Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a….

SEP give a damnAfter yesterday’s signing at Turn the Page, the guest authors got together for dinner along with some staff, friends, and author spouses. Somebody (not an author) raised the topic of negativity on Facebook, and a chorus of, “I’m unfriending left and right too!” rose up around the table.

I started thinking about the psychological term “cut off,” meaning when, between members of one SEP robinhoodfamily or tribe, disowning occurs. In a biblical context, the disowned was sometimes forced out into the wilderness, smeared with blood (symbolic guilt) to attract the notice of predators. In the days of Robinhood, the “outlaw” was not a person who had committed crimes, necessarily, but rather, a person cast out of the protection of the laws.

SEP toto and dorothyMy great-grandfather went west from New York in the late 1800s to prospect for oil. He was never heard from after a certain point, and we presumed he’d met with a Bad End. My sister is an avid genealogist, and discovered that no, Gramps had simply taken up with a second wife, and put down bigamist roots in Oklahoma. He’d cut himself off from SEP running away from homehis first wife and two little daughters, who managed as best they could.

The cut off can be freeing or terrifying, but it’s never simple or easy. I would have said my immediate family never cut anybody off…. but there I was in high school, dating somebody my mother thought was inappropriate. Out of the house she did throw me, and out of the house I did go, never to entirely return. When the relationship ended  a couple years later (he was truly awful), my mother deigned to speak to me again–and I to her.

A cut off always involves a heroes are my weaknessre-balancing of shame, freedom, and safety for those involved. My mother wanted distance from the disgrace surrounding my choice of boyfriend, and I was willing to take the freedom of separation from my family over the relative safety they offered. Eventually, my mother and I worked it out, sorta.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is BRILLIANT at using the dynamics of a cut off to haul readers straight into the heart of her novels. Heroes–even those whose livelihoods rely on team work–cut themselves off from emotional support, heroines cut themselves off from their small town roots. Love comes along, and the stakes of playing the cut off game go way, way up.

tremaine_450x2-274x450We can be cut off as a result of status (AIDS patient), bad luck (foster child), behavior (convicted felon), addiction (alcoholism, gambling), other mental illnesses (depression, agoraphobia), or choice (a SEP protagonist, a much younger Grace Burrowes). Love and time will often bring us home, if we want to be brought home.

I’m still cutting the haters out of my FB feed, but I’m also promising myself I’ll work harder on keeping the true friends and family I have. An ounce of prevention, ya know?

Have you ever cut somebody off? Have you been cut off? Was it the right decision, and were there other choices? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Tremaine’s True Love, which I snabbled from yesterday’s signing.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

67 comments on “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a….

  1. My first thought was no. Other than Facebook (and I can only think of one person I “unfriended” on Facebook because of what was said) I’ve never cut or been cut off. And then I remembered her. We’re so cut off from each other I sometimes forget.

    I had a friend that the only two weeks I didn’t know her were the two weeks between my birth and hers. And in the interest of keeping this super short I’ll just say there was a falling out at the end of high school; we came back together in college; and then as career people (or at least I have a career (don’t trip over the cattiness)) we severed.

    I’m not sure if she made a conscious choice to cut me off. But I made a deliberate decision. Suffice it to say, when you ask me not to talk about what I witnessed (and I never had any intention of talking about it) and then you go around talking about it so that people are trash talking me, I’m done. Strangely, since moving back to the rather small town we grew up in, I’ve not run into her (Or maybe she’s seen me and high tailed it away).

    It’s not fun. It’s not how I would have wanted a life long friendship to end. However, I see no chance of us “going back home” because I don’t want to take the risk of being burnt a third time.

    • I tend to hang on too long to relationships that are “fool me once” material. I applaud your choice to get free of the drama and betrayal.

      But isn’t it odd–we both had to think for a minute to recall a very personal cut off.

  2. I have some folks on FB that I have not unfriended but have stopped following. Its usually because they are loudly and vehemently against something that I take am more positive about. I have a hard time when people attack the person rather than the item under discussion. I find it difficult to take the negative rhetoric so I choose to not read the vitriol.

