I Cut Off All Contact With My Mother | Hit Me With Your Best Shot

 

If I told you I cut off all contact with my mother over 15 years ago, what would your first impression be of me? And, be honest, I’m sure some of you will judge me, and that’s ok.

I’m going to share with you why I decided to become estranged from my mother and how it’s impacted my life as a woman and mother today and let me be clear……. I am very happy, healthy and living my best life.

Coming to terms with my decision to permanently distance myself by cutting ties with the woman who gave me life was not an easy one and can sound very cold and disheartening.  But I can assure you, I’m not a horrible person nor do I believe my mother is. 

Without getting too detailed into my mother’s upbringing, let’s just say trauma pretty much sums up her childhood, hence why she was never provided with the parenting tools to parent effectively when she had children of her own.  I Cut Off All Ties With My Mother - Pic

I wholeheartedly believe she raised me the best way she knew how given the circumstances and life challenges she was presented with.  However, in saying that her negative behaviors inflicted emotional damage on to me which intern tarnished my sense of self which is why I needed to cut off all communication and interactions with her.

 

BEING ESTRANGED FROM A FAMILY MEMBER ISN’T ALWAYS A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE SOLVED

We all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and ensure we are doing what is necessary to maintain our overall wellness. Often this can mean making some pretty difficult decisions about what we need to do to ensure we can continue to grow and live our best lives, deciding to become estranged from my mother was the best decision for me to live a normal, healthy life.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term estrangement, let me clarify for you. To be estranged,

is the loss of a previously existing relationship between family members. This is done by distancing themselves physically and/or emotionally to the point where there is little to no communication between members for lengthy periods.’

Being estranged from a family member comes with myths and stigmas but it’s more common than you think and in some cases, it may even be healthy for you, as it was in my case.

In our culture, we tend to think that estrangement is a problem that needs to be resolved and many websites and books will offer strategies meant to help families reconcile. And for some, when these strategies are implemented it can result in families repairing their damaged relationships.

But, for others, the pressure to mend a damaged relationship makes things worse. When efforts have been made time and time again with no results, estrangement becomes more the solution to the problem and the last resort when you no longer can trust the relationship and come to terms with having to move on with your life.

 

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 REASONS FAMILY MEMBERS MAY BECOME ESTRANGED

There are several reasons why people may become estranged from family members, in my experience the trauma that my mother experienced as a child herself followed her into her adult life and was reflected in her parenting.

Being estranged from a family member is difficult but can be necessary to ensure we take care of ourselves, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I’ve listed some common reasons why family members may become estranged:

  1. Mental Illness, a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning, can be on the part of the estranger or the estranged which causes family tension.
  2. Substance Abuse – whether on the part of the estranger or the estranged is also a common issue resulting in family estrangement
  3. Personality Disorders cause significant interpersonal conflicts, particularly the cluster B personality disorders (antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder)
  4. Value Conflict – lifestyle choices (religion) of family members can often attribute to estrangement
  5. Child Abuse – children who have been abused emotionally, psychologically, sexually or physically may initial estrangement of one or both parents
  6. Divorce –  can often result in family members becoming estranged – by either the parent or the child
  7. Betrayal of Trust – Erik Erikson, a developmental Psychologist, says trust is the foundation of any relationship and when trust is broken it can result in becoming estranged from a family member. Disputes over inheritances to perceived insults in public can weaken the bonds of a family

 

Estrangement does not result from one conflict, one type of interaction, one type of relationship, one type of parenting style, or one significant event. It is a complex and socially situated phenomenon,” says Kylie Agllias in her 2013 paper entitledFamily Estrangement.”

 

ACHIEVING GOALS DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE BETTER THAN EVERYONE

Our parents are supposed to love us unconditionally, support us through our ups and downs, always be standing in our corner and have our backs no matter what, but let’s be real, this just isn’t the case for many.

For me, in my experience, every accomplishment throughout my life, whether it be graduating high school, going college, buying my first car, my first home, starting my career, I was belittled and was told that because I had achieved these milestones that I somehow thought I was better than everyone else.

My mother had never accomplished these milestones during her life and she begrudged me for having achieved them. (I’m no Psychologist, but it doesn’t take a professional to know that this is unhealthy behavior) It felt like she saw me as a threat or someone competing against her, so to continue to grow and achieve goals, it was necessary to cut ties.

