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For every estranged parent there is AN ADULT ESTRANGED CHILD!!
December 12, 2011
11:53 am
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Elke
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I agree with you louise, ESTRANGEMENT IS THE LONELIEST PLACE ON EARTH.

December 5, 2011
6:48 pm
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louise, estranged D
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Carolyn said:

Louise, I am sorry you jumped to conclusions about my post. It was not about you but more about my own daughters and for the majority of the EC that I hear about on these forums. I have written you before that I commend you for trying to reach out to your mother and I am sorry that she does not take responsibility for her part. If you have been on these forums for the past year you will read that most of the estranged mothers have done the reaching out, making amends and have taken responsibility for our mistakes and sometimes apologizing for issues we aren't even sure are the problem. Basically we have tried everything in our power to understand. We have let our children know that we will love them always and be here for them when ready. But to no avail. Most of the EC will not have contact with us and some will not even communicate why there are estranged. That can be very frustrating As you know the constant rejection and hurt can be very debilitating and when it finally takes a toll on your physical and emotional health it is time to "let go." Not that we would not welcome our EC back in our life. But in order for that to happen both parties have to want to forgive and move forward. Meanwhile we estranged mothers have to do our best to live our lives and to not let the behavior of our EC define who we are. I wish I could be of help to you but I can see that I am not able to but I do want to wish you peace in your life.


Thank you for responding Carolyn, but it seems a little thoughtless on your part to have used the Estranged Children's Forum to say what you did. As was saying that I jumped to conclusions. I didn't jump to ANY conclusion, you made it very clear in what you were saying. Take ownership of that, don't pass it off onto me.

Considering that I was the first person to post on this EC Forum..and had not been bashing my mother or parents at all, in fact quite the opposite, it would have been very kind of you to have not interrupted the general tone of the Forum with angry thoughtless statements. How about a little empathy on your part?

To be honest, the general tone of the posts which you and Sharon submitted very much reminded me of my mother and her ability to blame, misunderstand and turn a situation around on me. Are YOU all the same?

To quote you,
"Could it be that these EC learned this behavior from seeing it growing up and that as long as it is allowed they will behave that way?"

Not a very kind implication.

To answer your question, no, I did not learn this "behavior" from my father and mother. This is called my last-resort-at-self-preservation.

If your post exemplifies how you treat your own daughters, blaming and insulting them by calling their estrangement from you an "adolescent power struggle (and that you) feel sometimes they do not even know what they are fighting about other than just to be right", you need to start listening to what they are really saying to you. This ain't no power struggle, I can assure you.

As I have said repeatedly, NO CHILD WOULD EVER CHOOSE ESTRANGEMENT AS AN OPTION OUT ON A WHIM.
IT IS AN ACT OF DESPERATION AND DESPAIR.
ESTRANGEMENT IS THE LONELIEST PLACE ON EARTH.

Next time, you and Sharon should be more sensitive and vent on your own Parents' Forum. You chose the wrong venue.

December 5, 2011
5:15 pm
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Carolyn
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Louise, I am sorry you jumped to conclusions about my post. It was not about you but more about my own daughters and for the majority of the EC that I hear about on these forums. I have written you before that I commend you for trying to reach out to your mother and I am sorry that she does not take responsibility for her part. If you have been on these forums for the past year you will read that most of the estranged mothers have done the reaching out, making amends and have taken responsibility for our mistakes and sometimes apologizing for issues we aren't even sure are the problem. Basically we have tried everything in our power to understand. We have let our children know that we will love them always and be here for them when ready. But to no avail. Most of the EC will not have contact with us and some will not even communicate why there are estranged. That can be very frustrating As you know the constant rejection and hurt can be very debilitating and when it finally takes a toll on your physical and emotional health it is time to "let go." Not that we would not welcome our EC back in our life. But in order for that to happen both parties have to want to forgive and move forward. Meanwhile we estranged mothers have to do our best to live our lives and to not let the behavior of our EC define who we are. I wish I could be of help to you but I can see that I am not able to but I do want to wish you peace in your life.

December 4, 2011
10:47 pm
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louise, estranged D
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Sharon and Carolyn,

To respond to Sharon's quote below:

"Divorcing ones mother might be self-empowering and fashionable, but unless a situation is fraught with blatant physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, that tactic is a passive-aggressive cop-out."

You sound very angry. Up until your post, there was nothing angry in tone on this forum. I do not appreciate the anger and frustrations you must feel in your own life being lobbed at me.
Clearly you have not read or processed anything I have posted. Shame on you for insinuating that "divorcing" my mother and family is a "fashionable" trend that I am following. It's been the most horrific thing I've ever gone through. Worse than growing up in the chaos of an alcoholic household or losing my father. This is a pain that never leaves me.
For your information, since you don't know me at all, I have never followed, or been swayed by a trend, ever; particularly when it comes to ending my relationship with my mother whom I love dearly in spite of the hurt she causes me.
You speak of being empathetic, (which if you read my posts I speak with great empathy for my mother and the awful mother she grew up with).
Your inability to understand my posts suggests that you are reading and absorbing only what you have chosen to, or have manipulated my thoughts to suit your own personal argument.

Your rush to judgement of me and my estrangement may be symptomatic of how you treat your own family?
Not that I'm judging...

And Carolyn, wow, what an about face you have had?
Are you so easily swayed from one extreme to the other?

I was trying to give some of the Parents hope for their own situations by explaining the pain that I have felt and how much I love my mother in spite of our estrangement. I thought that this might make Parents realize that if I felt this way- their EC's might too. I guess I failed there.

No matter estranged or not, I will always love and miss my mother, but I cannot have a relationship with her until she takes some ownership for her part in our problems. So far, that has yet to happen.

How dare you level accusations at me.
The insightful posts I received from Low Contact Daughter were thoughtful and kind. She was the first person I'd ever had contact with that had any understanding of my position. Some things that she said to me were accurate and some things didn't resonate with me.
I am an educated, level-headed person who has been taught to think for herself. To suggest that I was being brainwashed by a post, is ludicrous. What she posted was uncannily accurate and it distilled many years of my own thinking in a highly articulate manner.
I go to a therapist (not just sit around absorbing posts all day- this was the first and only I've ever read of ANY nature), and even she, whom I think very highly of, 90% of what she says makes sense and resonates with me, and the 10% I file away. I act as I see fit, not because someone else says I should.
Your rancorous and inaccurate summary of who I am as an EC and of the collective EC out there (none of whom I've ever met a single one of, so clearly not following a "fashionable trend" as you so deftly put it) could not be more wrong. I am not an impetuous adolescent, I am someone who's heart has been broken. Sound familiar?

I HAVE BEEN the person jumping through the hoops in my mother's and my relationship for the past 40 years.

Shame on you. Go do your own soul searching rather than picking on a complete stranger.
Go back to the parents forum and rant and rave there.
This is the wrong forum for you and I guess it is for me too.

Good luck in your journey.

