After innumerable attempts to restore contact with my three adult children, and receiving nothing but silence in return, I sent them each a letter regretfully telling them I was done reaching out. But if they ever need me, they need to remember that I love them with everything in me, and will be there for them no matter what, no matter where in the world I might be.
It felt so final.
But I needed to step out of their game because it was killing me. Quite literally. I’d ended up in the hospital on Suicide Watch once already from this estrangement, and I don’t EVER want to feel how I did that day.
I realized that as long as I kept reaching out to them and being repeatedly rejected, the pain was too much for me. The only way to protect myself was to let go.
It was hard. It still is hard. It probably will remain hard for a long, long time. Maybe forever. But at least I’m doing better now with fewer worries about being sent on that downward spiral again that tended to begin when I would reach out and be rejected again and again and again.
Here is most of the letter I sent to my children. It’s not the complete letter because I removed any identifying details, or anything that might be embarrassing or hurtful if their (or my) identity were discovered:
I am sending identical letters to each of you. In many ways I would rather touch on each relationship individually, but I want to make certain you’re all on the same page as far as what I have to say.
You are my child and I love you deeply and I always will. I know I have made mistakes as a parent while you were growing up. I know you must be in a lot of pain to want to cut off contact with me.
I would like to make amends in whatever way I can, but I realize that may not be possible. I would be willing to talk with you in-person or via email or whatever format works best for you, so you can share whatever you want or need to about the past if you think it might be helpful to our relationship, or bring you some relief, or give some sort of closure. I would also be willing to meet with a neutral family therapist, if you think that would be helpful. Pastor _____ mentioned to me that he would be willing to act as a mediator/facilitator of an initial family meeting, although as much as I appreciate his offer, I personally think a trained professional counselor would be a better option.
There’s nothing I want more than for you to be happy and healthy. It’s difficult, but I’m coming to accept that you don’t want to have a relationship with me at this point in time. It’s heartbreaking as your mother to not be able to see you.
But at the same time, if you believe it’s in your best interest to pursue this course of no contact, then I want to be supportive of your needs, and I don’t want to keep pushing. I will accept your decision if that’s what you have to do for your own well-being. I’ve also come to feel that sending cards/gifts on your birthday and holidays may be triggering. Until I hear otherwise, I won’t send cards, gifts, flowers, or make any other contact unless it’s absolutely necessary. Not because I don’t love you, but because I love you so much and want to be sure I’m not doing anything to cause you further grief or discomfort.
I want you to know that my door will always be open to you for the rest of my life. If you ever need me, anytime day or night, I will be there for you. You are always in my heart, my thoughts, and even in my dreams. I wish nothing but the best for you.
All my love always,
The idea to send this letter came after reading Dr. Joshua Coleman’s helpful book, When Parents Hurt.
I haven’t heard from any of my children since this letter was sent several weeks ago, but I honestly didn’t expect to receive any sort of feedback due to their “no contact” decision. I recently read that many children who have estranged themselves from their parent(s) consider any sort of attempted contact (no matter how infrequent or how friendly) from the parent as harassment, which was an additional factor in my decision to stop trying to connect with them.
Maybe rather than goodbye, it’s more a matter of Vaya con Dios. Anyone remember that song? The lyrics ring true for me today:
Wherever you may be, I’ll be beside you
Although you’re many million dreams away
Each night I’ll say a pray’r
A pray’r to guide you
To hasten every lonely hour
Of every lonely day
Now the dawn is breaking through a gray tomorrow
But the memories we share are there to borrow
Vaya con Dios, my darling
Vaya con Dios, my love
Vaya con dios, my darling children. May God be with you, my loves.
… and …. cue tears … 😦
~The Estranged Mom