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Estrangement

Christmas /why do they do it?

(33 Posts)
Lavazza1st Thu 26-Nov-20 20:11:14

Re Christmas : I am struggling a bit because I thought my son was estranged, then he came to pick up post and we talked a bit, but last week he started ignoring me so I left it. His wife is also ignoring me.

When he used to live with me he was saying he didn't respect me and clearly looking for ways to try and hurt me. I talked it over with some friends and they agree that he is trying to be hurtful. I feel like the ignoring is part of this behaviour and yes it does hurt.

I've already lost one child and GC due to estrangement ( a few years ago) and I didn't want to lose another- but then he probably knows that so this feels worse. I did invite them for Christmas about a month ago, but they never confirmed and I realise they probably get power from not saying. I'm now not sure how to proceed. I've not bought any gifts, but if they do turn up that would feel awful not to have any. If I do buy them they could get wasted (and I don't even know what they might like) Does any one have any advice or pearls of wisdom?

lemongrove Thu 26-Nov-20 20:29:45

What a rotten situation for you.Does your DS have any mental health problems, so that you make allowances for him?
You have invited them on Christmas Day, and they won’t even say if they will come ( not showing any respect at all) which is terrible behaviour.Do you live alone? Do you hope they will come?
If for some reason you cannot confront him then buy extra Christmas food and a few gifts that you could use yourself, such as food and drink as presents, or whatever takes your fancy.

OceanMama Thu 26-Nov-20 20:33:49

I tend to think that if people don't rsvp, they can't expect anyone to have prepared for them. I think that if I wasn't sure someone was coming and I didn't want to be caught without a gift, I would get something generic - like make up a hamper with nice items of food for the family, but make sure it contains things you will either use or can donate if they don't come.

I think it would be fine for you to send them a message asking if they could let you know. Did you ask them to let you know by a certain date? It's not even December yet so they might not feel they need to rsvp just yet.

rosecarmel Thu 26-Nov-20 20:56:17

Live your life-

If waiting for a response from them is the way you desire to live your life that's fine- If being mad at them for not responding is the way you want to spend your holiday that's fine- But repeating those scenarios time and again isn't living- It's following an unhealthy pattern, an indication that it's time to let go-

And live your life-

Lavazza1st Thu 26-Nov-20 21:45:04

Yes Lemongrove , DS does have MH issues. I also think he's Narcissistic. He definitely has abusive traits from his father, too, unfortunately.

OceanMama good point and good idea about the generic gift. I am hoping the advent of December will suddenly make them open up... but not going to hold my breath.

In the last few months before they moved out, DS had become more disrespectful and abusive towards me/us- just like he used to be as a teenager. The cause was not clear, but we had been getting along before DiL joined us in this country (she's foreign and they got married abroad without us meeting her, then came here belatedly)

@Rosecarmel I am living my life the best I know how. It will get easier once we can go swimming again and do some things that we enjoy. I don't want to lose him/them but I don't want to follow toxic patterns either. I'm not mad, but honestly it does hurt.

Astral Thu 26-Nov-20 22:58:55

If someone has no respect for you there is only two ways to go. Find out why they have no respect and earn it or figure out if they are a generally disrespectful person and if they have no respect for anyone, walk away.

You cannot change others, you can only change yourself so if you would need to be a better person to have them in your life you do that and if you would have to be a worse person you don't.

That's how I judge my relationships anyway. I cannot sacrifice the good in my life and the people who need me for relationships that are painful.

RiverQueen Fri 27-Nov-20 05:37:22

Why do they do it? -- Perhaps the reason they don't give a definitive answer either way is they don't want to say, "Yes we are coming" because they know they have no intention to and that it is a lie OR if they give a definitive 'no' it will lead to a situation they would rather avoid...

Perhaps it creates less conflict in their minds if they commit to nothing when interacting with you or know that no reply will delay a situation they want to avoid altogether.

Astral said, "Find out why they have no respect and earn it or figure out if they are a generally disrespectful person and if they have no respect for anyone, walk away."