    • What you said–attacking the person. If they’ll publicly attack somebody they don’t personally know, on the basis of one out of context quote, spun scenario, or a single political issue, how much more damage could they do to somebody they know better?

      Part of the reason I un-follow is because the nasty talk pulls me in. You want to throw down words? WORDS? WORDS WITH ME? Well, then bring it ’cause I was born with the word-gun locked and…

      What baloney. Half of the hate speech is designed to do exactly that–pull us in, so we spend more time on the media, and less on life. And I fall for it all too often.

  3. I have blocked people and unfriended people on FB. I have done it because I am not a fan of drama or they were getting too political for me. I can say that it was the right decision for me. I can’t recall that I have ever been cut off.

    • In that regard, I applaud FB’s discretion. I’ve probably been unfriended/unfollowed all over the place, but I’m kept in cheerful ignorance.

      I’ve let some IRL friendships go the same way. I stop making the “let’s meet for dinner” call, or I forget where I put a phone number.

  4. At first I couldn’t think of anyone, but then I remembered my first boyfriend, a loser of course. My father nipped that affair of the heart as soon as he was wise enough to see the guy was bad news. At first as only a sixteen year old teenager can be, I ranted and raved for months. I thought we were star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet. As time passed, I realized that my dad did what was best for me. I was blessed to have a father who had a lot of wisdom. While he has passed on, he dwells within my heart every day.

    • When it came my turn to watch my daughter fall in love with a sub-optimal choice (isn’t life hilariously just?) one of my brothers kept me from going into orbit. “They never stick with the first guy. Never. Don’t let it cost you your daughter. Just be patient.”

      My mother let it cost her her daughter for two years, and that was so sad–and I let that guy cost me my mom for two years. My brother’s advice was sound–in that case, but I still wish I’d paid more attention to my only child.

  5. I was cut off my some people I thought were friends in college. They claimed to love me and be my friends then they all got jobs right away and they stopped asking me to go anywhere with them. I only hear from them sporadically on fb. wasn’t invited to weddings or baby showers hurt me a great deal

    • And you didn’t do anything wrong. You’re like the outlaw, who hasn’t been tried and convicted, you’ve simply been declared beyond the king’s protection. The problem with that was anybody could rob, kill or beat the outlaw without repercussions from the authorities.

      Time to do what old Robinhood did–find true community among those who mean it when they say they’re your friends. Best of luck finding your personal Sherwood Forest.

  6. Like you, Grace, I come from a large family. There are six kids, with six versions of how life should be lived and six versions of our shared childhoods. Two of the six have removed themselves from the greater family by stealing off into the night. Note the term *stealing* because it’s an important factor in their decisions to leave and severe ties. Owing money to our parents and even having pay back being part of a divorce decree for a sister did not prevent them from sneaking away to resurface when and to whom it suits them.

    When a sister tried to justify her reason for falling off the face of the earth, I cut her off. Our parents were struggling financially and a big factor was the money this gal owed them. I couldn’t stand to hear her voice or deal with her in any way. One of the perks of my cutting her off–she had already done the real *work* for me by her leaving no trace–is that I don’t have to deal with the daily drama that is her life. Most of which is her own fault.

    For our Mother’s wake and funeral last year, these two showed up and created more drama than was strictly necessary. The rest of us could not believe they would do something so lousy to the rest of us at such a difficult time.

    They still owe money, to Dad and to the estate. They sneaked off again leaving the rest of us reeling from Mom’s death and their behavior. I was a little sad right after the funeral but now think it is so typical and am happy I don’t have anything to do with them.

    I am sad for my father but that’s as far as any regrets go.

    • Sharper than the serpent’s tooth… I’m sure my mom felt betrayed by my youthful stupidity, and your siblings certainly betrayed the familial trust shown them.

      As you said: Sad, sad, sad. I hope time turns them around for your dad’s sake, if not for theirs.

  7. Grace, you simply “speak to me”. I , like so many others, have the family cut off thing going. However, with age and time, I came to realize this individual was best kept out of my life. As it turns out, all was better for it. But I think when the cut off happens to you, it disturbs the “force”, it’s scary and almost threatening to ones self esteem. For me, at least.
    Ah, the age of social media and knowing even more about each other often leads to decisions we just might be forced to do. As for me, I try to think kindness first, then move from that place.

