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Adult Childen Estranged from your parents, Please come forward!
April 24, 2013
7:02 pm
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Anon said

Jenny said
I read these posts and am heart-sick and guilty all at once.  What if my son thinks, feels, and says these things about me?  I tell each and every sad kid here that I don't think I could cope with that.  I really don't.  

I'm not trying to be cold Jenny but I was abused and I'm not going to be quiet about it or lie about it to ease anyone's guilt. I was forced to do that as a child and I'm done with that.

I also don't care if my parents' can cope with it. That isn't my problem. 

Oh, and just for the record, I'm not a "sad kid." I have a great life, wonderful husband, awesome kids and I'm very happy. I post and talk about the abuse and issues with my parents because I am tired of abuse victims being forced to suffer in silence because it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

And you shouldn't have to be quiet or lie about it.  I'm glad you were able to find happiness. 
 

April 24, 2013
7:00 pm
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Jenny, 

I'm not a mod or an admin.  So I'm not saying this in any official capacity, but I suggest you read this post where he states the purpose of the children estranged from parents portion of the forum is for the children to find support.  Just as the purpose of the parents' part of the forum is to find suport.

http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com.....e-2/#p5189

Jenny said

Jenny said

Anon said

Jenny said
I read these posts and am heart-sick and guilty all at once.  What if my son thinks, feels, and says these things about me?  I tell each and every sad kid here that I don't think I could cope with that.  I really don't.  

I'm not trying to be cold Jenny but I was abused and I'm not going to be quiet about it or lie about it to ease anyone's guilt. I was forced to do that as a child and I'm done with that.
I also don't care if my parents' can cope with it. That isn't my problem. 
Oh, and just for the record, I'm not a "sad kid." I have a great life, wonderful husband, awesome kids and I'm very happy. I post and talk about the abuse and issues with my parents because I am tired of abuse victims being forced to suffer in silence because it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

To Anon,

"Abuse" is an intentional and ongoing effort to diminish a person's sense of worth, or something like that.  I was not abusive as a parent, but I'm pretty sure I'm being accused of it.

I am sorry if you were abused, and sorry for your hurt.

I am just as tired of so many good parents, like me,  being scrutinized and blamed and cut off by heartless children who are abusive in reverse, but justify it because a parent was a human being, not a saint.  You sound very angry, and I relate...I'm angry too.  

We are coming from two very different places.  One thing to remember....those who are without sin should cast the first stone.  Abuse is a horrible thing for anyone; any human to endure.  It leaves terrible scars.  I know you think it will never, ever happen to you...me too, but imagine if one of your awesome kids grew up to throw you away like a disposable cup.  To make you hurt in ways you never thought possible.

I think anyone...any person who has no empathy for another's hurt is just perpetuating meanness.  

April 23, 2013
6:55 pm
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Jenny
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Jenny said

Anon said

Jenny said
I read these posts and am heart-sick and guilty all at once.  What if my son thinks, feels, and says these things about me?  I tell each and every sad kid here that I don't think I could cope with that.  I really don't.  

I'm not trying to be cold Jenny but I was abused and I'm not going to be quiet about it or lie about it to ease anyone's guilt. I was forced to do that as a child and I'm done with that.

I also don't care if my parents' can cope with it. That isn't my problem. 

Oh, and just for the record, I'm not a "sad kid." I have a great life, wonderful husband, awesome kids and I'm very happy. I post and talk about the abuse and issues with my parents because I am tired of abuse victims being forced to suffer in silence because it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

To Anon,

"Abuse" is an intentional and ongoing effort to diminish a person's sense of worth, or something like that.  I was not abusive as a parent, but I'm pretty sure I'm being accused of it.

I am sorry if you were abused, and sorry for your hurt.

I am just as tired of so many good parents, like me,  being scrutinized and blamed and cut off by heartless children who are abusive in reverse, but justify it because a parent was a human being, not a saint.  You sound very angry, and I relate...I'm angry too.  

We are coming from two very different places.  One thing to remember....those who are without sin should cast the first stone.  Abuse is a horrible thing for anyone; any human to endure.  It leaves terrible scars.  I know you think it will never, ever happen to you...me too, but imagine if one of your awesome kids grew up to throw you away like a disposable cup.  To make you hurt in ways you never thought possible.

I think anyone...any person who has no empathy for another's hurt is just perpetuating meanness.  

April 23, 2013
6:30 pm
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Jenny
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Anon said

Jenny said
I read these posts and am heart-sick and guilty all at once.  What if my son thinks, feels, and says these things about me?  I tell each and every sad kid here that I don't think I could cope with that.  I really don't.  

I'm not trying to be cold Jenny but I was abused and I'm not going to be quiet about it or lie about it to ease anyone's guilt. I was forced to do that as a child and I'm done with that.

I also don't care if my parents' can cope with it. That isn't my problem. 

