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16 year total estrangement

(49 Posts)
Sleeping101 Sat 21-May-22 17:50:39

I have been estranged from my son for more than half his life now. He cut contact and that was that. He had a terrible time getting through his teens and I was both frightened for him and of him. My fear and lack of knowing what to do and how to parent him came out as anger and when his father and I separated he went to live with his dad.
I tried contacting him, apologising, listening to his complaints about me but nothing helped. I have gone through the range of emotions over his loss and now no longer know him. He was a teenager the last time I saw him and he is a man now. I see him on Facebook and I wouldn’t recognise him if we walked past each other on the street. That saddens me so much - on any meaningful level, I no longer know my child.
A few years on from the estrangement I sent a letter apologising and saying I would leave the door open for him should he change his mind but would not contact him as I had been. I heard nothing but for the last 10 years or so his dad gives me key updates from time to time and I send a Christmas card and a birthday card. In both I say I hope he is well and I love him. I don’t give information about me. I never receive any responses but I hang onto a glimmer of hope that the cards are reliable and feel safe for him to receive and that even if he can’t say it out loud that he, in some small way, appreciates the the contact.
I sometimes wonder if I should stop. I now do it for me as I have no feedback from him at all about the cards. I could ask his dad about it all but I think finding out something hurtful would put me back in a world of pain.

Allsorts Sat 21-May-22 20:30:43

I know most will not agree with me, but I would continue. You hurt him but maybe life will show him what pressure you were under. You haven’t abandoned him, he walked away as he couldn’t cope. Maybe it will never alter, but neither will your love, just one day he might re think and if not you can’t alter it. I say this as a person who didn’t get it right so really in no position to advise.

Grannyben Sat 21-May-22 21:09:17

I would also continue to send the cards. Life clearly hasn't been easier for either of you but, you have always sent a card twice a year. If you give up now he may see it as a further rejection of him.
To be honest, if it was me, I would start to put small notes in giving
brief details about yourself. You haven't ever been told not to contact him so it wouldn't hurt

Knittingnovice Sat 21-May-22 21:16:29

I agree with the previous posters.

dragonfly46 Sat 21-May-22 21:24:15

Yes continue. On a much smaller scale - when my daughter went to uni I used to email every day. She never replied but after a few months I stopped and eventually she to.d me that she really missed my contact.

Nannarose Sat 21-May-22 22:37:25

I am so sorry to read this. None of us is a perfect parent.
I agree that I would continue. It is my experience (professionally, and at a much more distant level, personally) that it is in these formal contacts that there is a tiny opening that could be explored one day.
I would add your contact details (maybe you already do) possibly on the back of the card so that they don't look too obvious.

You don't know what he does with these cards. They may, sadly, go into the bin.
He may keep them for awhile, and wonder about contacting you, but hasn't yet.
He may put them away, unopened, or unread, until he can deal with them.

Given everything that you have described, I think he would tell you to stop if he wanted you to. So even if he can't make contact at present, he knows you are open to it, and that may be important.

Having said that, if continuing to write and send the cards becomes distressing and makes things worse, then stop. However, it sounds as if it is part of your attempt to reconcile the past, and helps you a little.

I do hope these replies have been helpful to you, even if you don't follow them. My best wishes.

Deedaa Sat 21-May-22 22:43:07

I would continue to send the cards. I would keep them pleasant and avoid any suggestion of neediness or pressure. You never know if one day he might want to contact you. None of us know what's round the corner.

Shelflife Sun 22-May-22 00:13:00

I am not in your position so can only imagine how I would react. However I think I would continue sending cards, he may read them he may not , he may bin them he may not. Whatever he does with the cards one thing is sure - he knows you sent them! He knows you love him , it's written in the cards. I too think a little personal news occasionally might be a way forward. Tell him how you are , where you have been.
You are doing your very best and I wish you and your son well.

Hithere Sun 22-May-22 01:35:15

Has he asked you not to contact him in any way?

As an estranged AC, I keep getting communications from my parents but always ignored - that is my answer and they know it, a decade plus later

I believe the danger with EPs sending cards, letters to EAC is that it may rise hope on the EP's side, leading to disappointment, depression for lack of desired outcome, etc

It can also make the chances of reconciliation smaller by ignoring his response

16 years is a long time and he knows where to find you, what is the point of continuing something that hasn't worked on 16 years?
Why not move in and enjoy the rest of your life?
You are a person, not just mother.

You should stop or continue - whatever makes your quality of life better.

