The Boat

think about yourself instead of grown childrenA Grown Child’s Rejection: The Boat

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Parents of estranged children may suffer insults, be called names, and be told they never did enough. They have fond memories of their sweet children, and recall themselves as always giving. To the best of their ability, these parents were generous, kind, and supportive. But their estranged adult children tell a different story. Maybe they say these moms and dads who did their best should never have had children. They’re told they weren’t rich enough to provide graduate school, didn’t let their sons or daughters do enough when they were kids, didn’t give them music lessons . . . You fill in the blanks.

We can’t control their perception any more than we can control their adult behavior. At some point, adults are responsible for their own lives. They can blame, inflict pain and abandon us. They may leave us struggling in their wake—-but we don’t have to stay there.

We cannot go back and change the past. If we feel we have done something wrong, we can apologize, ask for forgiveness and to try again, but we can’t force our children to participate in our future.

We can make the best possible decisions now though. We can think of ourselves rather than our grown children. We can make choices to benefit ourselves, and act on them. Right or wrong, our estranged adult children have decided what they’ve decided.

Will you remain the wake of your grown child’s rejection?

Imagine your child is on a boat, and that you are in the water below. See your son or daughter dropping all sorts of poison off the back of the boat. Imagine the angry, stinking words they have flung at you. See those poisonous words hitting the water with a splash. Acrid smoke rises from them. It stings your eyes, fills your lungs so you can barely breathe. You feel as if you’ll choke.

You cough and gag. But your child isn’t done yet. A net rises from the murky depths, stretching across the open water. You can’t swim toward the boat without getting caught, tangled in a hurting web you don’t understand. Your child throws out hooks, spills out chum that attracts vicious sharks.

Dazed and confused, you call out. “Wait. Help. Can’t we talk?”  But your child takes the helm. The boat speeds away.

See the wake of the boat, feel the choppy waves, smell the acrid fumes rising from their spiteful words, and see those sharks. . . . Now, what do you do?

Do you stay in that spot, paralyzed, barely able to hold your head above water as the sharks lunge and bite at the net?

Do you wait there, expending precious energy as you tread water, determined you can fix this no matter what? The horrible toxic clouds fill your lungs. . . .

Do you swim toward the net, determined to cut through, and put yourself in shark-infested waters to follow despite your grown child’s rejection of you?

Or … do you turn, and look for a way to save yourself?

You see a shore in the distance. The beach looks lonely, and uncertain. It’s a brand new world there. Not what you expected to be facing at this point in your life. You don’t know what a future there holds.

Swim to shore.

It’s like this when our lives take a sudden unexpected turn. We can view potential shores as scary and uncertain, and decide to stay in the wake of a boat that’s left us. We might even convince ourselves that staying still, waiting for our child to come back, despite the horrible poison and threats to our survival is what a good mother or father would do. Our child will come back . . . won’t she?

The boat gets smaller on the horizon. The sharks are lunging and biting at the net. The angry words are spilling out an ugly, contaminating slick.

Despite what’s happening, we might feel compelled to swim after the boat. Isn’t following our child, despite the horrors, what a truly good parent would do?  After all, isn’t a parents’ love unconditional?

We look back toward the shore, but . . . what will others think if we turn away from our own child, and swim to safety?

Imagine yourself in the water.

Do you see the sharks? Feel the poison burning your lungs? Can you see your estranged adult child, getting smaller and smaller as the boat speeds away—-yet somehow he looms so very large?

Maybe the boat whips around, and roars close. Your child tosses out a life ring. Relieved and grateful, you reach for it—-this nightmare is finally over!

Then your child snatches back the rope.

abandoned parentsMaybe your child doesn’t yell at you from the boat. Maybe she never flung out ugly accusations. Maybe your child only sped away, and left you in open water. You’re still in their wake, growing more weary as the water closes in on you.

What do you do?

I know this is melodramatic, but when we’re faced with the utter shock of a child we have loved and supported turning on us, we can feel just as threatened. The choice we face is similar. The shore where we can get out of the water, escape the sharks and the poison may look lonely and uncertain, but what is the alternative?

Get out of the water.

Turn and swim to the shore. You may find sunny beaches, creative sandcastles, and refreshing waterfalls. Perhaps there will be a storm, cliffs to climb, or you’ll have to bushwhack to find a rewarding path. If you try though, you’re sure to find banana and coconut trees, perhaps even pineapples athink of yourself instead of grown childrennd friends.

Get out of the water. When you do, you’ll find there are people who parents of estranged adult childrencare and are willing to help. You may find yourself walking along a shore of pretty shells. And as was posted on the Help & Healing for Parents of Estranged Adult Children Facebook page recently, a passerby may ask, Shell we have a good day? How will you respond?  Get the book–and get out of the boat for good.

