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Thoughts and opinions:

(399 Posts)
LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 17:32:21

What are your thoughts on estrangement?

What measures should be attempted before estrangement?

What in your opinion, justifies estrangement?

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Sep-19 15:58:27

Emotional abuse is just one of many criminal acts that could justify estrangement. If an AC for example has been emotionally abused by their parent(s) and for that reason chooses to estrange themselves, why is it necessary for them to prove the abuse took place? Who would they want to prove it too?

M0nica Thu 05-Sep-19 16:56:11

Lostchild your OP reads as if estrangement rises from nowhere between two otherwise absolutely reasonable people.

In fact estrangements are the result, in almost all cases, of long terms problems and difficulties in a relationship and the causes for that are too many and too disparate to list.

As a result, it is impossible to make a summary of What measures should be attempted before estrangement? It entirely depends on the cause of the estrangement and these, as I have already said are infinite from ones where there are dangers of abuse between grandparent and child (in either direction) to some that seem superficial trivial, but whose causes run deep.

Once again, you ask What in your opinion, justifies estrangement? a question as unanswerable as you first one, for exactly the same reasons.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 17:01:06

Monica I agree, I am estranged and it is incredibly complex. I am asking because I am surprised by some black and white comments I see on this forum and was curious as to what individual people think.

M0nica Thu 05-Sep-19 17:14:20

Yes, Lostchild it is such a temptation to offer simple solutions to complicated problems, but as they say, such simple answers are invariably wrong.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 17:17:42

Yes they are. Emotional abuse is considered criminal in the UK very recently and I wonder if people see it as valid. I still see a lot of comments about people being "oversensitive" or just generally invalidating someone's feelings because they don't agree they should feel them

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Sep-19 17:25:53

I know that along with financial abuse, emotional abuse has been ruled a criminal offence but this, as far as I'm aware is in the matter of divorce and/or the break down of long term adult relationships.

I don't see how it can be applied to AC/P estrangement.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 17:31:49

The new law applies to spouses, partners and family members, child or adult

notentirelyallhere Thu 05-Sep-19 17:33:16

LostChild the estrangement threads are very sad and I see that you have perhaps posted before and I'm not aware of those posts so be aware of that in my reply.

I would say the direct response to your question is that, assuming you are now an adult, your life is your own and your feelings are your own. If you feel damaged by your life with whoever you feel a need to estrange yourself from and you have attempted to discuss your feelings with them and they will not hear, then estranging from them is protecting yourself from further damage and giving yourself the chance to heal and perhaps have a better life in the future.

I imagine you know the research that has now come to light about the lifelong and life limiting physiological and psychological damage that is brought about as a result of abuse. If you feel you have suffered abuse then I hope you are able to access resources, therapy etc, to help you sort yourself out. Family Constellation therapy is very helpful.

They certainly can, and do, mess you up, your mum and dad, as the poet said. And they were undoubtedly messed up in their turn but if they won't even begin to hear, then you must look after yourself and find support as best you can.

Some families are hell, some people are temperamentally difficult possibly mentally ill, some people in each generation are traumatised and unable to be reasonable, rational people who will be able to change. Accepting this, understanding ourselves, giving communication and reconciliation a shot and then, if necessary removing ourselves is my justification for estrangement.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 17:38:51

Wow, you do not live up to your screen name at all notentirelyallthere. I kinda love you for that comment

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Sep-19 17:43:35

Yes I can see that, where an AC is emotionally abusing a vulnerable parent or a parent is emotionally abusing a vulnerable AC, the vulnerability making them dependent on their abuser.

notentirelyallhere Thu 05-Sep-19 18:15:01

LostChild some might call such a username a kind of dissociation, a gentle joke... life is more difficult for some than others, definitely not a level playing field. All the best.

M0nica Thu 05-Sep-19 19:21:49

Well, to be fair, some people are oversensitive and equally some people have poor Emotional Intelligent and cannot understand people's feelings, but there is a big gap between that and the kind of behaviour that can justifiably be described as psychological abuse.

We cannot expect everyone to think and feel exactly the way we do and the capacity to cope with a few knocks, or resilience as it is now called, is necessary for everyone. But I draw a very distinct line between that and sustained emotional abuse.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 19:32:53

"oversensitive" I have a problem with because it was used to abuse me. I wasn't oversensitive, I am sensitive. My son is also sensitive, it's one of his best qualities, he is sweet, sensitive and affectionate.

