Friday, August 14, 2015

Post Estrangement: Dealing with the "secret"

Walking the solitary path 
As so often happens I read something posted by another parent in distress and it triggers thoughts within me.

Today's post started with this statement: 

"Someone should study the effects of estrangement / alienation on the parents, 
especially the toll on physical and mental health."

There seems to be so very very little on this topic.

We parents that have been abandoned flounder around looking for help to deal with this trauma. As often as not we are blamed and shamed for being in this predicament.

There is tons of stuff for children that have been abused, spouses that have been abused, people that have been bullied, etc.

  • But where is stuff on the parent that is abused by their adult children?
  • How do we deal with the narcissistic adult offspring that bullies us?
  • Where do we turn for help with our trauma?

We form secret support groups because we live in fear not only of the offspring that abuse us but also of the social repercussions from others who always seem to assume that we must have done something wrong as a parent.

Sometimes I feel that this lack of support is almost as detrimental to my mental health as the actual estrangement itself.  To a degree I live with a constant nagging fear in the back of my mind. Who to tell? or How much do I tell?   Surly I have enough self-doubt and self-blame I don't need others adding to the burden.  

And so, other than here in my blog, I rarely talk about "IT".  The big "secret" in my life.  And yet 
  • "IT" is always in the room with me.  
  • "IT" is always present in my life, 
  • "IT casts a shadow over all the other wonderful things I do.  
Why?  Because "IT"  happened and nothing I do, or think or say changes the fact that "IT" is a reality in my life. "IT" is a burden that I bear much as we bear any other burden in life.

But there is a huge difference!

Most burdens we ease by sharing with a friend. We commiserate as we share our sorrows.  
In the act of confiding in a friend we find solace and sympathy and understanding.  And we take up our burden and move forward.

When estranged, all of that changes.  Who do I trust? Who can I trust? And can I withstand being once more rejected and put down by yet one more person who decided they have the moral right to blame me?

In the case of being estrangement by an adult child we face the following truths:

  • our offspring blame and shame us
  • many of our friends disbelieve our innocence
  • hardly anyone in the psychiatric world recognizes our predicament
  • we are outcast and vulnerable and hurting and ALONE

Some days I think that this "aloneness" is as debilitating as the estrangement itself.

We end up trolling all kinds of self-help forums trying to understand the personalities of our offspring, why they behave the way they do, to try to get some kind of closure for a situation that really has no closure.

Many of us have all kinds of symptoms, our health is affected, we acquire fears and phobias, we end up trying to self-diagnose, because when we reach out for help we are often shut down or told we are to blame.

Most of us end up resorting to self-treatment because of the lack of compassion and awareness around us. When even councilors have been known to turn to us and say "it must have been your fault" where do you turn?
  • There is a lack of professional awareness of our predicament.  
  • There is a lack of social awareness of our fate. 

And so we struggle with so many more issues that just being estranged.  And as time passes I realize that the fact of the estrangement itself has less effect upon me than the social ostracization.   The burden I still carry, even as I heal, is this feeling of not really belonging, of being on the outside looking in.

Every time I watch "families" interact I am made aware of what I don't have and that I "don't belong".  That if I told my "secret" I would be shunned yet again.

This always holding in is not healthy.  Emotions build up inside without a release valve.  And where do they go?  If not careful they turn inward and you end up with another bout of self-blame and you suffer a setback on to your journey toward healing.

No wonder healing takes so very very long.

My hope is that the time will come that society recognizes that parent abuse via the act of estrangement and alienation is as real as any of the other abuses that have been brought into the light of social consciousness.

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 - 08 - 14

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  1. thank you for sharing this ... your posts are an encouragement to me ... dealing with daily chronic pain often weakens my emotional ability to deal with the 'aloneness' and lack of what I had hoped my family would be (close-knit) ... being ignored by an adult child is painful as is lack of relationship with the grandchildren ... my body and emotions may suffer, but my faith keeps me going with hope for a better day

  2. The answer has become simple for me: I just don't share it. I have had close friends blame me. My family of origin blames me. People do not understand because it takes understanding the big picture; understanding that we live in a totally individualistic culture, not a family oriented one like back in the 50s. They can't see the forest for the trees, so I just don't talk.

  3. I went for help and was told its just a case of empty nest syndrome and to accept it and move on.

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  5. So good, thank you. In my own experience, the blaming and shaming begins in my own head, then is verified and validated by others. Today I remind myself there is no requirement to be perfect.

  6. Wonderful and so this blog...thank you ❤

  7. You are so correct in your thinking here. Everything you have written is so true, and helps all of us in this situation cope just a little bit better~ Thank you~

  8. It has been 5 years for me and I now accept that I had no value in their lives....just money and when it ran out their need for me did too. I choose to be happy, use the time to spoil yourself - find out who you are and what you enjoy. Be your own best friend...if you look back there was always some sort of abuse and disrespect toward you long before the deserve happy.

  9. It has been a while for me too. I feel like we are all in the same boat, I am tired of being lost at sea struggling to find a way to be happy again. The sad thing is I know our daughter would be over joyed to know we are so broken hearted. I am sad for her that she took loving grand parents away from her children for spite against her parents. We have done everything to make this right, but the truth is we serve no use to her now that her children are old enough to take care of their self. Shirley is right! It's time for all of us to love our self, do not settle for disrespect that you don't deserve.