I am wondering what you all have done about photos and memorabilia of grown children who are now estranged. My son has been estranged from us for over 4 years. I am so very thankful I found this site; it has helped me a great deal since I began reading older posts and hearing the experience of others who also have estranged children.
I have processed through many of the emotions regarding my son's actions, yet I am really stumped on what to do with photos, school and military memorabilia, and some other memorabilia from his childhood. It hurts me to look through these items, and yet I also know (from a relative who he is close to) that he doesn't want this stuff from us: We had tried to leave a small box of his keepsake things with a relative to give to our son, and this relative told us to wait awhile, until our son is no longer mad at us.
I have been waiting and waiting. I have the storage space for the items (it's a few boxes worth), not a big deal space wise, but emotionally?? I just want all this stuff out of my space, it reminds me of the hurt hurt hurt. Yet, I want a nice scrapbook for me to keep about him, to remember the fun and good times when he was growing up. I have hundreds of photos of him and our family. Am I off base to even want to keep a simple scrapbook?
Any insight and sharing of your own experiences is most welcome. And thank you all for being here.
Welcome, C. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Read Me First to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit. We are a monitored Website. Obviously this is a 'canned greeting' but necessary for clarity. There are many kinds of Websites, some of which thrive on debate and criticism. At WWU, we listen with compassion and share our experiences. We aren't professionals and don't advise.
I have personally had the issue you are pondering. I came up with the same solution you are considering. I went through my photos and selected the ones that brought me happy memories and put them in a scrapbook. The rest brought me deep grief and I discarded them. I haven't had any regrets and I did it quite a while ago. That doesn't mean you might not have regrets...we are all so different. For me, I didn't want to erase the evidence of the lovely times when my son was little and our relationship was a loving one. At the same time, I didn't want to be reminded of it's disintegration. Hugs...
Welcome, Cookie! Very sorry to hear about your estrangement. Although my experiences are not the same, and my daughter is back in contact with us and has made some positive changes, it has been and continues to be abundantly clear that there was a four-year period that is just not healthy to revisit. (She called me in the middle of the night last week, crying uncontrollably about an issue with her current boyfriend, and I realized how close to the surface my memories are of those four years). I have photos and journal entries from that period that I would read over from time to time, and they just served to bring me back down to "the abyss", as WWU moderator Still Learning so aptly describes it. I've also figured out that I really can't spend any time thinking about the hurt and unfortunate choices we all made during that time---hers in isolating herself from family and living with an abusive boyfriend, and ours of trying so hard to keep her in our lives and convincing her to leave him. I've intentionally chosen the path that is most peaceful for me. I've even talked with my husband about not bringing up that painful time in conversation with me or others as it does not move us forward. During that time, I kept a few items at hand that heartened me, like old Mother's Day cards she made for me or gave me, that reminded me of the heart of gold that I know she had. I think the idea of keeping the things that bring a smile to your face and discarding the rest is great! Warm wishes coming your way!
Thanks Luise and Bamboo2. I like the idea of keeping the happy memories and discarding the objects/photos that bring me grief and that don't make me smile.
I see that keeping memorabilia that bring up hurtful memories is just another way of continuing the abuse that my son used to heap on me; well, no more. I have choices! And I choose good feelings and good memories (and good relationships NOW, with people who love and respect me NOW). Small steps to growth.
I think I'll look in one of those boxes today and throw out some negative junk....
Good for you! :)
Yay! We're cheering for you :D
This is MUCH harder and taking much longer than I though....I finally had to set a timer and limit myself to just 5 minutes of sorting through photos and discarding the ones that bring up unhappy memories at a time. I was totally lost in the Abyss yesterday; my fault because I didn't set limits for myself and wallowed in regrets and sadness. Not ever wanting to go there again (the Abyss)!!
We can DO this, people. We (collectively) don't have to punish ourselves any longer for the choices our grown kids have made, nor for our past failures (real or imagined) as parents.
Thanks everyone for being part of my healing; hope something I'm saying can be part of your healing too.
What an inspiring refection you are of the spirit of WWU!
Cookie, what a clever idea to use a timer to avoid wallowing in sadness. Thanks for sharing that! ;)
Woohoo! The timer is a great idea! I am so glad you thought of it and thanks for passing it along! Way to go! 8)