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Support for all who are living with estrangement

(1001 Posts)
Smileless2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 13:46:03

Here we go again, let's hope we continue to give one another the care and support so badly needed when trying to live with the pain of estrangement.

Smileless2012 Wed 25-Sep-19 15:51:25

Not rubbish at all hugshelp, writing two replies is a good idea.

Dolcelatte Wed 25-Sep-19 21:18:18

Smileless, thank you so much for your posts and I really feel for you in your need to comfort your husband in his pain as well as dealing with your own. In many ways it is harder to see someone we love suffer than it is to suffer ourselves. It is clear from your posts, however, that you are married to a wonderful man and that you support each other throughout everything. I completely understand about the effect on the extended family. My MIL, who moved to be near us and gave such love to DD, who was her first DGC, was also shut out by DD and, as she is elderly and in care, could have died without knowing she was a great grandmother. It must be even worse for your mum and MIL, living so close by.

Hugs, thank you for your sound advice, and I am also indebted to Pantglas. I felt so upset and angry this morning that I felt like firing off an angry message, but tried to change my reaction, took deep breaths, let the waves crash, and when the feeling had passed, sent a short but positive reply to DD.

Hugs, you are right that bridges need to be rebuilt before these things can be discussed. If I am confrontational, she will be defensive - that's just human nature - so more deep breaths, be patient. I know, I know, thanks to you lovely ladies and friends. X

Smileless2012 Wed 25-Sep-19 22:39:55


agnurse Thu 26-Sep-19 00:10:23


That's a very good idea. The letter that is not sent is commonly referred to as a "burn letter" (based on the idea that you would burn it instead of sending it). A burn letter is very helpful for anyone who is affected by the behaviour of another person, as it helps to release the anger in a healthy way. Goodness knows I have written burn letters to Hubby's ex due to what she has done to DSD.

Namsnanny Thu 26-Sep-19 00:57:48

I've not been able to comment let alone offer advice Dolcelatte as I've followed the ups and downs you've experienced, I consistently have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
I've read, with great admiration, your articulate re telling of the journey, slowly towards a reconciliation with your daughter.

All the supportive, understanding, intuitive, caring and friendly advice given leaves me humbled.
I've been very touched to see such lovely posters always ready with support and constructive help when ever another is at a low point.

Just seeing this kindness to others is overwhelmingly heartening.
Thank you everyone for trying and caring.
Your all so very important.

hugshelp Thu 26-Sep-19 13:16:12

Dolcelatte Namsnanny flowers brew

Dolcelatte Sat 28-Sep-19 08:18:37

Thank you Namsnanny and hugs. I am also humbled and grateful for all of the kindness and support on this thread.

On Thursday it was DH's birthday. I woke up with the familiar feelings of hurt swirling around in my stomach and head, but determined not to let it spoil the day and make it special for DH. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant with DD2 and DD3 and delicious cake and champagne - also, quite a lot of wine.

In the meantime, DH and I had several missed calls from DD1 so he called her back. She wanted to wish him Happy Birthday and they had a nice chat. Later she sent me another adorable photo of DGD1 and I was in a happy mood and sent a very positive text message and received one back almost immediately. I am still listening to the Leonard Cohen, but a bit less, and I have stopped listening to 'Grenade', so I think that must be progress!

The way I see it is that DGD1 and DGD2 are individuals in their own right, just as my daughters are. I want to be in their lives so I need to treat carefully and to get to know them. It will require more effort as they live so far away, but it is an effort which I intend to make. After all, many AC emigrate - even to the other side of the world.

I am sending an antique teddy bear to DGD1, which I bought a few years ago - subconsciously, I think I always had it in mind for a DGC - but I asked first if I could send it. I am aware of the need to be sensitive and not send anything without consultation or permission, although of course I just want to buy up Hamleys! But I sense that SIL is just tolerating us and it would be easy to offend him again, so I am being ultra cautious.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

Pantglas2 Sat 28-Sep-19 08:23:11

Well done Dolcelatte! You seem to be taking small steps and testing the ground in front as you go, just like I did at the start of my reconciliation!

