Hope Lite

Hope Lite

Hello, readers! I’ve decided to start writing again. I find that ongoing estrangement has many facets and new, sometimes unwelcome depths and challenges.

It’s the first day of fall, the Equinox. I’m sitting outside on my deck watching tropical birds fly over the lake, perching in trees, flaunting their beautiful feathers. There are roseate spoonbills, egrets, anhingas and a great blue heron sunning himself on the seawall. It’s a breezy day – windy really, and I’ve opened all the windows in my house after a long, hot summer cooped up in air-conditioning (which, of course, I’m eternally grateful for). I look up at the sky, searching the clouds for patterns, shapes, or symbols, but so far I haven’t discerned any.

My thoughts turn to a recent article I read, written by Beth Bruno, an estranged mother from Australia. Her discussion was about how she put aside hope after many years of being out of touch with her daughter. She found that she was too attached to the idea of reconciliation and wanted to free herself from always thinking and hoping that it would happen.

It gave me pause at first, because I have talked about keeping hope alive while going on with your life. I just can’t imagine a life without hope as it would be dreary, indeed.

We can hope for a change of heart on the part of our adult child without attaching ourselves to certain timing, expectations or outcomes. We can hold our hope lightly, making it our friend, not our jailor. We can view hope as a preference, not a necessity. We can live a full life without letting our hopes for reconciliation be the reason or condition for our happiness. We can face reality and live a fulfilling life, even with the ever present uncertainty of not knowing if our adult child will come back.

If we hold on too tightly by insisting that we’ll never be happy until we’ve healed our relationship and reconciled with our child, we will live like a prisoner. We’ll never be happy and will experience despair and grief if it doesn’t happen. Being flexible, going with the flow of life, accepting the possibility that it may or may not happen the way we’d like will set us free. Have hope that it will all change for the better, let go of attachment to outcome and set yourself free.

The giant blue heron dips his long neck and drinks water from the lake. I love it when he visits. I hope he’ll come back soon – he may or may not.

You just never know.



14 thoughts on “Hope Lite”

  • I am trying to stop myself from talking to the VOID.

    You know the void. That vast emptiness, the hollow black hole. The imaginary conversations you have with the grandchildren and your son (or daughter).

    May I be brave enough and wise enough to avoid the quicksand and the storms and still send the letter, the gift with a right mind.

  • And Nettie, I so appreciate your posting , as the point about what is and is not in our control has been so crucial for me and has allowed me to slide off the lancet of my pain a bit. This situation was not chosen by us, we did not start it and we aren’t the ones keeping it in place, I would bet. Knowing that allows me a small opening to breathe in a bit of peace, and refocus on anything beautiful and joyful in front of me, as you have with your crows and your beloved oak woodland. Joy is here if we can just stay glued to it, and not allow the despair of our loss to ruin the moments of our present and the years of our future, which are still to be lived, and hopefully lived with love, no matter who or what rejects that love. Take good care. I so appreciate your thoughts and thank you for taking the time to give the gift of you. Not being alone in all this is profound.

    • Linda, thank you for saying that.

      I’ve identified this:

      My cycle:

      Something triggers the longing for contact
      Magical thinking that this time will be different
      Contact via text, email, letter, phone, gifts,
      Depressed because there is no response, as usual
      Ruminating
      Resentment and anger,
      Resolving to do things differently, a different strategy.
      Indifference, ‘forgetting’ until next trigger

      Even when the rare ‘normal-ish’ communication from them happens, it will activate the cycle with even more intensity.

      Divorce is the only action that will bring me back my son and grandchildren to a normal relationship. Any of my ‘strategies’ are a waste of painful effort.

      As I turn 70 this year, I find that my skin bruises easily, my hands have developed arthritis. I have to treat my hands gently or I burst blood vessels in my fingers.

      I interpret this as a sign that I need to pay more attention to my emotional, mental, and spiritual fragility as well. More attuned to my inner needs, my truest values.

      Emotions like fear dominate humans. So what are my fears about the estrangement?

      If I’m kicked off the family tree, so what? So I don’t have to work on any more genealogy files? Good.

      If the grandchildren don’t have a lot of memories of me, so what? The early memories are still intact and for life. We had fun. Too much fun. Sure, there is so much love that they could receive, so many family stories and histories to tell them. Maybe a lot will come from the DIL’s side, I hope so.

      My son is hurting himself in the stress of getting swallowed up by his wife. Okay, but then that is a learning experience he must need. He has his own fears to identify and conquer.

      I will remain whole.

      If they defy the common rules of politeness, as in not bothering to respond to gifts or emails or letters, then I stop those things, just as I would for any other person. My role as his mother is long past. They don’t want me in their lives. Well, I don’t want to be there either, not the way they are now. I don’t want to reside in hell.

      I will not delude myself into thinking that it is I who has to contact them, or else it looks like I’m abandoning my son and his children. No, no, and no. When the normal family relationship stops, the game of supportive mothering is over. Where is my supportive son? Gone.

      Thank you for the space and the understanding.

      After two hours of writing and editing my post, I’ve worked through my cycle and am at the stage of indifference, of forgetting.
      It really helps to have an audience for one’s writing.