 

Related articles:

Emotional scars after an adult child’s estrangement

Taking Care of Yourself

Reinvent yourself

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48 thoughts on “The Boat

  1. Laurie

    i am swimming away from the boat! Done with the Crying has been a great tool towards moving forward.
    Although being estranged from my son has been one of the most heartbreaking situations I have ever been through, this book gives me some light in the darkness. There just wasn’t anything I could find to read or listen to that helped. I have been going through this struggle, with the help of a therapist, feeling as if this would never happen to me. I was and am a supportive and loving Mom although not perfect. Enter … the daughter in law! Watching my son suffer through her gaslighting has been a nightmare. Everything was fine as long as I kept giving & giving and stayed completely in my lane. Hard to do as I watched him be completely taken over by her & her family. He was miserable, having panic attacks, couldn’t sleep or eat! He went to the doctor and they ran every teat imaginable. He’d come to me and say he was going to get a divorce and stated he never loved her, she was a horrible mother etc. What do you think Mom? My answer was have you tried counseling and are you sure this is what you want? I’ll support you whatever your decision and am always here for you. Enter his wife, the next day, convincing him I am toxic to their relationship. That was the six month beginning of our first estrangement. I wasn’t able to see my 2 grandsons or go to their games. I kept in touch with the kids by taking cards to their school and when Xxx was playing in the championship baseball game (10 years old) I went. His wife’s mother came over to speak to me with disbelief that I was there. Said she was praying for me and started to relay what she’d been told by her daughter. All fiction. I held my tongue and left after the game was over… Eventually my son & I started speaking & I was able to see my grandkids on their terms which was a start. Fast forward 2 1/2 years and here we are. Those years had good times and bad. Watching as my son fell deeper & deeper into depression. He went off his depression medication as she didn’t like the fact that it lowered his sex drive. Again he wasn’t eating or sleeping and the panic attacks were more frequent. She started working selling marijuana products and was gone more than she was home. Traveling and partying ( his kids told me that their mom parties too much but has been working on that ) as my son worked from home, due to Covid, as an accountant for OHSU, took care of the kids and was struggling. Her next move, which was in February 2021 was she could be transferred to Xx ( A BIG promotion? The kids told me she would make $400,000 a year). We all live in Xxx and have our whole lives. But she needs the sun. So he conceded. They sold their house ( which I had bought for them 10 years prior).She moved a month before him & the kids joined her. In that time my son and I packed up the house. He and his kids stayed with me for 2 weeks taking care of the movers etc. He was struggling & emotional . I listened and offered no advice. The day he and his boys left he was in tears telling me he didn’t want to move. Look at it as an adventure, I said. His boys , now 10 & 12 didn’t want to leave their friends, their cousins or the life they had in Xx. It was heartbreaking. The boys told me that his wife’s parents were retiring early and moving also, which is one thing my son never mentioned to me.
    The other thing is that when I bought the house for them 10 years ago our agreement was that within 5 years they would take out a mortgage and pay me back. After 5 years they took out a mortgage, refinanced 3 times and only paid back a portion which left a large amount still owing me after the sale. I had a conversation regarding this before their house closed. I explained that they needed to pay the remaining balance owed to me. They looked at each other and said that would mean they would have to stay in their apartment for at least 2 years before they could buy a house. I said they could pay me half and set up a payment plan for the rest. We agreed to this and it made me feel like the elephant in the room had been addressed and I was OK with that.
    My son & his boys moved to join his wife. I heard from my son almost everyday and FaceTimed with the kids. I was adapting to this move & we were making plans for them to come spent a few weeks in the summer at my lake house. The kids & Xx were having a hard time adjusting to the heat, living in an apartment etc. He hated his new job & the kids missed their friends & family. His wife was constantly traveling and doing her own thing once again.
    I had not received the promised payment from the loan and knew that bringing it up would cause an issue. Six weeks after their move texted both of them. I said, now that you are settled when can I expect the check? I received a text back from my son that they never said they would give me the agreed upon amount.
    I wasn’t surprised, which says something, but I was so disappointed. This was the beginning of estrangement number 2.
    There is a lot more I could share about his wife & her parents. My heart is breaking. My son does text occasionally with my other son . They were close. He has told him he is miserable, drinking & lonely. He also told him, on a phone conversation when my other son asked him how he could treat me this way, that he knew he was being selfish and just cant deal with it right now. My other son said to him that this is killing Mom. He knows but chooses not to deal with this at this time. He will eventually. His wife continues on her path of selfishness & alienation. Her parents fuel the fire.
    So, all that being said…. Your book ( I also purchased the workbook) have helped the thought in my head & heart that this would never happen to our family . The knowing I am not alone does help.
    I am broken and trying to process.
    I have reached out a few times. I have told him that I miss him and love him. I’ve asked him to have a conversation. He texted me once. His text was was defensive, confusing & sad. I’ve also reached out to the kids with cards, texts and trying to FaceTime. Don’t get much back from them. In the texts with my son I had addressed that and he said we haven’t said anything to the kids. I responded that he had two very bright sons who overhear things between he and his wife & her parents. When they stayed with me those two weeks before they moved they had asked why haven’t we done more of this before grandma? I didn’t have to answer as the 12 year old looked at his brother and said, because of Mom.
    This is a path I never thought I would be traveling.
    Thank you for reading my reality.

