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Hi James and all, I am new to this forum. My husband and I are both experiencing disenfranchised grief due to estrangement from our adult son who is 26. We have been together for 32 years.
While it is not a custody situation and there is no vengeful ex, I believe I can relate to James’s feelings.
My husband is not comfortable talking about it and that just makes it harder.
A few years ago my husband went through a difficult patch. We both had stressful jobs, or youngest daughter was suffering from a serious and debilitating illness and we were trying to cope with my husband’s ptsd. He had been exposed to alot of trauma in his job over the last 32 years. While we always put our family first and worked hard, our daughter illness burned us out. This led to tension and conduct which triggered my husband’s ptsd.
Our son was way at uni and hadn’t lived at home for some time. There were a few occasions where we spoke on the phone when he expressed issues with his dad. He blamed his dad for being up with his girlfriend when he was 18 and for the issues in our relationship. He asked me if seeing a counsellor was a good idea and I supported him.
Sadly, our son came to me and said he wanted to cut his dad out of his life. I told him I would never advocate that as a solution, that he would hurt more than just his dad, he would hurt all the people around us and himself most of all.
A couple of months later, my husband and I had an argument. He then had a meltdown which left me distressed. My daughters came their brother. The sound of his voice made me feel instantly comforted and safe. Unfortunately, he then told me he was going to follow through with his plan.
He came home the next weekend and told me that if I wanted to have a relationship with all my children, I had to choose in that very moment to walk away from my husband, my home and my life and he would support me to do a financial settlement but i want to cost him for anything else. He was not there to support me and didn’t want to know if i was upset because he had his career to focus on.
If I didn’t comply, he would cut me out that same way as he was about to do to his Dad. That was the price I would pay.
I was too fragile and shattered to even cope with what he was saying. To me, it was like a nightmare and I literally crumbled on the floor in tears. I felt isolated, alone and destroyed with noone to advocate for me or support me. My daughters seemed unable to negotiate with him too.
In the weeks that followed life became hell. My husband was angry at me for my sons actions and my son was angry at me for not complying as well as angry at this dad.
Trying to cope with this on top of the heartache of my marriage almost broke. Inmy darkest, loneliest and most excruciating times, I was alone, except for my dog. I was not a burden to my son. I didn’t call him to cry or be needy. It was hard but somehow my husband and I have been able to work through all this and we are truly happy to be together. Our biggest problem is our estranged son.
Fast forward 18 months and he is hostile, disrespectful and rude if I dare even send him a text message. He has alot of contact with or friends and family who are now trying to keep it secret. He willingly tells off his sisters for not knowing enough about what’s going on in the family but refuses to talk to us. He told his sisters that if they upset him, he’ll cut them off too, just like he did to mum and dad. It is like emotional abuse on top if the grief for the lost relationship with our son. I am allay waking in eggshells with our extended family and friends because I am losing trust in them. It seems noone will call him out on his behaviour.
The pain is with me always and doesn’t really subside. I try to distract myself, do grounding exercises to get through difficult moments, all the usual strategies but the pain of loss never goes away. If I’m awake, it’s there. It’s getting worse lately because our son has taken to hanging out with friends and extended family and even his sisters but not us. It is leaving this people uncomfortable around us. The longer he drags things out, the darker the shadow cast over is as parents and the more isolated we feel. After having been so close and making so many sacrifices for our children, and striving to be good parents when we had no support, it is gut wrenching and heartbreaking. I’ve spoken to a psychologist who told me to tell him how hurt i am, call his behaviour out because it is coercive control, emotional blackmail and a host of other things. It didn’t work. He just upped the ante without remorse. We’re shattered and sometimes it’s hard to just be awake ley some function. Not sure that anyone can help but if anyone takes the time to read my post, I will be grateful.