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When to walk away

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  • #30195
    Eleanor Goold
    Participant

    Most of us have bust ups or disagreements with members of our family at some point or another. But what about when its a bit more serious, where perhaps you find a relatives actions to be so out of order, that you feel the only option is to move on and have nothing more to do with then?  Estrangement from ones loved ones can be a bit of a taboo subject, what do you think? What are your experiences?

    • This topic was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by Eleanor Goold.
    • This topic was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by tinybuddha.
    #30212
    Hannah Braime
    Participant

    Hey Eleanor,

    I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve experienced and I admire your bravery in speaking out about this. I made a very difficult decision to stop contact with certain family members a few years ago after recognising the terrible impact those relationships were having on my life. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but the more time that goes by, the more I recognised it was one of the kindest and healthiest things I ever did for myself. I still get unwanted contact from the people concerned, which isn’t a pleasant experience, but my life has completely turned around. Of course, I don’t know anything about your situation, so I’m only speaking from my experience, however I think it’s possible for any relationship to pass that point of no return, whether you share the same DNA or not.

    One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced concerns other people’s reactions. Like you said, estrangement from family members is still a taboo topic in our society, and I think it can be very challenging to people’s beliefs around their own family relationships, and provoke their defences, when you say you made the decision to walk away. Having said that, the right people have been incredibly supportive.

    I really wish you all the best with your decision, and I hope you’ll do whatever you feel is right for you.

    x

    #30252
    Eleanor Goold
    Participant

    Hi Hannah,

    Thank you for your kind advice and guidance. As you rightly point out, it is other people’s reactions that can be a challenge to deal with. But if we know that our life is better for our decision, and it was one which needed to be made to remove toxic people from our life, then so be it.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

     

     

    #30256
    Lori Deschene
    Keymaster

    Hi Eleanor and Hannah!

    I haven’t had a situation where I felt like I had to completely end a relationship with a family member, but I’ve had different times when I realized it was best to create distance and change my relationship–at least in the short-term. It’s definitely wasn’t easy, and I went through many periods when I grieved over what I never had or had to change. But I knew that I could never take care of myself if I didn’t step away from unhealthy relationships and situations.

    I also found that creating space without towing a hard line helped a great deal. In other words, I never had a conversation along the lines of, “Don’t call me ever again!” I simply changed how and how often I engaged with those people. By doing that, I kept the door open for things to improve–and over time, they did.

    Sending love to you both,

    Lori

    #30266
    Hannah Braime
    Participant

    Hey Lori,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree that changing the boundaries of the relationship can provide that distance that helps you focus on yourself and take care of your own needs. It definitely doesn’t have to be the ‘all or nothing’ approach, and it’s important to keep the door open if you think there’s potential for the relationship to change in the future.

    I’m really glad to hear things improved for you 🙂

    #30270

    It’s so funny, I was just having a conversation about this with a friend a couple of days ago. She described her younger sister’s drama-filled, negative behavior towards her and we agreed that it is hard to someone for someone to behave with love, if they don’t love themselves. Understanding this helps us offer compassion and to let go of the relationship with love. This is one of the most valuable insights I received from an Al Anon meeting years ago…Let your heart guide your decision…

    #30560
    Andrea Lewis
    Participant

    Hi Eleanor,

    I think you have to follow your gut instinct and do what’s best for you regardless of other people’s reactions/opinions.

    I am able to say this now, wholeheartedly because I’ve been in your shoes three years ago. As Hannah mentioned, it is possible to reach a point of no return and that’s exactly what happened in my situation.

    As Lori mentioned, I did try to change the boundaries, but my relationships with my entire family never changed. With the help of a therapist and journalling my thoughts/feelings I struggled big time with my decision.

    Though grieving the loss of my family in my life has been a gradual process. Removing their toxic energy has been one of the best gifts that I could have given myself.

    I have found self-love, inner peace and happiness. Not to mention the physical symptoms I experienced for years—headaches, stomach pains, anxiety/depression miraculously disappeared.

    With love and light,
    -Andrea

     

     

    #30569
    Eleanor Goold
    Participant

    Thank you all so much for your kind comments. It is a complicated situation (aren’t they all) and its had a bit of a domino effect. Its like all of a sudden my eyes have been opened to what people have actually thought about me all these years. Its very difficult and painful but I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I have walked away relatively recently. I need to move on, but I know its a process.  Thanks all once again.

