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AIBU to get in touch after 20+ years

(22 Posts)
LalaLyra Fri 05-Feb-16 00:01:31

Curious to see what other people think. Also I find getting my thoughts out/down really helpful so I hope it's ok to post here.

My Aunt died yesterday (not unexpected and a blessing in many ways that she is no longer in pain) and it's made me think about my Grandfather on the other side of the family as he's a similar age (mid-late 80's).

To give a bit of background my parents were abusive. Mostly my father, but my mother joined in/didn't protect us. Lots of alcohol and drugs. My paternal grandparents took us when I was 7 when they realised how bad things had gotten, I am the youngest of 4. My eldest brother is 9 years older than me, I'm the youngest by quite a few years of them all.

My maternal grandparents fell out with my parents. By all accounts my Grandmother just couldn't stay quiet. She would clash with my father frequently about his treatment of her daughter and eventually (I think when I was about 3ish) they decided to have no more contact.

At various points in my life they attempted to have contact, but "we" decided we didn't want to speak to them. Due to issues recently that mean I'll likely never speak to my eldest brother or my sister again, and has left my relationship with other brother quite shaky, I've realised that in lots of decisions that "we" made I really went along, or had to go along, with the others. I was a kid and they were adults. They knew better.

My siblings don't talk about things. Once it's done its done and that's it. I'm a talker. I've been talking to a counsellor and the possibility of making contact with my Grandfather. My paternal grandparents are both dead, my aunt spoke to me a lot about my childhood.

We were angry with our maternal grandparents. They walked away for their sakes. Which I understand in some ways, but they just left us. They knew he was violent - they'd taken their daughter to A&E more than once. The feeling among the four of us was that they just walked away from us for their own good. However, recently I discovered that they didn't do nothing, they did call social services at least once and I found an old letter amongst my Nana's things that suggests they used to send the grandparents who looked after us money when they could.

Our paternal grandparents bit their tongues, and on many occasions apologised to my father when they didn't really need too. Anything to stay close to us to offer us at least some protection. I'm wondering now if perhaps we've been unfair. It seems like a very black and white situation that they left us in, but it can't have been easy seeing their daughter, and their grandchildren, in that situation.

Would it be massively unfair to get in touch with a man of that age to basically ask him to dredge up horrible old memories? He/They have on various occasions attempted to make contact with me - on my 18th, 21st and 30th birthdays I got a card. They sent a card and a gift voucher when I married and they've sent a card for the births of each of my children, my youngest is almost 2, after (I assume) seeing the thing in the localish newspaper. I've never responded in any way to any of the contact. "We" agreed that we wouldn't.

I was thinking of perhaps reaching out to my uncle (he also send cards on each occasion) first, rather than an old man.

I'm not saying that all of the decisions my siblings made were wrong. Not at all. I'm just thinking that it's about time I make some decisions of my own, and I'd like to have a fuller picture of the past. Being the baby of the family I was shielded from as much as possible, and there are serious implications from my eldest brother that I don't know the half of it. I know enough to know how bad it was. I remember it everytime I see the scar on my hand. I just want to make my own decisions about people.

And I want to move on. If they did their best, truly did their best, then they lost their daughter and their grandchildren and I wonder that they should have the chance to have their voice heard (well his, my grandmother died several years ago).

CatThiefKeith Fri 05-Feb-16 00:04:55

I think you sound incredibly well rounded and sensible. I think you should, particularly as it sounds like he would be very glad to hear from you.

AlwaysHopeful1 Fri 05-Feb-16 00:10:18

Hi La, I remember your previous thread! Hope you have been doing much better after the issues with your siblings. You made a big decision back then and you can do it now with your gf. As you say, you were very young when you were given details about them by your older siblings. This might have influenced you against them. It seems like your gp didn't forget about you and still tried to keep in contact even though it was at a distance. You might want to hear their story now.

MiddleClassProblem Fri 05-Feb-16 00:13:13

YANBU. You're an adult with your own family now. I'm sure it probably haunts your grandfather and just seeing you would be a relief. If you did want to ask him questions, that would be OK too but obviously not in an antagonistic way, which from the tone of your post I doubt you'd do.

When we're kids we don't pick up on everything or really understand it all so only as an adult would you be able to get a bigger picture anyway.

