wouldn’t let him see the grandchildren before he died of kydney cancer, never Contacts me, I have given up asking for a relationship, will let karma and God handle it, I am done ( most of the time) just an ache that doesn’t completely go away

  15. Lisa

    Hi
    I appreciate your email this morning. I no longer yearn to see my kids, I’d love to see my grandkids. I have built a fantastic life for me, I love my new family and they love me. I continually work on me so I am always my best. I went through a two year morning of loosing my grown children to being enslaved in their minds by their narcissistic father. Sadness for them so I pray. I will soon have grandbabies I can see.
    Everything works out just the way it is suppose to.

    All of my love,
    Lisa

    Reply
  16. Cindi

    I loved this article. I absolutely have to “cocoon”
    one day a week I sleep in, for starters and I spend the entire day doing what makes me happy and renews my spirit…it may be binge watching a series on netflix, puttering with yard work, etc…whatever it is, is what i choose to do (or not to do. ha!)
    putting a smile on my face during the week at work, and trying to be productive and interact well with others takes a toll on me and I need a day solely for myself to regroup or else I would be a bigger mess than I already am

    Reply
  17. Cindy

    Thanks Sheri! I needed your humor and encouraging reminders today! Cutest photo of the little fuzzy bat friend! There’s been a little progress with our oldest estranged daughter which I am thankful for! Reading your book and applying the principles has helped me in my letting go and healing journey! Our middle daughter is choosing to estrange us now and the best gift I can give myself and her, is to continue to let go and continue to grow with what makes me happy and try to not take it personally! I’m thankful for your emails and book! I appreciate reading about others who are struggling yet progressing with their healing journeys! Blessings to you today!

    Reply
  18. Ruth

    I keep your book in my bedside table and refer to it, often. It’s been almost four years since my oldest daughter cut off contact with me and her younger sister. As time goes by, I find more and more peace and comfort in my last words to her: “your sister and I are here if you change your mind and want us in your life.” I’ve come to realize that the decision to cut us off was hers and the choice to come back is also hers. I pray for that day but I live for this day. Thanks for being there.

    Reply
  19. Ellyn

    Thank you for this timely article. My sister-in-law recently passed away, and my brother has been immersed in the butterfly metaphor as he cared for Marta during the “long goodbye” of Alzheimer’s disease. My own void of estrangement from my youngest son (aged 34) is similar to my brother’s grieving process, but I never had a name for my “cocooning” behavior. I need to reread “Done With the Crying,” and really do the exercises this time. It’s a comfort to know others are going through this with me. God is good.

    Reply
  20. Laurent C.

    Thanks Sheri for this new article…I am always encouraged by them and the replies of other mums…
    I was especially touched by the reply from Jill ” It is what it is “….I face nearly the same situation after my son’s death 3 1/2 years ago and the estrangement of my 2 daughters that followed….I have 4 grandchildren that I don’t see ….
    It’s good to know I am not alone facing this situation….
    Keep on doing the good work….
    Greatings from Belgium
    Christiane

    Reply
  21. Carol

    I so needed this article today. I have been so down the past few weeks and slipped into my alone time on weekends. I bought your book and have started it but needed emotional time to process my grief. I will open your book and begin my reading again.

    Carol

    Reply
  22. Annie

    Thanks so much for all the words of wisdom.
    I’m coping quite well, but sometimes the clouds of sadness draw in and I need to read your book again,do some yoga, go for a walk and meditate. All this is my ‘first aid kit’ and it helps!

    Reply
  23. Emily

    I am three months in to an estrangement with my son, and I’m bracing myself for what I believe will be our new normal. Cocooning for me is an absolute necessity right now. I am not able to interact socially at this time. The feel of my heavy, cool blanket covering me, the glow of candles, the dim lights, surrounding myself with neutral colors and quiet…these are things that are comforting me now.

    One day I hope to return to the social butterfly I used to be, but for now, the humiliation, pain, devastation and sorrow are my dinner guests…and we are resting in each other’s company, getting to know one another, settling in and realizing that I cannot live like I used to until I fully feel this part through.