December 4, 2011
2:03 pm
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Carolyn
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Sharon, You hit the nail on the head in more ways than one. Thank you for your post. I agree that "offering empathy goes a long way towards getting it returned." So often these EC concentrate so much on how they feel and "poor me" rather than trying to see the other side of the coin, where their parents are coming from. No loving parent and I can say that we wouldn't be on this site if we were not, would purposely cause our children any hurt. I also agree with your statement about it being an "adolescent power struggle" with the EC. I feel sometimes they do not even know what they are fighting about other than just to be right. You can not have a two way relationship with that attitude. I also have noticed in reading these posts that quite a few of us estranged mothers were married to controlling, alcoholic and sometimes abusive husbands either emotionally or physically. Could it be that these EC learned this behavior from seeing it growing up and that as long as it is allowed they will behave that way? That is why I have learned to be strong and finally stand up for myself and not allow their disrespect and verbal abuse. They certainly can not get away with that behavior in their other relationships so why should they with their parents. It is a shame that it took me this long to realize that I do not have to turn the other cheek. Mine EDs are 41 and 43 and it is about time they grow up. Better late than never.

December 4, 2011
11:30 am
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Sharon
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Louise,
It is, of course, your choice to limit yourself to websites, blogs, and resources, which perpetuate the culture of estrangement rather than heal relationships if that is what makes you feel good. However, if you truly want more than short-term satisfaction, and would like to mend or improve the relationship with your mother, no one should be telling you that you are weak, dependent, that your mother is a "dysfunctional, incurable narcissist" from afar, and it would serve you well to broaden your perspectives. Offering empathy goes a long way towards getting it returned. There is always more than one way to view a situaion, and usually the truth lies somewhere between alternative versions rather than one being right and the other wrong. That is why makeshift psychoanalysis, emotional reasoning, mindreading, jumping to conclusions, judging, labeling or stereotyping others, generalizing, speculating about and assigning motives to behaviors from afar is disastrous to relationships and has done more damage than good. Perhaps, your mother is one of the small percent of truly narcissistic mothers out there. However, given the volume of mothers posting on this forum, most are neither narcissistic nor dysfunctional. Many are also well-read, having searched out multiple reousrces to understand and cope with their estrangements, some are professionals versed in both useful and useless psychobabble, and many have jumped through more hoops than they should have to only to be told by their seemingly, indoctrinated children that whatever they do is never quite right, good enough, or for the "right" reasons. Soon that looks more like an adolescent power struggle than adult behavior geared toward healthy conflict resolution. Divorcing ones mother might be self-empowering and fashionable, but unless a situation is fraught with blatant physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, that tactic is a passive-aggressive copout. So, if you are conflicted about and want to restore or improve rather than simply grieve the loss of a mother who could still be available to you, you might want to expand your resource list to include:

I'm OK, You're My Parents (Atkins, 2004)
Hidden in Plain Sight (Grosskopf, 2007)
Forgive for Good (Luskin, 2002)
When Parents Hurt (Coleman, 2008)
The New Don't Blame Mother (Caplan, 2000)

December 4, 2011
6:23 am
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Elke
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Hello, i just read this thread on grief and loss. I have an ES, I lost my father 5 years ago, and am entangled in a destructive, dysfunctional family situation which includes my ES, mother, sister, brother in law, and a nephew who has just moved into the apartment complex. I plan on moving away and am 58 years old. I have attempted to move away before (but to another country, where I first checked out apartments) but I took the family along with me on a backpack. I hadnt even officially moved and already began to grieve. Now being 58 and without support and knowing I will be grieving scares me. I am already getting remarks from strangers saying "You look so sad". If grief takes so long, I ask myself if I will ever know what happiness is.

Low contact Daughter as you wrote: "How much time it will take, no-one can really say, as it depends on many factors including the level of insight you have into what was really going, you personal resilience, the quality of your support networks.

Support networks I do not have, and I dont know what is going on because it is all going on behind my back. I know the family has a "certain picture" of me that is not accurate. And it drives me crazy when I am accused of things that are not true, when no one bothers to take up contact with me to find out who I really am. Like my sister who said "I dont know you, Elke". I went to the family doctor with my mom once and the doctor only said "I always wanted two children, but with the competition I see in your family, I am glad I only have one".
When you write how much time it will take to overcome the mourning depends on the level of insight, it will take forever because I do not have any insight as to what is going on behind the scenes.
I have asked my sister and my son if they would come to family counceling, but I got no reply from my sister (I spoke on the answering service since she is not answering my calls, and my son only said: No. And angrily said "Boy, what I would TELL THEM!!!!"

December 3, 2011
5:21 am
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Low Contact Daughter
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Louise said:

LCD,
Great, thanks so much, I look forward to hearing about
your resources 🙂


Hi Louise,

First of all, I wanted to say that the pain and anguish you are experiencing is a completely normal reaction to the loss of a family member after going No Contact. As you put it, you are mourning the loss of a mother you never had and it will take time and energy to work through this. How much time, no-one can really say, as it depends on many factors including the level of insight you have into what was really going on in the relationship with your mother, your personal resilience, the quality of your support networks, etc. Ultimately, it will take as long as it needs to take for you to heal emotionally…and no-one (not even a therapist) should try to dictate to you how long this will be. One caveat: if you start showing signs of pathological grief (and these are listed in the first url below), you should not try to endure this but seek professional help immediately.

I also think that the grief you are experiencing could be complicated and intensified by the fact that your relationship with your mother was deeply ambivalent, with unresolved emotional issues between you. Hence it may take longer for you to heal than someone whose relationship with their parent was more positive. There's just more 'stuff' for you to process and work through. This next article goes through the various stages of the grief reaction. It might be helpful to read through it to see which stage you are at currently, and what you might expect to experience in future:

* http://www.helpguide.org/menta.....f_loss.htm

However, note that grieving is not always a neat, linear process. People can move back and forth between stages (I did), stay 'stuck' on one stage for a time while processing difficult emotional issues, and experience 'triggers' of grief during previously important 'family' dates such as birthdays, holidays, and Christmas. In my case, my father's birthday was a trigger that resulted in me making my first post to this forum. Though I posted partly in response to your message asking for other estranged children to come forward, it was also done to remind myself of all the reasons I should keep distancing myself from a chronically abusive relative.

Although this next article applies to the daughter of a narcissistic mother who decided to go No Contact and eventually reaped huge benefits in her life, it could apply to any dysfunctional family relationship:

* http://www.daughtersofnarcissi.....essay.html

BTW, I noticed there are some links on the site above stating that you can 'erase your hurt and pain' by tapping on acupuncture points. I'm not into New Age healing, being a skeptic from way back, but if this works for you, go for it.

And here is an article about a narcissistic mother who essentially ignored and neglected her daughter for decades, with the result that her daughter eventually went No Contact. Apparently the 'ignoring' mother can be a subset of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). I'm not sure if this is your mother's issue, though I'd put big money on the fact that she has a long-standing personality disorder of some kind, but I saw some parallels with your description of her and thought it might be useful:

* http://daughtersofnarcissistic.....other.html

One particularly helpful online psychologist/writer I found is Dr Joseph Carver. He has a good article on Stockholm Syndrome, which outlines why people sometimes find it incredibly difficult to detach emotionally from an abusive relationship. I don't know if this is complicating or intensifying the grief reaction you are experiencing but it may resonate with you and help you break the chains that bind:

* http://counsellingresource.com.....stockholm/

Note that while the above deals mainly with overtly abusive and controlling people, the same general principles would apply to those who covertly abuse and marginalise their relatives, as your mother did with you over many years. Just remember that you are not responsible for her personality disorder, nor for the abuse you suffered, nor for the eventual failure of the relationship. Some people are impossible to have a healthy relationship with, and someone who projects blame onto others, has zero insight into the effects of their damaging behaviour, and refuses to change is just that: impossible.