I'm not that close with my brother and so I can't imagine what it would be like to have that bond where you stick together. It's not a betrayal or anything, even your brother can't have the full story as he hasn't communicated with them.

Follow your gut x

LalaLyra Fri 05-Feb-16 00:17:41


always I'm doing much better thank you. Had lots of teary conversations with DH, MIL and the counsellor.

I've completely cut contact with eldest brother and sister. If you remember the details - they both cashed the cheques. One even made noises about interest, which was the point I knew we were done. Nothing I ever do will be enough. They are convinced they suffered worse, and that there is some sort of competition.

I always thought we had that bond of four, but we didn't. Not really.

MrsMook Fri 05-Feb-16 00:31:03

Quite different circumstances, but I first met my grandparents as an adult. It gave us the pleasure of 6 years of knowing each other before my granddad died. For him, it was an end of many years of regret of not knowing me.

You sound like you are of a sensible mindset to meet them. They have cared and made some contact over recent years. It sounds like the chances of establishing positive contact are promising.

Copperspider Fri 05-Feb-16 00:33:24

I think, given the cards they've sent, that your grandfather and your uncle would love you to get in touch. Be open and honest with them - I like what you say about your siblings' decisions not necessarily being wrong, but wanting to make decisions of your own.

However, I think you need to think about what you want from them - is it a relationship, or just for them to answer questions about your past? If you want to get in touch 'just to dredge up old memories' that seems a little harsh. If you want to get to know them, to be a part in some way of each other's lives, now, and hope that that will also lead to finding out more about your childhood - they'll be delighted.

Do it. You're more likely to regret not getting in touch. Good luck.

LalaLyra Fri 05-Feb-16 00:41:48

However, I think you need to think about what you want from them - is it a relationship, or just for them to answer questions about your past?

I think this depends on what they say. If that makes sense?

If they did, as my brother believes, walk away from us because it was too much hassle. If they left four kids in a situation that they knew was abusive and violent then I would struggle to have a relationship with them.

If they only did so after a lot of soul searching and because they truly believed that they couldn't help then a relationship is a possibility. I'd love to have family, but I'm also aware that long lost relatives becoming a close knit family with a great and easy relationship is most often not how it works.

There's a big difference between "We rowed with your father every time we saw him and we were afraid of making the situation worse" and "We rowed with your father and we got sick of it" and I'd like to know where their thought processes had them standing. I don't think I can get to know them, make them a part of my life, potentially make them part of my children's lives without knowing the answer to that question first.

lavenderhoney Fri 05-Feb-16 00:42:11

I also think you should get in touch and chat kindly. You sound so nice - and perfectly able to manage a slow build up- obviously it would be so gentle at first, them making sure you are happy now. They must have had intesting lives anyway, and agonised over what to do in the times they were in.

The past is a different country - we do things differently now- you must think. Clearly they did the best with what they had. Right or wrong it's done now - and as I say, you sound grounded enough to undertand and allay their fears. Be gentle, with them and you.

WhereYouLeftIt Fri 05-Feb-16 00:50:34

YANBU. You've thought it through, and from the sound of the cards - they were trying to leave the door open. Best wishes.

GinBunny Fri 05-Feb-16 23:16:13

Going NC must have been difficult for them. I have gone NC with my sibling, but kept in touch with her DCs. I sent cards for a while and stopped that after a while as it was affecting my mental health, I was "grieving" for the loss of relationship while still keeping them "alive" in my mind, if that makes sense. These decisions are never made lightly, but are made at the time for the reasons that are right at that time. The fact they have kept sending you cards over the years suggest they are reminding you that they are there for you if you ever want to take them up on it. I think you should get in touch, I think your GF would be so happy to hear from you. Good luck, I hope it all works out well for you flowers

WandaFuca Sat 06-Feb-16 01:03:00

The Salvation Army have a programme for reuniting families, including acting as a mediator. I think they would have lots of experience of how difficult and painful family break-ups can be. Maybe call them and see if you can talk things through with someone?

LalaLyra Sat 06-Feb-16 20:04:43

Thanks all.

I added my uncle on Facebook last night. I know to a lot of people it's the devil, but he's very active on there (although his privacy settings are a bit shit!). I don't use it so often so I felt it was a good way to make contact without waiting on something landing on the doormat every morning or the phone to ring.