Oh, and just for the record, I'm not a "sad kid." I have a great life, wonderful husband, awesome kids and I'm very happy. I post and talk about the abuse and issues with my parents because I am tired of abuse victims being forced to suffer in silence because it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

 

April 23, 2013
5:07 pm
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Anon
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Jenny said
I read these posts and am heart-sick and guilty all at once.  What if my son thinks, feels, and says these things about me?  I tell each and every sad kid here that I don't think I could cope with that.  I really don't.  

I'm not trying to be cold Jenny but I was abused and I'm not going to be quiet about it or lie about it to ease anyone's guilt. I was forced to do that as a child and I'm done with that.

I also don't care if my parents' can cope with it. That isn't my problem. 

Oh, and just for the record, I'm not a "sad kid." I have a great life, wonderful husband, awesome kids and I'm very happy. I post and talk about the abuse and issues with my parents because I am tired of abuse victims being forced to suffer in silence because it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

 

April 23, 2013
3:29 pm
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Jenny
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I read these posts and am heart-sick and guilty all at once.  What if my son thinks, feels, and says these things about me?  I tell each and every sad kid here that I don't think I could cope with that.  I really don't.  and yet, doesn't his choice to be estranged from me say it all?  Isn't he saying he is happier to not have contact with me?  Isn't he saying that I am unfit to be around his children? I wish he would tell me what I did.  He changes his story every time we talk, and has said he was "okay" with things at home.  Yet, here it is.  I fight with myself every single day to not run and find him and try to fix this...but I've already been there and done that and it is empty and hopeless.  If we talk, it's strained.  He lies and tell me we'll work on it, then refuses any more contact.  I am crying as I write this...boo hoo and poor me...yeah, I know.  But it kills me inside.  I want him to forgive me more than I've ever wanted anything.  I want him to laugh with me and like me again.   So, maybe I'm an unfit parent, and maybe he's an unfit child.  I'm just really sorry for everyone here.  I sure don't have any answers.

April 22, 2013
1:01 pm
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Harlie
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I just found this forum thread and it has been so helpful. So many of these posts are so similar to my experience in eerie ways. I have never heard much about estrangement before, and it's been encouraging to know that I am not alone. I can relate to so, so much of this.

After years of wanting to do it, I finally felt strong enough to break ties with my mother and step-father at the age of 39. They were both horribly cold and emotionally abusive toward me when I was growing up. It was like living with two bullies - one short-tempered and aggressive, the other calculating and passive-aggressive. They never physically abused me, but the emotional abuse and neglect were relentless. It was so cruel but was my "normal" so I always just thought it was my fault they were so upset with me.

I used to wish one of them would beat me up - and as I got older I would try to goad them into it - so that I could tell a teacher or counselor and show them the bruises so as to be removed from my home. I was so desperate to get away from them, I was so unhappy. But they never hit me. It's strange wishing that they had, but I saw that as my only way out. If I had understood more about suicide and how to kill myself, I have no doubt I would have done it. Thank god the internet was not available to me then.

Since moving out at age 17 I had a lot of problems with depression and started seeing a therapist to deal with this and my anger issues at age 22. Through therapy and through developing healthy relationships of my own, I saw my parents for what they are: deeply disturbed people who simply had no business being parents. I limited my contact with them more and more over the years out of sheer dislike - I did not want to be associated with people who could treat a child that way. I could also see their unhappiness more and more for what it was.

As I became healthier and believed that I was worth being treated well, I could not tolerate having people in my life who treated me poorly.

Then finally, this year, after my mother confronted me on how little I acknowledged her and how poorly I treater HER, I realized I could not "manage" our relationship any longer. I owed it to her and to myself to be honest about how I felt. I did not get any benefit from a relationship with her and was unwilling to pretend that I did for the sake of politeness or sparing her feelings. I explained this in the clearest way possible, and she stood there, emotionless and bitter, and said, "Well, if that's how you feel I guess there's nothing I can do about it." Which convinced me I did the right thing - I think in some ways my mother was hurt by my cutting things off, but it was more important to her to seem unfazed than to try to work things out with me. I don't think it gets any clearer for me than that.

I don't have to dread phone calls from my mother any more, which is a blessing because they were always full of criticism and negativity, and I am honestly relieved that I will never again have to be subjected to her biting judgement. That alone was worth it. But I did have to give up ties with my grandparents and brother, as they will always be on her side, which was sad for me.

What I struggle with now is how alien it feels to be a sort-of "orphan" in the world. I feel incredibly free and happy in a way I cannot quite describe but it also feels very disconcerting in a way. I have no "people" anymore. I have friends and they are my loved-ones, but I feel - in a very real way - like I no longer have a "hometown" or a personal history. I feel like a major part of my life no longer counts. It's very new and takes some getting used to. 

I do not mourn the loss of my relationship with parents any more than I would mourn the loss of a diseased tooth once it has been pulled - it was hopelessly broken and caused me only discomfort, pain, and threatened to decay everything around it. What I do mourn is the childhood that I deserved to have but never received - the caring, unconditional love that parents should provide. That is what I miss.

I was not the bad kid my parents had me believe that I was. I am not going to waste another moment of my precious life reading from that poisonous script.