    Reply
  2. swig

    I can just say WOW! Thank you for this story/analogy! I may pass this on to family and friends to help them understand what we are going through!

    Reply
  3. Jennifer

    I hope one day I can get this book. I can barely afford to feed my family right now and pay bills. But I have a feeling when I one day get this book it will help me. Ive responded to a couple of posts here and cannot even remember what I’ve said. Everything feels blurry and messy and painful and dark. I really pray I can make it alive to that island one day. That I can be happy. My other 6 kids apart from my estranged daughter can also be happy. Just because she chose to be cold, cruel and mean in her hurt and her bad choices and selfishness etc etc doesn’t mean we should all suffer with her. She has made her own selfish choices. She is not very nice to any of us but worships her boyfriend. Maybe some of you happily living on the island can grab a boat from the island and come pick up me and my 6 kids? I don’t think I’m strong enough to swim to shore with my 6 kids on my back. Love you all. -Jenn

    Reply
  4. Beth

    I am just at the beginning of the awfulness that is the loss of my son. His wife has decided that she no longer wishes to have anything to do with me and my husband. This past weekend was the 18th birthday party of my youngest daughter’s son, prior to the party my daughter phoned to tell me not to approach my son or his wife. My youngest daughter is very friendly with the DIL. So I did what I was told and did not approach them, this resulted in my husband and I sitting on our own for most of the evening as other members of my family all clustered around my son and his wife, meaning that we could not join them. I feel utterly defeated by not only my son but also my youngest daughter who also did not talk to her father or me for the whole evening. So it seems to me that whilst the DIL has decided to cut us out she is being followed by other members of the family. She must feel so good about that. Meantime our son does not contact us. I have no idea where I’m going to go next.

    Reply
    1. Workingonme

      You say you are just starting down the estrangement road, our journey began in January. My husband and I have 3 children, 2 daughters and a son in the middle. Our son broke away due to tension between his wife and my husband mostly but to some extent tension with me also although I was oblivious to it until 2 months after all this happened. They are communicating with me now but not yet with my husband. Our daughters and son in laws have been completely supportive of us and that has been wonderful. The girls live in other states but call us often and stay in touch with their brother. I hope you can find some source of strong support from those close to you, if not we are all here for you. I spent months seeking sources online to educate myself and many sleepless nights and days spent in a daze. At some point I came up for air. In May my son finally asked to meet with me to tell me why “he was furious”. I listened mostly (totally unnatural but that’s what we are supposed to do) and pushed back gently on just a few points of his. That night I put a plan together of a few things that were in my control to do to improve the situation. Primarily a sincere apology that wasn’t for any particular thing but was heartfelt and general. I did it for myself, so that I could say I had done what I could. It apparently made a difference and occasional communication began to come my way. This journey isn’t over but the landscape changes from time to time. Most everything I read early on encouraged me to self assess and work on me so that I would be someone worthy of having a relationship with. I’ve been trying to do that and If nothing else happens at least this fork in the road may make me a better version of myself. Praying for you Beth.

  5. Toni

    I am so grateful for this book, and these posts!! My daughter, her dad and I had a falling out. I said cruel things to her, and now as a result she has disowned her family. I totally regret and am completed devistated by my moment of bad parenting! One sentence, ended my relationship with my daughter. I only spoke the truth to her, but will probably pay the price forever. I have profusely apologized, via letters and texts with dead silence in return. I am in the water right now, totally hating myself and sometime I feel like the worst person to exist.
    Again, I am so grateful for your posts. I am sorry for all of us, and I am sorry that we have to be in this, but at least we are not alone!

    Reply
    1. Barb

      Dear Toni, I believe all these angry adult children are unhappy with how their own lives have turned out and blaming us their parents is the easiest way to relieve their anxieties, I like you constantly wonder what I could of done differently ,but being punished by their absence is unacceptable, we did everything for our kids too, they can call us crappy parents well I call them crappy kids, and with God’s help I will strive for happiness with or without them, best of luck to you!!

    2. Helen

      Dear Toni, I am new here, but can relate to your pain. You are not a bad mother! You are human. One sentence should not end a parent/child relationship. She may have been hurt or angry by your comment, but she should be adult enough to express her feelings without cutting you out of her life.
      My daughter has had a falling out with my husband and myself. The uncertainty about what to do is awful. She tried to take her life and our intervention and subsequent actions have led her to tell us that “we crossed the line.” She will not speak to us and has told us to stop reaching out. I too, am in the water, not sure which way to go. I’m fearful that she may try again and this time we won’t be there to stop it. But I can’t tread water forever, I know I need self care in order to be there should she decide to contact us.