Baring in mind that if someone is being abused, they will be more sensitive around their abuser... They have learnt to be on high alert around them. They are constantly trying to combat psychological warfare and hold on to who they are.

Also if you love and care for a sensitive person, it is easy to modify your behaviour to accommodate it or be understanding and apologise if they do get upset. Their feelings are real and genuine after all

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 19:34:20

And yes someone who is being abused may be more sensitive in general with others and again, that's not really their fault and shouldn't be just written off as "oversensitive"

M0nica Thu 05-Sep-19 19:51:02

This is the problem. People do not discriminate between occasional happenings when someone is oversentsitive, with where this is a part of a pattern of emotional abuse.

I made that distinction quite clear in my last post. Some people over-react to almost anything anyone says to them. One walks round them on eggshells, it is a form of bullying. That is one extreme.

Other people are the victim of constant emotional abuse from one person, where accusations of oversensitivity form part of the abuse. That is the other. In the middle are the rest of us who can be oversensitive on one topic, or at some times. That is not abuse.
If you are sensitive on certain subjects just say so and most will understand and becareful what they say. But there is nothing worse than people who constantly over react and then much later explain why. That again is bullying.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 20:03:41

Monica I'm not getting it, can you give me a scenario? Because I feel that when people over react as you say to be abusive, then it would have to be a fake overreaction, not a real one.

Pantglas1 Thu 05-Sep-19 22:21:04

Good post M0nica - such a difficult judgement on other people’s sensitivity. Some people can be in a state of high alert because of their upbringing with an abusive parent that they cannot cope with normal interactions for instance in the workplace.

I worked with one woman who genuinely thought my cheerful good morning to everyone as I walked into the office each morning was directed at her. She’d always find a way to suggest I was not being mindful of people’s different home circumstances and was accordingly disrespectful. Me wishing everyone a good weekend on a Friday was twisted into a selfish desire to be more popular than anyone else!

I almost felt bullied by her behaviour until I realised that she’d probably been bullied herself and didn’t know how to change her responses. I often wonder what became of her.

notentirelyallhere Thu 05-Sep-19 22:36:05

A person can be described as highly sensitive but to use the terms 'too sensitive' or 'over sensitive' is to immediately bring in a value judgement. Being emotionally intelligent would include the ability to read the emotional state of another and adjust one's expectations and attitudes accordingly.

I am really shocked by the suggestion that 'someone who overreacts to whatever one says to them' is seen as bullying!! I'd say this was bullying someone who may have mental health issues of many kinds and who needs as much care as, say, someone in pain from a visible disability. People with PTSD for instance, don't choose topics on which to be sensitive but be 'normal' on others! Mental health just doesn't work like that however annoying and inconvenient that may be. It is unkind and unreasonable to expect that everyone should be able to be resilient, that is simply not possible and it is abusive to expect it. I suggest that a bit of reading around trauma and it's long term effects would prove enlightening. This is now mainstream,eg

M0nica Fri 06-Sep-19 08:53:57

NEAT Have you never heard of 'passive aggression'? Someone who bullies another person in to doing what they want, not by power and intimidation but by constantly being upset, or 'hurt' or being 'martyred' whenever anyone suggests or does something that they do not like.

I have had to cope with people like that several times in my life. I had a flatmate once, who was always having a 'bad day', or 'not feeling up to it', or 'feeling sad at the moment', when it was her turn to do the cleaning, so she never did it. Then whenever my other flatmate or I invited a friend or a couple of friends round for a meal or coffee, she would retreat to the bedroom and gently complain the next day that some how our friends had disturbed her mentally and she hadn't been able to sleep. And so on, and so on. Gradually we both stopped asking friends round, doing the housework her week because the place was a mess (from all the friends she kept inviting round). Finally when someone came and found me hoovering and commented that I did a lot of the housework. She turned to them and said :'Oh, it's all right, M0nica enjoys doing housework.' I gave in my notice and moved on - to a bedsit on my own.

notentirelyallhere Fri 06-Sep-19 09:17:33

Yes, Monica, of course I've heard of passive aggression and suffered from it too. It's infuriating but can be dealt with. I would though just draw a distinction between that and sensitivity. It isn't being sensitive that makes people passive aggressive, it's hidden anger and inability to express needs.

