I now consider myself estranged, orphaned. It’s a trip after setting yourself free from abuse. Despite the mental and emotional preparedness, the effects of going no contact with my birth vessel, the man that raised me and the child they had together were known to me long before placing hard boundaries back in 2020 – the loneliness and acceptance that my abusers will never take accountability.
I’ve learned that the healing path isn’t linear, and there are often setbacks after going no contact with the narcissist that play out. The ones you go no contact with think that you’re caving, feel validated as if you couldn’t live without them because you slipped and tried taking the time for a conversation. It’s happened to every person I know also healing from narscissitic abuse. They have said their abuser just turned it around on them and, placed the boundary. They are ridiculous. So, don’t take the “L” if you find yourself in an arguement with the narc you slipped-up and answered the phone for. Narcissists don’t often attempt to heal or see themselves as a problem. When I went no contact with mine, she screeched that that her doctor never mentioned she had that condition. See what I mean?
So far on my healing path, I’ve noticed that all of my maternal grandparents birthed children don’t understand emotional nurturing. I don’t blame any of them for it, but I hated them all of my life for doing nothing to heal that for themselves and for taking it out on me. They all embody the “sweep it under the rug” mentality to keep the family close. They exempt the homophobia, the racism, the narscsissim and the unchecked mental illness by hiding it, not telling whole truths or chalking it up to, “they are too old, not smart enough and set in their ways to understand so let ’em be.” Yet, the family is full of queer and multi-cultural humans.
Not only that, they band together against each other’s kids. And most of the kids, who are now adults with their own children, enable their parents for which I assume is fear of their children going no contact with them as their kids grow older.
An example of that is my mother would always get on the phone with first my grandma then all of my aunts to gather pity and support for herself when I did something that made her look bad. She often admitted putting me in counseling at seven because I provoked her to hit me so hard it left a bruise. It was because of me that happened and forever after it was set in stone that I was the problem child no matter what my mother did to provoke a manic outburst from me.
It’s not all for nothing, though. Things do come full circle.
When first began to pull back, and placed soft boundaries, on my parents, I endured the texts saying I am being disrespectful, that I need to go to counseling to deal with my anger issues, and I need to love them, respect them, buy them things and endure whatever they have to say. Once those died down and things got quiet, I risked the chance at a family gathering only to find out that my parents, sister, and her husband had started an argument between them and the rest of the family because my sister and her husband felt it the perfect time to convey that my mother is the most victimized of them all, that our grandma failed my mother. My mom and sister were using my wounds, my work to heal, years of therapy to create a coop, all to get my mother her beloved attention. What my parents, sister, and her husband didn’t expect was the backlash and support of our grandma.
After I started placing soft boundaries, they didn’t have anyone else but each other to emotionally abuse, humiliate, or bully, so they turned on the family they knew would still sweep all of the above under the rug keeping my once large and seemingly close family unchecked cycles of abuse going.
When I was ready for hard boundaries, I was terrified. I couldn’t eat or sleep for fear that my dad would make a scene, screaming, yelling, or even suing me for upsetting my mom the way he used to. With the help of my therapist at the time and the support of my husband, I realized that those fears of my mom unleashing my dad on me were abusive. In the past, even as an adult with children, my mother would use my dad to scare me into obedience or just because she enjoyed seeing me wounded. When he yelled at me, he knocked me down, reduced me to nothing. He made me feel small, unloved, a burden and often forced me to apologize to my mom despite pleading with him that she was being cruel and that I was trying to defend myself, my kids, and my husband. Despite my pleading, saved screenshots, and witnesses to my mom’s cruelty and emotional abuse, my dad, sister, and her husband always defended my mom. He told me to suck up whatever my mom did because I’m the oldest, and that’s my mom; I only have one, and I’ll regret how I reacted despite what she does to me when she dies.
“Little girl, you don’t know what abuse is!” My dad would say.
So, what was to fear by going no contact? What was my dad going to do? Come to my house, scream, and yell at me and my family? Was he going to try and fight me? Give us Covid? Remove me from their mythical boomer inheritance? My therapist and husband asked me all these questions, and I realized that even at 40 years old, my parents never saw me as worthy of the respect they would give to my sister and other family. They viewed me as a child they couldn’t control and therefore highlighted my struggles and my family as the result of being born a bad seed. They used my failures and mistakes as weapons to keep me quiet and obedient instead of offering empathy, support, and kindness. As shitty as that felt, it was even worse growing up knowing they could provide sympathy, support, and kindness because they gave it to my sister, her friends, her husband, and our entire family… and I had to watch.
I just stopped believing I was what they said I was.
Going no contact as an adult child with children of their own is taking the risk and accepting it’s a lonely place. You must admit that your parents and, sadly, siblings don’t care or see no validity in your experience and don’t want to try to understand why you could estrange yourself from their parents. You find yourself hoping that you’re enough of a supportive person when no one but you is there to celebrate your child’s achievements when you have no one to send special occasion cards to. But it is still a much more peaceful place for you and your children. It’s worth it.
When I went no contact, the first time with my parents, sister, and her husband, I wrote detailed letters explaining why they were no longer allowed to contact me. I started when I was eighteen up until the age of 41. I also wrote letters to my grandma and my aunts explaining why I was going no contact with my parents and how I hoped it would give us a chance to nurture our relationships as I wanted to form connections with them without being associated with my parents and sister.
I then had my husband record me reading the letters out loud. They needed to see me with raw emotions, without the constant interruptions of “Well, remember when you fucked up, Michelle?” and other deflections. The one for my parents is 45 minutes long. I’ve kept them as unlisted YouTube videos so that when my dad called to scream, and I didn’t answer by the second ring, they always have those videos as documentation, a reference for them to study, pick apart, show their friends, and do whatever they want with my candid stance on how I was moving on to heal and live a full life without them.
Even though I am still triggered at times, have flashbacks, and fear retaliation, there’s a tremendous online community of adult children who are placing boundaries and going no contact with their aging parents. We aren’t as alone as we thought.
With all I’ve shared, if you are going through it yourself, you have to let them react how they will respond and not hide their tantrums for fear of embarrassing them. You’re not protecting yourself or the next generation by sweeping abuse under the family rug or making excuses. You have to be ok with being the bad guy and having your siblings mad at you because protecting yourself made mom cry at a birthday party. It’s your choice whether to involve your children in your healing process, but explaining why you chose to go no contact is important.
When it came to my kids, upon placing my soft boundaries, my parents, sister, and her husband went on to emotionally abuse my children because I didn’t and still haven’t kept my children from having a relationship with my parents or sister. My kids grew up seeing how I was treated and were also not believed when they shared their experiences with other family members. It sucked to see them endure that pain. But, the one regret I have about going no contact with my parents, sister, and husband is that I wish I had done it a lot sooner than in 2021.
We have the rest of our lives to grow together and form our nurturing family dynamic. As it is, the society my now estranged family nurtures is impossible to thrive in as an individual. The boomer generation continues to perpetuate and blame everyone but themselves. They take no accountability.
Suppose the parents, for themselves, find the adult child going no contact worthy of seeking help to cope with the abuse and hurt they inflicted to even think of mending their relationship with the estranged. In that case, they will have other children ( my parents told me last year that my husband was replaced with a couple of our age who give them contraband and gifts) who won’t require them to heal and stop the perpetual cycle of abuse. That’s the sad cycle of narcissistic abuse.
But I promise you; you aren’t alone.
Keep doing the healing work for yourself.