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Do you think people judge you if you’re estranged from members of your family?

(100 Posts)
Kandinsky Tue 09-Feb-21 07:35:48

I’m estranged from a sibling and was ( up until her death ) estranged from my Mother.
It was my decision ( for reasons I thought entirely valid. ). but I know some people judge me negatively.
I do regret the situation often but it’s been over 10 years now so not likely to change. ( my sibling has made no effort to reconcile)

But generally - do you think people judge?

Humbertbear Tue 09-Feb-21 07:42:21

I am estranged from my older sister and have been so for many years, She has also distanced herself from our mother. I do think people consider me to be hard and lacking in family feeling but I cut her out of my life to protect my own mental health as she can be quite vicious. I no longer care what other people think although I am aware that people who come from ‘happy families’ think our’s should be repairable.

NellG Tue 09-Feb-21 08:30:33

Yes, I think some do. Some are so uncomfortable with how the concept of estrangement makes them feel that they never get past assuming that we must be awful, intolerant people.

Chances are by the time the estrangement happens we've tolerated more than most could stomach and taken more than our fair share of abuse.

I am estranged from my eldest child, and as a result of their judgments and behaviours around that I am also estranged from my siblings - they made a terrible situation very much worse on top of dishing out a lifetime of misery.

No one does this lightly, they are either under duress from another in domestic abuse situations, or as in my case they hit the end of their rope after years of difficulty and like Humbertbear estrange for their own mental health.

Like Humbertbear I no longer worry what others think, but I used to. I desperately wanted to be part of a happy and functional family and spent most of my life people pleasing in the belief that I could change the family I had. All that happened is that I'm exhausted and estranged ( but content to be so) and they are still awful.

FWIW I'm not judging you, I've walked a similar path and it's not easy. But... if you regret it, could it be changed by you reaching out? Or are you wistful but essentially content as you are?

Kandinsky Tue 09-Feb-21 08:41:11

Thank you both for your replies.
And yes. I guess I’m wistful but essentially content.
I do think there’s almost ‘a point of no return’ with estrangement.
After 10 years I’d barely know my sister now.

Sara1954 Tue 09-Feb-21 08:42:36

Yes I think some people judge me as being harsh and unkind, but that’s their problem not mine.
My mother is good at playing the hard done by poor old lady, and even my grandchildren suggested at Christmas that I should send her a card.
I never say anything about her, they have no idea what she was like, and that’s how I want to keep it. My children know a bit more, but that hasn’t changed their relationship with her, to them, she’s just a harmless old granny.
My husband understands, and despite my mother contacting him periodically, to say that I’m out of her will, unless I go and see her, he has also avoided falling out with her.
I don’t care what anyone thinks, I don’t feel I have to justify myself, and my decision is final.

M0nica Tue 09-Feb-21 08:45:17

Some will, some won't.

Witzend Tue 09-Feb-21 08:58:15

I certainly don’t, since in a formerly happy and close-knit family I’ve known for a very long time there’s estrangement from an adult child and for the life of me I cannot imagine that the parents have done anything to deserve it.
It would seem that a DiL has been determined from the beginning to hate them, and that the son is a mere pawn in her hands. Sadly it would seem that this sort of very cruel scenario is not rare.

From personal experience I also know that it can be almost impossible for some members of a family to comprehend the behaviour of member A to member B, when they have never once witnessed it, because A is quite different with them. And so they imagine that B is making it up, or exaggerating it, or is over-sensitive, etc.

NellG Tue 09-Feb-21 09:01:55

Kandinsky That point of no return is one I've pondered often, for me it came when I realised that they weren't that bothered that I'd gone, that my place in their lives was to serve a purpose. The relationships weren't about mutual like, love and care - they were just there because society has constructed the family unit and most of us live within it without question. I don't have enough time left to prop that up for the sake of appearances! If relationships have no mutual benefits ( even when it's just enjoying someones company) then there is no point to them. But I am sorry that you didn't have the family experience that some people have. It does often feel very unfair.

