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Started by Junebug, June 25, 2015, 10:56:56 am

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I've been visiting here off and on for a month or so soaking in all the great advice. This environment feels like a good fit. Also for my little family. We read, we share info, we discuss, and work on healing individually but also together. I want to start by saying, WWU is such a comforting oasis! We've been through ups and downs for quite a while. Coming here reading the posts and encouraging advice, some of the suggested reading and other sources, has been one of the big helps for us. Thank you so much to all involved!

Dh and I are also members of the ever growing E parents population. We're middle aged with 2 AC. We, and also our DD, have been trying to cope the best we can. We have an ES.

After grieving for quite a while, (after the first estrangement), we realized we needed to learn how to focus more on ourselves and enjoy life more. Dh said our ES is an adult, he makes his own choices and we need to accept the choices he's made and move on. We moved on but never stopped missing him of course. We knew he was okay thanks to a few trusted sources. At least we knew where he was and if something bad happened to him we'd know. We were finally getting somewhere in our healing and moving along on steadier legs. We still missed him but we were all feeling happier, healthier, etc. All had been quiet for some time. Then our ES popped back into our lives recently. It wasn't a happy reunion. No "hello". No "I've missed you all". Nothing like that. We waited for years to hear from him and when we finally did we immediately felt like we had traveled back in time to when he left, but he now seems more bitter. I know I don't have to explain the heart breaking disappointment we feel to you all.

It's like we're back at square one except with more hurt feelings piled on than what we dealt with before. We've already forgiven him and we also know that the E, part 2, is for the best at least for now. Since we can't have an actual conversation with our ES, what's left to do? All we can do is pick up the pieces and get back on the road to healing again. We're sure he'll pop back into our lives again but we can't sit in the grief we once did. We get that. We're working on it. But this time it feels harder because we found out some things we didn't know about before. We didn't know he was growing THIS bitter over time. We knew some relatives were interfering but not this badly. The grief feels deeper this time. We're looking into therapy. We're focused on healing but... we know he will lash out at us again because of the situation he's gotten himself into. He gets into situations that he doesn't like and lately prefers to take it all out on us, especially me. He does so because he knows we'll still love him and we won't retaliate.

There's this foreboding feeling we're finding challenging to get past. Each time he has to face up to any responsibilities, we get slapped, figuratively, through some kind of outlet. That's the way it's been lately. We recently found out he's been trying to recruit others to do it for him. Some of which we feel sure won't get involved but there are a few that would. This isn't exactly new territory for us, however we've never been very good at defensive preparation before. If that makes sense. I'm pretty tired today. It's been difficult lately to get a good night's sleep.

Any advice?

Thanks for listening.


Welcome, J. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Open Me First to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure it's a fit. We're a monitored Website.

What I learned to do, finally, was to give myself the respect I deserved. I stopped leaving it to my ES. It took me way too long to figure that because I tripped over my very reasonable expectation and our early history of really enjoying each other. You are right it is their choice and I eventually figured out that I have choices, too. Sendings hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Green Thumb

June 26, 2015, 05:08:27 pm #2 Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 05:58:07 pm by luise.volta
Hi Junebug, There is something nagging at me in what you describe of your ES's blaming and negativity towards his parents, especially his mother. It sounds like he blames you all for his problems in life telling you this to your face and this is a very manipulative thing on his part. He tells you how you all were wrong in the past, or are wrong now, to get you to do something for him, a tactic called manipulation. Does this make sense? And now he is using relatives to try to get the manipulation of his folks going stronger. Because you are a good person, you do not recognize his tactic, rather take it with parental guilt and shame and instead internalize his words to feel grief or sorrow that he is so "bitter." It sounds like he is never wrong, he backstabs you two, he takes no responsibility for his own actions, and wants others to fix his problems and it sounds like he has little or no conscience towards treating his folks badly. A book I found extremely enlightening was Life Code by Dr Phil -- it explained to both my husband and I how some types of people are basically users, abusers, or manipulators and how to recognize their tactics and protect oneself. Another book that was really eye opening was The Sociopath Next Door about personality disorders and those who have no conscience. I say this because you may be taking this too personally, which is what he wants because then he can more easily manipulate and abuse/use you all. Easy for me to say, I know -- got a family full of narcissists, including a couple of AC, one is a sociopath and until we learned their tactics, we were just dumbstruck and grieving that our AC were so hateful to us, didn't want to be with us unless we did (blank) how they wanted, etc. If you decide your son has a problem like I have described, detaching and protecting yourselves is important. Instead of the cycle of grief because you think you did something wrong in raising him and therefore deserve his abuse. Sending you much love.


