family · relationships

Tale Weaver # 224 – Estrangement – May 23rd.


Michael is the host of Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Tale Weaver. Michael says:

This week I am asking you to explore the concept of estrangement. It happens to so many of us.We may be estranged from family, from children, from friends and the reasons can be obvious and they can be mysterious and frustrating.

From the dictionary:

late 15th century: from Old French estranger,
from Latin extraneare ‘treat as a stranger’,
from extraneus ‘not belonging to the family’,

The dictionary says that the word comes from the late 15th century, from two roots that mean to treat as a stranger or someone not belonging to the family. This tells me that the condition of estrangement has been around a long time and that there is a division that is made between when one is estranged from relatives vs. non-relatives.

Looking through the many entries under definitions, every single one of them regards estrangement as a verb, an intentional action that drives someone away from another, whether that other is at odds with the “driver” or if the driver gets in between two others resulting in the falling out between the two others.

One of the most painful estrangements I ever had was when my older son abruptly moved out of the house when he turned 18. I had yelled at him when I came home about something that was up on the computer screen (back then the whole household shared the communal desktop computer and nobody had cell phones.) He never said a word, but he packed up his stuff and went to his dad’s house. He never came back! He also did not speak to me for a good year.

What made this estrangement particularly painful is that my younger son had left for college just a few months before then. This meant it was an instant empty nest. I had no pets at that time. It didn’t take me long to start searching for my dog, Chauncey. My younger son was on break from college as we went to look at a few places for puppies.

Chauncey helped fill a gap in my empty nest, but he was no substitute for the presence of my two sons. After awhile my son spoke to me again and my other son came back from college.

Applying the definition to the estrangement between my older son and I, did either of us commit actions that led to it? You might say what he left on the computer screen was an action that did. You might say that my yelling was an action that did. But were these actions intentional in trying to drive the other person away? They did effectively act in that capacity, but where was the intentionality?

I am estranged from three of my six siblings and also from my mother. Believe me when I say that I’ve done a lot of soul-searching on it. What I see as the main issues between us that keep us apart are: 1) our egos; 2) the extremely complex interconnections with each other in the family structure in relation to our mother; 3) a genuine disinterest or lack of connection with one or more of them; and 4) historical events that will remain malignant cancers upon the connections as they will never be excised due to one or more parties refusing to process them.

Could a family therapist or a trained mediator help us work through the issues? Probably. Will it ever happen? Unlikely. Do these estrangements cause toxic feelings? Hell yes. Avoidance is a coping mechanism that has served me and my family members for a long time. When one is young and needs avoidance for survival it’s necessary. As one grows, it is so important to develop healthier replacements. With my family and I, alcohol and other addictions interrupted the development of healthier replacements. I feel our family system is stuck in the avoidant stone age.

I don’t consider myself and my sons as part of that configuration. We have a foundation of love and trust with each other that I never had with my family. I’m not saying it is easy to bring up issues or areas of conflict, but all 3 of us are brave enough to do so, knowing that the relationship will survive afterwards.

OK, that’s enough spilling of guts for one post.

19 thoughts on “Tale Weaver # 224 – Estrangement – May 23rd.

  1. Great of you to share some inner feelings about family. I think we all have this in our life, in one form or another. And people also had it in previous generations too, they weren’t just vocal about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this. If there is anything this blog does for me it is to show me I’m not alone ❤ Thank you for your comment, Sadje.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Jade for sharing your story, as painful as it must be. I’m glad you and your sons have worked things out, I think every child needs a mum which is why I feel for my kids as in my family most of my kids are estranged from their mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a great relationship with my daughters and am so thankful for that. It is my whole life. But I have nothing else really. No significant other and no close friends. I thought I had close friends, but now even though we hang out… I feel emotionally distant. I don’t trust them to be there for me when I need them… I feel it’s all superficial.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are blessed to share a great relationship with your daughters. There has to be a foundation of love and trust I think for that to be. I’ve got some decent friendships with former co-workers. The nature of the work we did built tight bonds. Some friends like you are talking about. I had a couple of childhood friends I was very close with probably because of the long-term shared history, but in both cases our paths diverged too much to stay connected. I had to sever the connection as it was too painful to continue. I look at some of the blog people, including you, as friends in the sense of community. It’s a different type of friendship but it is good to have this blogging community ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Life happens. People ARE. Just as they are, for all kinds of reasons, both positive, and negative. And it’s not necessarily something that can be “fixed” or “figured out” sometimes. All we can do, ultimately, is figure out how we’re going to behave, in the moment, and know when we need to stop and evaluate, in order to either change ourselves, our reactions and behaviours, IF this is what we truly want – or NOT. Sometimes, yes, “NOT” is a healthy option. And really, isn’t it about finding one’s sanity and healthy aspects and perspectives, as best we can?

    So many people live in circumstances and situations where it’s chaos – and at best, all we can do, is grasp onto whatever we can, in the reality, and hope we’ll get through. It’s after the fact, when we can step out of it, and look back, with a more objective understanding, that perhaps, we can see just how much distance we’ve traveled in our own ways. And really, isn’t it about finding the “best place” for each of us, the one that is respectful, and peaceful, for as much as we can be?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very well-said. I’m on board with all of it. You’re right, it’s often in retrospect, when we’ve gotten some distance from it that we can see what was going on. With my long-term friends that seemed like they’d be forever friends, there were certain aspects of their characters I didn’t want to tolerate anymore. With the family, in a way I feel bad for abandoning them as they are of my blood, but the chaos and backstabbing and old memories have spoiled the connections.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your situation is not that different from those (OK mine) with smaller family members.
    Some believing that the only communication is ‘FacePlant’ – And well there are other factors. But distance helps to keep hearts cold. That and stupidity. But hey we deal with what we can and then we must forgive ourselves. And move forward.

    Some resolutions are easier than others and some skeletons just need to be left buried. Sometimes just knowing that I’m not the only one with such family dynamics helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sometimes it just becomes a defining moment for us, and perhaps, for them too, … we’re constantly changing, and so, too, do relationships … I guess, ultimately, it’s whether we can make peace with and for ourselves, as we release and let go of what no longer is of our best interests

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t imagine the estrangement with a child (I don’t have kids), but I was an estranged child, like you I “left” my family when they were alive. It took 40+ years to make the final cut, but it was necessary and I have not regretted it. I regret having that family dynamic, but it was born way before I was. I’m sure this was a difficult post to write.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Why does it have to be this way with family. It’s a harsh reality. To me it gives support to the theory of reincarnation, as it gives other chances to have things “right” in families. To not have a chance to be in a functional and not toxic family is a cosmic right for each us. If not in this lifetime, then in another. Yes, it was difficult to write.

    Liked by 1 person

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