I get countless individuals clicking on my blog with search terms like the following: "How to write a letter to my estranged adult son" and "form letter to send to estranged child." They inevitably wind up on this post, in which I shared a form letter that I found in several places on the DailyStrength website. It was a near exact replica of the letter that NMIL had emailed to my husband. She didn't even bother to spell-check it when she was finished copying it. I think she got her hands on a copy of Joshua Coleman's book, When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Adult Children Don't Get Along, in her endless effort to appear the doting mommy. As is probably the case with most of the parents looking for form letters to send to their estranged sons and daughters, NMIL is so busy trying to make it look like she's a good mother that she doesn't have time to figure out what the fuck it means to be a good mother. Or even a decent mother. Or even a mediocre mother. Or even a slightly less than mediocre but at least more than a soul-sucking mother. She's actually one of the worst mothers I've ever had the displeasure of bearing witness to - right on par with the ones that molest their own children, beat their own children, torture their own children.
If you take a look at the comments on that form letter post, you'll see that a few of them represent anonymous trolls, most of whom have spent little to no time elsewhere on my blog, who take the time to drop bombs full of nastiness, shaming, and blaming before running away and never coming back. I track my stats. Trust me, most of these folks really never come back. And their comments typically stink of malignant narcissism. They use all of the typical responses from narcissistic parents everywhere:
Realize that your generation has been given life on a silver platter and it used to be a child had to earn his parents love and respect, now, because you children are so spoiled, we have to earn your respect. Well, most of you are immature and selfish and yes, narcisstic. You have no respect for your elders or have no appreciation for what it takes to give, give give to your child while all they do is take. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. Wait until you have children and they all leave begging and pleading for some love and attention. Because, if it's true that goes around, comes around, you will all be left by your children when you need them. This is a selfish, commpassionless, heartless generation and you are all prime examples of it!!!!!!!
What ever happened to giving someone the benefit of the doubt, "she did the best she could given her ability and the situation at the time". Wow. Her heart has been broken, she is at the end of the road...BTW, is this just your public rant? Trashing people you don't even know...Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings...That sounds like many of you... think on that.
I have a 30 year old son who seems to have cut me out of his life...Looking back I realize that I made a lot of mistakes but can't go back in time to correct them...I would like to know if you have any ideas on what I should do to help me reconnect with my son. I am in a lot of pain.
I stumbled upon this blog and I am shocked and disheartened by the negativity in it...But then again it seems you have a lot of time to waste just spewing so much venom and being so judgmental so I send you a blessing hoping that some day you will see the light.
This is the same song and dance from four different anonymous commentators. If I wasn't tracking my stats, I might think they were written by DH's parents, or the parents of any of the people I've become friends with since starting this blog. But they weren't. And they all taste of the same flavor. I've seen all of these tactics before: The blame placed on not just a single person, but an entire generation of people; the claim that we are selfish and spoiled; the accusation that it is us who are narcissistic and cruel; the endless "shoulds" which attempt to shame us into collusion; the desire that we suffer as they are suffering, with never an indication in sight that perhaps, we already are; the claim that we couldn't possibly know the people we have taken up issue with, with the subtle insinuation that we are incapable of making such assessments of the human condition for ourselves; the constant claims that they "just don't understand" what could possibly have gone wrong in their interpersonal relationships to have caused their loved ones to want to cut them off; the constant ploy of victimhood and occasional game of playing dumb; the pointing fingers that say we, the abused, are actually the bad ones; and finally, the holier-than-thou claim that they'll "pray for us" because there isn't possibly anything else they could do to change the outcome of the situation.
I've put together a more accurate version of a form letter - the one I think these people would be sending to their kids if they were more capable of telling the truth than they are - capable of telling the truth, yet still as unwilling to change as ever.
The Form Letter They'll Never Send, Even Though It's What They Actually Mean:
Dear Adult Child's Nickname [or whichever name makes that son or daughter feel as small, diminished, guilty, or otherwise insignificant as possible],
It has been one of my main goals in life to ensure that you did not get away. And yet here we are. You got away. Though I doubt your strength of will and believe that you are actually quite weak, I don't doubt that you'll try to stay as far away from me as possible. At least until some major life event happens to come up - either natural or engineered - which I will use to my advantage. I will pull on the guilt strings I have pulled all your life, in order to get you to come back. I will maintain a facade with family members and frenemies in order that they continue to believe the lies I have told them all these years - I get off on their stupidity. And I will send them after you. I will contact your exes and subtly manipulate them into contacting you, just on the possibility that it will fuck with your marriage. I will contact your [other parent] and play the guilt card so that [he/she] gets in touch with you to try and convince you how much you have hurt me. I will make sure that every mutual relationship we have ever shared is used against you.
