Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Estrangement from Paternal Relatives

My mother completely estranged herself from my paternal relatives, with the exception of a couple of my uncles, but I still maintained contact with them over the years up until early 2008.  I mostly stayed in touch with AJ because she was the aunt to whom I felt closest, but I also talked to my SGm and AM, on occasion.  Since the three of them are close, what one knows, the other two will most likely know, since they have a tendency to share information because of their love of gossip. Because of this, I made sure to withhold some information about my life when talking to AJ.  Knowing AM, she has a way of prying for information and basically wanting to be in-the-know about other people, so that she can pass judgment about how they go about their lives.  If I told AJ anything of importance, and she then told AM, AM would have quickly called me to get more information, and I did not want to deal with her questions or commentary about my life.  Not only would AM find it necessary to try to insert her opinions, but the few times I saw her in person, she would feel it necessary to make critical comments about my appearance, specifically about my adult acne and weight, which are two aspects about my body for which I am insecure.  People with more discretion would more than likely not have said anything about my appearance, but AM never hesitated to give her opinion.

During my pregnancy from mid-2007, to early 2008, I did not have a close relationship with my mother, was living with my boyfriend, and didn't really have any close family members to turn to for any support.  AJ and I spoke every now and again, but hardly ever saw each other in person.  About midway through my pregnancy, during a phone call with AJ, I decided to let her know that I was pregnant.  I also told her that I wanted her to keep that information to herself, because I had not even told my my mom, at that point, so I did not want many other people to know.  She said that she understood and that she wouldn't tell anyone else.  Well, a few days later, she called me to let me know that she had told other family members about the pregnancy, because she just couldn't keep it from them, since she felt that they could be a source of support and help my boyfriend and I to get baby stuff.  I wasn't pleased that she had gone against my request, but after thinking about it, I said that it was ok and that I understood her reasoning.  So for the rest of my pregnancy, AJ and AM called frequently to check in on me, and also bought some of the essential supplies for the baby.  I appreciated all of their help, even though I still didn't feel comfortable with AM, especially, being part of my life again.

Shortly after my paternal relatives found out about my pregnancy, I decided to tell my mom about it as well.  I had been keeping it from her for months, because I knew that she would have wanted me to wait until I was a bit older than 23 to have a child, and I could definitely understand that perspective. Once I let her know, she did express some disappointment, but she eventually came around to the idea. At some point after the initial news, I also let her know that I had told AJ before anyone else, and I knew that she was hurt by that, but there was no changing what had happened, so we just went from there.  My siblings were supportive and my stepfather, especially, was happy about the prospect of being a grandfather for the first time. So after worrying about their reactions, I did end up having the support of my family, for this important time in my life.

After giving birth to my daughter in early 2008, AM, my SGm, and my paternal enabling grandfather (PEGf) came to visit me, so they could see her.  It was strange having the three of them in my apartment, since I had barely seen them for the past several years.  They visited for about an hour, and got a chance to take pictures.  Shortly after that visit, I decided that I no longer wanted these people in my life.  It might seem like a rash decision on my part, seeing as how they had all just offered me support during my pregnancy, for which I was very appreciative.  But after their visit, I started thinking about the ways in which they had treated me when I was a child, and I felt strongly about not having any of that influence in my daughter's life.  I knew what they were about, but I didn't want my child experiencing any of their subtle negativity.   AJ was the only one with whom I still wanted to  have contact.  Once I made that decision, I stopped taking calls from any of my paternal relatives, other than AJ and also a couple of my uncles with whom I was still on good terms.  After realizing that I was not putting any effort into contacting her, AM tried to reach out to me on FaceBook, a few times in "09" but I did not respond to her messages.

At first, I felt bad about cutting off contact with my paternal relatives, but then I realized that I had really been experiencing a slow estrangement process for many years, anyway, and making the decision to completely cut them off, was about closing that chapter in my life.  As I've mentioned before, my paternal relatives have experienced estrangement of family members throughout the years, but those estrangements weren't permanent.  But in my case, I don't have a desire to reestablish relationships with the relatives with whom I cut contact.  I don't lose sleep or have any regrets over my decision, since I feel like it was the best decision to make for not only myself, but for my own family.

7 comments:

  1. Ok, I see, Wanda. So you're a young mom yourself now, with a five yr old, trying to make sense of a lot of early feelings and experiences, so you can make the best choices now. It's your life, after all. Is your mother still in the picture? The life you described growing up sounds kind of rough for you. hug CS

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  2. Yep, CS, you've gotten the gist of the blog. After exploring past experiences though, I am going to get into recent and ongoing territory, and how history is kind of repeating itself at this point. And you will get a chance to find out about the current state of my relationship with my mom in upcoming entries.

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    1. btw, if you'd prefer me not to call you Wanda all you have to do is say so! People should get to choose their own nicknames!!

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    2. CS, I don't have an issue with you calling me Wanda. You asked if you could on your own blog, and I said that I didn't mind. I thought it was funny, but I don't mind it.

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  3. The thing is, there's a reason we're ACoNs. Adult children of Narcissists. Because their patterns have continued all the way up to the present day. Pretty much for all of us or we wouldn't be writing.

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    1. CS, I totally get that. In my case, the thing that makes it slightly different between myself and ACoNs, is that my immediate family members-mom, stepdad, and siblings don't have unhealthy levels of narcissism, at least from my observations. When I decided to cut off most of my paternal relatives, I now understand that I was walking away from a group of people whom I do believe to have unhealthy levels of narcissism, and I haven't had anything to do with them since 2008. So when discussing them, I will mostly be talking about the past.

      In upcoming entries, I am going to be discussing the dysfunction between immediate family members with whom I do keep in contact, such as my mom and siblings, and like I had said before, the dysfunction in those relationships has less to do with unhealthy narcissism, in my opinion, and more to do with people not getting along for various other reasons, and how these kinds of issues can lead to a pattern of estrangement if people don't recognize their behaviors and try to change.

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  4. It seems to me that you were making a decision NOT to have this behavior around your daughter. You were protecting her, as a GOOD mother does...regardless the fallout.

    How I wish I had done the same for mine! We adopted our son at 3, and it was a few months until the NM saw him. After bringing her home here, within an hour I heard him yowling from upstairs bathroom. She had slapped him across the face. It had her damn imprint of her hand on his cheek. Her excuse? "He spit at me".

    Oh, why didn't I grab this old woman and throw her in a car and take her to the airport never to see her again? I was numb with shock....am still. What? did he spit at your overdeveloped calves?


    I can understand your actions, Wanda. I think things are not clear why perhaps to you right now....but you do have a daughter to protect from those that would influence her to the bad.

    A child's psyche is precious and fragile. As was ours. To delay or detour the abuse, especially from family, is a GOOD thing.

    I think you were acting as you should. You knew the pain, hell, you FELT the pain of their behavior in your bones. Why allow them to do the same...again...to your daughter?

    You are the GOOD mother...the one many of us never had. I am glad that you do seem to have supportive family members, though. I never did. I had to go it alone for decades and that is why I got very confused.

    Love,
    Lady Nyo

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