Child's side of estrangement

newgardenelfMarch 12, 2008

I am estranged from my family except my mother and that is only a recent development. I have been accused of being a drama queen, selfish, influenced by my husband, have a mental illness, etc and all the other reasons some have supposed.

In some cases I do believe that any of these reasons may be the factors that have led to the estrangement but I have come to believe that just because you are related by blood does not mean you HAVE to have someone in your life. Sometimes forcing a relationship is worse than no relationship at all. In the end I find my quiet life with my husband and children more satisfying than life with my difficult extended family.

For example, my brother is constantly without money for food for his kids, diapers, etc but he always has money for other things. For years I "helped" him for the sake of the kids as did my mother who he literally drained financially. When I stopping paying to have a relationship with him, he stopped coming to see me. After all the problems and drama he caused me- I feel relieved that he is out of my life.

With my mother I had really clear boundaries that I asked her to follow regarding my children. My son has asthma and I asked that he not be around smoke- when he started smelling like smoke and need to use his nebulizer I knew that she was not taking that seriously. After months of trying to work with her and asking her nicely I found another daycare provider for my son. She said I was trying to take him away from her- NO I was trying to protect his health. I would ask he not watch certain shows and she would say- Oh it's okay you don't have to listen to your mother..He would get upset and tell me when he got home. When a grandmother tries to come between a parent and child-it's time to cut the grandparent out.

I am from a family of bullies and they feel that they should be able to say and do anything they want regardless of how it makes you feel. I am not going to raise my children in an environment where adults think it is funny to make children cry or to speak badly about their parent to them......

For many years my mother simply felt I was too sensitive or serious but now that she has moved away from her brother, sister, mother, son, etc and is remarried to a man with a wonderful family she agrees with me and we have restored our relationship and it is fantastic. I don't think we could have come to this place without an estrangement ( lasted about two years).

I haven't seen the rest of my family in four years. I feel really at peace with the decision. I pray for them and love them. I love them enough to remove myself from the cycle of making up- getting angry- extrangement- trying to make up, etc, etc that is too painful.

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newgardenelf, I don't know if this will surprise you but I am in agreement with the points that you make in your post.

Sometimes estrangements do occur and eventually result in a new relationship like the current one between you and your mother that is much better than the old one. Positive outcomes can come out of situations where there has been pain and conflict.

Some families do have bullies in them who won't listen, won't pay attention to boundaries, and who are out of control. The only thing we can do in some situations is to take control of our lives and to take care of ourselves by removing ourselves.

It sounds as though your brother cut you off when you wouldn't go along with enabling him any more by giving him money. It may be that one day he'll reach a "bottom" and straighten himself out and come back and be a true brother again. I hope he does.

I don't think that estrangement is necessarily a bad thing or a good thing all by itself. I think that there can be good reasons and bad reasons for estrangements. I think that the outcomes of estrangements can be good as well as bad.

The threads on gardenweb have been mostly on the subject of mothers who miss their children. I don't think that the amount of talking about that particular topic means that the fault is always and only attributed to a badly behaving adult child. There are also plenty of badly behaving adult parents in the world. I'm wondering if you feel as though adult kids are getting a bad rap?

I don't think that most parents who behave very badly come to discussion boards such as this one to talk about their estrangements. I think that parents who behave badly tend to be so self absorbed and insensitive that they don't even think about whether there are discussion boards about estrangements and they don't even care to spend much time discussing their relationships. I think that many parents who behave badly don't care a whole lot.

I am trying to read between the lines of your post. I think that you are estranged from your brother, uncle, aunt, and grandmother? Is your mother estranged from them also?


    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 8:54PM
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I, too, believe strongly that just because toxic people are related to you by an accident of birth doesn't mean you have to continually put yourself at risk.

In our case, DH's sister has been taking money from her parents for many years. My husband is one of the most respectful, honest, hard-working men you'd ever want to meet. He was appalled that his sis was virtually blackmailing his parents. After his father died, his sis went through a QUARTER OF A MILLION $$$$ of his mother's money in just a hair over a year. MIL has Alzheimers, SIL had herself appointed POA. We had to take the case to court. The forensic accountant we hired said it was the second worse case of family stealing from family that he'd ever worked on. SIL had paid off the other 2 brothers--so they sided with her. But fortunately, the judge, a number of highly placed court experts, the prosecutor's office and MIL's court appointed guardian sided with us. The crooks have had to pay back a small portion of what they stole, but they know they've been found out, they did have to pay something (getting blood from a turnip doens't begin to describe the situation), and they were stopped in their tracks. As all the professionals involved have stated over and over--without DH and I intervening, MIL would have run out of money for her care many years ago.

I will have nothing--ever--to do with my in-laws. They are ugly people who cannot be trusted, and neither DH nor I consider them relatives any more.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 8:02PM
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If you want to see estrangement in families occur, just watch what happens after someone dies. I have seen families stop talking to eachother for years over some paltry some of money.

