Estranged adult son and granddaughter

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Siobhan Harper, May 28, 2013.

  1. Siobhan Harper

    Siobhan Harper New Member

    I haven't posted on this site for a really long time, because I found I was getting too down, reading all the other sad stories of parents. It was validating to know I wasn't alone but also very sad. I have chronic depression and anxiety, so I have to be mindful of what I expose myself to.
    I'm writing now to say nothing has changed...still no contact and it's going on a year. What has changed is that my husband has sunk into a pit of grief so deep I'm afraid he's never going to come out of it. He was seeing a therapist for awhile but stopped that, although he is still on depression medications. We used to be able to talk about our son and granddaughter, but now he has told me he doesn't want to even hear her name. I understand the feeling; I have told my family and friends not to bring up my son or granddaughter, that if I am able and want to talk about them, I will open the subject. But at least I had my husband. Now, I feel as though we don't even have each other.
    My husband has numerous physical problems (diabetes, coronary artery disease, to name a couple), and the stress of this grief has made everything worse. I feel as though he and I are just existing, waiting to die. Every now and then, I will find a new interest that distracts me and promises a little happiness, but he takes no interest in what I'm doing. On top of everything else, we have not had an intimate life for years, due to medical problems. Although I am middle-aged, I'm finding that I miss the intimacy. We love each other, even need each other, but life together after losing our son and our precious granddaughter has turned into one long waiting game. Sometimes, I contemplate just giving up.
    I'd appreciate hearing from anyone (male or female) who has gone through something similar and knowing how you handled it.
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I ams so sorry for your pain. I have not experienced this.

    Is husband taking anti-depressants?
  3. Siobhan Harper

    Siobhan Harper New Member

    Yes, busy wend, he is. So am I. Both medically supervised. Thank you for your kind words.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ah, I see he is an older adopted child. I adopted four kids and one at age six. I haven't seen him, except for one time when he was very abusive, in seven years nor have I see my grandson. I just focus on the other kids and my hub and friends. I make myself have a good life even without him. I don't think he ever really bonded to the family and there's nothing I can do to make him feel like we are really his family. Almost all older adopted kids have varying degrees of attachment disorder. They have been through so much, they just can't really attach to us.

    I don't talk about him normally. I don't even put him down in my siggy as a child of mine because, really, I don't think he feels he is and I never get to see him. It was very hard at first, b ut time is agreat healer. I t hink therapy would really help.Also, I know this sounds hard to do, but if you and your husband could start doing things that are fun together again, I think it would really help both of you.

  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Siobhan, I am so sorry. I have not experienced the kind of sorrow you are presently feeling, however, I have experienced much loss and experienced much grief. It must be very difficult to watch your husband deteriorate to the degree that he has physically as well as emotionally. The sense of powerlessness you must feel about your son, granddaughter and husband must be overwhelming.

    I know from my own experience that we have absolutely no control over others. Perhaps getting yourself into therapy to learn how to detach from the suffering and loss of others may help you to be able to find some joy in your life. Don't let yourself go down with the ship, you deserve some happiness and peace of mind. You've got a lot of loss on your plate, however, you can get beyond loss, I am an example of that, you can do it. You may need help in doing it because I believe it's a matter of feeling the loss to be able to let it go............and that hurts. But, if you can walk through it, perhaps on the other side, you might find a new life which will bring you meaning and hope and joy. Don't wait, it's a set up to wait for others to change............go have your life, find your way out of this deserve that...................don't give up, you never know what awaits you.............hugs..............
  6. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    No, no, no. This is all wrong. When I first read your post, I thought you were someone in her seventies. Having never been 50 before, you probably do think you are old. And you are older than you were at 30, or even 49. But trust me, fifty is spring chicken territory. What you are experiencing has to do with learning the survival skills you need to come through this horribly traumatic thing that has happened to you, and to your family.


    One of the most valuable things I ever did was to tell my husband that I needed him. I told him that I was so sorry these terrible things, these terrible, devastating, impossible-to-figure-out losses, had happened, to him, and to us. I told him I needed him to be a man, to be MY man; that I needed him to be the man who made me giddy when I was young, who cherished and protected and made me laugh all through those early days when we were young and foolish and oh, so in love.

