I found the following entry today on Dr. Coleman's Forum for estranged parents. The author, who uses the pseudonym Whisper, titled his/her post "Resolution."
The whole point of adding this diary was that I had one already. Sadly, all of my entries are gone. In a way that is good though. Finally, I have a resolution to the estrangement with es. About three weeks ago, I left a birthday card with 20 dollars and a long letter for him. I asked that we all work to resolve our problems. What I received in return was a short letter in which he said that I had attacked his family, and that my long mean letter was proof of my need for counseling. He asked that I not come to see him anymore at work and that I leave his family alone and that as long as I talk to x, he won't talk to me. He wasn't talking to me when I wasn't talking to x anyway, which I had pointed out in the letter.It has taken me almost a year, but I have finally seen what a real mess my kid is. It has been hard because I always looked up to and respected him. He is now no longer anyone to look up to or respect. He is totally irrational and unable to communicate. He has become one of those people in which there is only one way, one truth, and one god…his way, his truth, and him. Whatever he does to me…screen my phone calls, hide if I drop in, stand me up for Christmas day, attack me in an absurd email, mail me a letter to stay away from him and his family, when I have done absolutely nothing, change his phone number. Of all those things he sees as justified, and dismisses my hurt as if it doesn't exist, but continues to attack and berate me for whatever small thing he can find. It has been a long fight for me, a struggle to give up on the kid I so cherished and believed in, and to see him for what he has truly become.I have no desire to go see him or try to talk to him anymore. He has a desperate need to blame mommy and will fabricate whatever he needs to so he can do that. I have honestly not met anyone so blatantly and unashamedly wrong who believes he is so right. He has become the person that his wife needs him to be in order to earn her respect. I hope he gets his reward for that one day.I think I'm now free.
I wanted to share this particular entry with you because, aside from the part about how she/he left a birthday card for his/her son three weeks ago, I entertained the idea that this could have been written by DH's enabling father. The similarities between the mentality of this anonymous poster and those of my husband's dear-old-dad are astounding.
About three weeks ago, I left a birthday card with 20 dollars and a long letter for him. I asked that we all work to resolve our problems. EFIL also sent DH a birthday card on his birthday, including in it a gift card with a small amount of money, the cryptic words, "Happy Birthday Son" written inside, and a very long letter. EFIL's letter was chock-full of blaming, excuses, and absolutely reeked of a "Can't you just get over this temper-tantrum you're having?" philosophy. Reading Whisper's message on the Coleman forum gave me the shivers. The phrase, "I asked that we all work to resolve our problems" reminded me that people like EFIL don't know what working to resolve problems really looks like. To them, "we all" means "you (the estranged son or daughter)". While "work to resolve" means "sweep everything under the rug and forget about it" and "our problems" really means "whatever issues you, the estranged son or daughter appear to be having with the way we've always treated you." That's not my idea of problem-solving. That's my idea of a toxic recipe for disaster.
What I received in return was a short letter in which he said that I had attacked his family, and that my long mean letter was proof of my need for counseling. First, I find it funny that Whisper just HAD to point out that his/her letter was long and his/her estranged son's was short. You know, because the length of the letters exchanged is supposed to show how obvious it is that the estranged son just isn't putting in the effort to fix things. I mean, he can't even be bothered to write as long a letter as his parent, right? Not only is that a juvenile argument to be making, but it only further proves to me that Whisper, like so many other estranged parents out there, will go to great lengths to prove that they aren't really the bad guy in all of this. (Who are you trying to convince?) I also find it intriguing that anyone would look down on the need for counseling, as Whisper seems to be doing. In my experience, the people who need counseling the most almost never end up getting it. Why? Because there seems to be a direct correlation between denial and refusal to seek outside help for dysfunctions within a family system. Have you ever noticed that the more dysfunctional the person, the least likely they are to talk about their problems with persons who could act as legitimate agents for change? And here's the kicker: Going to a therapist who tells you that everything is fine and you should just keep on the course you're going does not count as a legitimate agent for change. So no, writing about your estrangement woes on the Dr. Coleman forum, or reading his books, or writing your son a letter about what a jerk he's been, or seeking advice from people who tell you that there is nothing wrong with you, does not count as breaking free from your dysfunctional chains. You're just finding ways to justify your denial, and that's sure as hell not helping anybody. Insofar as DH's response to EFIL's long letter, he also spent a portion of his time, as our anonymous ES did, explaining that attacking his FOC was not acceptable.
