Recently I became acquainted with a woman who planning to do a video project on family estrangement. She has experience in film projects and knows what is involved in creating such a project. She also has personal experience with family estrangement. I agree with her that family estrangement is a subject that is deserving of attention. In support of her project I am including a message from her to the visitors to my blog. This message is from her to you.
If you can't find a support group that meets your needs and in which you feel safe, you can create an online discussion group. You can create such a group with the tools provided online by a number of companies that provide online services. Companies such as Yahoo!, Typepad, Google (Blogger), Wordpress and others.
Some online discussion groups have been offered on sites set up by the authors of books on the subject. Some online groups are public and anyone can read and write on the site. Others require people to become members using an email address or user name and a password but letting almost anyone join. Occasionally such groups may block a person who violates the moderator's rules of conduct but it is easy for someone to make up another user name, get another email address, and join again.
A mother in pain over not having had any contact with her recently estranged son joined an online support group. She talked about her feelings and how grateful she was to find the group and how rare it is for a grown child to estrange themselves from their parents. I tried to say that I thought that the situation wasn't rare but she would have none of that. She insisted that it was rare. As I thought about it more, I realized that she is right. Relatively speaking, it is rare. Not unheard of certainly but if you ask one hundred parents with grown kids if this has happened to them, you will find few, if any, who will say yes. Not that I have tried this. I haven't.
I took myself out to Panera Bread this morning for a soufflé. I like their charming little soufflés with the browned top and the creamy inside, hot and a bit richer than what I should eat but oh so delicious! I needed a treat. Their coffee is passable but too acidic for my taste. I drank it anyway. Must have coffee!
When I left the house this morning, the first thing I heard was the beautiful full throated song of a bird. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining. The grass and the leaves were a brilliant green. I felt happy to be alive and out in the air, away from my computer and far away from someone who doesn't like me.
The interaction last week with my daughter was exhausting. Who knows what, if anything, was accomplished for her by the experience. That is a rhetorical question and I don't need an answer. For me, I feel as though I have a crystal clear idea of her viewpoints on me. Which isn't the same thing as saying that I have the same viewpoints. I am a different person and we have different viewpoints. I have agreed that those are her viewpoints and have said that I will not try to talk her out of them. Nor will I attempt to continue to discuss those things with her on my blog.
"Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!"
I like to choose the right words when I am writing. If the words are not the right ones, then the message that I want to communicate isn't clear or is inaccurate. In my previous post I said that I would write next about "moving on." As I thought about the words "moving on" and as I began attempting to write this post, I realized that I know more about detaching than I do about moving on. In fact as a parent I don't want to "move on."
Since 2006 my daughter has had a blog called my-family-sucks. I have not been reading her blog because I know that she uses it to denigrate me and others who have loved her.
This morning I received an email from a woman who is a mother and who has been estranged by her grown children several times over 15 years. After describing the basics of the estrangement she said, "I need to move on with my life - any tips - and any help for handling Mothers Day?"
Tips for handling Mother's Day!? Her question inspired today's post.
"She writes that she has been my mother for thirty years and is no longer interested in the job."
Rebecca Walker in 2007 about her mother Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
I am making myself write in this blog today. I have no inspiration to write. Nothing that I feel is helpful to share. I have no new topic. I believe I am at or very near the point where I have nothing left to write about my own estrangement or other estrangements. I may finally be at that point.
My priorities currently are making a living and getting things done. There are only 24 hours in a day and there is a lot to do. Writing about estrangements now feels like an indulgence that I can't afford and doesn't interest me as much as it did. This must be what is called "moving on."
I might still find some things to share on the topic in the future but I don't think it will be for a while.
Wishing all my visitors a Merry Christmas! Hoping that you find moments of joy, peace, love, and happiness Christmas day and every day!
I wrote the following as part of a longer post on Estrangements.com Christmas Day 2004 and have posted it again the last two years. This has become my annual Christmas wish to all my visitors, estrangees and estrangers.
Originally written December 25, 2004
About Christmas .... it seems almost inappropriate to wish those who come here looking for answers a Merry Christmas. If you have come here to find a way to resolve an estrangement and you're miserable over being estranged, then the last thing I'd think you'd want to hear is a greeting of Merry Christmas when you are feeling the least merry that you've ever felt. Christmas may have been torture. The entire season may have been just one hell of a day after another. Been there, done that too. A good grim "bah humbug" might be something you'd rather hear.