April 14, 2013
10:02 pm
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Anonymous47 said

anonymous said
I guess you will have to tell the truth, "I don't know, been estranged from them for 20 years." and leave it at that.

The usual response is shock, and "how could you Have no contact"

 

April 14, 2013
9:58 pm
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anonymous said
I guess you will have to tell the truth, "I don't know, been estranged from them for 20 years." and leave it at that.

The usual response is shock, and "how could you response contact"

 

April 12, 2013
10:37 am
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AnonToo said
AnonForThis,

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post this. For so long I've found it difficult to articulate my estrangement from my mother, feeling like I had to somehow justify it since many people assume there has to be some sort of extended physical abuse to warrant cutting ties. So many of your points are identical to mine, including my mother commenting "Blood is thicker than water". To list all the similarities would basically be re-writing your post, but I have taken great comfort in reading it (not at the expense of your misery, of course) but just reaffirming that I'm not crazy, despite how many times she says she just can't possibly understand why I'm doing this.

My estrangement began more than 5 years ago, and each day that goes by I'm more certain that my decision is the right one. I see that you posted in November; I'm not sure if your estrangement is that fresh but I'd be interested in hearing how you are doing with your choice.

All the best to you.

AnonForThis said
I am a 37 year old mother of two who recently became estranged from my parents.  I know that my Mom is in tremendous pain-- I am her only child and I know that deep down she loves me.  Unfortunately, I don't see any way to make the relationship work after 10 years of trying everything I can think of, including five years of therapy to try to figure out what was wrong with me, innumerable attempts at reconciliation, managing the relationship, communication and so forth.

 

My Mom grew up in an emotionally abusive family with a negative, distant father and an angry, explosive, often cruel mother.  I'm not sure, but I think there might've been some physical abuse; my mother won't discuss details because my step-father squashes any discussion of it ("you don't want to be one of THOSE people who goes on about your childhood" he says).  She left home at 16, had me at 17, married my physically and emotionally abusive father and was divorced by 22.  She later came together with my step-father who was himself the product of an abusive home.  I look at my Mom's childhood and her relationships with men and think, "Of course-- why should she know how to be a loving, kind Mom?  She never had those things herself.  She never had that kind of compassion from anyone."  My Mom survived by being tough and focusing on the future.  She can be smart and funny and sweet; she can also be vicious, cruel, judgmental and physically abusive.  Things started to go downhill when I graduated college and met the man who would become my husband-- a kind, gentle, loving man, who taught me the true meaning of the words love and caring.  He showed me that there is a different way to be in the world; it was the beginning of my healing, but, in retrospect, it was the beginning of the end for me and my Mom and step-father.  My parents saw him as a threat and even after we were married would try to insist that they loved me more, knew me better and therefore were owed more loyalty; they even tried me to forbid me from telling my husband about their bad behavior.

My Mom's defense mechanisms have served her well; she's successful in business and is so good at compartmentalizing that many of her friends only know the good side.  Her secret drinking over a 10 year period was something only I and my step-father knew about; she downed vodka by the liter, hid bottles all over the house, in the car-- it's a miracle she didn't accidentally kill herself driving.  I begged her to get treatment, but she and my step-father think AA is for losers, psychiatrists are for crazy people and therapists are for the self-indulgent.  They've tried to manage it on their own, with intermittent success and inevitable failures. My step-father has blamed me for her drinking (he literally said "she only drinks because she's upset about you") and keeps conveniently forgetting how long its gone and the incidents that have occurred. At a certain point, I had to wash my hands of her drinking but I still tried to maintain some semblance of a relationship.  Yet, both of my parents, whether my Mom is in a period of drinking or not, can be incredibly vicious and then act as though nothing has happened-- I am always to blame.  My step-father thinks creative and witty insults are high art; when he says something cruel he thinks it's funny if other people get upset about it.  Both he and my mother put down their friends and family members behind their backs constantly, or, in my case, to their face.  I tried to understand their behavior as the result of crummy childhoods and lack of alternative skills; but it's hard not to be hurt when your parents don't know how to be kind or supportive.

 

One incident really marked a turning point where my feelings toward my parents started to become much colder.  Nearly two years ago, my mother came to help me take care of my newborn daughter, said she would watch her while I slept and instead got drunk and passed out-- I woke up to find the baby crying and my Mom out cold.  I forgave her but let her know that I could not allow her to be alone with my children-- the reaction was that I was a cruel monster to say such a thing to my mother.  Next visit to my Mom's house I found a half-empty bottle in her bed and two empties in the nightstand (I was changing the baby's diaper on the bed, which is how I found the bottles).  My Mom tried to pretend it never happened; I'm "mean and cruel" for acknowledging it and letting her know that her drinking continues to present a barrier to trust.  Setting boundaries to protect myself emotionally and maintain my own integrity (for example, not automatically saying "I love you" at the end of every phone conversation if I don't mean it) has resulted in the verdict that I am "cruel, narcissistic, ungrateful and probably have some kind of personality disorder".    This was something my mother screamed at the top of her lungs at me on my last birthday when I failed to react with appropriate enthusiasm to the news that she had sent me a present in the mail.  I asked her why she insisted on maintaining a relationship with me if that's how she felt (my parents have always been very resistant to my attempts to take a break from weekly phone calls or create any kind of distance).  She said "That's a good question.  Because blood is thicker than water, I guess."  I told her that wasn't enough of a reason for me anymore and hung up.