And, I believe that it is perfectly reasonable to expect that a person who won't stop attacking your spouse, children, and loved ones, be extricated from your life. Apparently, Whisper's ES felt the same way: He asked that I not come to see him anymore at work and that I leave his family alone and that as long as I talk to x, he won't talk to me. None of these requests are unreasonable. I would go so far as to say that even if this estranged parent had not been breaking boundaries and abusing his/her son, these requests are still not unreasonable. And, if there is any truth to the implication that this ES has been attacked by his parents, emotionally, physically, or otherwise, then they are definitely not unreasonable. It is not okay, it is never okay to attack your child's spouse - either to their face or behind their back. It is not okay to attack your child's spouse through your child, either. When someone has to say, "Leave my family alone!" it implies that, whether accurate or not, that individual feels that their loved ones have been threatened in some way. The way I see it, this ES felt threatened by Whisper's behaviors and wanted to protect his FOC. As I've said before, even if Whisper has done nothing to warrant this kind of feeling in his/her son, there is still a very legitimate reason why he is feeling that way and it needs to be addressed, accepted, and resolved. In my opinion, Whisper's ES had no further recourse but to say, "leave my family alone!" There were no other options available to him because his parents didn't give him any.
...as long I talk to x, he won't talk to me. This one line really intrigues me; in part because DH also asked his EF to stop speaking with NMIL because he was betraying their father/son relationship while simultaneously aiding his NM in her tactics of control and manipulation, but also because Whisper, in particular, doesn't explain who the mysterious "x" is. I feel that that information is vital and it was left out on purpose. What is the identity of the mysterious "x?" Why has the relationship of this particular person not been identified? I think the answer has more to do with the nature of "x's" relationship with the estranged son then it does the estranged parent trying to avoid identifying a person who wishes to remain anonymous. Who is the "x" in this equation and why has Whisper gone to such great lengths not to expose him/her, when the same courtesy is not being extended to his/her own son? In my husband's case, "x" was solved for a long time ago.
It has taken me almost a year, but I have finally seen what a real mess my kid is. Common problem: blame the child. Of course, EFIL, it's not YOUR fault that you don't have a relationship with your son. You've tried all these years BUT he wouldn't accept your apologies...BUT he doesn't care about you and your feelings...BUT there must be something wrong with him...BUT it's all his wife's fault, she's taking him away from you and changed him...BUT he won't accept that you're just human and you make mistakes. Really, EFIL? Really Whisper? It's taken you a year to see what a mess your kid is? If you spent even a quarter of that time looking inward instead of blaming your son for the problems in your relationship, maybe you'd be in a different place right now. I find it appalling that people like EFIL & L, and NMIL all spend so much of their time coming up with ways to blame their sons and daughters instead of owning their own dysfunctions and dealing with them accordingly. BUT...we all know it's just that much easier to look at your kid and see a mess. After all, that's their problem isn't it? Not yours. Never yours.