There are also online forums you can visit to get support while you are healing. I'd advise focussing on threads or forums set up specifically for the children of dysfunctional parents. Just avoid anything run by a guy called Dr Sam Vaknin as he is a self-proclaimed narcissist/sociopath who uses his forums to create very unhealthy co-dependency relationships with the damaged, vulnerable people who post there.

Some online forums, articles & resources that seem OK (note: I've read through the blogs they're listed on but haven't checked all of the links out myself, so cannot be certain) can be found at these urls:

* http://www.lightshouse.org/inf.....urces.html
* http://www.adultchildrenofdysf.....-dvds.html

I guess just use your discernment when reading or posting and be careful that your boundaries are respected. You will find many online friends to cheer you on and support you, all at different stages of the grieving/detachment process, and all with different perspectives on their situation and yours.

Finally, a goodbye, as it's unlikely that I'll be coming back to this board on a regular basis. It's been over 20 years since I left my parents' house as a teenager and I've reached a point now where I have largely moved on emotionally, aside from the occasional emotional lapse or trigger event. I've found that posting about my issues here has helped me gain some more clarity on them, and it's been a huge boost to my self-confidence to be able to help people like yourself who are in a similar situation. However, there comes a point (and you may find this too in time) where it becomes unhealthy and counterproductive to keep analysing the ins-and-outs of personality disordered people. It can be like gazing into an abyss, where no light or love is reflected back to you. In the end, most people seem to reach a point where they want to focus on the positive people and events they have going on in their lives, leaving the crazy stuff in the past where it belongs. This is where I'm at.

So…good luck with whatever you choose to do next and I wish you well on the road to healing. 🙂

LCD.

December 1, 2011
4:49 pm
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Low Contact Daughter
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Before I respond to Louise, I wanted to make it clear that I am not Dr Joshua Coleman, or any other mental health practitioner, writing under a pseudonym on this board.

Any mental health professional who would do this is, in my opinion, playing a dangerous game ethically as it undermines trust with the people he/she is seeking to establish a therapeutic bond with.

I've seen some of the comments Dr Coleman has made to this site and he always does so under his own login, so he is open and accountable to those he is assisting. This is as it should be.

In my case I do post under a pen-name as I am an ordinary person working through issues with my dysfunctional family and I want to minimise the risk (low though it may be) that someone I know might identify me. For the record, I have no mental health credentials or training and I am certainly not qualified to assist people with their issues professionally. Like others on this board, I have spent many years reading and thinking about psychological problems, in an attempt to understand the roots of my father's damaging personality and whether or not our relationship is salvageable. Undoubtably I've picked up a few psychological terms in the process but this by no means makes me an expert. So take what I say with a grain of salt, and let me know if I overstep the mark. And I, of course, will do the same for you. 🙂

Like Louise, this is the first time I've posted to a forum dealing with family dysfunction. It's been a real surprise to find that some of what I've experienced resonates with others and is helpful to them. I certainly didn't expect that and was very hesitant before making my first post. Ultimately, it's good to know that several decades worth of study and analysis has borne fruit.

So thank you people for making me feel welcome on this board.

December 1, 2011
12:01 pm
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Louise
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LCD,
Great, thanks so much, I look forward to hearing about
your resources 🙂

December 1, 2011
1:30 am
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Low Contact Daughter
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Hi Louise,

Just checking in to say that I read your last post and will respond within the next day or so. What I wanted to do was to focus on some of the resources and activities I have found helpful in moving through the grieving process that occurs when one is mourning a parent. If I recall correctly, coping with the pain of loss seemed to be one of your major concerns during your postings.

These resources may or may not be helpful to you, as each person copes differently with this kind of situation, but I thought I'd get them together anyway and you can check them out for yourself.

Mandy:
I'm pleased to hear that you are writing a memoir - that's great! I haven't done this myself but I've read that it can be a very useful way to explore your feelings, and to chart your progress - with all its ups and downs - towards a happier, healthier way of functioning.

November 29, 2011
8:38 pm
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louise
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Low contact daughter,
Thank you so much for your insight and thoughtfulness. I appreciate it more than I know how to say.
I am truly in awe. How on earth did you understand what I wrote- so clearly, and then respond with a summary that is everything I've always thought but could never have articulated beyond what I wrote?
Everything you’ve said is uncannily accurate.

Who are you? 🙂

You have said you are not a psychologist, or a counselor, but no one (not even my beloved therapist ) has so succinctly tied this up for me in a neat little package.
-I’m sure she could…but therapists like us all to figure it out for ourselves…crib notes are nice though!
You must have some credentials in this field?

To comment on a few things, just to clarify, oddly, my mother actually is a lovely person.
It’s not an act. She is ethical, more and honest (except when it comes to her emotions with me). This is in no way a defense of her but it merely was stated to show the dichotomy of the situation for me. She is not lovely to me now I completely agree, though before we were estranged, we had a very cordial, polite, surface -level relationship. She thinks we had lots of good times together...but they were times that I could just as easily have had them with a friend's mother. There was no connection, yet she thought there was. Confusing.
You brought up an interesting point however, about me loving the beautiful shining image of her. I don't mourn that. I really don't. I have no comforting memories with that person. My point was really that she's a kind, not a mean person. It's not phony. That's who she is.
What I do mourn though that I hadn't thought of until you made me think about it is, I mourn having a mother. I mourn never having had a mother. I mourn my large extended family which has never checked in with me in the past three years to see where I disappeared to.
I mourn never having had a mother I could share my life with, the one and only person whom I should be able to count on to care about the nuances of my life. I mourn not having a family to help guide me with raising my children or a family to share my children's lives with.
I know full-well that I have had a ‘privileged’ life relative to most of the world and many happy memories in spite of my family. I am, however, having such a hard time processing how I unfortunate it is to have weathered a father who was an alcoholic, lost him, did alright in raising myself in spite of that; and now this: a mother who cannot find a place in her heart for me, as though I’d been a monster to her.

I often wonder if my mother's 'fortress' is what ultimately pushed my father's drinking into high gear. I'm sure she could not handle his underlying depression and turned her back on him jut like she has me.

This will sound very needy, which I loathe to be, but how I wish I had a friend like you living near me. To have a friend who knows from experience what this crappy predicament is like and one who can do mental shorthand on what I say about this whole mess.
It has not been apparent to you yet, but I actually am a good friend to my friends.
I am a good listener, compassionate and loyal. I am not as totally self-absorbed as my posts are making me seem. BTW, this is my first ever post of any kind on the internet,
I’ve never done any chat rooms or social networking.
This is all very new to me and would not have done it unless I was at my wit’s end to find someone who could relate to what I am talking about.
I had no expectations of what the response would be. But in my wildest dreams would never have thought someone as astute as you are would have popped up!

I think one of the very hardest aspects of going through this estrangement is the extreme isolation it has made me feel because no one, not even my best, best friends, understand.
It's too heavy to be laying on them anyway...and when I do broach it, I end up curtailing what I really want to say. It's just too heavy. I find myself being angry with people viewing them as shallow and vacant...not my best friends, but more the second and third tier friends I am regularly in contact with. Unfortunately, my four closest friends all live on the East Coast. For a total extrovert, which I am, the isolation and the loneliness is the worst.
It is an living nightmare which I seem ever to be able to wake up from.

