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"Cut Offs" in Families


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Do you have any experience with "cut offs" in families - people who have cut themselves off from their families or families who have cut someone off?


If you have positive or negative experience of living in this situation please share your story with us.


Note: This thread is a collaboration of eNotAlone with ABC News 20/20.

Your post in this thread may be used or referred to by 20/20.

This is not a paid adversisment.

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Yes, I did that myself for many years. I was angry at my step-mother and father for putting me in group homes and foster homes when I was 13 years old. They never called me, I always had to call them. Eventually, I stopped calling them. One year, about 15 years later, I decided to call them. When I did they were very happy to hear from me.

I think the only thing I regret about that was I missed out on my younger brother and sister growing up. They suffered as a result of my decision.

When I was younger I never took into consideration that they would be hurt.

In my mind I was doing them all a favor by not contacting them as I was the "bad" kid.

Anyway, that's a little of my story.

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I have cut off three members of my family. I could go into why these people are toxic personalities and a threat to me and my immediate family, but it'd take all night.


My aunt has essentially cut herself off. She's an alcoholic, and very self-victimizing - she's the kind of person who thinks everyone else is the jerk without realizing that she's the jerk. However, every time she tries to contact me, it's to antagonize me in some manner. For many, many reasons, I have blocked her e-mail address and her name on my instant messengers, and never gave her my new phone number. There are positives and negatives to this - the negative being that her daughter, my cousin, is autistic, and thereforeeee my aunt controls to whom my cousin talks. I also wouldn't be able to visit my cousin without seeing my aunt. However, there are no times that I could speak to my aunt without her trying to make me feel bad about something (not the least of which being "snitching" on my uncle for molesting me) so her presense in my life is no longer welcome. I will see her at family get-togethers, but outside of that, will not speak to her.


My grandmother is very toxic, meddlesome. Whenever a family member has a baby, my grandmother has to insinuate herself into the middle, and if you don't do exactly as she says, she will accuse you of abuse. My father was tickling my sister once in front of my grandmother and my mother, and 10 minutes after my grandmother left, the police showed up at the door. All charges were laughed at, as well they should have been. She also tried on numerous occasions to get my sister put into foster care because she didn't approve of the way my mother was raising her. She preys on the weaker members of the family, plying them with money, and anytime something doesn't go her way, she takes away all the money. She's never done anything to me directly, but her legacy scares me from ever speaking to her. There have been no negative outcomes to my actions, as most of the family won't speak with her either. Those who do understand why those of us who don't, won't.


Then there's my mother-in-law. While I have not cut her off completely, as she is my husband's only family, I will not spend any time with her willingly. She is unbelievably controlling, and when she doesn't get her way, she becomes insulting. She can get angry over little things - the way I slept got on her nerves - and when I wouldn't sleep the way she wanted me to, she said I wasn't raised correctly. When she lied about and insulted my own family for something incredibly stupid, I decided that was the end of our contact with one another. She came and stayed after Hurricane Katrina because there was literally nowhere else to go, and you wouldn't believe the disrespect that this woman can dole out. Boy, is that a whole nother post. The negative side to this is that I will have to see her when she wants to see my son, but if I see a glimmer of the way she treats me in the way she treats my son, she will have no further contact with him.


I am not the kind of person that will allow toxic personalities in my life, no matter who they are. I have my own mental health and the happiness of my own son to think of - I won't deal with people that threaten that. I work hard to forgive, but I'm not going to put my hand on a hot burner twice.

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Appoximately 2 years ago, during the summer of 2004, my family learned that my aunt and uncle, both employed by the National Guard, were required to go to Iraq to fight in the war. Their son, who at the time was 5, obviously needed somewhere to go, so my family offered to be his legal guardians for the duration of their training prior to war and the time my aunt/uncle actually spent in Iraq.