 

Less than two months later, my mother fell gravely ill.  I rushed to her side, spent a week with her in ICU, spent hours on the phone for weeks afterward with her doctors, my step-father, my grandparents and extended family.  I have two small children and am finishing my dissertation, so I couldn't be physically there all the time; but I tried to be in touch as much as possible and do what I considered to be my duty during an exceptional situation.  The last time I called my Mom, she refused to talk to me and my step-father said it was because I haven't shown any "personal concern" for her for so long and it upsets her to talk to me.  

 

I know that my parents would paint a very different picture.  They honestly cannot perceive any fault in their own behavior; they've told me many, many times that I am at the root of their unhappiness, the only source of unpleasantness in their lives.  They see my seeking therapy as a confirmation that I "admit that I'm crazy".  They are truly baffled by my attitude toward them and truly do not see any way out.  To others, they describe it as a "mystery" and say they "don't understand it at all". I feel very sad about it and sorry for them, yet I've come to the conclusion that we have fundamentally different perceptions of reality, different values and different definitions for the words love, respect, kindness and compassion.  These are, to put it mildly, irreconcilable differences.  At this point, I think ceasing all contact is the best strategy to minimize pain for everyone involved.  It's a horrible, sad situation and it will never stop being sad.  That said, at a certain point, one has to move on.  

I've taken very seriously trying to acquire skills as a parent to help avoid this outcome with my kids.  Luckily, I have a warm, kind-hearted husband who is a superb and patient father; that makes a huge difference.  Of all the many, many parenting resources I've read though, I'd say that one big thing I've taken away is this: children are human beings and human beings are complex.  All I can do as a parent is create an environment and give my children the conditions and resources that will help them grow up into whoever their supposed to be.  The environment/conditions include love, respect, boundaries, safety and so forth, but at the end of the day, I don't ultimately control the outcome--I can only control the conditions I create while they're young.  There is no guarantee that my adult children will adore me or want to spend time with me; I certainly hope that they do, and more importantly, I hope they find happiness in their lives as children and adults.  But whether they do or don't is simply not in my control; I certainly don't think that my children "owe" me anything.  I chose to bring them into this world and it is *my obligation* to provide them with a good upbringing-- they don't owe me undying gratitude for giving them what every child has a right to.  My husband and I certainly set an expectation for respectful, courteous behavior toward everyone, not just us.  However, setting an expectation that I must have a certain type of closeness with my kids or else is less helpful than asking myself how I can create conditions that foster closeness.  I know I'll be sad if my kids don't want to talk to me when their grown; but I hope if that happens, my experiences with my own mother will help me to try to understand my own role in it and try to understand their point of view.

April 12, 2013
10:31 am
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AnonForThis,

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post this. For so long I've found it difficult to articulate my estrangement from my mother, feeling like I had to somehow justify it since many people assume there has to be some sort of extended physical abuse to warrant cutting ties. So man of your points are identical to mine, including my mother commenting "Blood is thicker than water". To list all the similarities would basically be re-writing your post, but I have taken great comfort in reading it (not at the expense of your misery, of course) but just reaffirming that I'm not crazy, despite how many times she says she just can't possibly understand why I'm doing this.

My estrangement began more than 5 years ago, and each day that goes by I'm more certain that my decision is the right one. I see that you posted in November; I'm not sure if your estrangement is that fresh but I'd be interests in hearing how you are doing with your choice.

All the best to you.

AnonForThis said
I am a 37 year old mother of two who recently became estranged from my parents.  I know that my Mom is in tremendous pain-- I am her only child and I know that deep down she loves me.  Unfortunately, I don't see any way to make the relationship work after 10 years of trying everything I can think of, including five years of therapy to try to figure out what was wrong with me, innumerable attempts at reconciliation, managing the relationship, communication and so forth.

 

My Mom grew up in an emotionally abusive family with a negative, distant father and an angry, explosive, often cruel mother.  I'm not sure, but I think there might've been some physical abuse; my mother won't discuss details because my step-father squashes any discussion of it ("you don't want to be one of THOSE people who goes on about your childhood" he says).  She left home at 16, had me at 17, married my physically and emotionally abusive father and was divorced by 22.  She later came together with my step-father who was himself the product of an abusive home.  I look at my Mom's childhood and her relationships with men and think, "Of course-- why should she know how to be a loving, kind Mom?  She never had those things herself.  She never had that kind of compassion from anyone."  My Mom survived by being tough and focusing on the future.  She can be smart and funny and sweet; she can also be vicious, cruel, judgmental and physically abusive.  Things started to go downhill when I graduated college and met the man who would become my husband-- a kind, gentle, loving man, who taught me the true meaning of the words love and caring.  He showed me that there is a different way to be in the world; it was the beginning of my healing, but, in retrospect, it was the beginning of the end for me and my Mom and step-father.  My parents saw him as a threat and even after we were married would try to insist that they loved me more, knew me better and therefore were owed more loyalty; they even tried me to forbid me from telling my husband about their bad behavior.

