Have I caused all of this?
I was in a marriage for the first half of my life, in which I was mostly miserable. Two sons and 17 years later, I decided to leave. I only took as much as I needed to pay off debts in my business which had started to crumble by that stage as well and left the house and everything else intact in the knowledge that they would be there for the kids and they would ultimately benefit from it. I also insisted on shared care so that I remained a tangible presence in their lives.
My ex had understandably established quite deep relationships with many members of my extended family, and so those relationships continued. I had absolutely no objection to them continuing, as I knew they were genuine and strong. What I did come to object to more and more gradually was the fact that a lot of my own extended family seemed to align themselves more with her than me, and chose to spend time with my sons when they were with their mum, rather than when they were with me. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I eventually ended my relationships with those relatives and haven't spoken to a lot of them in years.
My immediate family, parents & siblings, remained close and loyal the entire time. Until about two years ago. We were all at a holiday house on the coast over Christmas and an argument started when my brother and sister started accusing me of some rather petty and annoying things that I hadn't even done. But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst was when they all shut me down and refused to let me say anything in my defense and would either turn away or leave the room if I tried to talk to them.
Confused, angry and hurt, I could not bring myself to forgive them, and still haven't. I re-partnered five years ago and have had the most adorable daughter with my lovely new partner. She happened to get herself in trouble with my parents for having said something they thought was inappropriate. We got together with them and talked it out, and she went out of her way to apologise for having upset them and made it clear that she wanted nothing other than harmony in the family. Everything would have been fin if my dad hadn't persisted on ignoring her and acting as if she wasn't in the room even after she had apologised and we thought everything had been settled. Once again we found ourselves in the curious and frustrating position of not knowing what the issue actually was, because my parents weren't willing to discuss it. We stopped going around to their place, and they haven't been to ours in ages now. I still have the occasional conversation with my mum, but neither of us have mentioned anything.
Now it's my mum's 70th birthday and relatives have flown in from overseas etc, but because of our strained relationships with my parents and siblings, we won't be taking part in the celebrations. We will be catching up with some of the overseas relatives, as they haven't met my partner or our daughter, and we haven't had a chance yet to stuff up our relationship with them!
None of this would bother me normally, as I am a fairly strong minded and sturdy kind of person. But, my sons being 18 & 21, will be part of all the celebrations at my parents' house as well as any other gatherings that are likely to happen at my siblings' places as well, and that's the bit I'm having lot of trouble coming to terms with.
I feel as if I've lost every meaningful relationship I ever had with my family, that my partner, daughter and I have been cast out for reasons we have no idea about, and that my own sons don't seem to understand how all of this makes me feel.
I'll be happy to provide any other info, but really keen to know what people make of all of this.
Is your nature causing all this? You said you are strong minded and do not forgive easily. Are you the stubborn type? Is it the words you use when you are in disagreement with family members cause of issues?
I really don't know because you haven't described the kind of fights or words used by either party for me to have a clear judgement. What I mentioned above is only a guess and could be totally wrong too.
Hi Shivangi, yes my nature/personality could be causing this. I can come across as being quite aggressive when I don't intend to be. I have been working on this aspect of my nature to try and not get so emotionally charged about things. I also am not the forgiving type. Even now, I am patiently awaiting an opportunity to strike back at people who I feel have hurt me, to cause them the same kind of pain if I can. I know this is probably not helpful either, but I cannot bring myself to acquiesce and not let my thoughts/feelings known.
So you have answered your own question: "Have I caused all this?" Apparently you have. (I thought it unusual that the ENTIRE family is estranged from you, just not one or two members.)
Doesn't sound like there's much you can do. Too much water under the dam. Besides, I pick up that you are armed with kinds of self-righteous anger that you are "ready to strike" during any kind of possible "discussion" about this, so no good can come from that. Is being "right" that important to you?
You can put your energy into your present family and nurture those relationships.
Perhaps you can host another gathering with those relatives from out of country. But don't even bring up the family conflicts. That's not fair to them and you should not work at trying to get them to align with you.
Your sons are another matter. That's the saddest thing about your story. Perhaps counseling can help you repair this rift. For that to happen, you are going to have to lay down that need to be right and need to argue your side.
I don't agree you've caused all of this because the behavioural evidence contradicts it.
Maybe you do get too heated during verbal, face-to-face arguments or whatever else manner you behave in that they find too hard to handle in the moment. I.e. I suspect you argue even under fire like a coldly logical barrister as makes them feel cornered by the acid trust with zero excuses to hide behind (because you blow them out of the water) and hence they run away (flounce off) rather than stay and sit with their inability to argue the point further, as constitutes ADMISSION. But there is such a thing as a LETTER and yet even after all this time they, strangely in their sense of supposed righteousness, feel no urge whatsoever to enlighten you over what it actually IS you did to put you in the supposed wrong? Pff. They're running away because they KNOW your stance is based on the truth and nothing but.
