Estranged parents have questions:
Do I reach out? Do I not reach out?
If I don't reach out, what does that say about me?
If I do reach out, how will it be perceived?
When does reaching out become too much?
Will I get blocked? Will I be verbally attacked?
Do I walk away? Do I give up? Do I keep trying?
The list goes on. And it’s a lot. Probably enough to start a hashtag #estrangedparentquestions
Here's what you need to know to find your answers.
There's no right or wrong. Intellectually I knew there weren't "right" or "wrong" decisions. But I so badly wanted there to be. I was terrified of making a "mistake." My thoughts circled around finding the steps to get my daughter back. But the perfect path doesn't exist. Searching for one is exhausting.
No one can tell you the answers. Estrangement is one of those "you had to be there" kind of experiences. Friends, family, strangers will give well-intentioned, often strong, opinions. From "it's your child, you have to keep trying," to "don't let him treat you that way, protect yourself, walk away." These aren't answers, they're opinions. They may not be right for you, and that's ok.
Other estranged parents can't tell you the answers. You and I have estrangement in common. But our estrangements are unique. It can be helpful to hear other experiences. You may find support from others in the trenches. But even estranged parents can't know your answers for your situation.
Make a decision, don't look back. If you're asking should I reach out or not, just decide and move on. No right or wrong answers, remember? That frees us to choose. Yes, estrangement is confusing. It shakes your confidence, we question our instincts. But agonizing over what to do never helps. Indecision keeps us in distrust of ourselves and affirms lost confidence. Decide and move forward.
Know that you can change your mind. Make a decision that's right for you, for today. These decisions feel heavy, like they'll make or break a chance at reconciliation forever. But your choice today is not permanent. You can decide to do differently for any reason, at any time.
Know that you can't change your estranged child's mind. No matter what you do. Sorry, I know that's not great to hear. People estrange for their reasons. If they come back, it will be for their reasons. Perceptions of your actions cannot be predicted. All minds interpret differently.
Be aware of expectations. Keep expectations low. Reach out, you may receive silence. Or anger. Expecting anything else can spiral you into a coping setback. Same for "walking away." Some parents expect their silence to motivate their child to reconnect. Whatever your choice, make it consciously and like your reasons. Keep your emotional health out of the result. Easy to say, not always to do.
Most importantly, go easy on yourself. This is the best advice I can leave you with. Decisions can be tough in any circumstance. When you add estrangement to the mix, finding answers can be excruciating. Give yourself time. Circumstances change, you'll change. You can figure this out. I hope what I've shared here will help take some of the pressure off.
The next post, How to Make Decisions, may also be of help to you - find it here.
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Live forward, brave human mommas.