I was a bit of a chicken - I sent a message basically enquiring if it was him when I know it was, but tbh I didn't know what to say. So I'll see what happens from here. My siblings (well eldest brother and sister) will absolutely flip if/when they find out, but I'm not bothered what they say right now after the things they said and did.

I spoke to DH about it for hours and I'm not expecting us to be like the Waltons in a few short weeks. I just want to talk to them and see what they are like. I'd also like to be able to go to my Gr-Gran's grave without being paranoid I'll bump into them. I don't remember her, but I have a photograph from when I was very small and I treasure it as there are not many photos from when I was very young. She also bought me a little snoopy that was my favourite cuddly when I was very small (until my father chucked it out, but that's by the by), I was born on her birthday so apparently she was very chuffed by that. I'd like to know more about that side as my Grandparents who brought me up only knew limited things.

LalaLyra Sat 06-Feb-16 20:06:35

Ultimately I realised I'd regret it if I didn't and I feel there are enough regrets in my life story.

RandomMess Sat 06-Feb-16 20:13:26

I really hope it goes well flowers

You will never truly know how it really was for them but you never know it may have been about their literal self -preservation. Can you imaging phoning social services them not intervening and watching your DD being battered possibly to death?

You are right, you would regret not trying to establish a relationship so I think you've done the right thing x

LalaLyra Sat 06-Feb-16 20:52:09

You will never truly know how it really was for them but you never know it may have been about their literal self -preservation. Can you imaging phoning social services them not intervening and watching your DD being battered possibly to death?

That's what I'm thinking Random. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to call social services and say "I think these children are being abused by their parents... my daughter and her husband."

I thought, briefly, about waiting until my baby was born. Replying to the cards or something, but then I realised if anything happened to them between now and then (which given neither Grandfather or Uncle are spring chickens is not a ridiculous worry) I'd regret it massively.

Thank you x

Buxtonstill Sat 06-Feb-16 21:36:08

I would get in contact. There are two sides to every story, and you have heard one of them. You don't know the conversations that went between those four adults, your mother, father and gp's. Nothing can change the past, and looking for someone to blame and/or punish (by not getting in touch) won't help any of you.
It sounds like they wanted contact with you, from the cards and gifts they sent. They did what they thought was best at the time; it may have been the right or wrong thing. Who can say? If you meet them you could regret it - possibly- But it you never know. You will almost certainly regret it if you don't.
Life is too short. Meet with them. Don't let your mind be swayed by the opinions of people who were only party to half the story.
I wish you well.

MiddleClassProblem Sun 07-Feb-16 01:53:40

Good luck with it all and well done for doing what's right for you flowers

LalaLyra Sun 14-Feb-16 00:14:06

It's only been a week so there's not a huge update, but thought I'd let you know anyway.

My Uncle replied to my message. Basically delighted I'd made contact, hoped I was doing well, commented on my profile photo and lots of small talk.

We then spoke on the phone during the week for around an hour. It was a little awkward, but he very quickly said not to be worried about being wary of them, that he could understand why I'd be sussing them out because it could look like they just abandoned us.

He asked permission to show a couple of photos to my Grandfather, he said on the phone he was delighted when he'd mentioned I'd added him.

This afternoon we spoke for a few minutes when we met up as he had some things he wanted me to have. Letters and the likes that will show the steps my Grandparents took.

It's all very tentative, but they seem to have been expecting that if we ever got in touch we'd have questions. My DH is away with work atm and they accepted without question that I don't want to meet up to talk things through properly until he is home.

I imagine the letters and the likes will be quite emotional, but I really do feel that we didn't get the whole story. Far from it. So I'm glad I made that step. Thank you for the support.

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 14-Feb-16 05:17:57

That all sounds very positive LalaLyra. It sounds as if they've thought about this too, and are trying to make things as easy for you as they can. Best wishes. flowers

NoMilkNoSugar Sun 14-Feb-16 08:38:07

lala glad it sounds so positive for you. You don't need to be bosum buddies with them, but to be on friendly terms, will hopefully give you some closure and like you say, take some of the worry out of situations should you accidentally bump into them. I also think your Uncle asking your permission to show photos is good and that he is mindful of your feelings. Good luck OP.

Penfold007 Sun 14-Feb-16 09:34:45

Sounds very positive, small gentle steps is a good idea. Good luck.

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