Understanding estrangement: Countdown takeaways

understanding estrangement
Understanding estrangement and yourself:
Countdown Takeaways

By Sheri McGregor

My intention for the Countdown to the New Year series has been to engage you for your own wellbeing. From all the comments, it seems a success! Thank you for participating. I have loved reading l your insights! Here, on the last day, let’s first do a short review, then move on to my overall takeaway—and yours.

December 24—Recognizing and understanding estrangement’s influence on you and your outlook helps you Turn! Turn! Turn! to this new season of life. You can “accept” estrangement without agreeing with it. In acceptance, you can shift gears, turn a corner, and move forward for your own health and happiness.

December 25—Mastering peace in the chaos of estrangement, is a valuable skill worth pursuing for our own well-being. Peace is achievable.

December 26—Coping mindfully can include pastime activities, allowing the struggling mind to rest. For early momentum, understanding estrangement means finding a “good enough” answer to why estrangement happens. But understanding estrangement is a process. Just as the last puzzle pieces coming together provide a sense of completion, identifying cultural influences or family patterns brings closure. My latest book, BEYOND Done, has sections to help.

December 27—Having something to look forward to fuels purpose and meaning. Even the tiniest things that bring us joy, and engage the mind and heart, improve our lives. You were encouraged to find something to look forward to and share.

December 28—You rose to my challenge by choosing a word or phrase to set a positive tone or theme for the New Year. By focusing on a word or phrase, even out loud, helps you shift away from estrangement pain and toward your future. Make it bright.

December 29Parents are people too, and just as socks pulled from a multi-pack never fit back quite the same, you might not either. Even in reconciling, parents must—for their own well-being—consider their needs too. Walking on eggshells doesn’t work. As one mother said, eventually the shells become like broken bits of glass. Remember the acronym—WOE—a fitting description.

December 30—Knowledge is only power when we utilize what we learn. The year in review exercise tasked you to consider each month or season and derive lessons for your own life and future.

December 31—We’ve arrived, and I’m late. It’s 11 a.m. as I write this post, and some of you have already asked why you can’t access today’s article. I’m sorry! The truth is, I was so engaged in activities yesterday—visiting sites in a nearby historic district in this huge “gold country” part of California where I’ve moved—that I lost all track of time. Arriving home after dark I felt easy and refreshed … but also tired. So, instead of heading to the computer to dream up a new post before midnight, I went off to bed.


I planned to do the Countdown to the New Year series a month ahead. I got started on its purpose  … but didn’t get too hung up on what to write or how to say the message. For each one, I sat down with an open mind and a giving heart—and poured it out, quickly! That explains why one of the articles and two of the newsletters in the last week contained typos (sorry! – and thank you, sincerely, to the readers who pointed them out). I didn’t know what I’d say each day, and probably could have done better, but you know what? I was engaged, present in the moment, and enjoying my job.

As announced at the outset, the Countdown was intended for “fun” and for us to “enjoy” the last, sometimes long and boring, week of the year. I did have fun, and judging from the comments and email feedback, many of you did too. However, a few readers protested the very idea of fun or enjoyment. I feel for them. I remember suffering emotional pain so thick it felt like life would never be fun again. There was a sense that no one understood, and I get that.

The reality is that estrangement is devastating. It’s not easy for a parent who has spent a lifetime devoted to the well-being of children to move forward for themselves. But wasting our lives waiting, pining, and dwelling on the pain helps no one—not ourselves and not our children.

I recognize that there are phases of estrangement. The early daze can be so fogged over with sadness and shock that any path out is obscured. But as time goes on, parents must recognize they have a choice. Get the support and encouragement needed to climb out and move forward, or remain stuck in an ever-deepening rut we only dig deeper with negative thinking and dwelling on distress. That’s what my first book, Done With The Crying, with its gentle, caring tone, is all about helping you to do.

What is your choice? For today, tomorrow, next year?

For now, let’s close out the Countdown series with two things. The first is a video showing pure, unadulterated joy. When is the last time you found something so fun that you were immersed in the moment and so engaged that you didn’t care whether you looked like a fool? I wish for more moments like these for you … and for me.

The second video is pure beauty, fitting for the close of a year.

My takeaway for the Countdown had less to do with the messages than the act of creating them, and it’s a mix of these videos. While engaged and joyful, I know that I probably won’t achieve perfection—and it’s okay. There might be a typo, or my immediate word choice, though never intended to, might even offend someone. The reality is that some people will always see me as a jack*ss. Others will find joy in my enthusiasm, recognize the sum of my work for parents of estranged adult children as smart and even beautiful, and see that my overall message comes from a place of understanding. And that the message is sensible and fits.