    Cannot wait for more of your wonderful work!

    • I’ve let people go–old boyfriends, childhood friends–but not many. You’re right that it’s a loss, even if it’s a reduction in drama and trauma. A significant part of my identity is “I’m Colleen’s daughter.”

      Colleen said I’d trashed that part of my identity to the point where she couldn’t recognize me as such, which wasn’t how I felt about myself. Much internal confusion. What I took from the whole thing was a) my mother is human and flawed, as I am, and b) something very strong compelled me to turn my back on my family, and c) my judgment regarding that guy was clouded by desperation my mother will never understand.

      And D) it’s OK. I’m not a child, and she will always be my mother.

  8. I was unfriended by someone because I asked them not to personally attack someone on my wall. I consider it their loss that they unfriended me.

  9. I guess I have been blessed not to have been cut off for something I’ve done and I’m sure there have been lots of stupid decisions in my life. I haven’t cut anyone off as you described but sometimes have tried to distance myself from people who are hurtful to me or my friends and family. I really would have a hard time cutting off my kids no matter what they did. Love is what makes the world go round and we all need to try harder to love and understand.

  10. I have unfriended several friends from past jobs, current job and even a few authors in the past few months. Too much drama= not for me.

    The subject of cutting ties with a long term friend hits home with me. I have cut ties with a friend that I shared a 25+ friendship. We married friends, spent holidays together, celebrated birthdays &christenings and life’s up and downs.

    Our friendship has had its ups and downs as well. She ditched me for a younger ,chic group of local friends a few years ago. We resumed our friendship when she and her husband separated. She pulled a fast one on my husband and I last year and I have cut all ties with her. It’s amazing how money or lack thereof changes people. I can’t be hurt by her anymore…enough is enough.

    The photos from Nora’s event looked great– so many people!!

    • Sad to have to give up on somebody like that, but often wise.

      The folks at Turn the Page know exactly how to put on one of those mass signings at very cozy bookstore. More than 500 people came through yesterday, I’m guessing Nora signed at least two thousand books. Some people had two shopping bags full of books for her to sign. Amazing to see that much enthusiasm for books of any description.

  11. I have not cut off anyone, nor been cut off, but I have supported both my sisters and my daughter in their decisions to cut someone off from their life. Sometimes that is the only answer that works for the good of all.

  12. I cut off a friend because she was an emotional drain on me. There was very little positive in her life. I need positive people in my world. Thanks for the chance ❤

    • I don’t necessarily need a steady diet of positive people in my life–foster care lawyering isn’t exactly a cheery occupation–but I do need honorable people in my life. The other kind… nobody needs them.

  13. As far as Facebook goes, I put a few feed on my do not show list. Not unfriending. But too much difference in values to keep in the main feed.

    Distance is the thing that cuts me off from most friends and family. Facebook is very good to keep this a little easier. Still have a way to see what is going on in lives.

    True cut off comes with the family. We choose to let live, as they want, with some blood kin, usually that family member needs to be in control of their own wants and needs and cares little for others wants and needs. The Sad part is you have memories of the Good times when Great-grandparents were there, and there was a relationship. Best not to be bitter about Treatment.

    I do pray about that, I don’t want to be bitter because of someone else’s actions. That is difficult at times and prayer is good for me.

    • I guess the step beyond cutting somebody off is cursing them–not in the sense of foul language, but in the sense of wishing bad things upon them. I can’t do that. Just don’t have the vindictive streak.

      Sounds like you don’t either.

  14. I guess my family and I are unusual then. We’ve never cut anybody off. It certainly isn’t that family members haven’t made choices that perhaps would have gotten then cut off in another family. It is just that it never even occurred to any of us to cut anyone off. We’ve always chosen to love the person while disliking the choices they made. Cutting them off won’t change the choices that were made it just keeps you away from someone you love. What is the saying? “Love the sinner hate the sin”. I guess that is sort of our philosophy.

    • I think it was my mom’s philosophy too–her family was Potato Famine Irish, and when the Depression hit, they pulled together. My father’s family on the other hand… divorce, messing around, drifting away long before it was popular.

