Hearing Robyn aka @almost_eveything_off_ebay talk of being ‘Estranged from her Mother’ stopped me in my tracks. Of course I knew what estrangement was, but had never met anyone who described their relationship like that. My mind boggled as I tried to fathom how that might impact you as a person, here Robyn gives a glimpse into how it’s shaped her outlook.
· Just because someone gave birth to you doesn’t mean they’ll be equipped to mother you and that is no reflection on you
· I’ve been estranged from my mother for two years now. That’s our longest period of no contact though there’s been a year here and there throughout my adult life
· I never had a conventional relationship with her– she had me at nineteen and left us when I was nine
· Both my parents were addicts but there was a gulf between the way they parented – my dad is warm and supportive and effusive. My Mother is cold and manipulative and unpredictable – she can be affectionate just to take it away in an instant
· I was desperate for her to like me as a child, I still carry that with me but it’s not the focus of my life anymore
· My first memory is of my mum holding me by the neck in house when I was about four. That was a treat to confront in regression therapy. She was physically abusive until I was in my early teens and continues to be mentally abusive in unpredictable bursts.
· The legacy of abusive is both positive and negative: I like to think I’m pretty emotionally intelligent as I learned to read people young but I suffer with anxiety as I was constantly on high alert
· She has never been this way with either of my siblings. I’ve found that to be the case with lots of my friend’s who’ve had similar experiences. It helps to make the victim feel like it’s their fault, I think
· Part of the reason she hasn’t been this way with my brothers is that having me was the thing that robbed her of the future she’d hoped for.
· An unwanted child being born is not something that child should be punished for. Also saying ‘I wish I’d had an abortion’ repeatedly isn’t kind. She already knows you wish that.
· It took until my mid-twenties to get to a stage where my whole life wasn’t defined by being the child that wasn’t good enough for a mother to love.
· When my amazing Nan died, who I’d never really realised had been my mum in all the important ways, I realised I’d been focusing on the wrong person and that was overwhelmingly freeing.
· My husband also came into my life in my early twenties and showed me that people can be reliable and nurturing and forgiving and patient. He made me hopeful that we could make a new, incredible family of our own.
· I created my own rag-tag bunch of pals and we were therapists and confidants and people who would sit you on their knee when you were coked up off your tits at 2am and stroke your hair till you stopped crying cos your mum didn’t like you. They were unconditional and constant. They still are even if they aren’t the main players in my life anymore
· So all these things came together to provide a weird emotional scaffolding and I started to be able to say no to my mother and take periods of estrangement when I needed them
· One was when she tried to leave Jamie and I to take the fall for her cannabis factory when an electrician clocked some dodgy wiring but that’s another list entirely
· I’ve painted a horrible picture of my mother but the truth is when we aren’t estranged and she’s not being a dick she is funny and clever and beautiful – she is a woman you’d gravitate to at parties
· That said she’s 100% a narcissist. She believes her own stories. She thinks the world is against her. She cannot remember (or maybe consciously acknowledge) the majority of things she did to me. But narcissists are all the things I listed above – charming and fun to be around and playful – that’s part of the problem
· This particular period of estrangement is the longest and has been the hardest as it feels more permanent
· Don’t ever think that estrangement is easy. It isn’t. It’s making a conscious and considered choice that’s in direct conflict with what your heart is screaming at you to do. It’s putting on your oxygen mask before you put it on the baby
· This time I can’t see a way back because she took it too far and I don’t know if that’s that I’ve reached my limit or what she’s done is unforgivable – it’s hard to get any perspective on it
· Six months ago she told my brother she didn’t know who my dad was (something she’s alluded to a lot when she feels she’s losing control over me) because she’d been raped. We’re fairly sure that’s a lie but if not she spent my late teens weaponising rape to use against me and I can’t deal with either scenario
· One helpful element to this is my family are finally on board with me being no contact which is really helpful
· It broke my heart when my dad and uncle said ‘if that were true, she’d have already used it against you’
· I think about her dying and not being there
· I think about reconnecting and how I can’t take the risk because I know how damaging she is
· I don’t actively miss her. I must want to call my nan three times a week, there’s not much I miss about my mum because I know very little about her as a person.
· A big part of me choosing not to have kids is I see a lot of her in myself and can’t risk putting all that on another person. Knowing that there are elements of me that are so like her is hard to admit. I am impatient, have an explosive temper and can be really fucking hurtful.
