October 01, 2020, 06:52:37 am


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Getting through the final break from son

Started by amflautist, February 17, 2018, 12:48:39 am

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I finally had to do it. I would like to say I found my spine and took my dignity back but in truth I was forced to do it by the ridiculous and humiliating rules that were set up for my visit. In short and without going back over 11 years of humiliation and groveling and being on my knees and saying  I'm sorry when it wasn't even my fault. I was always "the bigger person' the one who forgave the one who loved in spite of DIL who hated me.

Well they finally had kids, twin sons, three years ago. DH and I not allowed to see grandchildren except for 3 times in first year. Not at all for last two years. I was very happy when a last minute invitation to 3rd birthday party came two weeks ago, even though last minute airfare was $$$$.

I woke up at 4am for 6am flight. Found a long message on my phone giving lists of my inadequacies and transgressions, 90% of which was stuff made up by DIL. But it was the rules that got me!! DS - who usually seemed reasonable through all these years of stress - had asked us to come 2 days early and stay an extra day (in town not in his home because for DIL her home would be too stressful). DS asked us to come early because he wanted to bring our grandsons to us so we could take them to the children's museum and take them to lunch etc. Haha - he did not clear this with DIL and she was Stressed Out. Thus the rules.

Rules: You must not say anything bad about their house or the other guests at the party. (Huh? I am a gentle, considerate, gracious guest and hostess). When you get off the plane, you may not stay in my city. (We had planned to stay in our hotel and watch the Olympics for 2 days until the day of the party. No contact with anyone since by now it was clear there would be no seeing children before party). But we were told to rent a car and get out of their city  - go somewhere else for two days until party. Because just knowing we were in town would be too stressful for DIL.

That was the last straw. I have broken up with my son. I believe this is permanent. Although I said call me in the future if DIL changes, I know this will never happen. She never wanted us in her life, ignored us completely or threw tantrums if DS invited us over (in the early years) ... Etc.

The breakup is real. It is final. It is for me and my dignity and sense of self worth.

I am writing to ask anyone who went through this. How did you get through it? I wake up at night crying. I am mad at myself for allowing all the abuse for so many years. I want to be stronger when this is over, can't afford to let it affect my health.

How did you get through it???


Amflautist, you are in what I call "the abyss" because it sucked me in and pulled me down.  There is a way out because I found it.  For me the realization that I did not enjoy visits with my DS was the turning point.  Why was I beating myself up trying to visit someone when I knew the visit was going to be unpleasant?  I did not know my DS anymore.  The person I was trying to see just wasn't there.  I mourned the loss of the wonderful young man I raised and then I started living again.  I started focusing on the things in my life that make me happy.  I started making plans for the times of year when I knew it would be the hardest to ignore my DS's absence (Mother's Day, Birthday, Christmas) and my DH and I would go camping or visit someone else or go to a museum, anything to keep my mind occupied with something other than who was missing.  Whenever my mind's eye turned to the abyss I yanked it back and focused it on something joyful in my life. The more I focused on the joy, the more joy I found.  I have many things in my life to be thankful for and I had been ignoring them for years.  I am actually lucky that my DH stayed, I was no fun to be around! 

Eventually, maybe because I stepped back and was no longer an issue in their marriage, my DS opened his eyes and made a real effort to become part of our family again.  He now brings his children to see me and even comes alone sometimes.  I am getting to know him again and really enjoying the man he has become.  I know the son I raised (and that I was so desperate to keep) is gone, but the man he became is awesome and I am really enjoying him.  My DIL and I still do not like each other but we have managed to eek out a reasonable relationship.  I know what to avoid and frankly if I offend her by mistake (which happens all to frequently) I just don't care.  My DS will explain to her that I did not mean it that way (thankfully) and I just don't bring it up again.

Anyway, I guess what I am trying to tell you is that "What you focus on Expands!" and you get to choose what you focus on.  You can gaze into the abyss or you can gaze into the eyes of your loving husband.  I chose my DH and life took a real turn for the better.  I still visit the abyss but it no longer has a hold on me.  And yes, if you are wondering, my DIL's FOO get the lion's share of the visits, I just ignore it. 