OTHER RELATIONSHIPS WILL SUFFER –PEOPLE ARE GOING TO JUDGE

So, if deciding to become estranged from a family member isn’t hard enough, a person has to prepare themselves for other relationships that may be tarnished as a result of their decision.

Many people will judge, place assumptions and consider the decision selfish, abandonment, heartless and shameful.  But through my own personal journey, I can tell you that, People don’t know what they don’t know.

Cutting Off Ties With my Mother

MAKE A PLAN TO ACHIEVE EMOTIONAL WELLNESS

There are ways to work through some of the feelings of guilt and shame that often are attributed to distancing yourself from a family member.  For me, therapy played a big role in my journey.  When a person is emotionally broken down as a child and loses their sense of self, it can be a journey to re-discover themselves or even discover themselves for the first time.

Here is a list of things that I found helpful when working through some of those unpleasant feelings after having made my decision cut ties

  • Exercise Regularly – exercise releases endorphins which will help to relax and make us feel good, make it part of your routine
  • Yoga – calms and controls breathing which can feel like we’re in control of our total self
  • Meditate – studies have shown that it helps us to relax and contributes to our overall mental well being
  • Seek out support groups and allow yourself to be ok with your decision
  • Continue achieving goals and allow yourself to feel empowered
  • Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up

REACHING YOUR FULL POTENTIAL 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been taught for many years and is still being around the world. I Cut Off All Ties With My Mother - Pic  His list of hierarchy needs consists of, psychological, safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization depicted in this picture.

In his theory, self-actualization is the top of hierarchy needs and all other needs must be met before one can reach self-actualization.  So, for example, psychological needs must be met before safety is met and when safety needs are met then love and belonging needs can be met and so on.

When first describing self-actualization, Maslow described the top of his hierarchy of needs by remarking that:

|“[a] musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to |be |ultimately happy” (Maslow, 1943).

He noted people like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson as having reached self-actualization on the hierarchy needs.

In other words, individuals who associated realizing their potential (and the drive to do so) and reaching some form of internally recognized success (self-esteem) and externally recognized success (status) were said to have reached Self Actualization.

WHAT DOES SELF ACTUALIZATION MEAN FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON?

So, what relevance does self-actualization hold for the average person you may be asking?

Self-actualization is not about making the most money or becoming the most famous person in the world. Instead, self-actualization is about reaching one’s personal potential, whether that means becoming a painter, a politician, a philosopher, a mechanic, a teacher, or anything else.

And the reality is that sometimes we have to distance ourselves from those who may hold us back from reaching our full potential, and that’s ok and we shouldn’t feel guilty, shameful or less than for doing so.

I Cut Off All Ties With My Mother - Pic

 NO ONE SAID LIFE WAS GOING TO BE EASY – FIND YOUR PATH TO WELLNESS

For me, saying I don’t feel a void, not having my mother apart of my life today would be inaccurate. It can be difficult to see other mothers, and daughters share a closeness that I will never know.  However, in saying that, I don’t regret my decision to cut ties.

I recognize that it was a sacrifice I needed to make to break the cycle not only for my own well being but for my children and I can tell you that I am a much better woman and mother for having done so.

I was fortunate enough to have other strong woman figures in my life that provided me guidance, love and support during my journey.

If you’re considering becoming estranged from a family member, prepare yourself in advance, seek professional supports to help with coping with some of those negative feelings that are often associated with distancing yourself from a loved one.

Start practicing your self-care routine immediately, meditating is a great method for focusing your mind.  If you would like to learn more about meditating with the Muse Headband, click on the picture below.

I Cut off All Ties With My Mother - Pic

 

No one said life was going to be easy, we’re all faced with our own challenges but it’s how we choose to see ourselves through these challenges and what we decide to do with those experiences that will ultimately shape the person we become.

We’re all here for a purpose, what’s yours?

18 thoughts on “I Cut Off All Contact With My Mother | Hit Me With Your Best Shot”

  1. Hi Tracy!

    This article really speaks to me, and I can definitely relate. I have never been personally happier than after I fully embraced the idea that we can really choose our own families, and began distancing myself from my blood family.

