Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Empty Nest Drama

So, I haven't shared this yet in any meaningful way, but my daughter moved out the weekend she turned 18.

In with her dad, she's not on the street or anything.  She moved out in a pretty shady way.  She didn't say anything ahead of time.  She invited people I loathe into my home to do the dirty work while my husband and I were out of town.  She didn't leave a note.. just an empty room with empty hangers.  She took everything of hers - in such a way that made it quite clear that it was planned for a while - like certain cups out of the kitchen cabinets... and she took some things of mine, as I keep discovering when I'm looking for a particular scarf.  They even unscrewed fixtures from the walls. And items they weren't taking, they moved into other rooms to maximize the "shock and awe" effect when walking into an empty room.  It was a clear communication that not only did she want more time with them, she wanted ZERO time with or connection to us.

The whole episode left me feeling quite invaded.  The police were sympathetic and recommended changing the locks (which we did) and filing an eviction (which we did not).

After that we didn't speak for a month.  Last night a couple of texts were exchanged that didn't go well.

So.  Not only am I a sudden empty nester (which isn't that big of a deal, she was going to leave this year anyway for college), but I now fit into that odd category of people who can refer to someone as "my estranged (fill in the blank with relation).

So, for now I'm done with parenting.  I imagine it will be several years, if ever, for her to come back.  And why should she?  It's not like the lack of me as mom means she has no mom.  She chose her stepmom for that role at this time.  Her kids will have grandparents - they just won't be me and my husband.

People keep warning me to keep open arms, an open heart, an open door.  But there was a way that could have happened - and it would have been with honesty and transparency and an effort on her part to maintain a relationship.  The way in which she chose, as a self-proclaimed "adult", to handle this was intentionally hurtful.  Every contact I have had with her since was intentionally hurtful.  The lack of contact is intentionally hurtful.

She's 18.  I've done everything I could to raise her the best I was capable of, and now she gets to choose where she wants to be and who she wants to be.  It may boggle my mind how small and cruel she is choosing to be, but these are her choices now.  My job now is to set boundaries for how I will and will not allow myself to be treated.  And if I wanted to be treated like shit I'd still be married to her dad.

Have you ever had to cut out someone from your life, for a brief period, long period, or permanently?


  1. As a matter of fact this happened in our family. Have never reconciled and not regretted it.
    I know that sounds horrible but when someone moves out without saying goodbye and refuses to communicate- its over ( that's what my sibling did- I never say his name- ever!). He hurt my parents & they got sick, tried to call & he didn't care- brutal.
    Maybe with kids you can make exceptions & excuses: like it wasn't their idea or they're too young. But they know when they hurt you & you can't "take it back". I'm so sorry this happened. Hang in there.

  2. Freeda, I am so sorry this happened to you. It also happened to me 6 years ago with my younger daughter and her kids. It was devastating to me so I started going to counseling. It turned out that my counselor had an estranged son and, over the years, I have come across an amazing number of other good parents whose children have cut off ties with them. My story has a happy ending in that we eventually reconciled (4 years later) and I think we have a much better relationship now, although I could have definitely lived without the heartbreak in getting there.

    A book that helped me tremendously was Karen O'Connor's "Restoring Relationships with Your Adult Children." It was published in 1993 and may be in your library.


  3. Such a hard time; I'm sorry you're going through this.

    I am not fully estranged from a family member, but completely cut off my "best friend" at the time when I realized how toxic and hurtful she really was. I have also come very, very close with my brother, whose religious beliefs make him think it is okay to condemn me to hell while eating dinner at my table.

    Human relationships are difficult, and some never get easier. I wish peace and confidence for you in moving forward from this.

  4. Thanks to all of you for your responses. This is my first experience with "cutting off" a family member. (My family is functional-dysfunctional, you know? Bitchy and critical but I know if I need a kidney there's be volunteers.)

    The nearest experience I had was to end a close friendship a couple of years ago when it became apparent the dynamic was "I give, she takes". I'm glad to have found a couple of close friends now who understand the concepts of gratitude and reciprocity!

    With my daughter, the religious element plays into it. It feels like it's shockingly complex all of a sudden. And here I thought we were getting along so well this last year or two? I was duped.

    I will look for that book, Marcy. And thank you all so much for your kind responses. It makes me feel less of the "so very alone" to know that others not only go through it, but get through it. ((HUGS))


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