My young cousin obviously had a difficult time handling the situation. He couldn't concentrate in school, and after barely 2 months of living with us, he was diagnosed with ADHD, along with other psychological problems that a 5-year old isn't capable of dealing with. Our school district, along with his psychologist and doctor, sent a letter to my aunt and uncle's National Guard unit, requiring one of them to stay home because they were endangering the mental and physical health of their son.


Because my uncle's unit was already in Iraq by the time a National Guard officer had to let one of them stay behind, my aunt was required to remain in the United States to take care of her son. She lost basically everything career-wise, and because of this, held great resentment towards my immediate family for not "taking adequate care" of him while she was in training. After the night she picked up my cousin from our house, she cut herself off from the entire family, and moved hours away.


I haven't heard from my aunt since, but we still keep in contact with my uncle. I believe they were supposed to get a divorce, but then decided not to because of my cousin. I do know, however, that at this time, my aunt does not live with my uncle. I spoke to my cousin probably about twice since he left my house, and that was only when he was staying with my uncle.


I'm very emotional while typing all this, so I apologize if the grammar isn't perfect or I went slightly off topic. But as one of the "causes" for my aunt cutting herself off from the family, I definitely would have to say that it has been nothing but a bad experience. I miss my cousin terribly, I was his role model and he became my little brother. My sister and I, who both experienced this is at a relatively young age, are forever impacted by this event.


As for my cousin, he will be turning 8 in a couple of weeks. I really hope that I will be able to talk to him then. I'm not sure how he's doing, but hopefully his mental health is much better now that he's back with his mother regardless of this "cutting off" situation.


Once again, I apologize if this isn't typed perfectly, but a tear rolls down my cheek as I remember all of this...

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Although I came from a close-knit family, I haven't spoken to my eldest brother in ten years--nor am I likely to again.


Roy changed radically after marrying a woman whom I can only describe as psychotically religious. When the events that caused me to permanently shun him occurred, she and I were already on non-speaking terms due to some callous remarks that she had made, many years before, about somone dear to me. They had two children together and home-schooled them to keep the influence of Satan, so prevalent in public schools, from entering into their souls. My niece is now a social pariah beset, as I perceive it, by chronic and pervasive antisocial behavior.


My nephew fared far worse.


Always curious, sometimes a rebel, Ben insisted at one point on being placed in a real school, and finally came into contact with a world not created by his parents. Seeing that it was not the pit of serpents that he had been led to believe, he renounced his Christianity, fought for his independence and began to use the Internet to broaden his horizons even further.


One day when Ben was 16, my brother called me with the unbelievable news that Ben was lying brain dead in a nearby hospital. The details were garbled: the Devil took hold of him, he ran away from their Tennessee home, shot himself in the head fifty miles from my house in California. I was numb.


Subequent reports from family members and over the radio news filled in the blanks. Ben had met a teenaged girl on the Internet, was desperate to get away from his oppressive parents, had stolen my brother's spare car and his gun for the third time--I ask you, whose fault is that??--and, upon receiving a rebuff by the girl after a cross-country trip alone, had walked back to the car and ended his life.


This part is hardest for me to relive: my brother flew out to stay with me, made a loud and frightening attempt to resurrect his son at the hospital, blamed his son for allowing Satan into his life and flew back home, leaving the car behind. I had to clean up the pool of blood stuck to the floorboards. I had to find Ben's suicide note declaring that he would escape from his religious hell or die trying. Not only did I receive no thanks for giving him a place to stay, consoling him to the best of my ability and disposing of the death car, but his wife took it that much further by submitting an article to our family's newsletter pointedly excluding the two of us from her copious expressions of gratitude for all the food and sympathetic attention that she had received as a result of this terrible event. I am, you see, not a Christian; everything I do is motivated purely by the greatest evil.


The following May my then-wife sent Roy's wife a Mother's Day card with the intent of brightening what we knew would be a very hard day for her. The response was swift and vicious, accusing my wife of "ignorance" and containing a vow that she would never think of either of us again. I tried to talk it over with my brother and explain why we thought the card was appropriate but he angrily seized on my statement that they should try not to blame Ben for what had happened, replying with a terse "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU"RE SAYING?"