For parents of estranged adult children, going forward, I hope you will strive for and find moments of pure joy. Just because someone calls you a jack*ass doesn’t make it true. And even if, for a few moments, in your unadulterated enthusiasm you look like one . . . it’s okay.

Here are the videos:

Happy New Year to everyone!

What’s your takeaway from the Countdown? I’m bucking around, kicking up my hooves in anticipation.


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40 thoughts on “Understanding estrangement: Countdown takeaways

  1. Elizabeth L.

    Well, belated happy new year to everyone! Been busy negotiating my next home, but it brought up a shocking surprise.
    I found a nice place in the centre of town, went to the estate agent and they asked the reason why I am moving to that particular town.
    When I told them that I know the town from when I used to visit my daughter and go to the book, science and music festivals, they asked me where she had lived
    I told them, only to find out that they were handling the sale of her old flat!
    I’d no idea she was even still connected with that town, as she moved away two years ago.
    She’d been renting it to a colleague. It wasn’t even advertised till this week, yet there I was, before Xmas, enquiring about a place of my own.
    So, here we are , walking in parallel universes in the same place still.
    However, her place will be gone soon, I’ll be living my best life in a mentally stimulating environment, I won’t be bumping into her on the street, thank goodness.

  2. Dave

    Happy New Year to All!
    I am new here and have just started reading Done with Crying and thought I would share why I’m here and start reading the book.
    I am a divorced dad and almost 2 years ago(March 9,2020 after returning back from a spring trading trip to Florida) my son now 17, and my best friend decided he no longer wanted to talk to me or have anything to do with me, and it’s killing me to say the least. Luckily I have a great relationship with my ex-wife and she is just lost and doesnt know what to do either.
    I have very little contact with him but occasionally I will get a response from a text that is just nasty with foul words and bitterness. I did sit with him and his mom almost a year ago to figure out what’s going on and what I heard through his anger was that all the fun things that we did as father and son he threw back at me and basically said I f- up his life.
    I took everything that he said and put thought to a lot of it and I ended up writing a letter of acknowledgment(Time to Surrender) with the help of a LSW who guided me. The letter explained my challenges as a divorce dad and how I could of been emotionally stronger. I sent the letter to My two older daughters and my son , my son never acknowledged it.
    I have since made attempts to send text messages,mailed thinking of you cards and I get no response.
    This was my second holiday year without my son and I am starting to realize that I have to focus more on me because I feel it’s kind of put me in a hole…

  3. Lisa R.

    Hello, Everyone,

    A belated Happy New Year to all. I am relatively quite new to this list but I have to thank every single one of you for your posts and support. Your willingness to share difficult thoughts and to open your hearts to other parents show how caring and compassionate you are.

    Thank you, Sheri, for your book(s). I have gotten through the first half of Done With the Crying, but it has taken me several weeks to do so. It’s been painful and helpful at the same time. I know that ultimately the stories, explanations, and exercises in this book will help me to move beyond the heartache of estrangement. Remaining stagnant in the situation I was in with my ED was slowly killing me, and I know for certain that moving on is absolutely necessary. It will just be a long process for me. Thank you so much for everything you are doing here.

    My estrangement began nearly 8 years ago when my daughter went to a most elite college for 4 full years of living internationally. (On my dime, I might add.) The only time I got to see her was when I traveled great global distances to see her. I had to work extra part-time jobs in addition to my very full-time job just to be able to afford these trips. When I did visit with her she was, for lack of a better word, nasty to me. By the way, her college cost about $70,000 a year and although she got grants and financial aid, I had to work my fingers to the bone to be able to pay for this. She never said “thank you” for anything. That was for the first 4 years of our fragile relationship. I should have cut off the financial support after the first year or two of this fiasco. Hindsight is 20/20.

    When she returned to the U.S. she moved across the country for graduate school. She refused to allow me to visit and she also refused to come to visit me, even though I told her that I would pay for her airline fare. For the past 3.5 years I have received occasional texts and phone calls, all on her terms, and all of which were quite cold. I walked on eggshells all the time because I never knew what would set her off. I offered to “do the hard work” with her to figure out why our relationship was so strained but she declined. A few months ago she told me that she was moving yet again but that she would definitely come to see me for a long visit before doing so. Then 5 weeks ago she told me that she would not be coming after all and wanted to know how that made me feel. I told her that, of course, I was crushed! She then went on to tell me that she is electing not to see me and that she owed me nothing. She said that I never did anything for her. Forget the fact that I could find no major faults in my parenting before she went off to college (not a perfect parent, but no one is). I actually even to this day feel confident that I did the right thing by her while she was growing up. I was always there for her in every conceivable way. During that horrendous telephone conversation I realized I had been strung along for 7.5 years and that things were not going to get better. Her rudeness, coldness, and sense of entitlement were not going away. I told her that my life would always be open to her, my home would always be open to her, but at this point this is all up to her. I said “I’m hanging up now” and that was it.