    Reply
    1. Saskia

      I am so sorry you are going through this. It is so unfair and so devastating. Be sure and find yourself the support you need. You are in the infancy of a very terrible time. Hang in there and love yourself. Take care of yourself. Journal, read “Done With Crying” and meditate, pray, exercise. I’m 3 1/2 years in, and I really didn’t think I would survive those first couple years. It’s so hard, but you are not alone. You are loved and you are important.

  24. Patti S.

    Thank you Sheri,

    Happy Halloween! I was excited to see the bat picture & your article in my e-mail today. It is so helpful. This can be a hard day for estranged parents. Memories of past fun Halloween’s pop up for me as does feelings of shame, loss & judgement but I am different now & wont let it ruin my day. I do spend time alone and use it to cocoon for self care and contemplation. I process then proceed. Your article points out the fact that their is so much we don’t know about these interesting and often stigmatized creatures. I love the parallel.
    Warm Regards,
    Patti

    Reply
  25. Toni M

    I really enjoyed your article. I have been in therapy for over 15 years and I have gained a lot of insight and coping skills in these years. My estrangement with my sons has been part of a whole family dynamic surrounded by a divorce and a control issue that was not mine but I blindly trusted in family that in normal situations would have had my back or you would think…I have learned to surround myself with people who do want me and care for my input and opinions but it took me a very long time to allow myself to even get there but it has been and continues to be a positive staple in my life even as I continue to mourn the loss of my own flesh and blood. I hope peace and comfort for all in our situation….

    Reply
  26. Brian

    I guess I’m the only father responding here. I have two adult children with no contact for seven years, despite my reaching out many times. After their mother and I divorced, I was awarded custody by two different judges. So I raised these children and never interfered with their relationship with their alcoholic mother. Once they became adults, their mother twisted their minds to believe that I took them away from their mother. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I feel quite alone because nobody can understand estrangement unless they have experienced it. It’s stigmatized, disenfranchised grief that I suffer alone. I just wanted to get this off my chest.

    Reply
    1. Kristi R.

      It does seem like a lot of moms here Brian. Thank you for speaking up. Know that you are not alone. My husbands heart is broken just as badly as mine, he is just quieter about it. I feel better knowing I’m not alone in this battle, I thought you might like to hear you’re not alone either. God bless you.

    2. Lina

      I am so sorry. Dads go through this ugly stuff too. I too My divorce happened because of my son and his wife. The chaos never stopped. I ran away, but my sons were married and on their own. One day they will realize what they have done. That’s what I keep telling myself. I have a granddaughter who lives about a 15 hour drive away. I don’t even know her. None of us do. His wife limits his time to her family. No pictures allowed. No facetime, nothing. I blame my son. He allows this to happen. We do speak on the phone, but that’s it Hang in there….

    3. Mary59

      after reading the various comments of the thread I noticed that some of the estrangements seemed to have occurred after difficult divorces. That’s what happened in my case with my young adult daughters. I found a very interesting video on YouTube which explains PAS, parental alienation syndrome by Dr. Amy Baker at a conference in Toronto. I found it very helpful to help me understand how on earth this could have happened.

  27. Marie

    Marie: I try very hard not to hurt, my relationship with my 1st daughter was at it’s best from the day she was born until about 8 years ago, she is now 50 years old. We were very close, her & her then husband didn’t have much money, I bought them furniture, all appliances etc. When my 1st granddaughter was born, she was the apple of my eye, I dressed her until she started high school, did the same for the second granddaughter, not a day went by that we didn’t talk, and most days I would go see them after work. Then she wanted a divorce, she asked if .I could pay for it and I did. My second daughter, lost a baby, three years later also went through a divorce and then a depression. I did everything I could to help daughter no. 2, and Daughter no.1 said that she made her bed & should sleep in it. She started distancing herself from me, & now she is close to her father but not me. She invites him over for dinner every Saturday but not me. My granddaughters call my house often, they only talk to their grandfather etc .etc. When all this started, I cried myself to sleep every night, then I came across (DONE WITH THE CRYING) which has helped me a great deal. I also find much comfort through prayers. I accept that things will never be what they once were, and sometimes I say to myself, maybe I wouldn’t be able to if it was presented to me. I am lonely, and when it gets unbearable, I go for a walk and I pray.