I have heard a lot of rules on this site but this is the first time anyone has been disallowed to visit a city!!  Wow!!!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


A., I'm so sorry to hear what has transpired. We are old WWU friends and you are very dear to me. My heart goes out to you.

My experience didn't get to the stage you have just reached. My son died in his sleep of a sleep apnea stroke. His wife took up the banner and lambasted me when I reached out to support her after his untimely death.

The abyss you describe is horribly familiar. I can only say that for me to continue to stay in the climate of abuse meant that on some level I agreed with it. I found there was virtually nothing left of my self respect. I think I must have been clinging to some kind of ethic that a mother never gives up. Not consciously but it was evident in my decisions and behavior. My hopes and dreams, expectations and memories undermined my integrity and I sold out over and over again.

My healing has had to posthumous. My son made a choice and he stayed with it/'her'. My peace has come with knowing he had that right. He was a brilliant man, know in his field internationally. His two sons have followed in his footsteps, not in career choice but in success. I was not part of their upbringing. Now, as middle-aged adults, one holds me in contempt. He lives close by but I haven't seen or heard from him in years. The other thinks I hung the moon.

I have come to realize that very little of this had/has anything to do with me. Their perceptions and actions are about them...both the positive and the negative. I gave my biological role my best shot...human and imperfect. It was interpreted differently by two complex sons and later by two equally complex grandsons. My great granddaughter is a stranger, raised abroad, friendly and remote. Respectful but focused elsewhere.

The bottom line beyond the abyss for me, A., is dignity. I have chosen to give myself that gift. I deserve it. It isn't anything someone else can bestow on me or take away from me and I find that heartening.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Hi Amflautist,
So sorry to hear about your situation.  For me, there was a grieving process that couldn't really be short-circuited.  But then I got angry, mostly at myself, for losing my self-repect in the process of trying to keep a relationship going no matter how I was treated by my DD.  Besides letting her go to live her own life and disengaging from knowing what was going on there, I nurtured a couple of relationships with young adult women who really valued me in their lives.  That was transforming, and really helped me understand that none of my DD's behavior toward me was really about me and it certainly should not have defined me.  I also had WWU, both posting and reading old threads, to help me, especially in weak moments when I was in the abyss, or in doubt about what I was doing or not doing with respect to my DD.  Tremendously supportive!  I wish you well in this transition.  I could feel your strength in your writing, and with time and change of focus, I believe you will weather this as have so many women here :)  It WILL get better!


Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Dear Stilllearning,  Your post is really helpful.  "Abyss", yes it's what happens to me every time DH or DD ask about my mental state. "How are you doing?" dumps me into the abyss and I get so angry about 11 years of abuse that I can't even be civil to my dearest family members.  I'm trying to wall this off inside me, trying to enclose it in a big bubble that I will make grow smaller and smaller.  Your advice the What we focus on EXPANDS is a helpful way to think.  I'm focusing on work right now.  I was trying to think about a time in the future when DS would come to see me, maybe bring the grandchildren, but I realize that for right now, I just need to wall it all off and give myself time to heal.  For this week, I'm going to do the mundane - focus on just putting a little cream on my face and on the puckery skin on my arms and legs.  Small steps.

Dear Bamboo2, I'm still in the grieving stage, but thankfully I don't wake up several times a night with a wet pillow.  I got through that stage pretty fast.  I am ANGRY!  But right now I'm angry at DS for his part in all this.  He has been an enabler, and I knew that, but at last I am angry about it - angry at him - although not so much angry at myself because I still tell myself the fiction that I am a loving forgiving person - and because I was always willing to be the "bigger person" and apologize apologize apologize even when it wasn't my fault.  Nuf of that I can now say!  I have my own DD who cares a lot about me, and I need to get over this ANGER because it is affecting my relationship with DD whenever she brings it up.