Sara1954 Yet another similarity between our experiences. My mother was very good at keeping up experiences, throwing her own children under the bus to do so but could be a vicious and cruel woman behind closed doors. I never estranged from her because back then I had the energy to tolerate her inadequacies and problems and still believed that as she was my mother I owed her loyalty if not love. She's dead now so I don't have to deal with her - but she's left quite the legacy of unhappiness behind. If I could go back in time I'd have walked away years ago. But you live and learn. My respect to you for supporting your children with it.

NellG Tue 09-Feb-21 09:05:00

*keeping up appearances.

sodapop Tue 09-Feb-21 09:11:02

People are judgemental as we have seen on GN. Often they don't know all the facts of family estrangement and hear only one side of the story. It's easy to say why don't you do this or that without any understanding of the hurt that has gone on often for a long time.
I can't imagine the pain of estrangement from your child.

Sara1954 Tue 09-Feb-21 09:24:10

I probably should have done it years before, in fact, I consider myself weak for not doing so. She was vile to my husband, wouldn’t have him in the house for years, and yet, I continued to visit every week with the children, I really dislike myself for that.

NellG Tue 09-Feb-21 09:40:08

* Sara1954* Please don't deem yourself weak or dislikable, how can you be either of those things when you were trying so hard to do the right thing and be a decent human in spite of her behaviour?

All you did was try to rise above it, there's no shame or weakness in that. Your husband sounds like a pretty admirable type too.

Hindsight isn't always comfortable, but you did your best to manage an awful situation with the knowledge and experience you had at the time. Good on you, you deserve respect for it.

sodapop I wouldn't wish it on anybody. So nice to see someone with a balanced and sensitive view.

Anyway, I feel like I'm hijacking Kandinsky's thread so I'm off - but I will be back if anyone is giving themselves a bad time for doing the right thing!

Katie59 Tue 09-Feb-21 09:40:54

Friends judge you based on how they know you personally, it is so easy to get estranged from a family member, it only takes one word at the wrong time. However if you are constantly complaining that all your family are against you then friends might see you as the problem so no hard and fast rules. If you have a friend and meet at the time agreed, are honest, discrete and reliable there won’t be a problem whatever the relationship with your family

Kandinsky Tue 09-Feb-21 09:54:37

Oh no problem Nell, it’s an open discussion and good to hear the experiences of others.

Sara1954 Tue 09-Feb-21 10:04:24

Thanks Nell, you are very kind

jaylucy Tue 09-Feb-21 10:11:51

After reading the number of estrangement posts on here, I can't see why anyone would or should look down on people that are estranged - it happens more than you realise!
These days as well, families no longer live within a short distance of each other , so sometimes only see each other once or twice a year. Is this estrangement too ?

Smileless2012 Tue 09-Feb-21 10:14:39

Some people do judge Kandinsky either because they have no personal experience of estrangement or because their experience is different.

Some EAC will judge EP's as being dysfunctional and in some way abusive because sadly that was their experience. Some EP's will judge EAC as cruel and their parents being victims of undeserved estrangement, because that is their experience.

The 'you must have done something' and 'there's no smoke without fire' comments can be very upsetting as is the response if an EP says they don't know why the estrangement has happened of 'you must know; you must have been told'.

I do think in some circumstances it's 'comforting' for some who've not experienced estrangement to apportion blame as this strengthens their belief that 'this could never happen to us/me'.

I also think that not accepting the truth of an experience that is different to your own can come from a degree of doubt that the decision made was the wrong one, or that others may doubt your experience if they can see and accept that these can vary considerably.

The "point of no return" is something that in my experience came after some time. We've been estranged from our son and only GC for a little over 8 years now, and I have passed that point of no return.