I cannot imagine how the loss as has subsided for you and how it ever will for me.
All of this is unnatural. Surreal.

Please tell me how you have such insight and brilliance on this subject?
Just because you’ve lived it does not mean you naturally can make sense of
A virtual stranger’s posts??
I’m intrigued.

Are you perhaps Dr. Josh Coleman?

Thank you again. You did not say what I wanted to hear, but hearing the truth and being understood is music to my ears.
With the utmost appreciation and gratitude,
Louise

November 29, 2011
4:00 am
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Low Contact Daughter
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Hi Louise,

This is a response to your postings about your mother. Several things struck me once I'd thought it over and these are key things because they reveal whether or not a real relationship is possible between you:

1. Does she have empathy? Does she have real emotional attachments and concern for others, including for her supposedly "nearest and dearest"? Does she have a healthy respect for the independence and individuality of her eldest daughter?

Let's look at what you wrote:

"My honesty is more of a challenge than my mother can bear."

"Her explanation literally blew my mind, (the psychologist's too) but what it really did was exemplify her lack of basic concern or care for me...This instance validated my lifelong fears that she didn't care about me as a normal mother should."

"Emotions and feelings are far too complicated and scary for my mother to think about. She built up her wall of protection to shield herself from her very scary and narcissistic mother 71 years ago, and it's never come down."

The answer is, sadly, no. She does not have empathy for others. She built a fortress decades ago so she doesn't have to risk the emotional pain of real relationships, and she's intent on staying behind it.

2. Is she willing to change, to meet you half-way so that a reconciliation might be possible? A real relationship is only possible when both parties are prepared to see things
from the perspective of the other person, to apologise for past misunderstandings or wrong-doings, and to commit to working together to improve trust and communication.

Again, what do your postings say:

"...my mother continues to do the same terribly hurtful things to me when we try to reconcile. She has never put effort into learning about herself so the same problems
continually arise when we meet."

"She blames me and takes no ownership of what has happened. As I see it, it takes two to tango."

Again, going by what is written in your posts, the answer is no. Again and again your mother has refused to engage with you in any real way. She is not willing to do what is
necessary to build a genuine, two-way relationship between you.

Some other observerations:
I noticed that you seem to have two separate, and conflicting, attitudes about your mother. It's like a duel is going on between your heart and your head. On the one hand you say things that seem to idealise and adore her such as: "my mother is a kind, lovely person who doesn't have a malicious bone in her body" and "I am missing so much by not having her in my life." That's your heart speaking. That's the deep love and need most children - except the severely sociopathic or narcissistic - have for their parents. It's a yearning that is not based upon reason, a need that first develops when we are very small and dependent upon seemingly all-powerful adults for our physical and emotional well-being. I still have traces of it for a narcissistic father who barely registers that I exist, though I use my better judgement to fight it and with time the emotional bond has weakened.

I think this is what you may be doing too. Engaging in a fierce battle for your emotional survival, waging a war between your unmet emotional needs and your intellect. Because at times a different viewpoint of your mother emerges from your love and yearning, the viewpoint of an intelligent adult who is not easily fooled: "I think it unnerves her that I can see through her. I have always hated having this insight and power over her" and "She will say she loves me but her words became meaningless to me years ago. Her actions towards me have never matched a word she has said."

And then, in the one sentence, both viewpoints are active and struggle against each other for supremacy: "I am missing so much by not having her in my life [my insert: this is your heart speaking]. But I cannot bear the way she marginalizes me, my feelings, how she does not care to know me, and how she blames me for all of this mess [my insert again: this is your head and, at this stage, it appears to be winning]."

Despite your mother's appalling neglect and mistreatment of you, you are suffering because you are still deeply emotionally bonded to her. It seems you haven't yet decided whether to heed the red flags your insight and intelligence have revealed to you, which are urging you to finally throw in the towel and stop trying to connect with someone who has been unloving towards you for decades. Thus you seem to be emotionally stuck, finding it difficult to move on and heal. For many emotionally exhausting years now it seems that you have tried to hold your mother to account, to prod her into self-awareness and empathy, to prove to her that you are worthy of her love.

Yet it seems to me that what you love and yearn for most in your mother is the self she presents to the world at large, the image of a kindly woman who - as you say - "doesn't have a malicious bone in her body." This beautiful, shining image is, I am sorry to say, completely false. I say it's false because it is not consistent. She shows a different image to you than what she reveals to others who pose no emotional threat to her. And the image you see (or "see through", as you put it) is - regrettably - her real self. A self that is so damaged,
under-developed and toxic that, in self-protection, she has walled herself off emotionally from those who need her most. It seems she had to do that to save herself from the
woundings of a narcissistic mother. Your mother may not be narcissistic herself but, like them, she uses a false face to hide behind and she has made the terrible choice not to
love.

At this point you may wonder about the different treatment she metes out to your sister. I wondered about that too and think that several things could be going on here. On the one hand, it could be that your strength, intelligence and independence remind your mother (painfully) of her failed, conflict-ridden relationship with your real father. I believe you said in one post that you resemble him character-wise? Maybe she never had the upper hand in that relationship and, now that he has left the battlefield, she is punishing him (and therefore "winning") through her rejection of you? Your sister, on the other hand, seems far less challenging for a dysfunctional person to relate to from the way you've described her. Perhaps she is less of a reminder about past failures/humiliations and therefore less of an emotional threat? Just a thought. However, it's interesting to observe that you don't actually say your mother is emotionally supportive or loving towards your sister. What you do say is that your sister and her family are given a lot materially from your mother. At this point I have to say that this is not, as I'm sure you know, a sign of real love or concern for them. It just looks that way on
the surface and that may be partly why your mother does it, to prove to the world at large and to herself that she is indeed a "good person." Her giving money away so apparently selflessly could be a way of propping up the image she presents to the world, that of a kindly, gentle lady who harbours no real resentment or aggression towards anybody...

I contend that this image is false and that your mother is in reality a very angry woman. What does she have to be angry about? Her enormously damaging relationship with her mother that made her put up defences in the first place, her failed relationship with her first husband (your father), and possibly a corrosive self-hatred as she realises she dare not leave the safety of her emotional fortress. Yet it seems that she has buried that rage deep down, practicing what's called "passive aggression" to you rather than attacking you openly. Secretly witholding what she knows you most deeply desire from her (ie. the opening of herself up to you so that you can connect emotionally), over decades, so that it wounds you deeply (and she is aware of those wounds, as I believe you wrote to her about them) is a deeply, horribly, aggressive act. Make no mistake about it. The fact that the aggression towards you is so apparently innocuous, so passive, is what makes it even more dangerous and toxic because most people don't recognise it. Thus you have little support for your sufferings - even from your own husband - and are largely isolated. Yet I would go further and say that I believe you mother is not only angry, she's terrified that her
emotional defences may one day be breached - by challenging, frightening you, in your quest for love. Yet still she strives to look "good" on the surface, rejecting you ever so sweetly and passively, while employing a very immature defence mechanism called projection. Projection works for her because if she can dump every bit of blame for the failed relationship onto you, publically tarring and feathering you as the "bad guy", she can then rest secure in the knowledge that she - on the other hand - still looks "good" to outsiders. I'd say your mother's concern with looking "good" probably came from her damaging relationship with her narcisstic mother. She was most likely used as an emotional dumping ground when she was a defenceless child, with her mother striving to look blameless by comparison. Now she's repeating the pattern with you. It's all she knows and - most importantly for you - it's clearly all she will allow herself to know.

