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Article below taken from femail dma1l with thanks
::I've divorced my parents (and it's breaking my heart)::
By Shona VANN
I was ten, I remember my dad telling me there were only two certainties in life: paying taxes and dying. It was late afternoon on a Sunday, we were washing the car together in the driveway and I can recall throwing my soapy sponge into the bucket and thinking: ‘Nope, there must be three certainties — because I’ll always love you.’
Well, 30 years on, it turns out my old man was right. The last time I spoke to him was nearly four years ago. He’s as far removed from me as it’s possible to get, both emotionally and geographically.
He lives in Fiji with his third wife — who’s younger than me — and their 11-year-old adopted son. He has a new life. One that seems to preclude any ongoing or genuine interest in a daughter from a previous marriage and her four children.
Heart-breaking: Shona doesn't know if it's her parents who changed, or she's just grown up and sees them with blinkers off
Twelve years ago, my mother moved abroad to Canada, with her third husband. She is either desperately unhappy and so drinks, or is desperately unhappy because she drinks.
I’ve given up trying to work out which, but the last time I saw her was just before Christmas when she flew to the UK to visit us.
After a week of surreptitious binge drinking, she finally passed out in my hallway while waiting for a taxi to take her to a hotel so she could carry on getting plastered without having to hide the vodka bottle.
I think it was when my eight-year-old son had to step over her to go upstairs that something snapped.
After nearly a decade of accommodating her extreme drinking, I decided not to put myself — or my children — through it a second longer.
So there you have it. That leaves me — an only child — with two living, but no loving, parents. And, frankly, if this is the way it’s going to be, I’d rather pretend I have no parents at all.
Happier times: Shona, aged two, with mother Diane. Diane moved to Canada 12 years ago where she lives with her third husband
Which is why I woke on New Year’s Day this year — the year I turn 40 — looked out at a slate grey morning and decided to sever what little contact that remains between me and the two people who raised me.
In so doing, I have unwittingly become part of a growing social trend: the children divorced from their parents.
It was recently reported that familial breakdowns such as mine are an increasing problem in the UK, while some of the country’s leading psychologists claim there has been a huge rise in children cutting off contact with their parents. While no official statistics exist, research suggests one in every 40 people is estranged from at least one family member.
Psychologist Dr Ludwig Lowenstein hears from up to six parents a day — a third of them women — asking advice because they fear estrangement from their children.
Much has been reported about the devastating effect this has on the parents: the older generation who face their twilight years cut off not only from their own offspring, but usually their grandchildren, too.
But what about those parents and grandparents who just don’t appreciate what they have, the ones who walk away from their own offspring with scarcely a backward glance? Believe me, the effect on the younger generations can be every bit as painful.
In cases like mine, it often takes years of heartbreak and a growing sense of isolation before finally realising that the mother and father you once thought you knew no longer exist. For me, they are nothing but a fading childhood memory — no more real than the Enid Blyton stories I loved, or my faithful one-armed teddy.
Whether they’ve changed, or I’ve just grown up and am seeing them with blinkers off, who knows? The result is the same. As an adult, I don’t like either of them much and I’m convinced the feeling’s mutual.
Nobody is more surprised by this than me. We were once as far from this Jerry Springer-style scenario of a family at war as it’s possible to get.
I grew up in a lovely West Sussex village and attended a nearby convent — first as a day girl and then later, when my father’s work meant a lot of overseas travel, as a boarder.
My parents were a beautiful couple and hosted dazzling dinner parties. They were charming, generous and brimming with that glow of middle-class privilege. We had a wonderful life: summer holidays in Cornwall, skiing in St. Moritz. As I have no brothers or sisters, it was just me, Mum and Dad. And somehow this made our relationship feel closer.
None of the experiences I had with them had to be diluted or shared with anyone else. It was the three of us — unconditionally and for ever. Isn’t that the way all children should feel?
Then, when I was 18, my parents hit a rocky patch in their marriage and divorced. My mother suspected an affair; the arguments escalated and everything started to disintegrate.
She moved out, the family home was sold and, not long afterwards, they each moved in with respective new partners. All of a sudden, I was a weekend visitor sleeping on futons in their living rooms. I didn’t comprehend it at the time, but family life as I’d known it was over.
Somehow, through my 20s, living and working in London, I failed to notice this seismic shift. Or I noticed, but it washed over me. Either way, my anchor had been cut loose from the seabed and I was now adrift.
I still saw my parents regularly and tried to embrace this new start in their lives as best I could. After all, divorce was commonplace and I’d already left home, so it should hardly have impacted on me in the same way that it would have with younger children.
But deep down it did. I felt I was the only one left who cared about our past. They were both charging ahead without a backwards glance.
In 1999, I married, keen to put down my own roots and regain a sense of security I hadn’t felt for years. By now, my mother had emigrated with her new husband to Canada, a move that made her deeply unhappy. In fact, it was the catalyst causing her to question — years too late — whether she should have left my father at all.
End's begginning: It was on a skiing holiday when Shona was 17 that her mother Diane realised the marriage was over
He, on the other hand, was in Fiji, enjoying life to the full — not to mention the many attentions of young Fijian women desperate to hook a Western man.
They both flew back to the UK for my wedding and what I remember most about them being there is how self-absorbed they’d become.
My father spent the entire evening trying to escape the drunken ruminations of my mother so he could woo my maid of honour into bed.
My mother was simply miserable and didn’t seem to care that it showed. I wondered, afterwards, if they’d always had this selfish streak and perhaps I’d just never noticed?
As I threw myself into my own family life, embracing the highs and lows of raising small children, my parents seemed to become more myopic than ever and increasingly distant from me. It was as if, with our family unit disbanded, they had forgotten how to be good parents.
When, in 2005, my father decided to remarry — to a 25-year-old Fijian girl — he invited me to the wedding, but only if I came alone. When I explained it was a little difficult to travel half way around the world leaving several small children behind, his justification was staggering. ‘What you don’t understand,’ he explained, ‘is that it does not look very good for me to have my grandchildren at my wedding.’
Needless to say, I didn’t attend and the fault line between us grew even wider. Since then, he has shown scarcely any interest in his grandchildren and flatly refuses to discuss anything about our past life with me, dismissing it all as ‘history’.
I can understand how his new wife might feel threatened by the fact he had a family before her, but if you’re going to marry somebody who is nearly 60, what do you expect?
The thing that hurts me most is how effortless it has been for him to move on. By replacing my mother with a much younger model, and adopting a Fijian boy from the fishing village (the son he never had), he has self-styled a whole new family and moved me to the periphery of his affections. He is playing the role of a father all over again, except this time I’m not part of the production.
A few years ago, I tried to tell him how much his behaviour was hurting me. I explained it wasn’t the fact he had remarried that was the problem; more the way he had shunted me down his list of priorities.
His response was to send me a letter saying he had no idea why I felt this way and if I carried on in this manner he was going to put me in the ‘too difficult’ box and move on.
Since then, we have emailed sporadically, but there is no wind left in the sails. At Christmas, I sent him an email with a photograph of the children sledging and received nothing back. Painful as it is, I have decided to leave it at that. And I doubt I’ll ever hear from him again.
With my mother, I made a conscious decision in January to break off contact and I’ve told her this is what I’m doing. Due to alcohol, she’s incapable of being a good mother or grandmother and the things she has said to me when she’s been drinking are hurtful and manipulative.
On this basis, I need to draw a line and protect myself from the self-destructive path she has chosen.
So with both my parents there’s been no final straw or death knell. More a painful realisation over time that they care more about themselves than they do about me. I’ve spent hours wondering if maybe I’m the problem. Perhaps my expectations are too high?
Shona in her 20s: Her father didn't want her children to ruin his second wedding in Fiji
With no siblings to compare notes with it’s easy to assume I’m the common denominator. After all, as Oscar Wilde once succinctly put it: ‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.’
But the reality is I feel let down by them both. I look at other people with reliable, helpful parents who contribute something to their lives and I feel I’m lacking in love and support. Sure, they live abroad, which is logistically difficult. But the real problem is they’ve become strangers — two people who no longer have my best interests at heart.
In a way, I’ve been grieving for something that ceased to exist years ago. I’m lucky enough to have a loving husband and four children, but I still, sometimes, feel incredibly alone in the world.
There’s no point of reference for where I’ve reached, nobody to share the past with. I wish I had somebody who remembers the Shona before marriage and children — the work in progress bit.
I envy those who have close links with their family, who know, for sure, where their values and beliefs come from. I feel I’ve had to start all over again from the ground up.
Despite the fact children divorcing themselves from their parents is a growing trend, I don’t know anyone else in my position.
Sometimes it seems I am surrounded by other people’s supportive parents — picking up children from school, attending class assemblies and getting together for lovely family Sunday lunches.
