A TAR Tale by Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

May 9th of this year was a very sad day for me, as it marked a full 365 days since I was erased from my daughter’s life. The process of alienating a child from a loving parent often takes years of quietly applied maneuvering, co-dependency, coercion, and the profound altering of a child’s emotional attachment to the other parent – as was the case in my scenario. It is considered child abuse for a reason. When you take the time to re-evaluate the intricacies of your parental relationship, and that of a divorced spouse, the pattern that emerges can be quite overwhelming. I’m lucky, I wrote everything down. 

Looking back upon the dumpster fire that has been this last calendar year, I find myself waking up more days holding on to the essence of my own hope. Today, I am fully engaged with those around me and have purposely removed myself from a place of isolation. 

I’m not claiming that I’ve been saved, nor am I the savior.

I am one man, peddling nothing but facts and truth. When faced with a moral dilemma that you’ve lost something that you can never properly or organically (re)ascertain, a sense of moral awakening takes place. The embers remain in their worst place – a dark flammable corner – where one spark could cause a four-alarm blaze.

Not today. Today I have some hope. And with hope comes accountability. To concentrate on truths, hollowing out the use of excuses, take control of my own behavior, and offer a simple nugget for those going through this. 

What I Have Learned: 

  • My daughter’s alienation was not my fault – I have learned that I am powerless over the alienator’s ways and it is in no way beneficial for me to harbor blame upon myself. I don’t need to list my achievements as a father – I have 18 years of memories that tell me exactly what happened. 
  • There remains but one truth – Dissect statements and thoughts and what you have seen with your own eyes. No matter what “they” say, whoever they are, there is only one version of the truth. As long as your intentions are well-meaning and humble in nature, stick with the truth. Like Richard Roma tells George Aranow in Glengarry Glen Ross — “The truth George, always tell the truth. It’s the easiest thing to remember.”
  • I was a good parent – No time for superlatives. Fact: I stepped up at every moment to be the best father I could be. Everyone makes mistakes, I sure did. But I never left my daughter’s health and safety up for chance. She never needed anything. While this is a tough thought to process (particularly while alienated), part of my recovery must allow this truth to sink into my psyche.
  • I am prepared for her to never return – It has been mentioned in earlier blogs that even if a child returns to an alienated parent there are still serious implications that cause a detriment to the already fractured relationship. That really sucks on the whole outlook front. It’s been a year with no contact and I am prepared for her to remain alienated. I understand the power of this debilitating family disease. Think alcohol, schizophrenia, and other major mood disorders including narcissistic personality disorder – all handed down genetically. My ex never had a chance, and neither did I.
  • I have people that love and understand me – Although slow to start, it was imperative that I opened up about how alienation has affected me. I post publicly and occasionally am asked. Lately, I have averted simply saying that it’s been a while since I spoke with my adult daughter. I am more apt to share this facet of my life – while never really giving a shit about what the receiving end thinks about me personally. This is not about me. I may be alienated, but I am not alone. My daughter is alone in the abuse she is enduring. My close friends understand and the community at Parental Alienation Anonymous (PA-A) and CPTSD Foundation have really supported this journey. I am thankful for those I have met in 12-step groups – they inspire me to push forward even when I don’t want to.
  • Stronger than a year ago – Getting acclimated to my new world over this past year has delivered challenges. Like you, if you woke this morning then you have what I consider the greatest gift of life: another shot to get it right. 12-step programs allow you to open your mind to differing scenarios, many of which your mind never even considered. It is within the confines of these meetings that I cumulate my hope. I could not even tell you how poor my state of mind was when this final bout of alienation began. 
  • You have to do the work to get better – There is a moment when alienated parents ask themselves “How do I go on living?”. I asked. A million times. There are no answers and the sooner you realize that the better your individual situation will become. There is no way to figure this thing out, just as you can’t figure out a family member’s drug problem. The realization that you are comfortable letting go of the need to understand how an issue works itself out is quite freeing. You have to put in the work. Whatever that means to you.

In a recent PA-A meeting, someone mentioned the absence of guideposts during the alienation journey. As a family disease, much secrecy lies within the borders of alienated families. There are few who can understand outside of the walls of a PA-A step program meeting. The truth is that the rest of us have no guideposts, no road signs, no speed limits, and no justification in terms of accountability. It’s an open and empty road, filled with large obstacles and no driving manual. I take great pride in the fact that I learn something new in every meeting. 

I realize how topical these statements are; however, because of the truth that is embedded within these thoughts I have found a moment of clarity. It is okay to breathe deeply and let the worry exit your chest, neck, and shoulders. It’s okay to smile and to live. It’s okay – when the time is right – to come up for air.

A special thanks to those whom I have had the pleasure of working with during my alienation journey. Without PA-A, I could not confirm where I would even be today. Thank you. 

You are not alone. To learn more about Parental Alienation Anonymous, as well as our weekly schedule of meetings, please click here.

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