I agree. Usually when someone is disrespecting another regardless of the roles of the participants involved, the person behaving in the disrespecting way have a "reason" for their behavior. When you are on the receiving end of 'disrespect' you have to self-reflect on why that is. Sometimes the answer is -- I have done nothing to get/gain or maintain respect and that MY behavior is why I am not getting what I want from the other person in the relationship.

Smileless2012 Fri 27-Nov-20 09:55:16

In your position Lavazza, once we are in December I would contact your son and ask if they will be coming to you for Christmas and give him a date that you need to know by.

If you hear nothing, I would take that as a 'no' and make any plans on that basis that they wont be there and wouldn't ask again.

I think you're right that not giving you an answer, or even just saying 'thanks for the invitation, we'll let you know' is power play. Having already lost an AC due to estrangement for me, makes his treatment of you particularly cruel because despite any mental health issues he may have, I doubt he's totally unaware of how devastating your estrangement has been, and continues to be.

Letting go is far from easy; it's heartbreaking and frightening but it's the only way to get off this emotional roller coaster.

You asked "why do they do it?"; they do it because they can, but they only can if we let themflowers.

Lavazza1st Fri 27-Nov-20 12:10:07

Smileless I have also invited my elderly parent and they are saying that if my son comes they will go home! shock Nothing like being put through the mill and torn in different directions (possibly!) Meanwhile my other parent is put out that I didn't invite them ( they are divorced so I asked the nearest one)

I am at the point of feeling like we are going to be messed about and thinking maybe our household only should have the Christmas meal on Christmas eve. Then we could give the elderly parent who insists on their dinner at 12.30 a pre plated meal from the day before and do a buffet for everyone else can socially distance. I feel like calling the whole thing off, but I probably wont. wine

Yes I'm sure it is power play and it is cruel. Letting go feels terrifying as I've already lost one AC and one GC. Head games are awful. I am choosing to stand back and yes, they will get one more chance to accept, only. flowers

Tell you what though, over Christmas things will become clear. They will either make and effort or they won't. If they don't we will have to let them go for our own emotional wellbeing. I don't have a good feeling because my son is not one to back down or apologise sad

Toadinthehole Fri 27-Nov-20 12:23:44

Maybe you should call the whole thing off! Why not? People get stuck in this obligatory cycle every year in normal times. How much harder it is this year. It sounds like you’re way too accommodating, and you’re just getting hurt. I know it’s your children, but they are still grown, and are choosing, for whatever reason ,to do what they do. There’s always hope with estrangement, but until you can, at sometime in the future, resolve things properly, I fail to see the point of what you’re trying to do, for what really is just a few days. It is, after all, a Christian celebration, that’s been turned into quite a hard time for many people. Spend it with people who love and respect you, and wait to sort the rest out at a later date.

Smileless2012 Fri 27-Nov-20 12:25:32

Oh dear, your life is being made difficult isn't it Lavazzasad. Perhaps you should ask your son again asap, giving a date you need to know by and if he doesn't respond that will leave you free to have your parent with you instead.

Once this has been arranged, if your son comes back nearer the time to say they'll be coming, you'll be able to say 'sorry but as we didn't hear from you we've made other arrangements for Christmas day' then try and fix up something else.

It does look as if there's going to come a time when you'll need to put your own well being first and your son's going to have to learn that you're not prepared to play his games.

I'm glad you've taken the decision to "stand back", unfortunately there's nothing else you can doflowers.

Lavazza1st Fri 27-Nov-20 12:47:31

@Toadinthehole good point and I think what I will do is, please myself and agree with my son who I live with and my husband what we want and then the others can fit in or not.

Do people think there should be a cut off when my AC should respond? He usually says things like he cannot make or keep plans and is likely to just turn up. How can I turn him away on Christmas day of all days if he does? And if I do, it would harm the relationship a lot more I would think.