My Mom's defense mechanisms have served her well; she's successful in business and is so good at compartmentalizing that many of her friends only know the good side.  Her secret drinking over a 10 year period was something only I and my step-father knew about; she downed vodka by the liter, hid bottles all over the house, in the car-- it's a miracle she didn't accidentally kill herself driving.  I begged her to get treatment, but she and my step-father think AA is for losers, psychiatrists are for crazy people and therapists are for the self-indulgent.  They've tried to manage it on their own, with intermittent success and inevitable failures. My step-father has blamed me for her drinking (he literally said "she only drinks because she's upset about you") and keeps conveniently forgetting how long its gone and the incidents that have occurred. At a certain point, I had to wash my hands of her drinking but I still tried to maintain some semblance of a relationship.  Yet, both of my parents, whether my Mom is in a period of drinking or not, can be incredibly vicious and then act as though nothing has happened-- I am always to blame.  My step-father thinks creative and witty insults are high art; when he says something cruel he thinks it's funny if other people get upset about it.  Both he and my mother put down their friends and family members behind their backs constantly, or, in my case, to their face.  I tried to understand their behavior as the result of crummy childhoods and lack of alternative skills; but it's hard not to be hurt when your parents don't know how to be kind or supportive.

 

One incident really marked a turning point where my feelings toward my parents started to become much colder.  Nearly two years ago, my mother came to help me take care of my newborn daughter, said she would watch her while I slept and instead got drunk and passed out-- I woke up to find the baby crying and my Mom out cold.  I forgave her but let her know that I could not allow her to be alone with my children-- the reaction was that I was a cruel monster to say such a thing to my mother.  Next visit to my Mom's house I found a half-empty bottle in her bed and two empties in the nightstand (I was changing the baby's diaper on the bed, which is how I found the bottles).  My Mom tried to pretend it never happened; I'm "mean and cruel" for acknowledging it and letting her know that her drinking continues to present a barrier to trust.  Setting boundaries to protect myself emotionally and maintain my own integrity (for example, not automatically saying "I love you" at the end of every phone conversation if I don't mean it) has resulted in the verdict that I am "cruel, narcissistic, ungrateful and probably have some kind of personality disorder".    This was something my mother screamed at the top of her lungs at me on my last birthday when I failed to react with appropriate enthusiasm to the news that she had sent me a present in the mail.  I asked her why she insisted on maintaining a relationship with me if that's how she felt (my parents have always been very resistant to my attempts to take a break from weekly phone calls or create any kind of distance).  She said "That's a good question.  Because blood is thicker than water, I guess."  I told her that wasn't enough of a reason for me anymore and hung up.

 

Less than two months later, my mother fell gravely ill.  I rushed to her side, spent a week with her in ICU, spent hours on the phone for weeks afterward with her doctors, my step-father, my grandparents and extended family.  I have two small children and am finishing my dissertation, so I couldn't be physically there all the time; but I tried to be in touch as much as possible and do what I considered to be my duty during an exceptional situation.  The last time I called my Mom, she refused to talk to me and my step-father said it was because I haven't shown any "personal concern" for her for so long and it upsets her to talk to me.  

 

I know that my parents would paint a very different picture.  They honestly cannot perceive any fault in their own behavior; they've told me many, many times that I am at the root of their unhappiness, the only source of unpleasantness in their lives.  They see my seeking therapy as a confirmation that I "admit that I'm crazy".  They are truly baffled by my attitude toward them and truly do not see any way out.  To others, they describe it as a "mystery" and say they "don't understand it at all". I feel very sad about it and sorry for them, yet I've come to the conclusion that we have fundamentally different perceptions of reality, different values and different definitions for the words love, respect, kindness and compassion.  These are, to put it mildly, irreconcilable differences.  At this point, I think ceasing all contact is the best strategy to minimize pain for everyone involved.  It's a horrible, sad situation and it will never stop being sad.  That said, at a certain point, one has to move on.  

I've taken very seriously trying to acquire skills as a parent to help avoid this outcome with my kids.  Luckily, I have a warm, kind-hearted husband who is a superb and patient father; that makes a huge difference.  Of all the many, many parenting resources I've read though, I'd say that one big thing I've taken away is this: children are human beings and human beings are complex.  All I can do as a parent is create an environment and give my children the conditions and resources that will help them grow up into whoever their supposed to be.  The environment/conditions include love, respect, boundaries, safety and so forth, but at the end of the day, I don't ultimately control the outcome--I can only control the conditions I create while they're young.  There is no guarantee that my adult children will adore me or want to spend time with me; I certainly hope that they do, and more importantly, I hope they find happiness in their lives as children and adults.  But whether they do or don't is simply not in my control; I certainly don't think that my children "owe" me anything.  I chose to bring them into this world and it is *my obligation* to provide them with a good upbringing-- they don't owe me undying gratitude for giving them what every child has a right to.  My husband and I certainly set an expectation for respectful, courteous behavior toward everyone, not just us.  However, setting an expectation that I must have a certain type of closeness with my kids or else is less helpful than asking myself how I can create conditions that foster closeness.  I know I'll be sad if my kids don't want to talk to me when their grown; but I hope if that happens, my experiences with my own mother will help me to try to understand my own role in it and try to understand their point of view.