      But I think Mom hit that point Tevyev did, “There IS no other hand!” Sure surprised me, and disappointed me, too. But then…

  15. Had a good friend in my early 20s who suddenly iced me out. I had said something that hurt her feelings and rather than tell me about it she just cut me off.

    Eventually, we did talk it out, but our relationship was never the same after that.

    • I blew it like that once. Lent somebody a trumpet I wasn’t using, and they practiced with it daily. Then I asked for it back just because I might get inspired to learn to play it. They needed it, I only wanted it.

      I was young, and but this is an abiding regret of mine. Those people were endlessly generous with me, and the one time I had a chance to be generous right back, I was a horse’s behind. I’m ashamed of that, and yet, they didn’t “ice me out,” which is a marvelous term.

  16. You know Grace, it’s strange how our lives mirror others at times. I too was tossed out by my mother but mine was for refusing to pay her room and board as well as do all the household chores, except for the cooking. I have never understood why my older sister was allowed to keep the money she earned while participating in the DECA program her last two years of high school where I was expected to hand over all of the money I earned with my summer job.
    We did reconcile at a later time, but when she told me “I never did like him any way” as I was walking out the door of my sister’s home to attend a memorial service for my late husband I cut all ties. She passed away just over three months later.
    I have also found out that I should have cut all ties to other people long before I did so I’m not close to anyone other than my daughter and her family.

    • I can relate. My parents are divorced (for 55 years) and my mother equates all men with my father. She dislikes my husband because she assigns him the qualities of my father. So sorry for your loss & sorry she made it so much worse.

    • Molly, I have a few of those “What took me to long to lose the loser?” stories, too. Nice people don’t see mean people coming, and I have to keep learning that.

      Glad you stood up for yourself.

  17. My mother is very tough to get along with. She has no filter & says hurtful things. She then faults the person for being “so sensitive.” My brother doesn’t speak with her & my sister is on that road. I try to keep lines open because she is 81, but it is tough. We talk occasionally & see each other a couple of times a year.

  18. I’ve been on both sides. They are both hurtful. But to myself. This reminds me of something I read on Pinterest…” Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head.” This is so true and a very good reason to learn to let it go. Oh, and as a side note, my mother named me after Scarlett’s sister! Senendipity?

    • I suppose it’s a good thing Margaret Mitchell didn’t name that character Scholastica or something (my grandma’s middle name). I guess at the time it does hurt to cut somebody loose, or to be but loose, but there are also people in our lives we need to send along their way.

      When my mom kicked me out, I had a job, I got another one, I got an apartment with a friend… the sky didn’t fall. Hasn’t fallen since, in fact.

  19. I’m not a “cutter-offer” by nature, but there are two former friends that I had to cut off. The situations were separated by time, but in both instances they were friends in other states who would spend hours crying on my shoulder and talking to me about their problems. In both cases it took me a few years, but I finally realized that repeatedly having the exact, same conversation with the person was not helping, only enabling, and driving me crazy! There is a saying “to detach with love” and that’s what I had to do.

    • Good point, and I’m guessing they would call you up, and expect you to drop everything and listen to their long and wooly tales, but the shoe was never on the other foot.

      Gets old.

  20. Obviously mother/daughter relationships are full of potential for cut offs. As you said when it is over the choice of a man, for what ever reason even after the relationship is over, the damage is done.

    You were wise and so was your brother to choose your battles with your own daughter. I have done the same with mine too. If nothing else my mother taught me what type of mom I did not want to be.

    It seems in mother/daughter relationships there are only 3 kinds of relationships. Those that never speak, those that speak but are not close and those that truly are close and love each other dearly.

    My mom and I are of the 2nd kind, thankfully my daughter are of the 3rd kind.

    As to compete cuts, never speak again type, I don’t think I have ever done that to anyone.

    I have only had it done to me once by someone I considered friend and worked hard to help him start a successful business using many of my ideas and hard work only for him to blame me for something I had nothing to do with. He basically told me he never wanted to speak or see me again and if I contacted him, he would see legal recourse. He was always overly dramatic.