    Tradition definitely doesn’t mean you have to put up with toxic behaviour, and I think that it’s so important for people to remember that, especially as the holidays come up! While it was a difficult decision, and one that certainly wasn’t made lightly, my mental health has definitely benefitted from choosing to put my own well-being first and removing people who were consistently dragging me into conflict.

    I’m glad that you were able to do the same!

    Loved the article and look forward to seeing more!

    Reply
    • Hi Raff

      Thank for your feedback on this topic and for sharing a bit of your experience. My decision was the best one for me and I’m glad that it worked out for you in your situation as well. Putting ourselves first can be difficult and becoming estranged with a family member (if a parent or sibling in particular) can often result in feelings of guilt and shame as we tend to feel obligated to keep ourselves in those unhealthy relationships because they’re blood family.

      All the best to you on your journey!

      All the best to you

      Reply
  2. Hello there. My mother and I went on and off again with a distant relationship. She was viewed by the whole family as being coldhearted. She really got the best of us when I found out through Ancestry.com that she had been dead for two years, and she’d notified no one she was even sick. Furthermore, she listed on her documentation that she had no next of kin. It hurt really bad, but it’s just the way she was. Thank you for sharing your story and advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy

      I’m so sorry to hear you experienced that. About 10yrs ago, I struggled with the thought that if something should ever happen to my mother would I be ok with the way things were left between us so I reached out. BIG MISTAKE. It was like all the progress I had made throughout the past 10 yrs prior to that was wiped out. She took me back to when I was a child and I relived those horrible feelings and began to question my self-worth. I have learned that in order for me to live a happy healthy life, it has to be without her. In order for me to move on, I’ve learned to forgive her for all the horrible things she’s said and done (although she doesn’t see that she did anything wrong). I’m satisfied that I’ve made all efforts to try and repair our damaged relationship – It’s a relationship that can’t be mended.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, I wish you all the best!

      Cheers

      Tracy

      Reply
  3. Thank you for this inspiring post. We never know what future brings and our relations with people must be always maintained well in order to make them last. Sometimes, we are needed to remove ourselves from damaging environment and cut our connections with our family.

    Destructive relationships can spill over on others and become a hell for people who should not experience it.

    Reply
    • Hi Strahinja

      Thank you for your comment. I agree, often toxic relationships are an extension of childhood or past relationships that are carried over and into new relationships and cause chaos especially if a damaged person has children and imposes these unhealthy behaviors onto them. It can become a cycle as children will often grow up not knowing any different and continuing on the unhealthy relationships with their loved ones.

      I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback

      Cheers

      Tracy

      Reply
  4. I don’t judge you or anyone else in the same situation. I myself was blessed with healthy relationships with my parents, but I know several people who have had to make the same choice as you for their own well-being. I have a relative that recently said an absent father is better than a toxic one. I can get where she’s coming from because I’ve know her father my whole life.

    Reply
    • Hi Karen

      Thank you for your supportive feedback. I’m glad that you are able to have empathy for those of us who may not have had a healthy relationship with our parents or close family members. That speaks a lot to your character and I thank you for that.

      All the best to you

      Tracy

      Reply
  5. Hi Tracy,
    Beautifully written article with a lot of value and insight into what can lead to estrangement within families. I speak with a lot of abused young people (I’m a counsellor), who by the time they reach their late teens and early 20’s can recognize how unhealthy their upbringing has been. Parents with traumatic upbringing of their own certainly don’t develop healthy relationships or behaviors nor positive parenting skills sadly. It takes courage and strength to know that cutting off ties within a toxic relationship that has to be done. Those outside of that relationship don’t know or have an understanding of why it had to happen, but it’s none of their business.

    I think you’ve been able to share relevant insightful clarity for anyone who might be struggling with identifying that it’s okay to make the conscious decision to cut off all ties to help one build and grow in a healthy life without the toxicity from that relationship. Thank you so much for sharing your own personal journey with this struggle but also how it’s helped you and what you’ve learned through your own experiences.

    Reply
    • Hi Kat

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback on my post. Making the choice to permanently cut ties is certainly not an easy one but I’m glad you found the information I’ve shared relevant and insightful for anyone who might be facing some of the same experiences. Self-care is the best gift we can give ourselves which contributes to fostering healthy relationships as we continue on our journey.

