Saturday, October 25, 2014

Post Estrangement: When the Shame Ends and Self Worth Returns... start to find the joy in life
and live again

When I was first estranged by my daughter I was ashamed, I felt it was me, that I was to blame, that I was a failure and that I was not good enough.  I felt burdened not only by the grief of the estrangement but also that I was somehow to blame for everything that went wrong. During this time I was very secretive about my grief.  I hid it from everyone except my very closest most trusted friends.  I removed myself from the lives of anyone tainted or influenced by my daughters' point of view, anyone who did not even respect me enough to ask for my side of the story.

Instead I started keeping a journal as a place to write my thoughts, often working in secret, facing the confusing and bewildering emotions that assailed me.  I thought I was alone in being this terrible person, so terrible in fact that my daughter wanted nothing to do with me. 

I did not want any of my secret recriminating thoughts to be seen by her as I flayed myself for every possible mistake I might ever have inadvertently made.  At one point in time I even blamed myself for making her into the self-centered, narcissistic person that she is.  After all if she can do this horrible thing to me then it must be my fault for having raised her to be capable of such behaviour.

Then gradually over time, I learned more and more about estrangement and the people who choose to estrange. I joined support groups and came to realize there were thousands of others going through the same emotionally scaring trauma. 

The more I learnt about personality and character traits and behaviours, the more I came to understand that it wasn't was my estranged daughter who has the problem.   I am who I have always been a loving, caring, kind, generous, giving, honest person, someone who routinely put others ahead of myself, I never changed.  That fact is that she changed.   She "allowed" others to influence her to change her relationship with me.  She was the one who created reasons and created a story to justify her actions.   She was the one who decided to not have me in her life. She was the one that started issuing ultimatums designed to manipulate and control.  She became a bully when she started using bullying tactics.  All of that is on her not on me.

Now time has passed, over 5 years in fact, and I have learned and changed.  I now post about estrangement, about how it affects families and individuals about how it is epidemic and anything else I wish to post to bring this topic out into the open, to help others realize the stigma is not in being estranged....but rather the stigma is on those that feel that estrangement is the solution to a communication problem.

Those who estrange do so because it is too hard from them to face the hard work of effective communication and relationship building.  They run away from conflict rather than looking at ways of resolving conflict.   They are the problem and they have the problem and they choose to estrange rather than deal with the problem and move forward.  They chose live in the past and to hold onto a grudge from the past because it is the easy way out.  They lay blame because it is easier than facing their own inner demons and their own faults and short comings.  It is easiest to lay the blame on someone else than look too closely and with introspection at their own inadequacies and their own poor choices. 

And I have no problem now with being the voice in the dark that calls it like it is.   If I or any other parent has done the best they could and then offered apologies for any miss understandings or omissions that may have come about in the process and then still not been forgiven, then the problem lies not with us but rather with those that hold onto the grudge even past reason, just for the sake of holding on to the grudge.

They continue to hold on to the past and their grievances beyond all reason.  They do so just so they can continue to deny to themselves the fact that they have chosen to run away from a difference of opinion rather than facing and negotiating a forward looking solution.  Where there is no communication there is no give and take, where there is no give and take there is no compromise.  It takes maturity to realize that compromise is necessary for effective relationships. It takes maturity to give up a grudge. 

I am finally at that place of learning and understanding where I realize that I can apologize for all my errors in judgment but I can't force my daughter to accept my apology. Reconciliation requires both parties to participate; it is not a one way street.

And oddly enough, I now find that all the counseling and therapy and support group work have led me to a place where I now value myself enough to realize that I too am owed an apology for the way that I have been treated.  I did not do anything to warrant this kind of punishment.  Time outs are not meant to last for days, let alone months and years.  

  • No one deserves to be given the silent treatment.  
  • No one deserves to be bullied or manipulated using the withdrawal of love as the punishment.  
  • No one deserves to be subjected to the abuse of neglect and estrangement because of a difference of opinion.
That is not how loving relationships are sustained.

So where does all of this knowledge and awareness lead me?  

