COPING WITH THE REALITY OF ESTRANGEMENT
Estrangement doesn’t get easier, but somehow I’m adjusting. I’m working very hard at having a full life of my own, one that has its foundations in loving compassion, decency, courage, gentleness and forgiveness.
My life has been forever altered by the rejection of my son and daughter in law. However, I choose not to be among the walking dead. I have decided to stop indulging my heartache to the point that it paralyzes me and results in endless grief.
I wish I had an explanation for their behavior. Maybe that generation grew up in a disposable society and they believe that people are disposable as well. Many of that generation have a sense of entitlement that was completely foreign to my generation. I was taught to make the best of my in-laws, to be polite and gracious. My son was taught this, also, but his wife is another story.
I often light candles for each of my grandchildren, my son and, yes, my daughter-in-law. I send them my love and pray for our healing. Then I let it go. It helps me feel a little better, but I know I am powerless over all of this. They are living their lives the way they choose to. I have lost the relationship I had with my son and have been deprived of the privilege of being a part of my beautiful grandchildren’s lives. This haunts me and breaks me apart, but I am working on attaining a kind of mindful acceptance.
Some days, I feel lost as I navigate this foreign terrain of estrangement. On those days, I search for a sheltering tree to protect me and ease my sorrow. This tree may be a friend I reach out to, a walk on the beach or playing Chopin on the piano.
I have more good days, now. I’m able to forget, at least for awhile, the unhappy reality that I’ve had to live with for so many years. I’m learning to relax, detach and let go. I still have a long way to go, but if I continue to do my best to focus on cultivating kindness, insight, compassion and above all, love, I think I’ll be alright.
Dr. Sally shares: It is interesting to keep up with Patrice and see how her story unfolds. I refer you back now to an insightful comment that she received on a previous post: “Grandparent Estrangement”
Hi Patrice: Your article is so well written and the subject matter tugs at my heart. So sorry for your loss and their loss as well. Patrice, remember that this too shall pass. Where there is a will there is a way. The following exercise has worked to melt the hardest of hearts. Here is a powerful exercise to do. I suggest that you look at photos of all your grand children, son and wife. Talk out loud to that photo often, say loving and forgiving things. Extend forgiveness to the adults. Make this a daily ritual. Say what comes to you. Leave out blaming them or yourself. Ask for guidance and grace from God, the Universe, or any other spiritual representative that offers you comfort. This exercise was used by a mother of a son who was captured by the imprisoned by the Nazis. She looked at a photo of her son that she had at home and talked out loud to the prison guard who was far away from home. She repeatedly spoke out loud to the prison guard about how lovely her son was and if he knew him better, he would agree. She calmly said “if you really knew him you would let him go.” While many prisoners where lost, her son was miraculously let go by the prison guard and escaped harm. Good luck to you. – Jo Ann Simmons, Love and Relationship Coach