    Reply
  28. bel

    I am a twin and i have 3 children and only one of them speaks to myself and my husband.
    My twin sister has 3 children and only one of speaks to her.
    This is all too common these days and i am seeing more and more of this happening.
    I believe that our children have different values around what a parent means to them and they have all these entitlements of this is my life and i’m not going to respect nor share it with my parents.
    i have also found that you deal with what your children are doing, but the one thing that can really hurt you sometimes more is the judgement from others that have not experienced this with their own and put it back on you as a parent, saying things like it must be the way you have been as a parent ect…!!! or these people just turn their backs on your once friendship and support your children’s bad behavior.
    i thought there was a code of support towards other parents no matter what ?? WELL i was wrong.

    Reply
    1. Linda

      You sure did hit the nail right on the head. You are right! My mother had 6 children. We were all very close when we had our children. But, they grew up and you know what, they all have done the same thing to their parents. All 6 of us have ungrateful adult children who could care less about anything except themselves. I don’t understand how this could happen. We were all so close until our kids grew up and ruined all of our lives. How could this happen to all 6 of my mothers children?

    2. Kristi R

      I agree, I hear it all the time now that adult kids just don’t have a relationship with their parents. What they don’t realize is that their own kids will grow up thinking it is normal to just walk away from a relationship with parents and will likely do the same thing. So, our sons and daughters have a very high likelihood of going through exactly what they are putting us through. It’s very sad.

  29. Kristi R

    I am in year 1 of complete rejection, but it’s been 2 years of very little relationship with my daughter and 2 years of little relationship with my oldest son. My daughter has a son and I haven’t seen him in a year. In the beginning I didn’t leave my house except for work. I went through depression and honestly prayed for God to just stop my heart. Having a conversation that was more in depth than “hi, how are you?” was almost impossible without breaking down. It was just easier to stay home and hide from the world.
    I am realizing now that the sun keeps coming up, life goes on and we only get 1 shot at this life. I can’t help that I am the villain in my daughter and sons story, even though I don’t feel like I deserve to be. All I can do is continue to live the best life I can. I miss the life we had, but I don’t want to look back on my life in another 2 years and realize I missed living a life at all. I pray for them to be happy and healthy and that God will restore my family but until He does I am now committed to being thankful for the time I did have with them and so very thankful that my youngest son still wants a relationship with me. I am moving forward and living the life God gave me.
    It’s ok to take “me” time but please don’t allow yourself to hide away from the world for too long. I feel so much better about myself and my life now that I’ve made the decision to live again.

    Reply
  30. Dee

    For several months I would obsess over my daughter’s estrangement. This was a significant year, I turned 60, she turned 40 and my granddaughter is sixteen. My daughter has been estranged for seven years. Her contact with my family is very sporadic. Her father’s family on the other hand is very much a part of their lives. He had a lot of character defects and in spite of this and my trying to protect her, I am the poisonous one. He passed away so he could do no wrong now.
    I grieve the relationship I wish we could of had. I did miss my grand kids and I miss them like crazy. What have they been told about me? Would they even want to see me. I finally said I don’t want to do this anymore because I was isolated and ready to die. Didn’t feel like there was a whole lot to live for. My husband has grandchildren too. They are at least 12 hours away. It feels a little odd to being their grandma. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to pieces but for me there is the feeling of being a freak because my stepdaughters know my daughter and my story. I am alone a lot and it isn’t good for me so I make an effort to make a plan on my day off when I will be alone to do something I like, be productive.
    I am sorry we are all here. I am glad there is someone who understands to reach out to though. Hang tight, the rough season is ahead.

    Reply
  31. Martha

    Thanks to you Sheri and to all the grieving moms who shared their stories. I read every entry. Today was one of THOSE days. November 14 will be two years. I have worked hard. But today the pain is relentless. Wondering why and of course no answers.
    The email and article helped so much. Reading the notes and thoughts of other moms brought bits of peace and calm. Maybe tonight I will sleep. Love to all and thank you again for your wonderful book and for bringing moms and dads together.