  6. Reena T.

    I cried reading all the comments and now I feel I am not a bad mom. My daughter left home, without telling us, on her 18th birthday and moved in with her boyfriend who is 8 years older to her and has a 8 year old daughter. They leave half way across the country. The only time she talks to me is when she needs money. She says she wants to get a degree and I pay for her expenses. But the verbal abuse of we are not good parents, we never did anything for her, our family is not normal, we never celebrated birthdays etc etc. breaks my heart. I think I am still in the wake and am still hoping things will turn around.

    Reply
  7. Sherrie

    I’m new here but not new to the heartache over having an estranged daughter for over 14 years. One day I’ll share my story, but for now its just nice to know I’m not alone. Today is Mother’s Day, the most dreaded day of the year for me. I’m doing what I can to stay positive and not wallow in grief over a lost child. Thanks for sharing all of your stories and experiences. It does help just to know there are others in the boat with me going through similar experiences.

    Reply
    1. Barb

      Dear Sherri, Birthdays holidays and especially Mothers Day is extremely painful for me as well, so my husband and I have decided that on the Birthday of our son we celebrate by going to our favorite restaurant, we cannot change what our kids do or think, but we can strive for our own happiness, and give our adult children’s lives to a higher power,best of luck to you!

    2. Theresa

      Dear Sherrie,

      I am new here as well. My son has recently removed himself from his father and me. This was the first Mother’s Day since he made me a mother that I had zero contact from him. It broke my heart. I have since read the “Done with crying Book” and read everything I can on this subject. It is comforting to know that I am not alone but it is so painful at the same time. I hope you are doing well. I just needed to respond to you and let you know that you are not alone. Take care.

  8. Annie

    That constant sinking feeling, impending doom. Its been 12 years, both my son & daughter. Like everyone, its a very complicated story. I heard my girl was pregnant, of course I wanted to know this but also I didn’t, as it means another person I’ll miss out on, my first grandchild. Well she delivered a baby boy on 6th March, third hand information told me he had complications 24 hours after birth, he lived 15 days and died 3 days ago. All I know of my first grandchild is that he was a boy & his name was Xxxxxx. I’m already heartbroken from loosing my kids I so love, now there’s a grandchild never to be met. My daughter & her fiance, who I’ve never met, will now be soaked in their own grief, a grief I wish on no one. I’m still swimming, I just don’t drown as often now. People are cruel, very few understand the situation of an alienated parent unless they themselves are one. You must’ve done something ? What happened etc .. as though you can answer in one short sentence. The devastation continues, I really don’t understand how anyone can “move on” when their own children who they’ve loved completely & devoted their lives too as they grew up, now refuse to have anything to do with them. I miss them so terribly, I cannot possibly just pretend they don’t matter any more. I also can’t hope anymore, they’re not coming back & if she did, I’d wonder what the next mouthful of abuse would be .. or has she grown out of that stuff ? So much more to this story .. constantly drowning, not always wanting that next breath. I’m not real tech savvy, not really sure how any other links work, like the website ? I tried clicking on the fb page but it said it wasn’t available ?

    Reply
    1. Charlotte D.

      For myself, I have to try and forgive all the ugliness. That means, for me, letting go and hoping that my son and his family are happy. We can’t choose our family can we? And despite giving and giving and giving …adult children can find it so easy to take and take and give blame for perceived character flaws or errors in parenting to the ones who raised them. It’s baffling how his sister has a very different take on things. So, while I know we of course are not perfect, I know we were and are good parents. And I believe, if we are to be blamed in any way, it is fir raising a very selfish human being. We choose life and happiness. I know I will miss my son and his family from time to time, but we will not be abused by him or especially by his wife anymore. We are moving on and will not feel guilt or shame for that.