Hi Luise. Very well said. We have choices too. Not always easy but at least we have that. I've read what you've gone through and I just have to say, you are such an amazing woman! That you could go through so much and come out of it so strong, you are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your experience and advice. And thanks for the hugs. Right back at ya' sweet lady! XXXXX!

Green Thumb, thanks so much for your insight and the love. XXXXXs!

I've read some of the Dr Phil book and will take a look at it again. I have a friend who loaned it to me once.

I have some relatives that display narcissist characteristics too. My heart is heavy for you and for anyone who has to experience what that is like. Dh feels that some of his relatives could perhaps be borderline. We see it as a possibility. We have one relative in particular that hands down, has to have NPD. However, we hesitate with dxs most in our families because for our situations, it would be excusing too much towards the "can't help it" category and we feel sure if the environment wasn't what it is, they could help themselves improve their reactions, perceptions, etc... Also, if it wasn't for the fact that some people aren't treated the way others are, we'd lean more that way. I hope that makes sense. If they do indeed have some sort of personality disorders, they are highly functioning. We know people who have Narc characteristics that are not that awful to their loved ones. They're mainly annoying at times. What makes a difference is that the majority of their relatives don't enable or tolerate that kind of behavior. In our families there are shades of codependency and apathy also. With the codependent types it depends on who's the favorite of the month. With the apathetic, they've often displayed that it's better to say nothing than to be trashed for speaking up. Typical bully territory. There's hierarchy and at times the hierarchy is even celebrated. We've researched for quite some time and the personality disorder labels simply don't fit in our situation on either side of the family. A counselor once told me it doesn't quite seem to fit the criteria, but then each would have to be diagnosed by someone with qualifications. There's no way even one of them would consider any kind of professional services that have to do with the mind. Not only that, they don't want you to either. It's "family business only".

For quite some time and still presently, we mark it up to that generation that leans heavily on "we don't talk about our feelings", "you respect your elders no matter what", "what will other people think?!", yada yada such a degree that it's so dysfunctional yet doesn't quite reach the level of personality disordered. Now, the main ones that are in charge, at the top of the hierarchy, the two main antagonists, were both raised by very good parents and in loving homes. There were no favorites while they were growing up although they claim there were. There was no abuse. No neglect. They were fine until a few years of adulthood and then something began to go wrong. And I realize a person can come from a loving home and still turn out to act very personality disordered due to some other influences and/or experiences. Looking into the personality disordered research has helped us learn quite a lot because a great deal of the advice can apply to a lot of situations. No one should be bullied, threatened, etc... the similarities there in how to cope work with many other situations also. And as with most, we've been learning as we go. But presently, although they seem personality disordered, eh... it doesn't fit too well for them.