Dolcelatte Sat 28-Sep-19 14:46:17

Thank you Pantglas, you have been a great inspiration to me.

Smileless2012 Sat 28-Sep-19 14:56:09

It really is looking positive Dolcelattesmile.

The bridges you're building with your D will serve you well when you eventually meet in Januarysmile.

Namsnanny Sat 28-Sep-19 15:11:32

Dolcelatte...Leonard Cohn for me too...on repeat!!!
Or Slipping through my fingers by abba or even Linkin park (suicidal music my son calls it!) up really really loud when I’m on my own!
Your thoughts on why you bought the teddy echoes mine also.
In fact I’ve had to work hard on my self to stop buying and storing things for my gc. I put money into an account for them whenever my heart misses them! It’s my little way of staying connected...if only in my mind.
Thank you again for explaining all the little nuances of you experience so openly here.
I find reading it so calming (?) as its difficult for me to find the words sometimes and you put it all into context somehow.
I do wish you well.
Btw dont try Adele on repeat...the subject matter may be about partners by the sentiments still get to you!!smile

Namsnanny Sat 28-Sep-19 15:13:42

Hope your having a good day Smilelesssmile

Smileless2012 Sat 28-Sep-19 15:21:14

Yes I am thanks Namsnanny; hope you are too smile.

Dolcelatte Sun 29-Sep-19 08:40:46

Thank you Smileless and I am pleased, Namsnanny, if you have found my posts helpful in any way.

Feeling low again this morning and a bit weepy, which I know I shouldn't, when the general situation is improving. I just feel such a failure as a mother that my DD wouldn't tell me, let alone turn to me, when this momentous event was happening, and didn't want anyone from her family at her wedding.

I try to look for positives in all of this and one is that the rest of the family are much closer, especially DD2 and DD3. That I must learn and grow from this experience and act like the parent, not the child who wants to cry and stamp its feet and say 'It's not fair!' I also try to have a sense of perspective - I am just a tiny speck in a world where there is so much suffering. And, as the day wears on, the perspective will come back and I will be ok - the wave will crash over me and move on.

But now, as the day is young, I lick my wounds and want to lash out and tell her how much she has hurt me, hurt us all. And it is us all, but I have been self-obsessed, thinking that I am her mother, that I carried her and gave birth to her, so that the bond is different, more primeval, more visceral. And then I tell myself to get a grip!

Also, in my darkest moments, usually when I awake in the early hours, I am afraid - so afraid of being hurt again. But it is a risk that I cannot afford not to take. And I want to be there for DD if she needs me, but then again she doesn't need me, or doesn't seem to, she has gone through all of this without any support from her family. And for that I must be and am so proud of her, and I should be relieved, that my job as a parent is done, she has had the strength to fly the nest and be an independent woman. But wouldn't you still want your family in your life? Aren't children hard-wired to love their parents?

But she inevitably loves SIL more and SIL doesn't like any of us - I have a bitter enemy who is the person closest to DD - and I blame myself for making him an enemy. And he is not the sort of person to forgive, let alone forget any grievances. He is now prepared to tolerate us to a limited extent and DD has been allowed to share this news and have contact - because there is financial advantage. At least that's how I see it, although I would like to be wrong. A close friend and DD2 and DD3 have said to be careful, but what choice do I have? He is like a gaoler, I am pretty sure that when we eventually visit, he will be there the whole time, supervising us, like a warder at a prison visit. Perhaps he is insecure. There is something about him which makes me feel uncomfortable, but maybe it is just a lack of empathy or emotional intelligence. At university, in the student house where he met DD, he kept a notebook, where he would note down what time the other people in the house came and went, their general habits, and character observations, including about DD - not very flattering apparently, although she thinks it is all quite amusing now. But seriously, who does that? It's not normal behaviour is it? And even if he doesn't like us, wouldn't you think he would want DD to have a relationship with her family? Or maybe he wants her to be totally dependent on him? He certainly seems to want to cast himself in the role of protector - even against DD's own family. On any view, this is a relationship of co-dependency, but does it matter if she is happy and, crucially the DGDs are happy and secure? DD is her own person and must make her own choices - I know that, I do know that....