We don't know our GC and unless they were with one or both of their parents, wouldn't know them if we saw them in the street. Our ES is not the person he was for the first 27 years of his life and we are not the same people we were before he estranged us.

We have the emotional scars that this has left us with. We are more cautious and less open with others, especially those we don't know that well and the reality of our lives isn't the same as it is 'on paper'.

'On paper' we are the parents of two sons and GP's to two GC but in reality, we have just one son and no GC.

I too no longer worry or care what people think about me; about us; we know the truth of our particular situation. I do care if and when I see those who are living with estrangement being unfairly and at times cruelly judged, regardless of whether they're the estranged or the estranger.

It also upsets me to see when, rather than being encouraged to find a solution to a relationship problem, 'advice' to cut them out of your life is given, and even encouragement to get the posters' partner/husband/wife to estrange their own parents, or if that doesn't happen to prevent those parents from having contact with their GC. 'This is your child and if you don't feel comfortable etc' springs to mind.

Lesley60 Tue 09-Feb-21 10:18:49

I was estranged from my mother and siblings for over 40years
I was brought up in a toxic family and my mother made no attempt to contact me nor did she ever send birthday cards etc to me or my children,
She missed out on so much because of her personality she has now passed away and instructed people not to tell me
I’m sure I was judged by some but my own little family mattered more and I know if my mother had been involved with them it wouldn’t have been beneficial for them so I didn’t care what anyone else thought.

Sara1954 Tue 09-Feb-21 11:40:41

Good for you, I’m glad you found the courage to break away.
On the surface I guess we looked like a very ordinary family, clothed, fed, lots of family around. But looks can be deceiving , I wasn’t beaten, starved or anything that screams abuse, but my mother was still one of the unkindest people I’ve ever known. I doubt she realises what damage she did.
But in her defence, she had suffered a terrible tragedy before I was born, and I wasn’t always easy.

maryrose54 Tue 09-Feb-21 12:10:24

I still feel awkward if I have to tell anyone that I stopped having contact with my mother many years ago, even though she has since passed away. We were never close, she left us when I was 14 and although we resumed contact for a while I never felt comfortable. My husbands family has always been close and he has always accepted my decision, but used to sometimes say " but she is your mother", not quite understanding me. I've had no contact with my sister either for many years,my choice, because we were never close either and the family break up didn't help. I still feel guilty about it but have no desire to resume contact. I do feel people might judge if they knew.

Chewbacca Tue 09-Feb-21 12:20:01

I had remarkably similar experiences to others on here; externally we probably looked like an ordinary regular family but, behind those 4 walls anger, tension, conflict and bitterness was the main thread that ran through us. And so I grew up thinking that that's the way all families were and it wasn't until I reached my 40s that I realised it wasn't and did something about it. I wasn't judged at all by those who knew; quite the opposite. I have zero regrets. Estrangement allowed me to begin my life with my own family afresh: no rancour, bitterness, festering feuds or anger runs through it. We couldn't have managed that if I'd stayed. If anyone wants to judge me for that.... feel free; I don't give a damn.

cornishpatsy Tue 09-Feb-21 12:41:37

Some people just do not accept that there are bad mothers.

Being a mother just means a woman has given birth, that does not necessarily make her kind, loving and supportive.

EllanVannin Tue 09-Feb-21 12:52:40

It's human nature to wonder what happened in instances such as these----or just plain nosiness in some.
Half the problem being that you only hear one side of the story. Close friends will have more of an understanding of any given situation within families, but not so much outsiders.

AmberSpyglass Tue 09-Feb-21 13:09:39

If a child has estranged themselves from their parents then yes, I suppose I would assume that the parents are at fault.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Tue 09-Feb-21 13:12:27

It's possible that some people may judge you but I feel that most will simply wonder why the estrangement happened in the first place. It only takes one stubborn character to make it happen and it may well have been the other party.

Someone who's never been in that situation will never understand anyway. I wouldn't worry too much if I were you.