    Since then I have cried every day. Sometimes I am angry but mostly I am devastated. I have tried to find a therapist but everyone is booked! But I do know in my heart that I am not to blame for this and that I can, hopefully, use this as a learning experience about myself.

    So, what have a learned?

    1. That I can turn to good people like you so that I can not feel so alone.
    2. That working through Sheri’s amazing book is going to help me.
    3. That my husband (not my daughter’s father) is extraordinary and that I cannot allow my daughter’s outrageous behavior to come between us. He has been extremely kind, patient, supportive, and understanding, but I cannot cry to him every day. It’s just not fair to him.
    4. That it’s ok for me to still love my daughter but that I don’t have to like her. I have no idea where this behavior has come from, except that she surely is acting most entitled. I don’t like the person she has become.
    5. That I have other people in my life who love me and who are devoted to me.
    6. That while I am in a very painful stage of this journey right now, there is a good chance that I can come out on the other side a stronger person.
    7. That I had no peace at all during the past 7.5 years and that my taking a stand with my daughter was necessary for my mental and physical health. I had no choice in the matter. Her slow, chipping away at me was taking years off of my life.

    Thank you for reading this long post. I send love, peace, and hugs to all of you.

    1. WorkingOnMe

      Looks like I’ve gotten through my 1st holiday season with my son, daughter in law and 2 month old grandson estranged. It wasn’t as bad as I expected even though I had a horrible fit of anger and some melancholy times. I found myself thinking of them constantly and most times transitioned to saying The Lord’s Prayer which is helpful but the relief is fleeting. Over New Years my daughters left and returned to their homes. My son was ever present on my mind.

      Then I picked up a historical fiction book (WWII, England) loaned by a friend. I loved it! And my thoughts are now spinning about the characters who endured far more tragedy than I am experiencing presently. I read self help and faith books all throughout 2021 but at least for awhile in 2022, I’ll read for pleasure…..Hope this suggestion is helpful to others out there.

    2. Wendy M.

      Hi Lisa- I read your beautiful post and can feel your strength and resolve to move on. I identify with what you have experienced. My youngest of three sons hasn’t had a relationship with me for over 20 years. I have continued to text him, his wife and when his three children have birthdays. I’m not sure if the grands even know I’m alive…they are young. He texts me on my birthday and will send a thank you for my texts and an occasional picture. This is more recent behavior. I have come to accept that this is the extent of our relationship now. Change is always possible…but not likely. The pain doesn’t go away but “Done With the Crying” has provided much relief and knowing that I am in good company with many is also a help. I hope that you find the the peace you seek.

    3. HasToStop

      Hi Lisa,
      I am sorry for struggkes with your daughter. It hurts to the core and and often blinsides we parents.
      I too have been estranged for going on 8 years. Although the constant disrespect reared up all through the 43 years my daughter was , literally, the center of my universe I never gave up. My husband ( her Dad ) and I did not cause the estrangement. We DID stop supporting her irresponsible lifestyle. And she walked away. Leaving behind heartbreak and financial devastation. The result of her suing us for the property we had financed for her. But that we owned.
      It sounds like you have made amazingly great decisions to preserve your self respect and protect your marriage. Kudos to you.
      For whatever reason your daughter turned hostile and unfeeling towards you they can’t justify the actions. In my case my daughter has a personality disorder. Present from birth, but not understood or diagnosed until the damage was done.
      Going forward I hope you continue to hold strong in your convictions. It’s so easy to fall back on our maternal emotions.
      I believe you, as I did, gave your daughter everthing you could to allow her a good foundation. At great expense I might add. You owe her nothing more. Even as she denies the sacrifices you made and unwavering love you showed, you KNOW in your heart you were a good mother. You don’t need her validation to know that.
      It all hurts. I miss my daughter. An only child. But I don’t like the person she is. She is finding out how hard life is without our support. It’s her loss. She was lucky to have us. And I wish her well . I will always love her. But trust is gone and she can’t undo the actions she took and hurtful words she said.
      Be strong! And hugs to you!

