I haven't spoken to my 32 year old son in 4 years. I still cry about it, especially during the month of the "sentinel" event. I still can't believe it actually happened. We'd had a good relationship, he'd been my 5:30 am company when we both got up for him for high school me work. We'd watch sports center, he'd always given me a great love you mom hug goodbye. It wasn't easy raising a son in a rural southern town who developed a passion for dance. But we (hubby & myself) supported, encouraged this as well as usual "boy stuff" baseball etc. We considered him our "well rounded kid". His sister who's 2 1/2 years younger supported & was proud of her brother too. He was mature enough to attend a big city performing arts HS/College senior year dually enrolled. Having him "leave home" at 17 was tough but a good opportunity for him & he made it a great experience and was trustworthy . This led to a college scholarship in performing arts, which he attended for 3 years until a kayaking injury derailed that career idea and while he was disappointed, he adjusted & adapted well, changing his focus to a study of alternative healthcare with a minor in performance art. We supported moves to 2 different universities, he always did well academically and completed his degree. During these last 2 years of study he wound up living in the same town as his sister, who'd chosen a University in that town before his decision to change majors. They had somewhat inconsistent contact as he was finding himself and she was adjusting to college life. My daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her sophomore year of college. I guess they'd had some rocky encounters with her excess drinking, but when she had her first big "meltdown" and wound up in a hospital, he frantically looked for her in "all the ER's around". I'm not sure what their initial contact was after that. But soon after I was there for 3 months (difficult months), of her getting sober, on the right meds, into therapy, staying in school etc. My son was supportive, but I know i didn't spend a great deal of time with him then as he was busy with school/work & lived 40 minutes from town. After getting sober my daughter apologized to her brother as one of her 12 steps of recovery. They seemed to enjoy an amicable relationship after that we did things as a family with their current respective partners. My daughter was supportive of him when he had a bad breakup with his girlfriend of 6 years. Shortly after the breakup, a girl "burst" on the scene at my sons graduate school. She was (unhappily) married, had just suffered a miscarriage at 5 months, was seeking a divorce and was emergently out of a place to stay. Although their relationship was very new, she moved in with him as she had nowhere to go (?), we were wary but have always tried to support our kids and not be critical of their choices in relationships. Interestingly, after 48 hours my son announced he was "kicking this chick to the curb" due to some bizarre behavior in the hot tub with another girl. While this was uncomfortable to me to hear,I told him to listen to his heart, sleep on his decision, as he seemed to be in a whirlwind of emotional upheaval. Boy, I wish I could take those words back!!! Well they "figured" things out, she moved in life went on. My daughter reached out to her socially, offered her classes that she taught (for free), etc. We visited and did family vacay time, but she did seem a bit overbearing and a total opposite of his previous girlfriends, very entrenched in his life. There were some weird episodes "I was knocked unconscious after you guys left me to ski down the hill" unwittnessed she seemed fine. We empathized but let it go. The really weird occasion was when they visited home as a couple. As usual we welcome our kids & sig others with open arms, had a "family & friends" BBQ so everyone could meet her, we are not a judgmental bunch rather very open loving and accepting as in "if you love her we do too". Well she "worked the room" in a big way touting herself as having completed a course of study we knew to be untrue to all our friends and the consensus opinion was "wow! she 's a bit over the top"! But again, everyone said, "but if he loves her...." She continued her conquering by visiting my sons half sister ingratiating herself & touting how "poor boy has to put up with that crazy sister". ???again most family blew this off. My sons graduation from his alternative healthcare degree approached (she was a year behind), and suddenly I was informed that my daughter his sister was not invited to the graduation ceremony. Mind you this is a kid that is so untraditional he didn't even walk his own HS grad as he was on a trip with dance group. After exploring why, he said "she hasn't really been part of my life lately & what if she acts out because of her illness?" His sister had been stable and sober for 2 years, she was even so balanced as to say to me "it's ok Mom I'll just peek in the back of the room to see him walk, I don't have to be there if he doesn't want me there" Well, even though I'd discussed this with him over the phone, I really didn't believe he'd dig his heels in on this, after all we were traveling 2000 miles to attend a graduation of 65 in a hotel ballroom, not a pomp & circumstance University. But again we were proud of his achievement and wanted to attend. I assumed this was a heat of the moment thing. I was also "reassured " by his girlfriend that "I shouldn't worry, and I should know I am invited no matter what" Her parents were also attending. Well an hour before the ceremony I said how can you claim to be entering a healing profession when you are "uninviting " your sister due to her illness???made no sense to me . He said if thats how I felt he didn't want me there either. I felt it would be a betrayal to my daughter to go, and I felt an undercurrent of the girlfriends influence at work. My "Switzerland, non confrontational husband said "Well I guess I'll go down and shake his hand" as I was curled up in a ball of tears on the bed. After offering a "it's him or me" my husband decided not to go. We cancelled the lovely celebration getaway of my sons & his girlfriends choosing. I spent a long day doing yard work at my daughters house I had a bum knee at the time while they went hiking. None the less, we went home a few days later shell shocked, but thinking he'd come around. I tried talking to him on the phone a few times saying I just didn't get it, & him saying "you just didn't respect my wishes". It didn't ring right, and our communication became less frequent and eventually he wouldn't speak to me at all. Yes I was hurt I told him so, I was also confused as to how he was going to be a healer if he felt like this, where had this intolerance come from? There had been no major altercation between he and his sister (according to both sources) but she was distanced as she felt negative vibes from the girlfriend. After 2 years of reaching out he was immovable & now considered the entire event my fault & he decided he wanted nothing to do with me. Again, my husband "switzerland" continued to try to broker peace but was met with a brick wall and it was then decided ok, if you don't want us as family, then there is no further family support, we'd helped with student loans cosigning on car loans, providing health ins. till he was settled in his practice etc. At 3 years I felt as though my son was dead to me without a body to bury or grieve, I can't listen to music we both loved, took his pictures down in the home as it pained me to see him, and I sought counseling as to what I could do. I tried writing, even admitting fault and seeking understanding from him as to what I'd done wrong. I'd stopped trying to call him, the only times he called us is if he needed $. My husband continued a tenuous relationship with him I think in the hope he would come around. He didn't. I finally again said, "its him or me pick" I told my husband he could continue a relationship with him but I didn't want to hear about any of my sons hardships or have him be reassured I was ok when I didn't have the courtesy of knowing how he was. I felt it was unfair for my son to have it both ways, he could hear how I was or wasn't but not have to deal with me or speak to me directly. My husband said he chose not to have an ongoing relationship with him and told him why, but again, my son to this day doesn't "blame" my husband for any of this trouble. Well as fate would have it the "girlfriend" graduated they opened a joint practice, that her mother provided business guidance for?? and after less than a year apparently the relationship went sour business and personal, she moved out and away and apparently left my son in financial ruin to the point where he declared bankruptcy. Did we find this out by his calling us? No we found out when we got a letter from auto finance co telling us as cosigners if the car was repo'd it was a negative on our credit or we could pay the car loan amount. After answering a text my husband sent him, he said yes he was broke, broken hearted, had gotten hurt & couldn't work. All this broke my heart but again, all he wanted was $$ help not a relationship. Reluctantly we did this to avoid ruining our good credit and luckily $4,000.00 later he started making his car payments again. No thank you, no nothing.The week of the 4 year anniversary of our non speaking, I "cheated" I admit it and admitted it in my text from his Dad's phone (he'd blocked my number from his phone a year earlier) I said I was sad, missed & still loved him & was sorry for whatever had happened, what could I do to repair? I was willing to attempt a fragile peace and slow contact upon his conditions. I promised tis would be my last attempt to contact him. His answer was to text my husband and complain about my harassing him, and to get me help and how sad it was that my husband had lost so much due to my obvious obsessive harassing behavior. And so much so that he was obtaining a legal order of protection against me. I have never physically confronted him, I haven't tried to contact him when I've visited the state where he & his sister live, I've not threatened him. I did feel it fair if he wanted to "sever all ties" that meant we wouldn't pay his health insurance or provide other financial assistance (we paid for both kids undergrad educations) & had paid half his grad school loans. I don't think this is harassment or abuse, he's 32 now healthy and working. I sent notices 4 times that I was afraid to leave him without health insurance, so I'd paid it but was now sending him the paperwork to continue it on his own (after 3 years)Sadly, it was 3 months later he hurt his back skiing and had no health insurance.