Guilty consciences in motion. It's not YOU they're still to this day avoiding, per se. It's the truth-uncovering interrogative episodes.
In other words, you keep proving that the emperor has no clothes, let alone new ones. They can't cope with that, clearly. They need to believe in his finery.
I think compared to you they're what you'd deem superficial...your overly social, pack-animal types who care far more about safety in numbers than points of principle (including fairness and playing fair). As such, they chose the ex-wife to align with for reasons of SOCIAL logic. She, you see, like them, has shown she places paramount value on having a flock to fly with. This means where getting to keep a firm connection with the kids is concerned, she would naturally present as a far safer long-term bet than you who puts principles first, people second (i.e. if you're not behaving purely and solely according to what is RIGHT, before whatever's easiest and keeps one most popular, you're not worth having a meaningful relationship with, not really).
I cannot therefore believe that these people ever enhanced your life as now warrants any regret on your part.
Certainly your dominant attitude via the statement about the boys getting to attend would support this suspicion.
Well, your sons are still young enough to NEED a copious, seeming support network (especially on the back of their family breakdown as instils insecurity), meaning they're justified and forgiveable. Secondly, their relationship with these people is entirely separate from your own. If they're intrinsically like you, deeper down, then they'll learn over time IN their own sweet time to be more discerning according to their own moral values and standards in terms of knowing where to put their loyalty and having the security to demonstrate that. Meanwhile, therefore, try not to worry about them temporarily pandering to their young fears of ostracisation (particularly as mum naturally would have taught them to fear it, wouldn't she).
In other words, just as an ex is an ex for a reason, so too are ex-family members ex-members for a reason. Course, it would have been great if you'd been able to choose the family you were born into, but sadly life isn't like that. So what you have to do instead is to replace them with a good, solid network of friends who view life and relationships as you do, so that you don't have to rely on your birth family for anything other than superficial, occasional acquaintanceship.
But, yes, I agree that the ball remains in THEIR court because they are basically giving you the Silent Treatment (a known criteria of abusive attitude/behaviour). It's highly revealing loser behaviour because only people who know they lack a leg to stand on when it comes to two views clashing opt to basically run away with the entire argument rather than allow its continuation to lead to them having to admit they were in the wrong. It's basically akin to failing to turn up to court for a second hearing (think about it). A judge will conclude from this: guilty as charged.
You can't *make* them admit their bad or skewed attitudes, though. They have to just be made to live with those consequences (loss of you) until such time as they realise they *can't*. If they never reach that point then you have final confirmation about how their need for a so-called quiet life consisting of a group of self-deluding complicits-on-legs means more to them than relationships.
Ironic, huh, that people who on the surface APPEAR to place such tremendous value on relationships, in actual fact do no such thing. But like I say, it's not about relationships, it's about mere safety in numbers. Quantity means more to them than quality. You're the opposite. Unfortunately, the fact you're a minority in terms of head-count is what allows them to kid themselves that they must therefore automatically be in the right. However, I repeat: their actions are giving them away on that score.
Say it with Whitney: "I'd rather be a-lone than un-hap-py". Only, you *won't* be alone - not once you cease dedicating your mind and energy to this problem you aren't even allowed the means to co-fix, as leaves you non-receptive to other friendship advances, I mean. So take that understandable anger and bitterness and channel into the *positive* action of increasing the quantity (or existing depth) of your provably quality friendships with other likemindeds. Being true to yourself INCLUDING YOUR MORAL SETTINGS is very compellingly attractive (hence, won't be along for long). It means people always know EXACTLY where they stand with you at any given moment. Talk about refreshing in this day and age! ...Unless one is a snake who thereby *prefers* constant camouflage of the long grass, eh.
Soulmate, do I know you?
I read your response completely aghast at the sheer pinpoint accuracy of everything you said. I am still pinching myself in disbelief! Thank you so much for reinforcing what I have suspected all along. There are times that you can stand tall on the strength of your own convictions and be completely willing to admit fault and make reparations if people can just truthfully point them out. And then there are other times when relationships you yearn for (in my case with my boys) seem to be slipping out of your grasp, leaving in its wake only pain, which makes you doubt yourself.
But I take onboard everything you say about their youth and their need to immerse themselves in those familial surroundings, as ultimately false as I know them to be. I will forever be keeping an eye on them from afar, and will not hesitate to rush in to help them if they ever look like they might need my help.
I agree completely that they will come around in time. I cherish every moment I get to spend with them, and out of all of this, they are by far the most important ones for me. Apart from my partner and daughter ofcourse.
