Sunday, January 10, 2016

post estrangement: on the brink

The journey through estrangement has so many convoluted pathways that sometimes I wonder just exactly where I am at.  There are so many emotions to process and so much personal transformation that happens, that it is hard sometimes to know just what progress I am making.

Today I am at one of those crossroads of wondering where does one emotion leave off and the other begin and how do I know what I am doing.  To get some clarity I decided to reflect upon what differentiates grieving from healing.

In grieving we feel raw emotions.  Many of these emotions I am working my way though analyzing for my book "Secret Grief".  I find that as I work through grief related topics the questions that I ask are the unanswerable kind that start with why and what.

  • Why did this happen to me?
  • Why is my adult child treating me this way?
  • What did I do to deserve this?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Why is my adult child acting this way?

The problem I found with all the grieving questions was that there are no answers.  They are rhetorical in that only the estranging person can answer them and they have chosen to be uncommunicative.

Grieving is about dealing with the unanswerable and coming to the acceptance that I will most likely never know just what the motivational causes were because they are locked inside the mind of my child that refuses to share those answers with me for whatever her reasons are. Grieving is about coming to terms with the incontrovertible truth that I have been estranged. Grieving is living as though being estranged / abandoned / rejected, is all that I am.

In my work on healing, (that will eventually come together in my book "Post Estrangement: Reflections on Healing"), I notice that I started to ask a new type of question.  These questions are quite different in nature because I am the one that can answer them.  The questions I started asking in healing are:

  • Where do I go from here?
  • What can I learn that will help me heal?
  • What can I learn that will help me understand myself better and help me to create better relationships in the future?
  • If I am not to be mother and grandmother, what will define me now?
  • What is my purpose now and how do I find meaning in my life?
  • What image do I want to present to the world now?

These questions have hope in them because they are things that I can confront and order in such a manner that there is a reason and purpose to my days beyond being estranged.

Since I have been on my healing journey I find that I still sometimes stray into "grieving".  On those days I ask the useless unanswerable questions that lead me round in circles going nowhere.

Lately an even more empowering question has started showing up in my self talk.  This question is WHEN:
  • When will I make a full transition from grieving into healing?
Wow, eye opening!  I am still sitting on the fence, with one foot still grieving while the other is trying to stride full speed ahead to the uncharted territory of post estrangement living life fully.  

Reluctantly I have to admit that this final step is harder to take than anticipated.  There is now a certain comfort in knowing and understanding my grief.  Stepping out beyond; applying everything I have learnt into living as a survivor is going to involve a certain amount of risk and uncertainty.  I will move from a vulnerability I know (the pain of grief and loss) to a different vulnerability; facing a future I never anticipated or expected.  A future of my own making, created out to the knowledge and learning I have had to do in the healing process.

Am I ready for this next adventure?

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2016 - 01 - 10 

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  1. You always speak to me. Question if you don't mind-it seems to be a common trait of these estranged adult children that they won't explain or talk about the reasons they estranged themselves. Why in your wisdom do you think that is? It's just hard to wrap my head around sometimes.

    1. Fear!

      Fear of what a real conversation and communication and an attempt at understanding might reveal about not only us but also about them.

      Most actions or non actions in life come back to fear.

  2. I have read this post 4 times. I love how you took the complicated and simplified it. Let's take that next adventure you wrote about. I am ready to face those healing questions.

  3. I feel that there is a deep truth in your words for me. After 7 years fully estrangement I made at last the move which I have felt absolutely necessary for some time. I moved 5 hours to north, to countnryside to begin a new life on my own in my dream house. At first I felt physical pain for two weeks everywhere in my body and mind but after crying one night I felt to be ready for this change. In my earlier place the walls, floors and ceilings had collected so much pain and grieving that I felt there was no more place for myself. Thats why I chose to move and leave some things of my process behind me. It has been a process of almost three years and now I know that I have waited enough for my daughter to return - but no more. I do not even want her back after realizing how she treated me even when she knew I was seriously ill and going through kemo and other treatments. No more. I am so thankful to life itself that my eyes opened.