My life journey has been intertwined between abuse, sexual and emotional, and estrangement, both from my parents/siblings and my son. I have been on many support forums for estrangement. The first thing I noticed is that many women who find themselves with adult children who have walked away are women who have suffered some kind of abuse in their lives. The second thing is that people have various reactions to those who have been estranged. Many understand, but others believe the parent must have done something wrong, that a child would never just walk away for no reason. To these people I want to say – you would think differently if it happened to you!
Yes, sometimes there are reasonable excuses but other times there simply are not. I have read various posts by children who have estranged, usually in their late teens and twenties. Many of their reasons are mind-boggling: they give more money my sister than me; they don’t listen to me enough; they talk too much about their health issues and I’m sick of hearing it; they don’t agree with everything I do. Seriously? Are these viable reasons for estrangement, for turning and walking away from your parents? Those things are normal in life and in any relationship. Parents do not deserve the pain of estrangement for such trivial things.
I am on both sides of estrangement: I have estranged myself from my mom and my sisters, and my son estranged himself from me. It was all interconnected, which I will go into in another post. I walked away from my mother because there was fairly intense emotional abuse. She also protected my sexual abusers rather than me, the victim of their advances. She ripped me apart in many ways and sided with liars while yelling at me, the one telling the truth. Those are fair reasons to estrange.
My son was pulled in by the same people who told lie after lie to discredit me. He had a father who always bad-mouthed me because I had been the one to break off our relationship before my son’s birth. And my sisters used my son in order to get back at me for disagreeing with them (see post: The Beginning of Estrangement). My son and I had a great relationship till he turned about 17, when the family drama started and he started spending more time with my sisters. He left for the Navy and without explanation, I never heard from him again for 5 years, other than 2 small Facebook messages that amounted to nothing.
I know what I have and haven’t done and said to my son – there was no reason to turn away and estrange. No abuse, no emotional distance. I supported him in everything he did. The problem is, others had influence over him and he wasn’t smart enough to think for himself and see through it.
For those of you going through this, I send you a hug and want you to know are not alone. For those who believe we must have done something wrong, please know that is not always the case.