April 9, 2013
1:05 pm
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Anon
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I am estranged from my parents. I have no interest in ever reconciling. They claim to want to reconcile but in their minds that consists of screaming obscenities at me and physically attacking me until I give in and do as I'm told. Shockingly enough, it hasn't worked.

My parents are bad people and they belong in prison. That's really all there is to it. I have some nasty stories I could share but why dwell on it? They did horrible things to me, they are not sorry for those things and they do not regret them. They would also like to continue to do horrible things to me. 

I don't enjoy having horrible things done to me therefore we cannot have a relationship. It's very simple.

I do feel sad about not having parents sometimes though. I would like to have parents, just not my parents. Having my parents is 1000 times worse than having no parents at all. I wish I had at least one parent who wasn't a sick, disgusting monster.

April 8, 2013
10:47 am
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anonymous
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I guess you will have to tell the truth, "I don't know, been estranged from them for 20 years." and leave it at that.

April 6, 2013
6:42 pm
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Deb garrison
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After 20 years of no contact with parents, how do you respond to questions from friends if your parents are still alive?

November 24, 2012
9:51 pm
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AnonForThis
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I am a 37 year old mother of two who recently became estranged from my parents.  I know that my Mom is in tremendous pain-- I am her only child and I know that deep down she loves me.  Unfortunately, I don't see any way to make the relationship work after 10 years of trying everything I can think of, including five years of therapy to try to figure out what was wrong with me, innumerable attempts at reconciliation, managing the relationship, communication and so forth.

 

My Mom grew up in an emotionally abusive family with a negative, distant father and an angry, explosive, often cruel mother.  I'm not sure, but I think there might've been some physical abuse; my mother won't discuss details because my step-father squashes any discussion of it ("you don't want to be one of THOSE people who goes on about your childhood" he says).  She left home at 16, had me at 17, married my physically and emotionally abusive father and was divorced by 22.  She later came together with my step-father who was himself the product of an abusive home.  I look at my Mom's childhood and her relationships with men and think, "Of course-- why should she know how to be a loving, kind Mom?  She never had those things herself.  She never had that kind of compassion from anyone."  My Mom survived by being tough and focusing on the future.  She can be smart and funny and sweet; she can also be vicious, cruel, judgmental and physically abusive.  Things started to go downhill when I graduated college and met the man who would become my husband-- a kind, gentle, loving man, who taught me the true meaning of the words love and caring.  He showed me that there is a different way to be in the world; it was the beginning of my healing, but, in retrospect, it was the beginning of the end for me and my Mom and step-father.  My parents saw him as a threat and even after we were married would try to insist that they loved me more, knew me better and therefore were owed more loyalty; they even tried me to forbid me from telling my husband about their bad behavior.

My Mom's defense mechanisms have served her well; she's successful in business and is so good at compartmentalizing that many of her friends only know the good side.  Her secret drinking over a 10 year period was something only I and my step-father knew about; she downed vodka by the liter, hid bottles all over the house, in the car-- it's a miracle she didn't accidentally kill herself driving.  I begged her to get treatment, but she and my step-father think AA is for losers, psychiatrists are for crazy people and therapists are for the self-indulgent.  They've tried to manage it on their own, with intermittent success and inevitable failures. My step-father has blamed me for her drinking (he literally said "she only drinks because she's upset about you") and keeps conveniently forgetting how long its gone and the incidents that have occurred. At a certain point, I had to wash my hands of her drinking but I still tried to maintain some semblance of a relationship.  Yet, both of my parents, whether my Mom is in a period of drinking or not, can be incredibly vicious and then act as though nothing has happened-- I am always to blame.  My step-father thinks creative and witty insults are high art; when he says something cruel he thinks it's funny if other people get upset about it.  Both he and my mother put down their friends and family members behind their backs constantly, or, in my case, to their face.  I tried to understand their behavior as the result of crummy childhoods and lack of alternative skills; but it's hard not to be hurt when your parents don't know how to be kind or supportive.