Hithere Sun 22-May-22 01:37:05

Worked for 16 years

Why not move in

Hate autocorrect

Allsorts Sun 22-May-22 07:23:56

When I read the newspapers and read of another little baby or child who has been neglected and tortured and killed, of course I know there's awful parents who do that. It's incomprehensuble for all of us. So anyone coming from an environment of physical, mental or sexual abuse, surviving childhood, should walk away and not look back. But if it's because of a personality clash or she just get on your nerves but loves you, how does anyone walk away? Our child is the greatest love and every day estranged is more than hard. Does the the estranged have their own children? How would they feel, if despite doing their best, their child decided also that their mothers best wasn't enough and judged them the same, would they just brush off as that's life after all, being a perfect person isn't possible as is being a perfect parent. I would imagine a perfect mother might in some adult child's mind be daunting and unacheivable and could they cut off. How should you behave when you are jettisoned out of your role as mother and have no communication? Doesn't everyone make mistakes and hopefully learn from then.

Smileless2012 Sun 22-May-22 09:27:23

I don't recall seeing you post before Sleeping, so if you're new to GN, welcome.

You say your son's father gives you key updates from time to time, so I think it's reasonable to assume that if the cards you send aren't welcome, he'd have told you so.

What to do? What ever is right for you. I agree with Hithere that if sending cards leaves you with hope however small, that he may contact you and when he doesn't, your pain intensifies then it may be time to stop for your own sake.

IMO telling him each time that you hope he's well and you love him is all you need to say; he doesn't need to know anymore than that.

You say he had difficulties in his teenage years and that you were "frightened for him and of him" and that your fear and lack of knowledge came out as anger. A very honest statement, something that perhaps you explained when you sent that letter of apology some time ago.

You can do no more than you've already done and always remember that you did your best. You may have handled some things badly but it was never your intention or desire to do harm.

If you decide to stop sending the cards, my advice is that in the last card you tell him this is what you've decided to do and why. You can reiterate your love for him and that you're here for him if ever he wants to make contact. You could also tell his father, who may feel able to pass the message on, just in case he never opens the cards you send.

16 years is a long time, and for you half of your son's life. It will be 10 years for us at the end of this year and for me, real healing only began when I accepted there was nothing I could do to bring our son back, so had to make a new and different life without him.

Whatever you decide, do it for you flowers.

Yes Allsorts everyone makes mistakes and I sometimes wonder what will happen in the future with our ES and his children, our only GC who we will never know.

Will they be more accepting of his fallibility as a man and a father and more forgiving? I hope so for his sake.

DiamondLily Sun 22-May-22 10:02:35

Not exactly the same thing, I know.

Nearly 20 years ago, I divorced my first husband. There was no abuse or anything, it had just got to point that the children were grown with families of their own, and the marriage, which had lasted 30 years, was over.

Our children remained strictly neutral with this, and I didn't badmouth him at all. He did me, but that was his choice. We haven't spoken since.

12 years ago, out of a clear blue sky, and with no warning, he texted our children, saying he never wanted contact with them or the GCs again.

My daughter was devastated, she'd always been very close to her Dad, and he blocked all calls etc so she didn't know why.

My son lives in America and took a much more laid back view - just ignored him back.

My daughter made the decision that she would send him a birthday card, a Father's Day card and a Christmas card (with a photo of the GC's inside) every year.

For 10 years they were ignored.

2 years ago, she received a birthday card from him, out of the blue, and he texted her.

They are back in contact, although the relationship is flaky, and will never be what it was. He will not explain why he estranged her, and she's very wary and untrusting.

A couple of months ago, she had a 25th wedding anniversary church blessing, and invited him.

He said he would never attend anything if I was invited, so I worked out with her that DH and I would do the evening party, so her dad could do the church.

This suited us, because my DH had been very ill, and a full day was a strain.

Six hours before, my ex texted my daughter and said he was too busy to attend.🙄. He randomly texts her, and she just replies in a general tone.

So, contact can and does sometimes resume after years, but it may not be the relationship you hope for.

So, if it makes you` feel better, then carry on with the cards, but don't hope for too much.

Best wishes flowers

icanhandthemback Sun 22-May-22 10:20:53

It's a really difficult conundrum as to what to do. I found my stepfather's estranged daughter when he was on his deathbed and she was really grateful. He had done years of sending cards and presents for her and her children before he decided that every time just opened up old wounds. She told him that she had wanted to contact him but felt she had left things too long so didn't as she was too embarrassed.
My sisters and I are estranged from our father and any communication from him would be seen by us as harassment and a source of pain. I was estranged from him for 25 years before a family funeral meant we met up again. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and in doing so, it caused all sorts of problems until, finally, he did something so heinous all of us walked away. Nothing will ever change that, not even on his death bed. I have just ignored his letters because as far as I am concerned I will not waste another ounce of energy on that man but my sisters go through such pain.
Is your ex the only person with contact with your son? I think if I wanted to know if my child wanted me to stop sending the cards, I'd probably get a trusted 3rd party to ask the question. Your son may not want to hurt his Dad's feelings if he feels strong loyalty to his Dad. I know that when my estrangement with my father ended, my mother was very hurt. Mind you, when you have 2 totally self absorbed parents, that's the default state!

