A few thoughts on severing ties...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by witzend, May 8, 2013.

  1. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    There are often parents here who ask, "Should I sever ties with my child?" We as a group advise them the same way we do about taking away luxuries, telling them must leave "if", etc., "Don't say it if you won't follow through."

    Severing ties with your child is a longer journey than taking away a cell phone. I know that for me, L severed her ties with me long before I had had enough and accepted it and allowed the strings to be cut. I can think of several parents here who are in the process, and it is indeed painful to watch: the child who has said, "You never really were my parent, I don't care if I ever hear from you again" may or may not know that the parent is anguishing over letters or texts or cards to send. That (generic) child has severed the ties while that (generic) parent has not. This is how it started with L and I, and I eventually decided to get out of the triangle. Well, in fact it's quite larger than a triangle in my case, so I was parrying emotional thrusts from all over the place and never stood a chance of happiness.

    It's the best parenting decision I have ever made, and I don't regret it one little bit. I am at the end of my parenting journey with her, there are indeed some messes still to clean up, but that's just because they come to mind, much like you might think, "I left the front door open!" when you're going on a trip. I packed up what few childhood things of hers I still had, including the clothing and blanket she came home from in, and sent them to her when we moved. I told her I was sorry that I didn't get to share that with her children as their grandmother, and I am, but keeping in a relationship with her would not have changed my status. They're hers to do with as she pleases even if it is to toss them. I remembered, for example, a few weeks ago that L was still a 50% beneficiary in my will, something she knows. I have changed that to reflect that she and I have severed ties. It would be silly not to. This morning, I realized that she is 100% beneficiary on my Life Insurance should husband pass. Of course I'm going to change that. You don't leave a child $1 in a will and then give them $50k from Life Insurance.

    I've heard from someone that you are *very* sorry for my pain, and that you hope I will find peace. I don't know if any of the rest of you feel that way, but let me assure you I am in no pain. Is it uncomfortable from time to time? Yes. Things still come up and I still have to decide what to do. What I haven't done since I made this decision is lay in bed for a week and sob and wonder why life had to be so awful. I haven't been distraught that I don't have a mother or sister or daughter to call and chat with. That's the deal I made and that's the deal I'm happy with.

    I have always felt and still do feel that this was a place where not only was it safe to share my journey through life with the two difficult child's (if you had not read, M and I are slowly trying to repair our relationship), but also that I had somewhat of an obligation to share the stages that so many of you have wondered about in your own lives with your difficult child's. "Should I cut all ties?" It doesn't happen in a day, you know.

    So, while some of you may not agree with what I have done, the truth is I really couldn't give a rip. It does bother me that I have to fight this particular battle with parents here where I feel that while I might not be understood I might at least be supported. I certainly hope that my personal issues are not being discussed on any of the splinter groups on FB or elsewhere. I shared here and trust the confidentiality of the site. I am indeed at peace with my decision and made it through an entire year without crying over every single holiday and birthday. I am in no pain, so everyone can just set that particular worry for me aside. If I am, I'll let you know in no uncertain terms.

    As I have said before, severing ties is not for tourists. We all know that in our particular cases it is almost always the child who severs the ties, and maybe the parent lets go, maybe they don't. But you're either going to live there or you're not, it's not a vacation. If some of you think I'm a terrible parent for it, I guess it's a good thing that I am not asking for your opinion. I post because it's a part of the ongoing PE life with a difficult child that people genuinely struggle over and they should know what they're going to run up against.

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    No judgment here, Witz - I am so happy that you have found some peace!
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you have conveyed nicely over the years the process you have been through. I believe you are pain free and I understand it. But, having been here through it all, it might be easier for me to process it. Perhaps you are sensing from newer members that did not have the benefit of going through it with you that they don't accept it. I think it is all good.
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Witz, I'm with Busywend.

    It is good to hear the absence of pain in your words, after so many years of pain and heartache that you had to bear. Whatever steps you've had to take to get to that place have been the right ones.

    Many hugs, my friend.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Witz, thank you for taking the time to express your feelings to us, I appreciate it. There are so many stories here and so many hard choices we all make, I think the best possible solution would be one which gives you peace, regardless of what it is, if it offers you peace, then it is the right decision. I can't imagine for one second that this process has been easy on you; going through my own experience of letting go has been a torment unknown to me before. I can look a little down the road and my story may mirror yours at some point, I don't know yet, but as each day passes, I am further and further away from my daughter because of the choices she makes and my attachment to my own sanity and health.

    I did learn something from your posts too..............sometimes we just need to express, we don't need to have another offer suggestions or opinions............I think I've been guilty of that, jumping in to help when that is not what's been required or perhaps even desired. For me that's part of my own enabling stuff, the thing that got me tied up in this pickle in the first place.............ugh. Your previous post made me more aware of that and hopefully I can make a distinction between offering help when asked and simply listening and being there..........those lines get somewhat blurred for me at times.