There are though people who can now be diagnosed as having a highly sensitive temperament and there are people who have suffered abuse or a dysfunctional family environment and I would argue that they are not in control of how they feel and they don't try to manipulate others by claiming sensitivity. There are also people who suffer illnesses like chronic fatigue who spend years trying to get a diagnosis. Actually, I'm sure you know that.

I don't know if you came across a documentary film, a couple of years ago called Resilience. This was based on some sound research done by American public health physicians who had realised the connection between childhood adversity and the later development of chronic disease. It was eye opening to say the least and in the US, measures are now being put in place to identify children at risk and to help them develop resilience.

Here's a link to an article about the film:

I'm not unsympathetic to those who have had children become estranged, I had it myself for a while and it took a great deal of patience and asking oneself hard questions before it was healed. I also had a difficult childhood for a number of reasons and as a result, I've studied and worked with people with mental health difficulties and the number of people who deliberately manipulate others is, I would say, small as opposed to those who are doing the best they can. Your flatmate must have been very difficult to live with but probably had some mental health problems.

Pantglas1 Fri 06-Sep-19 09:22:41

Your post made me smile M0nica - I left the job mentioned in my previous post as I could see that the only thing I could change was me!

I do wonder what happened to my poor colleague who simply couldn’t cope with my happy countenance and still feel a little guilty that I wasn’t brave enough to sit down and discuss the matter with her which is my normal response to difficulties in the workplace.

M0nica Fri 06-Sep-19 09:38:55

Neat, 'over-sensitivity' is a ploy that is an essential part of passive aggressive behaviour. Accusations of over-sensitivity are part of the overtly aggressive bullies toolbox. Your comment It isn't being sensitive that makes people passive aggressive, it's hidden anger and inability to express needs. may sometimes be true but often it is a deliberate choice by a bully because it is a very effective way of corercing others to do what you want while protecting the bully, most of the time, from accusations of being a bully.

Of course the people, whose over sensitivity you describe exist and I have always acknowledged that this group exists and that people, whose sensitivity rises from illness or trauma are a very separate group, but that they exist doesn't mean the other doesn't. It is just that the same word is used to describe both.

notentirelyallhere Fri 06-Sep-19 10:30:54

Monica I don't think you quite get what I'm saying. I'd guess you didn't look at the link. Here's a recent BBC podcast about childhood adversity, sensitivity and outcomes.

I don't look at the estrangement threads because I see so many closed minds. 'We gave her everything..' (like the Beatles song She's Leaving Home', and people who declare that they worship their grandchild are probably trying to nurture their own neglected inner child. If you were beaten as a child, it did do you harm! Likewise, if on your school reports, you were punished for the Cs or for not getting enough As! Or if you were told to get on with it if you fell off your bike and came home crying.

Bullying is a huge area and doubtless you would disagree that bullies are basically unhappy people who need to control others. I noticed the original post and thought here was someone trying to get parent and grandparent figures to stop and think and engage in a new way. Hence, I answered but I broke my rule of avoiding the estrangement threads so I'm not going to engage much more in this. All the best to you.

Pantglas1 Fri 06-Sep-19 11:16:55

Wow! Closed minds indeed notentirelyallhere. The precise reason I look at estrangement threads IS to learn more about the subject not to confirm any prejudices I may be holding however inadvertently.

And conquering fears is all about challenging oneself to improve whether by getting a B in a test next time around or back on the bike after falling off. Of course it needs to be encouraged rather than ridiculed but all parents/people are works in progress and even the best of them get it wrong occasionally.

Listening and Talking openly is the way forward for most people in these situations - flouncing off doesn’t achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome and seems childish to me.

notentirelyallhere Fri 06-Sep-19 12:29:35

Well Pantglas I haven't got much time today to keep checking GN but I'd be delighted to hear some of the things you have learned from the estrangement thread. What you thought after a careful read of the links I posted, for instance.

I guessed mentioning closed minds would be a hot potato and would cause someone to react thus proving my point. In a family or relationship setting, how do you think someone would feel at immediately being called childish because they didn't want to discuss something at that moment? Conciliatory and ready to drop everything to talk? I think not. You have simply issued a put down because your feelings were hurt, oh dear, I expect Monica will say I'm being over sensitive now. And you wonder why estrangement happens and /or people might flounce off? Flounce, hmm, very neutral word that, see what I mean? No, you probably don't.