Estranged From Family

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2012
Estranged From Family
Thu, 12-06-2012 - 6:01pm

I just want to warn ya'll in advance that this may be long, however I am really looking for some unbiased opinions and suggestions. I truly appreciate any responses.  

Anyways, I am a 28 yr old female.  My biological mother abandon me at 4 yrs old and my biological father is mentally ill and has been my entire life. I do not speak to my bio mother and that is OK with me as with her consistent drug issues, it is better without her in my life.   As for my bio dad, I speak with him maybe once a year.  His mental illness has caused a lot of problems when I was younger and he was an alcoholic, abusive and just all around a horrible father.  When I was a teen I had a better relationship with him even though he was not a good father, but as I grew older I realized I just didn't want him in my life. I do hold a lot of resentment towards him.  I just wanted to give a bit of background info about me, even though this post is not really about my bio parents.  

When I was 12, my aunt (fathers sister) and my uncle had taken me in considering my bio dad was going through his own dilemmas and could no longer care for me. I lived with my aunt and uncle until I was 18, I then moved out and lived with my boyfriend at the time and have been out of my aunt and uncles house since I was 18. They were my true parents as they raised me and dealt with my nonsense through out my teen years. I was a bit of a rebel and was always in trouble. I had emotional issues, mostly stemming from anger I held towards my bio mother and bio father.  I respect them for taking me in and giving me a loving and safe place to call home during my youth.  I really owe a lot to them.  However, through out my teen years growing up with them, I couldn't help but to feel cheated. They had two children of their own (younger than me) in which it was very clear that I was the "adopted" one and the other two were their real blood children. For example, my aunt would take her younger daughter/my younger cousin out on shopping sprees and to the movies on the weekends, while she made me stay home and clean the house.  It sounds ridiculous, but I felt a bit like Cinderalla. I always knew she favored her own children more than me and to some extent, it's understandable.  My uncle on the other hand is an amazing man.  He had never made me feel as if I was less their child.  As I grew older (into my mid/late teens) my aunt became a major pain in the butt.  Everything I did just didn't seem good enough for her. I cleaned up my rebellious act and did great in school, even got a scholarship but nothing ever seemed to make her love me more.  I always felt like I was trying and trying to gain her love and acceptance but it never got me anywhere. I dealt with this for a number of years until I moved out at 18.  When I moved out, I attempted to distance myself from my aunt and uncle, however I couldn't really just entirely cut them off.  

Eventually I broke up with the guy I was dating, stayed single for a bit and met a new guy.  I am 28 now, been with this guy since I was 20.  We're gettng engaged soon and all is well.  Once I introduced him to my aunt, she was not very happy.  My aunt and uncle are very religious, he is not. Him and I got serious pretty quickly and I moved with him from NJ to Florida for one year, while he attended college there. As soon as I started dating him, the rumor mill began.  My aunt would comment that I was too skinny, then she would go on about how she thought I was on drugs and my boyfriend was a bad influence on me.  She went on to give me a bad name to everyone in my family. I honestly was not on drugs and was not doing anything harmful to myself. I simply think she made these things up because she did not like who I was dating.  So, I move back from FL to NJ and since then things with my aunt and uncle have never been the same. I haven't seen them once in the last five years.  I miss my two younger cousins, one is in college now and I speak to her every now and then via text. However, she doesn't seem too interested in trying to reconnect. I will admit, my aunt has tried contacting me in the past (with the assistance of my biological father) but I always reply, say we'll meet up and talk and never get around to it. Part of me wanted to meet and reconcile and then another part of me still resents them.  After five years of not seeing them, it is making it extremely hard to try to figure out how to possibly reconcile here. 

