I have an almost 18-year-old son. He has lived with his narcissistic father for the past 16 years. My son and I had a good relationship until his father packed up our son at the age of 7 (without my or a court's consent - we have joint custody) and moved to Arizona for about 5 years.
During this time, my narcissistic ex deliberately began, what I feel were tactics or mind games, reassuring me that I was doing the right thing for our son by not fighting for my rights, because our son was happy there. I never expected to slowly be removed from my son's life. I was lucky to see him once a year when they returned to Tennessee to visit my ex's in-laws and his new wife's parents. I was not even the first person to see my son. Me and my family were able to get my son after seeing his father's parents and step mother's family.
I'm a single mother of two more children - his half siblings - an older son and am 11-year-old daughter. My oldest son is very kind to my 17-year-old. Since I raised these two alone on just my income, I couldn't afford to visit him. My son left Tennessee a happy, smiling, loving boy and returned home to Tennessee with his father a stranger to me, he had grown a mustache, his voice was like a man's, he had braces and glasses and we found ourselves looking at each other like strangers.
That was 5 years ago. And we just can't seem to get back on track. I know it got bad enough mentally and emotionally for me that I had to unattach or I would have done something to myself. Through past therapy I know how this happened and why and that I should have fought for him. He doesn't act out in a rude way towards me and he's very polite, does great in school - he's an amazing young man. But due to school activities etc. you know being a teen, he never visits. I have to text and call sometimes for 3 months straight before he will respond - it's like me and his siblings here and my family don't exist.
I told him the last time I saw him in July 2016 that I miss him so much and he said
I don't get people and the whole miss you thing. I don't miss you... I know you're ok mom and where you are and that's enough for me. And that goes for everyone.
It made me hurt for him that he doesn't feel love, he's just ok. I have written my son a few letters of love and reassured him that none of this broken bond is his fault and that I've loved him everyday of his life. I don't want to just blame his father because it will only hurt him and make him reject me more. Even if his father took actions to alienate me.
I had no addresses, he has not ever listed me as the mother on school records, he listed his wife - well, now ex wife - and the school board has verified that. My ex refers to me by my name and when I reach out to ask him to help me with this, he laughs and says I abandoned our son and he's smart enough to make his own choices. But not when I asked if our son could skype with me or any calls like that was absolutely forbidden, because he isn't allowed to have social media. But my ex has many accounts.
My question is what is the healthiest way I can connect with my son without forcing him or bashing his father or making him feel unloved by me for just accepting all this?