    4. Lisa R.

      Hello, Wendy M.

      I am so grateful for your kindness and compassionate reply to my post. I apologize for taking so long to acknowledge your message but I just needed some time away from the computer as I focused on the most simple components of self-care. Having said that, however, I have to say that this support group and the amazing people like you have been a Godsend to me. I have been as close to falling off the precipice as a person can be and just knowing that I am not alone, not a terrible parent, and not crazy have helped me to hold things together.

      I am truly sorry that you have been estranged from your son for these many years. You don’t deserve to be treated this way – no one does (short of genuine abuse of sorts.) The grandchildren certainly need and deserve your love and it’s mind boggling that their parents (our children) cannot see this. My struggle in this regard is that my daughter and son (who has the best relationship he can with me considering that he is autistic) are single but my husband’s daughter, my step-daughter, has 2 beautiful children with the 3rd on the way. The kids call me grandma and are coming to stay with us for a week-long visit in 2 short weeks. I love them to pieces but because I am still in the shock phase with my own daughter and am heartbroken I am having difficulty with this relationship. I’m the one with the problem, not them! Every time we Facetime or talk on the telephone I gush over them (sincerely) but I ache for what I have lost with my daughter. My heart doesn’t know which way to go.

      I am working through “Done with the Crying” – an excellent book – and am keeping faith that at some point I will emerge on the other side of this intolerable grief.

      I wish you peace in any form that arrives at your doorstep. If the texts, thank you notes, and photos continue, that’s wonderful. However, if they don’t I hope that you can find a way to believe in yourself and to find joy in your other children and people in your life. You all deserve the best. I’ll be thinking of you.


    5. Lisa R.

      Hello, HasToStop,

      Thank you so very much for your sincere and compassionate reply to my post. I must say that I am taken with your screen name, “HasToStop” because that’s exactly where I was mentally and emotionally when I had that fateful telephone conversation with my daughter on December 4. For as much as it truly derailed me and broke my heart, I also could not take the slow, painful, chipping away at me that had been going on for far too many years. It “HasToStop” I said to myself. So I ended it and have not heard a word back from her and don’t expect to. In a twisted sort of way I also think that I’m still being a good mother because I refuse to enable her poor behavior.

      I am genuinely sorry that you have had this terrible experience with your daughter. It’s good that you know that she has a personality disorder because you can, perhaps, make at least a little bit of sense of this. It doesn’t make it easier on the heart but it makes it easier on the brain.

      You are correct – I KNOW in my heart that I was a good mother and I’m absolutely certain that you were, too. There are just some things in life that are inexplicable. However, as I look back I can see how it was just a matter of time before this debacle happened in my life. My ex-husband (her father) constantly indulged both of our children. (I have an adult son who is autistic and who also has other challenges – but we still have a good relationship despite this!) I wanted the kids to do chores and be respectful but he undermined me at every step because he wanted to be their friend, not their father. Then my daughter went off to a very ritzy college where she intermingled with children of diplomats, senators, big business owners, etc. She had to work during her college years and everyone around her told her that I should have been doing more for her and she resents me for it. I put her through this expensive degree program on a teacher’s salary but somehow that wasn’t enough. I also won’t abide her rudeness to me and to others and she doesn’t like it. So that’s where we are. Sounds as though you reached a similar stopping point with your daughter, albeit for different reasons. Nonetheless the hurt and outcome are the same. I feel your pain.

      Although I have been on this journey for nearly 8 years I only drew the line a few weeks ago. You are right – it all really hurts. My husband (not her father) has been amazingly patient and supportive and I try to stay strong for his sake. He keeps me going. His daughter has 2 beautiful children and 1 more on the way and I love them with all my heart. They call me grandma and will be coming for a week-long visit in just 2 weeks. I hope that I can pull myself together enough so that I can be the best that I can be for them. They deserve this!

      Thank you for your words of encouragement and validation. They mean so very much to me.

      I’m sending you a hug,
      Lisa R.

  4. Shelley L.

    Your two books have helped me tremendously.
    Look forward to your third.
    I cried for over a year everyday and after reading your books I really did stop crying!
    I’m newly divorced and my adult kids live with their dad in Idaho. I think about moving back so when their ready to talk I’m at least in the same state .
    Not sure if that’s smart any suggestions!

    Thanks for all you do .

