Many parents are currently estranged from their adult children. From what I’ve read, this is a growing, “silent epidemic.” We parents and grandparents have been inexplicably blocked from seeing our grandchildren, and we feel as if we’re trapped in a hellish nightmare.
How do we accept estrangement when it hurts so much? How do we go on when our hearts have been broken?
My desire for a relationship with my son became one sided. It became progressively difficult to communicate with him because he was stressed and angry. He couldn’t deal with his wife’s complaints about me. I did my best to be a reasonable, benign presence, yet the problems persisted. The insanity of it all brought me to my knees. At one point I prayed for just one day without tears.
I have spent many years reading extensively on the subject of healing. One of the most important things I have learned is that we must accept “what is” when we are powerless to change it. The reason is clear: by arguing with reality, our minds and bodies contract and we make ourselves miserable. When we choose to bargain with reality, we only torture ourselves. Things ‘should’ be different; we’ll be happy if only our child would be nicer to us, visit us, call us…
During this ongoing grieving process, I have come to understand the futility of trying to change the situation with my son and daughter in law. I did everything I could to bridge the chasm and have a meeting of the minds. Sadly, when my daughter in law refused to communicate with me, I realized that the only, or at least the healthiest choice I could make was to accept it and let it go.
Acceptance is vital to the process of healing and recovery. I have learned that I can’t be happy if my happiness depends on someone else, because I would always be at their mercy. We’ve heard it many times: peace and happiness are only possible and attainable if it comes from within.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that I approve of what has happened. However, since I can’t change anything, I have to learn to detach. I hope that these circumstances will improve, but in the meantime, I am doing my best to practice acceptance.
I remind myself many times a day that, “This, too, shall pass,” but for now, I am still here, I am still breathing and I have worth. Maybe there is a higher purpose to all this. Maybe I can just relax and trust that all will be healed one day.
“… Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
How special that Patrice has taken the time to share her healing process step by step in our “Be My Guest” section. If by any chance you missed Part I of her story, you can find it right here at Grandparent Estrangement.
~ Dr. Sally