Having an estranged parent is like having a permanent wound in your heart that never seems to heal, no matter what hard you try. All you are left with are a few painful questions, which you keep on asking yourself, again and again, knowing full well that you might never get the answers to them.
Estranged: adjective (of a person) no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated.
I have sisters, co-workers, friends, and people I meet throughout my daily life who are parents. I have become close to some of these parents, I’ve worked with them, had long conversations with them, and created bonds. I always noticed the one thing they all have in common, and that is, their kids mean everything to them. Their sons or daughters are their entire world, providing them with a purpose, a reason to move forward in life and be proud of their accomplishments, big and small.
So I never understood – how do estranged parents do it?
For years, my mom was what I called “part-time” estranged. She would come and go from my life whenever she felt like it. She would take an interest in my life, but only sometimes. More recently, she has become completely estranged from my two sisters and me, and the absence of her presence weighs on my mind.
And I’m sure anyone there who has an estranged parent knows those lingering thoughts and unanswerable questions seem to haunt us, walking like a shadow in the background of our lives.
Here Are 5 Painful Things You Wonder When Your Parent is Estranged
1. How Different Would My Life Be If You Were Still In It?
Would I have followed the same path, or chosen something else? Would I be less of an anxious person, would I have more of my shit together? Would I be happier, with more of an ability to look at the bright side of things? Would this void in my heart be filled, or just entirely non-existent? Would I have reached more goals, had a more fulfilling life? Would my heart be less broken, would my mind be more at peace?
Who would I even be?
2. Where Are You Now?
What do you do every day with your time? Where are you out there in this world? Are you close by, are you far away, do you ever travel and see the world? Are you reaching for your goals, or just standing still in life?
Are you lonely?
3. Do You Ever Think About Me?
Do I even cross your mind? If so, how often? Do you think about the memories we had when you were still around? Do you think about where I am, how I’m doing, and the person I have become? Do you ever even worry about where I am, or if I’m okay? Are you proud I’m still moving forward without you, or are you envious?
Do you ever picture a life where you finally grow up and make an effort to be the parent you should have always been?
4. Do You Ever Feel Guilty For Not Being Involved With My Life?
What if something bad ever happened, would you step in and pretend to be a parent then? Do you feel any ounce of guilt or shame? How do you walk through this life knowing your family is out there, but you have no intention of figuring out where? How do you have any morals or values left when you have disregarded your children? You have missed so many major life events, how does the guilt not eat away at you?
Do you feel anything at all?
5. Why And How Do You Do This?
I truly do not know how you sleep at night. You’re so quick to try and somehow blame us for your departure, making up unbelievable excuses for yourself. But have you ever stopped to realize it’s YOU who chose to walk away? You chose to stop being a parent. You chose to live a lonely life, rather than self-reflect and try to understand why and how you got to this point – a point where you live without having any involvement in your daughters’ lives. You are selfish and unkind. You are blind and ignorant to your own wrongdoing. I feel sorry for you.
And I will never know how you do it, day in and day out, living this life as if we don’t exist.
Written By Nikki Rutledge
Originally Appeared Nikki Zarrella
Nikki is from Boston and has been writing since she was a young girl. She often uses her personal experiences as inspiration for her writing, in the hopes of helping others out there who may have been through similar struggles. She and her husband run a small business called Moonlight & Mindfulness where they offer hand-poured crystal candles, homemade tea blends, and crystal items like jewelry and gift sets. Nikki is also a meditation practitioner and leads workshops on things like the moon phases and shadow work.