    For oh, I don't know. A week? A month? Maybe longer? My husband was, like, "Of course I still love you." Or, "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm happy." Stuff like that. And then? One day, when I said again that I was sorry that this had happened to him, when I told him that I needed to hear him say that to me, when I told him that I loved him, that I was so proud of the man he is and was so sorry for his husband got tears in his eyes. The floodgates opened, and he started to talk about what all this felt like, what it meant, to him.

    Shortly after that, and to this very day, my husband tells me, when something very bad has happened again, that he is sorry, so sorry, for my pain.

    We can acknowledge that we suffer.

    We aren't isolated from one another by our suffering.

    We share the shame, the sense of loss, the simple hurt of it all.

    You will have to be the judge of how to go about this with your husband. Back when all the badness started for us, I responded by creating a whole different life. There are no two people in all the world more surprised that we did not go ahead and get a divorce than husband and myself. I had been a mom at home. My whole life revolved around my kids and my family. When this happened to us...I don't know how to describe it, really. I felt the failure was mine. PTA, Cub Scout den mother, Brownie and Girl Scout leader, Great Books leader ~ you name it, I was there. Parenting classes? I took them, read the parenting books, fed everyone healthy, home made foods. But somehow, this happened to us, anyway. My failure, right? But here's the thing. In my heart, I secretly blamed husband, too. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what I did wrong. So, it had to be something so secret, so awful, some horrible dysfunction that, between the two of us, we were too sick, or too toxic, to see.

    SOMETHING was wrong here, right?

    The shine was definitely off, in my relationship to husband. Though I went through the motions? He was no longer my hero, my MAN, my protector.

    I went back to school. He let me go (and paid for it). Know why? Because, in his secret heart...I wasn't so shiny anymore, either.

    That is what happens in our marriages, when we see everything we've created blasted away and we don't understand why.

    I've told you what it felt like to be me, as we lost the lives we'd created. But this is what I have learned from husband: Much as I did not feel he was my hero anymore? HE did not feel like a hero. He had not protected, he had not been wise enough to prevent the bad things, had not been smart enough to beat it and to come out on top.

    His life, and his self-image, were even more battered than mine.

    Secretly, he wondered what had really gone on at home, all those hours he was away, working.

    Like me, he felt cheated. He had done all the right things. How did this happen to him, to his life?

    I think that maybe, your husband wondered those things, too. If there was no way for him to understand and acknowledge the feelings, he internalized them and started taking them out on himself.

    And those are some really powerful feelings.

    And men carry them on some sub-verbal level. It's like they don't think about their perceived failures like we do, picking away at them until things make some kind of sense.

    Plus, women talk about their feelings. To do that, we have to make some kind of sense of them; men don't do that. If they do, it's more a release of rage or frustration or blame than it is a sincere effort to try to figure it out.

    I don't know how anyone else is going to feel about this. But, during the years when we really had so little to do with one another, when the last person either of us wanted anything to do with was the other one, my husband began a new tradition, at our house. Every day, at 5:30, I was to meet him in our own dining room. No television. No phone calls allowed. I could play music. I chose something different than what we listened to any other time.

    Know what I picked? Dean Martin.


    And my husband and I, pretty much strangers who disgusted one another because of the suffering and the questions each of us were addressing alone, year after chaotic, horrible year...would have a Manhattan, together.

    Every day.

    It was the only thing my husband would not let me get out of, during those years.

    Every day. 5:30. Happy Hour. Manhattans. Dean Martin. All by ourselves. Those were the rules. Then, we had dinner, and could have the rest of the evening to ourselves.

    And it worked. We stayed married, somehow. We got to know one another, trust one another, maybe even laugh, once in awhile. It got to be like, a happy spot, in all the darkness. Sometimes? Those darn Manhattans were so good, and Dean Martin was so romantic? That it got to be pretty hot times, at our lonely little house.


    That was all years ago. I'm making it sound so simple, when it wasn't. We didn't know we would stay together. Suspected we probably wouldn't. Somehow, neither of us wandered away from the marriage. Somehow, there was some little ember somewhere that got us both to try the Happy Hour thing. Before husband came up with that? He would do things like make romantic dinners beside the fireplace. Sweet, huh? It would disgust me. I know. How awful, right?

    True, though.

    There was just something about the no-expectations of that one or two drinks. Something sort of happy about Dean Martin, and we always put him on, first.