· That said I love the comfort that people who’ve been estranged have got from creating these new wonderful families for themselves. It’s a beautiful, redemptive thing
· It’s important to know there is no shame in being estranged – you aren’t being cold or selfish. Someone has made it impossible for you to accommodate them in your life because of their behavior towards you. That’s their fault.
· When people don’t get it I say ‘what would you say if she was my husband’ and it tends to click
· An astonishing amount of people understand and are in the same boat, there’s a sad little comfort in that. That you’re not alone. Not that you wouldn’t wish it away for them in a second
· Some people will stick with the ‘she’s your mum/he’s your dad’ line even after you’ve explained the situation. Don’t pay them any mind – they’ll have their own reasons they can’t digest what you’re saying
· Nothing is final. You can go no contact and then reconnect if it’s right for you. Everyone has the right to change their mind. Just do what’s best for you in this moment
· No one should ever make you feel difficult to love and if someone persistently does then maybe there isn’t room for them in your life
· There are lots of useful forums on estrangement – Sali Hughes has one on Facebook which is really helpful
. There are also more books than you could read in a lifetime on the subject
· In the end you know better than anyone else what’s right for you.
Thank you for sharing you list, Robyn. The replacing mother with husband tip is a good one.
Thank you for sharing. I am close to finally cutting contact with my mother. I should have done it years ago but felt the weight of cultural expectations was too heavy and I regret it everyday. My mother is a criminal guilty of one of the more unforgivable crimes but unfortunately has now cast herself as the pillar of her community. She beat my sister and burned me for bedwetting. When she is around I cannot have peace, I cannot have joy. She has continued to verbal abuse and harass me in my adulthood and has now targeted my one year old daughter as an extension of me. I was not brave enough to stand up for myself but I will stand up for my baby.
I so hope you get the courage to put up the barrier between you and your mother. I can’t imagine what you have been through, but as a mother I know you would never let your daughter be subjected to it too. Best of luck for the future and I hope you finally get some peace in your heart.
Robyn, I love you.
Thank you for this. I’ve been estranged from my dad on and off for about 12 years now. Many people don’t understand but you sum it up excellently here. Thank you
I’m on the other side. My daughter as been estranged from me. She decided 4 almost 5 years ago to cut me out of her life. Previous to this I had decided to end the relationship with her father and leave the family home. It was decided that the children would stay with their Dad as uprooting them again wasn’t an option. We had already moved 12 times in their short lives. We lived a 2 minute walk from school and they had a good network of friends. After a year we found a good routine where the kids would come and stay with me and my new partner. During this time I suffered three miscarriages each time being later on in the pregnancy. At this time my relationship with my children became strained as I struggled with depression. My ex had remarried and him and his new wife were trying also for a baby. When I became pregnant for a fourth time I decided to give up work and take things easy. It was the most awful pregnancy. I suffered from severe sickness being sick up to 20 times a day. I didn’t leave my bedroom for 3 months. I was unable to see my children or have them stay over. This is where my ex and their step mum upped their campaign of hate towards me after suffering from a failed IVF attempt. My daughter decided to leave me with an ultimatum that if I didn’t travel to see her (their dad had shortly after I left moved my children an hour away from me) then she would never see me again. I did of course agree but my partner stepped in and said no that he wasn’t prepared to drive me as I was putting myself and our unborn baby at risk. The fall out from this decision was heartbreaking so much so I ended up in a mother and baby unit for 2 weeks at 28 weeks pregnant. I was whilst in the unit still receiving nasty messages from my daughter saying what a useless mother I was and how her step mum had been a better mum than I ever was this bearing I mind I had never had a problem or even a falling out with my children for the whole of their lives. I had been a stay at home mum from the birth of my eldest for 16 years. We had been a happy family up and after I left their Dad until he met their step mum. Throughout the whole of my pregnancy my children from my marriage sent me disgusting messages and not once did I reply in unkind only telling them that regardless of how they felt I loved them so much and missed them and how my heart was literally broken. I’m pleased to say that we had our rainbow baby but due to what my children had said I believed them that I was a bad mum. I mean what kind of mum leaves their children even though I thought it was in their best interest? I tried so hard to enjoy my baby but still was dealing with nasty messages from all three of my children. The fallout of the estrangement or parental alienation as my care co ordinator called was that I had a months stay in a psychiatric unit. My heart has never nor never will recover from the pain of losing my daughter. I have missed her prom, birthdays, Christmases and now she is off to university. I am so proud of her but I can’t tell her. I love her so deeply but all she feels is hate. I have pleaded with her time and time again to please let me see her but she will not. Luckily I have a fantastic relationship with her brother and sister and also with my now 4 year old but there always feels there is this little bit of joy missing in my life.
