Now watch, those in here will leap upon the idea that I should have estranged or, that's why my daughter estranged and call me a narcissist, swear or yell "toxic" out and try to tell me that I'm the reason my daughter is the mess that she is. Have I got a story for those who will! There is a time when some have to, like I did, because my sister was so verbally and emotionally abusive and toxic that after years of trying and talking to her about it I HAD to. But to claim it is typical is false. What if there is PAS, or a child who is a narcissist, a bully or has mental health issues, or an emotionally weak person who gives in to jealous spouses.
There are a myriad of other reasons. Therapists would serve their clients better to get a full picture and encourage communication and boundary setting skills before taking their clients claims on face value and recommending cutting off loved ones. The only thing estranging does is to teach people one way of dealing with the difficulties of relationships which is cut and run. My daughter supposedly got a life coach; as a therapist who listened to the made up stories and told her if we couldn't come to agree with the wrong perception of her stories, then she should go on with life and cut us out.
I looked up that coach online, she had no credentials outside of her dad having been a therapist so the advertising highlighted her growing up with a psychotherapist, therefore I guess that made her qualified to give life changing advise! This was in BC Canada. But family suffering the loss lives in the USA. Unfortunately this article does not explain how to conduct a family estrangement. It merely offers an alternative. I find this a very biased article. This article offers no valuable solutions, and only supports family estrangement without talking about how damaging it can be to the estranger as well as the estranged.
I think the good Dr. I thought this article would help me cope with being part of the family rejected. I'm the only sister to the sibling doing the estranging. I was the last one to be rejected and pushed away, but it happened, in the end.
But now I'm left with more questions. Was I abusive? A neglector? An exploiter? Was my refusal to just "pretend our fight never happened" and instead insist on confronting the core issues considered aggressive and unnecessary? Should I keep pressing for communication?
Should I just let him push me away? Which response shows more love and respect, in the end? Can I even honestly say that I would have time to dedicate to repairing this relationship? It's long-distance and sporadic at the best of times, let alone when feelings are strained. All I know is that I hate being on this side and I miss being able to communicate with him, however infrequently. But I'm tired of running in the same old circles and having the same old fights.
I blame this hatred on my mother's husband she married after my father passed. One of my brothers married a gal who hated me from the moment we met. My youngest sister who was my friend, until I had a serious talk with her about her laziness is a contributor. The powerful are the first 3 I mentioned. Reading your article about estrangement was good for me, thanx. Before reading it, I decided I need to expose their hatred of me, because it is so cruel, They R trying to change my reputation. The "world" their network needs to know what frauds they are.
I told her I needed to get away from her and her hateful children. If you read these notes, what do you think? Go figure a person who leaves off of others problems,decides to write a estrangement page and suggests going to get therapy. Listen people therapy is a joke and these doctors, social workers, etc need you more than you need them.
You want to get help you need to learn to help yourself period. Just be strong and think of ways to better yourself but don't waste your hard earned money and time on these jokers ever. It's so sad to see just how much an article on the topic of family estrangement causes a vicious attack from some of the people making comments.
It's also sad to see just how polarized the comments are in nature. Still, I suppose that's the way it may always be. I can only surmise that different people have different experiences, and thus perspectives, and want to give their own point of view. Personally and this is just a personal view I tend to believe that estrangement happens for a variety of reasons, because all families are different, and thus reasons for estrangement when it happens will be different.
In some families, it may be a child who breaks off contact with parents, in other families parents may cease contact with a child. Some families may have an all-out estrangement where a person who ceases contact wants nothing to do with the whole family - including any siblings, and extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. Other families may see estrangement occur between a couple of members, but this may not extend to everyone.
As I said, families are different. Reasons for estrangement may differ, too. In some cases, abuse may definitely be the reason. It is sad, but true, some parents and step-parents CAN be abusive of their children, and this can lead to a child wanting to end contact with them. Abuse may take many forms, including sexual, physical, and emotional or neglect.
In some cases, a child may experience several types of abuse from their parent at the same time. I would add that domestic violence is a form of abuse, and that children who witness domestic violence even if it is not towards themselves may still grow up feeling that their home environment was abusive. Children who experience or witness abuse will naturally have a difficult relationship with their parents explained in more detail below and some may choose to end contact.