  5. Alexandra

    It was my first holiday without the adult children and 2 grandboys. All of you are right, it hurt. I have not contributed before but reading all your comments made me feel it was time. I don’t know what the new year will bring, but I am happy there is a resource for people like me. Thank you Sheri McGregor. Elizabeth, I hope your husband is OK. All the rest of you, thank you. I don’t feel so alone.

    1. Elizabeth

      Thank you for asking, Alexandra…he has improved!! My heart goes out to you….even if partial estrangment with infrequent contact…it does hurt. It is very hard…but lots of good folk here who well understand!!

  6. Cami

    I have been receiving your newsletter for about a year or so now. My daughter stopped talking to me for a few months over a year ago and it was very difficult. She came around for about year, while I walked on eggshells knowing it could happen again. Last May it did. In an effort to keep the door open to future communication, I continued sending gifts for birthdays etc, plus books each month fir the Littles. Signing those books set her off, and I received a nasty text. Then another a few months later after I wished the oldest grandchild (17) a happy birthday in a text. I was threatened with an order of protection if I didn’t stop “manipuating.”

    Over the last few years I have noticed a trend on social media advising people to disown “toxic” family. I didn’t think a mother who gave time, money, and attention without being a bother would be considered toxic, but here I am. From her behavior since the teen years, I have wondered of a personality disorder or mental health issue, but she quits therapy whenever it gets too close to her own issues. Blame is preferred.

    I would like to ask you a favor Sherri. You have mentioned therapists blaming parents as well. And i my growing up, families got along as best they could and were more accepting of personalities (at least in my family). Polite was more important than being right. With all the simplistic memes being bandied about bashing parents/grandparents, I think it’s time to speak up. If you create memes from your quotes it would give us something to share with others that is short, truthful, and qualified, with a different perspective from the loud and ignorant mass against us all. It seems silly, yet to be honest, all the bad advice is being followed; some good advice is needed, Now.

    Thank you for all you do.

    1. rparents Post author

      I’m getting there, Cami. I have actually begun creating memes and plan to share them on my social media pages this year. I was going to do that this morning, as a matter of fact… I guess FB is now requiring some new verification for people who use pages, so I will need to tackle that hurdle first. Obstacles arise and then we jump!
      If you are not on the social media page, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/SheriMcGregorRejectedParents

      Another reader recently expressed wanting social media sharing enabled from my blog posts here. I thought they were shareable because I had enabled a plugin some time ago. That’s another thing for me to look into because apparently it is no longer working.

      My calendar for the New Year is filling!

      Cami, I’m so very sorry about your daughter. Please take kind care of yourself.

      Sheri McGregor

  7. DP

    Thank you so much Sheri for having this countdown. It really helped me survive the holidays. Anytime I feel sad I go to your website and feel that this group are the friends who truly understand. I’m hopeful for a brighter future and that I’ll find meaning and purpose again. Keep up the great work Sheri. I just finished your new book and you truly are a God-send! Much love to all.

  8. Eileen

    Thank you Sheri for your countdown calendar, i survived my first holiday season without my ES and my grandchildren, i decided to sent them all gifts, and i didn’t expect any response or thank you, which i didn’t receive, i felt bad i didn’t text them merry Christmas, but i just couldn’t take the rejection, so i wrote my grandchildren on news years, in a text message, that i loved them and what was going on between their father and i had nothing to do with them, i expressed my feelings for them and my love for them always, they did not respond, but i feel better at least telling them how much i loved them, (they are all teenagers) my conscience is clear, i pray one day they will reach out to me, we were so close, at least i thought we were, their parents have poisoned them against me, i remember what you said in your book about what questions to ask myself, what did i expect to happen and how would i feel, with that in my mind, i didn’t expect anything, i did it for myself , now in the new year it’s time for me, a time to heal and a time to love the people who love me and love them back with my whole heart ❤️ Happy New Year to you all, i pray we find peace and happiness in the new year! Big hugs to you all !

    1. Wanda A.

      That was a beautiful closing sentiment Eileen. I also pray that your new year will be full of healing, peace, and happiness! I pray also that your grandchildren will reach out to you when they are free to do so without fear of repercussions from their parents.

  9. karen S.

    Happy new year to all on this site and many thanks to Sheri for the brilliant posts over the holiday period and for her dedication to all of us year in year out. The New Year’s Honours list has been published in the UK today and it occurred to me that Sheri should be honoured for her services to estranged parents and her unstinting selflessness. With her and each other’s help and support, we’ll get to the place we want to be x

  10. Sheila

    Thanks for these posts. I have had a double hit this Christmas as my mother died in August and our daughter is estranged. I miss my mom so much and although I know I’ll see her in heaven one day, I hurt, just plain hurt without her. We talked everyday and I find myself thinking I’ll call her to share something only to remember I can’t. Why don’t I share a relationship like that with my daughter. It was well modeled for her but she chooses to despise me and leave me out of her life. This 1st Christmas with both of them missing from my life feels unbearable.