    2. Jennifer

      My feelings are the exact same as yours Annie. Reading all of these stories and parents sharing their feelings and experiences is so so comforting to learn I am not alone. But going to that “island” to find pineapples and bananas and new friends and think about ME and not my daughter. Feels so FAKE. For me as a mom I could never be really genuinely happy living for “me”, knowing the daughter I birthed and raised and loved dearly for 18 years before she left my life….is just going to be radio silence forever. The parents that find the strength to be happy again and just “move on”…I honestly understand that it is a survival method it seems, but I just can’t seem to figure out how to truly and practically and realistically accomplish that. Im just trying to express I feel the same as you. I cannot imagine HOW I could ever be truly happy, feel whole or be at peace with myself, with my daughter gone. It almost feels like she died. Any parent whos child dies calls for incredible mourning and many stages of grief. The final stage of grief being acceptance. Well that is in actual death. This feels like actual death, but I know she is not dead and is indeed living happily with her boyfriend and that is all she cares about herself and him. Point is she is alive and not dead. I cant find a place of “acceptance” for myself, of her being gone. How could any parent accept that and truly be okay with it. Again. I think I get it. Because I try it. To be happy. I have 6 other children outside of my estranged daughter and I try to focus on those great relationships. But every christmas, my birthday, her birthday, mothers day or even if me and my children are out at the beach all together swimming and laughing having fun….I am dying inside. My smile isn’t truly 100%. It is 50%. Because my daughter is part of me. Since the days when I felt her growing inside of me, her toddler days and diapers days the endless and countless memories as she grew up, great memories, that flood my heart. I just think she should be HERE at the beach swimming having fun wirh me and her siblings, that is what is right and good and where she belongs! And even though no one likes her bf being him along too, we will tolerate him because we love her. Thats one of the things I know hurts her and she hates that we dont like him. He got her onto drugs and well so much more and good reasons why he isnt liked. But I tried genuinely to get along with him anyways -for her, because she is going to choose her person as an adult it is her choices. Just like her choice to block me out of her life was an adult choice. Like everyone else here my full story is very very long and would take a novel for me to explain everything. Its just so sad that I cannot see myself truly ever being happy unless she comes back. But what if she did come back and it was never the same again? She has hurt me so so deeply intentionally with cruel mean words….that sting me anytime I recall them. I don’t trust her at all anymore and that is needed for a healthy relationship. I need an apology from her if she came back. And is that even ever going to happen? I wish it. I do wish I could live the advice given here, which is basically to love myself and accept my child has made her choice and move on. I mean I am trying to do that! With everything in me! For me personally my faith as a christian helps me cope a lot, by praying a lot asking God to help me and give my daughter to God to work out everything in her, because I cannot do it in my own strength anymore. Its going on 2 years her silence now and it feels like a nightmare, like this can’t be real&just wish I could wake up and discover it was all a bad dream. I know it hurts my other children as well to see me hurt and they hurt missing her too, some of them are a but angry with her for how she has treated me-which honestly makes me feel good that someone is defending me…this is why I try even harder to be a “happy mom” for them. Most days I can say I am managing pretty well, doing day to day life stuff. But the deeper truth is, there feels like a black hole in my heart and its a very dark void without my baby girl by my side. I will do things like look up on google when do estranged daughters usually come back? It says 3 years so then I think to myself okay so maybe one more year? It’s ridiculous the torment I put myself through!! To all the parents that found the painful strength to find their own happiness and move on, I wish I can be like you, genuinely. Cause it feels literally impossible for my happiness to be genuine with out my daughter. Like Ive wanted to take a family photo of me and the kids and I just cant consider it a family photo with one child missing! Its just not fair. It’s really just not fair. I hate this and I just want it to end. Im just so tired of all the pain. Thanks for listening. And thank you to everyone sharing their stories. We are all in so much pain and it really really SUCKS. Sending every parent/guardian here so much LOVE. -Jenn

  9. Patricia C.

    Our adult daughter was estranged from us for the better part of 20 years. Not just her parents but eventually over time everyone that she ever knew, her siblings extended family and any friends. We never knew half the time if she was okay, and that for me was the hardest part. The details are very similar to the other posts and I was blindsided because to me she was the perfect daughter. I did everything that I was told to do, reached out over many years, was in therapy and followed everyone’s advice. Silence was the response. After 14 years and the birth of a new grandchild I stopped what I was doing and let go. Shortly after that my son-in-law contacted us to see if we wanted to see our grandchild . It was then that we finally got back in contact. Today I have a wonderful relationship with my grandchild and talk with her almost every day. If I had it to do over again I would not have continued for years to reach out. It was best in my case to let go because the pain and unbelievable shame over those years was almost more than I could bear. There were times when I didn’t know if I would survive but I never stopped praying for them and believed that I would someday see my grandchild. I have no advice for anyone in this situation because each person’s journey is different but to have hope because that is what keeps us going.

    Reply
  10. Veronica D

    Incredible analogy, and had an arrow pointed straight at me while I sank. He’s harbored anger since I divorced his father, nearly 17 yrs ago. His verbal abuse, mocking, threats, maligning, judging were too much, he’s 28 married & my 6 yr old granddaughter is the real casualty. I had to draw the hard boundary once & for all just this past October. Zero contact. I’m 100% certain he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’ve tip-toed, walked on eggshells etc. far to long. I was extremely close to my DIL, but zero contact for obvious reasons. What breaks my heart the most is my 21 yr old son, whom I had a great relationship decided to “join” him & refuses to speak to me now. My Christmas gift box for my granddaughter was returned to sender. I’ve lost both sons, my DIL & granddaughter. That’s all I have. My entire family is deceased, parents & both sisters. I obsess over it constantly. This is so difficult. Right now, I feel stuck in the water..

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Veronica,

      I’m very sorry that you’ve had to endure this abuse, mocking, threats, maligning, judging…

      In finding this site and posting here, you have begun to swim to shore.

      HUGS,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Lynne R.

