Navigating “No-Contact”: When Estrangement from Your Mother is the Healthiest Choice

Suhair Sibai

The decision to go no-contact with a family member is a deeply personal one.

For some of us, healing the mother wound is possible while staying connected to your mother. In this scenario the healing actually creates a new, deeper connection between mother and daughter, which is a beautiful thing to witness. I’ve seen it happen and it’s truly inspiring.

But for some of us, it’s impossible to heal ourselves and remain in connection with our mothers. 

It’s still considered taboo to be estranged from one’s family; especially to be estranged from one’s mother. Sometimes the distance can be brief and short-term. For others, the estrangement can be permanent. It takes enormous strength and fortitude to follow through with this.

Clarity By Katie Hoffman

What can lead to estrangement?

There are so many reasons why people make this choice. But a core theme leading to estrangement is realizing that your mother’s dysfunctional behavior has demanded an enormous cost to your mental/emotional well-being and you’re simply no longer willing to pay that cost.

I believe that this isn’t something chosen in a flippant, cavalier way, but rather it is often a choice made after years of trying every other possible avenue to preserve the connection and see it evolve to a higher level. At a certain point, you may reach a crossroads where the cost is too much and you have to make a choice.

It may be the hardest thing you ever do in your entire life. And it may be the single most empowering thing as well.  

Duino by Katie Hoffman

Families are complicated systems. When one person stops playing their usual role in the family, the system will usually experience some degree of disequilibrium or chaos. Conflict can serve to transform the system to a higher level, if the family members are willing and open to grow and learn. Unfortunately, sometimes, in an attempt to resist change, the family attacks the person who is wanting to grow. That person has the choice to stay and suffer the toxicity or to heal and leave the unhealthy system. The choice to terminate contact is often made when it’s clear that it’s impossible to heal while remaining in that family system.

Daughters often play the roles of family mediator, scapegoat, keeper of secrets, or emotional caretaker, etc. If a daughter on a path of growth and wishes to evolve beyond her typical role in the family, (perhaps by being more empowered, having firmer boundaries, being less tolerant of poor treatment, etc.)  the degree of chaos that ensues is indicative of how dysfunctional the family system is as a whole.

If the family members are each relatively healthy, stable and open, the family may be able to find a new equilibrium without much chaos. However, if the family members are deeply wounded or traumatized themselves, a daughter’s evolution can be perceived as deeply threatening to the family system.  This chaos can be deeply unsettling and extremely hard to navigate. Support is essential. 

In my Cocoon Again by Pegi Smith

In an unconscious attempt to maintain equilibrium and resist change, family members may launch attacks against the daughter. A common and virulent form of backlash is “Pathologizing” the daughter: Seeing the conflict as a result of some form of pathology in the daughter. The message is “Your unwillingness to continue in the family system in your established role indicates that there is something deeply wrong with you.” This shame-based narrative abdicates the mother and other family members from honestly examining their own behavior and taking responsibility. The daughter’s level of mental stability, her sexual activity, her past mistakes, everything about her may be openly questioned, that is, except the role of the mother in the conflict. 

It’s amazing how vehemently people resist looking at their stuff and the lengths they will go to remain in denial of it, including ostracizing their own child. This is actually an unconscious attempt to resist change by projecting all the conflict or “badness” onto the person initiating transformation of the family system. Ultimately, this is not personal at all. This is what happens when people who have not been dealing with their inner life become confronted with their disowned pain through a catalyzing event, like a woman in the family growing beyond the predominant dynamics that have kept the family in a stable state for generations.

We can’t save our mothers. We can’t save our families. We can only save ourselves. 

Katie Hoffman

You don’t need your mother (or other family members) to understand you in order to fully heal.

A heartbreaking thing that happens is realizing that your mother/family are simply unable or unwilling to understand you. No matter how much you explain or how many attempts to convince them of where you’re coming from, it goes nowhere. It’s like you’re speaking two different languages. They may be unconsciously invested in NOT understanding you, because it poses too much of a threat to their deeply held beliefs and values. Understanding you may cause a seismic shift to the very foundation upon which they’ve built their identities and worldview. It’s a painful thing to realize and yet it helps to create a singularity of spirit within you. It becomes clear that your own understanding of yourself must be enough. Your validation of yourself becomes primary. You realize you can be OK even if others do not understand you.

After you go no contact, your life may begin to improve in many areas. I’ve seen chronic illnesses clear up, neurotic fears vanish and life-long patterns dissolve. In fact, sometimes the challenge then becomes enduring the pleasure of your own life. With each new level of increased prosperity, increased intimacy, joy, freedom, you are reminded that your family is not there to share it with you. It’s particularly at these horizons where we may experience the turbulence of grief. There’s nothing to do but feel the grief that comes with that and allow yourself to move forward.

Immortal Age by Akiane Kramarik

The grief doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong choice. It’s actually a sign of health and healing. 

Keep yourself grounded in the new paradigm that gave you the strength to leave the toxic connection. If you don’t, you could get pulled back through guilt or shame. It’s so important to get lots of support and give yourself time and space to process all the emotions that come with this choice. Ground yourself in exactly why you’re doing this and use it as an opportunity to to birth you into a new paradigm in your life.

Estrangement as launch pad to Empowerment

You may discover something deeply profound that many people never do: You realize that you can survive your mother’s rejection of you. This can birth a level of freedom and determination within you that may initiate quantum leaps in your life. It can spur a fierce commitment to truth and carve out a radical integrity that extends to other areas of your life. It stokes a fire of truth within you that has always been there, but now it can blaze fully. You feel your own source within.

Forgotten Songs by Katie Hoffman

Grief, grief and more grief gives way to ….. FREEDOM

Grief may arise every time you go to a new, higher level that my mother/family have never been. It may feel like a bone-deep grief, almost tribal or ancestral, a grief of having to go forward without them. And it gets easier and easier with time. I find the more we lovingly allow ourselves to grieve, the more space is created for magic, beauty and joy in our lives. There is something deeply sacred about the grief that comes from making this choice. It can serve as an opportunity to deeply connect to your truth and to embodying it at the deepest level. We must make meaning from this loss and use it to enhance our lives in new ways. That’s the key to long-term healing.

Darlene Jones

Your integrity becomes the solid foundation for the rest of your life.

“You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive or get sick enough to help sick people get well. You can only uplift from a position of strength and clarity and alignment.”~Abraham 

It’s OK to walk away from toxic people in your life, including toxic people in your family.

Healing inter-generational wounds can be a lonely path. But with the space created, soulful connections will come into your life. Our attachment needs are the most powerful need we have as humans. To face this level of estrangement is to confront the depth of your pain, of your humanity, and to claim the full the value of your own life. Our greatest fear is that we will be alone. But the aloneness that we fear already happened in the trauma of our families. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone and you will find your soul family in time, people who are capable of seeing and valuing you for who you are.

Estranged daughters are spiritual warriors

In a world where women are predominantly expected to stay silent, to cater to the needs of others and where the darker side of mothers is not acknowledged, the experience of estrangement can be an initiation into a new level of awareness that many people never get the opportunity to experience. A space is cleared to allow your light to shine at full radiance. What will you do with this light blazing within you? 

Estranged daughters are finding each other, creating a new mother line; a connection of authenticity, realness and truth in each other that supports the arising consciousness in all. I’ve seen instant camaraderie between women who have walked this path. There’s more of us out there than many people  realize. You’re not alone!

Wish by Christian Schloe

You have to do what is right for you. Trust yourself.

Estrangement doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love your family. It doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for the good things they gave you. It just means you need space to live your own life the way you want to live it. Women who feel no choice but to go no-contact with their dysfunctional mothers create the break because it’s the only way to send the powerful message that: “Mother, your life is your own responsibility as my life is mine. I refuse to be sacrificed on the altar of your pain. I refuse to be a casualty of your war. Even if you are incapable of understanding me, I must go my own way. I must choose to truly live.”

Healing the Mother Wound is the Process of Being Initiated into your own Sovereignty as a Woman

Our patriarchal culture fosters a dysfunctional enmeshment between mothers and daughters. Our culture does not offer women a ritual for the natural developmental step of separating from their mothers and being initiated into their own lives. (This doesn’t exist for men either.) Healing the Mother Wound is the process that provides that necessary initiation, whether you are still in contact with your mother or not. My dream is that someday in the future, the mother wound will be very rare as more women detox from the patriarchal messages of “less than” and both mothers and daughters feel permission to own their full power and potential, connected in the heart while being free, separate individuals. The daughter’s individuality won’t pose a threat to the mother, because she’ll have love and appreciation for her herself as much as for her daughter.

As you heal the mother wound, you create a new world for yourself, for the women of the future and for the earth itself. 

Between Two Worlds by Vian Sora

© Bethany Webster 2015

Art credits in order of appearance: “Under Syrian Skies” by Suhair Sibai, Clarity by Katie Hoffman, “Duino” by Katie Hoffman, “In my Cocoon Again” by Pegi Smith, Title Unknown by Katie Hoffman, Immortal Age by Akiane Kramarik “Forgotten Songs” by Katie Hoffman, Title Unknown by Darlene Jones, “Wish” by Christian Schloe, “Between Worlds” by Vian Sora

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If you’d like to receive my personal support in moving beyond the mother wound and into your full potential and success, please click here to sign up for a free, 30-minute Clarity session where I can help you get clear on how the mother wound is impacting you and create a roadmap to get you to the other side. I look forward to connecting with you!  ~Bethany

Ways to Work with me: 

Click here to download my FREE e-book on “Transforming the Inner Mother” and sign up for my newsletter.

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95 thoughts on “Navigating “No-Contact”: When Estrangement from Your Mother is the Healthiest Choice

      • Dear Bethany,
        Thank you so much for sharing this post! It has arrived in Divine Timing providing me with the extra reassurance I needed regarding some recent events. Every word resonates with me… like discovering an oasis after travelling many weary miles alone in the desert. Your courageous post has also provided me with further validation regarding my decision to have no contact with my family. It’s been two years now and I’m beginning to feel less grief and more empowered by this profound initiation and the gifts that come with it.
        Many Blessings to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Dear dear,
    thank you soo much for your words.
    I came home crying in my heart, i started asking my higher power to support me,
    and i get your mail……
    My mother pested me so much that i ran out of her house, paranoid.
    26 years i struggle with suicidal thoughts…
    Your words support me
    Thanks Gaia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gaia, I’m so sorry you are going through this. I highly recommend you get professional support. It’s too much to go through this kind of thing on your own. I recommend you read “The Emotionally Absent Mother” by Jasmin Lee Cori and “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward. Sending you love and light ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I have made the journey to no contact, finally at the age of 60 amd mymother 90. Everything you say is right and I am deeply grateful for your article. Absolutely thrilled.
    I will tell you my story FYI … I just woke up one morning and very quietly the words came to me..’I don’t want to play amymore mum. You’ve had 60 years. It was a good run but I’m leaving this game.’ It was a soft, deep, simple clarity and I feel a deep, deep empowerment.

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  3. So beautifully stated, as usual. I wish I had this wisdom to read when I was younger and navigating my separation. Yet now, years later, it is nourishing, affirming and heart-expanding to read your words! Thank you so much for your loving work!

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  4. I can’t tell you just how much this article resonates with me. This is the story of my childhood, and my journey into womanhood. It was/is one of the hardest choices I’ve had to make, and yet, I feel free-er and calmer than I ever have done.

    Incredibly powerful words Bethany, thank you for sharing.

    Jules

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thank you for speaking, publicly,,, I chose this path when a young teenager, 40+ yrs ago. yes it was from a deep, conscious, intuitive knowing. I’m the 2nd of 7 siblings, each one yr apart. recently I chose this path again, from 2 sisters. I chose non-engagement, silence, and weathered the anger and blame. my heart and intuition all ways guide me true, as a child I knew I have just one life to live… mine. I followed my one and only, my own Beloved Heart, toward Freedom. and still, this body experiences intense enduring physical sensations of “pain” for 30 yrs now. something is not yet free. I look forward to connecting with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lupine! Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to connecting with you too! Your comment brings to mind that after we choose to go no contact, we must engage in the process of having to face the “introject” or negative INNER mother within ourselves This is the process of claiming our life force from patterns that have inter-generational momentum that are not personal, but rather a kind of “pain body” that gets passed down through the generations. It sounds like you may be encountering a bit of that. What can be helpful is to watch painful patterns, become aware of them and observe them. If you find yourself getting caught in them, ask yourself, how is this pattern conveying a sense of safety? What has been the cost of this pattern to my life? What have I not fully grieved? Have I been avoiding anger? What have I absorbed that is not truly mine and is ready to be released? What do I need to believe in order to truly release it? Thanks for your comment, Lupine! Sounds like you are ready for the next level of your healing. Best wishes to you.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. i sense my relationship with my mother is like watching the sun burn out. In one way i want it to die and be over with and in another i grieve and wish i had the capacity to be stronger and stay in the light of the beautiful sun. However, i stay where it is safe somewhere in between. Wondering at times how is this story going to end. Will i regret the decision to turn my back. Today i am at home, feeling my life around me, in my heart is a knowing that someone special is missing. My mother has been missing for a very long time. Most likely all my life. I can see her in her dysfunction and look at her from afar and feel gratitiude and love but it still isn’t enough to allow me to step back into a healthy relationship with her. So i try to accept what is. Knowing i could at any given time run at her and try to change it, but experience has taught me every time i go running, i come away hurting. So i stopped. I do have other women in my life, but none fill the void. I do re-parent myself, but it doesn’t stop the sadness it only takes care of myself on a day to day basis. I don’t know what the answer is. Other than to hopefully be more present to my own children, which at times feels impossible. The blue print is too strong.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Unfortunately I had to separate from my mother and my family a number of years ago. Fortunately this was the absolute right thing to do, as I was under continual scrutiny and attack. I’ve experienced layer after layer of grief, abandonment, and loss. Divine Mother spread her wings and gifted me with a Supreme Fortune…. I am learning how to love myself, all of me. The broken shards are being molded into something so beautiful… In the Crone stage of my life (65) I am birthing my inner maiden and finally able to stand up for her, to allow her to have a life that is meaningful and full of passion. Your article is so timely and beautiful, much needed….. Thank you!!!

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  8. Hello again Bethany, I have been on this journey for a couple of years now with both my mother and my sister. I has indeed been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had not spoken to my sister for nearly 2 years but recently my father became ill and we needed to speak to each other. I was quite nervous about the “reconciliation” but knew that it was for my parents’ sake that we needed to discuss care matters. Although I was glad to see my sister there was no overwhelming longing for her to be in my life any more. I realized that the past was gone and I had finally moved forward. I had spent years at her mercy of belittling, criticising and shaming: she had learned these traits from our own mother and thought the behaviour was acceptable. I finally walked away knowing peace and freedom and knew that I had done the right thing for ME. Your article validated my journey. Many thanks ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s like the CERBERUS…the completion and paradox of healing. The very wound is that we seek the external validation, something/someone to hold us and to reflect back to us that we are okay, that we are loved…yet, the salve, the medicine, for our wound to heal, is to face the “demon” and say “no,’ in spite of its writhing and calling us names…which is putting that poison into our wounds…and…yet, this is the medicine. Like bitters for the liver…this very rejection of others, and our building our strong center in the midst to say “no”, to stand for why we are doing something and stick with it, stay supporting ourselves 100%, IS the task at hand…
    Thanks, Bethany, as always, for engaging the world in this conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bethany,
    Your writings certainly move me. Thanks for the wisdom, guidance and healing you are providing.
    My separation from my family has been for almost all of my adult life.(over 40 years) I left home and because I left, I could never go back. I know now it was the right decision for my survival. I have witnessed what trying to have a relationship with my parents (mother ruled) has done to my siblings and in particular to my sister who is 10 years younger. A whole family destroyed…what a legacy. While reviewing your posts, it has reunited me with the painful process that I went thru in my early years of estrangement. The neglecting of myself and the deep sadness and shame. It is continual work…as life is. Even with the knowledge that I am better off for having left, I too have very much felt alone in this journey. It is wonderful what you are doing.
    Debbie

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My little voice has been whispering for years and last year, at 53, I finally decided that I couldn’t fix her and needed to accept it. We don’t communicate although we live a few hundred yards apart. As an only child, I never had siblings to talk to about the disfunction but finally realized that both my parents have had nothing to do with any of their siblings or their parents for many years and that I had to quit trying and go on and live a happy life. I have a fabulous relationship with my two grown children and don’t want the turmoil wrecking my life (and health – i’m a breast cancer survivor) any longer. I am at peace with my decision. The hardest part is when people insist that it is sad and that they hope I can fix it. The distance is good and healthy for me. My mother is 73 and is not going to change. She has criticized and done really hurtful things to me all my life. I can’t fix it and would prefer that others keep their opinions to themselves…

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  12. I happened to stumble upon this uplifting piece while scrolling my newsfeed. I have done lots of reading on narcissism and the “no contact” rule, but when I saw that it was about estrangement from a mother, I needed to read this. Thank you for your uplifting words. I have struggled with shame and guilt since going no contact from my own mother approximately three years ago. I worry what other people will think every time I meet a new person or when I post pictures on social media of a recent holiday. I grieve every time my son’s birthday rolls around and I grieve every time I see another fellow mother out shopping with their mother……This article has provided me a beacon of positivity, along with a new outlook on my journey. November 9th will be the three year marker of estrangement from my mother.

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  13. Pingback: Navigating “No-Contact”: When Estrangement from Your Mother is the Healthiest Choice | Sustain-Able 余 : ♥ www.CeciliaYu.com

  14. My mom suddenly and unexpected passed away immediately after surgery. It was a surgery I did not know she was scheduled for, as we were estranged (not talking- her choice, not mine). I had long been saying that once she passed I would be free, and even just before it was a focused topic of conversation in a healing paradigm. And then when she passed I had a mixture of emotion. I’ve found that I have a better relationship with her now. But, I had waded through the thick healing waters to a point where I had just started to see my mother with my ‘soul eyes’, to recognize her as possibly soul contracted with me, with all of her pathological narcissistic projections being just aspects of the role she came to play. I was just starting to see her as being in service to me. I gave her eulogy, and in thinking about what needed to be said, that is what came to me- my mother made me who I am, and for that I am grateful. She wasn’t the nurturing, loving mother I wanted, but she was the mother I needed. We talk a lot and we’re still working it out. I’m glad for that. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Don’t forget Boys and Fathers. Siblings. Mothers and Sons. Fathers and Daughters. And Alienated Parent (of which I’m one) who, through the toxic brainwashing of a (usually, but not always) custodial parent… also reaches the point of having to cease contact with their children, for exactly the same reason as you give above. You simply cannot heal if you stay connected. A most heart-breaking thing. Everyone has the same human heart, even though the mythology is that women are the deep “feelers”. It’s the same heart, with the same capacity, in all of us. Heart doesn’t have a gender, which means neither does Grief or Happiness.

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  16. It so so good to have the decision to permanently separate from my mother, acknowledged and validated. I was recently in a spiritual group where this decision was invalidated and it felt just as awful as the previous times this has happened. I love my Mother however we choose to live completely separate lives. My mother told me when I was 21 that she had no intention of healing like I had chosen to do. It took me a long time to accept this and the betrayal I felt has taken years to heal. I can see that it can be a launching pad to greater empowerment and I am ready to receive the guidance to be able to do this now.
    I have the deepest respect and compassion who choose to be estranged from their mother’s because I know how incredibly btave and courageous one has to be to do this.
    Blessings to all
    Jacqui

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  17. Your message resonated to the core of my being. Thank you so much for sharing, Ive had to leave all that toxic energy once and for all. I have been working on my healing journey for a few years and suddenly everything came to a halt i didn’t progress anywhere everything was deteriorating in my life and I finally saw the truth about my mother. She has had a huge negative impact on my life until I finally understod that I had to let her go. It was nothing I had planned, it felt predestined and a huge enough is enough from my soul. It’s painful but I know its right for me, so much grief but also so much magic coming into my life now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I share your beautiful vision for the future. Love to all /Karen

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  18. My mother died suddenly after the car crash just she was returning home from the market on her bike ..she died in an hour and since that moment I never seen her again . Herlife was not easy at all..but she was strong..loving her garden and flowers..Our relationship was difficult before but at the end of her life we were good friends and finally started understand each other ..I felt they killed her and felt injusty..she didnt deserve this..still thinking of this after more of 10 years of her death..still connected to her.this night ihad a dream of her, though usually I have no dreams with her..or do not see her ever..she is deep in my heart..

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  19. Thank you for this Bethany. The depth of division in our culture at this time is profound, especially as we begin the process of equalizing the patriarchal leadership. I have used much of your work to guide me in the coaching I do with parents and generational pain. Your wisdom on this difficult subject is profound and I appreciate the depth you bring to this with each writing. Blessings to you.

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  20. Best decision I ever made was to move out of state, away from my family. I still keep in touch, but the distance and separation from the daily drama, as well as less frequent contact was what I needed in order to grow. As I have grown, I haven’t hidden it from my mother, and she has been the one to pull away. When I had my youngest child, my mother didn’t come to see me, and I grieved, but thought it was some failing on my part. I needed to read about the grief, so thank you, it has helped me immensely.

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  21. Dear Bethany,

    I’m 65 and I have a mother who is 90. I am the eldest of 3 sisters and a brother who is the youngest. The sister who was born after me died in infancy.

    This summer, to support my younger sister who wanted to go on holiday without the usual blackmail before and after – she lives in the same town – I spent 4 weeks , very unusually for me, at my mother’s beck and call. While everything was going her way, it was easy and it even seemed as if healing were taking place, and I imagined it might just happen now, the final reconciliation with a mother for whom I was always in the wrong.

    The visit enabled me to observe much more dispassionately but it also caused me a lot of emotional and physical pain which really surprised me because I thought, as one does, that I’d done the work! And as my sister returned, I suddenly knew I had to leave quickly and without saying good-bye because I was no longer able to tolerate one minute more of effort, explanation or justification – I’d said it all over the years. And it hadn’t been heard. It had been dished up to make me wrong again and again. But this time, it was definite. As I left, my sister was most upset and said the only reason I could do what I was doing was because she was ‘holding the fort’ as it were, taking abuse daily and continuously. But I knew this was not true and sat down with her and explained it with great compassion for her self-inflicted plight.

    Since then, I have felt happy, miserable, guilty, free, healthier (I was very very ill before) and am now enjoying a time in India (6 months, of which 2 are already behind us) with my new husband and shedding, shedding, shedding the residue from a lifetime. I am so grateful to you, Bethany, for your clarity and commitment to supporting others. It was through your support in December 2014 when you posted about patriarchy in the mother-line that I awoke to that reality. I have been doing my own work on it since, but who knows, I might be able to support others. Below is a poem I wrote a couple of days ago as I had decided to stop the lamentations and become creative with what I’ve experienced.

    Narcissism Ranch or Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Look at Me!

    an old woman lives a self-inflated existence in her lonesome cluttered flat

    fugitive into her many books her tv programs her precious opinions and her compulsive shopping food spills out of fridge and cupboards surfaces are crowded with gadgets and bric a brac clothes she cannot wear occupy all her wardrobes

    everyone is responsible for their own destiny, she says

    I have never let anyone close, she says

    I am independent and a burden to no one, she says

    sensitivity is nothing but weakness of character, she says

    spouts continuous intellectual thoughts, judgments, rhetorical questions she never wants answered no time to listen no time to feel no hand capable of reaching out

    neither to give nor to receive

    the old woman’s body houses an abandoned girl child of three shocked into a frozen grief a cavernous hole sighing, stamping, screaming for Mother gone, dead the three-year-old has let her feelings die too

    the old woman has had four daughters and a son could not mother them instead three became Mother to her

    one listened carefully to all her woes and tales of her achievements the second died young the third one carried out her ambitious wishes the fourth was at her beck and call the son had no such task to fulfill

    of her ten grandchildren three hardly know or remember her one is doted upon for his achievements, the other is encouraged to achieve two are tolerated because they live in the same town and can be useful and three are pitied because their parents don’t get along

    the old woman seems charming and self-confident admiration comes her way, even from two of her daughters: she is 90 and still lives on her own she only recently gave up her car she is a star at bridge and plays 3 times a week she dyes her hair and looks much younger she keeps up her appearance

    the truth? manipulative and impermeable unreachable and tyrannical tragic and alone unyielding and arrogant terrified just like the toddler who throws tantrums just like the toddler who does not know her boundaries just like the toddler who demands to be the centre of the world

    and a deafening heart-broken scream rises from within her depths

    MAAAAAMAAAAA

    😱😱😱

    I have also cut off from the one sister who has taken up our mother’s values and I feel so much freer because I now no longer need to expend energy distorting myself to pretend I am otherwise than what I am.

    My relationship with my only daughter was necessarily difficult and has undergone massive healing due to the desire on both our parts to be whole and true.

    Thank you, Bethany. May this email of mine and the poem be my way of supporting your work and confirming how vital your insights are. Blessings and Love, Magdalene

    >

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    • Wow Magdalene! Your poem is MY MOTHER to a T! Hard to believe there is another woman exemplifying the exact same qualities as my mother — so uncannily similar. I am able to feel more compassion for my mother now, after realizing where her pain is coming from, though it doesn’t make it any easier to tolerate her abuse. Thank you for sharing Laura

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  22. Thank you soooo much for this article. I feel understood for the first time in a long time. When you walk away a from a toxic family, it feels as if the world judges and condemns you. This has been a very liberating article for me. I feel the need to read it over and over.

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  23. Pingback: Grief or Moving ON | Letting Go of Tradition

  24. Bethany, thank you SO MUCH for this! So much validation here…

    My narcissistic mother passed away on March 29th this year. I had been no contact with her for four years and during that time she did everything she could to make sure my family would never understand why I couldn’t be in her life. Her last act of…the only word that fits is “spite”…was to see to it that my family blamed me for her death: She had a mild heart attack, found out about “broken heart syndrome”when she was released from the hospital, and convinced my family that’s what happened to her due to my refusal to “make amends”. The following week, she had a massive stroke that affected 30% of her brain (putting her in a coma) and led to her death two weeks later.

    As you probably know, “broken heart syndrome” is a true condition, but it only mimics a heart attack. It does not send a blood clot to the brain. Only a true heart attack does that. I have not for one second believed I caused my mother’s death, but the consequences of her lie has devastated any chance of a healthy reunion with my family.

    I was already on the path of healing by going no contact, but this permanent break with my mother has catapulted me to higher degrees of healing than ever before. I still long to be connected to the rest of my family – especially my 80-year-old father – but I have made peace with that as well. I really don’t need my family to understand me!

    Again, thank you!
    ~Laura

    Like

  25. Bethany, thank you SO MUCH for this! So much validation here…

    My narcissistic mother passed away on March 29th this year. I had been no contact with her for four years and during that time she did everything she could to make sure my family would never understand why I couldn’t be in her life. Her last act of…the only word that fits is “spite”…was to see to it that my family blamed me for her death: She had a mild heart attack, found out about “broken heart syndrome” when she was released from the hospital, and convinced my family that’s what happened to her due to my refusal to “make amends”. The following week, she had a massive stroke that affected 30% of her brain (putting her in a coma) and led to her death two weeks later.

    As you probably know, “broken heart syndrome” is a true condition, but it only mimics a heart attack. It does not send a blood clot to the brain. Only a true heart attack does that. I have not for one second believed I caused my mother’s death, but the consequences of her lie has devastated any chance of a healthy reunion with my family.

    I was already on the path of healing by going no contact, but this permanent break with my mother has catapulted me to higher degrees of healing than ever before. I still long to be connected to the rest of my family – especially my 80-year-old father – but I have made peace with that as well. I really don’t need my family to understand me!

    Again, thank you!
    ~Laura

    Like

    • Oh Laura, this breaks my heart that even in the process of leaving this earth your mother felt the need to lash out against you in anger. What a sad way to die & how terribly cruel & hurtful to you. At the same time, maybe it’s even more validation for your choice to go no contact in the first place.
      Just a point though about those who are willing to swallow her story whole (that you were to blame for her death)…are these really the kind of people you want in your life? Because to any reasonable person IMO, her story seems totally absurd. What kind of person believes such a thing??
      Hugs & peace to you

      Like

  26. Thank you Bethany for this article. I believe this topic is still taboo, as you said. But in fact a logical thing to happen when you refuse to be abused any longer. So good to bring this out in the open!
    x Esther

    Like

  27. Bethany, thank you for sharing this. After years of emotional and verbal abuse, I broke contact with my toxic mother over 20 years ago. Luckily, I was warned by my counselor that she would try and turn family members against me and blame me for her problems. It all happened. A few years later, my husband and I adopted our daughter. I have finally found the wonderful relationship between mother and daughter that I have always craved, but as a mother. The healing has been liberating! When my (now adult) daughter wanted to meet my estranged mother, I risked contact again. Even though I found that my mother still talks behind my back and tells hateful lies to people, I am stronger now. It is exactly how I expected her to act. I am more convinced than ever that I made the right decision. My success and happiness in life are truly my own!

    Like

  28. I broke from my mother about 7 years ago, and for the longest time I thought I was the only one going through it. It is hard when I’m the only person she treats this way (mainly because I question her intentions and motives, which no one else does.) There are a lot of us and I pray every day that I won’t ever become toxic to my own daughters. Thanks for the insight!

    Like

  29. THANK YOU!

    Your empowering message so clearly and elegantly speaks the truth of my journey in words I haven’t yet been able to speak myself.

    You have given me the courage and presence to begin sharing my truth and Light about this important subject, which MUST be brought lovingly out of the shadows of shame and guilt.

    When I made the choice for estrangement from my mother and entire family structure, I knew with my whole being that it was the right choice for me, and despite the grief and guilt and fears, I have never wavered in that choice.

    The healing and growth I have experienced would never have been possible while maintaining contact, and I knew deep in my Soul this was the most loving gift I could give to myself, and also to my family.

    My hope and prayer is that my absence in my family’s life will give them the space and opportunity to begin their own process of healing and growth. I have full faith and trust that each and every member of my family, especially my mother, has the strength, courage and tenacity to heal their own pain.

    Where does that faith come from? I know that I have healed. I have grown. And whatever capacity I have to shine also exists within my family members. Shining *for* them deprives them of the opportunity to discover their own Light and to know themselves deeply. I WILL NOT deprive anyone of their God-given right and responsibility of authenticity, strength, and clarity.

    I am estranged. I do it for Love. I do it for my future daughter. I do it for the generations of daughters who will grace our planet with their love, power, and unique presence.

    Thank you for providing the space for me to feel validated and honored for my choice. Thank you for giving hope and supportive permission to daughters everywhere who have felt alone and unheard on this path. We are the warriors of a new generation of healthy family structure and growth.

    Shine on!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Thank you for writing this. It has certainly rung true in a great deal of my own life. As a daughter who was adopted and found by my mother in recent years, it’s been a constant struggle to understand myself, and to heal without blame.
    One of the costs of this journey into becoming who I am has been the cost of my relationship with my own daughter, who is currently estranged from myself. I’ve always admitted to her when I’ve been wrong, been supportive of her own goals, dreams and actions…the reasons behind our estrangement are more because I wouldn’t continue to accept her blaming me for everything wrong in her world, her attitidue that I owe her and me saying enough to emotional blackmail.
    I’m no innocent, not by a long shot, though as we both grew up, I did what I could to show her a strong, survivor role model. We’d both been through domestic violence, me as the wife, herself as the child. I did what I could to show her that we aren’t victims, it’s a choice, and a healthy one.
    In the course of this estrangement I have had to distance myself from a number of family members, and have been, in a sense, blessed for it.
    Each day is a struggle, each day my heart hurts at not being able to talk to my daughter, to hear her laugh. And each day I’m thankful I’m not in the firing line of her venom.
    A great article to read, and certainly relevant for many. Has rung more than a few chords within myself…thank you.

    Like

  31. Thank you very much for this!!!
    Gives me hope and empowerment that I need so much while going through this hard and painful process of healing mothers wound.
    Love, M.

    Like

  32. I have never read an article about this , and it means a lot to me ! It should not be taboo. This topic has been haunting me my whole life!! I need to save myself and I’m almost 60 years old!!! Family members can’t suck the life out of you ! I know all too well ! Thank you so much !! I’m going to read and read it again ! And again !

    Like

  33. Pingback: Navigating “No-Contact”: When Estrangement from Your Mother is the Healthiest Choice | dlwshieldfacebook2

  34. Wow, so timely! My heart and soul are so grateful to you Bethaney and this particular post today. I just got off the phone with my sister trying to explain my detachment with our mother. Feeling shame and guilt because the pain and cost to my health is to great to stay within a relating with my mother that is dysfunctional. Feeling that something must be wrong with me and needing support I called a friend for reassurance that I am a good person. This is a hard path when one chooses to limit the contact with their mother. I now choose me and freedom so I can grow into a whole being and let my light shine forth to guide others. I cannot take any more pain; the body cries out helping me ultimately to choose me and detach with love and gratitude. I have Lupus and being with the family now it becomes inflamed which I am grateful for because I cannot deny the body’s suffering any longer. Choosing to break the ancestral chain of patriarchy past down through the mother in my lineage. I agree that this is so much bigger than the self …. it is the work that will help heal not only the self, our ancestry, but also Mother Earth.
    Eternally Grateful to you for your strength and courage to be a forerunner in the healing of the Mother Wound! And my heart is so blessed that you share these posts free for your sisters; they are priceless!
    Nina

    Like

  35. Thank you!!

    I celebrated my 28th birthday two days ago and didn’t realize until this morning when I got my gift from my mother-in-law that my mom (who I haven’t spoken to in a couple years) didn’t try to reach out to me…and I was perfectly okay with that.

    It was a hard, long journey to get where I am today.
    Thanks again ❤

    Like

  36. Without even knowing about the “mother wound” ~ I distanced myself from my mother in 1999…went across the globe and faced all kinds of demons ~ grieved a tremendous amount… We talked very little for a few years… It was a frightening and yet POWERFUL time for me. Your writing puts all of this in context…and I resonate with every word. You are so spot on in every way! I was desperate to get out of the toxic relationship we BOTH created and to find my authentic self. It was a necessary journey that my soul was actually desperate for.

    Like

  37. I will try again. Recently my daughter has imposed a no contact with me which is hurting her way more that it is punishing me by taking away my grandchildren. The first paragraph of your article resonated with me as I believe that soon she will accept me back once she has calmed down, and our relationship will be restored and strengthened.

    Like

    • Going no contact with a parent is not punishment. And it is not done lightly. A daughter’s greatest wish is that her parent love her for who she is, not what she can do. Going no contact is a last resort taken when a daughter knows this will never happen for her. Going no contact is the only way to stop the pain of knowing she is not loved. It is the first step in her recovery from co-dependence. You may never understand this, but it is the truth.

      Liked by 2 people

  38. This post deeply resonated with where I am today, i have made the choice to have no contact with my mother because she continues to deny that I was abused by my father. Your post gave me hope and a sense of empowerment! I honestly feel that fire or ‘blazing light’ as you describe it within me. I have never felt so strong. Thank you for your words.

    Like

  39. Just to say thank you to you , from me, my sister and all the girls and women who have and are struggling with guilt of distancing themselves. The person whose role is to nurture and cherish,
    can become the most heavy load we ever have to bear; it takes time to realize how sweet life is
    when that burden has been lifted through our own courage . The invisible prison gradually fades
    into nothingness, then light and the lightness of being is possible ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  40. WOW!!! What an amazing article!!!! I had to disconnect from my mom and it’s been emotional yet freeing!!!! I had to make the decision to no longer “dance with her” I am becoming a better version of me….no more toxicity – it’s amazing when you step back see things from the outside, how much you REALLY see! Amazing! I have forwarded this article on to my sisters and 2 girlfriends, its POWERFUL!! I will also share it on my blog! Thank you for writing this!!! ~ Cheri

    Like

  41. I went through this with my father, he died shortly after my decision to consciously stop contact, and I struggled for years to describe to others that I didn’t really have grief for my father’s death, without seeming terribly cold and unfeeling, I wanted to explain the I mourned the loss of a potential relationship- but I never actually had the relationship to mourn, and so it wasn’t a typical type of grief. I’ve finally come to terms with it, but I think my mother still suffers from that loss of the potential, I think it’s important to mourn what could have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. As a male in my mid thirties who broke off contact in my late twenties, I thank you for this article. I have felt a lot of guilt, grief and remorse over choosing no contact with my family. But it was the best choice I could make for my sanity. I’m happier and free to live life on my own terms. I don’t blame my mother for anything, in fact I’m grateful for all she has taught me and given me (especially insight in regards to delusional thinking, depression, negative perspective). But I can’t help her, I’m not equipped to do that. I can’t pretend anymore that I am responsible for her happiness. My life will get sucked up into her story and her problems. Only she can make the conscious decision to help herself.

    Like

  43. Sadly, I am the estranged mother.
    It’s personally so very sad to process and accept that your daughter does not want a relationship with you. I was not abusive, drugs are not an issue. She has chosen her self over me. It’s lonely but I will survive and will love her forever. I miss my grandchildren.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. I am brought to tears each time I read a portion of this essay.
    Years of therapy finally brought me to a place where I could disconnect from my mother while maintaining contact. Having been the pathologized daughter, the one needing “fixing,” the one seen as unable to support herself, the one who was never really enough (mixed in with a big enough dose of lip service like, “you’re so talented, you have so much to offer” to make things really confusing and keep me coming back for more), I kept wanting to get through, to get it right.
    But she was who she was, with her own deep wounds and too little of whatever was necessary to look at and heal them (despite being a social worker and proud of all her psychology knowledge).
    A therapist said once that therapy is hard work and not everyone is up to it. So true!

    So here I am now, with a loving, deeply insightful, wonderful daughter and we’ve been given the gift of spending some months living together. What a beautiful (if not always easy) journey of discovery as we wend our way through to new ways of being mother and daughter as adults, healing old hurts, finding out how to support each other to blossom into our own paths.
    “Grief may arise every time you move to a new level…”
    For the past few weeks I’ve wondered what’s going on with me. That line hit the target 100%.
    After 6 months together, why was I feeling lethargic, overeating, having a sense things were unsettled when they’ve been going so well?
    Seeing all that’s possible is bringing up such deep sorrow I wasn’t even aware was there. It’s not the agony of old, the twisting, turning, entangled dance of hope and frustration though. It’s a realization that while the dance is over, the grief that what I’d hoped for was impossible still lingers. Grief for myself, and also for my mother.
    The beauty of how my daughter and I can be together holds a bittersweet pang. It’s such a contrast to what I experienced. So I’m allowing the grief now as I celebrate our reality. Thank you for the clarity!
    I feel we’re healing generations of old wounds and preventing them from being passed on.
    Thank you for your ability to formulate so many truths in a way that speak to my core.
    I’d love to do a workshop with you at some point!

    Liked by 1 person

  45. This article is so deeply profound and has walked me through the decades of my life where at a very young age my intuition lead me down the path of growth, individuality, and desire to break away from the disfunction my family. Only to be rejected, ridiculed, belittled in an attempt to squish me back into their mold of unhappiness only they could love. The validation and understanding I received of their behavior gave me so much clarity and was on point with reality. You have lifted me to my next chapter of life, feeling full, complete, and somewhat of an intuitive genuis!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. I’m about to turn 60 and have been healing for 25 years. I’ve been estranged during most of that time. I have no doubt that the peace and solitude of estrangement allowed me to heal. The guilt and obligation are still there but have faded over time. Even after all this time, it helps me to read your messages.

    My heart goes out to the kids who grow up alone and misunderstood and hurting, needlessly. I hope societies learn to respect and value emotional needs; so much pain could be prevented.

    Thank you, Bethany!

    Liked by 3 people

  47. This certainly struck a deep nerve in me. It brought me to tears and a spoken word poem. It has certainly brought me grief-that I do work through-but nonetheless is painful at times. My mother suffers from an array of mental disorders; stemming from a long line of many forms of abuse. I’ve always been the outspoken and strived to bring more communication and healing to the family, but was met with a complete disrespect and ridicule. My family is very conservative and very religious too, so as you mentioned, this challanges a lot of beliefs. I’ve not let it make me bitter and understood the distance is what’s best. Over the years we reach a little be more of a breakthrough. It’s sometimes lonely. As I am one to always understand the underlying story, so knowing her pain and experiences really make me want to rescue her. I realized I could not save her. I could only heal my wounds and speak my truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. This article tells the story of my life. It is powerfully true and validating. It is astonishingly accurate in it’s telling of estrangement, the accompanying pain, and empowerment of seeing it through. I was able to accomplish earning my Bachelor’s, Masters, and ultimately Ph.D. In Spiritual Psychology as a Metaphysician between the ages of 52 and 60. Today, I am happy with my life, am a very empowered woman, and at the moment am building my website. After many years, my classes in Hypnotic Childbirth: Mother Nature’s Intention, The Sacred Feminine, and Wholistic Empowerment Training are ready to be launched on my website. What a ride it has been.
    THANK YOU for this dynamic and very empowering article.
    AnnaLynn Zinn, Ph.D.
    Metaphysician/Spiritual Psychologist
    Clinical Hypnotherapist
    CEO and Founder:
    Center For The Sacred Feminine
    Hypnotic Childbirth: Mother Nature’s Intention

    Like

  49. This is just a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing. The thought, the concise sentences, the clarity. Only one with experience and an organised and well being mind could write such. Thank you.

    Like

  50. Brilliant article and thanks so much for putting it out there. It’s resonating with many. Funnily enough, it was two blokes who’ve read it and commented on it so far…
    I walked away from my Mother 5 years ago, and it was just as you described:-
    “The message is “Your unwillingness to continue in the family system in your established role indicates that there is something deeply wrong with you.””

    After awhile you learn that the lesson is actually about becoming your own Mother and Father, and by doing that you break that pattern, and that is what it becomes if your not the one to make the change.

    I have a 15 year old daughter. Every time I look at her, I thank myself for having the courage to walk away from those unhealthy family relationships.

    Cheers.

    Like

  51. Bethany,

    Your account was referred to me from a friend of Marilyn Norry – of which I am grateful.

    Paragraph by paragraph. Word by word. You nailed it. Your thoughts were easily transitioned to a male point of view which gave immense validation to my actions eight years on. This is a subject that males often will not, and in many cases, cannot deal with. They continue to lead their lives with this gigantic monkey on their backs. Now I can continue to feel life choices are not meant to harm but to qualify actions we deem imperative to our survival.

    Thanks

    Like

  52. Dear Bethany, THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!

    Actually it’s not possible to say by words how much this your post important for me. I just red it today and feel like i am free fom this moment. This information came in the right time when i am ready to understand and thought the same things last year.

    I am so gratefull, God bless You ❤️

    Like

  53. I needed this tonight. I don’t always take the time to read my emails due to the volume, but something led me right to you. Exhausted from this endless cycle of negativity. Trying to make my mother hear herself as she is calling me a moron and the worst mistake in her life (that’s just tonight’s insults, there’s always more to come) is draining the very life from me. Crazy to think here I am 46 years old and still so deeply affected by my 81 year old mother’s verbal abuse. God bless you for the words you wrote. … I need to set myself free.

    Like

  54. This is the most beautifully written piece I’ve ever read on this subject, and it struck several, very raw cords for me. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  55. This was so beautiful and right now on this very day me and my mom and sister are at our turning point ive done everything I’ve pretending, I’ve nomb myself, shrinked my voice and then finally I tried to have a conversation I was yeild at told the problem is with me. That I was negative and no one jad time to deal with my feeling you cant buy respect, force it, or pray it oit of people they have to want to give it but this passaged have showed me I can heal with out them with out compression my healing in protection or better yet denial from them it’s hard for me I so do love my family but they want to sacrifices me for they’re own comfort I have to love me more and today I pick me

    Like

  56. I have read this piece several times to remind me that I am on the right path. I have gone no-contact more than once over the years, only to return because of the guilt and societal pressure I felt. When my mother started to treat my 22 year old daughter the same way she had treated me, I knew it was time for both of us to stay away. My daughter and I have had long talks about this and she is so clear that this is the right thing to do, and does not have the guilt I struggle with.
    Beautiful and amazing things have happened to me since that decision, and your article explains it quite well. I do feel sadness as I move forward because my mother, nor my father can get beyond their own issues to celebrate my successes with me. The great thing is that my daughter is getting to see me evolve and tells me often how much she admires me.

    Like

  57. Thank you so much for writing this article. I’ve been estranged for many years and what a ride but you know what I made it, I love me and my life! It was necessary. 🙏🙏🙏 Ally

    Like

  58. Thank you. I have to go to no contact until my family begins to change. I suffered fairly severe psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse from my family. To make matters worse, I was the scapegoat, the keeper of secrets, and the emotional caretaker. I was locked into the family and isolated from everyone else outside. It makes me sick that the system fed off me for that long. I said no and all hell broke loose from my family. It ended with them mostly kicking me out. When I saw them, they wanted to deny that anything ever happened while still treating me the same, albeit in a toned down manner. I am loving my freedom, but it is painfully lonely. It is hard to get people to understand fully, but some do. I want a family but all the people who love me now are healthy, which is great but it means that they have their own healthy responsibilities, boundaries, and families. I feel guilty for making them family in my minds even though I know they can’t be. So even though people love me now it is still extremely painful to have them set down boundaries that they wouldn’t have to if I were a part of their family and see them be loving with their own families. So, even though I am getting crumbs right now, which I am immensely grateful for, they are still only crumbs. I am strong, but I need to have a heart, too. I am finding my heart through grief. I am healing and moving on. I am succeeding on this tough path and cheer others on who find themselves doing the same.

    Like

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