Dear Readers, there is a very good reason why NMIL's email to my husband seemed so lacking in heart, so generic, and so lazy.
It was a form letter that she copied and pasted, almost word for word, from Dr. Coleman's suggested form letters for parents to send to their estranged children.
Out of curiosity, I googled a line from her email and within seconds, hit on this forum for estranged parents. The link on google brought me directly to a page where an estranged mother had this to say (I have highlighted the sections that are identical, or nearly-identical to the email from NMIL):
Title of Post: Can't send my letter of amends yet
Posted on 04/18/11, 02:50 pm
Hi everyone. Hope you are all in a good space. I wrote my letter of amends last week and I just can't seem to being myslef to mail it. I followed Dr. Coleman's suggestions and instructions but it just feels like it is letting her off the hook. This weekend will mark 2 years since my ED talked to me...maybe it just seems that we've issed the opportunity.
The thing that Dr. Coleman said that keeps echoing in my head is that many of the EC he's talked to felt that parents didn't try to contact their EC more. I've done that and I have just given up trying. I waffle between acceptance and anguish.
Any thoughts? here's my letter as per Dr. Coleman:
April 15, 2011
You are my child and I love you dearly. I know that I made terrible mistakes with you when you were growing up. I know at times I didn’t show you the respect that you wanted. I know that you must be in a lot of pain to want to cut off contact with me.
I have reread your emails and I am glad now that you let me know how you feel. I am so sorry for the ways that I let you down as a parent. I know that I was harsh in many ways as well as being distant and not respectful of the adult you have become and that that was hurtful to you. I could understand why that would make it harder to have a relationship with me. It is true that I was preoccupied in many ways when you were a young adult and that it prevented me from being as involved with you as would have been good for you. I know I didn’t treat you as the adult you have become.
I hope there are ways that I can make it up to you in the future. I have tried hard to make amends to you and am willing to continue talking about whatever is important to you about the past if it can move us closer together. I do want to hear what you feel and would always be open to a letter, a phone call, or a meeting with a family therapist if that would be helpful.
I really want you to be happy, and I am coming to accept that you don't want to have a relationship with me. It's heartbreaking, as your parent, to not be able to see you or talk to you. At the same time, if you believe it's in your best interest, then I don't want you to feel guilty. You must have your reasons and I can accept your decision if that's what you have to do. I want you to know that the door will be open for the rest of your life if you change your mind. Until then, I will respect your wishes and refrain from contacting you.
With my love,
I am sad to say, Dear Reader, that I am not surprised. Disgusted and appalled. But not surprised. This is precisely the reason that I felt that NMIL spent no more than five minutes writing her email. In fact, it seems she may have spent even less time than that.
It is sad and appalling to me that this woman couldn't even be bothered to put forth the effort to save any sort of relationship with her son. It is sad and appalling to me that the thought of losing her son for the rest of his life isn't enough to make her change. This is proof that I was right - NMIL has no heart.
She is empty. She is barren of empathy. It is proof that she just sent this email to my husband so that she could turn around and show others what a "loving" mother she is. Her email is down-right creepy and robotic, and it seems that you, my dear readers, have picked up on that.
I would like to share some of my dear readers comments on NMIL's email, since they were right on the money:
Judy said, "It was a very typical narcissistic type of communication. It was all about her. Her perceptions, her feelings, her wants, her needs."
Anon said, "Any and all "apologies" from a narc are maneuver in any event to get their needs met: "F you and your feelings/life" etc. Let's have a round of applause for "disingenuous. "Love" is truly a four letter word in their world...Yep, your sense that this was meant for "public consumption" is a very accurate take."
Ruth wrote (On DH's post): "Nice generic letter that could have been written by my mother to me. Or any number of other people."
Mulderfan wrote (On DH's post): "Ruth is right..."generic" not a heartfelt letter of remorse just more bull shit!"
Thank you, everyone, for your insightful thoughts. It would seem our instincts about NMIL's email were one hundred percent accurate.