    One thing that made a huge difference for me, just last week, was seeing my connection with my daughter just in terms of energy, so much energy going to her from me, no energy at all coming back from her ...................no balance, no giving and receiving, just one person continually giving. It took all the emotions out of it, it just is what it is, a more pragmatic approach which helped to lift me out of the sorrowful quagmire. Sometimes there really is absolutely nothing we can do but to get ourselves out.

    In any case, severing ties with our kids, however it goes down, their choice or ours, is just devastating and hurts like the dickens, but like you are feeling, there is some liberation and peace once a decision has been made. You've obviously put a great deal of thought into your choices and I'm very glad it's worked out well for you and you've arrived at acceptance and peace of mind. Your particular journey will help to support other parents who are facing similar issues...............
  6. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    No judgement here on my part at all witz. We ALL have to do what is necessary in our lives in order to be happy whether other people like it or not. I think you're doing the right thing for you. Who cares what others think? You're in a good place finally, you've let go of the hurt and anger, and you're moving on and living life! Good for you!!!
  7. Hopeless

    Hopeless ....Hopeful Now

    Witz no judgement here either.....in fact I think you have a strong head on your shoulders and are doing what makes you have a happy life.
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I have never had to do this with my children, but I have with my family (my mother and brother). I have no regrets either and have peace over it. No judgement here. I'm glad you are living your life with joy and peace. Everyone should have that, and whatever path it takes to get there is going to be different for everyone.
  9. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    As you know, I have had to walk away from my eldest. I just could not cope with her unending drama and lies just one.more.second. Have not spoken to her since last Mothers Day and when I went into the hospital again, we all did try to get ahold of her with a bunch of lame excuses why she never called -she didn't check her email, never got a voice mail, didn't see the message on FB. When SO did get ahold of her, she said she was busy and why should she come and see me since I had made Jamie and not her as executor. Said she supposed she could come maybe after work if she had time and SO lost it, and banned her from comming to my hospital room LOL I did see her right after I got out of the hospital - SO stopped at 7/11 to get me a soda, and she was there with a friend and two of the kids - just waived like I was some neighbor from down the street, and kept on walking.

    She has since sent me another FB request to add her again and did send me an email thru LinkedIn (why would you send a personal email there of all places) to tell me they were all doing good and Wyatt was wondering how his poppy was.

    I don't wish her any harm and once in a while wonder how she is doing - I just hope she gets her koi together - but I don't want to go thru all of her drama EVER again.


  10. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    I understand you.

    I think our individual life experiences and where we are emotionally determines how much we "get" the next person. What I expected my life as a mother to be and how it all played out as far as my difficult child is concerned, is completely so very different. If I hadn't lived it, I would never had believed any of this was a possibility. I truly thought that I would be walking in your same shoes and I was prepared to do so. Life changed for us and I didn't have to sever ties permanently. Our relationship is much better, but will never be the relationship I had dreamed I would have with my difficult child. It is doable though.

    You're in a good place when *you* are at peace with your decision, and it sounds like you are there. My "journey" with my difficult child has taught me to judge less, other people.

  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Witz, I think you have done and are doing a great job of handling the hand you were dealt. You are TOTALLY correct that the child often severs the ties first. Sometimes other people influence that, sometimes not. I want to thank you. Why? You let me know, years ago, that it really IS possible to cut ties with a family member and not have that used to beat you up forever more. You told me many times how nuts I was to allow my bro to abuse not just me but also my children and husband. You let me see that it is possible to get to a point where you are happy with your life and you don't have to let teh loss of loved ones who are not yet dead keep you in emotional pain.

    I am not yet where you are with L in my relationship with gfgbro. I do think of him, esp on days I speak with or see my folks. But it isn't the pain it used to be, I have very few panic attacks over it all, and you and others here let me see that the tdocs were totally correct. I WAS broadcasting all the right things to set boundaries and be honest in relationships, it was those receiving the messages who were messed up.

    I know many think you must be in pain to take L out of your will. I don't see it that way. Of course in my family we do think of inheritances differently. I know gfgbro wants the money and all the sentimental stuff. I wouldn't turn money down, but I hope and pray they spend as much as they can and enjoy every penny of it. If their wills read "being of sound mind and body, I partied away every last dime." I will be happy. I hoep you don't have to spend it all on healthcare and that you can enjoy life and spend what you have and never have to do without. If this means nothing is left, fine. If it means there is money left, I cannot think why anyoen would expect you to leave it to someone who cut you out of her life with deliberate cruelty regardless of how you tried to be there when she wanted you (or something from you, which really is all she ever came around for). I don't feel bad for your L. If she ends up hurt, well, she had more than decades to behave like a daughter and there is NOTHING that you did to her that deserved any of her nastiness. I do hope and pray that her father is very ill at the end of his life and ends up with the daughter he created as his main caregiver. He worked SOOOOO hard to make her what she is, I hoep he and his psychiatrist woman reap the benefits of her tender moneygrubbing care.

    other than that, I am glad you have peace and a life you enjoy. Someday all those people who have slung arrows and judged you and believed lies about you will have to face an accounting for their behavior and I strongly believe it will not be pretty.

