If you have become estranged from your parents, it’s important to remember that this can be a very vulnerable place to be. Making the decision to become estranged from your family may alleviate some of the instant emotional pain after a huge argument, however, many people find that estrangement is a constant battle in their life, as it can cause them to endlessly think about their situation, even if they do feel an initial sense of relief.
Some people become estranged from their parents because they have been emotionally, physically or sexually abusive during childhood or beyond. This is a difficult decision to make but sometimes a necessary one. It’s immensely tricky to continue a healthy relationship if there has been abuse, and it can be extremely risky to continue a genuine relationship with this family member without the right professional intervention and support.
Others become estranged with their parents or siblings due to conflicts about religion or sexuality. This can also be especially painful, as the adult child isn’t able to truly be who they are. Authenticity is crucial for a happy life.
Grieving the estrangement from a parent, no matter what the circumstances, is a very important part of healing from it, as the loss of an accepting & healthy parent is an extremely painful experience, even more so than normal grief. Nothing will ever fill the void of not having had what every child so rightfully deserves. Comfort, validation & unconditional love. Realising that a parent was never truly able to love & accept you, is utterly heartbreaking.
Even if there was abuse, children never stop loving their parent unconditionally and never stop hoping that their parent will change. This is the main reason adult children remain in contact with a parent, despite any abuse that may have occured. They will always long for the unconditional love they never had. In cases when the abuse or invalidation was constant, the trauma bond will also be why the adult child finds it hard to cut ties with their parent.
If the adult child isn’t able to fully grieve the loss of a healthy parent, they will not be able to move forward in a new relationship with them. If the parent continues to be abusive, shows no remorse, shows no understanding and doesn’t make any attempts to make amends, then it is healthier for the relationship to end.
In both cases of estrangement and remaining in contact, grieving is essential. Grieving helps lift the intense painful heaviness of not having had your needs met in childhood. It helps lessen the anger, frustration and injustice.
Most importantly, the adult children who end up going ‘no contact’, have to learn to live with the ‘early death’ of their parent before that parents actually dies. They have to continue living their life, without any communication or knowledge of how that parent is. They have to swallow the grief that creeps up from time to time, during holidays, birthdays, Mother’s day, Father’s day and during other emotional times in their life.
Those adult children who were lucky enough to have had good childhoods, with unconditionally loving parents, will never truly understand the deep pain of those who didn’t have good childhoods.
Family estrangement is a huge challenge and living with it requires support in more ways than one. It is important to have counselling from time to time and to be surrounded by understanding friends or a partner that can truly empathize. Lastly, it is crucial for the estranged, to feel the sadness that emerges and be self-compassionate as much as possible.
Love Athina ♥
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