The final question to ask is: where to next? Where does this relationship (one-sided though it may be) seem likely to be headed? Again, your own words point to the answer:

"Each time I have tried to meet her half way, I leave with a more profound hurt which takes months to bounce back from. The only option left to me is to stay away and protect myself from further heartbreak. As sad as I am and as much as I miss her everyday, I think that the pain is still less than the times that my mother has neglected and rejected me."

It is a hard truth to learn that, for whatever reason, some people just do not love their children and are terrible parents. Of course the reverse is true as well for any
estranged parents who might be reading this. And when you've tried to reach someone for decades, only to be subjected to ever-increasing wounding and toxicity - there comes a point where you must listen to your head and walk away to save yourself. As I said in an earlier post, just because someone shares DNA with you does not give them the right to inflict their pathologies onto you. I also wanted to say that if you can understand that what you miss most about your mother appears to be her false face (or the "kindly" mother you never had), not the raging, immature true self she has repressed, then it might make it easier for you to let go. If it helps at all, the pain eases with time, and the act of "letting go" of a dysfunctional person doesn't mean you lose your humanity or that you cease to care about them on some level. You can still keep tabs on them from a safe distance if you wish. That's what I do, which is why I've called myself "low contact." I have now reached a point in my relationship with my father where I wish him well as a person, just as I wish every person on this planet well, but I don't seek to engage him personally any more. I hope he is safe and healthy, and not in any kind of distress or difficulty. However, his personality disorder is so deeply ingrained and damaging (as it sounds like it is with your mother also), that I have had to accept the fact that he will never change and is lethal to me. And I respect and value who I am too much to go running back into his life, with hope uppermost in my heart, only to be rejected or treated like an emotional punching bag again. I deserve much better than that.

And so, Louise, do you.

November 28, 2011
6:32 pm
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Carolyn said:
gg

Louise, After writing my reply earlier this morning I could not get your story off my mind. In addition to what I wrote earlier, I started thinking about your mother and how she continues to hurt you by her actions. Could it be that since your mother was never loved that she does not know how to love and also feels that she is uncapable of being loved. My husband had the same issue and I use to tell him that he had to love himself before he could love others. He just never could buy into loving himself because he thought he was so bad. They are difficult people to understand and be around. And maybe when she is with you she feels so much guilt and shame for the problems between you but does not know how to deal with it and say she's sorry. Have you ever told her that you forgive her for the past mainly for your sake so you can let go of the grief and pain but also to help her realize that she is worth loving. At her age I am sure it is very difficult to have to face all the pain that she tries to block out as much as possible. I believe that forgiving each other can work miracles. We can not change the past and the only way we can move forward is to have love and compassion and forgiveness. Since I have to give my daughters' their space at their request, I hope I can be of help to you. Helping and giving to others makes a person feel so good inside. My life was full helping my children until they took advantage of me and only wanted me when there was something in it for them. Just like with my husband I learned in therapy that I needed to stand up for myself and not be walked over. Needless to say, I love them and forgive them and I will always be here for them when and if they are able to deal with their issues. Good luck to you and your mother.


Hi Carolyn,
I am laughing at your comment about letting a 'higher being' take over...truly not in my nature to sit back and hope! Although in this case my wings have been very much clipped, so I can't be very proactive...but certainly not surrendering!:)
I think my mother would say many of the same things about me that you have said about your youngest daughter in particular.
First of all- I have NEVER blamed her for my father (nor have I ever blamed him for the chaos he created). I really don't feel blame for that era..I would however, love to hear my mother say that she is so sorry it happened to us.
I'd love to have her say how proud she is that we were not destroyed- that I in particular was so resilient and have made good choices (for example, graduated from an Ivy League college, was talented in my career, married a great guy, quit drinking cold turkey 14 years ago, have two wonderful, nice, polite and smart children...) but she gives me credit for nothing. My sister, the needy one, has not made the same good choices at all. My parents have supported her every bad move- left 2 great husbands...has a very inappropriate party-life...and my parents support and pay for her life and her 2 children's. $50k each a year for schools, expensive activities and private lessons, all vacations...bought her 2 houses, on and on. It's not the money I care about it's the inequity of it all. She pays for NOTHING in our lives because my husband has a good job.

The financials are truly the least of it though.

I cannot give her a hug and say I forgive you, first because I live 3,000 miles away. Secondly, the times that I am in her presence and she does something hurtful, it's done so mysteriously and thoughtlessly, she somehow seems to turn the situation around and make me feel as though I'm "being difficult" or "complicated". She will never take ownership of her actions, so it is very difficult to deal with and act on. It is very mysterious. She is not a liar, she just has no idea what she's done wrong. It's almost as if she is mentally challenged though I know she's not because she's very well-read and curious about the world. And yes, she has no idea how to love because that lesson was never shown to her. She has repeatedly told me she loves and cares deeply about her family, (where was she the night I needed to talk to her in the middle of having a heart attack?) but there really is no emotional evidence.

She is utterly disconnected emotionally. She fortunately is married to my stepfather who is exactly like her, (his mother was identical to my grandmother) so their relationship works. Since I was a small child, I have never seen her break down, talk to a friend, ask anything of anyone or show any needs. Even when I pressed because I was worried about something for her. She never laid guilt on me...I needed to do nothing for her. She had no needs emotionally. When I was there for her, when both of her parents were dying I'd call her daily, she seemed never to need me or recognize what a good daughter I was being.
I would send her flowers, write her loving notes...it all seemed superfluous.
When I was having a hard time with an issue, she'd sort of listen, have no advice and never EVER, EVER follow up the next day, much less the next month, to see how I was doing. Nothing that I did for her to show her my support and effort to make her feel like she had someone on her side was ever reciprocated.

She would describe me as complicated, angry, impossible to please, volatile, a bully and smart.
If there is any part truth to those titles, it's because she has always driven me to it to try and wake her up, make her examine her actions, love me.

A few times she said something to me that actually had gravitas, she said that before my sister was born, she didn't think she could have another child because she loved me so much; she didn't think she had enough love for another child.
To put it mildly, that statement haunts and crushes me.
I ask myself, 'what could have happened? Why did she cast me aside?' What about me changed so much that her intense love for me went away? I learned to speak? I was educated? I had an opinion? I needed her? I became a challenge? She saw me as the resilient one?

One and a half years ago, in a very spontaneous moment I decided to send my mother who I hadn't had any contact with for a year and a half, pictures and news of my children, her grandchildren. I made a little website and posted about 30 images of the kids doing their various activities throughout the year. I wrote in brief all their news.
My mother's email back was, "Your children are dazzling.
Thanks for the photos and news!"
Doesn't that sound like a reply from a polite neighbor?

I can't say what you should do in terms of your girls. Of course, they would have their own versions of the situation, not to suggest that I think you aren't telling the truth, but as I said in an earlier post, it takes two to tango.

