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Guest Post: Life As We Know It Now

My husband and I are the parents of two estranged adult children. I consider us both survivors and warriors of a war that had lasted a very long time. We had put up with this serial estrangement - this on-again, off-again bullshit for almost 38 years - so long, in fact we didn't know which end was up anymore.  

These are the biological children of my husband and my stepchildren. Our ED and ES are both in their 50’s. Our youngest daughter had passed away 5 years ago at the age of 44. Our granddaughter – the self-absorbed daughter of our ED is 23. She is very bright but, having been schooled at the knee of her mother, she is as indifferent to us as our daughter is. Needless to say, she has learned well. Our grandson is about 11 now, and since our son stopped talking to us 6 years ago without any explanation, we haven't seen him in 6 years (except for at the funeral) And so we can say most assuredly that we don’t know him at all.

I guess my husband and I have come from a place where there has been much trouble and pain and so few rewards. Over the past years, we tried and tried to make it work with our EC, however our efforts were usually met with disdain and indifference under the gloss of their duplicitous superficiality. Fueled by the parental alienation of their quasi-psychotic biological mother, these children maintained almost an obsessive attachment to her while they treated their father like the next door neighbor – all the while denying that they favored “MOMMY”.

What has always perplexed me is if these children really didn't want a relationship with us - all they had to do was say so. But our EC generated all this fake we love you, we're a family stuff, while under the surface, there was such terrible unhappiness. And while it never really ever surfaced, it did morph into some very dysfunctional behavior that went on and on for almost 40 years! It was such a complicated dicotomy that left us confused and unbalanced most of the time.

It was difficult (impossible really), for us not to place blame. We had been betrayed, lied to, fooled into thinking that these people loved us and yet treated us so cruelly. We simply could not forgive or forget this kind of treatment - we simply are not wired that way.

Our ED always talked about wanting us to forget the past - sure - why wouldn't she? She basically created all the chaos and problems - and then, when things calmed down and we tried to forget, she'd create even more. To have continued to forget about what happened would only benefit her. The cousin to this particular narcissistic behavior is avoiding talk about "blame". Of course! With no accountability, this dysfunction and misbehavior could continue indefinitely. We felt that our EC’s past behavior was our window into their future behavior – unfortunately, it turned out that we were too right.

Several years ago, we were tired of being endlessly jerked around by our ED, and so I wrote her a letter which outlined the nearly 4 decades of mistreatment and hurt that she and her brother had visited upon us. In it, I also told her we no longer could deal with the way things were and that things really needed to change. She replied – how our inability to forget the “past” would render us utterly alone and asked us not to contact her again. This was just fine with us - as we were not looking continue the duplicitous and highly superficial nature of our relationship with her. Dumping all of them - and all the drama that went with them, was actually a total relief. Life just seems so much better without all that anxiety and pain.

Whenever we would have yet another altracation with our children - a thought was always in the back of my mind - who would be there to help my husband if something happened to me? How could we depend on them to help us out when they blinsided and manipulated us at every turn.. Here was the potential for the ultimate victimization or the ultimate abandonment. It was a nagging premonition of the future - a future I just could not picture with them in it.

My husband is 76 and I am 61 this year - we are both in excellent health and, hopefully, we will both die simultaneously in our sleep! But sometimes - at night - before I go to sleep - the thought would occasionally cross my mind - What If......Who would my husband turn to? If his own children don't respect him now, what would happen if he became sick - if he was frail and helpless. Who would protect him from them?

Our nephews turned out to be our new heroes - my brother’s children - are 38, 36 and 34 years and they are fine young men - each and every one of them. We are quite proud of them and we named the 2 living closer to us our DPAs for finance and health. (The oldest lives in Las Vegas and I didn't think it would be convenient for him).

These are men who get along with one another and with their parents and who cannot really grasp the concept that our children would disrespect us – especially their biological dad. You can just tell that they love and respect their family and they are happy and well-adjusted. They weren't evasive and snide or sarcastic. They are open and honest and straightforward. They are real men.

The comparison is so glaringly obvious - it made me sort of sad (and angry) to think that our own children - at least 14 - 16 years older then my nephews, have been such disappointments and so unreliable. It was really disheartening to realize that if my husband or myself were left all alone and too sick to do for ourselves, we had to resort to bothering our nephews to help us out. But when I asked them, they both just said - "anything you need Auntie." It felt great and by terminating our relationship with our EC, we were able to rest assured that there was no longer the threat of predators – they will never know if there was a problem or if we were dead.

I do believe that, over the years we have learned a lot about our children. We learned that they lied, manipulated, cheated and betrayed us many many times – without any conscience at all. We learned that their duplicity was unending. And we learned that they visited these traits on their own children to create a new generation of ill-mannered, indifferent, obnoxious know-it-alls who have little interest in anything but themselves.

Yes, we learned our lesson well but now, we simply chose to NOT learn anymore. I know that honest and loving relationships should never have to end. What my husband and I had wasn’t a family – it was a delusion. We believe that a family is FOREVER - it simply has to be - because of the very nature of its make up and because of it's reason for being. In a family, one generation follows the next. Each generation honors the past one while looking forward to creating the future. That is the purest meaning of the word forever.

They say insanity is repeating the same action over and over expecting a different outcome. So we figure that we had saved ourselves a LOT of time, money and heartache when we stopped the insanity and just walked away. In fact, our only regret was that we didn’t do this 35 years earlier.

We finally started asking the question – What do we want our lives to be? And we finally determined that how things were not acceptable – definitely not what they should be.

As we started to unravel the answers to these questions – We finally started giving some thought to how we needed to save our selves and our sanity. Life as we know it now has its focus on those who love and respect us. We are people who want our lives to be rich in love and kindness. Our lives should be filled with happiness and self-respect. And this is not only what we had wanted or even what it should have been…It is quite simply, what we deserved.