Understanding And Hope

Last night, I had a dream of a little bird landing on my shoulder. There was a lot of commotion going on around me yet this little bird cuddled close to my neck for security. I was able to reach up and pet this bird reassuring him/her they were safe from harm. And as I was walking in my dream, this little bird moved with me as I progressed through my dream.

According to Dream Astro Meanings (https://dreamastromeanings.com/dream-about-birds-landing-on-you-interpretation-and-meaning/):

Birds are a sign of happiness and a bird landing on you is a sign of good luck. Birds are considered God’s messengers or signs of angels’ presence in our life, and that is why dreams of birds landing on you could have a very big significance because they are often related to your emotions. In some cases, these dreams could be a true message from our guardian angels giving us an encouragement that all will be well in our lives.

My interpretation of this dream was one of well-being after having written and scheduled the post to publish about my estranged daughter. It was a huge weight off of my shoulders to be able to be honest about what was happening in my life yet I’m tempted to delete that post before it publishes thus perpetuating the illusion that all is well with my family. It is very difficult for me to say anything negative about my children when I’ve spent a lifetime, doing whatever was in my power, in helping them succeed in whatever they pursued in their lives.

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But the fact remains that my daughter walked away from her family of origin and never looked back. Empowering Parents.com (https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-your-adult-child-5-things-you-can-do/ ) writes:

If you are estranged from your adult child, if your child has cut you out of his or her life-whether for a long or short time- it is a gut-wrenching experience. When your child cuts you out of her life, it provokes deep feelings of shame, guilt, bewilderment, and hurt, all of which can easily turn to anger. On top of that, it can also arouse people’s worst suspicions (surely, the Smiths must be terrible parents for their daughter to cut them off like that!) and leave you feeling judged even by friends and family.

And when you are in the dark, the easiest thing to blame is yourself–to believe that you failed as a parent.

But here’s the reality: it was not your choice to sever the relationship. Although you may have contributed to the tensions between you, you are not responsible for your child’s choice to cut you off.

Empowering parents.com continues to explain why some children behave this way. They attribute some children behaving this way due to the “fight-or-flight” response when under stress. That some children are more prone to “flight” than others as an immature way in dealing with stressful situations. They offer five tips in how to cope when a child decides to become estranged from his or her parents.

  1. Get Support”

    • Whether seeking professional help or joining a support group, enlisting the help of friends and family who love and care about you can help deal with the heart-break of “losing” a child.
  2. Don’t Cut Off in Response”

    • Continue to send birthday and holiday messages as well as occasional brief notes or emails. “Send your warmth, love and compassion–as you get on with your life.”
  3. Don’t Feed the Anger”

    • “Step back and try to understand what led to this estrangement? Now if the door opens, you will be in a much better position to reconcile.”
  4. Listen to Your Child Without Defending Yourself”

    • Listen to her perceptions of what wrongs took place. “… Look for grains of truth.” Try to empathize with her pain rather than get caught up in the hurt and anger.
  5. Focus on Yourself, Not Your Child”

    • Put your efforts into changing yourself, not your child. Let go of your resentments regarding the estrangement. Understand his need to flee–and forgive him.

The bottom line… “You did not make your child to turn away. That was her decision. It may have been a poor one, but it was the best she could do at the time.”

“Your pain is real. Be mindful and compassionate of it, but don’t allow it to define or overwhelm you. Put the focus on what you have control of: your own life.” (https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-your-adult-child-5-things-you-can-do/)

The first step I’ve taken in understanding our family’s situation is to quit hiding the fact of what has happened to us. I can’t pretend I’m not deeply hurt by my daughter’s actions and decisions. I’m angry that when I started having health problems, and surgeries that were supposed to help with those health problems, my daughter abandoned me when I needed her support the most. It is beyond my imagination that I would EVER abandon either of my children in times of stress and problems. I can remember, in detail, how I’ve stopped my life to help both of my children when they have had problems in their lives. It would never occur to me to turn away from anyone in my family citing how MY LIFE was more important than theirs. The loyalty to my family is, in fact, so strong that to have it not reciprocated, well, that is beyond my comprehension!

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The second step I’ve taken in understanding what has happened in my family is “hope”. Hope that someday my daughter will realize that there is no one who will love her more than her mother. And while we may have had a difference in opinions, over the years, her health and well-being were always my uppermost concerns.

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But it is true what Sharon Waters says in her book “Estrangement of Parents by Their Adult Children”:

“The adult children describe a vindictive, hateful, parent who has harmed the child during the child’s upbringing. The bewildered parent’s view is that while they admit to imperfections and mistakes, there was love and caring at the core of their intentions and they profess love and caring for years into the estrangement. Gaslighting by the adult child undermines the parent’s credibility, shames and confuses the parent, and only after extended time, breaks down the love for and will to reunite with the adult child.”

And it is with that sentiment that I move forwards in my life. I’m now able to admit our family is not “perfect”. I’ve gotten professional help to vent the anger I feel at this intimate betrayal. And I’m focusing on what I actually do have control of in my life… the things that bring me joy: my animals that I care deeply about; my photography that allows me to express my creativity; and my health problems that I’m tackling, one at a time, that I have no choice other than to accept as a new part of my life. But most of all, I’m ridding myself of that fractured, fragmented life where on the outside I behave one way to all I meet but on the inside I feel torn, heart-broken, and lost. At least now I’m being honest!

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~Jennifer

4 comments on “Understanding And Hope

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    I’m so glad that you have embraced this painful part of your life. Your writing is so expressive and in addition to healing you, I’m quite sure it will help many others. Your honesty and vulnerability is an example to follow. Have a beautiful day! ☀️Erika

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Erika, for your kind words. I’m not sure how much my story can help others; I’m far from healed myself. All I can say is that I take each day as it comes focusing on being kind to all those I meet. We never know what kind of a battle someone is going through. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Again, I’m so sorry, Jennifer. Thank you for your honesty and courage. Vulnerability can be so difficult. Those five tips you shared are really good. In a lot of difficult situations in life, it’s easy to act strong while on the inside we’re breaking and devastated. Like you write, we never know what kind of battle someone is going through. I thought of you when I wrote this week’s post, because of how you rescue animals and how they often in turn minister to you. It’s about an unwanted dog and a hurting woman she rescued. I also thought of you while watching the Westminster dog show. My husband and I especially enjoyed the part where dogs went through tunnels, up and over ramps, etc. It was so awesome that a dog who survived cancer won! Love and blessings of strength and peace to you!

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    • Thank you, Trudy, for your kind words ❤ Adopting Jack came at a time when I was losing both physical abilities as well as relationship ties and through Jack… he was a big reason I kept moving forwards (I will write about him/that some day! 🙂 ) And I will read your post as well!

      Ahh… Westminster! We went to great lengths to physically attend every year… For my daughter to compete! It is just another thing we did for her that she has forgotten or possibly just took for granted? When reminded how vacation time was spent, she undermined going to NYC every year now saying we should have taken her other places! Hmm??

      As for the agility trial… that was something else we did with our dogs. Titles on both ends of their names ❤ I quit "running dogs" at agility trials when my knees started having problems. Also, the rest of the family "was bored" so switched to only attending conformation shows (it WAS hard to do both!) While none of my dogs could compete in agility trials now, they are trained to do many of the "obstacles" as it is just great fun to do with the dogs ❤ And spending time with my dogs/animals… ALWAYS time well-spent!!

      Liked by 1 person

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