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    Hi Brandy

    I have come to realise estrangements are common.  Babies bring us so much joy and hope, and I suppose sometimes it is unfair to overburden them with the responsibility to make us happy. I have other grandchildren who I will be able to see soon and I have a good relationship with them.

    My son is making plenty of mistakes, including leaving the home and then going back at whim. I always felt he wouldn’t be a fit parent but neither is his partner. I feel so sorry for the baby- but at least she has taken her out to see her other grandma today.

    I find it hard listening to my son,in some ways it feels like enabling but I think it is important for me to listen when he rings as it is the only way I can keep contact with the baby. At least I don’t get the abuse and bullying I get from his partner.

    The shame I felt the other day has dissipated- I think the first person to tell is my daughter who is ringing me later today.

    I feel calmer and will get plenty of support this coming week.

    Thankyou for your kind words.




    Hi TeaK  my son rang me today. He said his partner made him ring because it is Mother’s day here. I said it was good to hear from him and he was back with his partner but says he is still making plans to leave. That is his choice. I said he could ring me anytime and he admitted he didn’t need me to help, but just listen.  I consider that a breakthrough for me too, as I am always seeking to solve problems. It is in my nature, but I realise it is ok to solve my own problems, but I have to leave the problems of others alone. He won’t seek help. Yet. Maybe he never will.

    I have been in contact with social services but his partner will not engage with help from them either.

    He said we could meet up separately without his partner knowing but I said I won’t do that because it is dishonest.

    He could only ring me today because she had gone out to see her mum with the baby.


    Hi TeaK

    I don’t want to go into details. I feel compassion for him too. I have tried to support through the past few very traumatic months but he will not see how destructive his behaviour is. He causes chaos for his partner, his sister, for myself and now for his child.

    He now has the chance to put his life back together without any interference. He knows he is loved. My hope is that he will finally see his own worth but it will be difficult.

    My best hope is that a kind and compassionate person such as yourself might come into his life instead of the drug addicts and alcoholics he surrounds himself with.

    He is my son and no one else knows how much I care about him. I have told him this over and over. It has been his choice to absent himself from those who love him, and it will have to be his choice to come back.


    Thankyou again Anita. I will give your words some thought.


    Hi TeaK

    I think back then I was trying to accept some responsibility for the way my son had grown into the person he was.  When his father and I split I didn’t handle it well. At that time in my life I was dealing with so much other stuff maybe I overlooked the impact it was having on him.  He was a teenager at the time and we had always been close, but eventually he went to live with his father. He always blamed me for the split.

    In recent months since his father’s death our relationship has improved considerably, but due to events I don’t want to go into I had to step back. Since I said that he hasn’t contacted me at all and I’m fine with that.

    The shame and upset is really to do with my grandchild who I can no longer see. Most of my siblings have grandchildren and so it is a common topic of conversation.  When asked I will just have to explain I no longer know how she is. This will sadden them as it saddens me, so maybe I feel I have failed not only as a parent but as a grandmother.

    The fact that I have a good relationship with my other grandchildren brings me joy which is now tinged with sadness.

    I think when I posted before I was being very hard on myself- I do acknowledge to my son that I got things wrong but that doesn’t excuse the things he’s done either. He has apologised to me in turn.

    I think I’ll just have to see how things pan out. It may just as much turn out for the best as for the worst.


    Anita thank-you for your wise words. I hadn’t gone back to read my previous posts but seeing those words in front of me were a sharp reminder of how far I’ve come and I am so glad you did that.

    I only restored contact with my son because his father died and his daughter was born soon after. This was also in the middle of lockdown here and it has been a difficult year for all of us. My son and I were building a better relationship but so many things were getting in the way and now we are estranged again. So be it.

    I realise that shame is an internalised thing- being alone means I have no one here to objectify and so I am wounding myself, which is silly really. Once you know that it has reduced impact for sure.

    Interesting about my sister too because we now get on much better. She has been aware of my problems but not the latest developments. I feel I could share this with her now. Despite all the difficulties of Covid and social isolation my family are very much more supportive of each other. They are not my moral superiors, they just haven’t been in my situation and therefore may not understand why I have done what I have. I don’t feel they would judge me, rather I have been judging myself. If they ask I will tell them, I they don’t I won’t. Whether they discuss me among themselves is their doing, and I’m sure they will. So be it.

    Yes, I liked the little quotation. My friends know exactly what is going on and I’m privileged to have them for sure.