And so my mind goes round and round in circles and I have no answers. I do believe, deep down, that I will eventually have answers but only with time, when we rebuild our relationship. Surprisingly, I think that could happen quite quickly and perhaps it doesn't matter in the great scheme of things, although for me it actually does. And for her sisters, it definitely does. I am quite sure that, although at some level they would be happy for some sort of reconciliation, they will want an explanation before any sort of relationship can resume. They are not prepared to 'brush it under the carpet' as DD2 says. Also, that the relationship will never be what it was or might have been. You throw a stone into a pond and the ripples go out a long way (I am indebted to Smileless for introducing the water analogy grin).

Ramblings over and thank you again but don't feel obliged to read. If I hadn't have vented here I would probably have sent a message to DD and that definitely would have been a bad idea! Instead, I shall wait a bit and then seek a recipe - DD is an excellent cook and is always happy to discuss food. Apparently DGD1 also loves her food, so I can see a future unfolding of taking her to Chinese restaurants (which I love) etc, and spending time together when she is older, if it is not snatched away. But then, if a bond is established, hopefully she will want to keep in contact and surely SIL would not want to keep DGDs from a family who love them. The trouble is that, based upon my experience to date, I am not so sure. But hopefully DD would not allow it to happen - she assures me she won't. Round and round and round go the thoughts - time for some Leonard Cohen, I think!

Wishing everyone a happy and joyful Sunday.

Pantglas2 Sun 29-Sep-19 10:02:41

So good Dolcelatte that you can articulate your thoughts and post on here where it’s safe to do so with no danger of upsetting the applecart!

Keep doing this, I found the down days still came thick and fast in the first year but learned to control my darker fears and concentrate on the good thoughts and times to come.

Try to lessen expectations for things to go back to how they were - it can’t happen because you’ve all changed because of the estrangement. Moving forwards with good intent and not harping back would be my advice and as I do, simply accept that SIL is the man your DD loves. Don’t go deeper than that - there’s no point.

Hope you don’t mind my tuppence worth every now and again and feel free to disagree and do things your way anyway- just so happy that you’re having the opportunity that so many EP are still awaiting!

Smileless2012 Sun 29-Sep-19 13:49:37

It is good that you can put your thoughts and feelings on here Dolcelatte, sometimes just writing things down can help.

Just so you know, when this thread reaches 1000 posts you wont be able to post here, but another one will be started as soon as this one finishes.

IMO you didn't make an enemy of your s.i.l. You reacted the way the majority of mum's would have in the circumstances; it's unfortunate that he appears to have used that one incident to keep you away from your D and GD up until now.

Pantglas is right. Your relationship with your D will never be what it was because you've changed, as has she and your entire family has been changed due to the estrangement.

It wont be the same, but that doesn't mean it can't be wonderful given time.

Your D did something you'd never have thought possible by estranging herself and you're bound to worry about what may or may not happen in the future.

I think that your's and your DH's attitude and response is remarkable and courageous. 'Never say never' but I honestly don't think I could do what you are doing. Perhaps as it's been getting on for 7 years, it just feels that it's too late for us now, or maybe I just don't have the courage that you have D.

Try not to think of how your s.i.l. is going to behave when you meet. He may be hovering around like a spectre at the feast, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if being with your D after so long, and your GD's for the first time, you'll hardly notice.

What matters, all that really matters it that you're going to see them and he may not be over joyed at the prospect, but you're going and he must have agreed to it so try and take some comfort from that, if you can.

