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Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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Estrangement

Merriam-Webster’s definition of estrange include:

1. to turn away in feeling or affection; make unfriendly or hostile; alienate the affections of
2. to remove to or keep at a distance

Yep, that about sums it up.

Even though my dad came to my older son’s 6th birthday party this year and even though my mother came over because she just had to evaluate hold the baby, that has been it and more than I planned for.

Imagine that your parents and sister (and her family which include your two nephews) live within 4 miles of you and that you have, virtually, no relationship with them. They, of course, think it is your doing…that you are too difficult, demanding, elitist, ungrateful, selfish, etc to want anything to do with them. You know that that is not the truth, your estrangement comes from their inability to live in the real world, their inability to behave like loving, compassionate, considerate family members/human beings, their lack of desire to ever know you and therefore your need, now that you have kids, to protect yourself from them.

Hallmark holidays, like Father’s Day today, are hard for me in myriad ways. Of course, it is easy to celebrate the father that my husband is to our two boys. But beyond that, lurking not too deep from the surface of my emotional being, is the painful wound of having no relationship with either of my own fathers. Every picture on Facebook today of my friends with their fathers sharing a sentiment of love, affection, respect, and gratitude, was a scratch to the wound. So many were those posts that the wound is bleeding and bleeding. And, it bleeds, not for what I don’t have now in a present father, present parents, but for what I never had.

The last meaningful conversation I had with my dad was when he visited me more than a year ago, knocked on the front door, and asked, quite out of the blue, if I remember him being physically abusive to me and my older brother. Can you imagine? As if he wasn’t even there? Of course, I was taken aback, completely, at not the question but that he asked it. I answered him honestly, that, yes, yes he was, and that my brother got it way worse than me, but that it was still bad for me. He asked me if he abused my younger sister to which I honestly replied, no. And he left. No acknowledgement, no apology, no nothing.

I spent my entire life trying to recognize my dad and my mom on these holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, their birthdays, their anniversary (my mother would get PISSED if we didn’t remember their anniversary!), then Grandparent’s Day). It was emotionally painful trying to pick out a card that wasn’t a lie all the while blaming myself for being a horrible daughter for not genuinely feeling the sentiment contained in most of the cards I picked up.

My parents provided for me, fulfilled their financial obligation through to my masters degree. But my parents never had a relationship with me, never got to know me, never supported me in how I thought or felt or what I wanted to do, never loved me, not unconditionally, anyway. That I did not share their genes and therefore did not think like them, see the world like them, see my place in the world like they did, put us at odds from when I was really little.

Thank the universe for my maternal grandparents and my two maternal uncles. They loved me. They got me. They showed me unconditional love and the true meaning of family. They saw how hard on me my mom, especially, was from the get-go. My grandfather would often tell me not to listen to her, that we knew the real deal, as if engaged in some sort of familial conspiracy. When my grandfather was dying, he told me not to believe of myself what my mother believed. That I was bigger, better, and stronger than her opinion of me. Gosh, do I miss him, my grandmother, my uncle J, all long dead, most too soon.

I would not say I feel guilty for our estrangement so much as I carry the pain of it with me. The pain of having living parents that never see me, us. The pain of knowing that this is for the best. Believe me, not having them in my life, our lives, is a relief. But it is painful to not have a family when you know you do. Even though I wouldn’t have it any other way, it still stings. I know that I cannot live the facade required to have a relationship with them. I know, know, know that it is what it is. But when I see how much richer, how much less isolated, how much easier the lives are of those who have active relationships with their families, I can’t help but feel burned at what I don’t have.

And, people don’t really get it, being estranged. If my parents had died, folks would feel differently than they do when they find out that my parents are very much alive and just not participating in our lives. There is a stigma associated with that. I have said it before, that it is socially unpopular to not love or have a relationship with one’s parents. My life long friends get it; even some of the newer friends who can relate even if they wouldn’t go to the lengths to no longer have a relationship (and, truth be told, in those circumstances, there is redeeming value to the continue relationship because their parents are great grandparents, something else mine are not, not to my kids anyway).

I definitely feel and live the estrangement every day even though I know that my parents are incapable of being a positive factor in our lives. It presents in a generalized longing for family, to belong, to be included.  I have long loved and been grateful for my chosen family of friends, both irl and url, and I am just going to have to extend myself in other ways in order to create some new lasting, inclusive friendships.  It takes a lot of effort to get to the point where someone else, someone who is in a family and has a family, to consider including friends in their plans. A lot.

13 comments to Estrangement

  • A.

    I can empathize. The stuff about trying to pick out a card that doesn’t feel insincere–been there so many times, same thing when I had to pick the song to dance with my mother (father passed) at my wedding. And my mother never took responsibility for the physical abuse either. Then you get older, figure out what you want for yourself and your own life, and negotiating the dysfunction gets dicey…because you seem “elitist.” Yes, yes, yes, I hear ya. And I’m sorry because it sucks.

  • I’m so sorry. I’m not totally estranged from my family, but I see some of what you wrote in my family situation.. It does/doesn’t (a bit of both) help that I am half a world away from my family. I am always thankful for my friends and chosen family.

  • Thank you so much for posting this … wishing I could give you a hug in person. I have been talking with my therapist about precisely these issues. Abusive father (mostly verbal, some physical), now deceased. Uninvolved mother. Being seen as difficult. Mother lives an hour away now and asking her to help with child care makes her whine about cancelling manicure appointments. Feeling rootless (I never knew either set of grandparents, and both of my parents had siblings that they never talked much with). Not wanting to support elderly parents even though now is the time that I’m supposed to give back, because my mother never really bothered to get to know me, either.