Dear Luise,  I have valued your advice, your pithy sayings for so long!  I understand when you say "for me to continue to stay in the climate of abuse meant that on some level I agreed with it."  I wish I had extricated myself sooner.  I too believed that a mother never gives up, but I can't go on with that way of doing things.  I have been grieving over the loss of my special relationship with DS for 11 years, and thus willing to fit into his need for me to be the bad person, his wife the angel.  HA! It never was so.  I have a long way to go to build my new self, and form my changed terms of what now constitutes integrity.  So much to learn, so much potential happiness ahead!  Right now I am working on letting go of the wish that they would see me differently.  I have to get to the point where it's my definition of myself that counts. I know I have it in me to do this, to build respect for me.

Ha! Fake it until you make it. 

As Rhoda the Pest used to say to her family when she had a booboo anywhere on her body, "Don't look at it.  Don't talk about it!"  That's sort of how I am living right now. 

Still every day gets a little better.  I think.

Thank you everyone.  You are helping me work towards dignity.


It was Ramona the Pest, not Rhoda.  A favorite book when DS and DD were young.  "Don't touch it, don't look at it".  That's how I'm traveling these days.


DD says the book was Stanley and Rhoda, not Ramona the Pest.


I wonder, when I consider the path many of us know all too well, how this happens. Our DS son brings home someone really special and we like her and she likes us. We expand our clan to include her. It's almost as though DS's love for her is magnified by his loving family and she glories in it. At that stage she is still part of her clan and he is part of his whether they live at home or not.

Then for many of us, something starts to shift as the wedding approaches. We begin to experience exclusion. We're confused by it and rationalize it to the best of our ability. As a new family unit is established through marriage, it feels like our DIL no longer experiences us in a positive way. Our support is seen as interference. Our history too exclusive. Our influence is feared. At the same time, the newness of her role is shared with her family and she begins to lean on them for emotional, physical and sometimes financial support. She is challenged and they are there for her. Familiar, safe.

My guess is this is not experienced with any depth of understanding.
She starts to see DH's family of origin as competition and his love for them and loyalty to them as threatening.

While she is going through all of the above, DS is blinded by novelty and infatuation...early love. He wants to please her, support her, be seen by her as her hero and be rewarded in the best way imaginable. If she demands he distance himself and he has to choose...he has made his vows. His family of origin has to deal and heal...or not.

I know the above is abstract, grossly oversimplified, and generalized. I have not studied it formally.

It's just an...'I wonder.'

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I wonder if we are asking Mother Nature for something that is not possible.  I thought about this when I was taken on safari in Africa.  Teenage males are kicked out of the home group.  They bond with other young males and form roving groups that make mischief, fight among themselves, etc.  When they finally mate - if they are lucky enough to mate - they join the clan of the female.  The mother of a male elephant does not have a long term bond with her son.

When on safari, I told myself that I should not grieve that my son had gone over to the other side.  (He even moved to their town and built a big house there. I am sure the purpose is to impress his FIL!)

Maybe this is the way Nature works?  Maybe we humans are trying to accomplish something that is not built in?  What possible survival advantage do we derive by keeping our sons close?


Interesting, AF. My 'ex' was a Behavioral Psychologist. One day I remarked that the bird outside our door was singing 'Good morning' to me and was told he was probably singing, 'This is my territory. Enter at your own risk!'

Here at Warm Beach we all avidly watched the eagle's nest on our campus where a young bird was being lovingly fed.  He eventually teetered dangerously on the edge. Then one day we all held our breaths as he was pushed off the side of it into the world he was to survive in, if he flapped his wings hard enough. (He did...whew!)

Then there are those videos of a mother bear batting at her crying yearlings before she turns her back and lumbers off.

I look back on generations of family continuity in our specie and wonder how much of it was tradition, obligation, and survival. Where and when did preference become a factor? Entitlement? Why and how? If this is a pendulum, where might it settle?

And yes, when in pain, who gives a rip? My personal expectations weren't interested in esoteric meanderings. The pain was real and my loss unbearable until it finally wasn't.

We know where you are and we're here for you as you heal. You will!