It has been hard because I always looked up to and respected him. He is now no longer anyone to look up to or respect. Does anyone else find it strange that this person is talking about "looking up to" his/her child? The phrase "looking up to" is generally reserved for individuals older or wiser than you, not younger and less-versed in the ways of the world. And, while I have always believed that children can, in fact, be quite wise, I still think that it is an unfair burden to place on a child, to expect that they should be someone whom an adult (a parent, no less!) can "look up to." In a healthy parent/child relationship, children are supposed to look up to their parents as their parents guide them through all the sticky situations and tribulations that go hand-in-hand with youth. The reverse is not true: Children are not supposed to provide their parents with guidance, they are not supposed to be the moral compass for the adults in their lives. If the parents are not capable of guiding even themselves, then who is left to guide the children? In addition, just as EFIL has shown us many times over, parents of estranged sons/daughters seem to like pulling out the "I can't respect you anymore and it's all YOUR fault card." They say it as though they ever had respect for their children to begin with (EFIL didn't.) They say it as though they know what respect means (EFIL doesn't.) They say it as though they have to be allowed to show their children respect. Now that DH has decided to take a stand and ask that his FOC be treated kindly and with consideration, he is portrayed as someone undeserving of respect. In truth, his parents never offered him respect to begin with, now they're just making a big show of pretending they did, so that they can explain why they've "suddenly revoked it." Does all this talk of "respect" sound familiar? "I believe at 51 I have earned the right to draw respect as an adult and as your father that this shouldn’t happen. I should be able to take my son out for a bite by himself, not to say that I wouldn’t do it for the rest of your family. You and Jonsi have no right to judge ANYONE lest you be judged."
He is totally irrational and unable to communicate. I have my doubts that Whisper's ES is truly irrational or that he is unable to communicate. There is a big difference between "unable" and "unwilling" and I would bet my bottom dollar that his case is more the latter. Like DH, he has probably come to terms with the fact that it's actually his parents who are irrational and unable to communicate and he has made the conscious decision to stop engaging on their unhealthy level. My DH has never been more rational or better able to communicate - and his communication skills improve on a daily basis. He's working on honesty, on not keeping secrets, and on offering details where in the past, he would have offered none. He's learning that the way his FOO "communicated" was unhealthy and damaging. He works, everyday, at undoing the damage caused by his parents version of "communicating" and one of the ways he is doing that is by choosing NOT to engage with them. It's nearly impossible to learn how to communicate effectively when you are dealing with people who refuse to.
He has become one of those people in which there is only one way, one truth, and one god…his way, his truth, and him. The mention of god here is of particular interest to me because EFIL spent half of his letter trying to shove his god down my husband's throat. What Whisper seems to be saying is that his/her son thinks of himself as god - in other words, now that he is putting himself and his FOC first instead of his parents, he has committed the ultimate act of sin and betrayal. Sound familiar? "Have you ever been there for anyone? Have you pushed yourself out of your envelope to be there for someone else? You may have but I haven’t heard of any...After all the work I did for you and your family I call you and ask you, my only son, to come and help me and you say I’ll call you back. You call back and say you can’t because it interferes with the work at your house, knowing that I can’t do it because I hurt my shoulder...The bible says the tongue is like a double edge sword it can either give life or take it away. And 'Actions speak louder then words'...Like you say you love me but you won’t come over and help me when I’m in need even after I just helped you...GOD is the only one we are accountable to and the only one that can judge. If people live by the sword then the will die by the sword. Don’t be so hard; don’t be so quick to judge."
Whatever he does to me…screen my phone calls, hide if I drop in, stand me up for Christmas day, attack me in an absurd email, mail me a letter to stay away from him and his family, when I have done absolutely nothing, change his phone number. Aside from the accusation about being attacked in an email, these actions do not describe an aggressor, assailant, initiator, instigator, intruder, invader, provoker, raider, trespasser, as Whisper would have us believe. These actions describe a protector, defender, keeper, supervisor, watchdog, guardian, sentinel, ward, partisan. The person he/she is describing is not, however much Whisper wants to believe, doing something to him/her. This person is merely taking steps to protect himself and his FOC from his parents abuse, attacks, and disrespect. All of the things that Whisper has listed as offenses against him/her by his/her son are also things that DH has done, will do, or is in the planning process for.