      Veronica big hugs to you..I know exactly how you feel and where you are..almost the exact scenario for myself,..2 children a boy and girl, divorce that started out amicable, but dads new wife’s attempt at alienating me severely damaged my kids..my son close with dad, absolutely created NPD for him..remarried to have another child 10 years later, he helped contribute to that divorce, and just horrific to me over the years, even a physical moment, would use me when stuck time and again sucking me back in, to then abusively disconnect even gleefully when I was no longer needed, I finally lost it about 7 yrs ago and fought back, and hadn’t seen him nor grandson for years, untill my younger sons wedding 2 years ago whom I have a great relationship with, and attempted to start trouble targeting me there but my youngest stopped it..since then my daughter had done the same thing on and off over the years, was not “as” abusive and would stick around longer, however always the same result..the minute im not needed or crisis resolved, just emotionally and verbally vile while kicking me to the curb as she has now done for 3rd time, and cutting off from grands..and now..my newly married youngest living out of state and bright spot as remained neutral has decided to move back home, and closer to them, I can see the mind poisoning taking place, and as my daughter even threatened me losing all 3 of them in one of her vile filterless verbal beatings..so..I am stuck also in a present pond while at the same time fearing once I do get to shore, will some how get now thrown back in, and with the final and best of my kids being lost due to this evil deep seeded anger and contempt towards me as well and anticipated manipulating by the others..

    3. Sue

      Hi Veronica! My ex husband is a covert narcissist and my only child hated him. He told her we were divorcing and she just turned on me… he has the money and I don’t. I spent two years just trying to work it out… I was so close to her. However the verbal abuse and lies have been staggering and I strongly believe she is just like her dad. There is not one ounce empathy and between them they broke me… BUT I decided to leave; full of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. I believed I was to blame for it all. I tried to make things right but was met with silence then more abuse. So I carried on my swim to shore (with arm bands ). I’ve landed on a new island, remarried and have a wonderful step daughter who is actually nice to me!!!! I’m the mum she always wanted!! My only other family is my dad who is 86! So I moved him closer to me… now I’m a wildlife photographer and the business we set us is doing so well… I’m continually trying to retrain my thinking to look at what I’ve created and understand that it wasn’t all down to me… my daughter isn’t a very nice person; something inside is missing. I couldn’t fill that void inside, nothing is ever enough. I can’t face another twenty years of battling with this pain… it won’t ever go but it’s down to working on acceptance and making room for the good stuff however small. You can do this, it’s so worth fighting for yourself ❤️

    4. Barb

      Dear Veronica, although my story is different, it’s very similar in alot of ways, I feel this is a trend and I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories besides this site. This has changed my happy-go-lucky personality to a negative, resentful person,don’t get me wrong i work hard at finding happiness, but a person can only take so much, I wish I had answers for all of us, but unfortunately I don’t, I will however include you in my prayers and thoughts and I wish you all the happiness you deserve!

    5. Blümchen

      This too shall pass ; you will feel better again !!
      I agree I can’t just totally give up hope but I can let Him be who he is ,
      at this time he is my son that most of the time ignores my reaching out or is very dismissive ; unkind etc
      He had a difficult childhood his father was an alcoholic, drug addict and abusive to both of us ;
      I divorced his father after that he wouldn’t have contact with his Son because they were supervised visits and when my Son was 13 his father died of an overdose ;
      So I know mySon did not receive what he deserved as a child , but I also know I was as a good mother under very difficult circumstances !!
      2 years ago when I visited him ( had to stay in hotel ) for a long weekend out of state we did have a 30 min conversation where I thought finally I broke through his armor he felt so close but once I left things went back to the usual ignoring not responding etc ,
      Finally at that point to accept what is and let him be !!!
      It is time I live fully regardless of this cross I have to carry !
      GOD and all my beautiful Mom friends on this website give me strength and peace
      Acceptance of a situation doesn’t mean we agree with it or like it but acceptance stops the interior constant battle against a situation we truly have no control over !!
      So just for today I will respond different and will be at peace
      Much love ❤️

    6. Jennifer

      Your post made me cry. Your pain is so tangible in your words. I am so so sorry 🙁 And I can relate in my own way in my circumstances. Sending you so much love. -Jenn

  11. Alyson

    I can’t tell you how much this analogy of The Boat helped me. It expressed beautifully.exactly how I felt. Almost six months on from the rejection and accusations, I can say that I am on my way to ‘the island’ and ready to explore the new chapter of my life.
    My husband too, has been greatly encouraged by the emails and acceptance which joining this group has brought.
    Thank you again.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      You give me hope. That maybe. Just maybe I one day will find a way to access that island. Right now it feels impossible. I feel like I’d rather just drown. But I have 6 other children outside of my estranged daughter, so I go on for them. The sad thing is I don’t feel like I am living for me at all. Im just so hurt and so broken. Ive lost so much. Not only my daughter even lost other family member and my now exhusband to a horrific mental illness. I just want the pain and drama to end. But I still hold onto hope.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear Jennifer,

      I’ve read through your comments to this article. One day, I hope you will read through them again. You have many insights as to why choosing to take charge of your life is the wise choice. Now, concentrate in how, a step forward at a time.

      I’m sorry you have had to endure so much loss. Mental illness can be so very unforgiving and the losses involved pure, white hot pain. These illnesses often have a strong genetic component as well.