Madgran77 Sun 22-May-22 14:11:42

Think Smileless gives wise advice especially Whatever you decide, do it for you

BlueBelle Sun 22-May-22 14:21:43

That’s so very very sad some teenagers can give their parents awful times and it’s so hard to know whether to go with it or go against it It really is the toss of the coin
I m sure you did your best as a parent it’s so bloody hard to know at the time how to react
I would say yes keep the lines open by sending the cards and I ll keep my fingers firmly crossed that one day it all reverses
A big hug

Smileless2012 Sun 22-May-22 14:25:23

You raise an important point DiamondLily, even the most longed for reconciliations can fail to live up to expectations.

We no longer feel we know our ES and I'm sure that he would feel the same about us if we were ever to meet. Estrangement changes not just people's lives but the people themselves; not always is a bad way of course, sometimes even for the better, but there are changes nonetheless.

Hithere Sun 22-May-22 14:42:43

If I ever reconcile with my parents, we would have to build the relationship from the way up, starting with trust.

I know, from the get go I say let's talk again, they imagine it as several calls a week, vacations together, being invited to my home for a month or so and spend time with my kids, ... - they told me this much themselves

My process? I would have to trust them first and given the damage in our past, it would take a long time to get there (i am talking years)- and I know their expectations wouldnt be fulfilled
No vacations
No monthly visits to my home

I know they would blow their fuse and push me to estrangement again as their expectations and mine are very different

Sad but it is what it is

Smileless2012 Sun 22-May-22 14:49:47

It is sad Hithere and your first and second paragraph sum up how I feel if we were ever to reconcile with our ES. I know our ES and his wife's expectations and ours would be very different, very different indeed.

DiamondLily Sun 22-May-22 15:26:11


You raise an important point DiamondLily, even the most longed for reconciliations can fail to live up to expectations.

We no longer feel we know our ES and I'm sure that he would feel the same about us if we were ever to meet. Estrangement changes not just people's lives but the people themselves; not always is a bad way of course, sometimes even for the better, but there are changes nonetheless.

Well, unless he summons up the courage to say why he suddenly estranged them, things can never be the same.

Telling our daughter that "he doesn't wish to discuss it" doesn't help.

There had been no bad feelings, no arguments, no anything - this just came out of the blue.

I think he's an idiot, because all that's happened now is that, although it was never planned, in the GCs eye, it was DH that stepped up to the plate. He went to the school plays, cheered them on and supported them.

My ex has lost more than he will ever understand.🙁

VioletSky Sun 22-May-22 15:27:55

You have these 2 cotton threads attached to your son. Small random updates and cards that you send.

The answer is in how those tiny threads feel.

Does it bring happiness to recieve updates and send cards or does it bring sadness and loss?

You and your son do not know each other, that amount of time can bring a great amount of change. Even leaving that door open and him stepping through it might not be what you hope for.

It seems to me to be a lot to hope for but I do understand it because after the breakdown of my relationship with my mother I held on to hope for a long time that she could change and make things right again.

For me, letting go of that hope brought a great deal of peace because the hope was tied to anger at the hurt she caused me.

Sometimes we have to stop looking to the people who have hurt us, needing them to make it right again or we can't actually heal.

Time spent in bitterness, anger, loss, depression resentment or longing for what we can't have.... Only hurts us, not them.

DiamondLily Sun 22-May-22 15:37:58

OP - if you haven't specifically been asked to stop and it makes you feel better, I'd continue to just send cards.

Sometimes people reconnect after many years (as with my ex and DD).

But, perhaps, if you are now on good terms with your ex, you could ask how the ground lies.

Smileless2012 Sun 22-May-22 17:12:27

I couldn't agree more DiamondLily. Without an explanation things can never be the same but I do wonder even with one if that could ever be possible, especially when it comes out of the blue and the one whose been estranged has no idea why.

Your D's father is a lucky man to have been given a chance to have a relationship with his D. Something that many EP's can only dream of and for some, even the dream is an impossibility.

Rosiestocks Sun 22-May-22 19:32:49

We have been estranged from our eldest son and his family (11 year old twins) for 10 years but we do exchange cards and gifts at Birthdays, Christmas etc.

I would continue with the cards myself because I wouldn't want to continually wonder if cutting the contact had prevented some sort of reconciliation or contact. I do agree with the poster who said to let him know that you are stopping and why.

I wish you all the best whatever you decide flowers

henetha Sun 22-May-22 23:46:15

It's so sad to be estranged from loved ones. I agree with others who said continue to send cards. It keeps alive that little flame of hope. I very much hope that one day soon you get a response.