  11. Ilene A.

    You have turned my life into a happy and fulfilled one, due to your words of wisdom. The countdown has been phenomenal. Your hard work sharing your time, talent, and knowledge have positively impacted a multitude of people. I look forward to each of your newsletters. Beyond Done is absolutely amazing. I didn’t think it could be more beneficial than Done With the Crying; however, the information in both books have guided me to a much happier life. Realizing the hope for a positive and rewarding reconciliation is not a reality, has given me the strength to focus on giving back to my community and to myself. You haven’t missed a beat in paying attention to every detail and aspect of estrangement. Upon finishing Beyond Done I will certainly complete a glowing testimonial. Beyond Done will help many others, as it has assisted me in feeling good about taking care of me.

  12. Karen

    My Dear Sheri
    As I read the posts, it is so evident you have enabled so many to come to terms with the horror of rejection. I, too, have loved the countdown, and as newbie to your site and not finished with your first book, your posts enabled me to navigate the season and find determination to take baby steps forward, even if somedays I step backwards. Since my husband has dementia/alzheimer’s I do not have his support in this journey. But I can recognize the friends who love me. I have no family left since both my children have rejected me and I am not allowed to see or speak to any of my six grandchildren. You give me hope, not for reconciliation, but that my life can continue to have purpose and worth. Thank you for risking transparency to help others. Thank you for taking derogatory comments in order to achieve the greater good. Thank you for caring about your community of parents when you are in the trenches of despair and fighting your own battle of rejection. You are a gift from God and I pray He richly blesses you. I loved the last video and the saying that the snow is clean so we can watch where we walk and the imprints we leave behind. May we all find strength to rise above, to be more than conquerors, to forge new territories with undaunted courage and perseverance. Blessings to all!

    1. Ilene

      Wow! Your words are absolutely perfect! Your sentiments are mine, as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen my grandchildren in six years. Perhaps, when they turn 18, they will reach out to me. Yes, Sheri has been a G-dsend. Her words of wisdom have helped me to get on with my life, which is enriched by a plethora of friends. Yes, there is still the feeling of rejection; however, this negativity does not rule my daily life, thanks to Sheri and a fabulous therapist.
      May you have a happy and a healthy new year.

  13. Anita

    Thank you Sheri for all the posts. It really helped me get through the holidays. Reading the posts and all the comments made me feel not so alone at a time when only people who have gone through it really understand and get what it feels like. Wishing everyone a wonderful and happy new year.

    1. Jane

      Couldn’t have said it better myself Anita, thank you.
      And thank you Sheri, hope this year is a good one for us all. We deserve the best!

  14. Allie

    I am still in the sadness and shock phase. But after walking on eggshells with my daughter who is now 36, I can no longer rationalize away her behaviors. They were getting much better until she married into a competitive, status-conscious family a few years ago and it’s gotten worse and worse.

    Recently I received a phone call from her and was so happy to hear from her only to be yelled at, bullied, insulted, and emotionally blackmailed, ending with her crying, “you’re the mommy and I’m the daughter so you should comfort me.” Total gaslighting. And it was over a triviality.

    I kept telling her what the reality of my situation was, that she had misinterpreted something my son had said, and just kept telling her not to yell at me. I told her I loved her. Anyway, since then, she had a heart scare and I was so worried about her. It turned out ok and I texted (because she would not answer my calls) her that I was so happy that she was healthy, that I loved her, that I know she was mad at me and that I was mad at her for yelling at me but that I thought it would be good to talk and that it would probably make her feel better.

    She responded angrily by saying she didn’t know what good it would be to talk about the same topic, that she hoped I wasn’t still thinking the same way, and that she was shocked and hurt. I responded by saying it wasn’t about that same stuff but about how we can talk to each other so that we can have a good relationship while we are both living. She never responded to that.

    The topic in question? It was that I was considering attending again a church I had gone to years before, not because I believed the doctrine but because of other reasons. I had only contemplated it and that was her way of trying to control me.

    Now that she’s married, we have to get permission for any gift we want to give their daughter- our grandchild! – while the other grandparents and relatives don’t have to.

    I can no longer live in denial that she does not like me, respect me, value me, or love me.