    #31278
    Irving Podolsky
    Participant

    Here’s a comment from a family member that was left behind when the other person walked away.

     

    My only sister stopped returning my calls and emails without telling me why. There are times when we occasionally meet or end up talking on the phone. During those encounters my sister pretends nothing changed and that no withdrawing on her side ever occurred. I ask questions. She answers them. I say I love her. She says she loves me back. I say I’ll call her next week. She says fine. I call. She never pick up. I write. She doesn’t answer.

     

    And she got this behavior going with her children, my only niece and nephew in my family. They too are estranged while pretending not to be.

     

    And it’s just not to me. My sister and her kids do this to the entire extended family.

     

    So what’s my point? My point is, if a sibling or cousin or aunt or parent wants to change the family boundaries or even cut it off completely, at least explain why.

     

    Irv

    #31279
    Irving Podolsky
    Participant

    Here’s a comment from a family member that was left behind when the other person walked away.

    My only sister stopped returning my calls and emails without telling me why. There are times when we occasionally meet or end up talking on the phone. During those encounters my sister pretends nothing changed and that no withdrawing on her side ever occurred. I ask questions. She answers them. I say I love her. She says she loves me back. I say I’ll call her next week. She says fine. I call. She never pick up. I write. She doesn’t answer.

    And she got this behavior going with her children, my only niece and nephew in my family. They too are estranged while pretending not to be.

    And it’s just not to me. My sister and her kids do this to the entire extended family.

    So what’s my point? My point is, if a sibling or cousin or aunt or parent wants to change the family boundaries or even cut it off completely, at least explain why.

    Irv

    #31283
    Leonie
    Participant

    I have been estranged from all my family for nearly three years.  It is very hard but  necessary.  It is hard when you realise that your Mum will die and your are estranged.  Sometimes too many hurtful, horrible events have happened and you cant ever go back to where you were.  When you feel like you cannot trust your own mother  then what is the point.    I have never had a good relationship with my mother I was always so angry with her.  My father apparently ran away when I was very small.   I was so ashamed and wondered why everyone had a dad but not me.  She also tried to poison me against my dad because she was hurt that he left her.  It was not true that he ran away.    I did try and build fences for my children’s sake but it was pointless.

    I have kept this secret for so long and my father was never spoken about just as he did not even exist.   It is even harder to say you don’t speak to your whole family.  I now choose not to be angry or bitter.   If anyone has grown up without their father in their lives I would love to hear your experience.

    #31298
    Irving Podolsky
    Participant

    I grew up without a father, who came home every night after work, started eating before the rest of us, finished, and then promptly adjourned to his workshop to get into his hobbies. He never completed a single father-son project with me. He took the family to those places where families go for weekends in the summer, but his heart wasn’t in it. At my bedtime, he began a novel, reading to me a chapter a night for four nights, then stopped those so important nocturnal connections.

    He never started a conversation with me or stuck around if I started it. He didn’t enjoy my company, or my sister’s. Dad was all about Dad.

    Today he’s senile at 95, but still mentally equipped to treat my mother like he always did – his maid.

    NOW loves me, or so he says. NOW he wants my company and attention. NOW I can’t stand him but do the right thing and lie, treating him with pseudo respect and telling him I love him.

    When he dies, I won’t care and I’ll be happy on behalf of my mother. He never gave us his love and now no one loves him back.

    Irv

    #32519
    Beth
    Participant

    What about forgiveness? being present? Not living in the past, it only defines you if you allow it.  I have forgiven myself and my daughter for the past, doing my work to make our fragile relationship healthy.  We were estranged for 8 months, her decision, she was 18.  Not able emotionally to take such a stance in my opinion.  We reconnected, her choice, rocky road.  She since has entered the military and my hope is we can foster this relationship and grow into the mother/daughter we both deserve.

    although our relationship in her early to late teens involved physical abuse which she served jail time, I also was verbally abuseive, we feed off of contnual disrespect and entitelment, this is where the forgiveness comes to light because she is more important to me than being right and hurt.  Reconsider estrangement, forgive and be present.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by Beth.
    #358026
    Canadian Eagle
    Participant

    Correct , we all have limited energy , share it mostly with people who enrich us, not drain us

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