I keep warning my father, if he wants to keep our family the loving, peaceful family that it is -- please get a will written.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 3:10PM
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I never thought of my sister's as bullies, they picked away at my self esteem which I didn't have to much to start with, with their negative comments. They are several years older than I am and I think they were just giving their "little sister" advice. I can tell you for sure, the problems that I have with my sisters NOW, started the day I started standing up for myself. LOL

Stirfry, I thought if there was no will, money was divided equally among the children. My husband didn't have a will when he died and he didn't need it. The house and car were in our name with right of survivorship. The money was already in my name because he had Alzheimer's and I caught his daughter trying to get money out him when his reasoning wasn't sound. I locked the barn door before the horse was out.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:09PM
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I've noticed too that a great deal of the threads in this forum deal with the parent's side of an estrangement. I really feel for these parents but I can't help but wonder if my own mother feels the same sense of loss that they do.

My mother had me two months after she turned 17. I realize that she worked very hard to provide for my physical needs, and I always had food to eat, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head. When I was 8 years old, she sent me to live with my grandparents, since she was not able to provide for me at the time. I grew very close to my grandparents. Two years later, she returned to get me and introduced me to my new stepfather. Everything went fine for several years, until she gave birth to my brothers. Suddenly I was no longer part of her new family.

I am not sure what caused the shift, but she grew cold towards me. I was 14 years old at the time. I got good grades in school, had a job, and was involved in extracurricular activities at school. No matter what I did, it wasn't good enough. Many days I would be scared to come home from school, because the simple act of walking through the door and saying "hi" would cause her to start screaming at me. By the time I was 16, the fighting was so bad that I was no longer allowed to use the telephone or see my friends. I got accused of horrible things, and when I denied doing those things, she called me a liar. At one point she told me that having me was a mistake, and she wished she hadn't. Almost immediately after graduating high school, I moved in with my grandparents again.

My grandmother told me that I should have a relationship with my mother, no matter what. I always considered her a very wise person, so I did as she told me to. But the relationship felt strained and fake to me. It bothered me that she wouldn't hug me or tell me she loved me. Mostly I spoke to her so that I could see my brothers, whom I love very much. This strained relationship went on until two years ago, when many things happened at once.

First my grandfather died of pancreatic cancer. My grandmother was extremely depressed and lonely, as they had been married for 50 years. One night, a few months later, she called me to her room at 4 am, complaining of the worst headache of her life. I got her into the hospital, and she died two weeks later of complications resulting from a brain aneurysm. I was absolutely heartbroken. I have a very large family, and they seemed to understand how upset I was. My mother did too, at the time. She offered me a place to stay for a little while, until I found somewhere else. Although my friends were frantically telling me not to, I moved back in with her for three weeks.

The coldness started again the day I moved in. I tried to ignore it. Finally, on Christmas Eve, my aunt invited me to Christmas brunch at her house the next morning. She told me that it was to happen at 11 am. My mother later told me that it had been changed to 9 am. So, when I showed up at my aunts house at 9 am, and noticed that nobody was there, especially my mother, I got pretty upset. I kept to myself for four days, until my mother came to me and asked me if she could have my rent early. I told her no. I had been saving up for a security deposit on another place, and paying her early would have set me back. This caused a huge blowout fight. She locked me out of her house, and wouldn't let me in to get my stuff. So I called the police. When they arrived, she ran up to their cars and tried to pretend that she had called them on me. She stood there and told them that I had never paid her any rent. My brother, who was standing there watching, said "Mom, why are you lying? I've seen her pay you three times!" She proceeded to lie and belittle me to the police officers, who eventually got tired of it and told her to shut up. She told me that I was a failure, that I had used my grandparents, and finally that I could "have fun being homeless". At that point, I told her I was done with her. I got my belongings out of her house, and didn't speak to her for a year.

Finally, last Thanksgiving, my family talked me into trying to reconcile with her so that we could both come to dinner. I sent a friendly email, and she sent a lukewarm one back. But she didn't show for Thanksgiving. My brother told me later that she said she had never done wrong by me, and I should just forgive her because she's my mother. Well, that statement infuriated me.

You see, I've noticed on these boards that many of the estranged parents speak of "entitlement". You know what? I don't want or need financial support or anything like that. What I felt entitled to was love and respect. I did not get the love or respect I feel I deserved. I didn't ask to be brought onto this planet. And what I feel "entitled" to now is for her to take responsibility for her actions, and say "Ok, I messed up bad, and I'm sorry." I am fully willing to take responsibility for my actions. In fact, I think that people being unwilling to take responsibility is what keeps many of these estrangements going.

Even though I made the decision not to speak to her anymore, it hurts me. But I cannot and will not have any person in my life who makes me feel bad about myself. I am not a masochist. To make matters worse, the rest of my family, as soon as they realized that I was not going to reconcile with her, stopped speaking to me without even asking for my side of the story. That hurts too. But people need to realize that not all estrangements are caused because so-and-so wouldn't buy their child a house or pay their bills.

I apologize for the length of this, but I really needed to get it off my chest...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:23PM
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Jonsey, there needs to be a will. And make sure the POA is someone who really has the best interests of everyone at heart. My DH just went through the biggest mess ever after his dad died. His grandmother was POA, he was sole inheritor, and his grandma stretched the proceedings out over a year, didn't keep up insurance on anything, lied to the lawyers about him owing her money, kept going on the property and making messes, etc. He now has to take out a restraining order on his own grandmother.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 5:06PM
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