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Estranged Child - Should I set the record straight?
December 2, 2012
12:39 pm
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Sherry said
                 You only have one Mom in your life   Forgiveness may be a simple answer.     Mother and daughter in laws should keep healthy  distance and it is always easy to blame any one rather than you .  Hope you can give this some thought  LIFE IS SHORT   

 

LIFE IS SHORT ?

 

While I appreciate your point of view, I must admit that I think this is an odd concept in this context.  I became estranged BECAUSE of this reasoning.  I had enough of the game playing, belittling, and disrespect and felt it was necessary to cut ties in order to have any chance of a normal life because, as you say, "life is short".  While it is painful to sever this portion of my family, it is not nearly as painful as I imagined it would be to stay involved and stay tormented. 

 

I can't agree more, Chrissy, forming bonds with those whom you love and who love you are crucial to happiness.  I am learning over time that these bonds have nothing to do with bloodline.  I think this makes it even more clear that no one has to suffer just because of the family they were born into.

 

Unfortunately, Sherry - the "life is short" reasoning is a wavering concept - which clearly can be supportive of either side of an estrangement.  I appreciate your input, but I don't think forgiveness is a suitable option for me.

December 1, 2012
9:00 pm
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LH
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Sherry said
                 You only have one Mom in your life   Forgiveness may be a simple answer.     Mother and daughter in laws should keep healthy  distance and it is always easy to blame any one rather than you .  Hope you can give this some thought  LIFE IS SHORT   

Sherry, those are all wholesome and healthy sentiments, but do the parents described in this thread sound safe to forgive and reconnect with?

November 30, 2012
4:55 pm
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Sherry
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                 You only have one Mom in your life   Forgiveness may be a simple answer.     Mother and daughter in laws should keep healthy  distance and it is always easy to blame any one rather than you .  Hope you can give this some thought  LIFE IS SHORT   

November 9, 2012
6:48 pm
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Chrissy
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Our parents are not capable of change.

My parents have always convinced my siblings that I am lower than them, it has given me a life long inferiority complex.

Now I am older, I realised that my parents needed a scapegoat because they were very insecure.

I don't think there is anything I can do to change any of my family's minds, and, who cares what other people think of us anyway.

I am loved and respected by the few close freinds I have got, they are my new family.

Can you and your wife forge close bonds with people you love and trust?

November 5, 2012
1:51 pm
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Dear LH,

Thank you so much for your response.  It was very intuitive and insightful.  I can't thank you enough for your perspective.  You really nailed it.  

You are exactly right... the reason for my desire to set the record straight is likely the key to my ability to make progress in moving forward...with or without them.

For me I want to set the record straight because I find it infuriating that my wife is being blamed for our estrangement when it has absolutely nothing to do with her.  Perhaps it is just me being protective of her.  It's difficult not to be reminded by their "amnesia" when we run into common friends or other family members who seem to judge the situation from my parent's perspective.  I don't blame them I guess because it is the only view they have been privy to, as I have not ever been a big sharer of personal or family issues outside my close circle. But nonetheless it is painful and makes reaching out to family and any old friends (connected to them) even more daunting.  

It seems so bizarre in this internet age to come across your own mother's version of events on a forum asking for advice.  Without this, I just thought they had chosen to remain estranged instead of apologizing or trying to refocus their efforts at a relationship with me. Now, that I know they blame my wife, I can't help but feel different about  the situation.

I am not sure what I will gain out of setting the record straight, but I just hate feeling that my wife and our marriage is being looked at poorly by my parents and family, especially when my issues with my parents plagued our relationship long before I was married.

Thank you again for your insight, LH.  I truly appreciate the time and thoughtfulness it took to compose that response.  Have a wonderful day.

November 2, 2012
11:42 am
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LH
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Name Withheld said
I thought that I was crystal clear about the reason I asked for space. After years of volatile visits and phone calls, culminating in drama at my wedding, I was tired of repeating the same complaints over and over to them. .... I certainly don't want to upset the status quo - but I feel like they are not able to make their own strides without yet another reiteration of why I chose to end contact.

I think, unfortunately, that they have already given you the answer. You told them clearly and repeatedly what the issues were, and they refused to hear you. They now have a reason that's acceptable to them--your wife--and based on both what other estranged adult children say and what other estranged parents say, they're likely to view any further explanations from you as coming from your wife.

I don't know your parents, but I do know other people who develop amnesia about unpleasant facts. The ones I know can't absorb any data that's unacceptable to them. Usually, that means facts that reflect badly on them: "Your boyfriend dumped you because you were clingy." "I'm angry with you because you used me." It doesn't matter how clearly or how often you explain things to them, they will. not. comprehend. They may seem to understand at the time, but amnesia sets in as soon as you leave the room. (The friend I told "I'm angry with you because you used me" called mutual friends the next day, saying, "Is something up in LH's life? She seems really mad at me, and I don't know why. Maybe she's under stress and taking it out on me.")

In the aftermath, one of two things happens: total amnesia (nothing's wrong, everything's fine, la la la) or anger and bewilderment ("We had such a beautiful, loving relationship until thus-and-such happened. I don't know what went wrong!"). Total amnesia means nothing's changed in their relationship with you. Anger and bewilderment means you have inexplicably turned hateful on them, and because they don't know what the problem is--what YOUR problem is, because it certainly has nothing to do with them--they drop total responsibility in your lap. Maaaaybe they'll go so far as to admit that they made mistakes. But nobody's perfect, and they've already apologized! Whyyyyy do you still think something is wrong with THEM?

What it comes down to is, your parents are unlikely to ever absorb an explanation that casts blame on them. Ever. They're willing to give up a relationship with their own child rather than take blame. They're not going to take their own strides, because as far as they're concerned, they've already walked to the very end of the pier. That's a terrible thing, and I can see the pain it's causing you in your post... but there's nothing you can do to change it. If you could have changed it, you would have succeeded sometime in the volatile decade before your estrangement.

What might help is to sit down and figure out why you feel the urge to set the record straight. You do still hope they'll come around, but is there anything else behind it? For example, someone whose parents always ignored them might want to break through that barrier and make them listen; or someone whose parents always defined them might want to assert their own self-definitions; or someone whose parents are poison-tongued might want to make their parents stop spreading lies about them. If you figure out the underlying urge and work directly on that, you may find that you're less interested in reengaging with your parents.

I'm sorry you're in such pain. I hope you can find a way to see the rest of your family, whether or not you talk to your parents.

November 1, 2012
4:57 pm
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I'm an estranged adult child and I was hoping other estranged adult children here could provide some advice. I have not spoken to my parents in 4 years and I just came across a post that my Estranged Mother wrote on another forum saying that our estrangement was entirely based on my recent marriage and she is wondering whether they should just forget me now. I had no immediate plans of reaching out to them, but I am not sure if I should set the record straight. I thought that I was crystal clear about the reason I asked for space. After years of volatile visits and phone calls, culminating in drama at my wedding, I was tired of repeating the same complaints over and over to them. Their poor parenting choices have caused years of disrespect, rejection and hurt and I have recently come to terms with the limits of their relationship capabilities, but I am not ready to say that means I could be ready to reconcile. I am just done being hurt - I have found peace in my life without their constant interjection of drama and hurt. I certainly don't want to upset the status quo - but I feel like they are not able to make their own strides without yet another reiteration of why I chose to end contact.

So, my question is - Now that I know (from my Mother's post) that they have amnesia about the volatile decade between us (and have inaccurately blamed this estrangement on my wife), is it best to set the record straight by sending a letter - or should I wait until I know I want to reconcile and have this as a conversation (if we ever reconcile)?

I think in the end I know that I can never have a healthy parents-child relationship with them, but I experience sadness and depression when I feel like I cannot attend other family events - or hear of family deaths. I hope that at some point we can be on very casual speaking terms - where neither side is hurting - but accepting of the fact that we aren't capable of a meaningful relationship.

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