You are so much more evolved and plugged in to your feelings and your situation than my mother is to ours.
Have you tried family counseling? I'm sure you have..
I don't know your daughters obviously, but I can bet they are struggling as much as you are. They could not possibly have wanted this estrangement to happen- but were pushed to a point that they could no longer bear. NO ONE, not Adolph Hitler, would choose this as their path in life.
The pain of losing a parent is excruciating. Excruciating. Not a day or 2 hours go by that I don't mourn the loss of my mother. She is the first person I want to call with good news. The holidays take my breath away. I am missing so much by nit having her in my life. But I cannot bear the way she marginalizes me, my feelings, how she does not care to know me, and how she blames me for all of this mess. As though I'd chosen this hell for kicks.

I fear for the day when I get a call that she has fallen ill or worse. But the saddest day for me to think about is the one when I am sitting next to her when she is old, holding her hand and thinking about all 0f the time we have lost, never to be gotten back. When she is gone, the pain I feel now will seem like nothing comparatively.

You seem to have done so much soul searching and...it seems like you have so much to share and show your children; to prove things are really different from whatever it was that drove them away.
Go after it. Be creative.
If my mother gave me any indication that she had done what you have, I wouldn't be scared of her power to hurt me anymore. xx, louise

November 28, 2011
11:24 am
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Carolyn
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Louise, After writing my reply earlier this morning I could not get your story off my mind. In addition to what I wrote earlier, I started thinking about your mother and how she continues to hurt you by her actions. Could it be that since your mother was never loved that she does not know how to love and also feels that she is uncapable of being loved. My husband had the same issue and I use to tell him that he had to love himself before he could love others. He just never could buy into loving himself because he thought he was so bad. They are difficult people to understand and be around. And maybe when she is with you she feels so much guilt and shame for the problems between you but does not know how to deal with it and say she's sorry. Have you ever told her that you forgive her for the past mainly for your sake so you can let go of the grief and pain but also to help her realize that she is worth loving. At her age I am sure it is very difficult to have to face all the pain that she tries to block out as much as possible. I believe that forgiving each other can work miracles. We can not change the past and the only way we can move forward is to have love and compassion and forgiveness. Since I have to give my daughters' their space at their request, I hope I can be of help to you. Helping and giving to others makes a person feel so good inside. My life was full helping my children until they took advantage of me and only wanted me when there was something in it for them. Just like with my husband I learned in therapy that I needed to stand up for myself and not be walked over. Needless to say, I love them and forgive them and I will always be here for them when and if they are able to deal with their issues. Good luck to you and your mother.

November 28, 2011
8:06 am
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Dear Louise, Thank you for responding. My heart goes out to you. It was so painful to read about how your mother treats you that I had tears streaming down my face. It is so sad that she will not face her issues and that she does not see how it is affecting you. You need to be gentle with yourself and know that the treatment of others does not define you. It is not your fault. The fact that you have tried so many times shows how much you care. Have you ever tried to approach your mother right at the moment she is hurting you and give her a hug and hold her and say "Mother, I love you so much and when you treat me this way I feel like you do not love me. Why are you doing this?" I know this would be difficult when someone is hurting you to reach out, but maybe it would help break down her walls. I also really feel for your Mother for what she had to endure and what she had to do to protect herself. She never had a mother to love her and she does not know how. My husband was brought up the same way and it created a lot of problems in our marriage as he was controlling and an alcoholic. I knew he had a lot of love in his heart he just could not show it. He never wanted to face his demons either and would blame everyone else for his problems. Needless to say I went into therapy three times to learn how to deal with him and stand up for myself. I loved him and tried to help him, not always easy and we were married 38 years until he died. My issues with my daughters is different than yours. I was always there for my girls and sometimes overprotective since I had a mother similar to yours and vowed I would not be like her. My estrangement issues with the youngest daughter are from her jealousy about her sister who required more care as a child because of a chronic disease. She(the youngest) was loved and cared for and never neglected. I was a stay at home Mom who did everything for them,went to her tennis matches, taught them how to cook, sewed for them, went shopping with them, etc. But at 41 she still has to find a way to always complain when I help her sister. With her no matter what I do it is wrong. She only knows how to take but has trouble giving of herself. I love her so much and miss my grandchildren who I haven't seen in two years but for some reason I cannot prove to her my love. I have done everything in my power to grow and improve myself and see where I have been wrong. I have read numerous books, took both sets of teleseminars with Dr. Coleman, which has helped me remain sane and deal with these issues and talk with my sister-in-law who is a counselor. I have sent my amend letters, acknowledged my mistakes, asked for forgiveness, tell her I will always be here for her and will love her no matter what and continue to send gifts to the boys which I am happy are acknowledged. As far as stopping by at her house, Dr. Coleman does not suggest that. My estrangement with the oldest daughter, 43, who I have been there for all her life and helped her raise her daughter (16 now) since she was a single mother, has become disrepectful and verbally abusive as well as my granddaughter seeing that her mother is behaving that way and blaming me and her father for her problems in having a meaningful relationship. She moved here after her father died and we had a great relationship like we had for all these years until she started dating again. She had issues with her father but was always close to me. Sorry this is getting so long but I hope we can be of help to each other in understanding where the adult child is coming from. Take care and I will continue to pray for all of us. I have learned that when things are out of our control we just have to give it up to a Higher Being. It takes a big load off your back.

November 28, 2011
12:16 am
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Low Contact Daughter said:

Mandy, I think you are pretty well spot-on when you say "I'm wondering whether we in fact develop these over-compensatory aspects to our personalities BECAUSE of having been around narcissistic and manipulative people all our lives..."

I also think that when people have had relationships with narcissistic significant others, as you and I and others on this board have, they can sometimes have issues with emotional boundaries. Before I continue, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I can only speak from my own experience and hope that some points I make might be helpful for others.

The emotional wounds we non-narcissists have incurred following our engulfing, boundary-crossing relationships with family narcissists are deep. So deep that we may have problems setting healthy boundaries for ourselves once we have left (or been left by) the narcissist. Old habits, or unhealthy ways of relating to people, learned at the hands of the narcissist over many years, die hard. And emotional wounds are slower to heal than physical ones. In my case I have to watch that I don't over-identify with strangers who are suffering at the hands of narcissists, or become overly hostile or yearning towards those who remind me of my narcissistic father, and thereby cross boundaries myself. This phenomenon (over-identification, instant sympathy or hostility, and boundary crossing) is known as emotional transference.

From what I've read, transference can be positive and healing if you're in a sound therapeutic relationship and the therapist knows how to deal with it. However, on this board we don't have this training so I think it's something to be aware of and guard against as it's not reality-based and can injure others. Transference is kind of an emotional short-cut, where we project the feelings we had towards significant others (in my case, the father I am estranged from and his victims) onto others, then expect them to behave in that way. Transference blinds us so that we see in others only what we need to see, thereby opening ourselves up to pain and disillusionment as they almost inevitably fail to "follow the script" our transference reaction has set for them.

BTW, transference can also occur when deep emotional wounds have occurred at the hands of non-narcissists. I've just restricted myself to talking about people with narcissistic personality disorder as that is where my life experience lies.

I guess what I'm working up to saying is that this board, where both estranged parents and estranged children can post and interact with each other, is a potential emotional powder keg due to the phenomenon of transference. It is possible, however, that blow-ups and further wounds can be avoided if we keep reminding ourselves that the person we are communicating with on the board - and potentially having an intense emotional response to - is NOT the family member we have lost. Instead, they are a completely new individual with their own unique personality, values and life issues..that they may or may not choose to share with us.