Enjoy Leonard Cohenflowersx

Dolcelatte Mon 30-Sep-19 08:41:43

Pantglas, I really appreciate your advice and comments because you have trodden the same path but are further along than I am. It is very useful to know whether or not my feelings are normal and what sort of timescales I can look at for them to settle down. It is also invaluable advice to say that we are all changed by the estrangement, so that there is no point in expecting things to be the same. And also that SIL is DD's choice so there is no point in thinking about the whys and wherefores.

Smileless, thank you for the reminder about the thread and I am delighted to hear that there will be another one. Thank you also for your encouragement and support and unfailing optimism. I think that is brave, to offer support to so many others experiencing the pain of estrangement and to read their stories of woe, when it must trigger your own painful memories in doing so.

But I want you to be optimistic too. There are plenty of situations where AC do come back, even after many years, and your DGC will want to know about their heritage - they carry your genes, they are part of you, just as your DS is. They will probably ask their uncle about you and I expect he will tell them what wonderful caring parents and human beings you are. flowers

Namsnanny Mon 30-Sep-19 14:34:38

Well, I finally feel asleep around 4am again!
Then woke up around 6 in a cold sweat!
My nocturnal bad habits aren’t just due to the situation between myself and EAC, but my mind always goes back to it in the middle of the night.
I generally try very hard not to deliberate too much about it all in the day. That is to say I let the thoughts come but don’t dwell.
The night is different.
It all comes to a head.
I remember and ruminate and wish I could have done things better.
I could say much more. Things that could be re used to hurt either me or my AC. So i’ll Keep some things to myself.
But last night I just kissed the photo of my children and gc and cried.

Today I’m buying a pot for the garden and some brightly coloured cyclamen to go in it.
Should look cheerysmile

Namsnanny Mon 30-Sep-19 14:40:16

Dolcelatte...being optimistic is so difficult though isn’t it? Some one once said it’s the hoping that kills.
Keeping that door open just a crack without it laying your heart bare isn’t easy.
I don’t have to tell you that though do I?smile

Smileless2012 Mon 30-Sep-19 18:00:04

Namsnannyflowersthe nights can be the worse time can't they.

Everything seems so much harder when all you want to do is go to sleep but you can't.

I got into the habit of reading when I go to bed. Sometimes just a couple of pages, sometimes more but I find that I'm thinking about the book I'm reading when I drift off to sleep, rather than the things I'd prefer not to be thinking about.

There will always be things we wished we'd done better, but what's done is done and of course if you weren't estranged, if you could talk to your AC, you would have the opportunity to maybe explain and/or apologise, but that's the curse of estrangement isn't it; you cannot do either because they don't want to listen. Perhaps they're so entrenched in their own hurt that they neither know or care, that you are hurting too.

I was a member of another on line group for some time, and one of the members used to refer to the 'hope devil'. Is my door open, even just a crack, or is it closed? I have no idea and have no idea if his is so I tend not to think about it.

Thank you Dolcelattesmile.

love0c Mon 30-Sep-19 18:35:39

Namsnanny - yes the nights when you don't sleep are torment. Worrying about everything! Hard not to catastrophize.

Smileless could you/would you consider driving past to see if 'your'door is open. I wonder if seeing his door would answer the question for you. Understandable if you can not even contemplate doing that though. Dreadfully sad so many people using this site are brimming over with love for people who can't or won't accept it.

Cherries Mon 30-Sep-19 19:19:31

I suggest that we Mums and Mums-in-Law who do a lot of thinking and conscience-searching and who have sincerely and bravely stated on more than one occasion that we would appreciate feedback, fuller explanations and discussion (if these could be given or conducted with us in reasonably open, kind and respectful ways) in order that we may understand better what led to the estrangement in the first place and in the hope of knowing more about how to reconnect in the future and feeling uplifted as a result are quite likely to be fundamentally good and caring parents/parents-in-law and grandmothers who should not torture ourselves with excessive self-examination and blame. The idea associated with "mindfulness" of observing or slightly distancing oneself from one's thoughts and feelings to try to see or at least contemplate what may be the more complex and partly or wholly obscure bigger picture is probably helpful.