    Reply
  32. Marilouise

    I thought I was mostly over the crying, sorrow & grief of losing my 2 daughters. Many years have gone by. In 1999 my youngest graduated high school and the memory of her silent treatment and coldness are still vivid. Back then, I thought she would change and get over her rebelliousness.
    My heart broke when I began reading the comments here. For the past few nights I’ve been reading and crying like it was days ago, not years. I did not know there was a place like this.
    My older daughter turned political and vegan. She “tolerated” me until I could barely stand the contempt in her voice. Trying to keep a relationship with her meant I could not be myself. I had to edit what I said to conform to her liberal views.
    I’m still a bit shocked at how I was so crushed and weeping because of reading the stories by women just like myself. My heart is still broken. I am their mommy. I love them.
    Because I wanted to die for a long time, I turned to God. I read or listened to the Bible for hours while I sewed and stayed up late. When I started feeling stronger I slowly got off Paxil. I’d been on it for almost 20 years and so I thought it was the right time. It was rough. I memorized scripture verses to help me get thru’ some ragged edged emotions and the withdrawal symptoms. My walk with Jesus is real. My faith is strong. But, finding myself crying again made me reflect why God has allowed my life to be like this. Remember when Jesus replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it.” He’d been told His mother and brothers were outside, wanting to see Him. Jesus is saying that my real family are the people who love God and do what He says. This world is temporary. It is passing away. We are eternal beings and we will have no memory of this world and the sorrows of this life. My kids have rejected the God of the Bible. But, to me Jesus is everything.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Your comments helped me alot. Only Jesus has gotten me thru over fifteen yrs of estrangement of my five children. I was the targeted parent who.left after fifteen yrs of physical and mental abuse from my husband.

  33. Cindy M.

    So many people, so many experiences. Not one is right or wrong because each is ours; we own them. I feel nothing when it comes to my 33 yr. old child.. . . Nothing! I can say I have love for her (that feels foreign) I certainly do NOT like her, except when she is drinking, she is actually nice then. Since I am sober 7 years -that is scary, (she was born with the “gene” on both sides of the family). I am also an estranged child from my mother… she however chose to shut me out this time (a blessing). My mother whispering in my daughters ear is a HUGE part of what happened. I made my amends to my child when I got sober and for a blink my daughter was nice to me (she needed someone to pay for her wedding which she asked me to leave as I made her father uncomfortable) You can pay for it but you cannot be there ??? Shortly after that I asked if she was coming over for mothers day (she wasn’t) But I could help in her gardens. I was there to pull poison ivy (I don’t get it – am not allergic). I needed to use the bathroom she asked me to go to Lowe’s 10 minutes away. I might get dirt in her (not very clean to begin with) house. That was my bottom (last straw). I asked her why she felt the need to treat me so poorly… she said “that’s it I am done” & hung . . . that was that. Now …being the daughter of an alcoholic mother I (every so many months) would stop up “trying to carry the message”. My mother would pour herself a HUGE tumbler of whiskey and GUZZLE it at 8 AM… just to state how UNIMPORTANT my sobriety is to her. **BTW- drinking at that hour is not common for her she is a functional alcoholic. I sit in meetings with countless mothers who would die for their child to be sober. My mother (& I use that word lightly) makes sure I know she doesn’t care. This was a woman who euthanized all our pets 3 separate times in our childhood to “spite” whatever husband it was that pissed her off with zero regard to her children’s heartbreak. Then again giving away our rabbits and telling us they were going to be “rabbit pie” at 7 & 8 years old is beyond emotional sickness. I suffered a ton of pain as a small child and very quickly hardened up. I had to survive. Numerous suicide attempts as an adolescent . . . God’s choice for me was life. So my POINT….. I was taught to feel nothing. I suppose this is a blessing. Thanks for reading, perhaps there is something here that can help someone.

    Reply
  34. Nancy

    Dear Sheri, Thank you soooo much. I read this all last night including all the comments. It all rang true, touched my heart and opened my mind. Some of the comments were heart wrenching, as is my own story, and some so helpful and encouraging. Yesterday I cried about how mean my daughter treats me and about not being with my grandchildren and all of the memories. I was so lonely; and being alone I cried. Later when I opened my email… You and your work have been salve on my wounds, comfort, understanding and a respite. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!!!!