    We live in a different state and got really sick this week and tested positive for covid. I couldn’t eat for three days. Didn’t know if we were going to have to go to the hospital. Everyone else kept checking on us. My mother ended up telling her that we were extremely ill but she never once called or texted.

    I need to accept this although I don’t like it. I feel so sad.

    1. Barbara G.

      I so understand ; I came down with the nasty virus myself over the holidays ; and it is sad to know that our AC ‘s really don’t care or even want to know ; but that is our shared reality ! Thank God I no longer feel alone in this situation!
      I have learned though to get passed that sadness rather quickly; to not dwell on it anymore or start panicking about my AS own possible ill health …..I have zero control over any aspect of his life !!
      Sheri with her books and this online community has helped me so much over the last 6 month . Words can’t express my sincere gratitude!! There is a beautiful life awaiting after estrangement but we have to claim and reclaim it every single day !!
      Wishing all of you a blessed joy filled 2022!
      Peaceful ❤️

  15. Looby

    I loved the calendar and countdown! It was a wonderful idea and I’m sure that it helped many of us. Thank you so much for your work Sheri. You change people’s lives for the better and that is a beautiful gift to contribute to parents and our families.

    God bless you and happy New Year!

  16. Diane M.

    I’ve enjoyed all the posts for this countdown to the New Year. I got so much out of it. I was happy to hear that Sheri had a wonderful time out on an Adventure. We all need more times like this in 2022. I look forward to many more posts in the New Year and hearing from Sheri and all of you. You helped me make it through this holiday season. It can be rough, with TV commercials and moves that show all happy families getting together. Well, that’s not always the case, as we all well know. The holidays can be so hard on all of us. We may be doing OK, but then really get down over Christmastime. Too much holiday cheer around when all we feel is disappointment and hurt. But now that’s behind us and a New Year awaits us. Time for new beginnings, adventures to look forward to, and all good things. I really look forward to hearing from you. And thank you so much, Sheri for this wonderful countdown to help us through this difficult season. Now, we march forward into good times and simple, good moments that WE CREATE. Happy New Year to all of you.

  17. Maggie and Doug

    Hi Sheri

    Thank you so much for all of the ‘Countdown’!

    We are in Western Australia and myself and my husband have read each one enthusiastically each morning at breakfast.

    Also Thank you for your books and on going support with the newsletters bless you.

    1. Maryann

      Thank you to all who share here. It has been such a great help to me. The countdown was just what I needed to make it through the 2nd Christmas without 2 of my 4 adult children. This year I thought we could work it out through family therapy, but my son found the therapist and it was all about blaming my husband and I. We both apologized for things we didn’t do but I was met with the “it wasn’t good enough.” When I asked in therapy what I was missing and needed to apologize for, my daughter’s response was “If you don’t know, you’ll never know.”
      They both refused to come to their sister’s wedding this spring and didn’t return their RSVP’s. When my daughter messaged them that since they didn’t rsvp and hadn’t reached out to her in over a year they just shouldn’t come, they told the therapist and others that they wanted to go to the wedding but were uninvited.
      Thank you, Sheri for your wonderful books. They helped me really enjoy my daughter’s wedding and make it the celebration it needed to be. I’ve started reading your Beyond Done With Crying and it’s giving me the strength to move on. I’d forgotten who I was. My identity got lost in the trauma of 2 of my children rejecting us and the nightly crying sessions. I’m not there yet, but for the first time since November 2019, I’m looking forward each day. My siblings still trigger me with their “helpful suggestions” and attempts at support, but unlike my EC, I realize they are trying to be helpful and cutting someone out of your life because you felt hurt by a comment or different point of view isn’t the way I want to live my life. 2021 had some highlights. Here’s wishing all of you a blessed 2022.

    2. Mimi

      Hi Maryann,
      Your comments about therapy, and your daughters remarks, are interesting and fairly similar to what I have experienced with my 28 year old ED.

      ED told me she suffered trauma growing up. I asked her to tell me, specifically, what caused trauma? ED then said she couldn’t remember the specifics because she has thrown away all her journals. Months later, I texted her and asked her if I could treat her to lunch. ( Me, trying to move on without a grudge against ED for besmirching my good name. And, me trying to re-establish a relationship) ED responded that, until I get counseling, nothing has changed between us. I asked ED to tell me exactly what I needed counseling for? She said, “ you know what it is.”

      Months later, I tried again reaching out. At which point, ED told me that we should go to joint counseling. ED said that, this way, the counselor could “translate”, what I said, into her language.

