Friday, August 5, 2011

The Rest of My Life

My mother just recently sent me an email at my work address.

From: Mom
Subject: if you could please read this...
 Dear LSV,

You are my son and I love you dearly. I know I have made mistakes and for that I am so sorry. I am so sorry for the pain it must have caused. As you know, i carry regret about all that. I have tried hard to make ammends and will always be willing to start talking again about whatever is important to you about the past if it would move us closer together. I do want to hear what you feel and would always be open to a letter, a phone call or even a meeting with the therapist that we had tried to do.

I really want you to be happy,happy with [your wife], happy in your life, and I know you do not want to have a relationship with me. It's heartbreaking as your parent, to not be able to see you and your family. At the same time, if you believe it is in your best interest, then i respect that. You must have good reason and i accept that. I want you to know that the door will be open for the rest of your life if you change your mind.

All my love,


Right then. I was surprised when I saw the email in my work inbox - obviously I had not expected this. After reading this once over, I was admittedly sad. I wanted to believe what my mother was saying was true during the first read and very nearly did. But then I read it a second time, and a third, and that feeling began to dissipate rather quickly.

Some things I noticed straight away:
1. she apologized for her wrong-doings but she called them "mistakes". Her actions and behaviors were not mistakes as they were done intentionally. They were purposefully harmful transgressions. Now, I am not asserting that the apology was genuine, nor am I accepting her apology. It is vague, which indicates to me that she is saying what she thinks I want to hear. She has not directly apologized for causing me pain, or my wife pain, or even my family pain. It's just too general, what she said.

2. She said that she's been trying hard to make amends. Well that's just plain untrue. She's not been trying hard, nor has she even been trying. I've not seen these efforts of amending.

3. She sent an email to my work address. Is it really that hard to send a personal email to a personal address? I guess so.

4. I've already expressed to her how I felt - it was in a letter that I read to her then handed over to her. For her to say that she'd love to hear how I feel is just crazy talk. What makes her think that her saying that she's open to my feelings now will make me want to regurgitate everything I've already told her? Read the letter! It's all there!

5. While I do hold a sentiment of "don't want" when it comes to a relationship with my mother, there's also a very large "can't have" sentiment and this is the result of my mother's behaviors and her choices that refuses to take responsibility for. Well fully anyway. It's true that I don't want a relationship with her but it's because of her actions. It's also true that I attempted to have a relationship with her and gave her an outline of what I needed from her in order to have a relationship with her. She chose not to use that guide.

6. My mother has put all of the responsibility of our relationship on me. How is that fair? Where is her response to the lengthy letter I wrote? There was never any mention of that...ever.

7. The "good reason" for choosing not to go no contact was explained succinctly in both the first letter and the second one.

8. My mother mentioned that it was heartbreaking to not be able to see me. I think what's more important is the fact that we don't have a relationship at all. That she's made some very poor choices that's led to the current state of affairs. She should have said that it's heartbreaking to know that she caused her own heartbreak. But that's all in the category of "shouldda, couldda, wouldda".

All in all, I'm unimpressed by her "effort" to reach out to me. It didn't seem like she put anything into writing this. At least my father spent a little more time on his letter, though his didn't say anything worthwhile either.


  1. To have picked all of this up on the first read-through is quite impressive. You've come a long way from the person whose communications with his mother were sugar-coated and superficial.
    Long gone are those days. Welcome to real life.

    Sometimes being "real" means feeling a lot of pain. But I'd pick being real over being like your mother, any day.

    There's a lot of really great and powerful things that come with "real." Your mother will never know these things. She'll never know the real you. Sad for her.

    But I'm happy for us.

  2. Not much to add, because you covered it succinctly. I really appreciated that you clearly outlined the distinction between "don't want" and "can't have." It took me such a horribly long time to figure out the difference.

  3. you're right. it's unfair.

  4. Judy said,
    'I really appreciated that you clearly outlined the distinction between "don't want" and "can't have." It took me such a horribly long time to figure out the difference.'

    Me too. Thanks for clarifying.

  5. Nice generic letter that could have been written by my mother to me. Or any number of other people. I think you broke down the points very well. I agree with Judy the don't want vs can't have is difficult to work through. I am still debating with some of the N's in my life if I can have any kind of a relationship. I appreciate you sharing your experience. Your thoughts help me with my decisions. Thanks. Ruth

  6. Been there, and yep, sad and a little bit hopeful, until you give your head a shake and realize a leopard doesn't change it's spots. It just sets up it's prey for another attack.

    Ruth is right..."generic" not a heartfelt letter of remorse just more bull shit!

  7. There is a website for parents who are estranged from their kids and on it is a generic letter they can send their kids to try and reestablish contact. This is one of those letters and it's a perfect example of a non-apology apology. They just don't get it.

  8. Dee - I actually found a website early this morning when I picked a random sentence from my Narc MIL's email (above) and it brought me to a forum for estranged parents. That's when I realized it was a form letter and I immediately wrote about it on my blog.

    I came to the realization that the origin of the form-letter was from Dr. Coleman. Either NMIL is being coached by him (which at this point I'm doubting because that seems to be too much effort for her) or she simply found it on a website and copied and pasted most of it.

    It's really creepy. It gave me the chills when I found it.

  9. Man, it's totally not an apology when someone else feeds you the words.

  10. Jonsi-
    It was your blog I found that out on, I think. I followed the links you gave and read some of the forum. Funny how the parents "Just don'y know why their kids won't have anything to do with them". They're not clueless, they just don't care and are playing the victim.
    Anyway, thanks for the info and I'm sorry I didn't credit you with it, I couldn't remember where I saw it.

  11. Dee, you didn't have to credit me (but thank you for the thought). I just thought it was really funny (and a bit ironic) that there was someone out there who had seen the same form letter I did. And then after I commented, I started searching for other forums (thinking there were more out there than the one that I had found.) I was actually going to come back here and ask you where you had found it.

    Currently, I'm trying to find this particular form letter in it's original form (as in from Dr. Coleman). I thought it would be interesting to see the I might know exactly where my Narc MIL got it from. (Did she get it from Dr. Coleman's book? Did she pay for the seminar in which he talked about sending a "letter of amends" to adult children? Etc.

    Anyway, I totally agree with you: "They're not clueless, they just don't care and are playing the victim." My Narc MIL is a big liar. That's her game.