One of the joys of being human is we do not have to be perfect to be one of the good ones. As a parent, the word estrangement was not in my vocabulary before it happened to me four years ago. And like many parents, I was ashamed and reluctant to talk about it. I have discovered 68% of those who are estranged to a family member believes there is a stigma attached to it. Once I started researching it, I realized I was not alone.
My older son and I had a typical mother and son relationship. I believed it to be close and loving. I could always count on him if the driveway had snow on it, if the computer had a malfunction in it or just for a laugh or hug.
When his wife and I were first introduced, I remember her face lighting up. I know it sounds cliché, but I remember thinking she was cute as a button, and she was. I was thrilled my son had someone to love and be loved back. Then, one day, I received a phone call from him that made no sense from the moment we started to the moment we hung up. The last thing he ever said to me four years ago, “I am going to abandon you, mom, before you abandon me.” I was reeling. For me, motherhood has been and continues to be a rollercoaster of emotions, some good and some not so good. It has been a journey of loving, learning, and being humbled every single day.
Estrangement triggers so much shame, especially when the answer you are left with is – I am not sure. It feels like everyone is making judgments about you. Believing you must have done some awful thing. There were people close to me that had made statements that were supportive and kind because it was unbelievable based on the relationship my son and I had. My thought was I do not know, but I am not going to say anything bad about anybody.
How could someone you have loved their whole life act this way? I walked around in a daze. Every time the phone rang, my heart would jump, thinking it had to be him, and this cannot be happening. He is going to call. But when it was not him, it was a sense of relief. He had been so cold, and I could not bear the thought of hearing that angry tone in his voice again.
It was more painful than you could imagine. I had to learn to accept a new normal. It was clear my son had changed. It seemed he was done with us, and we could not fix it even if we wanted to. I thought for awhile will everyone else leave me too? I was a basket case during the first six months. It was pitiful, but the fear of abandonment is common for estranged parents. You devote your entire life to your child, and if they can leave, anyone else can. I remember one-night laying in the darkness, thinking of all the time and energy I wasted crying over a grown adult who wanted to be anywhere that his family was not. I could not help but think about how much time I had wasted. I had worn my husband out, my other child, and even some of my friends with sadness. They missed the old optimistic Joy, and so did I.
Sometimes people judge me. They say they would never give up on their child. I understand their feelings, but sometimes giving in to an adult child’s decision is the only sensible choice. I wish my son the best. I genuinely hope he is happy and well, but I count too. What I want you to understand is if you can let go of all the whys and what ifs and move on to what is next, you can live a fulfilling life. I would say if he knocked on my door tomorrow, I would open it. I have been forced to love him from a distance.
Strength is what we gain from the madness we survive.
Remember to keep the circle positive, peaceful and loving. ©
Written with love.
Joy M. Mills (IP)
Copyright © 2019
*This article is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal or other professional advice. This article was written to support, not replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Please seek professional care if you feel you have a condition.