So now, I'm sitting around waiting for a process server to deliver me a notice of "oder of protection" or "restraining order against me". Not sure if I'm numb shell shocked or just so hurt & raw I can't stop crying. The other tough thing is he is the spitting image of my husband, whom I love, but even he says, "don't worry we'll just tear it up" & he told my son "well can't you see your Mom is trying to apologize & make amends for however she hurt you". This is making me crazy, my shrink says theres no better drug than what I'm on for depression for this. Additional counseling offered EMDR? some sort of PTSD reconditioning against painful triggers. Sorry I can snap a rubber band on my own wrist when I hear Dave Matthews on the radio. Not to belittle this therapy, but I don't think its the answer for me. Time? how much I feel like I die a little more every day of a broken heart. Thanks to whomever reads this for letting me ramble on, I'm open to any and all ideas.
Confusedinmanyways August 2014

Oh he also said his breakup/relationship with this girl had nothing to do with all this, but strangely his neighbors of 12 years said "that girl sure caused some hard feelings in the neighborhood" and "she kinda isolated your son from lots of us friends & neighbors & caused some disharmony around here". These comments were unsolicited, I had called a neighbor he was close to to make sure he was "ok" after I'd heard the girlfriend had left him.

confusedinmanyways confusedinmanyways
56-60, F
2 Responses Aug 30, 2014

Thank you so much for your story. I am hurting too and often times I just don't know what to do with my pain. I can't make sense of the estranged relationship that we have with our son. It's scary to think about how commonplace it has become for so many adult children dehumanize their parents and simply cut them off. I hope that eventually I will be able to bring peace back into my life.


I'm sorry you have lived through all this, it sounds stressful and sad, and wrong too. I also had estrangement from my second son, for things I never did, (he is 19), so I can relate to you. I am going to write about it on here, but first I want to read about other peoples situations so I don't feel so alone and can gain some perspective. One good thing did come of your situation, and that was the woman he was with finally left the picture. Like me you might just have to love your son and the memories of who he once was, while not having contact at this point in time - who knows what the future will bring. There is nothing you can really do when an adult who happens to be your child behaves this way other than be kind to yourself and realise you did your best at the time and are not what this child thinks you are at the end of the day. All the best, to you. Karly Maddison.

thanks for your message Karly, it's validating to know other people (so many) are estranged from their adult children. I am not sure if people are just more open in discussing this issue or if the problem is more prevalent. Yes the woman is gone, but boy did she cut a swath of destruction! It was so unlike my son to have a relationship that was so sudden, so intense and with someone so over the top. I think part of the problem may be that he experienced some real emotional devastation and can't deal with it (?yet) so maybe in time he may see the big picture. Right now I do have to forgive myself and just let go awhile, hard to do but maybe he needs to hit bottom. I appreciate your kind and caring words.