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

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
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?
I am glad to hear you use words like "thrive". I'm hoping to get there some day....and not just "get by with a longing to go back and talk sense into my daughter." I need to give up the need to "fix" things. I think I've done that a lot in the last couple of years....but I sometimes still have that yearning. I have the same feeling about feeling freer each year......It wasn't until this year, that I believed this new house I live in is really mine. Me was not a strong concept.

I was adopted, and so I was supposed to be wanted.......and my parents were both alcoholics.....and cold....and distant, both bitter about their own upbringing. The concept of "family" isn't what I see on TV....I think looking at it your way.....it is a matter of the heart and not DNA is a helpful and healthier perspective. 😋

I am so different than before when I lived in Dysfunctionland. I'm not afraid all the time, not walking on eggshells, and not constantly hypervigilant. I know I don't want my family back the way they are now. I want my daughter back the way I imagine she can be...so smart with so much potential; and the way I know she can be when not using/drinking, kind, considerate and an excellent teacher........but I really don't want to deal with her dysfunction and unpredictibile behaviors, and inability to feel or empathize...........not the way she has treated me in the more recent years...so very hurtful. I still love her because she's my daughter, but I don't like her behavior the way she is. I can't tolerate how she treats me any more than how the rest of the family treated me. She's gone to the dark side. It was hard setting clear boundaries with my daughter.....and leaving the fixer role (if she had an issue, I was always there not just to support but to fix it)....and when I stopped, she called me mean and crazy.

And there is my grandson, a new child's pure love is so awesome-they love just because they can....because that's what they do...without prejudice or malice; my grandson's was so very precious....so special and so very loving. But part of what made me finally leave the X was watching him, be there on his mother's lap, while they taunted me, had dramatic scenes, made fun of me, and belittled me......and I realized I was watching it happen all over again, to generation 3. I was watching him learn to be like them. I saw glimpses of it happening to the X's children, and now with this generation, I saw it daily happening to my grandson....I was the stepmother....the butt of jokes.....and my grandson was learning how to treat me like shit.....all reinforced by the X and his daughter. I miss my grandson. I taught him the sign for love, and my last memories of him, standing in the truck as I pulled out of the driveway and he didn't know I was crying.....signing I love you with both hands...and me signing back......makes me cry when I think of it. However, I don't miss the abuse from any of those who blatantly abused me and taught him hateful behaviors.

The dust is beginning to settle.....and life is so much calmer and I can see the good in the little things each day....... I think I was in such a fog all the time, that I didn't notice the little things around me. Since the fog has lifted....I'm now entrenched in feelings of loss, grief, and wishful thinking....they can be such a bitch some days, that's for sure. Thanks for your thoughtful and hopeful words.
 
I wonder if you can find "other ways" to feel a connection in your heart to your daughter and grandson?

Maybe you could start a journal for each of them, where you share stuff with them, the way you would like to.

You can give it to them, when your grandson is grown up and when your daughter has one day come to her senses.

I think it would be an incredible treasure to receive such a gift... Proof that someone was thinking of you and loving you, in the time that you couldn't be together.

Also, could you volunteer a couple of times a month with little kids? Many kids and their parents would be incredibly grateful for a grandmother role in their life.

My family moved overseas when I was 7, so I didn't have extended family around, and I remember always having some adopted grandmothers and grandfathers around. They were lovely.

We tend to "cling" to love... Thinking that when we've lost it in some way, that that's the only "real" love and that it's gone.

Sometimes we have to be gently open to different kinds of love, which can be things like journalling for someone or helping with little kids that don't have the grandparents they need.

I reckon you'd be surprised, how heart-filling things like that can be... It can make the loss less aching and acute and easier to live with well.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
This is a powerful statement and one that truly freed me when I recognized that it was a pure belief:
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.
There was so much shame when I cut off my mother and I shared with friends who were ironically struggling much more with their families but were wearing badges of honour cause they could stay in relationship. I also grew up a very collective society - where relationship are blood and air!

I relate to your post so much and I just want to hold you and your feelings about this.

I cut off my mother for many times but last time for 6 years. I lost some siblings along the way....they were her minions - re-enforcers. I reconnected with her after therapy and I am more confident and sure about my boundaries. What I am learning is when there is a traumatic family, the one that gets out becomes scapegoat - black sheep, and ostracized but the objective reality is there is a good reason - mental health OR HEALTH - we got out.

People die. I know it is harsh but ultimately we lose people to death or to save ourselves. But it makes me appreciate that I can breathe without being put down, belittled and I may be lonely as I get older (even though luckily I am happily married). personally, I rather die alone and sad than be hated, hating, hostility and the inhumane way my family relates to each other. But I know the feeling of grieve every time I mentioned does not lessened.

It is tough. but I do admire your courage.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
This is a powerful statement and one that truly freed me when I recognized that it was a pure belief:

There was so much shame when I cut off my mother and I shared with friends who were ironically struggling much more with their families but were wearing badges of honour cause they could stay in relationship. I also grew up a very collective society - where relationship are blood and air!

I relate to your post so much and I just want to hold you and your feelings about this.

