There is nothing more emotionally devastating than being estranged from a family member, especially your own child. It can be worse than experiencing their death, because there’s a personal rejecting attached to it. It’s always nagging you in the back of your mind. The hurt never goes away.
The NYTimes article seemed to me to be very one-sided. It focused on children who felt they needed to cut off their “bad” parents. In my personal and professional life, I’ve seen the other side of the coin all too often. I’ve personally felt the heartache of children with emotional and mental disorders who foolishly cut off the very parents who support them. I’ve written in great depth about this phenomenon in my book, WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.
For example, my autistic daughter cut me off 12 years ago because she was the victim of parental alienation by my ex. Another daughter, alcoholic and suffering from TBI also cut me off right after assaulting me and knocking me into a plate glass door. It’s naive and narrow-minded to write of estrangement from only the estranged child’s point of view. There are lots of factors. But as for me, I have never cut off my children and never will. With each passing year, I hope to hear from them, even though they shred my letters and block my calls.
Some of those commenting on this article say that holding onto hope makes it more painful. I believe that hope keeps us going. Of course, it would be naïve to put your life on hold as you hope. That’s not true hope, that’s fantasizing about an outcome you’re attached to. As I often counsel couples, hope for the best but plan for the worst. That keeps your eyes wide open and in the proactive place of fixing problems before they escalate.
When estrangement occurs, hope, based on agape love, allows you to wish them the best in their lives as you continue to grow and find peace in your own. It’s not about changing them. It’s about your own approach to life, choosing to be positive and happy despite the circumstances. As you move on and continue to give to others, their love and appreciation soothes your hurt emotions. Perhaps somewhere down the road the two lines of estrangement will once again intersect, and you’ll be able to build a new relationship. That is my hope for all those estranged in the world today.
If you’d like to read the first chapter of my book, WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you, please take advantage of this free download. After you read it, I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.