That's why I'm thinking we can have our Christmas a day earlier and then it won't matter what nonsense happens. The Polish celebrate with a big meal on Christmas even and then go to mass... I'm not Catholic, but I can see their point. If we have already celebrated Christmas by eating a peaceful yummy meal and gone to midnight mass (If it is open) then how can anyone ruin Christmas (if we have already celebrated it?) That is my reasoning. Do you think it could work? grin flowers to you Smileless2012 and Toadinthehole ?

Toadinthehole Fri 27-Nov-20 14:31:25

Hello again, I tend to think your mindset is to please...make allowances etc, and this is perhaps something that needs to change, but as I said before, now isn’t the time to try and do it. There’s nothing wrong with pleasing yourself. We all seem to struggle a bit with that I feel. After all, we’ve spent a long time putting our children first, and for many people...elderly parents too. At least we didn’t have that, we were estranged from both sets years before they died. As regards your son who you have difficulties with...no, I wouldn’t turn him away, but I would keep him on repeat. So being consistent with what you say and do. I would forget about planning to have him....but if he turns up, offer a cup of tea! Am I right in thinking you’re at home with your husband, and another son, who is fine? Make the most of them, put everyone else on the back burner, and if you absolutely have to, close your doors for the whole season, if not for anything else....your sanity. Then maybe it can be New Year.....new beginnings. I hope so, and all the best. 💐

Smileless2012 Fri 27-Nov-20 14:53:05

Having Christmas day on Christmas eve is a good idea Lavazza, then 'your' Christmas day can't be ruined.

Now this is what I would do so I'm not saying it's what you should do but in any event, whether or not we'd already celebrated the day before or were celebrating on the day, if he was our son and just turned up, I'd do what Toadinthehole has suggested, and offer a cup of tea but no more.

You wont be turning him away but you'll have taken but some control and that's what you need to do. If he thinks they can just turn up unannounced and be catered for, it wont be the last time and goodness knows you don't want to have to 'play this game' every Christmas.

I'd do as OceanMama has suggested and have a small hamper prepared with things we like, so if he didn't turn up it wouldn't go to waste and a gift for our GC.

You wonder if what you do or don't do could harm your relationship even more and TBH I don't think it will make any difference. You posted earlier "they will either make an effort or they wont" and that's quite true; regardless of what you do.

sodapop Fri 27-Nov-20 15:55:53

Oh dear Lavazza it does seem like you are stuck in the middle and every one taking advantage. The Christmas eve idea seems like a good one, that is what happens here in France. If you can't get your family to agree and commit to arrangements on the day then enjoy it with your husband and son and let the others sort themselves out.

LadyHonoriaDedlock Fri 27-Nov-20 16:33:47

I do have trouble getting my head around how families get estranged. My older sister estranged herself from our mother, and later me (in the interregnum I got tired of being the jam in the sandwich as each of them phoned me to slag off the other. I know the estrangement happened very soon after our dad died – sister was very much her dad's girl – but not what it was about. Neither mum nor sister would ever tell me.

Elegran Fri 27-Nov-20 17:48:49

Ask them to confirm or refuse by a certain date, giving as a reason that you want to know by then how many you are catering, shopping, and cooking for, and that if you haven't heard for certain by then you will assume that they have other plans and can't make it.

Add that you would love to see them, of course, but you do need to know, as the preparations don't happen by themselves, and if they can't come on that day, could they please give you a date when they can come - for instance (and give them a choice of a couple of other days) Looking forward to seeing you, love Mum.

Then make your plans according to whether you hear back or not, and if they turn up without confirming, then you won't be ready for them, will you?

sodapop Fri 27-Nov-20 19:30:59

Exactly Elegran set the parameters and expect people to have the courtesy to let you know their plans. Things are difficult enough without these added stresses.

Lavazza1st Fri 27-Nov-20 22:30:38

@Toadinthehole yes I do tend to be the type of person to bend over backwards to cater to people who don't even give me a backwards glance. Unfortunately this comes from my childhood as I was the rescuer. Yes it's just me, my husband and son plus pets. We need to do what's right for us, I suppose.