I'm 28 now and too much time has passed. I am ready to put all of this behind me and try to have a healthy relationship with both my aunt, uncle and their children. As much as I love my boyfriends family (they consider me one of their own), there just is no replacement for my real family.  I just don't know how to go about this now though.  I know my aunt and uncle are probably so fed up with me saying "we'll meet up and talk soon" and never following through on it.  I want them to realize I am sincere and genuine this time. I am getting engaged soon, will be planning my wedding and I want my family there with me. I want my uncle to walk me down the aisle.  I just don't know what to do after all this time has passed. I have been thinking about writing a letter, maybe emailing it, snail mailing it or even sending it via Facebook.  However, I want them to take it seriously.  I feel like if i try to reconcile this time, they may think I am just BS'ing again or even may just reject me entirely.  Any advice would be appreciated.  Thank you for reading this post, as long as it is. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2012
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 3:06pm

Thank you for your insight. No, I do not want to reconnect regarding anything involving my wedding. I have a decent amount of friends, who are like my family that would most definitely be there for me on my special day. As for my rough childhood, I mentioned the basics on this post. There is a lot more to add, however I didn't want to write a biography more than I already did lol. I want to reconnect for the sincere reason of wanting to be involved in their lives. I have no motives, not in the least bit. I may have estranged myself from them, but I am an honest person and I am sincere in my reasoning for reconnecting. People make mistakes and one day they wake up and realize they want to fix them - that is exactly what I am trying to do here. My "parents" know I do not have any hidden intentions as I am just not that type of person, it's not in my character. I am just trying to do right here, that is all. Plus, life is too short to be walking around with a chip on my shoulder or a grudge. I know I am not getting any younger and neither are my parents, so better late than never to reconnect. As for your step son. I am sorry that you're going through this. Being the person that caused the estrangement, I can understand where your step son may be coming from. I am not sure of your family dynamics or of the reasoning why your step son decided to walk away from his family. However, I can tell you that there is probably a legitimate reason. Just because his reasoning may not seem legit to you, doesn't mean it holds any less importance. We all do things for different reasons and act the way we do for different reasons. I hope one day your step son decides to be a part of your life and I hope you and your husband will accept him back into your lives. You'll never know his motives or intentions unless you attempt to find them out. On another note, my aunt & uncle did receive their letter. I was just sent a text this AM from my uncle who told me he was very touched by what I wrote. That made me smile so big :) They will be calling me this evening to chat & they would like to meet up this weekend for a bit. I know I have a lot of explaining to do and I hope they will understand where I am coming from. My uncle is an understanding person, my aunt not so much I think the majority of my work will go towards trying to get her to open her heart to me again. I appreciate everyone's responses, they have been a great deal of help for me during this process.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Sun, 12-09-2012 - 5:07am
Hi, well said all you have mentioned. Very wise!
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Sat, 12-08-2012 - 3:38pm

I am going through the same thing, but from the other side. My step son just dropped out of our lives for nine years. He contacted me about a year ago on facebook and I invited him to several family events asked him to stop by and he never did. Then he contacted my husband out of the blue and wants to re-connect and my husband is not interested. Because he does not know who he has become and he is really a stranger to us now and my husband does not trust he motives. We have a 16 year old son who was only 7 when he disappeared from our lives. Our son would ask about him from time to time then he just stopped asking and we all were left the unaswered question why he just dropped out of our lives. We don't want to invite him in only to have him to drop out again we have made peace his decision to leave our lives and don't want to start that process again.

When you drop out of peoples lives you have to understand that they may not be ready  or want to welcome you in again just because you have decided to invite them back in and that they may have reservations and wonder about your motives. When  people extend themselves to you and you don't respond they are hurt and after they have tried  numerous times to no avail to have you in their lives and you push them away, they give up and move on. 

