Blogging on estrangement, divorce and grieving issues wasn’t exactly the platform planned.
Years later, welcome to my world.
Recently remarried to a beautiful human, so too, a marriage of sorts between the past, present and future. And while I continue assimilating the three, new questions arise; step-family, step-daughters, ex-husband, new husband, estranged daughters. The latter, though much further along, the daunting feelings of estrangement never completely dissolve. My daughters are put on a quiet shelf, away from daily routines, visible enough to remember how I got here, yet tucked neatly in a corner, far from the angst I once labored over for years. That said, I am compelled to write about something I can do little about – the caveat being my thoughts placed in blogging form, to touch you and others, to think and restore a semblance of peace and solitude.
Reading one post after another, whether it be adult children cutting off parents or parents disowning their adult children – family estrangement is rampant, common, heartbreaking, devastating. It is a death unlike anything else. Grieving someone who no longer chooses you in their life, also unlike anything else.
A beautiful piece, written by Katherine Schafler, (Highly recommended) gives us pause regarding the multiple reasons for grief:
Here are some examples of events that cause grieving:
A break up
The selling of your childhood home
What you always wanted but never got
A person who died
A person who is still alive but is electively absent in your life
The loss of a dream
Loving someone who is self-destructive
The loss of a pet
The end of a friendship
Job loss or the end of a career
Them there’s some good stuff to grieve on. While certainly the death of my mom, dad-in-law and divorce all took place in a span of a year (2012) nothing could prepare one the grief of estrangement between a parent and kid. Hence, more thoughts to share….
Reconcile with yo self.
Estrangement discombobulates; it causes such harm in one’s psyche. For many, it is the only way to cope with pain, the mechanism towards self-healing. For others, reconciliation might help in making us better human beings. Yet first, we must first reconcile with ourselves.
Estrangmement….there is shame, there is silence, there is sadness.
But……there is life to be lived.
When my children cut me out of their lives, though completely understandable at the time, never, ever, is one prepared. As if THAT would EVER happen to ME. Barely functioning towards the end of my marriage and throughout the divorce mediation process, I turned to journaling, a refuge, a free and safe haven, little judgement. Incognito, no one needed to know who I was as I wrote anonymously, fearfully; the impossible task of finding words to link with my thoughts. Eventually, though, I began to speak truthfully, if not for anyone else, the opportunity to beat the necessary crap out of myself in order to gain the insight needed.
Repeat: Reconcile with yo self.
Somewhere along the way, I made the decision to talk more openly; vulnerability without over sharing. My own estrangement, of course, years to develop enough chutzpah in doing so. That chutzpah is on a continuum, silence is no longer an option I choose. I write not as a victim of circumstance, self-pity or these-bad-things-keep-happening-to-me moments as I once did. Now, speaking with purpose, writing is for the ones who are fearful to let others know they have estranged themselves from their mom or dad; others, like me, parents rejected by their adult children. I now come from a place of hard-earned empathy, compassion and eminent care. I wish to listen and understand.
Whatever the reason you have been cut off; sweet, dear ones, I implore you, leave them be. They are the one who made the decision, not you. Timetables are yours to follow, no one else’s. At first the journey towards acceptance is unbearable. Slowly, grieving takes hold and you will learn to live without your person. You will ask, time and again, how can I live without the love of a child raised into young adulthood or a parent who once loved me, now a stranger? Is it even possible to move forward? Where to begin in the journey, despite the rejection? Am I worthy? Will I ever believe I am still worthy?
Whatever reason you cut a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, cousin out of your life; sweet, dear ones, I implore you, lest not be judged by others, allow yourself time. Perhaps you are a better human without your parents or adult children. No one can say, no one is in your place of hurt. I’m sure your decision was made with a great deal of pain no one can comprehend. My hope is you find the peace you seek.
Kids, you can’t make someone see what you see, believe what you believe. As much as you yearn for the other to turn around, long to hear their voice, begin a new dialogue; hope your parent won’t ever reach out to you, long to never hear their voice or begin a new dialogue, please be mindful of the other.
Biggest life lesson during the past five years is simply this: reconciliation of estrangement begins with you. Dig deep, acknowledge your frailties, admit your weaknesses, own poor decisions. There’s a huge difference between bashing oneself and taking thoughtful inventory of self-personhood. It is then, pain, once the center of your universe, will then slowly begin subsiding.
You will love again. You will laugh, smile, breathe, rejoice. Perspectives will change, life will be different. Your path isn’t finished. Look at yourself and all the wonder you exude. People respect and honor you for many reasons, even if your kid or parent doesn’t. Celebrate yourself. May healing be on your own terms, own time; grieve without apology. Touch it and keep on.
We’ll find each other soon. ❤