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No contact with my own family - I feel no one I know understands the impact on me.

(38 Posts)
JuliaJuliaJulia Tue 20-Oct-15 09:50:26

I have had no contact with my family for 15 yrs and before that sporadic telephone contact in the 10 yrs before that. So all ancient history? No. My husband's family is the "family" I have around me and, particularly since having children of my own, I feel so alone in his family. They talk of their shared memories and no one remembers me as a child, no one has stories to tell. None of the people around me understand at all the impact.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Tue 20-Oct-15 09:53:12

Was it your choice?

I've been completely no contact with my family for many years now, all of my adult life and some of my teenage years. It was my choice, though.

I miss having a family at times, but I don't miss my family - they wouldn't have been sharing memories and remembering me as a child anyway, there's no photos of me as a baby or child at all.

I think perhaps the impact is different for everyone, even those who are all NC, so it's probably very difficult for anyone to understand how it's hurting you, let alone those who are close to their families.

Joysmum Tue 20-Oct-15 10:02:04

I can empathise but don't fully understand.

My mum has little contact with one of her brothers and hadn't had any contact with the other for nearly 40 years. They met up again recently and then I met him too and it was so weird to see my mum in the role of a sibling, dissecting the past with someone else who was there. It certainly helped them both to fill in a lot of gaps.

Helloitsme15 Tue 20-Oct-15 10:14:32

AnchorDownDeepBreath - I think you are right. I have been NC with my dad for nearly 9 years. I do not miss him at all. But I do miss my fantasy dad - the kind, caring dad who would have supported and loved me. But that guy doesn't exist. Never did.
I am guessing you are NC for a reason - when you miss your fantasy family (the kind ones), just remind yourself what your actual family is like (probably nasty and uncaring). Your real family would not tell affectionate stories about you.
Build new memories.

florentina1 Tue 20-Oct-15 10:27:35

I agree that you are probably missing the family you wished you'd had, rather than your actual family. That does not make it any easier for you.

Sometimes we can feel more lonely in group situations, especially when it is brought home to you that others are enjoying something you will never have. It is impossible to explain to others how you are feeling. Just because something may have been your choice does not make it any better.

It is a sort of bereavement really, things happen and you think, I wish I could tell my family. Not sure if this helps, just wanted you to know that someone understands.

Helloitsme15 Tue 20-Oct-15 11:36:46

I agree it is just the same as bereavement. There will be times when you miss having a family more than others, but as your own family grows the loss will start to fade and become less painful.

ENtertainmentAppreciated Tue 20-Oct-15 11:49:22

I'm similar in that I experience a kind of mourning too. Not because of inlaws and wider family but when I see happy and vibrant family relations or read about them here, it underlines what I've never had.

People say what you never have you never miss, but in this kind of situation you do.

I keep telling myself that it's the fantasy family I yearn for and I know mine were never going to fill that role anyway, but it still gets to me.

April2013 Tue 20-Oct-15 12:08:11

I understand, it is bound to be very hard being in the middle of another family, I used to be both drawn to people with happy families and very jealous of them, i thought it was my fault and they must be more loveable than me, I have been advised by a counsellor to be kind to myself about this feeling of being hurt\making comparisons and tell myself it is bound to hurt. Perhaps there are ways for you to remember yourself as a child fondly? Or things you can do now for the little girl you were? Just ideas, I guess the main thing is to try to reassure yourself you are bound to feel like this, treat yourself and generally look after yourself like you should have been. When other people let you down it is possible to give yourself what they didn't in theory. I wonder if talking to your new family about it might help? Or do you think they wouldn't understand? Would they sympathise? Most people would think it very unfair and sad and not at all your fault. I know a minority think it is a shameful thing but they are from a different era\idiots. Everyone deserves a loving family but not everyone gets that sad

fluffyblue Tue 20-Oct-15 12:17:32

I've been estranged from my family for over twenty years now, parents, siblings, grandparents all just gone. I've got two children and they have lost out as well, my sister has recently had a baby and the only way I can see my nephew is by looking at her profile picture on facebook. To be honest, I just feel like I'm not part of normal society, i pretty much hide myself away and don't bother with other people anymore.
Sorry that's not very helpful

April2013 Tue 20-Oct-15 12:20:07

I felt ashamed so hid it and never talked about it which added to the hurt, do you talk about how u r feeling with anyone?

fluffyblue Tue 20-Oct-15 12:22:12

Yeah also having no photos of myself as a child, being nobody's daughter or sister etc, I feel like a ghost or like I don't exist properly sometimes.