 I know you mentioned that you are planning on getting married, could your wanting to re-connect have to do with you not wanting to have a wedding with no one from your side of the family there? Only you know your true motives, but I would not do it if it is not a relationship that you can maintain in the future, should they accept your invitation back into their life and then you disappear again after the wedding that would be very hurtful to them. I know it was not ideal living with your aunt and uncle but they did take you in and provide for you when you had no one else and  that says alot. You have no idea how many kids end up in foster care because no family members step up. You have parents who play favorites, I have two brothers who have had a very difficult relationship because my mom favored one over the other and they will never be close. Family relationships are difficult and not perfect and when you drop out of your family's life with not so much as a backward glance you can't expect that they will jump to have you back. I hope that for your sake they do, but be prepared for the fact  they may not.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2012
Fri, 12-07-2012 - 8:00pm

Thank you for the replies.  I decided to write the letter this morning.  It's quite long but sometimes it takes a lot of words to get my feelings out.  Yes, I am more interested in reconnecting with my uncle. However, they are married so in order for me to reconnect with him, I'll have to deal with my aunt as well. My aunt is a drama queen and always has been, I am sure after this letter is read by them that she will lash out in someway. My uncle, on the other hand is much more understanding and will probably accept my apology and be happy to start anew.  I decided to write the letter in a way so that she does not think I am pointing the finger at her or blaming her for the estrangement.  It really is not entirely her fault, however the reasons I did stay away for so long does stem from her years of non stop criticisim and nonsense.  

I was loving and kind in the letter, explaining how I miss them both as well as my cousins.  I let them know that I did not ignore them for this long because I was angry at them, but instead I needed to get my own life situated.  With all that has happened in my past, I must admit it was nice to get away from my fathers side of the family for these past couple of years as they all have their own sort of issues which somehow always became my issue.  I genuinely needed these five years to grow emotionally and regain some control in my life. Now that I have let everything go, I am hoping my aunt will see that I am coming from a good place. I am older now and more mature, so hopefully she cuts me some slack.  I am hoping for the best! Thanks again for the supportive replies, they are appreciated :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Fri, 12-07-2012 - 4:21pm

Hi, getting married and such important occations make us all think about our family. As your story says, you were hurt by your biological parents, and that made you vulnerable with your aunt and uncle. From your post, I get that you´re more interested in your uncle, than in your aunt.

Probably the rumors of your aunt, were made more of concern and worry. Try to put in a balance the good things and the bad things you received from them. Try to be grateful for what you recived, and not resentful for what you didn´t. Do this for you, not for them.

Probably, in your case. I would write two separate letters. One for aunt, and one for uncle.You can explain them, what you have been going through,(the reasons you are expressing here fpr not contacting them) show your gratitude, and express your aunt that eventhough you didn´t like her speading rumors, you are grateful for what she did for you.

As a previous poster said. Be prepared for a good reply or for a bad one.Probably uncle will be flatterd you want him to walk you through the ail in your wedding.

Throw the coin, and be ready for anything that might come.

Good luck!

Avatar for ukgirl82
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-17-2005
Fri, 12-07-2012 - 6:37am

I don't think they will think you are just BSing again and reject you. In the past, it was them trying to reach out to you when you gave them the BS response - but this time, it will be you reaching out to them, a significant difference that I don't think they will overlook. Though they may be hurt by your lack of interest in maintaining a relationship in the past, it doesn't sound as though they are angry and will hold it against you.

However, I do think that if they didn't like your fiance before, they probably still won't approve. Be prepared that there may still be some problems regarding this. If your aunt is capable of spreading rumors about you being on drugs because of him, I would be concerned about what kind of drama she's going to cause while you're trying to marry this man.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2009
Thu, 12-06-2012 - 6:29pm

I think if you really want to reconcile then a handwritten and snail mailed letter is a good way to go.  That letter can be as long as you need it to be in order to say whatever it is that you need to say.  Also your aunt and uncle will take note that its a letter and its contents must be important considering that is considered old fashioned communication. 

You had a shaky upbringing and are now 28 and moving your life forward in a very positive way that fulfills you.  I think it is perfectly understandable that it would have taken you a few years to venture down the road to reconciliation.  Some people never get there.

I say write the letter and send it when you're ready.  Enclose your contact information and wait for their response.  Prepare yourself for a positive response and a negative response in the meantime.  Regardless you'll have done what you needed to do to move forward.

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