 

One incident really marked a turning point where my feelings toward my parents started to become much colder.  Nearly two years ago, my mother came to help me take care of my newborn daughter, said she would watch her while I slept and instead got drunk and passed out-- I woke up to find the baby crying and my Mom out cold.  I forgave her but let her know that I could not allow her to be alone with my children-- the reaction was that I was a cruel monster to say such a thing to my mother.  Next visit to my Mom's house I found a half-empty bottle in her bed and two empties in the nightstand (I was changing the baby's diaper on the bed, which is how I found the bottles).  My Mom tried to pretend it never happened; I'm "mean and cruel" for acknowledging it and letting her know that her drinking continues to present a barrier to trust.  Setting boundaries to protect myself emotionally and maintain my own integrity (for example, not automatically saying "I love you" at the end of every phone conversation if I don't mean it) has resulted in the verdict that I am "cruel, narcissistic, ungrateful and probably have some kind of personality disorder".    This was something my mother screamed at the top of her lungs at me on my last birthday when I failed to react with appropriate enthusiasm to the news that she had sent me a present in the mail.  I asked her why she insisted on maintaining a relationship with me if that's how she felt (my parents have always been very resistant to my attempts to take a break from weekly phone calls or create any kind of distance).  She said "That's a good question.  Because blood is thicker than water, I guess."  I told her that wasn't enough of a reason for me anymore and hung up.

 

Less than two months later, my mother fell gravely ill.  I rushed to her side, spent a week with her in ICU, spent hours on the phone for weeks afterward with her doctors, my step-father, my grandparents and extended family.  I have two small children and am finishing my dissertation, so I couldn't be physically there all the time; but I tried to be in touch as much as possible and do what I considered to be my duty during an exceptional situation.  The last time I called my Mom, she refused to talk to me and my step-father said it was because I haven't shown any "personal concern" for her for so long and it upsets her to talk to me.  

 

I know that my parents would paint a very different picture.  They honestly cannot perceive any fault in their own behavior; they've told me many, many times that I am at the root of their unhappiness, the only source of unpleasantness in their lives.  They see my seeking therapy as a confirmation that I "admit that I'm crazy".  They are truly baffled by my attitude toward them and truly do not see any way out.  To others, they describe it as a "mystery" and say they "don't understand it at all". I feel very sad about it and sorry for them, yet I've come to the conclusion that we have fundamentally different perceptions of reality, different values and different definitions for the words love, respect, kindness and compassion.  These are, to put it mildly, irreconcilable differences.  At this point, I think ceasing all contact is the best strategy to minimize pain for everyone involved.  It's a horrible, sad situation and it will never stop being sad.  That said, at a certain point, one has to move on.  

I've taken very seriously trying to acquire skills as a parent to help avoid this outcome with my kids.  Luckily, I have a warm, kind-hearted husband who is a superb and patient father; that makes a huge difference.  Of all the many, many parenting resources I've read though, I'd say that one big thing I've taken away is this: children are human beings and human beings are complex.  All I can do as a parent is create an environment and give my children the conditions and resources that will help them grow up into whoever their supposed to be.  The environment/conditions include love, respect, boundaries, safety and so forth, but at the end of the day, I don't ultimately control the outcome--I can only control the conditions I create while they're young.  There is no guarantee that my adult children will adore me or want to spend time with me; I certainly hope that they do, and more importantly, I hope they find happiness in their lives as children and adults.  But whether they do or don't is simply not in my control; I certainly don't think that my children "owe" me anything.  I chose to bring them into this world and it is *my obligation* to provide them with a good upbringing-- they don't owe me undying gratitude for giving them what every child has a right to.  My husband and I certainly set an expectation for respectful, courteous behavior toward everyone, not just us.  However, setting an expectation that I must have a certain type of closeness with my kids or else is less helpful than asking myself how I can create conditions that foster closeness.  I know I'll be sad if my kids don't want to talk to me when their grown; but I hope if that happens, my experiences with my own mother will help me to try to understand my own role in it and try to understand their point of view.

November 9, 2012
6:51 pm
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Chrissy
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Hi

 

I am estranged from my parents, my story is here http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com.....regret-it/

August 13, 2012
8:39 pm
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karen
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I am brand new to looking on the web for a forum for estranged children. I have spent most of the time since I became estranged from my mother at the age of 14 pretending it didn't matter, that I wasn't hurt by it; insisting that it was better to move forward and not wallow in the past. Then, at some point not that long after I turned 40, I looked at my life and saw how it is so very far from where it should or could be and I know that my failures are directly related to the lack of love I suffered as a child. Now I am trying to deal with this issue as the pain of estrangement has actually worsened with time or maybe because I am finally willing to admit to the pain. I have recently begun therapy for the first time. My therapist doesn't encourage me to have contact with my mother. She doesn't think it's beneficial to verbalize all of the painful, sordid details. She encourages me to move on. I'm not sure I'm convinced that her method is right for me. My parents were divorced in 1981 when I was 15. My mother made it clear she wanted me but didn't want my brother (who is blind). I made the decision to live with my father and carried the guilt of that decision with me for years. My father is a good and moral person, but he is completely emotionally absent. He worked all the time. I was alone at home for years.... I have suffered profound bouts of aloneness/loneliness over the years. He was always disapproving of my choices. I became deeply rebellious. I have not created a family of my own. I wear the cloak of victim and of loner and I don't know how to shake these stigmas. I am 46 now, so it has been 30+ years of estrangement. I have no child to either heal with or to repeat the pattern of estrangement. I am looking for inner peace and don't know how to achieve it. My mother wrote me an email out of the blue last week, claiming she wished we could have a relationship, apologizing for not writing sooner, expressing guilt at having abandoned me. But she has done this before and for years our pattern of interaction has been her partner (the woman she left my father for 30 years ago) writing to remind me to send a birthday note to my mother, I do and 2 weeks later I receive one for my birthday, which I answer... and then hear nothing back. That cycle has been repeated for quite a few years with me being the first and last to write and her email consisting of 4-5 lines with lots of exclamation points about how she wants a relationship with me and the love of her life is her partner. Last year, I actually sent her a mail saying I really wanted to try to work towards our knowing each other because it has hurt me terribly not having a mother. And she responded that she was moved by my mail, but again, I wrote back with a longer mail even telling  her a little about my life, she doesn't even know that I am married, divorced and had 3 miscarriages, she doesn't know I have moved back to the US after many years abroad... anyway, I sent the reconciliatory mail with personal info about my life and she never wrote back. So, this year there were no birthday messages, and now  1 1/2 years later I get the same 4 lines exclaiming that she hopes it's not too late. I collected and printed out the few pages of our annual emails since 2003 and showed them to my therapist whose reaction was, "I think you're going to be disappointed (if I try again). All she does is talk about herself in these mails." Of course, so much detail is omitted in this long tale of how a person who doesn't receive enough love or attention as a child can carry that hurt around forever. I really wish I could let go of these feelings of hurt, resentment and self pity. I haven't found the key now that pretending it doesn't matter doesn't work any more. 

