You’ve made a decision to estrange yourself from your unhealthy, abusive or toxic family – or perhaps that decision was made for you – so what now? Here we discuss surviving estrangement.
When surviving estrangement, chances are one or more of the below will apply to you:
You feel like you are the only person to be going through parental estrangement
You have feelings of guilt or shame – check our estrangement wiki to understand why these are more likely to be grief for the parent you wish you had
You feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your estrangement
You get upset by ‘happy’ events, even if they don’t directly involve your family – check out our triggers wiki
You have CPTSD (or symptoms of it):
If you wouldn’t tell a domestic abuse survivor to reconcile with an abusive partner, don’t put the same unrealistic expectations on yourself. It’s not your fault! Let’s just say that up front. In fact, let’s say it again. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
Often Estranged Adult Children will feel like it is their fault and it’s up to them to ‘fix’ the relationship. Growing up in a toxic and/or abusive environment means that your parents were not there to support your developmental, emotional and/or physical needs. Estrangement is therefore a healthy response to an unhealthy situation.
If you come to the conclusion that, after surviving abuse/toxicity/neglect, you can never have a functional relationship with your parents then reconciliation is not healthy. Breakaway supports its members navigate estrangement.
In addition to reading our community, receiving advice, answering your questions and supporting other members, there’s also help in real life too. Breakaway recommends the use of a therapist who will help guide you through the multitude of complex emotions Estranged Adult Children feel. Remember that as in all walks of life there are good and bad therapists; be sure to ask if they have experience in family estrangement and abuse. Unfortunately we often see bad therapists encouraging Estranged Adult Children to contact and reconcile with their abusive parents. I cannot understand why a therapist who wouldn’t say that to a domestic abusive survivor, would say that to family abuse survivor.
More information on estrangement can be found in our estrangement wiki.
At the time of writing this guide I have been in no contact with my parents for over a decade and a half. I spent the first decade living in a dark cloud, and – quite frankly – nearly didn’t survive the first six months. I wish I had access to specialist Breakaway-like resources, and that someone had told me:
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