So...the behavior isn't something new to us, but that our ES could turn that way is what has knocked the air out of us. He was never one to be cruel before he moved out of our home. He picked on his sister time to time, but never cruelly. He was lazy and unmotivated but not hateful. He may have manipulated things at times to keep motivation at bay for a couple of years, but he was never a flat out liar like he's become. What we think has happened is something dh and I call being sucked into the abyss. We know it well from firsthand experiences. And when our children were older and curious about why some relatives do this or that, we would explain that they're simply miserable right now...when they're upset the whole world will hear about it in some way, and it's best to steer clear of them when that happens. They're inconsolable. The thing is, they grow more miserable with age, which is to be expected if no one, (or very few), ever speak up and suggest "You're mainly the only person making yourself miserable right now." If you get near the abyss, you get sucked in. And it affects everyone in different ways. Which sounds like PD territory but... for us, it's not quite that. If the abyss gets too heated, it expands and tries to pull you in no matter how far away you are. There's no reasoning that can occur when things go black. There's nothing that can be asked of them, not even "please leave me out of it". And there's no awareness that exists in the abyss of how even little children are being affected! There are things one can do to protect yourself from being sucked in, but at times it will be seen as something it's not, and you could suffer evil consequences of simply trying to stay out of its path. We of course explained all of this on a younger level, and assured them that no harm would come to them but Dad and Mom will probably have to deal with some things, but we can deal with it because we've learned how to. It knocked on our door, came busting in, and there it was out of the blue, being displayed in front of our kids...who at times felt concerned and things needed to be explained. When they got older, they had it pretty well figured out and found them just as exhausting as anyone else had.

Which all of it sounds pretty mental, but it's not quite a firm fit in the criteria dept. They're simply very selfish, care too much about image, and practice far too little of what they preach. There are a few who throw fuel on the fires at times because they feel they have a common enemy and since they hold grudges they want to keep their common enemies. It's a matter of what I mentioned earlier, that some families don't enable, but some do or some simply stick their heads in the sand and try to ignore it all. And on both sides of our families, we have a little of both... too afraid to do anything about it and enablers for a myriad of reasons. But it all boils down to selfishness. Just good ol' self centered poison. I hope that explains it as well as it can be explained.

What has us so frustratingly shocked is...our ES went into the abyss knowingly. And unlike a few others, living in the middle of it wasn't incentive enough to do something to get away from it?! He's chosen to embrace it. A child that we raised that was the opposite of these relatives, made the decision to become like the very people that he saw make so many people miserable. He wasn't an unknowing innocent little child being manipulated to think the way he does. He has chosen to pay attention to the influences. He did this as an adult in the know. The only thing that we can come up with to explain this strange rebellion he's been in for far too long is this. Whenever the abyss tried to touch our home, we spoke up. And when we said no, we were smeared, goaded... it wasn't always things that we could keep our kids from seeing. They saw some of it. And because both sides of our FOO decided to lay the blame of so many of their problems on us after going NC, and also saying that we're the only ones with a problem with our families by going NC, therefore we must be the problem. We got upset over "things that weren't worth getting upset over". And after wearing his welcome out at my mil's, he now lives with my mother, and of course they are all more than happy to bring him into the fold and "help him". They told him that he could have called them sooner, but they understand why he didn't. He thought they were bad people thanks to his parents. And he tells people mine and dh's FOO isn't at all what we brainwashed him to believe. He's joined the ranks of "let's blame it all on one single person." It isn't what they say that bothers us at all. We learned long ago to no longer care about the things they say or do. We're far from the abyss and it's a shame it took distance to get us there but it's better than where we were. And we know he knows the truth!

What bothers me is that they will only do further harm to him and it's very difficult to turn that concern off as a parent. I try to remind myself of who he used to be and think that the person he was can't just disappear, never to return. That someday he will remember who he is, that we love him very very much and want to go back to that and back in our lives. But when he sends his slanders our way, or a relative tries to get us to "see the light", it gets harder to hold onto hope. Where he lives now, too many male relatives want to live life like...I'll call him Uncle Joe. It's the usual story. Uncle Joe has no responsibilities at age 50. He seldom ever has. He has no shame at how dependent he is on his mother financially and emotionally. None of them really like Uncle Joe, but they like his life and want the same. Some have achieved the Uncle Joe dream, some haven't but they.keep.trying!