I should have known better, because I've always been the outsider. My outlook, thoughts and attitude have always been vastly different than any of theirs, and I make no excuse for never accepting second best when it comes to people and their actions. You are absolutely correct that doing the right thing is of paramount importance to me, and I expect the same from everyone else around me.
If I did have a choice about my family, I doubt that I would have chosen the ones I ended up with, because at various stages in my life I've looked at each of them and wondered what planet they come from. But enough of all that. There are loads of quality people out there as you say, and it's time to haul the garbage out one last time.
I am so grateful for this website. Thankful that there are people out there who will take time out of their own lives to help someone else out like all of you have for me
I've learned a lot in the short time I've been here, and you all have reinforced the wonderful strength and resolve that can be found just from being open and honest about your troubles and allowing people to help you see your way clear of them. Thank you
Well @Sofistikat, perhaps what you need to think about is that there is nothing called right and wrong when it comes to peoples opinions. Whats right for you must be wrong for someone else and vice versa. We all form notions as a child as to what is right and what is wrong. This comes to us through the society around, the people who influence us and our upbringing. Now for each person this will be different which is why you can see even siblings differing in opinion. As we grow up, we tend to realise that though we may be right in our eyes, it is possible the other person doesn't perceive it the way we do and hence places it in the wrong. To convince others that you are indeed right is very difficult to do, as can be seen how difficult it would be for someone to convince you that you are wrong for something you believe is right.
Whats best to do in such situations is try not to argue. Let them keep their part of the right and you keep yours. Just change the topic to some casual conversation and let things be.
As for broken relations, try speaking to your mother first (not about the disagreement but about connecting anew). You can speak on phone for sometime. Just casual talk, enquiring about health etc. Take it up from there and call up regularly till you all feel now we can meet up. Acceptance of new partner will come only slowly and we have to wait ... no other go. But until your partner can show them what she actually is, how can things change? How can misunderstandings go? So interaction in one form or other should be there.
LOL. No, I don't know you, I just have your number from everything you wrote and the way in which you wrote it, it's not actually rocket science if you know what to look for; plus, there's not such a vast array of personality types or behavioural 'cocktails' out there as you might think, meaning neither are you as unique as you believe, not on that basic level.
"There are loads of quality people out there as you say, and it's time to haul the garbage out one last time."
Akin to what SHIVANGI points out - we're all cogs in the giant machine and all have our uses. However, just like the cloud always having a silver lining, meaning, so too does a silver lining always feature a cloud - in amongst the total cogs are loner-leader types whom accordingly aren't interested in following packs but in supervising them via upholding principles (your type), and social cogs who are the opposite (your family members). But that state of affairs is actually vital because if ALL the machine's cogs were identical, the machine would grind to a screeching halt (think about it). So by 'superficial' I just meant, superficial to you because of not being *YOUR* type when it comes to whichever most gives you hope and inspiration over the meaning of life in conjunction with you and your place and role in it. In other words, they'll have their uses in this world. Just not to you in yours.
Here's a saying from Dr Seuss (a bona fide psychologist as well as kids' story writer) that sums it up nicely from that subjective point of view:
"Those that mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind."
Welcome to your low-grade, slow-burning Mid Life Crisis barrellful of lemons. Now go make de-luxe lemonade out of them so that you'll one day soon raise a giant glass to all those who posed as catalysts in your journey to self-discovery and deeper self-intimacy (- which latter part sounds rude but actually isn't, LOL
Well. I have to say that you've saved me from a moment of weakness and introspection. Sometimes when circumstances become too overwhelming, it can be easy to lose your footing and become disoriented. But thanks to you, SHIVANGI and SUSIEDQQQ, I've regained my balance quite well, and am re-focussed and stronger as a result. So once again, thank you all for being such awesome human beings!
Cue title music.
Only joshing - you're very welcome!
They'll come round eventually, anyway. When, not If. These types always do - precisely BECAUSE they're the people-needers (ta-daa!). Not only that, but they're missing out on getting to know their latest addition - your new daughter - aren't they (- tick-tock-tick-tock... - let's see how long they can comfortably sit with THAT one!).
You've DONE your bit - you've tried to start peace talks. Now it's their turn. They're only holding out still at this late stage because they see it that you're psychologically still hankering (chasing) after them, which to them means they can just stand stock still doing nothing (sulking), like the mountain to your Mohammed. Start acting like you've stopped.. better yet that you've begun walking in the OPPOSITE direction and, sure as eggs is eggs, they'll take up their turn at chasing (starting with mum (or dad if she starts berating him bitterly enough)).
Again - if (*IF*) they don't? Really, what type of people would that undeniably show them to be? Answer: people whose false ego pride means more to them than literally absolutely anything of any importance, including doing what is right and fair, meaning, what would someone like you have really lost? Answer: nothing but a group of individuals who have always, do always and will always make you feel bad. (Won't happen, though.)