    You came through the fire of serious awfulness and abuse and you know the truth of your life and have earned the peace and joy you now have. I am glad you have been here sharing the journey with me.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know how I feel. You can substitute me for L...lol.

    I think changing your location has helped you see things a whole lot more clearly. Im very glad that you are slowly working on working things out with M. That is going to be a long process and you need to take it slowly after all the pain you have been through with him too. It does sound like he is trying at least.

    I havent been in your shoes but I sorta feel like my parents rotated me badly. I have told you what my mom attempted to do but I fully believe that my father should have done more for me than he did. I thought he would have to be honest. I was expecting him to have had insurance policies for me and my boys. It really doesnt make sense for a man who was so financially sound to have done so little except to have put a small CD in both of our names. And he wasnt poor. He had a fairly significant estate. Im not talking millions but his house was completely paid for and his current wife was worth close to a quarter million because her mother had left that much money to her when she died and she paid for nothing during the marriage unless she wanted to do something for her kids. My father paid all the household bills. I really had expected him to take out life insurance at least through his work for me and my boys. It makes no sense that he wouldnt have left something for his grandsons...or even leave a will. Thats something that has really bothered me for a long time. I was told there was no will and I cant prove otherwise because he never told me there was. I just assumed there was considering he was married for a second time and there were now grandchildren, step children and great grandchildren in the picture. Personally I think my step-mother may have lied to me and that has made it hard for me to keep in contact with her since my father's death.
  13. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    No judgement here either. You did what was right for you and this is all that matters. The rest is just "garbage." I greatly appreciate you not only taking the time to share with us your experiences and feelings but also your honesty.

    It's people like you, who genuinely express their feelings, good, bad, controversial or not, that make this site a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom for so many of us. I know I've said this so many times already but it's worth repeating here. If it wasn't for this site, the people who've been there done that before me, and who were willing to put themselves out there in the attempts to help others, I honestly don't know if I would have been able to survive the worst years raising my difficult children.

    A thank you seems so simple but it's all that comes to mind. I owe you and many others so much in terms of helping me understand that I'm not alone, not losing my mind, that I deserve to be happy, to have a life of my own, free from the constant difficult child drama that was dominating my existence for way too long.

    Thank you... SFR
  14. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Witz---I so understand your choices. L made the choice easy with her choices.
    I learned years ago that the only person I can control is me. The only person I can change is me. Often I see people working their whole lives to change/alter/fix everyone in their lives. They live in a place where they believe if ____________ would only ______________, then I could be happy. I cry bull---I am happy because I love my life.

    My children are grown and are allowed to live the lives they choose whether I approve or not. If difficult child had chosen to follow the path he was on at 18, then I would have still loved him---but I would not have approved of his choices. What I have worked hard to instill in them is that their lives are their responsibility. I am there to listen, to offer advice, to loan money if I think it is necessary, but it is not my job to "fix" their problems. They have to make mistakes and face the consequences of those mistakes. As their mother, I will be treated with dignity and respect, and if they can't do that, then I still love them, but I will not allow them to treat me badly. I do not expect them to be perfect because I am able to recognize my own imperfections and still like who I am. I spent 6 months not talking to difficult child. It was not easy, but that time allowed him to grown as a man and allowed me to grow as a parent. He learned that I would not run to his rescue, and I learned that I didn't have to.
  15. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Everywoman, I needed to read your post today. Wish there was a "like" button, I would've checked it! Thanks.
  16. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Everywoman, ditto what Calamity Jane wrote. I copied your words into my quote book.


  17. Witz - You have no judgement from me either. You have my respect and admiration for the battle that you have fought.

    I have only been on this board for a little over a year but I do remember reading about your difficult child getting married and the horrible things that were coming from her and I believe her dad at that time.

    You have fought a long, hard battle, I'm sure. Now you have just decided to stop participating in the fight and live your life with joy and peace. Good for you!

    I'm not there yet with my difficult child although he has really made it very clear that he has severed his ties with us (unless he wants something, of course). He is still young and I'd like to give him the time that you gave your difficult child to mature and change his thinking and behaviour. In the mean time I see my husband and I moving towards the same place you are in if something here doesn't change.
  18. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    You know what you needed to do, and you did it. Good, I'm glad this decision has brought you peace. I would have done the same thing. hugs.
  19. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Food for thought, Witz. Excellent post.

  20. Jody

    Jody Active Member


    I am estranged from my mother, mostly her decision, but I think after 20 years we are both at peace with the decision. I know I am. lol. We go along and make up our own families, people who really want to be family. No judgement here from me. You get to decide what you want to leave to whomever even if it's a stranger if you want. It's yours to do what you want with. You get to decide who you want in your life. I never knew it to be any other way. I hope that difficult child and I can have an adult relationship but if not thats just the way it's going to be. Happy life or miserable life, I'm looking forward to some happiness myself. Sounds like you are too.