@Smileless2012 That's a great idea about the hamper. I do need to toughen up. In reality though, I will probably cook enough for them in case they did turn up. I would find it hard to not feed them if they do turn up as they don't have a car (long story) and it would have meant a long journey by foot.

@sodapop thanks, me too.
@LadyHonoriaDedlock so sorry to hear that. In all honesty, I don't even know what this is all about. I always thought we were close. He hit a bad patch as a teen and I think that's when the damage was done. He's also had MH problems and needed to be sectioned. He says I am a narcissist, but actually it was funny when he said that because I suspected him of being one. So strange and puzzling! Sometimes they do project though (Narcissists) and also Triangulation as you describe with people talking about other people but not resolving things with the person, that's a narc thing. Or it can be.

@Elegran They know I have all the food. I've only bought a frozen bird this year and got everything covered as I shopped early (except for fresh veg etc) I bought a fresh bird a few years ago and it was disgusting, put me off!

Yes Sodapop things are difficult enough already.

Thanks so much to all who commented. I don't know how to resolve this, but when my youngest asked me what I wanted for Christmas I joked and said "Family counselling". I can't imagine my other son agreeing, though.

Toadinthehole Sat 28-Nov-20 08:22:02

Awww, bless you. Family counselling is a great idea. Shows you care.....but after Christmas. Look after yourself and get the best from it you can💐

OceanMama Sat 28-Nov-20 09:35:43

Difficult situation for you. "If he comes, I won't come." "I may just turn up, I can't let you know." You can't know what to do with that since everyone is offering conditional attendance with no certainty.

I think you've come up with the best solution: Decide what it is you and your household want to do and let everyone else either fit in or not. That way it's not your problem, you get to enjoy the day and the responsibility for sorting things and making decisions falls on the people making it difficult.

Lavazza1st Sun 29-Nov-20 19:25:15

@Toadinthehole thanks flowers

@OceanMama Yes it is difficult. My parent made it clear that they do not want to see my son and his family, which is potentially awkward for me when I invited them together.

Because of covid, it may not be advisable for families to eat together because of taking off masks etc according to www.germdefence.org/someoneElseHighRiskIllness5.html?fbclid=IwAR2Hy21zFUNUA64AVhG7xGMWizF89kjeDeCKgWahR-HhlrwoFAh9UWUrQjI

Because my Elderly parent basically banned me from having my child and their family on Christmas day, I came to a conclusion: Time slots!!! I have sent my elderly parent the research, so they can make an informed decision about whether they want to take that risk and said that if they decided not to, we will deliver them a Christmas dinner and presents. They are not happy, but I think it's a fair suggestion to suggest they go home a few hours after eating their lunch... to allow a time slot for other family to come who they do not want to mix with. What do you think?

I still have no idea what my son actually wants, but I want to leave a window of time in case he wants to come. If he doesn't we will have a nice time doing what we want. I just don't want to spend Christmas day being dictated to by my elderly parent, who is known to cause deliberate discord by "divide and conquer" attempts.

Lavazza1st Sun 29-Nov-20 19:27:15

PS the above mentioned parent is extremely controlling and I also will not be "allowed " to video call my other parent and siblings if they stay all day. Hence the time slot is not just about covid.

Chewbacca Sun 29-Nov-20 20:28:05

Lavazza1st don't you think it's about time that you took control? You're being royally messed about by your estranged son and his wife; you don't know whether they intend to visit or not Christmas. Now you've got an "extremely controlling" parent who's telling you what you can and cannot do, in your own home, on Christmas Day. At what point are you going to stand up and say ENOUGH. Stop pandering to relatives who apparently don't have any one but their own interests at heart, and do what YOU want to do. Now is the time to put your big girl pants on and start taking back some control of your life, home and Christmas. Good luck.

OceanMama Sun 29-Nov-20 20:37:15

I second what Chewbacca said.

You are bending over backwards to accommodate these demanding people. When does what works for you and what you want become important? They are dictating to you in your own home and messing you around.