My heart broke reading this. I’m really sorry. Hoping and praying for the best for you.
You are so unbelievably brave. I truly believe that you can choose your family and you should defend your own happiness with all of your being. Ultimately you are the only one who can do this. I’ve been estranged from my sister for 5 years now following a toxic relationship between the two of us. After we had a physical fight, it finally clucked that I needed to protect the life I had cultivated and the happiness in it from her. We now both have children and I live in a new home and I wish to protect that information from her fervently.
You do not need to carry on a damagingly relationship because it is what is expected of you. It is natural to mourn for a relationship that could have been but having a relationship with someone is a privilege to be earned and not a right.
When I made the choice that my happiness came first, I was truly able to be free.
Thank you Robyn. So many things you’ve said ring true with me. I’ve been estranged from my Dad for five years now, although I have made some half hearted attempts to reconnect with him, he has never responded. He’s missed out on my wedding and the birth of his grandson and I only found out from Facebook that his sister had died, months after. Most people I speak to don’t understand the estrangement, especially friends who have lost their own father. But the person who I’m closest to, my husband, and my mum both understand how toxic our relationship was, my mum went through it herself. I’ll can’t say that I’m not open to speaking with my dad, but more importantly I don’t feel that there is anything missing from my life either. In fact I’ve never been more at peace!
This list is the closest I’ve ever come to not feeling like the only one. I made the same choice to protect my heart and mental health when I was about 22, seven years ago. Whilst I know the decision was the right one and I don’t miss my Mum. I miss the idea of one pretty regularly. As a student midwife I see women becoming Mums and Mums becoming Grandmas which is beautiful but sometimes tricky for me to process.
Thank you for sharing your story, as many have mentioned, this really rang true X
So wonderfully written Robyn, thank you. Knowing that others (so sadly) are estranged from their mothers is strangely reassuring. I’ve been estranged from my mother for around 2 years and now expecting my second child I’m wavering in the strength the continue with this. You capture how it can be so much harder to take the decision to cut someone out then to continue to accept their behaviour and the negative impact this has on your being, it is in my opinion much harder to do the former. This way I’m having to be selfish and put my needs first instead of hers, most importantly I’ve made this decision as a parent to demonstrate to my daughter that you do not have to tolerate someone treating you in such a way. I’ve used the analogy of would I accept it if it was my husband and it absolutely makes people stop and think. Beautifully written, thank you
Thank you for sharing, this is literally my mum and me. Relate to everything you say, but, although I am like my mum in so many ways, I believe I can have a healthy and loving relationship with my future child. Good luck to you and stay close to your amazing self!
My best friend is estranged from her mother. Thank you for sharing your story to help me be a more empathetic friend to her. You are very brave and I hope all the joy and peace you deserve comes your way!
I read a really helpful book by Danu Morrigan
‘You’re Not Crazy – It’s Your Mother’. It was like reading about my entire life. Realising that all those things that your Mum did/does had an explanation really helped me process my feelings and accept the situation.
I feel more at peace. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have ‘one of those mums who’…but I’ve come to accept that that person does not exist and never will.
Many people cannot compute the concept of choosing not to have your mum (both parents in my case) in your life. But my support system, friends, siblings and husband are ‘my people’ They understand. And for me that is enough.
Thank you for bringing this mostly unacknowledged subject some much needed attention.
Finally, I found this website helpful too
So well written, I’ve been estranged from my Dad for 8 years now – he’s never met my husband or children.
I met my husband 4 months after I walked away and honestly believe we would never have worked if I hadn’t reached that point where I drew a line and finally accepted I was worth more.
I’ve often used the husband/parent analogy too and find it really powerful.
Well done for being strong, well done for taking it a day at a time and well done for realising your worth ❤️ x
I recognized myself in your list. We were estranged for more than 10 years. I fid not miss her, I wondered if I’d go yo her funeral if she went to pass away. She wasn’t there during those character building years, meaning that when I decided to contact her again about 2 years ago, she did not know me and I did not know her anymode. I wanted my son to know both his grand-mothers. She’s more an acquaintance than family and I am ok with that.
Thank you for sharing your experience xx
Thank you thank you thank you. Some days I feel so selfish but I am not. I don’t deserve to be made to feel less than.
How do I start a blog? I just got a new account on Yahoo but don’t see where to start writing.?