Informal “survey” on family estrangement/reduced-contact—feedback appreciated

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saylor

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This is aimed at people who currently have a strained (or no) relationship with their parent(s) as a result of having been abused/neglected by them. As I’m still going through my own processing of my dysfunctional relationship with my father, I’m wondering about what others have experienced and whether there’s a lot of commonality, or whether it’s more case-by-case. Also, I’m trying to collate feedback that I may, in summary form (and anonymously—no reference to monikers or even this site), eventually try to make available on social media. The target audience for that content would be parents of estranged adult children who (parents) feel confused about the rift and are genuinely looking for clarity and solutions. If they’re not able to communicate with their own child, at least they may benefit from hearing the main themes that emerge from this compilation. I feel like there’s not enough information out there coming from the child’s POV in this case of family estrangement. Maybe this can help someone, one day

If you’re willing to share (no pressure, needless to say!), please try to be succinct, and feel free to skip any of the questions for any reason. Also, if the parent(s) in question is no longer alive, please discuss within the context of while they were still living. Finally, if you’re interested in participating, but don’t wish to post here, feel free to PM me your response

-Have you chosen to go low- or no- contact (i.e., LC or NC)?

-What is the thing about your parent’s past and/or present behavior towards you that most bothers you and/or best explains your reason for LC/NC?

-Do you think your parent understands what the problem is? Have you articulated it to them, and how? How have they responded? If you haven’t communicated your reasons, what stopped you?

-Is there something you want from your parent that you think could help you heal? If so, what is it, and how much would it help?

-If you’re LC/NC, do you think there’s anything your parent could do to make you agree to more contact, and what is it?

-Is there anything about your dealings to date with your parent that you regret? Anything you’d do differently if you could? How?

Thanks to anyone willing to respond

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Bella

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Hi Saylor!
I'll try to answer your questions;
- NC with abusive father. (I love my mum, and understand she was not purposely neglecting me as a child. She was just trying to survive.)

- Having a relationship with my father is impossible. I get mentally, emotionally and physically ill when I'm around him. He is very manipulative, angry and frightening on so many levels. Always have to be on high alert when he is around.

- He defenetly doesn't understand why anyone would have anything against him. Nothing is ever his fault. Earlier in my life, I sent him a letter trying to explain things. As expected, he got angry. After that I was  not his daughter anymore, according to him. He's been rejecting me ever since. In the early seventies he was diagnosed as a psychopath.

- Don't think anything he could have done or said now would change anything. He is a sick old man, screwed up by childhood trauma too. I actually really feel for him, cause his childhood was so much worse than mine.

I think I'll stop here.

Good luck on your project!  :)

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Bermuda

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-I have had no contact for 16 years.

-My parent's didn't respect me as a living breathing individual with valid wants, needs, or thoughts. I was their property in all regards.

-No, I was not permitted to speak unless spoken to. I never had the opportunity to voice my concerns, and if I had ever been given that opportunity it would have been framed in a way to exploit me. One of the last things my parent screamed at me about was me being "secretive" because they felt they knew nothing about me. That is valid, but you cannot yell or beat a child enough to get them to open up to you about their feelings. It doesn't work that way. If I had spoken, it would have been seen as disrespecting my parents, which is a punishable sin. So, no. I had made attempts over the years to approach other non-nuclear family members however.

-From my family members, what I want, is to be left alone. That's it. I don't owe them anything, I am not there's to search for. I don't exist for them. Their "search" for me is intrusive and selfish. Their repeated attempts to make contact is harassment. It just shows that they haven't changed.

-No, there is nothing they could do that would make me contact them. They had a whole childhood of opportunities to make attempts at doing the right thing, but the right thing was never even of consideration to them. They actually believed that to not hurt me was to spoil me. It was their sole duty to teach me lessons. Now as an adult I have to live with a life-time of "lessons" I was taught, and I can't escape it. They don't deserve me.

-The one regret I have is trusting my parent's, believing them, listening to them, and enabling them to hurt me more. I regret not speaking out, not knowing that there is something to speak out about. I regret not leaving sooner.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 06:49:22 PM by Bermuda »

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Alter-eg0

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-Have you chosen to go low- or no- contact (i.e., LC or NC)?
Yes, I chose to go NC with my father a little over a year ago.

-What is the thing about your parent’s past and/or present behavior towards you that most bothers you and/or best explains your reason for LC/NC?
My father is a communal narcissist, who is extremely good at making himself look like the nicest, most trustworthy person in the world outwardly. There's so much manipulation, so much gaslighting, so much guilt tripping. I could never really be myself, have needs, boundaries, anything like that. And this was always done in such a way that I felt something wasn't right, but everything looked normal on the outside, so I concluded that the problem must be me. It has caused so much grief an damage, so many lost years that I spent harming myself and (actively) wanting to die, only to find out when I was 33, that I wasn't the crazy one. And the worst part is that he has absolutely zero insigt into the matter, nor does he take any responsibility.
He just keeps doing what he's doing.