    He later did the same thing to others that took his side in our situation. Those I would honestly love to meet again one day and be able to say, See he was the rat, not me.

    • They warn you in law school that when you do family law, you’ll start out representing somebody in a divorce, zealously advocating for them because They Have Been Done Wrong. They Deserve A Fair Shake…. six months later, you realize nobody could put up with your client’s incessant demands, convenient memory, dishonesty, etc., and you feel sorry for the opposing party, when originally, you were all fired up to hold them accountable…

      What goes around, does come around. Probably everybody sees this guy’s Rat side sooner or later. Sad, and his problem. Nobody else’s.

      • We were business partners and friends, or so I thought but yes he has since stabbed several people in the back including his personal partner.
        Oddly though many still think he is the salt of the earth both personally and professionally and he became very successful and wealthy on my business ideas.

  21. I actually hid the posts of a distant cousin on FB because she uses language and expresses feelings that are ugly and degrading. I would love to win your snabbled copy. Thank you and yes, Scarlett was a fool!!

  22. Facebook…….blah blah whatever.
    But it real life, there have been a couple people. Both times, it was the best thing. I did not come to regret it.

  23. Yup a cousin that was so very rude to my mother [her aunt and sister to cousin’s father]. Selfish and uncaring. No loss!

  24. Well this is a sore subject in my house hold and the elephant in the room in my mothers. I have indeed been cut off and had to cut off family several times in my young adult life. I Often hear the line be the bigger person, or just forget her but here is the trouble… The abuser is my mother. It started when I was sixteen and she caught me kissing a boy. Before sixteen I was cowed and easily beat down which she did often via physical abuse, verbal abuse, or emotional neglect. But finally I snapped at 16 she drug me out of a car after i was caught fully clothed NOT HAVING SEX kissing a boy…my first date out and my first time really making out like that and FYI it was gross and so unworth what followed. My mother told everyone she knew she called me a whore and she told me ‘if you want to get intimate with a man i will show you just how intimate you can get. you wil go down to the OBGYN and have a pap and pelvic done and be put on depo. Should you refuse you will be in ever male gynocologists office i can book you in for a week if i have to drag you there. So after that utter humiliation the tisk tisks from her friends and the shame she forced on me i went to my doctor who was a sweet woman, she told me i didnt have to do this if i wasnt having sex but when i told her what my mom said she tried to be as kind as possible. She also told me i couldnt have birthconrtol until i was three days into my next cycle and I lost it I told her my mother wouldnt take that answer so the doctor dealt with her. My mother did not wait for me while i was getting the violation i deserved she dropped me off and left me there. A few months passed and she would leave me to walk the 15miles home off a major busy hwy and down back country roads since i wanted to continue to run track, I had to walk or bike to drivers ed since she refused to help then. I was becoming bitter and one week she took me for my new three month shot of birth control and they didnt have it so they called it into the nearby pharmacy who said it would be an hour so we went home to set up animal feed (we lived on a farm) We went to the pharmacy and they said they were sorry but it wasnt ready they needed another 3o minutes. She flipped out screaming at me blaming me fr not calling to check first, I gave a sassy retort and she told me to get the f out of her car and she left me there to pic it up and get it administered and to walk home… btw that walk took me 2 hours. I got home she picked me up the last few miles from home and i was so angry and hurt that when i got out of the car at home i told her how much of a horrible person she was and how much i hated her she beat us for everything constantly told us we were stupid, My chores on the daily i would get up at 5 am ALONE and feed animals water them and give them hay, get my 1yr old broth breakfast and dressed and my 12-13 yr old brother ready for school. If i got to run track I would go to school track and then come home to feed all over again and sometimes cook dinner 2-4 nights a week. I was by far a lazy trouble making child. My mother threatened to sew me up in my sheets and beat me with a base ball bat when she heard the neighbor girl smacked her mother. Any way after that i walked out she called the cops reported me a run away etc. that happened a few times to where the student resource officer told me i can be gone 48 hrs before cops get involved now that i had run away multiple times and that i could simply set foot on the farm once during that time and it reset. so long as he saw my face every day. In Dec i was back home and she fought with me again escalating it by throwing my supposed christmas gifts at my of those a toaster. My dad tried to get involved taking her side and i simply told him to beat me or let me go but i am done. Needless to say she fought tooth and nail to make me stay and be miserable till my 18th birthday. She refused to fill out my college finincial papers that have to be completed by your parents to even attend a university in NC unless you are married have a child or 24 oh or emancipated and no judge would do that for an 18yr old. So I left in march. My biological father was going to come with his mother to my hs graduation in july and my mother made a point to say she would call the cops on him because he owed her back child support if he did. Se came to my graduation but it was cold. After that it was almost a year before we spoke. When I was 23 she assulted me when my 18yr brother was sick of her cruelty and abuse and asked me to come get him and luckily we had no idea i had been 3weeks pregnant. I took her to court to try and get the judge to make her get counciling and that didnt happen but we didnt talk until my son was 2 months old. during that time her father threatened me that he would help her take him from me due to grandparents rights or some bologna. We talk now but I am always at a distance she is never proud of my accomplishments my art is never good enough and I dont parent right. the i told you so’s are endless but she guild trips me to no end, what would happen to the farm if i died , or im creating a business that one of you should take over when i am to old.. it is endless. When ever she is in trouble needs more merchandise made etc I run to the rescue. It is exhausting and many would say its not worth it but the caveat is I cut her off i lose my step dad my grandparents on her side a brother i helped raise and her slaging me to anyone who will listen and we live in the same town… Yeah its rough.