Other causes for estrangement can include family problems such as drug or alcohol issues, criminal activity, mental health problems, or learning disabilities. These issues may affect any family member - so it could be a parent, their child, a sibling The sad thing is that once a family member has a problem that causes them to behave in a way that makes them "different", or "challenging " e. The person with the problem I hate using that word, but what else can I call it in this context?
Often, such people require extra care, support and time. This can lead to feelings of stress and pressure within a family, and sometimes other family members end up resenting the one with the problem. This could lead to estrangement. Or, certain family members simply end up feeling "burned out", and no longer desire contact with the person who makes them feel this way. Caring for a mentally ill parent, or a child with learning disabilities, or a spouse with drug and alcohol problems can be exhausting on both a physical and emotional level.
Likewise the constant worry about a relative who is involved in criminal activity. I doubt that any family wishes to see a family member go to Prison, so it is to be expected that in families where someone behaves in a criminal way, other family members could find this stressful, frightening, upsetting Or, it could be that the person with the problem cuts themselves off. For example, a family member who goes to Prison could end up so ashamed they are afraid to have contact with the family. Or a mentally ill relative could be so disturbed as to lose touch with reality, and find it near impossible to have relationships with others - even family members.
Perhaps relatives who have drug or alcohol problems also become wrapped up in their "own world" because addictions to drugs and alcohol can have mind-altering effects. Again, they may end up losing contact with other family members because they are so profoundly damaged, and so consumed with their addictions. Sadly, some people are judgmental or competitive by nature.
Imagine having a person like this as a relative! Just, for a moment, imagine how you might feel if, for example, your parents were constantly judging you Every meeting with them lead to comments such as "Well, I don't think at your age you should be dressing like that. You look like a tart", or "Goodness, haven't you got too thin. You must be anorexic", or "We never told you to become a hairdresser. No wonder you never seem to have any money", or "You've only yourself to blame for not having any children.
I warned you that career women were selfish, and look at you now, childless in your thirties" They tend to be critical and fault-finding in nature - everything you do will come across as flawed or wrong. Judgmental people tends to believe always that their judgment is right, their views are right, and they always know best. The sad thing is that they leave the person on the receiving end of their comments feeling stupid, belittled, demeaned, hurt, offended and in the wrong. That person may spend an eternity trying to please or appease the judge, or may dread having contact with this constant critic.
Eventually, listening to judgmental comments could lead to a person losing their self-esteem, and starting to believe that they are worthless. Sadly, the people they judge never seem worthy of their love. Is it any wonder, then, that when faced with a judgmental family member, the person being judged may choose to cut off contact? Competition in families is, like judgmentalism, unhealthy.
And, like judgmental people, competitive people are both nosy and insensitive. Just like a judgmental person, a competitive one will want to know every minute detail of your life - but for different reasons. They may not wish to judge, but they DO wish to always come across as "better". The sort of comments you may hear from competitive relatives include things like, "So, you've moved house! Well, we're moving too, and our house will have four bedrooms, not just three like your's", or "What do you do for a living?
How much are you earning? Well, I earn mega-bucks! Yeah, well, I got engaged too, and I've already set the wedding date. I'm gonna have a huge dress, top hats and tails, a Rolls Royce, owls carrying the rings, firework displays, eight bridesmaids, four ushers, and it's to be princess themed. By the way, look at my engagement ring. Six grand it cost. Six grand! What's yours worth? Competitive people are sad.
A letter to ... My brother, who wasn't there
They are. Perhaps they have an emptiness inside, or a deep sense of inferiority that means they must constantly boast to other people. They are desperate always to know what others have, or do, because they cannot bear the idea of anyone having, or doing, more or better than them. Competitive people make themselves feel important by putting others down. Relationships with competitive family members, just like with judgmental family members, can feel strained, uncomfortable, intrusive and emotionally draining.
Both judgmental and competitive family members can be so obsessed with knowing the details of other people's lives as to come across as stalkers. Contact with them may leave a person feeling worn out, nerves frayed, irritated, upset, bored, intruded-upon, or insulted. These people are like emotional "vampires" draining you of self-esteem as they belittle all your accomplishments and talents. Surely it is obvious why somebody might choose to cease contact with them? The issues that some judgmental or competitive family members display could be suggestive of deeper problems.