My further attempts at patching things up were met with a stony silence. I finally had to admit to myself that he and I would never see eye-to-eye on the matter and made the painful decision to write my own brother off for good. He is no doubt relieved that I have ceased efforts to confront him with the stark reality, obvious to me; that it was his wife and himself and not the infernal Lucifer who drove Benjamin to his doom.


There is more to the story, such as my agorophobic sister-in-law's later obsession with her Internet 'ministry' and the way all of this affected the other members of my family, but I would like to turn my thoughts elsewhere now as I do not wish to continue in this searing reminiscence.


My thanks to kamurj for creating this thread. Although rehashing an experience which I normally prefer not to think about has been a grinding emotional upheaval and I don't know that I'd want to discuss it on national television, I do feel a certain amount lighter for having gotten it all out.

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I cut myself off from my Mom, and subsequently, many members from her side of the family when I was 17. It was due to a remarriage. Everything changed, and I could not handle it. I no longer felt loved or needed, or wanted for that matter, and like the black sheep of the family. My family has never been good with communication, and my Mom and I just did not know how to mend things. A couple of months before I graduated high school, things came to a head and I realized that it just wasn't my home anymore. I felt a great deal of remorse for the first year or so, and struggled to create a family unit of my own with my boyfriend and his family. Until I broke up with that boyfriend, who became an alcoholic/drug abuser and a pathological liar, I had a family. I am still in contact with his family, though not nearly as much as I was. They lead a much different lifestyle than I do, and after I left my ex, I wanted to get away from that.


I was reunited with my sister and two brothers four days after I left my ex last year. We spent my birthday together, and I remember feeling immensely happy, and like things were finally going to turn around. My sister and I have spent time together since then, and I have been in regular contact with my younger brother. My older brother has always been distant, and we've never had, nor will we ever have, much of a relationship. I have been trying to form a relationship with my Mom for years, but she is not coming around. More recently, my older brother got married. He and his new wife have a two year old daughter, who I have seen about twice in her entire life. It's not because of geographical distance, but emotional distance.


Prior to the wedding, I saw my Mom for the first time in over three years. Weeks before, I had suggested that we meet up before the wedding. She has no interest in working on forming a mother-daughter bond with me apparently. At her home, I was met with a "how are you?" and a cold stare. That was the only exchange between us the entire day. There was also the cold-shouldering of some people on her half of the family. That day left me reeling. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know that it would send me spiralling, and incredibly depressed. Recently, I have decided that I am going to sit down and write her a letter, explaining that I can't take this. I can't have random contact with her, and then have my hopes for a reconciliation dashed again and again. My heart can't take it. She asked me to explain why exactly I left, so I did, in a long letter. I wrote her a few letters, and we talked on the phone once. But none of it did much good, and I'm not able to break down or break through the wall she has built up. She says she is scared. I was terrified to even write her that first letter, but at least I tried. It seems now that I was right all along, that I am not needed in her life. I need a Mother, definitely, but I don't need a toxic relationship like that.


I have recently decided to bring about some closure. I am going to tell her that I would prefer not to receive birthday and christmas cards from her. I don't want a fraction of a relationship, I want a whole relationship, and I want her to try to forgive me, as I have forgiven her for things that were said and done. She will not open up to me, and never has. She has been emotionally closed off for as long as I can remember, and I just don't see the possibility of a relationship. At this point in my life, I just want to be done, though it is the hardest decision I've had to make thus far. I've been emotionally tired for years, and I want to get on with it, as I forgave myself a long time ago. It is probably the worst pain in the world, to know that your Mother does not want to make an effort for her daughter, but I have surrounded myself with people who care, and who understand. I'm just tired of hurting over it, and I know that cutting it off completely isn't going to make the hurt go away, but at least I can feel in control, and not like a puppet. This is very long, sorry about that. It was therapeutic though. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted!

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