    • Sorry for my horrible typo’s quick emotional typing makes for errors. Very thankful to get some of that off me chest.

  25. I have been cut off and been the cast-off. I was raised in a very strict, VERY religious home, but never felt quite right about the religion. As a young adult, I informed my family that I was leaving their church and was immediately cut off by my mother. I have been able to keep in touch with my siblings, but not my mother. She did attempt to come back into my life after the birth of my first child, but each interaction ended up with her berating my “ruined life,” so I decided to cut her out of my life, which was a hard decision for me, as a new mother.

    Having experienced both sides of the issue, I have to say that there is something very calming about cutting out a negative person and moving on with your life. Not always an easy choice, though.

  26. I was cut off by my mother when I left my second husband in Virginia and moved to New Mexico. I had no job and moved in with a woman who I had never met before. When it all worked out okay, we talked again and have been very close ever since. I regretted the distance between us, but honestly I didn’t believe it would last very long.

    I haven’t cut someone out of my life to whom I was close but I have chosen to distance myself from unhealthy people before they can get too close.

    • I would just like to add that I have just watched a lovely interview clip with Thich Nhat Hanh on compassionate, deep listening. It requires setting ourselves aside in order to really listen to another person. This is so difficult because we all have our own perspectives and we interpret everything from that perspective. But imagine being able to see a situation through another’s eyes and heart.

  27. I inherited a group of outlaws, when I married my husband. I didn’t want to play their game, so I was treated very coolly. A year before my in-laws were to celebrate 40 years of marriage, my husband and I asked if they wanted a celebration. Both said, NO! Imagine our surprise the following year, when we received a phone call from the oldest outlaw. A “surprise” 40th anniversary party had been completely planned by the four outlaws. We were not consulted. We were to pay them a certain dollar amount for the privilege of having our names on the invitation. When we said, we were not going to give money for an event we didn’t have any input in, we were told not to come. We decided to blow the whistle on this “surprise” and the in-laws asked us to come. The argument outside the hall was enough to send two toddlers into hysterical screams. We stayed the only until the meal was over. The next day, the next oldest outlaw told us we owed him for our meal and until we paid, he had nothing to say to us. This has continued to this day. It is as if we don’t exist. A relative died in Germany, and we were not notified. If not for my mother-in-law, my husband would not have know his own uncle had died. It doesn’t bother me, but I feel badly for my husband and son. My son has no real relationship with his only first cousin, because of this “cutting off.” And you wonder why I kept my maiden name and gave it to my son, as well.

  28. After decades of accepting indifference from a person I considered a friend, I stopped calling. I never made a formal declaration, just silence on my end. She never cared enough to reach out or ask why.