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Let me start this by stating that I am totally unqualified to analyze this, but I have never let that stop me before!  With that said I believe that we set ourselves up for this from the time our children are very small.  We don't want to raise "Mommy's Boys" so we raise independent young men whose very identities rely on strength, resilience and self sufficiency.  We teach them how to use tools and how to do things for themselves.  Meanwhile we are busy raising young women, many of whom are taught that they cannot do things on their own like change a tire or fix a washing machine.  When they marry the boys feel like they are weak if they rely on their families and the girls cannot buy a cut of meat without their Mother's opinion so the new independent family unit naturally aligns itself with the female partner's FOO. 

With that said I want to add that it really stinks that as a parent of two male children (and no females) I have come to realize that my part in my son's lives will be smaller than I really wanted but I can deal with that.  After all I know many grandparents whose children have messed up their lives so badly that the grandparents are left raising the grandchildren and I definitely do not want that!  So between the "rearing the grands" extreme and the "completely ostracized" extreme of the spectrum there is a perfect medium.  I missed it by a little to the ostracized side but that is better than missing it to the other side of the spectrum!!  I am finished raising children!  I did my best and I truly do not believe that I could do it better if I tried again. 

And now my final point.  I believe that if you raised a child who is so independent that he/she does not feel the need to rely on you then you did a great job of raising them!!  You should take a bow!  You raised an independent, self reliant human which is actually the goal of parenting.  It hurts when they leave but I believe that when I need them my boys will be there for me.  For now my job is to enjoy this life to the fullest for as long as I am able and to enjoy my grands when I am allowed to visit with them.  My grands will remember how happy their Dad's Mom and Dad were and how much their Dad enjoyed visiting them (when he got to).

Just my inexpert opinion.

None of this applies to the children who seem to hate their parents for some real or imagined slight during their childhood.  I have been a sibling to one like that and watched as adulthood corrected their childhood memories with real life experience.  I cannot imagine how much angst my Mom and Dad experienced because of my sibling's memories from a child's point of view.

Good luck to us all!!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


That brings up a P.S. for me, SL. My younger DS designed and manages this Website for us for free. He thinks I hung the moon, which I was really too busy as a young mom to attempt. (Lucky for both of us!) At 91, he has my back! :)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Luise, you hung the moon! Oh how I love that. BTW it's true. I'm going to work on hanging the moon for DH and DD. Great project to think about. I'm sure that will take me a long way up out of the abyss, help me find my way out of this dark forest.

I have a question for you, for others who have had to move on without a beloved family member. Did you delete all their messages? Especially did you delete the final one that hurt so much? I am of two minds. One mind wants to print out that last piece of crap and write my rebuttal. Another mind wants to get rid of it because it should not be anywhere near me, and because I don't want DD to ever read that evil. I don't want to jeopardize her future relationship with her brother. (Actually he and DIL are doing a pretty good job of pushing her away without my help.)

Well, OK, just writing that out gives me the answer. It is clear which person I want to be. Actually, which person I am!!! Yay, I AM a good person. Ha, how's that for a little bit of morning healing?

Did you all need a lot more sleep while going through this? Seems I need to sleep all the time right now. I bet healing gives you your energy back.

Stilllearning, you said something that I am going to take as a model for myself, for my future self. You said, "
For now my job is to enjoy this life to the fullest for as long as I am able and to enjoy my grands when I am allowed to visit with them.  My grands will remember how happy their Dad's Mom and Dad were and how much their Dad enjoyed visiting them (when he got to)."
I think this is how I want it to be for me. Not a break where I reject DS but a break where he and the two GS can come and enjoy a happy home, free from stress.

Yep, I'm going to destroy all that negativity caused by DS and DIL, and start doing my part in creating joy at home. I've not been much good at that lately.

Luise, this website is a godsend. It helps us deal with our deepest most difficult family problems and gives us the support we need to become better versions of ourselves.

Bamboo2, Stilllearning, Luise, thank you. I love you all!


Oh my gosh that feels good. I just deleted the evil Valentine's Day message from my son. I also deleted all his emails, from as far back as Gmail saves them. 11 years of negativity and crap gone. Poof! Feels so good to get out from under that yoke. What a weight that was!