      Please take good care of yourself. As you can, stay in the present. It’s easier to enjoy the good things and loving relationships that way.

      Hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

  12. Harmony57

    I have to learn yet to stop chasing after that boat. My 30 year old son eloped with my 26 year old cousin. Her parents which are my aunt and uncle love the idea of my son being married to her. I tried to accept it first until my cousin wanted a wedding shower but only for people over or at least 21 for alchohol at my home. I said fine but my youngest sons girlfriend has been living with us and shes 20. My cousin said no she can’t be there. I did the wrong thing I called her a bitch. I apologized sent snail mail letter email texts begging for forgiveness. No response. I called my son and said I was sorry he said my cousin does not forgive hardly at all. I got mad and said you went from a working girlfriend who had one gifted boy for 7 years. He helped raise her child from 1to 7 years old to a woman who does not work with 2 children from a previous relationship who is my cousin. One of her kids is special needs. My son now supports her and her 2 children. I went to counciling because of my constant crying about it. I apologized many ways snail mail phone messages. Gifts on all their birthdays and Christmas. Now I only send gifts to the kids. My husband gets a text from our son thanking him. My husband says it’s your mom who does this and wishes he would make up with me. For awhile my husband would meet him out for dinner once a month and kept saying you need to make up with your mom after8 months my husband stopped seeing him. He told my son this has been going on too long. My son no longer contacts him. It’s been 18 months now. I asked my aunt to pray for a reconciliation between me and my son and daughter she said I only pray for healthy relationships. My 2 other sons and daughter still see him but just him not his wife and kids but not very often. This site is wonderful. I ordered the book and workbook. Cant wait to get started

    Reply
  13. Regina

    This has opened my eyes. Our daughter left completely in the face of unemployment and the pandemic. With a final f you Dad, she sewed to our other son about our insensitive
    Natures. It was all reaction.
    She leaves her special needs brother and family. We’ve never abandoned her. Never. We have standards of respect towards her special brother and am wondering if I never held the same standards for her. Have so many questions.
    We do our best.
    We wish her well. We cannot fall apart ourselves.
    Have a sister who did this to my Mother for the last three years of my mother’s life.
    I suppose people can only process so much in different mental states and times in life. This is all pouring from my broken heart.
    Finding a way forward. Thank you for being here.

    Reply
  14. Diane

    How can this happen ? I’ve asked thousands of times. I’m reading your book and it’s early stages yet but can’t really swim to shore even though I want to.
    My son married a women who has mental health issues. She took on my granddaughter at 4yrs old. She never cared for her and has led her a shocking life of bullying which we have had to witness. Our son just ignores it.
    I asked to talk with him on his own to tell him I’m worried about the granddaughter. He exploded and swore at me then sent a text saying he did not want to be our son anymore…goodbye.
    Our Granddaughter is having counselling and they nearly broke her. We see her even less now as the stepmother has her on tracker, when she is here she rings her up !! Very controlling. I think they both will loose her in the end.
    I have no feeling for either of them only granddaughter. Who is struggling with her mental health.

    Reply
  15. Stephanie W.

    I can’t go into full details of my story as it spans many many years and is far too complex.
    For me I go so long living my own life which is really good and then I decide to swim towards the boat which results in my old wound being open yet again,my tears are the tears I could get drowned in and I could disappear into my own wound.
    This is how it feels.
    I am so scared to swim to the shore but for years I know this is what I need to do.
    I need to save myself once and for all.
    All the backwards and forwards doesn’t do me any good at all and affects my mental health and overall wellbeing.

    Reply
    1. Regina

      I’m doing the same right now, I’m guessing the shore is hope for myself. The boat is hope for my relationship.
      My daughter is good and I can’t give up hope yet. Inching there, with my husband.
      The best to you.

    2. Finished

      Yes, you need to do what’s best for you. I’m done with my son. Should have done it years ago. I’m doing it for my mental and physical well being. We need to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, who will?

    3. Blümchen

      Boy can I relate to that !!!
      What makes me think that this time will be different ; this time the sharks will not bite , but they always do …
      If the boat wants to come to the island with a peace flag that would be grand , but I surely need to stop swimming after that toxic boat !
      We do need to be gentle with ourselves ; we can always start anew and do it different !!
      Much love ❤️

  16. Mirna

    Wow I’m just in tears reading everyone’s nightmares from they’re estranged adult children and it’s so true it’s not just the parents suffering it’s the siblings too. My 14 year old daughter had a very difficult time because she just couldn’t understand why and she also blamed herself, since there was a couple of times that she had to tell on my son because she would catch him stealing from us. So when he turned 18 he left home by that time my husband and I were having problems with my oldest daughter, not talking to us and not letting us see our grandkids. Found out later that she had a lot to do with the way my son was treating us. It’s been over two years since they both stopped talking to us and not just that, but the lying of how bad my husband and I were. My heart is broken and I can’t understand why. It’s time to move on I want to live again and not feel guilty about it.