    Reply
  35. Cory

    LADIES, LADIES. We have got to stop letting our children have this much control over us. It’s been a year since My daughter has not spoken to me. She has also taken my 4 grand kids from me. This website has given me so much strength to get through this past year. I have become a jack of all trades master of none. I have dipped into wreath making, rock painting, buying and selling on eBay, baking, cooking. Most importantly I have become involved in my church. Listen our children have moved on they don’t care that they have hurt us, they don’t care that we just wait and wonder when life will end. We are women of strength we cannot let one person have that much control over our us. I cried and mourned the abandonment of my daughter for 6 months. Then one day I realized she’s living a happy life (through social media) she was traveling having events in her home taking the kids on weekend outings. And here I wasting my days crying? So I said no more I refuse to let her control my feelings and life. Now don’t get me wrong I miss her and the kids, but I won’t let her stop me from living this beautiful life that God has given me. So ladies pick yourself up, dust yourself off, straighten up your crown and walk like the queen that you are. Thank you Sheri for all that you do for us.

    Reply
    1. Nancy

      Cory, I love your comment. So sound and ideal. I am taking it to heart. Thank you for sharing your strength and encouragement. It really helps. God bless you!

    2. Cindy M.

      Good for you! What happened to our world? Generations ago we never would have seen such behavior. Personally I don’t like millennial’s… I don’t! This the “tech” in my hand is more important than EVERYTHING else mentality. They can have themselves. Won’t it be interesting to see what their children do to them *REMEMBER we learn by example. I was doomed from the time I was born…my egg donor speaks to no one and has blazed a trail of destroyed marriages-family-friendships too. I had to be taught what is appropriate by my 1st boss who mothered me more in 5 years than my original “mom” did in my lifetime. I really was blessed to have known her and her unconditional love. God Bless

  36. Frank

    I was very happy to read all the comments. My only child a son cut me off two months ago. It is so painful. I let his cousin talk on the phone to him and he did not want to talk to him. When he rang me I said an inappropreiate comment and did not apologise straight away. He followed this with abusive messages over a period of time and now hates me and has rejected me. His wife is pregnant and in all his messages he has said I will never see his child. He bears grudges and does not forgive anyone. I have felt so terrible and a failure and lonely and everything. I have a very good relationship with my mum. i have lots of friends and a husband but this has been terrible as I blame myself totally for this breakdown and what I said.
    I have bought the book and am sure that will help me. I want to be ok and not feel like this as life is so short and I dont want to waste my life.

    Reply
    1. Cory

      Yes Frank this book will give you wisdom and encouragement. Embrace the ones that love you, they will be your strength through all this. God gave us our children but for awhile. I always thank God that even though my daughter does not talk to me, that she is alive and well.

  37. Patty M

    It has been a rough couple of months for me. I feel tired all the time. My daughter attempted suicide and called me from hospital. I had been very worried for weeks and new something was wrong, but she wouldn’t return my texts. I was devastated, for this was always my worst nightmare. She decided to say a few things about her childhood, but very few and I really didn’t understand. I was a single mother with her and her disabled brother. She was always angry about not having a father, but that was his choice, not mine. But I could tell she blamed me. I think she really resented her brother who needed extra help. But she was my shining star. I gave her encouragement, love, attention and financial support and after she went to college she hardly called me because “she was too busy”. I loved her with all my heart and it was a very hard time for me when she left to school. She did very well in school and in her career. But she visited us less and less and never called her brother ever, which he didn’t understand with his limitations. I look back at everything I had to do to raise my children and I had no part of me. I gave it all to them. I was a very young women when their father left. I didn’t remarry or date because my children needed all my attention. That call from the hospital was difficult. The fear and shock from hearing that she almost died and the pain that shattered me from blame and shame that left me in a fog, depression, sadness, isolation. She didn’t want me to come to the hospital which was devastating and every word I said she would find objectionable. She said she loved me, but I knew everything had changed. Since then she hasn’t spoken to me or return my calls or texts. I can’t believe that life can be this cruel to a mother. I saw this book Done with crying and this website and I felt like I’m not alone. I’m determined to get through this for my son and myself.

