It’s been a couple of days since I sat down to write, and I feel every single hour when I sit here trying to figure out how to say all I’m feeling. The life of an estranged and alienated parent/grandparent is so layered with hurt, loneliness, anger, grief, questions, rage and so on, that sometimes I feel like I am caught in the acts of insanity that got me here in the first place. I know I’ve said this before, but this is not a choice I would have ever made for my family and I feel like screaming because our daughter has no right to keep us trapped by her choices.
Things have been okay lately, though not all is rosy. We have learned to not be hopeful when it comes to anything estrangement related. I feel like living without hope makes things impossible, but living with hope brings a crushing sense of disappointment, so it’s all like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t way of living. It gets tiring. It gets exhausting and it gets me feeling like defeat is waiting for me around every corner. Defeat in a game that I don’t want to play! I so dislike the way the human mind thinks everything is a competition. Estrangement and alienation are not competitions, they are acts of abuse and cruelty. Those are definitely things I have no wish to “win” at. Not ever. Over the course of this estrangement I have absolutely come to abhor the word win. Win? Win what? Does it bring the abuser pleasure in knowing that they have ruined relationships? Shattered trust? Denied love? If that’s winning, then I want no part in it. None at all.
We have survived and moved forward this first year of living without our oldest child and her family, though it has been an uphill struggle most of the way. Every time we get to a point where we feel like progress has been made, something happens that tries to knock us backwards. We’ve become more skilled over the past 12+ months at recognizing threats to our well being and fending them off. That also means we have learned to trust fewer people and become more insular in who we invite into our circle. I think it’s a coping mechanism that no one wants to develop, but has to in order to survive such a painful and hateful act against themselves. Trust is not assumed any longer and I doubt I will ever put my heart out there again when meeting someone new. Another thing taken from me without my permission…
Do you ever think about the long term when it comes to estrangement and alienation? I do. I so do. What will happen when there is a family emergency? What if someone passes away? What do we as the ones thrown away do when there is a need to reach out and breach the silence? Do we just assume that the adult child cares so little for any of the family they’ve thrown away that they don’t want to know if something happens? Do we invite their wrath by trying to break through the silence? Do we open ourselves up to more abuse? More hatred? My husband and I have discussed this many times and we feel like we have plans in place that we can live with should we ever need to. We aren’t getting any younger and to know that our daughter cares so little for us is hard, but it’s not unmanageable. We will get through whatever comes together and face whatever backlash may come from our decisions together. Having plans in place for your financial future is smart and everyone knows this, but do you have plans for your emotional future? It’s sad that we even have to consider such things, but it is reality for us now and we can’t not be ready.
Living an impossible life isn’t impossible, it’s just hard. And sad. And so not necessary. As human beings, we’re supposed to be able to reason things out, but you can’t reason with the unreasonable, and therein lies the impossibility of it all. Estrangement and alienation are unreasonable actions taken by people who are so intent on hurting others that they probably could never admit how much they’ve hurt themselves. Pride gets in the way. Or at least it seems like pride to me. I know that my pride was in my own way when I left my husband back in October of 2017, and had I not come to that realization, we would be divorced by now. I have thrown my prideful self away for good and am never ashamed to seek help and guidance when I need it. I need both help and guidance and so much more to get through each day now that we have been cast aside by our own child. We support one another, we love each other and we know we will never let anything or anyone get in the way of our marriage again. An impossible life is possible, it just takes grit, stamina and removing the rose colored glasses we all wear when it comes to really seeing those we love.
If you’re dealing with the vast range of extreme emotions that accompany estrangement and alienation, please know that you are never alone. There are thousands upon thousands of families around the world going through the same hell you are and it’s vital that you not hide and feel shame. Reach out for support, seek guidance and hold tight to whatever small joys you experience in a day. Time is one of the best healing tools we have, and I know that seems like a lame piece of advice, but it’s true. One year and one day ago we were thrown away, ripped from our grandchildren and son-in-love and totally crushed and defeated. One year and one day later we are more solid in our marriage than we have ever been, we are thriving instead of just surviving and we are living this impossible life with joy!