How many times have you heard something along the lines of "she'll be back?"
If you're like me, too many to count.
Along with "at least she's healthy," and "she's going through a phase."
I've even heard from other estranged moms, "oh, she's young, she'll be back."
For a while, I'd cringe inside. Part of me wanted to scream "you have no idea!!"
Just like we couldn't have imagined being estranged, no one can predict what will happen next. And, our stories are complicated. There's no single clear reason or answer.
So it's understandable that these comments might drive you a little crazy. You find them insensitive, dismissive, and maybe even condescending. Like me, you might cringe inside.
That internal cringe isn't pleasant. At all. Estrangement is painful; the cringe adds another layer. And then we can feel isolated, thinking our friends are minimizing this and don't understand.
That said, comments happen - they have, and they will. So if you want to feel better, a few tips:
First, try to see that no one is trying to hurt or upset you. In fact, they are probably trying to offer reassurance. They just don't get it. And they really don't know what to say. If I put myself in their shoes, I might not know what to say either.
Second, people tend to speak from their own fear. While others can't understand the depth or complexity of estrangement, they can imagine that it's hard. They put themselves in our shoes and, if in the same situation, they want to believe their adult child will return. It's more about them than us.
Third, it's fine to tell someone that comments aren't helpful right now. Assuming it's a relationship you value, I like to do this with the word "and." "I love you and I find it hard to hear 'she'll come back,' not knowing what will happen," or "I appreciate you mean well and what would be most helpful would be to just listen. I have a hard time with some of these comments." If your friend doesn't honor your request, you can choose to exit the conversation.
We can't expect people to know how we feel. Or how to help us. And maybe with estrangement, that's especially true. As you well know, estrangement isn't talked about very openly. It's not something expected in a "typical" parent experience. To many, it's foreign.
Developing the ability - if you haven't already - to talk openly about your experience can help others know how to support you. You'll then feel less isolated and connected. To me, that's what all of us estranged moms need as we journey through this experience.
If you need help knowing how to speak about your estrangement, being able to support yourself through it, or dealing with other comments - including those that can be less pleasant, sign up for a free consult.
Here to help with so much love for all of you moms!