JuliaJuliaJulia Tue 20-Oct-15 13:58:59

Thank you for taking the time to reply everyone. Anchor it was my choice if you could call it that. i went to university and could not face going back, literally could not go into the house. Looking back I think my father would maybe today be described as having a personality disorder, my mother would call him "Jekyl and Hyde". He would shout at us, threaten us (sometimes hit but most of the time he did not need to as his control was so effective). 5 people were frigthened to death of him and the he could walk outside and say good morning with the neighbour as if nothing had happened and who would have heard him shouting his head off.

I was the youngest and 2 of my siblings ended up mentally ill but untreated. I am going back 30 yrs and I was frightened by my brothers behaviour, no one talked of mental illness back then and I would barricade my bedroom door at night because I was frightened of him.

I could go on and on.

I have felt that shame always and it is a very difficult thing to talk about. There is a sense of being a ghost and that you are on the outside of someone else's family.

I look at my children and they have a good relationship with their grandmother (my Mil) and I am so glad they have it but you are the outsider looking in. All family activities are his family, every christmas etc. There is never any counterbalance. I have no one behind me, supporting me. I have been with my husband for 15 yrs and it has never got any easier to be inside someone else's family.

It is obviously a fantasy of a family and not the family I had.

I have never met anyone who has ever admitted to being in the same situation and you feel a freak.

JuliaJuliaJulia Tue 20-Oct-15 14:16:57

I recently been contacted by a search company who managed to trace me even though I have married, to tell me my father died recently and they need to finalise his estate. my two siblings were living with him, neither of them have ever worked and my brother has barely left the house since leaving school. My father effectively destroyed their lives.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 20-Oct-15 15:06:39

yes, julia I feel the same. It's very lonely having near to no contact with your family of origin. Also that bit on the outside. No shared memories of childhood. No stories of childhood. It's a heavy loneliness, especially when the childhood was painful and difficult.

No advice to give, just ... you're not alone in your loneliness.

ImperialBlether Tue 20-Oct-15 15:59:58

Julia, I'm so sorry you had such an awful time growing up. I hope you protect yourself further by not trying to rescue your siblings now. I know that might sound hard on them but I think you have to look after yourself now.

JuliaJuliaJulia Tue 20-Oct-15 16:21:27

Thank you Once and Imperial. It is a heavy loneliness. i do not want to deny my MIL and my husband the chance to reminisce about their shared memories but I think neither of them understand or think what it means to never have had what they have had and what they have now. My MIL talks to my children about their father or his sisters when they were young and I feel like a none person. You are not like all the other people you meet.

it is the last taboo - I found out recently that my mother died 5 yrs ago having traced it through a death notice I found online. Most of the people i know would have been horrified had I said I did not know whether my mother was alive or dead.

It must be very painful to lose a parent when there has been a lot of love and good times but for family life to have been so awful and destructive is incredibly painful. A family history like this never leaves you but I think my husband and his family think it is all in the past.
Imperial that is why I cut off all contact all those yrs ago - I just could not face it any more.

JuliaJuliaJulia Tue 20-Oct-15 16:26:11

I wish over all these yrs I had been honest with all the people I have met in my life, instead of saying I was an only child, saying my parents were dead when they were not. But i did not. i lied through shame. Somehow there must be something wrong with you because no one would turn their back on their mother.

springydaffs Tue 20-Oct-15 17:58:39

Julia, you are far from alone with this. On MN at least there are lots of ppl in your position. I am nc (no contact) with most of my family. Long story - aren't they all!

There is an organisation called Stand Alone that supports people like us who are estranged from family. They are based in London but have a fb spurt group as well was a few actual support groups in London and up north somewhere. They also host regular workshops (in London).