    Reply
  38. Lynn

    I can also relate. My daughter will be 26 and we just reconnected after 2-3yrs of next to no communication. And when there was some, it was just nasty and mean comments. I backed off and no longer reached out to her. She reached out to me after she got married last year. I had no clue. We are on better terms now but she now lives 9 hrs away. All seems well but when the past is brought up, she does get mean again. She still hasn’t accepted responsibility for actions over those years. During the time she was gone and years before, her dad/my husband and I have grown so far apart. My greatest fear now is I will lose her all over again when I decide to leave her dad. That thought alone has me frozen in an unhappy marriage; knowing I will lose her again. So I’m trying to take one day at a time to figure out what is best for me and to make myself happy. I grieved for too many years, alone, until I came across this group of parents. For that, I am extremely grateful. God Bless.

    Reply
  39. Sue

    My two sons rejected me 10 years ago whilst in their teens. Same divorce story – parental alienation. I have had brief contact in the last couple of years at my daughter’s insistence. This being grand children’s birthdays etc and there is definitely ‘an elephant in the room.
    I choose to ignore this now, attend, be pleasant but protect my mental health at all costs.
    I have a wonderful life and I am sorry my boys are missing out.
    I have been told I just have to do what they are interested in as they are not interested in my life. In fact, it was more like “they don’t give a [email protected]#t about anyone except themselves”.
    I miss the boys I once raised but am not prepared to be blackmailed.
    I am so glad I came across this book as it has given me more tools to get through and put this into perspective.
    I no longer bang on about the injustice and surround myself with those that deserve my love and energy.
    I am at peace with myself finally

    Reply
  40. Marion G.

    Thank you so much Sheri for all your work. You have literally saved my life like you have for so many of us abandoned by our children . Hugs to you. I will be forever grateful. Your forum is invaluable although I have been unable to share yet as it is still very raw. One day at a time…

    Reply
  41. 3DogDays

    As if life is not hard enough without my estranged family. Now, their self-centered narcissistic behaviors are promoted as a healthy life style?

    Reply
  42. Harriet M.

    What about a situation where a family member seems to sabotage my rebuilding a relationship with my adult
    daughter?
    This is making all of this harder for me. I am crushed.
    My sister-in-law has always been kind, loving to all of our family and I have never imagined that this would happen. I saw her pretty much as a true sister. My daughter received a call from her while my daughter and I were on the phone and I have never heard from her again–March 2018.

    I have seen her at a family gathering, daughter was pleasant. Maybe a turn for better? No, didn’t happen.

    I have said to SIL–“It doesn’t make my efforts to be with my daughter easier since you are easy for her to be with and shower her with great things.” Her reply was ” That would be hard to change.”
    I know my daughter can choose how she wants to live her life but I am puzzled, as well as very hurt.
    And aren’t we all?

    Reply
  43. Ellen C.

    Still in a void here. For the longest time, I cried and cried and hid away. Everyone said you have to step back, move on, find something to fill your time. I did, I am opening a shop, selling raw food for dogs. This is something that I thought of doing before all of the upheaval. So, here I am ‘moving forward’ but I’m not, my head is still in the same place, only now i have to pretend to even more people that my life is ‘normal’ that my problems don’t exist. My heart is in nothing any longer and although I have two special friends who will, when I am at my lowest ebb listen to my outpouring and pretend I am not becoming a real pain to listen to the emptiness is there, it is huge, it feels as raw as it did when my daughter told me to ‘fuck off’ I see no end of the pain in sight.

    Reply
  44. Loveart

    I live two lives – in the present, which I share with my partner, make art, and take care of myself health wise and in the past, where my estranged son & his family live. It’s been over a year now that I’ve been estranged from my 4 grandchildren, and 8 months since parental alienation of my other son has blocked access to my other 2 grandchildren. A year ago I finally had to admit (no more excuses for them) the terrible emotional abuse of my son & his wife and I blocked them, knowing that I’d never hear from them again.