-Do you think your parent understands what the problem is? Have you articulated it to them, and how? How have they responded? If you haven’t communicated your reasons, what stopped you?
No, he has no insight whatsoever. He's incapable, because that would mean that his fantasy world and fantasy ego would fall apart. I have articulated the problem to him. He responds by doing the exact thing that i'm calling him out on (for example, i'll tell him that I feel abandonned when he tries to invalidate my feelings or deny his actions, and he'll respond by denying that that's what he does, and telling me that I shouldn't feel that way). Then i'll tell him that this is exactly what i'm talking about, and he'll start (fake) crying, (fake) apologizing in order to guilt trip me into letting him back in. Full on victim mode. He apologizises for anything and everything, but nothing ever changes.

-Is there something you want from your parent that you think could help you heal? If so, what is it, and how much would it help?
If there ever would come a day that he'd gain insight into his own behaviour and allow himself to be held accountable, that would help. But that's not going to happen, and waiting around for it is only more painful and damaging. I can't change him, and i'm not willing to break myself just to have him in my life anymore. So I need to leave.

-If you’re LC/NC, do you think there’s anything your parent could do to make you agree to more contact, and what is it?
Basically what I said in the previous question. If he'd gain that insight and be willing to take feedback, and actually change his behaviour, i'd consider it. Although i'd be really careful.
I never say never, but I don't see it happening.

-Is there anything about your dealings to date with your parent that you regret? Anything you’d do differently if you could? How?
I regret trusting him, believing him for so long. To a point where I was willing to destroy myself (and quite effectively did) just to keep our relationship safe.
And to a point where I made choices out of trust, that ended up ruining my life. I wish I would have figured it out sooner, and learned that I am actually ok as a person, that can be my own person, and that I can have my own mind, needs and boundaries. It would have saved me so much grief.

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Kizzie

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- No and low contact with family of origin and extended family since 2013

- NC/LC because family is rife with NPD (so N abuse prevalent, ongoing)

- NPD prevents them from ever seeing they have a problem - tried for literally decades to get through and nothing

- Would love to be able to connect emotionally but because of the NPD that's impossible so I have let that go and have no intention of revisiting this with any of them. 

- There is nothing that would prompt more contact other than a colossal and sustained shift in their behaviour and with NPD that won't happen.

- I regret trying so hard to connect, not knowing throughout the years what was the problem.  If I'd known it was NPD I would have stepped back years earlier and saved myself a lot of grief and pain as well as moved on at a much younger age.

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dreamriver

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-Have you chosen to go low- or no- contact (i.e., LC or NC)?

I have for now decided to go NC with all family. My younger sibling, mother, and older sibling. However, I try not put labels on it. The idea that they're just gone forever and nothing will be resolved is quite scary feeling. That said, their NC is sort of self imposed as they don't really want to address issues, they would rather gaslight them out of existence.


-What is the thing about your parent’s past and/or...


Gaslight and rug-sweeping by all of them (not just mother. My father I've been NC with 20 years after their divorce). Emotional abuse and scapegoating. Standing by, accepting, and enabling the behavior of my older sibling who is malignant narcissist/psychopathic. Not willing to even consider i experienced PA/SA as a child from father, abuse from older siblings. Lying to me and trying to change my childhood memories, say certain things never happened or happened differently. Trying to paint me as the real "new" abuser in the family. Older sib is expected to be taken care of unconditionally by everyone in the fam while having free reign to say, do, treat anyone terribly and have complete control over everyones tastes and opinions. I became the target of all her rage for not staying in line and could not be that in the family dynamic any longer.

-Do you think your parent understands what the problem is? Have you articulated it to them...
 
My mother, I think she does deep down but knows facing it would shatter her reality and facade to bits. And it doesn't matter anyway, she cares more about the golden child psychopath sib and her image - just shows how little she's been interested in mothering me or protecting me anyway. Why keep convincing myself, or her? I articulated everything to her in a message telling her there would be no relationship until the issue was addressed. She gaslit and lied to me in her response, saying she didn't think anything wrong was happening with my older sibs treatment and that certain things never happened, and that it was more appalling I would even *think* they were possible! It was her way of trying to put the the ball back into my court - unfortunately in my last message I said "if you defend or deny sib's horrendous behavior I will have no choice but to cut off contact" and she did both those things. She knew the outcome so I don't think an authentic relationship with me was ever valuable to her, except to make her, psycho sib, and the whole family look good.


-Is there something you want from your parent that you think could help you heal? If so, what is it, and how much would it help?