What stands out to me is that YOU feel the shame - but it's not your shame is it? You are the victim of a terrible primary family, you were an innocent child and you are still innocent. You have nothing to be ashamed about - you sensibly cut them off in self-protection.

But I do understand the immense loss and grief. Have you had any therapy? Therapy has been an enormous benefit to me, helping and supporting me to grieve for what I didn't have, still don't have (and never will - from them at least), and to make my peace with it. It sounds like you have a lot to work through and i would recommend the safe haven of therapy. Ime it was a long term commitment as there was a lot to work through.

springydaffs Tue 20-Oct-15 18:01:24

* support group!

springydaffs Tue 20-Oct-15 18:03:18

Take a look at the 'Stately Homes' threads on here. LOTS of stories similar to ours.

JuliaJuliaJulia Wed 21-Oct-15 09:14:19

Thank you springy i have had therapy on and off over 25 yes but it has never been for long enough or effective.

A big issue now is the strain I feel in my husband's family. He is very close to his mother (father now deceased). They have issues of their own and I find it a great strain to deal with. His father was controlling, the BIL is a bully and I just want to say f off .I do not want to deal with it. I do not have the resilience to deal with their family problems.

springydaffs Wed 21-Oct-15 14:56:01

Over age 25 or over 25 years?

It is a great shame you haven't had effective therapy as this is a gaping wound that has not been effectively addressed. ime I had therapy - not counselling, two different things - for approx 6 years to address a childhood that was not as bad as yours (but bad enough!) and it has been life-changing. I have just embarked on a fresh lot of therapy - open-ended - having had a break for some time; though I have done a lot of courses and reading etc. I'm always on top of it bcs imo we are never fully healed from an horrific childhood but there is a great deal we can do to secure a place of considerable and lasting peace. Not least addressing and putting to bed for good any shame. It is a basic in therapy.

That said, I would feel the same as you if I met someone who has toxic family problems. Been there, done that, no thanks (ever again).

JuliaJuliaJulia Wed 21-Oct-15 16:20:41

I had short spells of counselling on the NHS over a period of about 15 yrs. Then nothing for about 5 yrs when my children were very small (when I needed it most I think) and then psychotherapy in the last three yrs or so but one moved and the next turned out to be not very good, too much stuff about her life and I ended up feeling she thought too much of the money she made and not you as a person. It is complicated by no longer being in the UK and I cannot find an british psychotherapist, both of these were american and for me they just don't really understand when you talk about stuff that a British person would just get.

I am sure my husbands family is quite normal, obviously normal compared to mine but there are issues and I have no resilience to deal with them and if I had my own family as a counterbalance it would not have been as hard as it has been. My husband has not done a great job of emotionally separating from his mom and dad and they have had a at times really negative impact on our relationship.

JuliaJuliaJulia Wed 21-Oct-15 16:25:16

I feel now his family is more of a problem than my own but because I had the family I had I cannot deal with his family effectively and I have no one to back me up. They know I have no one else so they have all the power if you like. I am always on the outside if someone else's family and my mil comes first with my husband, even more so now she is alone.

Lottapianos Wed 21-Oct-15 16:32:32

'I agree that you are probably missing the family you wished you'd had, rather than your actual family'

Agree that this is likely what's going on, but its still incredibly painful. I'm very low contact with my family and I relate very much to your feelings of loneliness, being on the outside of everything, and feeling like no-one understands.

What an incredibly traumatic childhood you had. You would be very justified in being proud of yourself for walking away from such a dreadfully toxic environment and for putting yourself first. Its not that simple of course and the shame can infect everything. Growing up in that kind of environment meant you learned incredibly damaging things which take years to undo. I very much share springydaffs enthusiasm about therapy, I know its a road you've explored before.

My partner's parents are also toxic - his mother in particular is incredibly emotionally manipulative. I absolutely loathe how she treats him and feel incredibly angry with her on his behalf. Like you, I find it hard to be around their weird dynamic. Its like I feel like I've had my lifetime quota of toxic family crap and don't have room for anymore!

Its very sad and very tough OP. It absolutely is a bereavement and you need to be able to grieve for the family you thought you had, and the family you wish you'd had. It takes time. You're not alone with it though - I hope that helps a bit x

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