As a final point, I'm not saying that we should avoid responding to others with compassion, appropriately weighted judgement/constructive criticism, or interest. What I am trying to highlight is that we need to be on our guard when we notice that our reactions to someone we have just met are unusually emotionally intense - either in a positive or a negative direction. Then, more likely than not, what we are actually experiencing is transference instead of the forging of a healthy emotional bond with that person.

Like I said, I'm not an expert, just a person who has experienced severe narcissism in her FOO and is working through it. If my post is at all inappropriate or unhelpful, or needs further clarification, I welcome the attentions of this forum's moderators, who are qualified to rectify this.


Low Contact Daughter, this response is very brief due to time constraints for me right now. However, I wanted to say I totally relate to everything you say in your post. It is so in depth and insightful that I am printing it to reread.

The irony is that I am currently writing a memoir which I hope to have published within two years, its theme being the repercussions of growing up without boundaries and a people-pleaser to the degree that I became a chameleon, unsure of who I was. The story is of mental illness that resulted from this codependence and the protagonist's (my) challenging journey towards recovery.

You will understand what your post has meant to me. You are a lady of unbelievable intellect and insight.

I've done the therapy thing from as young as 12 when I almost died from anorexia. I absolutely agree that one can only recover with the assistance of professional help and total commitment to what at times will feel like a one-step forward, two-steps back journey.

Thank you so much for your post.

November 27, 2011
9:43 pm
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Thank you Carolyn for your very kind reply.
It is very helpful to hear from "The Mothers":)

I agree with your points about trying to reconcile and accept each other for who we are.
I accepted my mother's shortcomings a long time ago and she mine, I'm quite certain.

The problem is I've tried reconciliation a number of times (this estrangement is not the first, just the longest being 3 years), and the problem is my mother continues to do the same terribly hurtful things to me when we try to reconcile.
She has never put effort into learning about herself so the same problems continually arise when we meet.

To give you an example, following the family counseling I mentioned before which she begged me to do with her; the session that she divulged she 'didn't want to be woken up' the night I was in the ER having a heart attack. Following that session, I still went to visit her in Philadelphia three months later. Upon my arrival, still at the airport, she informed me that she wouldn't be able to see me for 4 days as something with work had come up. I was only to be in town for 6 days. She then dropped me at my best friend's house with a kiss and went home to make dinner for my stepfather. We had been making plans for our visit up until the day before we arrived. We were all looking forward to it.
After my arrival, she would text me to arrange to have my children over for dinner at her house. I was not invited. Suddenly she found it too difficult to have me around my stepfather and sister- conflict- so the easiest way to deal with it was to exclude me.
I cannot tell you the anguish this caused me. When I left Philadelphia, I could barely breath and went into a deep depression for weeks after. She didn't call me for 4 months. When she finally called, she called to tell me that she and my stepfather were selling the house I'd grown up in which they'd owned for 33 years. I courtesy I guess.

A huge going away party for the house was thrown, and I was not invited. Same thing for her 70th birthday party.

There are so many examples just like this one that I could sit here typing them for days. I'll spare you.

I think you misunderstood that when I said what a kind and good person she is...that I meant she is loving.
She is not loving. She always took care of us, paid the bills, picked us up on time, took us for our annual check ups, etc. etc. She did the right thing. Those things required no emotion.
She was not however, loving.

She will say she loves me but her words became meaningless to me a years ago. Her actions towards me have never matched a word she has said.

I am a challenge to her psychological vacancy.
I am window into the shortcomings she has never wanted to examine. If she were to delve into her feelings, she would open Pandora's box. She knows that.
I represent danger to her.

She is kind to people that ask and want nothing of her.
As her daughter, that is very hard to do. Though I have never been the needy daughter, that is my sister's role, I have had some needs in my 48 years and she has consistently turned her back on them.
Emotions and feelings are far too complicated and scary for my mother to think about. She built up her wall of protection to shield herself from her very scary and narcissistic mother 71 years ago, and it's never come down.
I have always leaned on that as an excuse for her emotional retardation. It breaks my heart to this day to think of her as an unloved little girl.

It sounds as though you have done some soul searching and that you really want to reconcile with your girls.
Would it be possible for you to show up at one of your daughter's houses and tell them how sorry you are for whatever it is that they've been feeling? Assure them that the pain will stop and your behavior will change?
Obviously I am saying to you what I wish my own mother would do. She would never put herself out on a limb for me though. It sounds like you are brave enough. You are reading this forum, you are engaging...looking for answers. My mother is not.

I have written my mother near dissertations, explaining my pain, explaining what went wrong, desperation and sadness coming through on every line. In return, I barely get a response.
My alcoholic father was always so much easier to understand and forgive, I never doubted his love for me.

I have always been a loyal, devoted and protective daughter to my mother. She has always left me to fend for myself.

Thank you again for your thoughtful reply. It is interesting to hear the other side.

November 27, 2011
5:45 pm
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Louise said:

Hi Low Contact Duaghter,
Gosh I am so saddened to hear of your awful experience with a father so crazy. It must have been excruciatingly hard for you growing up and I really hope you had escapes from the insanity via good friends or interests. Good friends from 1st grade on, were my escape and my family.

I too grew up in a highly dysfunctional family, as my brilliant and tortured father was an alcoholic. Such a severe case that he drank himself to death by the age of 42!

I was the oldest with a sister 3 years younger, and I was the go between between my father's physical violence against my mother. I would bodily get in he middle of their fighting beginning at the age of five. I was the grown up.
My father, like yours, physically abused animals, our family dog, which was completely heartbreaking to me.
Strangely thiygh, with all of the chaos, unpredicatabilty and danger my father brought to our household before my parents divorced when I was seven, I also loved him very much.
He was brilliant, astute, witty and had very funny observations of people. I got all of those traits from him and I love that, except the brilliant one!

The pain of estrangement with my mother far outweighs the hell of being a child of an alcoholic. Somehow I always understood the complexities of the disease and understood that it was not my intelligent father speaking when he had been drinking. I always knew that it was his demons. How i had that insight at such a young age still baffles me because the issues were certainly never explained to me.
I never saw his out of control behavior as having any bearing on his love for me. Never once. He knew me, liked me, got a real kick out of my feisty personality but more than anything he wanted to know and understand me. He would share his wisdom with me. he let me know him.

My mother, whom I am sadly estranged from as well as my stepfather of 35 years (who adopted me when I was 39) and my only sister.
On the flip side of my father 'getting me' and knowing me, my mother has always been put off by my take charge, call it like I see it personality. Where I take the bull by the horns and call a spade a spade, my mother ducks her head in the sand and turns a blind eye to adversity.
Her passivity has caused and fueled much of the chaos in our family.

My mother comes with her own baggage as she was treated like the poor stepdaughter by her own mother, the definition of narcissism. Beautiful, frightfully vain, wealthy, married to the "catch of Philadelpia" in the 1930's and considered the pinnacle of Philadelphia Society, she seemingly had it all. Despite all of her priviledge and good fortune, my grandmother was a tormented soul who meted out psychological abuse to my mother and her three younger sisters their whole lives.
My far too polite and princely grandfather, cut from the same mold as my mother, never intervened nor protected his girls from my grandmother. Irreparable damage and dysfunction was the result.
My grandmother's ill-treatment of her daughters continued on to her grandchildren, and me being the eldest I got a heavy dose.
The complexity of my personal estrangement from my mother is hard to describe adequately. It is subtle, complex and it's roots benign. As my mother is a kind, lovely person who doesn't have a malicious bone in her body, people, including my husband who I've been with for 25 years, cannot understand how i could possibly take issue with her My only explanation to those few that have inquired that she truly is all of those wonderful adjectives, though being her daughter is a very complicated role to be in.

To exemolify, i can never count on my mother being there for me emotionally when I most need her. She retreats. It has been a damaging pattern with her my whole life. Sometimes I think that by the grace of God I was born resilient enough and smart enough that I was able to raise myself into a kind, compassionate person in spite of the lack of protection or direction from my mother. I have made good healthy decisions in my life which is more than I can say for some family members.
I say this not boastfully but as a matter of fact as i would have much preferred a mother who was looking out for me and showing me through her actions, not just words, that she actually loved and cared what became of me.
No matter the chaos of my father and the dangerous situations I faced because of his drinking nor the agregiously unjust ways family members have treated me, my mother chose not to be involved and very often would take the opposing side, believing me to be a liar.
I can say withiut hesitation that I am honest to a fault and to my own detriment. My honesty is more of a challenge than my mother can bear. I think it unnerves her that i can see through her. I have always hated having this insight and power over her. I wanted her to be in charge, her to be the wiser one, not me.
Over the past 20 years, my whole adult life, her passivity- when the chips were down- became harder and harder to
bear. To cite an example, I, an extremely healthy 43 year old, had an out of the blue heart attack five years ago.
When I called my parents to notify them from the ER of my situation, as my husband was unreachable on a plane, my mother chose not come to the phone to speak with me. As it came out later in Family Counseling, when I said how hurt I was she didn't speak to me in my legitimate time of need, she responded, verbatim, by saying, "it was late, I had taken some cough medicine and I was afraid that if I had talked to you you would have tried to talk me into coming out to see you". She was on the East coast, I on the West.
Her explanation literally blew my mind, (the psychologist's too) but what it really did was exemplify her lack of basic concern or care for me. She, who I had always diligently protected from her mother and my father, once again had left me flapping in the wind. This instance validated my lifelong fears that she didn't care about me as a normal mother should.
I could write a novel about similar experiences but the bottom line was, whenever I was around my mother, I left her feeling literally toxic inside. I began getting never-ending migraines, chronic muscle spasms and feelings of despair all from the stress of her neglect and rejection of me.
As the psychologist explained it to my mother, "when you see a five-alarm fire you disappear. When Louise sees a five alarm fire, she takes it on".

So I guess the estrangement is fueled by our fundamental differences as human beings. Our chemistry is at odds.
My mother views our estrangement as my fault, me being difficult and my choice. She has said to my best friend that she thinks I'm happier without my family. She blames me and takes no ownership of what has happened.
As I see it, it takes two to tango.

The pain I have felt over the loss of my mother and family is truly indescribable. It haunts me in the day and in my dreams. I am in a constant state of mourning the loss of my mother. I feel completely hollow inside some days. Other days I'm okay and then out of nowhere my feelings of grief level me.
The guilt and sadness I feel for my children who barely know their family overwhelms me and I often fear the lash-back from them for their alienation, is sure to come soon.
I try my very best to apologize to them they that are suffering because of my problem with my mother but it still doesn't negate my sadness for their loss, nor theirs.

I was raised knowing all of my grandparents, a few of my great grand parents and my huge extended family in Philadelphia. We vacationed together, in our longtime family summer house, in a pristine spot in New England every summer of my life. Dysfunction aside, I knew what it meant to be part of a family. My kids don't have a clue.

If I felt that after all these years of trying to make my mother see how her inaction, disconnectedness and lack of honesty with her self is the breeding ground for more hurt and dysfunction in our family; that she might finally see the light and make the necessary changes, I would run back to her tomorrow. If I knew I wouldn't have to bear more rejection, misunderstanding and false accusations from her I would be the first to reconcile. But, I am too afraid of more pain. Each time I have tried to meet her half way, I leave with a more profound hurt which takes months to bounce back from.
The only option left to me is to stay away and protect myself from further heartbreak. As sad as I am and as much as I miss her everyday, I think that the pain is still less than the times that my mother has neglected and rejected me.
I would love to hear from others how you cope. This is a heavy cross to bear and I'm so afraid it will never get easier.


Dear Louise,
As a mother of two estranged daughters, age 41(on and off for 10 years) and 43 (about a year) it is helpful to hear the other side of the coin as most of us on this forum are the estranged mothers. Although our situations are all a little bit different what I see as an underlying theme is that we are all hurting so very deeply and wish it could all be different but just do not know how best to relate to the other those feelings. I read in your post how much you miss your mother and what a wonderful loving person she is but that she is unable to meet your needs. I understand and can feel your pain. What about accepting your mother for who she is and not for what you want her to be. I am sure if she is such a loving person as you described, she down in her heart wishes she could be that person that you so want but for some reason whether it is her past upbringing or the relationship with your father that she is unable to be. Maybe she feels she cannot live up to you. Accepting each other for their differences and for who they are could be a step in the right direction. When we come at each other with accusations we just push them further away. No one is perfect. Being able to communicate our needs without condemning is helpful to both. Having unconditional love, compassion and acceptance could help you get back on the road to reconciliation. Blaming each other for past situations and dwelling on them when they cannot be changed will only set you backward. Working on ourselves rather than concentrating on changing others is more beneficial in moving forward. Family love is so important and unfortunately sometimes we find out too late.

It is refreshing to hear how much you would love to have a relationship with your mother since most of us feel that our children just want us out of their lives by the way they are treating us and rejecting us. All of us on this forum are caring, loving mothers who would do anything in our power to make things right if we are only given the chance but for some reason our adult children shut us out. It is getting through that barrier that we are all hoping for. Through your input maybe you can be of help to us.

I pray for all the estranged parents and estranged adult children that we somehow can find a peaceful way of relating to each other so no one has to suffer including all the innocent grandchildren.

November 27, 2011
4:25 pm
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AnnaLisa
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"Please tell me how you cope with this terrible dilemma."

I was estranged from my mother for about 5 years, aside from a phone call that I made to her (she never calls me).
I was in the town she lives in recently, and decided on the spur of the moment to drop in.
She let me in and I loved on her, told her I loved her, etc., and began calling her on the phone.
I told her I wanted a regular mother/daughter relationship with her. (She is in her eighties!)
Sadly, (for her), she bears grudges to a nearly unbelievable degree and cannot forgive anything I have said or done, which doesn't amount to much.
I feel sorry for her.....I stopped calling her because the last time I called, she DEMANDED to rehash the past, she argued and fussed and I just don't want it.
She is in a VERY dysfunctional relationship with my older sister and I think they just don't want anyone else coming around. (They live together).
I have a younger brother - he hasn't been back here in over a decade. I guess he just doesn't want to deal with it.
She knows where I am and is welcome to call me but I'm not going to argue and fuss. I live in the present and I refuse to be drawn into some mess like that.
She is a really sad individual whom I feel sorry for. She has voluntarily missed out on most of my kids' growing up.
Her loss.
I don't really even feel like I have a mother.
She is more like a "birth channel" through which I arrived here.

I have coped by getting closer to my dear husband's family, and others who have been loving to me.

Unlike most people, I do not regard "family" as one's family of origin.....I think that word applies to anyone who treats you right and loves you...

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