Elizabeth - Thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate response. First, let me say how sorry I am that your parents are unable to see their mistakes so that you can feel safe in relationship with them again. However, I truly commend you for reconnecting even when it doesn't feel good, because there are a lot of people who are collateral damage when an estrangement takes place. My daughter still has a relationship with my mother, but my mother grieves everyday because I do not have a relationship with my daughter. I know it never occurs to my daughter that she is hurting her Nana, too. She would never hurt her on purpose.
You are right about commenters projecting their own pain on me. It is the one thing I never bargained for when I started writing about estrangement. How naive I was! Many of the comments took my breath away, as if I had been kicked in the stomach. They sent me into a crisis of shame, and it took a lot of work to sort through all the emotions around these unkind remarks. But I will say that it has all been a part of the journey toward wholeness. No one ever tells you that that journey hurts like hell.
I know what my part of the estrangement is and have written some about it in other articles. But there is so much to my story that I will never share because it would expose my daughter, and my desire as her mother is to always protect her. My stories are about me, how I have handled the pain and shame of estrangement, how I have done the healing work (with a therapist) to come to terms with my own failures, and how I have learned to live a full and rich life even without my beloved child in it. My stories are meant to bring hope to other parents, direction for their own path, some tough love to get them to see their blindspots, and most of all, compassion for both parents and children who are estranged. They are not meant to tell the whole story to those who want to cast blame.
I keep writing because of the parents who say I have made them feel less alone. It does make me a target, but I am learning to ignore those whose pain is so obvious, and send them love instead. No one wins in estrangement.
Thank you again for your kind response and I wish you strength and peace as you navigate a difficult relationship with your parents. My hope is that you learn to re-parent yourself, and continue to heal.
All the best - Beth