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Estrangement

Anything I've missed to prevent estrangement

(148 Posts)
Fenchurch Mon 10-Jul-23 13:28:31

I've been heading towards estrangement from my parents for years and desperately trying to prevent it. I just want to check if there's any magic thing I could say/do that would help them feel safe enough to accept they need help to change

Both parents have trauma in their childhood (although they'd deny it) and are very emotionally immature. Their inability to manage their own emotional world in a healthy way led them to be abusive and neglectful of their children. I forgive them that - they literally didn't have the skills to step outside their own heads and own anxiety/low self esteem. But they had so many opportunities to accept help and they have the ability/privilege to face their weaknesses and learn and grow. And they have consistently run away and ignored it. They have consistently put their fear of judgement/Discomfort above the needs of their children.

Leaving home obviously helped a lot but when I call/visit all I get is emotional abuse and emotional neglect. My friends and family cannot understand why I put up with it. And now that I have self esteem I can't either.

I have tried to speak with them about their childhoods and got shut down. I've suggested therapy for them (it saved my life) but they refused. I set up family therapy for us but they refused. I offered for them to sit in on one of my sessions but no. I've offered books, discussions, shared how I feel and asked how they feel.... All I get back is that I'm being hurtful, dramatic and demanding. My sister tried writing a very detailed letter but that didn't work either.

I've spent my whole life grieving the family I wanted - do I have to now grieve the family I can't even speak to anymore? Or is there something I've missed?

How did your children help you see the parts of your parenting you need to change? What made you feel safe enough to apologise and make changes? They can't seem to tolerate any discomfort at all.

All suggestions gratefully received

DiamondLily Fri 14-Jul-23 18:43:22

Delila

Perhaps you should give your parents, and yourself, a break. Accept that their parenting days are over, as is your childhood. You’ve tried so many approaches, they haven’t worked and asking more than they can give is hardly likely to bring about the result you’re hoping for.

I agree. Different people, depending on circumstances, react in different ways.

As adults, we need to find what makes us happy - which can be a variety of things.🙂

We can't relive our childhoods, but we need to move life on.

VioletSky Fri 14-Jul-23 18:48:39

Smileless2012

Yes VS or as a stick to beat non abusive parents with.

In what way?

Spring20 Fri 14-Jul-23 18:57:53

Not sure any of us should be telling the OP what they ‘must do’. They are the only one who knows the full nuances of their situation.

Really3 Fri 14-Jul-23 19:51:56

Sara1954

I don’t want to give the impression I’m totally blameless, I grew into a mouthy argumentative teenager, I think really, we just don’t like each other.
I know I tried though, I tried for years and years, then one day she caught me at a low ebb, with her whining and complaining and criticism, and I snapped, and I’m glad I did.
So no one can tell you what’s best, or if you can walk away guilt free, it’s something you have to work out for yourself, no one else can see into your heart.

Sara, I think it's very admirable that you're willing to be introspective and consider the ways in which your behavior might have impacted your relationship with your mother.

That said, I do not think being a mouthy, argumentative teenager means that you are in any way to blame. For one thing, mouthiness and argumentativeness are well within the spectrum of normal, age appropriate behavior for teenagers. For another, there is no such thing as the perfect victim of abuse or mistreatment. We are all human, we all have flaws and make mistakes. We can all at times be uncooperative, unpleasant, unkind, etc., but none of that justifies your mother's behavior towards you that I've read in your comments on this forum. You need not be perfect to be undeserving of mistreatment and that's true whether you're a parent or child.

Smileless2012 Fri 14-Jul-23 20:15:40

I agree Spring, we can only do what the OP asked for which is to make suggestions.

We all know VS that it's not just abusive parents who can become estranged. To an estranged parent 'but she/he's your child' depending on the circumstances can be just as upsetting and unproductive as saying to an EAC 'but they're your parents'.

Sara1954 Fri 14-Jul-23 20:29:11

Really3
Thankyou for your kind comments

VioletSky Fri 14-Jul-23 21:23:18

Smileless2012

I agree Spring, we can only do what the OP asked for which is to make suggestions.

We all know VS that it's not just abusive parents who can become estranged. To an estranged parent 'but she/he's your child' depending on the circumstances can be just as upsetting and unproductive as saying to an EAC 'but they're your parents'.

I don't understand the context of saying that to a person who doesn't want to be estranged

Smileless2012 Sat 15-Jul-23 10:26:40

Although an EP would have never estranged their own child, that doesn't mean that they will endlessly keep reaching out to their EAC in the hope of reconciling. They may never welcome reconciling with their EAC if they were to offer it.

Two examples where it may be said 'but she/he's your child'.

VioletSky Sat 15-Jul-23 10:59:36

Smileless2012

Although an EP would have never estranged their own child, that doesn't mean that they will endlessly keep reaching out to their EAC in the hope of reconciling. They may never welcome reconciling with their EAC if they were to offer it.

Two examples where it may be said 'but she/he's your child'.

How are you relating how you feel about this saying to when a person, who has been abused as a child, wants to estrange, and someone tells them "but they are your parents!" Or "blood is thicker than water!" Right in front of you?

Smileless2012 Sat 15-Jul-23 11:31:56

I have already posted that I think 'blood's thicker than water' is a myth VS.

I wouldn't say to anyone 'but they are your parents' anymore than I would jump in and tell someone to cut their parents out of their life, because they're toxic.

The OP asked for suggestions and they have been given, some I agree with and some I don't which is the nature of an open forum.