Of all those things he sees as justified, and dismisses my hurt as if it doesn't exist, but continues to attack and berate me for whatever small thing he can find. When a person has to point out that "so-and-so sees x-behavior as being justified" it means that he/she does not agree. In the case of Whisper, and indeed with EFIL, we know this to be true: Neither party agrees that their estranged sons' actions are justifiable. The problem isn't in the disagreement, however, it's in the way the disagreement is handled. I find it funny that these parents are expecting their sons to acknowledge their every hurt when they won't acknowledge even one of their son's hurts. I find it funny that these parents expect their sons to stop demanding respect for themselves and their new families. I find it funny that these parents see their sons' new found courage and boundaries as a personal attack. I find it funny that these parents can be so petty in their grievances, so stunted in their growth, and so unwilling to see the truth. Sound familiar? "Do you know how bad it makes me feel that my own son won’t come help me when I’m in need...by the way [it] was very disrespectful of Jonsi to respond to L [the way she did in regards to DD's first birthday party invitation]...We ended up for the concert having to buy more tickets at a higher rate and seats that were way up in the nose bleed section. This was all to make you a priority...you say you love me but you won’t come over and help me when I’m in need even after I just helped you. Forget I’m hurt and can’t do it. I have given you forgiveness before you ask and my grace is sufficient for you."
It has been a long fight for me, a struggle to give up on the kid I so cherished and believed in, and to see him for what he has truly become.I have no desire to go see him or try to talk to him anymore. I'm going to go ahead and say that there is something seriously wrong with a person who has to fight "to give up on" their child. In other words, every day you wake up and tell yourself that you should be giving up on your son? I don't think this parent knows the definition of what it means to "fight" for something. There is a certain nobility associated with the act of fighting for a cause. I don't sense any nobility in what this parent, or others in a similar position, are doing. There is nothing honorable about it, nothing dignified. EFIL has fought, but he's only fought dirty. NMIL has fought too, and her tactics have been even more heinous. And someday soon, they too will give up, because they will come to recognize that their little [DH's childhood nickname] is gone and he won't be coming back. They are right when they say that he has changed. They are wrong in thinking that his changes are not for the better.
He has a desperate need to blame mommy and will fabricate whatever he needs to so he can do that. Sound familiar? "LSV I love you very much and I am sure that your mother and all your aunts and uncles and extended family do too...LSV you were raised with a lot of love, kindness and happiness...nobody has treated you badly, meanly, rejected you, or forced you into a life of demeaning slander or poverty...LSV in the end, I am not accountable to you, or Jonsi for my actions. Nor is L, your mom or anyone else."
I have honestly not met anyone so blatantly and unashamedly wrong who believes he is so right. Look in the mirror, asshole(s).
He has become the person that his wife needs him to be in order to earn her respect. Sound familiar? "There are people in this world that can control people and manipulate them for their own personal satisfaction, and they normally prey upon people that have a spirit of controllability. Those people control their own lives as well as the lives of others. As you were growing up that was not the case. But as for right now, I’m not so sure. Somewhere along the line I think that changed...I should be able to talk to my son man to man, father to son without having a third party scrutinize my words and intentions... [so] surround yourself with family and friends that love you and truly only want the best for you."
I hope he gets his reward for that one day. Sound familiar? "For as much grace and forgiveness you give to others it WILL be given back to you."
Are these people all looking at the same fucked-up coloring book for their answers on how to solve their estrangement problems? I think, perhaps scariest of all for me, is the way in which people like Whisper and EFIL find their "resolution." Whisper wrote, "Finally, I have a resolution to the estrangement with es [bullshit, bullshit, bullshit]...I hope he gets his reward for that one day. I think I'm now free." Their "resolution" comes in the form of their conviction that their estranged sons will receive punishment someday for the "wrongs" they have "committed." They feel relief in the belief that their sons will be hurt, punished, or tormented having made the choice to cut off their FOOs. Their "resolution" is in the form of relief over the dissolution of their relationships with their sons.