    Reply
  17. DeLynn S.

    My boat experience was being flipped off the side into the murky water, while my daughter’s husband threw dangerous weapons, and hurled unspeakable abuse. She never turned back.

    Reply
  18. gjc

    This analogy really captured my attention. My son has increasingly distanced himself over 15-20 years to the point of zero contact. But along the way I have been blamed for his drug abuse, his father’s dementia, his falling out with his friends etc etc. While I know his accusations are not based in reality I keep feeling challenged by others as to why I have no contact with him now. The boat has sped off!

    Reply
  19. Fio

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article and intend to get the book………just discovered this site and this is something that i really need. It’s been 2 years since my daughter has stopped wanting anything to do with me and I am now starting to walk to the shore, away from all the trauma and chaos and awful words sent my way. It’s hard because she has chosen to put all the blame on me and not her father who she reaches out to and who really does not understand my position. Now, I just avoid any conversation to do with her.
    I know her mental health issues have alot to do with her behaviour, but discipline has to also play a role.
    Her disability whether it’s borderline personality disorder or whatever it is should not allow her to treat me as she has. The shore will be a better place………thank you for this site, wish I had found it long ago!!!!

    Reply
    1. Diane

      Fio I can empathise, I always thought …a son is a son till he takes a wife a daughter a daughter all your life ! Not so in many cases so I’m reading.
      What a sad world we live in …do they know how cruel they are ?

  20. Andrea

    I have been swimming toward the boat for the past several years. I get close and even grasp at the life preserver she tosses my way, but to no avail. I feel now that I am drowning and must do something to save myself. My experience is a little more confusing for me because for years my husband has not experienced her rage and lies. She does not treat him with the contempt that she has for me. In his mind, until just recently, he had thought we were merely having disagreements and that maybe I am inflicting insults at her. He finally came to my defense and she tossed him over the side of the boat! Now there are two of us in the polluted sea. Unfortunately, he still wants to keep swimming toward the boat, I have had enough. There are three absolutely adorable grandkids involved and we are very bonded. I just pray that they won’t be emotionally scarred by all of this! We live a half a block away from them and the kids have spent an immeasurable amount of good times with us! The heartwarming time with the kids have counter balanced the pain she gives me, but I fear she is forbidding the kids contact with me now. I just bought Sheri’s book last night, so hopefully in time my broken heart will mend.

    Reply
  21. Alison B.

    This analogy has really hit home with me today. It is EXACTLY how I have felt. I am currently reading Sheris book. I’m only on Chapter 3 and am well on my way to swimming to that shore. I am a Mum of 2 daughters. My youngest has not been in touch for 3 years and up until last month I was floating in that water. Waiting and waiting for my baby to rescue me. Not any more. I have my eldest daughter who is a god send to me. She too has suffered so much missing her sister. She even sent a video of her unborn baby who is due next week to her and yet nothing.
    With the help of your stories and the book. I really am at that point now where swimming to the shore is exciting. I mean that in the sense of exciting that I can feel happiness again and I am lookong forward to finding those cocunut trees, beautiful sands and new beginnings. I will always have that hope that maybe one day I will see her again. But for now I’m determined to live my life, explore my new island and accept she is an adult who makes her own decisions. xx

    Reply
  22. i will always love them

    i am s till suffering shock of what she has done. she took away my grandkids, and forced her husband to do the same to me. he actually likes me. but she made him choose. she did it because she was a victim of manipulation from her father (my ex) who had a 2 year affair on me behind my back. it is a complicated web……even if she was manipulated she is an adult and can think like one and choose to focus on all the love i gave her, rather than support the lie that her narcissistic “rabbi” father is a righteous person and i am the one to blame…..but she has chosen to uphold the lies and turn away from me. i will be swimming to shore shortly. i still have decided to have a relationship with my grandkids in thought, and spirit. i pray for them, think of them, and hope for them. and that still keeps me connected. my child? she is far away on a lost island right now.

    Reply
  23. Donna C.

    Oh wow … this analogy so aptly describes my experience. Very few angry words directed at me – to my face. Complete lockout of the lives of ED & ES. It wasn’t just me left gasping in the wake of their boat it was also their 4 younger siblings.. completely guttered and bewildered we have each had to make the painful decision to swim assure. In my case I have swam ashore and then swam back out into the chaos many times. And my poor hurt and broken children (younger 4) have had to go through this too. Its not just Mum or Dad… it effects everyone who loves any of us.
    7 years into total block out…. several years of coming and going before that and now I am done!! its been harrowing but as I climb onto my shore for the last time and stand up and get on with building my ‘new’ normal life… my four younger ones are able to do the same. Thank you for this article and I to would love to see the artists impression…

    Reply
  24. Carolyn7915

    It has been 4 years since my only child “terminated” our relationship. When I find myself thinking about her in a longing way I remind myself that she most likely isnt thinking about me in that way. Helps get me back in my own life/lane.
    I also find myself thinking about her less and less.

    Reply

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