  • It leads me to that place where I realize that I have every right to my feelings on the topic of estrangement.  
  • It leads me to a place of personal freedom and acceptance that what I experience as a result of the estrangement is mine. 
  • It also leads me to that place where if they (the estrangers) take offence for me expressing my point of view and my feelings then that too is their problem.   
I am just as entitled to my opinions and my feelings in response to their actions as they are entitled to the option that they have chosen...which was their use of, “the silent treatment” as a form of punishment for my parenting skills being found inadequate. 

Their attempt to manipulate me into capitulating to their demands through the "silent treatment" no longer is going to work because I have come to the conclusion that I am just as deserving of respect as they think they are.  And since their actions show clearly that they do not respect me, then it is not my obligation to respect them.   And if I do not respect their choice of actions then I also have no obligation to respect their demands.

I think that with the passage of time I have developed a hard outer shell to protect my heart and my spirit which are still so very vulnerable.   I however, have also toughened up to the point where I will no longer tolerate being treated abusively just to "save" a relationship that I did not break. 

I now feel very powerfully from my inner core, they did the is now up to them to do the mending.   I have apologized and been ignored.  I will not beg or plead.  My apology needs to be accepted and they also need to be accountable and apologize in return.

I also will not be silenced.  My estrangers can troll my posts all they want ....what can they do to me that they have not already done?   I am already pushed out of their lives....they can't put me out any more.  I am already living the silent treatment....there is nothing they can do to increase the degree of silence.  

  • They have already accused me of all my parenting crimes and called me all the names they could think of.   
  • They have already told lies about me to those that would listen.  
  • They have already influenced all the people that they could to their way of thinking and those who are loyal to me can't be swayed by their lies.   

There is nothing that they can do now that they haven't already done.  There is power in knowing that the worst has already happened.   The family that is already torn asunder by estrangement is already broken,  you can't destroy a thing that has already been destroyed.

So whether they like or dislike that I voice my opinion changes nothing.   And maybe just possibly some estranger will read my messages and realize that you can't solve anything with the silent treatment and the abuse of neglect; and they will make an effort to reconnect with affirmative action and communication!  

What a benefit that would be!  Maybe, just possibly some family somewhere, will be reconnected because I have nothing left to lose.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2014 - 10 - 25

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Reflections on the Work of Living with Estrangement

I love the thought: "working on putting my energy...."   it does not matter how you fill in the next part of the statement.

For me it is a daily job to direct my energy someplace else....because the thought of what I have lost, precious time with my adult child and Grandchildren, is always on my mind....and I have to make a conscious choice to live in spite of that. 

  • Every day I direct my life toward healing.
  • Every day I direct my life toward the work of taking back my life. 
  • Every day I focus on mindfully enjoying my day and being thankful for what I have. 

Things that I used to do naturally are now part of my “special routine” to allow me to face the day. 

  • Every day I struggle to get up and do the things that bring me joy because it would be so much easier to just sit with the sorrow.   
  • Every day I choose to take one more step on my recovery journey to embrace life as it is not as I wish it to be.   

I do this for myself but I am well aware that it is a conscious choice, it comes with effort, it is like I am pulling myself out of the abyss of sorrow and grief.   

  • Every day I make choices that put me back into the world of the living in the present and I fight against that corner of my mind that would stay stuck in the past.   

Living every day in the present, knowing all that has been lost is a challenge and a choice.  

It is work.   

It should not be this much work.  It should not take this much effort to be happy and joyous and grateful.  

After five years of grieving, you would think that it would get easier.  I say all the right words to myself, I do move forward, I do live my life, and yet still there is energy expended just to do that which I know I must to take “living life” back and I know that if I stopped expending that energy I would drift back down to that place of just existing.  The prison; where my own child has thrown me when she walked away and took such a huge chunk of my heart with her.  

  • I work hard putting my energy into surviving, 
  • I work hard putting my energy into living, 
  • I work hard putting my energy towards just staying where I naturally stood before the emotional trauma of being abandoned. 

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2014 - 10 - 06 

2015 - 07 -11 
P.S.  The days pass, then energy to fight against inertia is still needed, but each day it is a little bit easier.  There are fewer moments of looking back and more moments of looking forward.  The energy expended on healing has been rewarded with success.

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My journal blog entries and pictures are copyright
I love when you share my page and spread the word. 
If you want to quote me please provide a link back to my page. 
Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.