    I just wanted to clarify that the part about my husband opening up to me (and even, the part about me caring enough about the marriage to keep at it) happened years after the Happy Hour thing. From those private, happy times we created, we took the strength to declare our relationship good even though, somehow, our belief in ourselves, in the family we had created, had turned to dust in our hands. We just picked up from where we were, then. We didn't talk so much about the bad things. It was years later, when our son got into drugs and we lost our dreams for him too, that we were forced to go deeper, to be stronger. Man, when we think about what we've been through, when we think about everything that seemed so right going so wrong, I just can't believe we're still standing. But you know what? We are. And maybe, you can, too. Another thing I thought of after I'd posted this is that men in therapy...I don't know. You said your husband had been in therapy. Mine would never go. I did, though. I was in so much therapy, it isn't even funny. But it never really worked. I think husbands and wives are the only two people who can share and trust one another enough to risk sharing this kind of vulnerability, this kind of pain. You know, that heart-rending kind there isn't anything you can do about. But there is something about the sincerity of the connection between mated couples that enables compassion and healing and acceptance of the other person's value that a therapist could never give you.

    I wish you and your husband all good things.

    I sincerely believe there is a kind of white magic that can happen, that can somehow come to be, in a marriage.

    That would be love, right?

    It's still in there, for both of you, or you wouldn't have posted, here.
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What an incredibly powerful and beautiful post Barbara. I think you and your husband are very, very special people to forge that kind of bond out of so much suffering and darkness.......and.........I'm so so glad that you did....hugs...
  8. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I am 60 and when I read your post I also thought you were much older. I feel like I have a lot of life left to live and you have more than I do!!

    I had been in and out of a depression due to my life for a number of years. I am not a suicidal person BUT I started to think, is this all there is going to be to my life. I was in my 40's and THIS IS ALL I GET!

    I went on medical leave from my job and saw a therapist twice a week, she had me on anti depressants. After a few months I forced myself to take days walks. I was out for 6 months and went back a new person.

    My son was clean and sober for about a year and a half. Things were going well. He started a new relationship and now (in my opinion) he is worse than he was before. He has always been difficult and his father didn't help emotionally or financially.

    His lies, conns, all started over again, in my opinion, he was worse than ever. At first I was jumping through hoops to 'help' him, then after a conn to get money from me I just snapped. NO MORE!!!

    My son was threatening suicide and he cuts himself, so one day he may. He has gone NC with me for about 6 months now, no one in the family has heard from him, I have no idea where he is. So very sad for me. But, I had to step back and look at the situation, what it was doing to ME. They are adults, we deserve a life too.

    I can not control anything he does, so I don't try. I may never see or hear from my son again. I also know I can not continue with the relationship we had.

    I could not have more children after my first, my son was an unexpected joy, my miracle child, that he would treat me this way breaks my heart. It also has opened up my eyes to just how selfish and spiteful my child is!!!

    You can not make your hubby do anything, but maybe once you start doing things he will join. My therapist taught me the best way out of a slump is to get busy. Start exercising and start a journal, find hobbies you enjoy, read books, take a class. Do something for YOU. I am a people pleaser too and I have found after I started to really change my enabling and codependent habits I became happier with me. We honestly can not please everyone, so I try to please me! It's not selfish to take care of yourself, you deserve it.

    We did the best we could raising them, so now we have to let them go. Some days it is easier than others, just take it one day at a time. There are days that I take it hour by hour.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I went through this with Katie and the grandkids for 6 years.

    The only way I know how to put it is that we grieved for them as if they had died. It was the same process.........only a bit more complicated because we knew they were alive. (and I always knew their whereabouts because I kept track via computer)

    I took it hard, exceptionally hard. Up until the point where she had left I'd basically raised Kayla and while they were grandchildren, the bond was stronger. Fred took it much harder. He got furious. The level of his emotion alone told me how deeply he was hurting. He refused, flat out refused to talk of them for a period of years. That made it harder on me. But I had my family here........and that certainly helped. mother in law disowned Katie completely. Would not discuss it. She was done. Period. Her actions had turned her sibs world upside yeah.

    But as you grieve for anyone you've lost........over the years we began to heal and move on. Doesn't mean we still didn't love them or think of them at times. We even finally got to the point where talking about them didn't cause pain and we could talk about it again.

    It was Fred who balked at the reunification 5 yrs ago. And I do mean balked. Suddenly he was furious again. He stayed that way even when they literally arrived on our doorstep 3 yrs ago. It simmered down to where he could hold a civil conversation........but I think he passed away still furious over the way she unnecessarily hurt not only him but the rest of the family.

    I often find myself wishing of late that he was still here to see the progress being made.