    Thinking of my old life & how absolutely everything it was based on is gone now, stuns me. But what surprises me more is how my present life supports me. I’ve had to work hard to move forward – but I’ve also sat for days while my brain seemed to have to reconfigure my idea of what my future will be. My heart tho will always always be in that past life.

    Reply
  45. 3DogDays

    It has been several years and I have HAD IT with my fantasy of being a family again.
    One day…I just did it and I am not sorry. In a way…I feel relieved.

    No more sending$$, begging or pleading the case, I sent MY FINAL statement in a text: “Because you did not tell family the truths about your daughters molestation you destroyed me”.
    Granddaughter read it. No response. Typical.

    Narcissistic 30yr old Granddaughters have kids. As society becomes more OK with families dumping each other, estrangement could be what they will face as their girls age, question, act out and perhaps, walk away.

    I did that to my family at 14 yrs old. I only remember my sisters rape, the incest and no protection from family or church. I never looked back. I am that harmed. Those traumas in the earliest parts of my life destroyed me forever. More than likely played a huge part of the estrangements I live in now.

    I am getting more OK with the time I have left.
    3dogdays

    Reply
  46. Elizabeth L.

    I’m still in the shock and numbness phase, so I’m just being kind to myself while I work out my next move.
    My daughter forced me to leave my home in the country and move to town because she said she worried about me living alone , but she never visited or invited me to hers.
    Now she says there’s little hope of a reconciliation after the second session of a combined counselling arrangement that she suggested but refused to organise. When I organised it, she spent the time berating me both in the session and then out in public on the street afterwards, begore cancelling her session s.
    My plan? Move back home to the countryside as soon as I can. I’m making a new will and as im the last of my line now and have no other relatives, it’s all going to charity.
    I guess I’ll just reconstruct my life now and work through my bucket list, even though a large sum of my pension was drawn out early to fund my daughter’s university education.
    I hope to join this community and find the warmth I never received from the relationship with her.

    Reply
  47. Blake

    Man here with three estranged grown children and I’d guess they are estranged mostly from my ex wifes vengeful ways. It’s been 8 years of silence and that has been most of my 50’s. As I’m just weeks away from 60 I’ve gotten a lot better about it. Maybe I fool myself about getting a lot better since I do notice my thoughts going towards the estrangement often. However I don’t seem to get shut down from those thoughts anymore and so that’s good. Plus I realize much of my 5th decade of my life was spent in pain over the estrangement. I’d love to get to the place to not have the thoughts visit me anymore. A big win is realizing that I’m rather certain that I’ll never have a relationship with any of my three children. Logically- How would they be able to have the maturity to even discuss their absence and their silence during the past 8 years. I don’t believe most estranged children can face explaining such a decision. I don’t believe that children who estrange can have the maturity or emotional maturity to have such a discussion. I don’t believe they’d be able to handle my reaction as unbelievable to “whatever” reason they could come up with to decide to estrange from their father. I’d guess that I’d have a hard time hearing some crazy reason that would keep them estranged for 8 years. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t like the explanation nor would I like the sort of person who makes up some “crazy” reason and then doesn’t discuss it with their own loving father. I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t like them because in a “normal” world adult children and their parents get to talk things out and I don’t think we’d be able to have a normal “talk it out” sort of back and forth. It’s just been too long. I love who they were but those children are frozen in time at this point and who ever they are now are different people. Mostly what has helped is that regardless of the hurts that occur in my
    life I have found a way to say that I LOVE life and all that occurs in it. But I also mourned what is coming in my children’s lives- I have decided to mourn the graduations, the weddings, the children and all the decisions that they would normally discuss and share with a father. I cried a lot when mourning all of that. I often think that God gave me a choice when sending me to earth school, the choice was I’d get to experience being a father but that after 20 years it would end. …. I imagine being given that choice and I accepted that choice. That allows me to LOVE my life and my life’s path. That includes loving being a father at one time and loving myself for being able to survive the most hurtful and bizarre life experiences.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Blake, your post helped me a lot…your attitude is great and I feel the same way…its been a little over 15 years with my five children. I was the targeted parent…but I survived. I must go on living…my one wild and wonderful life.

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