So ... rather than wish you a Merry Christmas ... I will offer you a Get Well card. I hope that you do Get Well and someday find yourself able to enjoy the greeting of Merry Christmas again. I wish you the ability to smile. to get up in the morning with no tears, the freedom to spend most of a day thinking of whatever you'd like to think about rather than this misery of being estranged, the joy of being able to appreciate the sun, good friends, the fact that you're alive. I wish you the miracle of waking some day and later thinking with surprise about how you didn't wake up thinking about your estrangement and you can't remember how long it has been since you thought about being estranged. I wish you relief from your pain, healing from your loss, and the ability to feel joy once again.
No, I don't have the answer that you may have come here to find but I promise you that there is healing whether you find the answer or not. Eventually. It takes time. Have faith and hang in there!
In recent months several friends and acquaintances have been reporting either reconciliations or communications from relatives that may lead to a full reconciliation. I have been delighted for them. Some have reconciled even though they had been assaulted physically by the relative who estranged them. Some had experienced verbal abuse. In each case they were delighted to hear from their returning relatives.
And a special Happy Thanksgiving to my most frequent visitor!
Wishing you a great day!
I know an eighty-something woman who is one of the most delightful people I have ever met. She is funny, witty, smart, well traveled, generous, hardworking, and charming. I want to be her when I grow up! I love this woman.
A private invitation only support group has been set up and invitations sent to those who inquired. Please check your email for the notice that your invitation will be arriving and for the invitation itself. Just in case you have a zealous spam filter.
Being someone who suffers from clinical depression on occasion, I find that dwelling on sad subjects triggers my depression. Thus spending a lot of time writing about and talking about sad memories is a dangerously self indulgent exercise for me to do.
Here come the holidays, heading straight for us as sure as sure can be. This time of year is a hard one for many, especially those of us who know that our holidays are far from the ideal of the delightful sleigh ride in the snow, jingle bells jingling as we travel to grandmother's house bearing brightly wrapped gifts with love, laughter and warmth like a wool blanket protecting us from the frigid breath of winter. So here we are, holidays approaching like a train with us on the train tracks once again, hoping for the best.
I wrote this piece to offer on another site which was soliciting writing on the topic of mothers and how they shaped our lives. How do we celebrate our mothers? I wrote this piece I offer below and then realized that it wasn't the right kind of response to that solicitation as well as being too long. I can't call it a celebration. I wrote some more and decided to include it here. Here is my story of my mother and what I remember that was positive and some that is negative about her being my mother:
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
from the poem "Maud Miller" by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
My father died in October of 1988. He died the day before my mother's birthday. They had been divorced for twenty years. They had been married for twenty-five years prior to the divorce.
If you visit here much, you've noticed that there are few comments. I've noticed that too and have given it some thought. While comments are few and far between, I do receive the occasional email. This dearth of comments is something I could get defensive about. Why so few comments? Is it a good blog if there are almost no comments? Is it a bad blog? Must I come up with a reason for the lack of comments?
My mother had estranged herself from me from 1978 to 1981. My estrangement from my daughter began in 1995. The current estrangement from my mother began in 2002 at my initiative. I created the website, Estrangements.com, in 2001. I've been reading, writing, thinking, researching, and talking about family estrangement since 1995.
October has been a busy month for me. No time to read books. Although I find time to sit at the computer and read and write. It takes a conscious effort to pick up a book to read rather than go online and browse through the vast tomes of the internet. I have several books waiting for my attention. One being My Mother's Daughter: a memoir by Rona Maynard.
This link is to an organization in Texas that offers support groups to those who are estranged. It sounds as though the groups meet in Texas only so far but that their long term goals may be to branch out to other locations.
Their email address on their site which wasn't working earlier has been fixed and is now working.
- "When Parents Hurt" by Joshua Coleman, Ph. D.. Link to listing page on Amazon. ~ When things go wrong even when parents have done their best.
- Discussion of book on Amazon.com: "When Parents Hurt" by Joshua Coleman, Ph.D.
- Website for the book, "When Parents Hurt"
- "When Parents Hurt" blog
I heard of this book for the first time yesterday and visited the sites at the links above. This sounds like a compassionate book that would be of interest to many parents who have lost their relationships with their children.
A reader mentioned "When Parents Hurt" to me yesterday and sent me a link. I thank her very much for letting me know about it. I hadn't heard of it before. It was published in July 2007.