August 4, 2012
8:51 pm
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AnnaLisa
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Louise, I am amazed.

Your mother sounds exactly like mine, to a "T".

I could never articulate the problem but suffice it to say, I never felt a mother's love. 

 

I know how you feel.

July 28, 2012
1:43 pm
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Betsy
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I was estranged from my mother by her death when I was 18 years old.  I never knew my grandmother who died before I was born.  I could only dream of how wonderful it would have been to have had a loving grandmother as a child and to have had a mother in my life as an adult.  I grieved for the loss of a grandmother for myself and my children.  I saw my mother with her first grandchild and the love and joy was overwhelming albeit brief because of her untimely death.  I wanted so badly to end this loss of mother and grandmother in my family history.

Now my daughter has cut me off from her life and my grandchildren.  She has chosen her father over me.  Her father was abusive to me and my son but I left when my daughter was only three for fear of her abuse.  I spent my life protecting her from him.

He ignored us all for most of the time after the divorce but after his third divorce he started to lure my 25 year old daughter in with excessive charm and lies about me.  I unfortunately tried to tell her the truth and she did not want to hear it.  I also got angy at the manipulation I was getting from her through him.

Now she has cut me off and taken away the grandchildren.  She says I was a wonderful mother when she was growing up but I have gotten more and more abusive over the last 15 years...the exact time when she rejected me for her father.  

Yes, I resent her father, not because of the past but because he is the same as he always was, a manipulative psychopath and I am afraid of him for myself, my children and my grandchildren.  The abuse I have taken from her over this has brought back my PTSD symptoms from my childhood and marriage to her father.  Yet she blames me and has cut me off from herself and her children.  I see no choice but to let her and our precious grandchildren go.  

All I asked of her was to not force me into the same weekends or holidays as her father but she will not.  My therapist says she will not choose between us but I say she has made her choice by not accepting my one boundary.  Then she says I will not accept her boundaries which have never been stated and I can only assume mean doing whatever she wants when she wants it.  She is rude, disrespectful, full of her father's lies and angry with me all of the time.

Her anger is suppressed and passive aggressive and mine is honest and straight forward.  So she accuses me of abuse and has estranged herself and her children from us.  Me and the step father who raised her as his own and loves her as his own.

I feel that I am on both sides of the fence having lost my mother and now my daughter   I simply cannot accept that estrangement is the solution.  How can hurts and problems ever be resolved by silence?

July 15, 2012
1:43 pm
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hurtingforever
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@lisa

@HurtingForever

Amen and amen, Oephaelia.  I have been estranged off and on ...

Lisa:

I do not know exactly whom you were addressing, and I am sure your intentions are good. But if moving on were as easy as reading your well-meaning platitudes none of us would be here.

These are the people who were supposed to be the most loving and trustworthy in our lives, and they used and betrayed us beyond repair. Even old friends and other relatives have turned us away because they don't want to hear it or believe it--most of them do not want to face what is happening in their own homes. The fact that we have restraining orders is not convincing--it only infuriates them more!

I have PTSD due to chronic abuse. My child is suffering depression and anxiety due to abuse from her own father, too. We are entirely alone in this world. It is not realistic to try to make friends when we are so damaged and suffering. We only have paid professionals to turn to, and they don't spend Christmas with us, they aren't there to hold us when we cry at night.

It seems the primary way to overcome bad experiences is to replace them with new, good experiences. With our emotional problems--and I have chronic physical illnesses caused by severe stress--finding something new and good in life just ain't happening. I wish I had someone to turn to, someone who would just listen and care and be a safe place. Someone Iwho doesn't need my insurance card.

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