I cut off my mother for many times but last time for 6 years. I lost some siblings along the way....they were her minions - re-enforcers. I reconnected with her after therapy and I am more confident and sure about my boundaries. What I am learning is when there is a traumatic family, the one that gets out becomes scapegoat - black sheep, and ostracized but the objective reality is there is a good reason - mental health OR HEALTH - we got out.

People die. I know it is harsh but ultimately we lose people to death or to save ourselves. But it makes me appreciate that I can breathe without being put down, belittled and I may be lonely as I get older (even though luckily I am happily married). personally, I rather die alone and sad than be hated, hating, hostility and the inhumane way my family relates to each other. But I know the feeling of grieve every time I mentioned does not lessened.

It is tough. but I do admire your courage.
Thank you for your very thoughtful response.....it truly hits home, but is very helpful and reinforces my initial reasons for leaving. I can't save those who don't even recognize that they need saving, and it's not my job anyway.....not my responsibility. It has been very hard being the black sheep and being rejected and abused because I left. When I was there, I tried so hard to keep peace in the family.......and it was a relentless and unappreciated role/ job. That burden has been lifted by my leaving.....and I guess there is a void left. What I had as family didn't "feel like family," but it was my normal....which was very abnormal.

Trying to take the non-hateful high road and leave was the best I could do for me. But now, there is that void......that causes me to feel such loss. I need to remind myself, that I left to save me.....it's kind of like I'm waking up from an awful nightmare.....and now that I'm awake, I'm glad it's over.....but I wish it could have ended differently.

I suppose you are right when you say the obvious....we lose people to death or we leave them for whatever personal reasons....and I guess life is all about change....
I never thought of myself as having courage....I think I left for survival.....and I spent some time in a big ol' fog......and now am able to feel the loss, grief, and mourn the outcome. Again, I truly appreciate you taking the time to respond. It is comforting to hear from others who have left to find a better way to live, and who have dealt with the emotional fall-out.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I wonder if you can find "other ways" to feel a connection in your heart to your daughter and grandson?

Maybe you could start a journal for each of them, where you share stuff with them, the way you would like to.

You can give it to them, when your grandson is grown up and when your daughter has one day come to her senses.

I think it would be an incredible treasure to receive such a gift... Proof that someone was thinking of you and loving you, in the time that you couldn't be together.

Also, could you volunteer a couple of times a month with little kids? Many kids and their parents would be incredibly grateful for a grandmother role in their life.

My family moved overseas when I was 7, so I didn't have extended family around, and I remember always having some adopted grandmothers and grandfathers around. They were lovely.

We tend to "cling" to love... Thinking that when we've lost it in some way, that that's the only "real" love and that it's gone.

Sometimes we have to be gently open to different kinds of love, which can be things like journalling for someone or helping with little kids that don't have the grandparents they need.

I reckon you'd be surprised, how heart-filling things like that can be... It can make the loss less aching and acute and easier to live with well.
@Sophy (in lockdown) I'm a retired teacher and I now write for a living. I stay connected to high school age kids and started an internship program to assist kids with college expenses in exchange for helping me with the everchanging virtual world. I have a little home based business, and enjoy working with the kids without the politics of education....I've always been about kids, I guess.

I started a college fund for my grandson and am on board with a hope chest for my daughter....putting things in it that I want her to have. I think a journal for them both, is an excellent idea! I did that when my daughter turned 18, made her an emergency journal when she graduated high school....with all kinds of advice (when I look back...most advice was solid with the exception of relationships...I could have done better in that department but I also understand....given that my parents were clueless about the fundamentals of relationships). Thanks for these great ideas...it is very helpful.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
"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."

Oh yes @TruthSeeker , I suppose what I said wasn't really clear- though I don't know how to make it so.

The peace and absence of abuse was very good. Loving from a distance (so I thought) was preferable. Giving the freedom for others to live as they choose was essential. Trying for many years before coming to the conclusion it takes 2 people, was reinforcing. After others died, and there was no sense of needing to protect them, it got even less impactful in terms of emotional pain and upheaval. Now, too, the ridiculous comments are, well, I don't take them to heart. One just called me 'a porker' a few months ago, and I weighed 90 lbs. I think, 'your opinion of me is not my business'. But it helped to have other's feedback. Be it big things or small.

When I say seeing another way, I didn't even mean free from addiction, because I don't see that only as a willful choice. I didn't mean it even that they should care about me, because i couldn't make them do so, or be a person they thought worth doing so. Nor was it a desire to connect to prove I had worth vs. being worthless
I only meant it as the benefits of support, family, having each other's backs. having good times, and connection.

Yes everyone does die, but if it's that simple it wouldn't be worth investing in anyone or anything, it would be like everything in life (or every relationship) is like eating a cheese sandwich. (But that's just me.) However, when it comes to addictions or abuse, and humiliation and fear and devastating one's sense of worth, saving yourself is not at the expense of another, I think it's just sanity. But the pain of loss is that. Pain for them. Pain for (myself).

There were times I wondered if it could be overcome, almost went out there. But was counselled against it. And, -they were right. It would have been horrendous.

I think it's normal to think, "Could there have been a better way?" But ultimately, much is over, That is just the truth.

I agree with the others. Try to be kind to yourself. Listen to your heart of hearts and do what that tells you. 🤗
 
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