Because I hate losing. I hate losing more than I love you. The truth is, I don't love you. And I never have. I don't want to. It takes too much work to love, to feel empathy, to imagine the level of pain I must have inflicted on so many lives and for so many years. Why should I do that? No one ever did it for me.
I could say that I've made terrible mistakes, but that would be a lie. Nearly everything I have ever done to you has been premeditated, and I've done it all with little to no guilt crossing my conscience. I have been so long without feeling guilt that I've forgotten what it feels like. I feel you owe me - you owe me the love and respect I never got from my own parents and I am choosing, as I have always done, to pass down the burden of that pain to you. I can't and will not acknowledge, ever, any pain I might have caused anyone, especially you. If I have done so in the past, I was lying. If I have ever muttered the words, "I'm sorry," you were right not to believe me. Because I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry for anything. Except maybe for the fact that I've been treated like shit and someone should have to pay for that.
I understand perfectly why you've wanted to cut off contact with me - I simply ignore your reasons and choose, on a daily basis, not to think about it. I only think about you when I'm trying to devise a way to use your absence as a way to control someone else. I've spent your whole life attempting to manipulate you, but also cultivating myself replacements for the day you might decide to walk out on me. And now that you have, it's been easy to replace you. You have had no more value in my life than what you could provide for me, and now that you are refusing to provide what you had in the past, I no longer have a need for you.
I have never tried to make amends with you and I never will. I will never spend more than, perhaps, a few moments here and there (and that's being generous) thinking about my past actions towards you and my behaviors in general. In my opinion, you are not worth that kind of time. No one is. I'd really like to spout some cliches and bullshit about how I'd be willing to communicate with you openly, or that maybe someday we can sit down with a therapist and hash all this shit out. But don't kid yourself. If you ever see me in a therapist's office, the whole scenario will have been so carefully manipulated by me that you'll smell the phoniness from a mile away. The operation will stink of deceit. I only use therapists to keep up the appearance that I'm "working on myself" and "dealing with my dysfunctions."
If you ever send me a letter or an email telling me how you feel, I'll only pick through it for clues into your self-hood that will allow me to guilt or manipulate you further. And you can forget about any future relationship with your siblings or family members that you might have gotten along with - I'll compromise any relationships that I haven't already been manipulating from the get.
I don't want you to be happy. I only ever wanted you to maintain a smile at all times for me, so that I would seem a successful and perfect parent to all outsiders. Your happiness is a threat to me because it means you are no longer as controllable as you once were. Any discovery of self you make means that I have failed in my attempt to keep you in the box I've tried to keep you in all your life. Your poor self-esteem and fear of my wrath has been what has kept you under my thumb for so long. And by the way, I hate your spouse and when I'm not blaming you for walking out on me, I'll blame him/her. Because that's nice and easy and I can avoid all blame and negativity. I will never really accept that you don't want a relationship with me. It angers me that you don't feel responsible for my happiness anymore. And occasionally, when that rage surfaces and when I'm feeling particularly lonely and when I haven't had much attention lavished on me, I will contact you to see if I can trick you into coming back to me, even though you've specifically told me not to. And yes, I know precisely what "no contact" means. You are not a person unto yourself. You have no right to have abandoned me.
I want you to feel guilty. I hope you feel guilty until the day you die. I hope you suffer, every day. I hope you end up getting a divorce, and when you do, I hope you return to your real family as quickly as possible. And I hope you bring your children too. So I can manipulate them the way I have manipulated you. I feel giddy imagining the possibilities of what I could do to them if your obnoxious spouse wasn't around to get in my way. And someday, I think you will come back. Until then, I'll be busying myself stepping on innocents and sending out my flying monkeys and enlisting new minions and taking you out of my will. Your absence will not change me. I don't change for anyone. I like me, just the way I am.
The door will be open for you should you choose to come back. I'd say, "I'll be waiting." But I won't. Not really. I'll be too busy pretending to forget about you and forcing you from my thoughts to wait for you to come back. I have plenty of other pawns to maneuver.
Fuck you very much,