I remember wanting to find out for myself if a certain ostracized relative was really what they claimed to be when I was young, but I didn't toss my family aside in my search for truth. Some of those ostracized relatives were truly dysfunctional, but others weren't. I remember one saying to me, "All they want to do is remember every bad thing you ever did, even if you never did any of it." But this young man was there. He knows! He made Uncle Joe jokes! He wondered how could Uncle Joe be such a burden on his own mother! It wasn't our influence or anyone else's. Kids are aware. They can figure things out.

And although he couldn't experience the dysfunction my dh and I did, he was witness to it, and he found it sad. As did our DD who as an adult once reminded me of where I had been once when I was reconsidering talking to my sister again. I don't understand how two children raised the same way in the same home can turn out so different other than it boils down to choices for whatever reasons. Can you all of a sudden really dislike the thought of growing up to be a mature independent adult so badly?! I know it's a plague today with young adults. Dh and I have many friends dealing with the same problem except they have grandchildren, and are manipulated into tolerating the intolerable within their own homes. But, how do you pick up the pieces and move on once you found out that your child has decided to become Uncle Joe? When you know this isn't simple youthful rebellion due to those crazy hormones? Dh says it's all due to immaturity. That he stopped growing up because he didn't want to. And because he did that, he's being immature and making decisions out of that immaturity. But he once was mature enough to see the Uncle Joe life for what it is!

I can keep from taking things personally. I've been called much worse and by people that utterly slayed my heart. That's not really my pain. My pain is that this is my child that I brought into the world, that I loved more than life itself, and he is putting himself in harm's way and there's nothing that can be done. It's so hard for me to come to some kind of terms with it. I don't want to speak to any of those interfering. I see my own son making decisions to become like people who are so miserable and live such unhealthy lives. It's getting harder to be hopeful. I try to detach but maybe it's still too soon? This all opened up to a full realization just this year. Does it get better down the road? How long does it take? Do AC who go through anything similar to this remember who they once were and that is the real them? And long to be themselves again? And do? Is it a bad idea to be so hopeful that he will? I'm trying to be hopeful without the grief but I'm thinking it's still too soon even though this is Estrangement part 2. How? And how long?


Oh Junebug I am so sorry that you are in this situation!  The thing is that our children have such holds on our hearts that they can and do hurt us so much!!  My situation with my DS changed dramatically when I suddenly realized that the person he is now is not the person I knew and loved.  I took a good hard look at the person he is now and realized that if I were not his mother I don't think I would even want to be around him.  It is amazing how just that realization cut the strings he had been using to hurt me.  Once I got that then being around him was no longer a necessity and I no longer felt hurt if he ignored me.  When he is around he does not have the same hold on my heart that he used to have.  I no longer feel the ache or longing for the person I once knew, he is gone.  Is it fair, well no but it is what it is.

I do not mean to say that I do not love my DS, I do and I always will but he will never have the power to so negatively effect my life again.  I took that power back.  After all you choose how much things in your life bother you by how much you think about them.  I think about it less and less.  I turn my thoughts to things in my life that I enjoy and if I can't do them now I make plans to enjoy them in the future.  Why don't you plan a fun trip with your DH and DD? 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown

Green Thumb

Junebug, it is a very painful thing to raise children whom we love dearly and have them go into things as an adult that brings pain or separation from us, as their parents. For a while we grieve, or maybe we get angry, and eventually, hopefully, we come to peace about it. You see, our children do not reflect us, they are their own people. Khalil Gilbran says something like "our children come from us but are not us." I feel I have not said this quote exactly right. At some point we have to accept what is as what is and stop wishing for what isn't. This brings peace of mind and allows us to feel joy again by letting go.

And people show us how they really are, or tell us who they really are. But we don't want to see it -- especially if we are "good people" we do not want to see the inner ugliness of our AC especially. Yet good parents can raise "not so good" AC. Happens every day and to many many parents. We want them to be how we want them to be but this is not reality, or rational, or emotionally healthy on our part.