      All the best to you and thank you for the services you provide to those in need.

      Tracy

      Reply
  6. I am sure many wouldn’t agree with you, but I am sure there are many like you that feel that to cut the cords from certain family members is the only way that they can achieve happiness in their own lives. If you think about it, a lot of us cut cords from toxic friendships and relationships too, so apart from blood ties, it is basically the same thing.

    I am sure that this article will help many people to overcome their guilt at having cut off loved ones for their own good. Sometimes it is simply just necessary.

    Reply
    • Hi Michel

      Thank you for your comment.  You’re right, we can usually cut ties with toxic people in general (friends, acquaintances etc…) pretty easily but when it comes to family we tend to feel a sense of obligation to manage the unhealthy relationship, and I agree, we probably should work harder to salvage those relationships rather than cut the ties permanently quickly. If we’re cutting ties with blood family we can probably assume that every effort has been made to repair and manage the relationship without success and when it begins to affect our wellbeing, it just may be necessary to walk away.  Thanks again!

      All the best to you 

      Tracy

      Reply
  7. I am not one to judge anyone. I can definitely see how this can happen.
    I’m sure that nobody for the most part wants to be estranged from their mother but as you say there are many circumstances when this is the case.
    When people drink or do drugs or have mental issues this just makes it all the more reason to have no relationship.
    I never had that with my mom ever but I lost her when I was 35.
    Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it’s just time to say goodbye, right?
    Do you feel that sometimes there’s a way to work things out?

    Reply
    • Hi Rob

      Thank you for your comment.  And let me start by saying, I’m sorry for the loss of your mother.  Losing a parent is very traumatic.  I lost my father when I was 23 (he was only 42) and miss him dearly to this day.  

      To answer your question, yes I totally think there are circumstances where families can repair their relationship if all participants are willing to agree that there are issues and take action to resolve them.   

      Becoming estranged is a very difficult decision and it is one that shouldn’t be made lightly.  When a person’s own mental health starts to deteriorate as a result of the relationship breakdown then it is probably a pretty good indicator that if both individuals aren’t on the same page with accessing supports with repairing the relationship then it may be time to cut ties. 

      Thank you again for your comment

      All the best to you

      Tracy 

      Reply
  8. I’m sure many can relate with being estranged with a family member. For example, I never even knew my father, and all my father knew was alcohol. Not a single time did he try to get in contact with me, well, that would be difficult since I moved to a different country in my childhood. Fortunately, I have the greatest mother alive. 

    Reply
    • Hi Mikhail

      I’m deeply sorry that you never knew your father and that he made no attempt to contact you throughout your life.  Mental health and addictions are illnesses that take over a person’s life and I’ve seen first hand that often people suffering from these illnesses’ end up hurting those that mean the most to them.   I’m so happy that you have the greatest mother alive :), that warms my heart.  

      Thank you for taking the time to comment

      All the best

      Tracy

      Reply
  9. Sorry you had a difficult relationship with your mother.  You did what you had to do for yourself.  My relationship with my mother was stormy.  We were very different and she did not accept our differences.  I was constantly fighting with her in order to live my own life.  We were not estranged but the relationship was strained at times.  My father died when I was 17.  As adults my brother did not live near us so I was it.  At times it was too much.  So I understand that you had to take steps for your own good.  I love your images.  They are very peaceful.

    Reply
    • Hi Josephine

      Thank you for your kind words.  Making my decision wasn’t an easy one, but it was the write one for me.  I’m sorry to hear that your relationship with your mother is a stormy one and my condolences on your father’s passing.  Losing a parent is something that we never totally overcome – I’m speaking from experience, I lost my father when I was 23. 

      As a parent myself with a 23-year-old, I can see how some may find it difficult to let their kids live their own lives, but it’s something that we have to do, we can only take them so far then they’re on their own and we have to learn to respect their decisions and let them live their own lives.   

      I believe that my experiences with my mother growing up and into my young adult life has made me a better mother as I was strong enough to break the cycle and have learned what NOT to do as a parent. 

      Thank you for your comment

      Tracy 

      Reply

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