What bigger picture? Well, for example, how about cultural influences? Do the times that we live within predispose people to be less committed to family and community bonds than was the case, say, a generation ago? Is the idea of independence and self-reliance over-promoted at the expense of appreciating that we are designed or have evolved to be social, interdependent creatures who need to keep investing in and working at having multiple, good relationships? Has the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" become outmoded in the digital age where the opinions of one's selected echo chambers may be the only ones that are paid much attention and valued? Is there more encouragement now to be outraged or to take offence easily? Is there less emphasis on gratitude, stoicism and forgiveness? More judgementalism?

Summerlove Mon 30-Sep-19 19:51:21

Has the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" become outmoded in the digital age where the opinions of one's selected echo chambers may be the only ones that are paid much attention and valued?

I’m not sure about the rest of your post, however this stuck out to me.

Previous generations used the village idea to mean extended family. Today’s generation, really gen x, use a village as a loose definition. Villages don’t need to be family. They are more likely to be friends, coworkers, people they interact with daily. Yes, some will substitute an online village for family next door.

I think calling a chosen village an “echo chamber” is disingenuous, unless you are also including communities like this one in that.

People have more freedom to seek more like minded individuals than before. Relationships still take work. However, people now get to choose their relationships.

We just have to hope our family members choose to include us. The best way to do that is by choosing to support and respect their choices. Even if we don’t understand.

agnurse Mon 30-Sep-19 20:32:02

I think we have a lot less family time available now and a lot more invested in individual children.

Back in the day, most mothers didn't work outside the home. People knew their neighbours. This meant that mums had all day at home with their children, and the children had friends in the neighbourhood. I have heard stories of parents telling the children just to be home when it got dark! But, then, because everyone knew everyone, most mums would just keep an ear out for the children, knowing that the other mums would be doing the same.

Today, most parents work and children spend a lot of time at school, in nursery, and in after-school activities. This leaves much less time for family and even day-to-day life maintenance. Families tend to live farther apart, so you can't just go over for a Sunday roast and come home in the evening. Families are smaller, so parents tend to concentrate their resources more on individual children, rather than sharing them among many children. Mums get shorter maternity leaves with their babies, and because they have fewer children, they may not need as much help as there's less to do.

It's not necessarily a change for the better or the worse. It's just different.

Cherries Mon 30-Sep-19 21:53:06

Summerlove, thanks for your reply.

Social historians and sociologists can probably give us insights into why certain rejecting, disparaging or demanding respect-me-and-my-choices-at-all-costs attitudes seem to have become fashionable and why traditional bonds with families and communities of origin appear to have weakened in recent decades in the western world. No doubt there are psychologists who can theorise plausibly about the reasons and talk, with reference to well-conducted research studies, about positive and negative factors that appear to be associated with these social changes.

I don't think that previous generations would have had such a narrow concept of collective child-rearing as you suggest and presume that many parents often turned to members of their immediate or wider families, with varying degrees of freedom and feelings about making conscious choices, while also turning elsewhere from time to time for information, ideas, opinions, support and practical assistance. For example, they may have turned to health visitors, authors of childcare books and others regarded as experts, friends, neighbours, ministers' wives, local shopkeepers and providers of services who seemed to be interested and care, youth organisation volunteers and trusted acquaintances. This is not a full list of possibilities and the "village" was probably always a fairly diverse group or concept.

It has been said by commentators that online communities can serve as echo chambers by exposing users to much more uniformity and rigidity of opinion than would be the case were these same people to consult and interact more widely in real life and to allow themselves to receive a broader input which could influence their opinion and behaviour. I won't name names but ask you to think of any 2 or 3 apart from this one and consider if there might be some truth in this observation. To an extent, this echo chamber metaphor may apply here too but I also see diversity of perspective on gransnet which is refreshing and stimulating.

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