We can have AC that we don't really like, I have two I don't really like. They were raised to be much nicer than this and I don't think they are going to change with maturity. What changed was my attitude and acceptance of who they are and how they are. These two don't have kind or loving hearts. I know this with certainty from how they treat me and have set myself free from the emotional enmeshment of being their mother. I love them as my children but the only way I can survive emotionally is to be set free from the bondage of this emotional pain and my anger that this situation is not one I would ever chose.

Today is July 4th a day to celebrate freedom in the USA. Last night I had a text message "argument" with one of these AC who is not nice. She got mad because I was asking her to consider another person's needs, her true colors were showing loud and clear, and I was able to laugh and say "typical Mary." So today I am grateful that I can leave this alone, laugh, and say I am set free from caring how she reacts or treats me.


Welcome Junebug.

One of my favorite sayings that came out of my non-relationship with my OS, "I love him....but I don't like him."
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Thanks for the advice and good thoughts everyone. It's a comfort to talk with others who know what this feels like and to hear uplifting words. And the thought that this too shall pass also is a comfort. I'm still in the thick of it but it's getting somewhat lighter. This happened recently and was like a roller coaster. Things would simmer down and then bam, we'd get hit again. Simmer down, bam. Simmer down, bam. Everything still feels tender and it fogs up my thinking at times. Especially with recent bdays and holidays. At least Christmas wasn't affected. Special days are always the hardest, and especially heavy when you've just recently walked away from some ugliness. If things would just stay quiet for a while...

We stated unless we could have a real conversation there will be nothing to hear from our end and not only that, we won't listen to anything either. We're not going to be involved in anything that isn't productive. I think he wanted to cram it down our throats thinking he COULD get us to participate in the drama. Every single month but one of this year, something came completely out of left field. We got gun shy from it, expecting another one any day now because it just kept popping up in some way. That created a feeling of dread that I absolutely can't stand, yet there it was. When we adjusted so that nothing could spring out at us out of the blue like it had been, different tactics were used. Some relative would follow us around town and then try to corner us with things like "Don't you care about your own child?!" After a while, it gets harder to shake it off. Temptations galore to get us to lose our cool and react with anger. We finally answered with something along the lines of, "You're trying your best to make us react in anger so you can make some kind of point, but we're not going there." It got very quiet for quite some time after that. That was the longest period of quiet during the roller coaster. The last one was him analyzing all 3 of us. At least some of it was, I stopped listening shortly after he started.

I appreciate the advice to stop trying to figure it out. I realize if I keep trying to understand why someone would knowingly walk into the abyss, I'll just run myself down. Although I do get the feeling he did it because he has no one else to take him in. That could very well be the only reason. Most relatives are very helpful but will not offer if you have consistently shown that helping you will actually only hurt you. So that's pretty easy to see. If you want to live life without any personal responsibilities, your options for help in feeding you, etc... are very low. I know he tried to have some kind of relationship with a woman but once she saw how unmotivated he is, she dumped him. Then some relatives and a few of his friends began to tell him some difficult truths he needed to hear about himself, after all he did ask for opinions and he got them. So then the blame game started. He can't help he is the way he is. We raised him. Others would point out that his sister didn't turn out with a problem with personal responsibility. So then he began to attack his sister. The lies began to pile up and now they've grown to a point I don't know how he'll remember who he told what. The thing is, with some of our relatives, as long as you're not lying about them they don't really care, as long as you serve some purpose that's useful to them. Even if it's for the sole purpose of using you for some twisted revenge on someone else.

I think I'm getting close to simply closing the book on it all because I have boiled it all down to simple selfishness. It really is at the root of all of it.

Thanks Pooh, I like that saying also. That sums it all up simply. A so called concerned relative of mine told our ES that we love him, we just don't love him unconditionally. Ugh. He can choose to believe that or not, however, until he learns how to actually love someone else unconditionally he'll never understand. Telling him that certainly doesn't make things better. I wanted to ask that person how would you feel if someone said that to one of your children about you, but I didn't. Wouldn't matter anyway. No matter what, that would be a different situation of course. No one would get the 'love him but don't like him', but us. And that's what's important anyways. That we get it.