    I get this. And I hope that you find the people you can call family. I’m looking for them, too. It’s hard work. But I have reason to believe they’re out there.

  • Battynurse

    Here from Mel’s round up. I can relate a lot to this post. My mom checked out of my life when I decided not to belong to her church. There have been instances in the past where she has offered her affection at a very steep price and I finally had to say no thanks. Thankfully she lives in another state. I don’t know what I would do if she lived nearby and I could possibly run into her frequently. I understand what it’s like to be lacking in family on those days when family is supposed to be celebrated and so important. Hugs to you.

  • Melanie A.

    I totally understand. This was the situation with my family for a long time. And for a while even my husband didn’t understand or support me. Everyone always says “She’s your mom” as if that excuses all the crazy and hostile behaviour. So we cut off contact for about 2 years, and I and my husband and children enjoyed the break from the crazy. But I think the distance was really good for my mom and she used the time to do a lot of self-examination. Now she’s back in our lives again and she’s really turned down the crazy and has a lot more understanding of her actions and how they affect others. I think what I learned from the break is that I had to mourn for the relationship I would like to have with my mom and just appreciate the relationship we do have now, even though it is lacking in many ways from what others have. It is especially difficult because she went through cancer 5 years ago which seemed to make her even crazier and more hostile at a time when I wanted to be supportive to her. People don’t often talk about how cancer and the treatments can lead to an increase in mental illness issues.

  • Rachel

    I was estranged from my father for the last four years. Recently, his mother died and I went to her funeral. It was hard because I had to pretend to all of his family that I was totally ok but the entire time I kept thinking, I’m such a fake to be here supporting him. And now, he is acting like we never had a problem and calls me daily.

    What I’m trying to say: I get it, and I’m sorry. XOXO

  • Here from Mel’s Round-Up. Your post is painful and I am sorry that you have such relationships.

    This is also timely for me, because I am feeling estranged from my father and my brother. My father has the excuse of 800 miles separating us. But, this past week, he came to visit with his second wife. And the amount of navel-gazing and self absorption was so evident. And I wept, because I DID have a good (I thought great, but I was a child) relationship with my father. My kids have no grandparents–my FIL is dead, my MIL is superficial (and there is that 800 mile distance too). It sucks that it is like that.

    The worst for me is that my brother (my only brother) lives about 30 mins. away from us–and we barely see him. (And yet he is cozy, cozy with his in-laws).

    So…yeah, I guess I can feel a little of what you are going through.

    In the end, I always pull myself out of it by saying to myself “we MAKE our families in life”. We do have people in our lives that are there for us…just not necessarily the ones that “should be”.

  • a

    We were estranged from my in-laws for a while. I would remain so, but it’s not up to me. However, it was always difficult because my SIL lives a couple miles away and I run into her everywhere – at swim lessons, getting pizza, at the venue for my daughter’s birthday party. It’s so awkward.

    With my sister, it was sort of easier. We never really got along. She didn’t live nearby and I rarely saw her. But over the years, I’ve been able to let it go, since she has issues and she lives a thousand miles away. I see her maybe once a year and that’s enough.

    The worst part is that other people, who may or may not have fraught relationships with their own families, never really understand how you can just cut people off. “But they’re family!” they say. And the answer to that is “So?”.

    Here from the Round-Up

  • I’m so sorry- for the inadequacies (to put it mildly) of your family, and for the challenges that holidays present. I have never been in your position, but this post certainly explained the realities of estrangement extremely well. I sincerely hope you were able to celebrate your many blessings on Father’s Day, in spite of the difficulties. Hugs…

  • Mel

    That is an impossibly difficult situation, especially given the proximity. It’s a gorgeous post on the reality of estrangement, which no one would ever undertake lightly. Just underlining the necessity.

  • Claire

    Wow, what a poignant post. And so painful. I have none of your life experience in this situation, but please know that I empathize and hear the longing in your words. I know LGBTQ people who are estranged from their families because of their sexual orientation, and they do like you do, and to some extent we do, but for different reasons; they make their own family of choice and stick with them through thick and thin. But it is hard to see all the Hallmark moments around us and to not feel like something is wrong.
    I spent a lot of today and the run up to this weekend worrying about what Isobel would think about Fathers’ Day and if she would feel left out. I even wrote an email to our church to prepare them for any Father’s Day activities and explain our family. They know, but people can be dumb, even with the best intentions. I turned out to be a none event. Not til tonight did I think of my own father.
    I’m glad you got those early experiences from your maternal grandparents and uncles. They must have given you comfort as a young person. But it sounds like a drop in the ocean of your parents’ negativity and dysfunction.
    Your father’s ‘ behavior regarding the abuse. Horrific. Where is remorse, self reproach, asking for forgiveness? Where is the humanity?
    We get a little of the grandparently, aunts, uncly stuff at our super liberal and accepting church. It gives us a sense of belonging and community that woud otherwise be missing. We used to go to the UU church which is non Christian and very laid back. Wild you consider that as you work to continue to build your own community and invite people into your lives to be part of your inner circle?
    I know I wish we could adopt grandparents etc for ourselves and Isobel.
    Thank you for this incredibly honest and evocative post. Big hugs, my friend.

  • I’m so sorry. That conversation with your dad is just surreal. I have a lovely relationship with my parents, but I know what it’s like to be estranged from other relatives, and it’s incredibly difficult emotionally. I can’t imagine how much more difficult that would be with a parent-child relationship. I’m impressed that you manage to maintain as much of a connection as you do. I don’t think I would be as patient.

  • M

    Hugs on this difficult day. I hope you can continue to find the neede support on this difficult but sadly not uncommon journey.

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