It is possible that in some cases their behaviour may be prompted by disorders such as OCD, Narcissism, Sociopathy, Psychopathy, or some sort of Personality Disorder. Whilst it may be true that each and every one of us makes judgments of others at times, and whilst it may be true that in life all of us have to compete when situations demand it, to behave like this ALL the time is surely not usual. Behaving in an excessively judgmental way is suggestive of intolerance and prejudice. You are judging people long before you even know their full circumstances. At its worst, this type of judgmental behaviour can turn into things like racism, homophobia, sexism Behaving in an excessively competitive way may be symptomatic of either extreme arrogance and vanity i.
How do you relate to people like these? How do you relate to a person whose view of the world is skewed, and whose "reality" is not a healthy reality, and will certainly never be your reality? How do you argue with that? How do you make sense of someone whose "reality" is so radically different from yours, and is also affected by unhealthy experiences, views or feelings of their own?
Especially as such people will probably never disclose to you what is unhealthy about themselves. I mean, a Psychopath is hardly going to confess that Psychopathy is unhealthy, are they! Sometimes, estrangement can come about as a result of a lack of disclosure within a family. Some families are poor communicators.
Where people do not communicate effectively with each-other, or where they keep secrets, or spread lies, problems can occur. Miscommunication can create family divides because nobody truly knows what another person knows, and people misinterpret each-other. There may be certain topics that are "taboo" subjects that the family refuses to discuss. These unspoken subjects may include past arguments, embarrassing or shameful family events, differences of opinion Besides, when families fail to communicate, they may fail to communicate important messages of love, support, comfort, encouragement.
Imagine living an a family that was the equivalent of a television set with the "MUTE" button permanently pressed on! If we try to watch a television programme without sound, then it can be difficult to understand what is happening. Likewise in a non-communicative family. Some families experience estrangement due to other issues such as acrimonious divorce - especially "tug-of-love" cases where bitter, competitive and controlling parents try to make children decide between them. Each parent wants the child to choose "mummy" or "daddy", and this is more about using the child as a weapon against the other parent, than it is about true love.
Controlling family members may well use and manipulate other people in this way, threatening to estrange them, simply in order to make sure they always get what they want. In my own family, I have a brother- and sister-in-law who threatened to stop their children seeing their grandmother i. I write this because I know that everyone's experience is different. Families become estranged for different reasons. I know this from personal experience of a family that I no longer want contact with. I have experienced competitive and judgmental behaviours from family members.
Constant criticism, belittling, undermining, sabotaging my goals, nasty comments about my appearance, about my job, about my qualifications, about my lifestyle I have lived through the intrusiveness, the "what are you doing that for? I've lived through the nasty comments to my face, the nasty comments made under someone else's breath just audible enough for me to hear, and the gossip behind my back. I've lived through screaming arguments, constantly being told I'm wrong, excessive demands on my time I've lived through the family wanting to dictate what I did with my life, and their refusals to accept my own choices I've been called everything from "spoiled" to "stupid", from "ugly" to "vain", from "no self-confidence" to "arrogant", from "lazy" to "perfectionist" It never ceases to baffle me as to how people who are one minute criticizing me for being "too lacking in confidence" next minute are calling me "spoiled and arrogant".
I have concluded that it is this very contradictory nature of what they are saying that confirms it all as LIES. Besides, they constantly deny what they said in the past anyway! Do I have contact with these family? Do I want it? Not really, any more. It truly ISN'T easy to make the decision to go no contact with family - they are family, after all. However, no contact does NOT mean you are nasty and you hate them. Nor could it enable me to get family members to talk about problems in the family that were important and really needed sorting out.
Instead, these family members remain in a sort of denial about the problems and refuse to make any changes that could ease the family situation. You know - a parent with mental health problems who refuses to take all their tablets, but never tells doctors. Family members who make excessive demands on one person's time, energy or emotional reserves when they could actually enlist other family members for support too, but do not e. Intrusive questioning about your lifestyle choices, constant unwarranted and intrusive "advice", screaming slanging-matches. Family favouritism and scapegoating, where one person always gets to be "golden" whilst another is always "tarred".
Is this not abuse? Family dynamics like this come across as abusive to me, so I would rather have nothing to do with them. Other family members might be quite happy with the way things are, because they are not on the receiving end of the nastiness - they are the ones dishing it. When you would wish for your family, and family dynamics, to be different but know they are NOT And when you know for a fact that if you approached family members involved and suggested family therapy they would point blank refuse it they might even be mad at you for suggesting it And when you know that there are problems in the family that some members refuse to talk about What else can you do other than step away?
Where problems occur that involve multiple people, it is impossible for just one person to solve them - especially where everyone else refuses to try. I doubt anyone wants family estrangement, but the das fact is that some family dynamics may lead to it. The dynamics of family estrangement are complicated beyond belief, and I have only limited ability, so can barely touch upon them.
No wonder it is something so rarely talked-about, explored and so little understood. We shouldn't be blaming people, or families, who find themselves in this situation. We should be trying to understand how they ended up there, and trying to comprehend the unique state of each family that contributes to estrangement. I don't doubt that's a long and complex process, but, really, there HAS to be some way of better helping people in this unfortunate system. The "blame game" just wastes time.
If a person has parents who are extremely difficult, in certain situations distance may be needed, but in my opinion there is no excuse in not checking on their health and well being through a phone call or letter. That can be done every 6 months and for more elderly parents, every 3 months. If a person just can't get their parents to agree with them, then there are ways to still carry on some type of a relationship. God left a promise We are to honor our parents and if we do we are given a long life.
To honor does not mean we have to agree with our parents. We just have to respect what they have done for us. After all, you wouldn't have legs to walk away if it wasn't for your mother. Hi Candice, Thanks for your comment. There is far too much selfish, egotistical, spiitting behavior these days. There is much confusion in the psychotherapy profession regarding the subject of alienation and emotional distancing and cut off.
These immature behaviors are too often excused as normal responses to unexamined fears and poor communication habits. Perhaps these behaviors only mirror those of a poorly differentiated society prone to many forms of insecurity, anxiety, and conflict. Nevertheless it is all quite sad and on unbeneficial all around. If you feel the pressure is too great in any relationship with other adult family members then it is healthier to slack it off.
Personally if any family member needed actual care I would be there as it as feel it is my moral duty but in the meantime if the mental abuse is too high then no you have to protect yourself. As the parent of anestranged transgender child, this anonymous comment is incredibly well written and insightful. My child has left me grieving throughout this process, once for the child that is now dead, again for the child that came out and the struggles that child endured, again as that child under takes more permanent physical steps of the journey.
My child has chosen to estrange himself from me and a younger sibling. The toll on the immediate family cannot be understated. It is raw at every birthday, holiday, and extended family gathering. Anonymous, I wish you would contact me. Yes, making this choice is terribly difficult.
It absolutely feels unnatural, and you deal with loads judgement from friends and others. You learn really fast who you can and cannot trust. I use discretion talking to others about my family of origin. It's not, because I feel I did anything wrong making the choice to walk from my crazy family was one of the most peaceful and sanity-saving decisions I made , it's because I do not like to relive history by explaining it to those who prod nor am I fond of being judged or worse? Having friends who take on my trauma this has really happened. There are too many movies that focus on reconciliation Home Alone is a good example.
Very heart-warming on the screen, but in real-life that really depends on both parties and most people are not ready to change—especially those who have extremely unhealthy behaviors to begin with. I have about 3 friends who have been solid enough to still love me for who I am and not see me any differently when they learned about my past. They are good strong people who are kind, but make and respect boundaries. I have a lot of other friends, too, but the 3 I trust are in my inner circle. I have been estranged from my parents, stepparents, sister, and extended family for years. I cut contact with them at separate times.
It was terrifying, but freeing to do. For the first 5 years, I grieved over the lost relationships—just as someone would in a situation of death Holidays, birthdays, and other big events were excruciating But at the same time? For once I heard my own thoughts Not my mom's hyper-critical judgements. Not my possibly bipolar father's and sister's madnesses It was so shockingly peaceful.
And suddenly I realized this is how healthy people think. The best way I can describe how it feels is think of dying of thirst in a very toxic desert. You grew up in this horrible desert. Others would think it was outrageous to live it, but you knew it as home. You and those closest to you are starving, have blisters all over your bodies, and ulcers in your mouth. Suddenly you see a different land You are scared to go to the other land, but you realize if you if you stay in the toxic desert, you and the family members who depend on or choose to stand with lovers, spouses, etc So you slowly take you loved ones' hands and walk carefully but steadily to the forest.
Together, you drink slowly from the river, and suddenly you can't stop. You think about going back to the toxic desert, but your instinct won't let you, because it will kill you. Feeling hydrated and alive feels too good You decide for your sake and those who came with you that you will make as much distance from the desert as you can from the toxic desert. The forest is full of unknowns, and you can still run into things that can hurt you in it, but you and your family know what to look for to stay alive and healthy.
Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
So that is the deal. Relationships are complicated things. I don't believe everyone who cuts contact does it for positive reasons, but most people do. The negatives are too large for most average people. We've recently gone no contact with my DH family. It was basically our only option, after years of emotional abuse and manipulation. Some people are BAD, evil, etc.
A letter to ... My brother, who wasn't there
My MIL has narcisstic personality disorder and we were scapegoats. Golden child and lost child follow her every command and we have been shunned. I would have replied the exact same way. Well put. I kept going back after years of estrangement thinking they should be different and almost immediately to find that they are toxic people and I need to protect myself from that environment. OMG , they aren't even aware of themselves. I'm glad I finally changed it to "no contact", for good. Not easy but necessary. After my parents died ,my brother died at age 50 of heroin OD. I saw the evil in my remaining 2 sisters.
I haven't spoken to any o them in 15 years. You have to cut poisonous people from your life. Seth Meyers, Psy. County Department of Mental Health. Psychiatric inpatients may experience substantial benefits from exercise. Managing the difficult personality requires care and specific strategies. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. Gender Segregation at Work.
Seth Meyers Psy. Friend me on Faceook. Connect with me on LinkedIn. The Psychology of Splitting from Your Family of Origin Estrangements from family are one of the most psychologically painful experiences anyone could experience. References Agllias, Kylie.
I shut my my mother out for 6 wonderful years and my sister permanently Submitted by Anonymous on June 18, - pm. You sound like my sister. Submitted by Dauran on February 26, - pm. There are two sides to the story. That said. Submitted by Anonymous on June 18, - pm. Trimming dead limbs Submitted by Anon on March 11, - pm. It truly is useless Submitted by Maggie F on March 14, - am. Diagnosis From Where? Submitted by Mom2 on June 3, - pm. Anonymous wrote:. Those parents who have invested the most in their children are most at risk" Josh Coleman, PhD" Josh Coleman, PhD If, as you point out, "estrangements from family are one of the most psychologically painful experiences anyone could experience", just imagine the scope of the psychological damage being inflicted upon this current generation of grandchildren.
Personality disorder Submitted by Jay on August 19, - pm. Yes, it sounds like bpd. Toxic, incompetent mothers in lifelong denial Submitted by Bells and Whistles on January 13, - pm. Undermining Submitted by Maggie F on March 14, - am. Yes Submitted by Meyourselfandpie on July 21, - pm. Interesting Comment Submitted by Meyourselfandpie2 on August 3, - pm. Where Do Yours Come From? Estrangement Submitted by Kat on March 31, - am. Innocent Submitted by Jay on August 19, - pm.
There is a tendency among so Submitted by Robert on November 9, - am. For those of us who are left to grieve Pain you cannot imagine. Judging Submitted by Anonymous on May 22, - am. I Agree Thanks Mom. Needed to hear your input like that. Greatly put! Loved it. From one mom who's had enough to another. Not typical Submitted by pearlj on March 18, - am. Agree; Dr's could do better! Submitted by Mellam on January 20, - am. Misleading Title Submitted by Jaydy on November 23, - am. Family Estrangement Submitted by Candace on July 18, - am. More questions than answers Submitted by Rae on March 3, - pm.
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