    I rang my brother. We spoke about my other brother. It was fine.

    Amazing how much better I now feel. In a few hours I may feel worse. So be it. I shall come back and read this. Thank you for giving me this space.


    Last winter I was reading a lot about the science of sleep and how important sleep is to our lives.

    I worked on a routine of checking the time of sunset, and one hour before reminded myself that the night was coming. This taught me the importance of recognising the coming of rest, so I put away the business of the day as much as possible.

    Then, one thing I learned was to set an alarm for one hour before bedtime- we set alarms for waking but not for sleeping and unless we are ready, sleep does not come.

    After this bedtime alarm I switch off all phones, tv etc, and gradually dim the lights to let my body know sleep is coming.

    Then, I get ready for bed- have a warm drink and change my clothes, again, to make a  gradual transition into sleep.

    When in bed I read for a short time until my eyes become heavy and then I turn off my lamp and snuggle down.

    Finally, I say a short prayer of gratitude to God for my bed, the roof over my head, the food I’ve eaten and the people I’ve met- it continues into gratitude for my health, but I rarely get any further….zzz

    Recently, my routine has been thrown out and I realise it is because I am no longer tuned in to my evening slow down- so thank-you for reminding me how important it is!


    Hi K- looking back on my own life I can say that we can have many lives lived in one, and these new lives change our behaviours and our reactions to situations, sometimes as the natural process of physical ageing, and sometimes as a result of things happening to us.

    Whether we change in our core being ie that person we were born as, and was given a destiny, I don’t know. I think the best thing is to value who we are at any given moment in time because life is a process of growth- think of the plant and how that changes and adapts and seems very different at different stages yet remains the same plant that sprung from that individual seed.

    When you sense yourself changing and others not, or seeing others change and you are standing still, then maybe it is time to just look at where you are- and not think too much of others-is it time for yourself to make changes, or is it time to stay the same? Only you know the answer…


    Thank you Diletta- I think if my sister did decide to come home to live she would want to be in her own space, too. The reasons why she has come here at this particular time are difficult to explain and in some ways are unimportant-what matters are my reactions to what she does and says. She caught me off guard and so far my response to her visit has been very negative.

    I am starting to get my own self back- and now say and do things that make me feel more in control. I think she knows I am not her ‘mini-me’ but she has to deal with that herself. I have called her out in a reasonable way on a few things and that has made me feel much better, for instant questioning her throw-away remarks and asking her to justify them, instead of just pulling a face behind her back! Also when she asks a question and doesn’t get the answer she wants, I now remind her that my answer was as valid as her question.

    I like to think she will learn from it too, as you say, but that is is not my concern. My own health and well being is paramount here.

    I do not know that if, after this, she will ever come to stay with me again- this may be her final visit and so I want to make it a happy one for her whilst enjoying my own time, too.

    I have found these messages very helpful and positive for me- so I am grateful for people helping me to get through this. Thank you.


    Thank you all for your messages- it is difficult and far more complex than space on here allows but today I set some rules for myself- first: if she speaks I listen, even if I’ve heard it before and it is trivial- I make a point to let her say what she wants and I listen- I find it helps not to focus on my discomfort but to just be impartial. However, if I disagree I say that I do, and she rarely counter comments. I think she has been used to provoking people into reacting so I refuse to do it. I really do think that ageing is frightening her and she feels vulnerable but won’t admit it. She is the eldest and we have always been a little deferential, but the adapting has to come from her.

    I call her out when she makes loaded statements- she has nowhere to go to with these. Getting old means confronting long held assumptions of the truth which are no longer valid- she struggles with this and I don’t want to belittle her, but at the same time if she is wrong she is wrong.

    I am learning that I can deal with it if I watch for the triggers- she has worked on these things all her life and is an expert but I find it rather sad. She thinks I am like her, that I validate her opinions but I am very different and I don’t share her opinions on many things. I have to speak my own truth to her.

    Do I feel used? Yes, I do-but she is also very generous in lots of ways and won’t be here forever. When I was younger I idolised her so yes, we can get stuck in past dynamics which have little bearing on our current reality.

    I may stagger home late- tonight I fell back on the drink- partly to wind her up!!

    Maybe it is a game we can both play- it is very sad but very human too. Getting old is not easy for some people- I think she feels vulnerable which is why she has come to me. Maybe in the end it will be good for both of us. Thanks for taking the time  to respond.