Green Thumb, I like that saying too. They come from us but are not us. I really look forward to reaching acceptance that this is just how it is. I think my biggest mom worry is that the more time he spends with them, the more he will turn out like them and they're so miserable. But it's his life and his choice. I have to learn to accept it. It really is as simple as that. Not easy to accept, and goes against every fiber of my motherhood-ness... but I'm just going to have to. It comes with time I'm sure but in the meanwhile, is it unhealthy to just stay purely distracted? I'm wondering if it will be helpful or harmful to begin the journey with mainly distracting ourselves? I'm unsure about that and would appreciate some opinions. Since it's still a fresh wound, all the blaming and lying etc... maybe we can't really deal with our emotions too well right now and should just focus on happy distractions until we're stronger and then deal with it? Does that make sense? I'm still not sleeping too well. It's better than what it was but I'm still not sleeping too great.

Also, we know our ES will try to pop back in again and pop us... thanks for the reminder that we'll get to the point too where we'll be able to just shrug and say something like "typical mary".

Stilllearning, those are great suggestions. I took your making plans idea and ran with it the day after I read your post. Dh and I took two days to just focus on us. We needed that and we have plans to do more soon. And you're right that we get to choose how much we think about something or if at all. Some things that were once automatic are still somewhat automatic, but change will come in time like you say. I thought I had toned down my mommy mode some time ago but I apparently didn't. My first reaction was to try to figure out what happened and see if I can find something helpful to do. Even while he was cussing me, trying to make me take it all personally. As if he were a toddler pitching a temper tantrum. I had to recall that the only thing that finally helped with his terrible 2's was when I just let him cry it out. I was never the type of mom to hold their hands through everything. I let them experience some tough kid-level stuff they needed to alone. But that feeling was always there. If your kids cry, you cry. That saying, if mama ain't happy, no one is...isn't very fair. If dad isn't, or the kids aren''s all a shared thing. Even if your kids intentionally put themselves in harm's way, it's no different a feeling than when they were little and were toddling towards something dangerous. You look out for them for so long, it's not easy to turn off. I can't believe I wasn't even aware of it being there at first! I felt like kicking myself once I did notice. I'm working on it. Things are still fresh and still ache so badly. But we'll get there. Thanks.

And on that note, I'll say goodbye for now. Dh and I have plans for this evening. After supper, we're pulling out some Bob Hope and other great oldies. We've been wanting to watch some William Powell too. Tomorrow there's shopping, some out of necessity but some purely out of want! That's something he and I haven't done much of at something we don't really need. Which brought to mind another movie I'd like to see again. Life with Father. I think that's the name of it. I love the ceramic pug dog scene. :)

Green Thumb

Dear one, perhaps it is time you give yourself permission to let go emotionally with this son. I am not saying stop loving him but stop wanting something he can't give or something that is not going to happen. It seems your attachment to the role of mother keeps you emotionally enmeshed and attached to someone who is not willing to return the type of love that you give. Good parents sometimes end up with terrible AC. Sometimes it is mental illness, drugs or alcohol fueling the terrible behavior. You did not cause this and you can't cure it or change it. You can be your same normal nice self but detached and no longer enmeshed to the degree that causes you such pain. Coming to acceptance and detachment is what helped me get out of pain mode. (Of course, we all have situations that come up from time to time that trigger us right back in the sorrow and grief.) Sending you love.


Hello Junebug, isn't it wonderful to have found these amazing women...reading everyone's posts and responses remind us that we are not alone.  Your situation sounds very much like mine (very sad things not changing with AD and Tough Love) are my posts.  My husband and I are at that point as is time for us!  No more emotional abuse, no more guilt....time for love, vacations and moving forward.  Like most of us, we have gone through our tragedies for years.  Sending you all xxoo and lets keep in touch...


Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb