A Thread for Those Who Have Gone No Contact with Family: Does the Loneliness, Isolation, and Grief Ever Get Better?

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
This is a thread for people who have gone no contact with their family and understand or are dealing with loneliness, isolation, grief, and loss.


Several years ago, I left the dysfunctional family. It was my role to fix everything.....keep the peace (well I thought it was at the time when I lived it). It was made clear to me that if I left, I was "no-one". Both my sibling and my X husband told me I was crazy and mean. They promised me that in the end, I'd have no one. That promise came true.

It was a vulnerable time, and my vulnerabilities were used to hurt me. I was stalked, photographed, and terrorized. I've been punished ever since with silence, ghosting, and manipulation, sexual abuse, and infrequently, a carrot thrown my way to lead me to believe I'd have contact with those I left behind and I loved, and then the carrot ripped away, breaking my heart.

Initially, there was active abuse from my only sibling, X, and eventually, my daughter. Through all of this, I was "mean" and "crazy" to denote I was the "different" one-the one who dared leave. My values and beliefs are very different and I never felt I fit in. But I used dissociation to cope with my medical trauma, CSA, rapes, and living with the X and dealing with my sociopathic sibling. I learned that skill as a child, and managed CSA, medical trauma, gaslighting, and emotional trauma with that tool. In the past 6 months or so, I'm not dissociating hardly at all.....and oh my gosh.....I feel like shit....because I'm feeling.....

I left my entire family, which at the time, it was the right thing to do, assuming my daughter would be by my side and be there when I grew old and gray......but that's not the way it's turning out. She was coerced to the family dark side (mind you, she's 40 y/o now)....and has her own mental health issues, and yes, I know she's an adult and responsible for her own choices and consequences. I just never believed I'd lose her. Whether for money, security, a warped sense of belonging, or drugs.......I don't see her anymore. She is trapped in the dysfunctional tornado. Before the family craziness and my leaving, she had never spoken an unkind word to me, but I know she was threatened by my sibling.........not to get in the middle....or she'd be alone, without any family, and he'd leave her nothing in his will.......and my sibling is a socio-pathic narcissist and a master gas-lighter. So is the X husband.....and it is my belief that they worked together, to hurt me, and used her-and hurt her, too.

Anyway, my T used a great analogy, it's like I'm on the outside of the tornado, and I'm now able to see the dysfunctional patterns and I can't do anything to help those I love....it's like looking through a glass window......seeing the tornado, but not being part of it.......knowing what's wrong now, but feeling helpless and unable to help those I love. When you're in the tornado, you aren't feeling....it is only when you are outside of the tornado....you can realize the craziness and the drama.....but you can't go back. There is a part of me that wants to save those I love....I love my daughter and grandson....yes, I wish I could save them......but I can't go back....I am no longer a part of that family. I'm an outsider now.....I have no home or family to go back to....I feel like I wasted 25 years of my life there.....

There had to be a replacement for me when I left to keep the status quo or equilibrium for narcissistic X's life. So, before I had even moved out, my stepdaughter (X's daughter) was invited to move in with her children and husband....who declined. A replacement was quickly found for me, my own daughter, whose addictions and poor money handling had lost her her place to stay-and low and behold, my X had a vacancy. I was unable to continue to help her financially......and she was in a bad head space.....as was I and she lost her house. My daughter found herself in a self-made crisis, resulting from mental health problems, drug/alcohol use, so to have a place to live, she moved in with the X and has lived there for 3 years....She was my biggest support in leaving the X.....and has done a 180.....from encouraging me to leave and saying what a narcissist he was....to saying how horrible and mean I am......it feels almost cult-like.

So, it has been hard leaving everything and everyone behind.....believing that I've done the right thing for me. Dissociation made it easier to stay there and I spent a lot of time in my bedroom....I didn't stay around the X.....staying in my own space helped to reduce drama and criticism......and when he was raging, I just didn't feel. The wrong seizure medication also helped me not to feel and that was a major eye opener right before I left....when I changed meds. I've left....and worked hard to get to a better place.....believing that I'd be able to work things out with my daughter. But I've come to the conclusion that that isn't likely to happen. She was my motivation to change......and now all I'm left with is me.....I clung to that idea....that she'd come see me....that she'd leave, too. That she loved me.....but I don't think that's the case.....

I realize....I can't go home.....there is nothing left for me.......my distant family is covid afraid.....and far away.....can't even visit. Covid has made this so much worse.....I would have had more things to divert my attention.....more positive things to dwell on....

It is awfully hard to get up in the morning and maintain some semblance of motivation for living. Recently, I've realized that, I will likely live alone and die without family, and the trade-off to leaving everything behind is just better mental health. I'm not always certain the trade off was worth losing my daughter....it's been so very hard.....she is my only daughter. I'm older....in the fourth quarter of life, so I don't see "another family" in my future. I see lonliness, isolation, and dying maybe with a friend or two......if they are alive. I won't die in a nursing home......alone......and controlled and without independence. I lived that life....alone and controlled and dependent.....I won't die that way.

I'm not loving these feelings......nor the grief.....and loss....and isolation.....the separation......and loneliness.

Is there anyone who has left their family to find themselves in a better place, eventually???...........and got past the lonliness, horrific loss, and isolation, and grief? Could use a success story or two....to shine a possible light on this one. Does the grass ever look greener after going no contact?
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I hesitated to post because I don't think this will be helpful, because I can't say if there are success stories. I do relate to much of what you've said, but I think in some ways frequently the honest answer is closer to the grass can be brown on both sides! I think as it's said with grief, it doesn't lessen so much as one learns to incorporate it better. Some things can be grieved; others the scar never really heals, or like most scars hurts more at times.

I am very sorry for what you've gone through. I think I expressed a similar view once, and you said (paraphrasing) as long as one's alive, then one is living; age itself means less. i think you hit the nail on the head in terms of describing the impact in words. I think the profound loss, betrayal, rejection- different things- have a very marked impact on one's identity, and frequently self-worth. But, relationships always take both parties. Though we are all to blame at different times, we can be cruel, or self-justified, in our actions, words or inactions. I suppose it also depends on pride, responsibility for one's self, and forgiveness. But, we can't always be as we'd wish. And we certainly can't make others care who don't. And the cruel truth is that it doesn't matter if you're related by blood. And perhaps that's where the greatest pains come in: if those who know you best can't love you, or abuse you (and perhaps did since childhood), a lot of beliefs are formed. And then there's the obvious grief of seeing there's another way- but not if you're the only one who wants it.

Relate too to the aging thing. It's a family-centric society, at least before you age markedly, and there isn't much room or acknowledgement for those without those resources or support (JMHO). And no, i will die any way but in strangers' hands and incapacitated. I hope anyway. If I can do without in life I will do the same at the end of the road.

On the other hand, to choose otherwise and pretend things are ok when they are anything but, is it's own recipe for heartache. So it's a catch-22 there. Not to say people can't change. I just wouldn't rely on it. so even that, only the future will determine.

Best wishes to you. 🤗
 
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Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @TruthSeeker, I'm very sorry that you feel this way at the moment. It's hard. It must make you feel depressed. I've gone no contact with my family a couple of times. The main time was when I was 18 and went to college. I was very traumatised by what had happened in the familiy. I felt free but also at the same time lost. Unfortunately some things don't change but also they can. Over time, one of the things ive learnt is that people can change. If your struggling and depressed I would say that you might aswell focus on yourself and be kind to yourself. Self development and improving things in your own life. Best wishes S3😊.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
I have a similar situation going on. It wasn't until I really took my own self care very seriously that I was okay with leaving the urge to jump into the tornado to help those involved get out, behind me. I am watching those inside now but have a very good and strong sense of detachment. My love for myself is for the first time ever, stronger than my desire to help those I love.

I need to help myself. That way I am strong in case they decide to help themselves.

It's a nightmare of emotions though isn't it? OMG the pain in this type of situation. There are no words for it. I am so sorry for what you are going through right now.
 

mumstheword

MyPTSD Pro
I have gone through a lot of this. Still going through it. Yes it's very hard and painful. I have someone who understands, by my side though. And I try to continue to be there for my children, although I have to walk a razor edge path with them.
It is very difficult or non existant with extended family though.

If I didn't have someone who has my back, I wouldn't be able to have as much contact with most of my offspring, because they live closely alongside their (abusive to me) father. Having my guyfriend is the only way to ensure my (v)ex doesn't keeping messing with me. (V) won't dare treat me like he used to, now that I have someone who truly respects, values and appreciates me.

With my autistic brain I don't have the social ability to cope with many of my family members and the complexity of it all, after all I have been through and how it's continued to affect me.

I try to cultivate my energy to support my grown children, though, even though it's hurtful how much they align with their father who has treated me the way he has.

They are in a tricky, needy, compromised positition and it's not fair of me to ask them to take sides.

I have to pull back, a lot, though, and focus on my relationship which supports me, and my activities that build me up, make me strong and bring me joy.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I forgot something to add, you can always make small attempts to reach out, with no expectation. The idea of detachment, though it isn't all it's cracked up to be, since even if you love someone regardless from a distance they likely won't see it that way. However, I think it's critical to leave the past behind (not easy), , though by that I don't mean avoiding conflict or where they feel hurt. But not getting drawn in. Much as @shimmerz said. However, just as equally, it will not 'be' or feel like a family, because, well, it isn't really, nor is it necessarily safe at all, or for the most part.

i think like Shimmerz said too, there are no words. If you have support, like @mumstheword said it's easier; if you don't there is only acceptance and recognizing who you need to change is yourself, they have the right to live their life as they choose (though that won't exactly mean you will not feel unlovable or defective). Also, examine if/ where your reactions can be more helpful. As Shimmerz said, then you work on strengthening or loving yourself, if you can find a way to make that possible.
 
Is there anyone who has left their family to find themselves in a better place, eventually???
Yes. I went no-contact 20 years ago and don't regret it at all.

The first few years were turbulent - there was a lot of fallout.

But after the dust settled, the benefits started becoming visible.

I have grown, healed and thrived a little bit more each year that I've been no-contact. It's really added up over the years.

Each year I would feel a bit freer, still.

Yes, it's been a difficult journey too... It's hard to find a "substitute family" of sorts. But, we're not the only ones with crappy families... A lot of people struggle with the same stuff and finding people who are in a similar situation really helps - it can become a kind of substitute family, with everyone helping each other replace those things that family usually offers - help when moving house, a couch to sleep on in emergencies, etc.

Personally, I think "family" is a matter of the heart anyway, not a matter of having the same DNA.

I've often wished I had "a family" but I never wished to have MY family back.

So, yes, success stories are definitely possible.

The question is, what do you need to help turn your story into a success too?
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I think coming out the other side, post +20 years and death(s), it wasn't worth disconnecting..- yet impossible to continue? 😔😢

it can become a kind of substitute family, with everyone helping each other replace those things that family usually offers - help when moving house, a couch to sleep on in emergencies, etc.
I found after the past it was impossible to ask for help, even food or emergency shelter. When I did/do ask, or said 'yes', I expected the worst, and felt/feel ashamed. No one's fault but mine, but it's what I brought forward from it, and seems either proven out or I ensure it's self-fulfilling. However, that's just me. @TruthSeeker 's experiences or feelings might be different. I think at least in part it has to do with (no) worth. But everybody is different.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
"And then there's the obvious grief of seeing there's another way- but not if you're the only one who wants it."

I think that this is a big part of it, but that when I was in the tornadic dysfunctional world....I felt like there must be another way....but was too afraid to try something different. Leaving was hard, leaving behind my daughter, whose had mental health issues and drug issues and who is manipulated by the same man that manipulated me makes me so very sad, when I know who she is (was) at the core and has such great potential to be someone she is proud of, and seeing that there is another way......is so hard. Thanks for responding.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @TruthSeeker, I'm very sorry that you feel this way at the moment. It's hard. It must make you feel depressed. I've gone no contact with my family a couple of times. The main time was when I was 18 and went to college. I was very traumatised by what had happened in the familiy. I felt free but also at the same time lost. Unfortunately some things don't change but also they can. Over time, one of the things ive learnt is that people can change. If your struggling and depressed I would say that you might aswell focus on yourself and be kind to yourself. Self development and improving things in your own life. Best wishes S3😊.
I totally get the "feeling free....and lost" I think because the expectation is that family is fundamental, and there is something wrong with you if you don't have family.....when you do. Then there's the concept of the ideal family, where everyone recognizes each other and supports each other, and laughs and cries together and hugs you when you need it, knows and understands you.....Not laughs at each other's mistakes, is sarcastic, ugly and cries when they don't get their way.....or threatens. My T told me the same thing, to be kind to myself. I am making decisions to improve things in my life, too. I suppose looking at things, and "what could have been" will keep me stuck. Thanks for responding.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I have a similar situation going on. It wasn't until I really took my own self care very seriously that I was okay with leaving the urge to jump into the tornado to help those involved get out, behind me. I am watching those inside now but have a very good and strong sense of detachment. My love for myself is for the first time ever, stronger than my desire to help those I love.

I need to help myself. That way I am strong in case they decide to help themselves.

It's a nightmare of emotions though isn't it? OMG the pain in this type of situation. There are no words for it. I am so sorry for what you are going through right now.

Thank you for your words of encouragement, @shimmerez. Now that I'm on the other side, and free of the family tyranny, that urge is powerful, I want to go help my daughter and save her from the "dark side." The mother in me struggles so much with this. It's been a couple of years, and I've worked hard to take better care of myself....though, recently......the emotions have kinda taken over....and self care has a back seat. And you are right...words don't adequately describe how I feel. I have always felt that if my daughter figured it out.....and it isn't that she hasn't seen it from the outside when she lived away from home.....I'd need to be strong.....in case she does decide to leave and make a better life for herself. Thank you......I'm grateful for your words of encouragement....and yes....the whirlwind of emotions so totally suck!
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I think coming out the other side, post +20 years and death(s), it wasn't worth disconnecting..- yet impossible to continue? 😔😢
I'm sorry you feel that way. I have to believe that others who have gone no contact, have found a way to internally reconcile the situation.....and detach themselves with some sense of resolution.
 
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