    Thanks for your reply- it made me smile as I am in my early 60s! And my visitor is not my mother who died several years ago, and wouldn’t I love her to pop in? My sister is several years older and yes, we do have a long history and at one time were very close, but she arrived unannounced and has now taken over my home for the next few weeks-she is not an easy guest and yes, it is hard to take care of myself when she is such a domineering person. I am not in therapy- this is just a normal occurrence I am finding difficult. I have to put strategies in place, such as giving myself some space and telling her how I feel when she makes decisions for me. I have lived alone for almost a year and it is hard when someone just turns up and puts you off balance. Thanks for taking the time to reply- I have to put her needs first for a while but this doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice my own. I am ticking off the days, though, (21) until she goes and that is very sad.


    Hi  John

    First of all these are brave admissions to make- if only we could all express our feelings about our families in such a free and open way.

    Families can be a nightmare- although I also love my family and appreciate how much they mean to me especially as I get older, I know for a long time I used to get what I called my ‘desert island’ feeling- that all I wanted was to get away and be on my own for a while.

    Families can be so claustrophobic and stifling.

    What I notice about your post is that you see your family as the collective, ‘them,’ and not necessarily as a group of individuals, which is what they are. Are some family members more or less repulsive than others? Are we talking about parents, siblings, aunts, cousins etc?

    One way to get through this is maybe to start identifying individuals as seeing them as people rather than as a group. Maybe they all feel the same as you but don’t want to be the one to flatten the house of cards?

    We all have a right to break away from our families and grow up- do you feel you are being denied that?

    Families, in a perfect world, should allow each other’s characteristics to flourish, but it seems in so many the opposite occurs, because of a sense of needing to be close and protective, they trap each other in a mesh of misplaced love and affection, which is often no more than a prison with cushions.

    I really feel for you, but at some time you have to begin to be your own person and if this means conflict in the family then they have to deal with that in their own way.

    You say you can’t run away, even to the ends of the earth- well you can, and lots of people do reject their families and go their own way- but I suspect this isn’t what you want to do. I think you want to be ‘neutral’ and maybe just see them as people, as you want to be seen as a person, maybe?

    I am going through a similar change in my relationship with my son- so I know how tricky it can be making those changes.

    Maybe you should get some counselling for yourself to begin with, so you can work through those processes of change in dealing with your disgust.

    I hope that at least expressing your feelings has helped- I hope you find your way through this.


    Thank-you so much Brandy- I think you are spot on with these observations and suggestions. My son went to live with his dad not long after we had split up, as he was much more lenient with him than I was and indulged him in ways I never would have. However, I don’t think he sees his actions as punishment or reward, rather I think he just tries to get what he wants from any source available.

    Recently his dad was seriously ill, so I tried to support my son through this and for a while we became a little closer,but it didn’t last.

    I can see that I have permitted my son’s dependence by helping him out now and again with money for specific things (never cash) and understand that that has become the nature of our relationship- for most of his adult life I have also used money as a means to get him off my back, as he wasn’t the easiest person to live with, and he did come back to my home from time to time.

    I have  counselling appointment tomorrow, and will use it to try to frame the letter I will send. I now know what to say and how to try to re-form the relationship in the way you have outlined. The rest will be up to him. I am now in a place where I am prepared to completely cut those strings if need be- there is nothing more I can do. Thank-you for your good sense and understanding.


    Hi Jenna- I am so sad you are dealing with this, when we are vulnerable we open ourselves up to all kinds of abuse and because he hasn’t physically hurt you doesn’t matter- sometimes the psychological abuse is much worse.

    You always end up forgiving him- but the only person you need to forgive is yourself. You made a terrible mistake and now you have to put it right for the sake of your kids and for yourself.

    I would seek help for the abuse and PTSD (which you may have due to his manipulative behaviour)- sometimes we go back to check that it was that bad- (like a sore tooth, we keep touching it to see if it has healed) but even if it seems better, it will get bad again. This is the pattern of abusive behaviour.

    There is help available at locals women’s groups and organisations to get you the support you need.

    You feel bad because you are a good person, but you need to recognise this in yourself and build up your poor self-esteem. Surround yourself with people who care- you will find them when you start to look. Block him from your phone and from your life.


    Thanks Mark- yes, I feel that I should know, all I can do is trust myself that I will do it. Since I did not respond to his request for money last week I have not heard from him, but maybe that is the price I have to pay.


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