      • Wow, Neddie. This is an amazing list and SO valuable as a reference, especially for those who have estrangements that drag on. Thanks so much for writing this. I wonder if you would mind if I shared your list (credited to ‘Neddie)’? I might work it into a blog in the future.

        • Lovely that you want to use my list, Nancy. Yes, please do.

          Thank you again for the this website, a forum which allows for deep thoughts to surface in the rewriting to get at a momentary truth, something to hang on to.

          I

          • Oh Nettie,
            What you wrote is SO powerful for me! Thank you for describing “the knife” so clearly and also the remedy…..peace…respect for ourselves…space….and making room for our own joy to enter. And I love, loved, love the part:

            ” If I’m kicked off the family tree, so what? So I don’t have to work on any more genealogy files? Good.”

            This made me laugh out loud. Thank God, or the Goddess, or whoever.

            Oh please dear Lord let us have a joyous day in spite of the people who don’t care if we do……..(and maybe would rather that we Don’t…….)

            and bless them to have one, too.

            THANK YOU. What a blessing this blog is here—thank you Nancy!

            Sincerely,
            Linda

  • Nancy, I have the most heartfelt thanks to you, as I still carry your book with me and refer to it often. It is amazing how even a good day can come crashing down. For me it mostly happens when I hear the dear small voices of children; my heart and throat seizes up and sometimes I just have to semi-smile and RUN. But I have also learned that that is part of my personality, (being a VKA) and therefore my personal struggle, and nothing “crazy”, and I am grateful for that understanding, because it helps me know that others have their own triggers of pain and longing (maybe seeing a neighbor with their grandchildren, or seeing their sweet drawings on the refrigerator). and then, knowing this, I can be more supportive of people who experience loss, each of us in own way. Mostly I am trying to learn how to tap into my own particular resilience and coping and try to encourage others too. We each have to find our own path, but I have learned through the support of your book, that each of us doing our own tasks to feel better supports another’s journey, and that person’s journey supports another’s and so on. Our learning of resilience and coping in this nightmare matters greatly – not only in terms of how well we survive and what we make of it, but also in what strength we develop to share with others , and what wisdom , sensitivity , understanding and peace we are able to bring to our own days, and to our community, as you have so graciously shown us. We all need each other. I am not sure that anyone can truly understand the complexity of this loss unless they go through it. Knowing this, we can share our struggles and support each other through times of sorrow, and celebrate the moments of joy as they show themselves – and make Those Moments Bigger! That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! Thanks so much for being here. The ability to share thoughts is healing in and of itself.

  • I was hoping that you’d return, Nancy, And thank you, Linda for your post. Serendipitous!

    For me it’s been ten years of strife. Intermittent estrangements and huge strain.

    It hurts to send letters to my grandchildren (not seen in another 2+year absence). Did they get them? I emailed my son last week, out of a feeling of parental care & duty to be ‘there’ for him. There is no strategy, no real plan except to not worsen the situation, or rather not feeling as though I’ve worsened the situation by asking for what I want? Nothing makes sense.

    The emotional fallout of my futile attempts (mostly futile, occasionally there is a ‘normal’ response) to communicate, even though I wait months to do so, the fallout is big: it activate the hope, hope-lite.

    I remind myself today (seeking the support of your website and finding you on it like a miracle come true!) that what my son and daugher-in-law do is not under my control. Her various mental challenges are not under my control. And things not under my control (like the recent bouts of fire and smoke–the past month in California) I have to let go of.

    The pain is in layers. Sometime I think I’ve arrived at peaceful forgetting of them. But autumn is an ancestral time of gathering together, soon to be huddling together for warmth. I wish they knew how much happiness they might generate in me with a phone call, that it might rub off on them!

    Since the pandemic, I’ve been alert to crow behavior and have fed a few of them who come to the tree outside my bedroom window to caw for a feeding. They do recognize people. I consider them friends.

    I explore a small patch of oak woodland in minute detail several times a week and have learned so much. It’s astounding what you can learn when you slow down and notice. And return again and again.

    Life is beautiful.

    • Great hearing from you, Neddie! Thanks for checking back and for your comment. Beautifully written with much wisdom.. Blessings..

  • Dear Nancy,
    I am so happy to hear this! This journey we are on to live well , happy and at peace without longing and with an open door and heart towards our estranged adult child is the challenge of a lifetime for a parent, I believe . Somehow we are tasked to manage, understand and conquer so many emotions surrounding loss, anger, grief, resentment,sorrow, anxiety and fear. Why this task has been chosen for us by the cruelties of fate, I do not know, but somehow I think it has two parts: For us to understand others with a full soul, and for our estranged family member to understand their own knowledge too, through our resolution of learning to live beyond it, in wholeness. We each live in our own house. The light can be left on, but that doesn’t mean we stay home from a day at the beach, waiting. Kudos to you for building this next stage of your life and thankfulness to you for coming back to share your happy days with us too. Like any great loss, we will live with this day, today; some days will be better than others, but all days are ours alone to choose how, and all days are ours alone to love. Blessings to you. Blessings to us all. Sincerely , Linda

    • Thank you, Linda! Your post is so beautifully expressed. I appreciate you following this blog and will continue to share whatever I can that might help us all. Blessings to you

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