It makes me feel ridiculously jealous because I crave this stability and family support while knowing it’s not something I’m ever going to have myself.
I never imagined I would reach this point of no return. But it must be where I am, otherwise I could never bring myself to write this article. And if I genuinely feel there’s no going back, then what’s the point of prolonging the agony any further? Far easier to cut off, move on and concentrate on my own family. That way, at least one day, I might stop caring.
As for my children, they understand their grandmother cannot see them because she drinks and they hardly know my father anyway so they don’t miss him.
Besides, they do see my husband’s parents, so they have some idea of what grandparents are.
In the meantime, I tell my children I love them daily. I tell them there are guarantees in life and one of them is that for as long as I’m around they can always rely on me. No matter what happens in the future, my role as their mother will be unconditional and permanent.
I know the time will come when I’ll be that embarrassingly proud grandma clapping furiously in the front row at school Nativity plays.
Will I cast my mind back and feel regret at what my own parents have missed? Probably. But it’s too late. And for that, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.
ini di ambil dari forum yang berdiskus mengenai pengalaman pembaca yang yang lain....berdasarkan penulisan artikel diatas:
:Well, I for one can agree with Shonas plight. My mother died last week, we hadnt spoken for years and she has requested that I do not attend her funeral even. I have never done anything untoward my parents, just lived my life away from their rule book. I have a happy lovely family of my own which I cherish, and would never punish any of my children for being themselves. Nothing I have ever accomplished as hit the mark with them, they recall any of my mistakes with ease but any positive bits of my life they choose to forget or refute. I have even been stopped from laying her to rest because they are keeping the ashes at her family home. By cutting off me they have also cut off their granchildren but are not remotely interested. Once a black sheep always a black sheep. R.I.P mum x
I too have had to cut all ties with my father. He has made the effort to see my children once since they were born, and has since taken up with a former thai prostitute. He's not returned to the UK for a number of years, leaving me to take care of his elderly parents, not easy when they live the other side of the country and with small children. My final email to him was in June last year to tell him my grandmother (his mum) was in hospital following a heartattack and that my grandfather (a 90 year old blind and deaf gentleman) was completely lost and bewildered at home. His curt reply was "I'm sorry to hear that", but didn't even pick up the phone to either my grandfather or the hospital ward. When the thai woman has spent all his money, I hope he doesn't expect to come crawling back into our lives, because we've now moved on.
"I tell them there are guarantees in life and one of them is that for as long as I’m around they can always rely on me. No matter what happens in the future, my role as their mother will be unconditional and permanent. " I should imagine your mother felt exactly this way when you were the age your children are now. I can't believe that you think she spent your childhood planning on being the bane of your life when you reached adulthood. You do not know what will happen in the future any more than she did.
Firstly, I'll bet her father begins to miss her and her kids when he's old and helpless. It seems that's when regrets set in. Of course, they are of the selfish sort - who's going to take care of me in my old age, why didn't I keep in contact with Jenny, etc. I've worked with the elderly and see it from time to time. Next, I experienced the male-turn-off-feelings thing when I got divorced. I was stunned at how quickly my ex moved on and how he had not a single emotion left for me or the past. I was completely dead to him. Is this a male thing? Gentlemen out there, can you answer this? Do men disengage from feelings completely once it's over? At any rate, I suspect that her father sees her as baggage extending from his ex, and thus unneccessary. Last, I do suggest that she go for help, either through a counselor (I know that Brits are not too fond of this approach but it does help) or through an ACOA meeting. She needs to talk to people who've been their and done it.
The first thing I noticed in the photo's was how very "untactile" the Mum is with her. Since my grandson has been tiny I've put an arm around his tummy on the swing and held on with one arm myself - you can never be sure when small fingers might let go - and in the other photo's where you would sling your arm around your child the Mum has her hands in front of her - certainly not around the daughters shoulder or waist, so I think this Mum is an unemotionaldistant type Mum. It's sad not all parents are created equal - I had good loving parents, and I believe I'm a good loving parent myself - though divorced. I'm sorry for you - but I can tell you are trying very hard to get over it.
We used to think that family was family, that you were somehow obligated to remain in touch and help out if needed, whether you liked it or not and no matter how miserable your family members made you. If there's a growing trend towards "divorcing" one's parents or children, it's because people have realized that there's no good reason to continue putting up with someone who really doesn't care about your welfare, no reason to knuckle under to their terms for the relationship if those terms result in significant distress. You don't have to do this simply because you are related to someone. Life's too short. It works both ways, of course. You may find that you are not the person doing the cutting off, that you are BEING cut off. Perhaps the reason is a bad one, but you can't force yourself on people who do not want you in their lives.
Shona, you sound like a wonderful person. Please look in the mirror and tell yourself every day that what happened with your parents is not your fault, in any way. Your parents were children who never grew up, never learned duty and responsibility, like so many of the "me" generation. I have a similar situation, and I have found that the best cure is to consciously break the cycle with your own family. So put your heart and soul into being the best wife and mother you can be. Give yourself totally to your husband and lovely children, and put them first. The rewards will amaze you.
My maternal grandmother made huge sacrifices for my mother as, as far as she was concerned, she was a mother for life and her children absolutely always came first. Her daughter, my mother couldn't be any more different. She left me to be with another man when I was still a child and I was always a very long way down her list of priorities. In my 30 years alive, I have yet to encounter anyone as selfish as her. I am now a mother to a daughter and I will do my utmost to be there every single day of that girls life, no matter what. I will, like my grandmother was, be a mother forever, but I don't feel like a daughter any more. I don't feel like I've lost anything though, as I don't think there was really any love there to lose.
- Happy :),
Hankies were at the ready, I started to fill up and had a little weep, when I read this sad story, I can't begin to imagine what's like wanting to "divorce" one's parents. When I'm lucky, very lucky to come from a loving home. Very best wishes and good luck to Shona and her little ones. Who know that they will never never be short of love,hugs and kisses from a loving and a lovely Mum. I'll be thinking of you in my prayers Shona. Keep smiling
I walked out at 14 and didn't speak a word to them for 7 years, until it was likely I was going to die and I decided to clear up all loose ends in my life before I went. I survived. I have some contact, but usually just a short email or whatnot every few months. I don't feel like I have a family. I certainly don't feel like I could turn to them for support. I don't feel I know what it's like to be part of a family. The only person who ever loved me was my gran. She died in january after many years of dementia and I just wanted to go with her. I feel alone.
I'm from Latin America, so the decision of cutting them off is not very well appreciated there,where "family comes first" is practically engraved on people since they are born so I totally understand you, thou I did had a very traumatic childhood. I was abused by my stepfather for years and my mother stood by him. The only support I received was from my gran, who was my fierce defence. Still, I decided to pretend that nothing happened and kept peace with my mother, as I was so scared to be cast aside for not having a normal family (why is the child who ALWAYS feels so guilty?) Two years ago, my gran got sick, and my mother (who was her guardian) took her into a horrible care home and bough my stepfather a plot of land with my gran's money who happens to despise him cuz what he did to me. It was the last straw form her. I can't bear to look at her face and keep pretending. We didn't even argue, I just told her to never talk to me any more. It wasn't so hard for her to do so.
Shona is obviously at the beginning of the ‘divorce process’. Things are really very hard then. You question your decision and yourself all the time. I decided to walk away from a toxic father. He was an alcoholic too. I know the envy for the relationship other people have with their father. Mine died a few years ago and I honestly had and have no regrets. He chose his life and I chose mine. I have lived a much happier life without him. I made the right decision for me. Don’t get me wrong, it has taken me almost 20 years to accept that this was the only thing for me to do, it has been really hard, but staying in that poisonous relationship would have been worse.
I was so sad to read this article. I sadly lost my beloved dad over Christmas at the ripe old age of 83. I am heartbroken but I also know how blessed my 2 brothers and I have been having such wonderfully loving, kind and nurturing parents. We are doing our best to keep mum going as we love her just as much. My heart goes out to people who have never had, or no longer have, a close relationship with their mum and dad. It is just priceless. x
- jane facer,
I cut off all 5 members of my immediate family, no to mention the various uncles and aunts and cousins, after my parents both died. My mum died from alcoholism, after bringing me up where I suffered violence, and all manner of things, which I won't go into. The whole family was dysfunctional, in every way, and some of their ways were very dysfunctional to say the least - I cannpt write it here as it would not be printed Their behaviour led me towards a nervous breakdown. It was the best thing that I have ever done! I feel reborn as though I now have a second life, and I am so happy. Never would I get back in touch with my family. I have put the past behind me as though they never existed.
Feel so sad for you Shona. It sounds like your father had narcissistic personality disorder given the way he cut you out of his life so easily. Although it is unusual to have no parental contact there are more of us who have regular contact but it is difficult and unhealthy so don't always feel jealous - you can't choose your parents unfortunately! I hope you find some peace.