    One other time I did cut ties with a toxic friendship, Four years later, we have established communicationagain, although gingerly. We both ‘walk with a limp’.

    In both cases, it was a good decision for me. In truth, the first ‘friend’ cut me off long before, and it took me years to accept it. The second friendship I despaired of ever returning, but return it did. We are better friends and more honoring of each other’s differences.

    As for social media, I ruthessly edit my news feed, but I rarely unfriend altogether, because I am very careful as to whom I accept in the first place.

  29. My brother would say I’ve cut him off – and in a sense he’s right. But he has also cut off me and the rest of the family. He has long standing addiction problems – of which he will not admit the existence – and suffers from depression. He only admits to having the depression and claims to be undergoing treatment when he wants money from one of us and rarely contacts us unless he wants money. He has reached the point where he replies to our father’s calls and messages when for years he wouldn’t do so — maybe because Dad told him he doesn’t have to pay back any of the multiple loans given over the years. I still call him (and text, and email) on his birthday and holidays to wish him well, but haven’t heard from him since the last time I paid his rent for him and told him it was not going to happen again – I’m done enabling.

    On a more cheerful note, hope you have a wonderful time at RMA, Grace!!

  30. Although my parents divorced when I was three, I suffered through regular visitation with my no child support paying, abusive father for the next 15 years. At the age of 18 (after a lengthy discussion with a very wise old Navy chaplain) I decided to cut him off, or rather cut myself off from that part of my family. I grieved for the lost relationships with aunts, uncles, and cousins, but I also reminded myself that maintaining relationships with distant family was not worth putting myself in harms way again. Besides, they always knew how to contact me, but never made the effort. Only very recently has a cousin made an honest effort.

    There have been many times I have thought about trying to re-
    establish contact with my father, but I look at my big, beautiful, brilliant son and I can’t imagine subjecting him to even a trace of the cruelty I faced as a child. Not to mention, If he so much as raised his voice to my son, I would probably need bail money and an attorney!

    Tough as it was, I forgave my father long ago. His decisions in life have cost him dearly; a wife, a daughter, and now a grandson. My decision to sever those ties twenty six years ago made me a stronger and happier person than I ever thought I’d be!

  31. Although my parents divorced when I was three, I suffered through regular visitation with my no child support paying, abusive father for the next 15 years. At the age of 18 (after a lengthy discussion with a very wise old Navy chaplain) I decided to cut him off, or rather cut myself off from that part of my family. I grieved for the lost relationships with aunts, uncles, and cousins, but I also reminded myself that maintaining relationships with distant family was not worth putting myself in harms way again. Besides, they always knew how to contact me, but never made the effort. Only very recently has a cousin made an honest effort.

    There have been many times I have thought about trying to re-
    establish contact with my father, but I look at my big, beautiful, brilliant son and I can’t imagine subjecting him to even a trace of the cruelty I faced as a child. Not to mention, If he so much as raised his voice to my son, I would probably need bail money and an attorney!

    Tough as it was, I forgave my father long ago. His decisions in life have cost him dearly; a wife, a daughter, and now a grandson. My decision to sever those ties twenty six years ago made me a stronger and happier person than I ever thought I’d be!

  32. Yes, my brother cut my sister out of his life due to a disagreement, and somehow I got cut out as well. (My sister and I are very close.) I haven’t talked to him in many years. I admit that I haven’t tried very hard to change things either, but living across the country from him makes it hard. I’m hoping that when I retire in a couple of years and move back home, I’ll be able to reconnect with him.

  33. I have been cut off from my family for almost eight years now. I’m not entirely sure why but most of it because I campaigned for and voted for Obama, terrible Democrat that I am. As far as my children go, I feel their father has a hand in that as they live no more than 5 miles away from him and I was forced to leave the state following the divorce and had to move 1000 miles away. I have grandchildren I haven’t seen.

  34. Hmm… I was taught that family is important, that I should respect my mother and my sisters. I find it difficult to do. My mother and sisters are very judgmental and critical. Forgiving is not a word I would use to describe them. My mom turns 82 at the end of this month. She has dementia. My middle sister is the main care giver. I will go and be respectful, but it is hard.

