6 years? Maybe 7? I don’t keep track. I’ve seen her a few times, but I walked right by. It wasn’t ghosting; it was a conscious decision after years of abuse to say goodbye.
The abuse was emotional, financial, and a handful of times physical. It came in various forms. Mainly her words–lies, manipulation, deceit. I still shudder thinking about the intentionally hurtful and remarkably cruel (and untrue) things she said to me. It gave me terrible self esteem. I believed I was a horrible person, that I was unlovable. It took years of therapy and analyzing my childhood to be able to think straight and determine what actual reality was. The abuse has affected every aspect of my life. I still lack trust and naturally assume the worst in all things, especially people.
As soon as I made the decision to end our relationship, in my heart I knew it was right.
When you become estranged from a loved one, you go through a whole host of emotions. First guilt, sadness, insecurity, but also relief. Like the weight of the world has been lifted. That feeling intensifies until you settle into your new normal. You’re reminded you made the right decision with each passing day. Eventually you don’t think of her at all anymore. I know now if I hadn’t chosen estrangement, I would be lost in darkness. I made the decision I had to make to save myself, my family. I chose me and I have no regrets.
Once you’re estranged you start over, almost as if that person died.
You mourn not for them, but for the person you told yourself they were–the mother you needed and wished you had.
As life happens–marriage and babies, new homes and jobs–you always fear they will try to force themselves in your life and hurt you again. The feeling is always there, at the grocery store, the mall, on a walk with your kids. You tell yourself she can’t hurt you anymore and forge ahead. All contact made has and always will go unanswered.
You are reminded of all the times you tried to help them, encourage them, be there for them. You know now they were never going to change, to accept responsibility for the terrible things they did. To get the help they needed. A big thing I realized was that she gave up on me long before I gave up on her. And one of the biggest surprises is that even after all the pain, everything they put you through, you really do hope the best for them.
Some hear my story and are horrified I would abandon a parent. Others wonder why I put up with it for so long. I ask you to step back before you judge someone for being estranged; it is a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Now that I am a parent, I am even surer of my decision.
I look at these little people I would die for, and I know I would never subject them to that kind of pain. I’ve often thought about how someone could do those things, say those things to anyone, let alone their child.
As a mom it’s my job to teach my kids many things, but one of the most important things I can pass on to them is that you teach people how they treat you. If you allow someone to hurt you, they will continue to do so. People tell you who they are all the time with their words and actions, so pay attention and protect yourself. Don’t be afraid to take a break, or walk away completely.
People in our lives should never be a life sentence; love is not a mandate or obligation. You deserve to be happy and have healthy relationships, and sometimes that means saying goodbye.