VioletSky Sat 15-Jul-23 11:39:48

"jump in"?

Sara1954 Sat 15-Jul-23 11:56:45

This is such a difficult subject, estrangement sends ripples through the whole family.
I’ve gained in as much as will never see my mother again, but I’ve lost in as much as I haven’t seen my brother and his wife and family since. I’ve missed my nieces and nephews growing up, which makes me sad, and heaven knows what they have been told about me.
Some of my more distant family were horrified at my callousness, this is all fine and even expected, but nevertheless, it’s unfair.

VioletSky Sat 15-Jul-23 12:24:23

Completely understand Sara

One of the things that I spent time on in counselling was my relationships with family. What was pointed out to me though when we went through every member of family I would lose was just how much influence my mother had had on those relationships.

As a child she did most family visiting while I was with my dad so I didn't see them much. She also told me many stories about them that painted them in a negative light so I never became close to any of them.

It never occured to me that she would be doing the same with them about me.

There is a cousin I am still in contact with in secret and I was so shocked at the lies that have been told about me over the years.

When a person wants to abuse you, and it is a choice, they do the work to isolate you and hide it.

Then after you estrange they absolutely never stop blaming you and they never stop playing victim. They create an entire attention seeking personality because while they can't abuse you direct, they can still garner support to speak badly of you. They can still scapegoat you and take pleasure in taking every relationship from you they can.

It's interesting to watch how they behave

Sara1954 Sat 15-Jul-23 12:38:18

Violetsky
That’s interesting, but the funny thing is, my brother and I were pretty much on the same page regarding our mother, he still talks to my husband and children, but has managed to avoid me for twenty years.
I think maybe he feels I’ve dumped everything on him.

Smileless2012 Sat 15-Jul-23 12:56:33

Anyone whose life is affected by estrangement loses people they love Sara. I'm sorry you've lost your brother and his family sad. We've lost a son and our only GC so I do understand how upsetting it is.

You did what you needed to do and if you can, it's best not to wonder what may have been said about you to others, the extent of the character assassination.

Mr. S. used to worry about what our GC may have been told about us but what's the point? There's nothing we can do about it, we know the truth and sometimes that's all we have to hold on to and maybe the possibility that one day our GC will know the truth too.

Relationships were taken from you because you took the decision to estrange and from us because we were estranged, so all we can do is what we are doing, living the best life that we can and valuing those in our lives who do love us flowers.

Sara1954 Sat 15-Jul-23 13:15:38

You are right Smileless, I made my own decision, and I have to face the consequences of that decision, and whilst it’s sad, I’ve absolutely no doubt I made the right choice.
For you, you weren’t given a choice, I know why my brother doesn’t speak to me, you have no idea why your son doesn’t speak to you.
I know that must be much harder.

NanaDana Sat 15-Jul-23 13:17:39

Caramme

You may unintentionally be giving the wrong impression here, but to me you are coming across as judgemental, intolerant, unsympathetic, controlling and patronising. Perhaps it is not just your parents who need a change of attitude.

How very ironic that YOU are accusing the OP of being judgemental, and not content with that body blow, follow it up with "intolerant, unsympathetic, controlling and patronising". All of this based on no evidence at all. The OP came here looking for help and advice, and all she got from you was a cruel, totally unwarranted attack. What on earth do you suppose such a response will achieve, other than cause hurt? Shameful.

Smileless2012 Sat 15-Jul-23 13:47:57

I'm just glad that you know you made the right choice Sara. Maybe your brother wishes he'd done the same and it's his regret that has come between you.

VioletSky Sat 15-Jul-23 19:40:52

Sara I had a similar issue with a brother who previously estranged for 10 years. I thought he would be understanding but he seemed to think that he got over it so so should I

Because he is my stepbrother and due to his estrangement then my mother never inviting me when he visited I hadn't seen him for 20 years so it was a lot easier for me than it must have been for you. That's awful

Sara1954 Sun 16-Jul-23 06:46:03

Violetsky
I’m used to it, I don’t think it’s out of any sense of misplaced loyalty to her, and we’ve never rowed about it, he just seems to have withdrawn from me.
I have reached out several times and suggested we meet up, oh yes, he says, we really must. But we never do.

Spring20 Mon 17-Jul-23 11:37:03

Just to say we have never spoken badly of our EC to any other relatives. If they aren’t in touch it’s because they find the situation difficult, not because we have tried to isolate them. I wonder if this is what our EC thinks though….

Smileless2012 Mon 17-Jul-23 11:57:05

It could be Spring but if they want to think badly of us there's nothing we can do.

Early on in our estrangement, our ES accused his dad of turning everyone at the Methodist Chapel against him!!! They probably didn't know what to say when they saw him and/or didn't want to get involved. He wasn't a member of the congregation anyway so I don't know why he was bothered.

Guilt maybe?

The fact that a couple of his friends who we'd known since childhood totally ignored us, wasn't an issue for him though.

VioletSky Mon 17-Jul-23 12:55:36

It is probably the case that EC sometimes "think" things and sometimes "know" things

As with any situation and almost any human person

Smileless2012 Mon 17-Jul-23 14:26:15

hmm well when you think something it's best to say 'I think' rather than come out with an accusation as if you know, when you don't.

VioletSky Mon 17-Jul-23 15:56:08

Smileless2012

hmm well when you think something it's best to say 'I think' rather than come out with an accusation as if you know, when you don't.

I'm sure it was a stressful situation for your son too at the time