  35. I left home at 17 after an argument with my mother and was distant from my family for most of my adult life, but I understand that argument and my departure very differently now.

    For years–for decades, in fact–I thought of my mother as the villain. My younger siblings have told the story as the day my mother threw me out of the house. But now that I have two teenagers of my own, I realize that my mother just didn’t know how to help a teenager mature into an adult, and she didn’t know how to help a young adult make her way in the world, and she wasn’t ready to be the mother of an adult woman. She was only 42 when I was 17. She was still beautiful, but no longer young, and it was an essential part of her identity that she be beautiful and sexy. She had a dramatic and sensual appeal. I was beautiful in the way that a healthy 17 year old girl is carelessly, inevitably beautiful. She was not ready for this next stage in my life and in hers. I did not understand any of this at the time.

    Then there was the issue of college: I wanted to go, but my parents had no idea how that would work in practical terms. I think now they must’ve thought it worked like signing up at the local high school. I read all of the time, books they thought might have the wrong effect on me.

    So my mother and I had a series of fights, most of which I think now I must have provoked. Then we had one particularly spectacular fight, during which my mother uttered the words, “As long as you live under my roof”–the trigger words useful to teenagers everywhere who need some way to separate out from their parents but don’t how to do it any more than their parents know how to make the separation themselves, much less do it gracefully and healthily and maybe even with good spirits and humor.

    So of course I took myself out from under her roof. That first night after I left must have been the worst night of her entire life. She called me at my boyfriend’s (he wan’t a bad choice, but playing house with him wasn’t my best choice), and the next day she called me at my retail job. She called for days. Sometimes she was furious. Sometimes she was in tears. She said stupidly mean things. She begged me to come back, but I was out and I was never going to be back in again.

    I visited often over the years and we kept in touch, but always at an emotional distance. We never spoke of how I left home. I put myself through college and didn’t invite her to my graduation ceremony. I kept her carefully out of anything that was important to me for many years. We were just becoming closer when she died.

  36. No, I can’t do it even when I probably should have in some cases. Although I can forgive, I can never forget. I’m sure I learned that from my mother. And I can’t even imagine doing that to my child.

  37. I have. Not easy. I cut my brother off.
    You think your little brother understands that you have always been there for him, always supported him in spite of EVERYTHING. Even your own parents who considered him almost a lost cause.
    But after fifty years of fighting, yes struggling to have him accepted, there comes his betrayal. And not even in my face… He just sent me an email with the most horrid stuff I have ever seen.I never saw it coming.
    It took me a long time to heal. But I got over it.God help him.

  38. She and I had been close friends since elementary school. After she moved cross country we kept in touch by email. The emails had become less frequent over the years, but I still felt that we were friends. She called when she was back visiting relative and we got together for the first time in 20 years. We chatted nicely for an hour or so and then she asked who I was going to vote for. I said that I did not know yet but there were several folks that I was looking into. She went home and we continued our email correspondence, but now she spent most of her notes passing on nasty rumors about candidates that she disagreed with and demanding to know why I would support them. I do not often discuss politics because of the vitriol such discussions are laced with, so I tried repeatedly to withdraw from the topic and steer the coversation to some more benign places. She would have none of it and continued to demand that I engage in an argument with her. I pointed out that she and I have different faiths and , although my passion for my faith is as strong as hers for her political views, I had never forced my faith on her nor even asked her to discuss faith because I respected her position. She accused me of trying to establish a theocracy. I finally, sadly wrote that I would be ending our correspondence unless she could confine herself to topics other than politicians. I have not heard from her in 8 years.

    I know I made the right choice, but it makes me sad that I had to make it. Some really happy childhood memories are tarnished now. Demonizing those who do not think in lockstep with every opinion must lead to a very lonely life.

  39. I was cut off by a neighbor who I thought was also a friend. I helped her and stood by her during several family crises with her son and then her daughter. Even after she moved away we would talk by phone, until the day she called and then in the middle of our conversation she put me on hold to take another call and never came back. After 10 minutes of holding I finally hung up and that was the last time we talked. I was never able to talk to her again. I guess she didn’t need my help any more.