Yes but I don't think I can live my life hoping it will ever happen, especially in this situation with older sib. It's a fantasy. She made her choice about which sib relationship is more valuable to her and I need to accept that. It would be a 180 degree change from her very nature. It would involve standing up for me against other sibling(s), apologizing for lying, apologizing to my partner, and saying she would like to rebuild trust. The other alternative would be to completely leave me alone, forever, and never contact me if those things above aren't possible (this is the more realistic way things will probably go, she is and expert at silent treatment) and I could live in peace as if she never existed. She isn't a mother and has never been a mother to me, I'm learning to accept, and is quite harmful, so her relationship in my life makes no sense anymore if it is not good.

-If you’re LC/NC, do you think there’s anything your parent could do to make you agree to more contact, and what is it?

The stuff I described above. But it's a long shot, admitting she does things wrong is not who she is.

-Is there anything about your dealings to date with your parent that you regret? Anything you’d do differently if you could? How?


My cutting off of contact was pretty abrupt, explosive and emotional (family behavior was starting to target my partner and that was the last straw). I think it could have been interesting to go LC maybe, and grey rock/medium chill to get some more interesting insights or to phase out slower in a way that was maybe less intense for them.  But that would have been the more comfortable option for them not me. Being around them and dealing with them was so painful at that point with the wool pulled off my eyes, that I wouldn't have been as healthy as I am now with absolutely no contact...7 months later a healing has begun I never thought possible, and it was for the best. Really, not too many regrets with that specifically, it's a messy situation and I acted messy sometimes but I don't blame myself anymore.

Like other posters here I also regret having ever trusted any of them (sibs, M, all of them) with my love, my pain, my secrets, trying to be a "best friend" to each of them when I think I was just really being their enmeshed caretakers. And any info about me, or my low periods, were used to elevate themselves, not to build me up. I regret not leaving my home sooner as a kid. I regret accepting them back into my life as a teenager that left home before college and getting close with them again after college. I actually regret being there for them in any way, when it came to be my time they were awful. I regret not learning to be closer to people outside my family earlier, which was stunted and beaten out of me by them I guess anyway (always felt/taught that because of fams abusive past with my father we all need to stick together and nobody would get that). Thank God I did get out to an extent and tapped into a whole other circle of friends and people they have little influence or access to without seeming crazy, and I can build a FOC. But I don't blame myself. I was conditioned to think that all of this was love and I didn't know any better.

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Blueberry

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Have you chosen to go low- or no- contact (i.e., LC or NC)?
I have been NC with one parent and one sib before. I got back in semi normal contact and then due to various things went LC with whole extended family.

-What is the thing about your parent’s past and/or present behavior towards you that most bothers you and/or best explains your reason for LC/NC? Oh $)§%$)U§  there's no succint response I can give there.

It's a few days later I'll try again: In the past there was CSA, CPA, and EA + psychological abuse, as well as gaslighting. There was also an awful lot of emotional neglect and to some extent physical neglect (not because we were poor - we weren't - but just because of warped thinking).
In the present there is still gaslighting, I am treated as the FOO scapegoat, a position I have tried to leave but can't because FOO needs a scapegoat within the family as well as additional ones outside it. My attempts to autonomise are met with psychological, verbal and emotional abuse as well as just plain rejection, not just by my parents but also by my sibs and one sib-in-law. My parents are not sorry for anything, they are in complete denial about the past and the present.

-Do you think your parent understands what the problem is? Have you articulated it to them, and how? How have they responded? If you haven’t communicated your reasons, what stopped you? I've tried to tell my parents multiple times over the years - spoken, in writing. Even via emotions i.e. crying when I couldn't hold it back, but they don't take it in. Or e.g. F pretended to believe and then went behind my back. I try my best not to communicate any reasons now and going forward because they refuse to understand. One way they respond has always been to attack the way I articulate e.g. by telling me I'm using the incorrect word. And then going off on a tangent. I'm sorry for yelling but THEY DON'T WANT TO UNDERSTAND.

-Is there something you want from your parent that you think could help you heal? If so, what is it, and how much would it help? An apology for previous treatment of me. An acceptance of my boundaries now e.g. not trying to get information about me out of my friends. Not badmouthing me to my friends or to other relatives.

-If you’re LC/NC, do you think there’s anything your parent could do to make you agree to more contact, and what is it? They'd have to change significantly and show it. That boat has left dock though. They have had too many chances in the past and didn't use them. So no, there's nothing they can do.

-Is there anything about your dealings to date with your parent that you regret? Anything you’d do differently if you could? How? I regret the number of chances I gave them and I regret staying in normalish contact so long. I regret believing that they'd changed.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2021, 05:46:59 PM by Blueberry »

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deepbreaths

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-NC with F since 2014, I was NC with my brother for about a year (2013).

-Mostly witnessing PA (although with my brother a portion of that was aimed at me) and emotional manipulation. For F, the choice really came down to feeling unsafe when I was around him, it left me feeling depressed and anxious, I felt like he had lost the right to participate in my life. For my brother, I was afraid to trust him and also angry at him. In both cases, NC was about protecting myself and putting my own safety and health first which can be hard for me when I'm around people (flight-fawn type).

-I don't think F understands, as far as he was aware, I was spared any violence because it was directed at other family members and not me, so I should have no issue. I wanted to articulate it to him at the time and it ended up going through third parties (my mother, his wife, my then-therapist), in part because I was still a teenager. Because of that, I wasn't fully in control of the message he received and he expected it to be a short-term situation rather than the long-term arrangement I wanted.
With my brother, he was admitted involuntarily to an in-patient therapy program and another youth program that kept him away from home, so I wrote an "impact letter" to him at the time. I'm sure then he was very upset about it and maybe didn't fully understand, but he does now.

-Not really, there's nothing that I want from him or that could make me feel differently about the abuse, I understand that he himself witnessed abuse as a child and was repeating patterns he didn't understand. I don't think he ever learned a healthy way of loving people and I don't need that in my life. With my brother, an important part of reconciliation was his admission of the ways in which he hurt me and sincere apology

-No, I have absolutely no intention of going back into contact with F.

-I think communicating more clearly about why I wanted NC and what that meant for me would have been helpful, but I was really not in a place that I could have done so at the time. One big regret is also losing contact with my step-brother that I know was having issues with F, although I don't know that they ever escalated to PA. Other than that...going NC earlier, I wanted to much earlier, but it wasn't in my control.

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saylor

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Thanks so much, everyone, for your feedback. This should be very helpful

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Kizzie

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Would you provide us with a link to what you write/post please Saylor? Tks.

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saylor

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Would you provide us with a link to what you write/post please Saylor? Tks.
Hi Kizzie,
I’d initially thought I could offer that, but upon thinking about it some more, I realized I don’t really want to create a connection between this thread (or even site/my profile here) and the content elsewhere. I’m ok with PMing it to ppl on here who request, though. That approach makes me feel more comfortable, although it’s a bit clunkier.

Please note that I’m not sure it’s even going to happen. Part of my goal in requesting feedback was because, assuming I do this, I want to get a feel for what extent I may be speaking on behalf of other survivors (vs. just speaking about my own unique case). I thought it important to gauge the extent to which I can say, “I have communicated with other survivors on this topic, and know that my experience is far from unique”—that kind of thing. I basically wanted to know how much my own experience might be common with others’.

The other reason it might not end up happening is because there’s another person involved and I’m not sure yet whether they’ll want to do this.

I don’t know when this might come to fruition... maybe weeks, maybe months from now... but if it does, then I’ll have a link I can PM to requesters

Regardless of what happens, I think it’s even a big deal that ppl shared on this thread. I have this silly(?) fantasy that some of these estranged parents, as they contemplate their own situations, may run into something like this while surfing online, and maybe, just maybe, this kind of information will be useful to them (and, by extension, their children). I know. It’s a silly fantasy

Thanks, again, for your feedback everyone

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Blueberry

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Not wanting to provide a link here on the open board makes sense to me saylor, and also that you're not even sure yet that there will even be a link. Step-by-step does it.

I wouldn't say you have a 'silly fantasy', I would say you have a 'hope', maybe even an 'optimistic hope'. Who knows? Maybe just one person, one family could be helped a little bit. Or maybe a couple of people with cptsd would have their eyes opened a little earlier to the likely outcome with their FOOs.

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Blueberry

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saylor, in my response to the survey, I have added a more complete response, particularly a less emotional one to the second question. I have underlined the first words so that you can find them more easily :)

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saylor

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saylor, in my response to the survey, I have added a more complete response, particularly a less emotional one to the second question. I have underlined the first words so that you can find them more easily :)

:thumbup:

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Kizzie

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Quote
I’d initially thought I could offer that, but upon thinking about it some more, I realized I don’t really want to create a connection between this thread (or even site/my profile here) and the content elsewhere. I’m ok with PMing it to ppl on here who request, though. That approach makes me feel more comfortable, although it’s a bit clunkier.

Please note that I’m not sure it’s even going to happen. Part of my goal in requesting feedback was because, assuming I do this, I want to get a feel for what extent I may be speaking on behalf of other survivors (vs. just speaking about my own unique case). I thought it important to gauge the extent to which I can say, “I have communicated with other survivors on this topic, and know that my experience is far from unique”—that kind of thing. I basically wanted to know how much my own experience might be common with others’.

The other reason it might not end up happening is because there’s another person involved and I’m not sure yet whether they’ll want to do this.

I don’t know when this might come to fruition... maybe weeks, maybe months from now... but if it does, then I’ll have a link I can PM to requesters

Sounds good Saylor  :thumbup: