Estranged Are Making Contact

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by TheyAreLegallyAdultsNow, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Does anyone have experience with a loved one who has REPEATEDLY violated the foundations of trust to the point not even dust remains? Has that loved one ever regained your trust? Were they worthy of the trust they had earned back? How did you know you could begin trusting again? What did the relationship look like while trust was being re-established? What tools or resources did you find helpful along the path of healing? Feedback sincerely appreciated!!!!!

    Our estranged adoptees have kind of "broken their silence" toward us as they approach their third year of estrangement following their conjoined-meltdown and false allegations against us.

    I got a short and sweet text "Happy mothers day. Love you" from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) difficult child daughter. I replied enthusiastically and got a ":)" in return.

    Shortly afterwards (a week or so) she saw hubby while she was taking care of "official business" at a local store.

    Hubby reports she was all superficial (as if NOTHING had ever happened) and even introduces him to her partner "this is my Daddy!"

    Father's Day brought a similar text from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) daughter difficult child followed by something like "I'm working today, hope I don't get shot.". (during her estrangement, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) daughter difficult child became a police officer after brief training at community college and was immediately hired by her ex-boyfriend's dad, who was recently fired for 'police are above the law' variety of misconduct.)

    Father's day also brought a brief email from difficult child Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) DS two sentences, pretty much "I don't know if this is still your email address. If it is Happy Father's Day."

    Hubby replied, about a paragraph, he was happy for the greeting, we hear he's overseas (airforce), we love him and wish his new wife well etc.

    difficult child Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) DS confirmed yes, overseas... And provided a "more convenient" email address to respond to.

    Meanwhile twice within the last month we've had former friends actually run away from us in stores based, we're certain, on lies our kids have told about us that have earned them over the last three years "local celebrity status" intense sympathy, expensive gifts, and free room and board.

    I'm grateful our estranged adult adoptees are healing enough to start making contact. I figured healing would begin AFTER they had time away from their RADtypically-triangulated rescuers that DELIGHT in the entertainment our adopted childrens' mental illness provides.

    daughter difficult child has been sleeping on her own pillow outside of her RADtypically-triangulated rescuers' home sine Jan.

    DS difficult child has been overseas about a month. He has been out of his RADtypically-triangulated rescuers' home over a year, however his young bride DELIGHTS in the drama her new husband's mental illness provides. Being overseas, I believe, has given our DS difficult child the FIRST CHANCE to think clearly in over three years.

    ANYWAY... I'm grateful for SLOW progress. I often wonder how I can EVER trust them again!!!!!!


    I know for me, forgiveness is not optional! I need to KEEP ON MAKING THE DECISION to forgive them EVERY TIME unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

    However, trust is a privilege. Once trust is broken, how can it be earned back?

    Does anyone have experience with a loved one who has REPEATEDLY violated the foundations of trust to the point not even dust remains? Has that loved one regained your trust? Were they worthy of the trust they had earned back? How did you know you could begin trusting again? What did the relationship look like while trust was being re-established? What tools or resources did you find helpful along the path of healing? Feedback sincerely appreciated!!!!!
  2. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    TALAN, I guess the key for me in re-establishing a relationship with a difficult child is knowing your boundaries before you venture in.

    My difficult child and I were never estranged as such, although our relationship was terribly strained for a long time. He violated my trust terribly, caused intense pain and trouble to me, my husband and our other children, and generally tore up our lives for a number of years. Once the dust settled, and we got difficult child into an adult-assisted-living program, I had some time (years) to figure out what kind of relationship I wanted to have with him. I determined my boundaries, made them clear to difficult child, and have stuck to them ever since.

    As to the question of trust, difficult child breached my trust very badly, to the point that I do not believe anything he says unless I have independent corroboration from a source that cannot be influenced by his input. (For example: if I hear it from someone else, and difficult child has spoken to them, it's not independent corroboration. If I see it with my own eyes, it IS.) difficult child knows this. He doesn't like it, but he knows it it is one of the terms of our new relationship. If he wants a relationship with me, he has to accept this. And he does.

    My suggestion for you would be to tread slowly and lightly. Figure out what sort of relationship you want with your children, identify your boundaries, and go slowly forward from there.
  3. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I would agree with Trinity. There is a small opening in the trust. It's minimal. I keep it that way. It does allow for a small amount of healing but I will never go further than that. I'm not talking about difficult child, I'm talking about my parents. For difficult child, the trust came at a much faster pace, he earned it. Still, I know him and there are limits. Start small, a small thank you for the father's day text, and there it is. Sometimes there is too much pain to even accept that. When your kids are telling lies to your friends and people are running away from you in stores, I don't know if I would be ready for much. I'm sorry I'm not more help. Sending support.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Here are my 2 cents.............Trust is earned. Since they are the ones who did the harm, they need to be accountable for the damage done to you. In the absence of a clear and direct sincere apology, trust cannot be reestablished. Without an understanding of what they did and a recognition of the hurt it caused along with a heartfelt apology, the foundation of lack of trust would most definitely continue. Simply reconnecting is just not good enough to begin to mend fences, there is no accountability, hence no change has taken place. I learned a long time ago with people who hurt me and became untrustworthy that I could NEVER trust them again until they took full responsibility in an authentic and sincere way. Not saying, "I'm sorry you were hurt by my actions" thereby putting the onus on you for being hurt. But, a real heartfelt apology like, "I am so sorry for what I did and the hurt I caused you, I feel remorse and I will never do that again." You can see and feel the difference when someone is truly sorry for what they did. As well as you can tell when someone is not sorry and simply saying the right words to get a desired outcome. Don't let your parental hearts cloud the issue here, they can not be trusted until they assume responsibility for their actions. A few months back someone here who has a number of mental issues herself posted a line which really made it clear to me, she said, "having a mental illness doesn't give you a pass on taking responsibility for your actions." I would not reply "enthusiastically" as you mentioned to their gestures of connection, I would reply with kindness but with reservation and I would make it short and simple. It is up to them to pave the way for trust, not you.
  5. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would tread cautiously, and keep your expectations low. I get what RE is saying about requiring a heartfelt apology, but I also believe that there some mentally ill people that will never, can never, acknowledge their part in the hurt. They just can't see it. So, you have to make a decision on whether or not you can form some sort of a relationship without that, and what kind of relationship that will be (boundaries, as others have said). If I waited for Oldest to sincerely apologize for everything she did to hurt me, I wouldn't have a relationship with her at all. It obviously depends on the nature of the hurt caused, however. We've never been completely estranged.

    I don't think I'll ever completely trust Oldest. I never know if what she's telilng me is true, and I frequently find out it's not. But I've learned to just sort of accept that. I don't make decisions related to her that are based on whether or not something may or may not be true, I make them based on what I can live with. Because of that, she can't manipulate me with her lies any more ... they simply don't matter to me. Consequently, she doesn't tell as many manipulative lies (and there is a distinction between lying, and manipulative lying.. with her anyway). She has figuerd out they have very little power over me, I think.

    So, I think you can have a relationship, if you want one. But it has to be on your terms, not theirs.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    All I can say is go S L O W L Y. Be cautious. Be careful. Keep your expectations very low. I say this because you're not just dealing with an estranged difficult child, but an estranged Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) difficult child.

    You can be polite and talk and such and still do those things.

    The pretending everything is just all fine and dandy.........could be a lot of things, from "oh I dunno what to say to fix it so I'll pretend it didn't happen" to "it doesn't matter that it happened it's water under the bridge".

    I'd be extremely hesitant to tell them anything at all you'd not want another person to know or would not openly tell everyone yourself. (yeah, I know they can make stuff up, but this gives them no fuel for those fires should they ever do that again)

    I agree. A relationship is fine. But totally on your terms, not theirs.

  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I mostly agree with other. Proceed carefully and keep your expectations very low. And think hard what you want from these relationships and what your boundaries are. And stick with that.

    But I wouldn't really even expect any profound apologizes in their first interactions after estrangement, and certainly not in public place in front of the co-worker. Also it is good to keep in mind that they have their own point of view to this. Even if it is not objectively sound, it may be truth to them.

    My experience on trying to handle a relationship with estranged, hostile and untrustworthy family member is not with my kid but with my father. he has hurt me many ways, has broken my trust too many times to probably ever be mended. In fact also he has taken 'an imposter kids' to 'my place' in past and that was hurtful even though I was already adult at the time. My dad is locally a little bit known artist and at one time he was married with locally well known celebrity who had adult kids from earlier relationships. It really hurt to read from papers how happy my father was to 'finally have a family' and how he 'feels like those kids are his own and like a real granddad' and 'what a gift it is to be able to spend Holidays with them', same time he didn't even bother to send Christmas card for me and my kids. To be fair, it is my choice he has had very little contact to my kids. He is charming but totally untrustworthy person and I didn't want to expose my kids too much to that.

    I still have a relationship with him. It is strained, polite but without any trust, but still it is a relationship. I even do know he probably loves me as much as he is able to love any person really. He is capable to be infatuated and very melodramatically 'in love' with someone, but to really love? well, maybe in his own way and I think I'm high on that list, even though he treats me often badly. I also do love him, but I have very low expectations for him. He has very bohemian lifestyle, substance abuse issues (maybe not really addict because he is still live and kicking in his late sixties and he has had this lifestyle his whole adult life) and I have often wondered if he has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). At least he has all the symptoms.

    Your kids being with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) it may be too much to expect to have warm and attached relationship with them now that they are adults. They may never be capable to that. But maybe it is worth it to have friendly, if distant, relationship with them, without any expectations of real closeness. If you are ready for that, it is better even not to expect any heartfelt apologizes from them, that may be something they are not capable of. But you may be able to have enjoyable enough relationship with friendly, distant, not trusting, keeping firm on your boundaries-way.
  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    With regard to a heartfelt apology, I agree with CrazyInVA and some of the others that it may never happen.

    In my case, my difficult child doesn't really understand what an apology means. He knows that "If you do something bad you say 'sorry' to make it better", but he doesn't understand that merely saying sorry doesn't repair the damage he caused in the first place, nor does he understand why I'm still upset after he's gone through the "sorry" ritual. I think the concept is beyond his understanding. He just doesn't have the emotional connectedness to get this.

    So, I don't expect apologies from him, heartfelt OR pro forma, because they will always be pro forma and nothing more. I just manage my behaviour and expectations so as to limit the damage he can do. There are clear rules for him such as:
    - You are not allowed to be near the young ones when you are off your medications, being defiant or behaving improperly (and I decide what constitutes "improperly").
    - If you would like to borrow something of mine, you ask first, accept "no" as an answer, and if the answer is "yes", treat the item with due care and return it in the same condition it left. If that means taking something broken to be repaired before you get home, then do that.
    - I will not interact with you if you are being defiant or unpleasant, or behaving improperly. Either I will leave or I will ask you to leave.

    You get the idea. I have established clear rules for difficult child, with no exceptions. He doesn't do well with ambiguity, fine details or inconsistency, so I don't give him any. In a nutshell, when the relationship was defined on difficult child's terms it did not go well at all. So, when I was ready to re-establish it, I made sure it was on my terms.

    Whatever level of contact you have with your difficult children, you have to understand what your terms and boundaries are. It might be worth deciding what sort of relationship you want and what kind of treatment you will accept now, before your next interaction with them. The worst thing is to be caught flat-footed without a plan of action when you're dealing with this sort of thing.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well I was sort of caught flat footed as Trinity said because I forgot I was mad at my difficult I ended up in a coma and that shook the foundation of the family. Cory had just been convicted of forging my checks and it had been a nightmare and a half and he had just went in for a 30 day jail stint when I ended up with meningitis. He was out of jail but I dont remember any of it.

    Over time he learned that I meant what I said about I wouldnt put up with anything from him. He was also scared to death about losing me...and we slowly started to notice that he was very careful about being in our house. We had made him leave the house right before I got sick but I didnt remember that. I had kicked him out. I realized that he was better when I left money on my dresser and it stayed there for months. Not a lot of money but it was something that would have never happened when he was in the bad old days. Now yeah, he does stupid things like "borrowing" a screwdriver or something without asking and forgetting to bring it back but I think that is just being stupid young adult kids.