      I do know that ED resents me for criticism of her appearance. Yes, I did tell her to shower daily. One time that I saw her, her hair was so greasy like she hadn’t washed it in two weeks. I felt embarrassed for her and I told her that I was embarrassed. I suppose that counts, in her book, as trauma. Also, ED has accused me of fat shaming from about age 15. Yes, I told her then not to eat a whole bag of snack-size Snicker bars at one sitting. Yes, I told her she was a beautiful girl, but she was hurting herself through lack of self control. I watched her gain probably 75 extra pounds. She has backaches now and a harder time doing things that should be easy for a 28 year old. I was so desperate to stop her self destructive habits. I guess it was trauma to her. I suppose she preferred that I just let her do her thing sans criticism.

      I am unwilling to freely share this situation with my acquaintances. I do not have siblings to share with. It will be salt on my wound to observe an acquaintance hesitating to support me. I would know that they are thinking that maybe I deserve it. But, I know that I was just being a mom.

      Maryanne, I hope you have a great 2022.

  18. Eliza

    Reflecting on this holiday season, I am amazed at how OK it was…I’m sure part of it was discovering this website and knowing others suffer some of the same estrangement issues that have plagued me. But what I found interesting is that I wasn’t even slightly envious of my friends and their big family celebrations…and in the past I often was – and dreaded the holidays as a result. Instead, my husband and I were very content doing what we wanted to do, which b/c of COVID, wasn’t much. But it was enough. I enjoyed making arrangements for the charitable giving we do each year and we enjoy each other’s company and have several mutual interests, so didn’t feel like something was missing from our lives simply because we didn’t have a houseful of family during the “family season.” We found plenty to enjoy and be grateful for just with each other, our dog, and our ordinary daily life together. I hope, hope, hope this lasts into the new year, and sincerely wish the same for everyone else…

  19. Elizabeth

    Thanks Sheri!! My husband was taken to the hospital last night…they SAY with covid…I am not convinced…his main problem is lack of strength (got down and we could not get him up). So no idea what this year will hold…afraid to think of that. But prayers for his recovery are very appreciated!! Much love to you and yours…keep on keeping on…regardless of naysayers…of which the world has more than plenty!!

    1. Carrie-Ann

      Dear Elizabeth,
      Just read your comment…so I am writing to let you know that you are not alone…You and your husband are in my thoughts & prayers…

      May You and Your Husband Be Blessed In Body, Mind, & Spirit…I am praying for both of you continually…In the meanwhile, try not to worry, take good care of yourself…My prayers are also with the hospital, doctors, nurses, medicine, and all things concerning your husband’s care and healing…Remember the body is in Perfect Divine Right Order and Intelligence…Faith and Love are healing…You are both Loved…

      In Friendship & Love,

    2. Carrie-Ann

      Yes, Dear Elizabeth…I hope you and your husband had a Peaceful & Healthful night…Happy New Year!!!

      I am with you in Spirit…
      p.s. Keep us posted on how your Dear Husband is doing…

  20. emily38

    Dear Sheri,

    The countdown you gifted us with this week has held so many opportunities for this community. There’s gold in the posts, ones to revisit as the days in 2022 might not find parents as committed to (or steady on) the steps needed to reach recovery.

    But today, I realized,too, that you, your work, your care for this community and your tireless support of parents who are at all stages of recovery have set an example for everyone here. Yes, we’re all different, we have different journeys that brought us here, we have our own strengths and weaknesses, but………you have modeled what is possible, what each of us in our own way, and in own lives, can make of the ruins of estrangement.

    To each his own, in their own time, much time, whatever it takes,…… recovery is reachable. I’m purposely using the word ‘recovery’ because (I believe) one never heals from the destructive estrangement wound. It eventually closes, scars, makes us who we are, rearranges our outlook and informs our sense of Self……..again as your work, for you, and you, shows us.

    Thank you for showing us it can be done, and my best wishes for a best 2022.
    Happy Next Year!

  21. Gracie2021

    Sheri, Happy New Year. The poem was uplifting. Thank you. I was wondering what happened this morning. Bring back some gold?
    With your help, I have accepted (most of the time). Life is to live !

  22. Ann

    Thank you Sheri for all of your time, effort, and support.
    Much of the year, I am okay, but there are “triggers” like the holidays, where I am keenly aware that we have a broken family, and it just plain hurts.
    In addition to your wise words/thoughts, I do find it helpful to read the stories of others in this situation, as kiddos walking away can be profoundly isolating.
    Again thank you.
    Many blessings to you and yours for the New Year!


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