I experienced sexual abuse when I was a little girl. I told one of my caregivers and they didn’t do anything about it. I held that secret for several years, which wreaked havoc on my self-esteem and sense of security. I got the message “You are crazy and you don’t matter.” I don’t think that was the intended message from some of the people that were in my life, but I believed it.
I also suffered emotional abuse from a trusted caregiver in my childhood. When I was in my teens, I discovered alcohol and drank to numb the pain and to cope in society. I, of course, found myself in countless toxic relationships with people throughout my alcohol addiction.
My mother, who had been my biggest support system died when I was a young adult. It was devastating. I struggled with mental illness and alcoholism for several years and was hospitalized several times for suicidal issues. When I got honest about the abuse I experienced during my childhood, some of my family and friends called me a liar. It was very painful and I felt very alone. I finally got sober after I was sexually assaulted by a musician. I went to treatment, joined AA and worked the steps with a sponsor.
After about 12 years of working on myself in recovery (including a few relapses), I have eight years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol as I write this. Over the years of my sobriety I have done […]
Survivor is a strong word some days. I was blessed with a precious baby boy. He was extremely smart and very athletic growing up. His personality was almost mirror to mine. People loved him and he loved people, maybe too much in school. He had his whole life planned out for him at the ripe old age of 15. He was dating the love of his life, going to college and majoring in Electrical Engineering, and playing baseball and football. He suffered a few concussions playing football, and a shoulder injury ended his time as an athlete. I failed to see it coming, but looking back now I can see the signs of his isolation and change of friends. He lost his girlfriend. His behavior begin to change and I just attributed it to depression. I thought if I could just give him some hope or something positive in his life, then he would be okay. RIGHT!!! I went down the dark path with him and did not even know that I was doing it. He would steal from me time and time again. He would become verbally abusive if I did not give him what he wanted. He would get into physical altercations with his father and brothers. I was sacrificing myself, my marriage, and my relationship with my other children to try and save him.
After several rehabs and tens of thousands of dollars later I lost him anyway. He died from an overdose of fentanyl after being […]
As of this writing, I have been separated from my ex-husband for 22½ years and happily divorced for 14½ years. There was certainly one bright light after the wedding – my child… an amazing daughter to whom I refer as the best baby ever born. She is everything to me, and I don’t believe that I would have weathered this storm without her support, encouragement, and a smile that would melt the deepest and tallest glacier.
“I am not going to be the one to ruin that relationship.” That was not only my mantra, but it also became my commitment to my daughter with regard to her father. Prior to separating, I communicated with my entire family that I did not want anyone to bad-mouth my ex in front of my child; by and large, they acceded to my wishes – but outside of my child’s earshot, one family member particularly insulted, demeaned, and criticized both me and my ex. To this day, this person (to whom I am indentured) is blind to the fact that he/she is exactly like my ex in character and temperament – and they absolutely can’t stand each other (never have; never will). Even though they have not been officially diagnosed by any mental health professionals, I can honestly say that both check off several boxes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
While I am including this TAR Tale under “Parental Alienation”, I want to tell you it is possible to minimize the effects of this terrible form of […]
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 father’s journey is one of perseverance. A journey where each passing day – whether bright and hopeful or dark and pressing – allows for the joys of life, the celebration of milestones, and a reckoning that as a father, you have done everything in your power to keep your child(ren) happy, healthy, and safe.
For seventeen years I was a dedicated, loving, and involved parent to my daughter. I was there for her birth, every birthday, every graduation, every parent-teacher conference, and every doctor’s appointment. I played the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy. When she was ill, I was there to nurse her back to health. As recently as a few months ago, we toured colleges and universities together.
I gladly and willingly paid child support for a decade as it was the only way to ensure no less than 50% of parenting time. After child support orders ceased, I continued to make sure my daughter had health insurance, life insurance coverage, supplies for school, clothing, and adequate social connections (dance, softball, camp, time with extended family).
Those I have spoken to have predicated their thoughts regarding this situation by acknowledging the sacrifice a parent needs to make. I never sacrificed anything – I chose my occupations and geography carefully so that they would align with my trajectory of being a single dad. The joy of having a child should not lead to sacrifice – it should lead to sanctuary. My daughter has made me proud in a million different […]
I was awoken by my alarm promptly at 5:00 a.m. this morning, the same time it is set for on all seven days. I have always preferred mornings, in darkness, prior to the sunlight’s blissful rise to capture the essence of my day. These morning hours bring clarity, sanctuary, and allow me to prepare for whatever the day has planned for me. For most of the past few weeks, the plan was working.
I feel truant when I sleep past the alarm and so I have several snooze options available at my disposal – and use one almost every day while the coffee is perking.
It’s the middle of the afternoon and I am feeling a bit defeated by the day. Despite trauma by way of parental alienation, most of my recent mornings were pasted with a candy-colored aura reminiscent of gratitude toward all things. I have begun a job I really enjoy after mostly COVID-related downtime and in between a few nannying positions.
And while the days over the past three weeks or so have been good for my résumé and wallet, my mental health continues to teeter somewhere between thinking I am totally fine and thinking I am a total wreck. This is Trauma 101.
I was recently reading a report from the National Library of Medicine which starts with this introduction: Existing research suggests that trauma survivors who experience psychological distress may deliberately inhibit the behavioral expression of emotion (Hassija et al., 2013; Litz, Orsillo, Kaloupek, & Weathers, 2000; Marx & Sloan, […]
For trauma sufferers as well as survivors, the burden of truth is often a difficult pill to swallow. In a recent dilemma, I have been stretched and squeezed into a mode of discomfort when it comes to decision-making.
My only niece is to be married. RSVPs were due yesterday, and I have yet to respond. Since parental alienation ended in the total estrangement of my only daughter, it has been increasingly difficult to assemble a rhythm of clear decision-making. It is particularly true for otherwise “easy” decisions. My brain is in an utter tangle, yet there exists a consistency of love, disappointment, obligation, and duty. As a trauma survivor, my brain has built a complex structure of defense mechanisms, actually solidifying past behaviors and patterns to which I always get to the same destination. Avoidance.
I love my niece with all of my heart and am so happy for her and her fiance. I want nothing more than to spend time with them on their special day, but I must be mindful of the unavoidable pitfalls of attending.
The burden of truth, in simpler terms, is aligned with my core beliefs, particularly one of honesty. Should I attend the wedding, all of my family will be there. Further, I will undoubtedly be introduced to all of the members of the family my niece is marrying into. This means I will have to give innumerable handshakes, hugs, pleasantries, and god-awful forced smiles. These are the worst kind – and in an essence lying. That’s […]
I am an alienated mother. I haven’t seen my children for 5 years now. My dear friend referred me to this website, and I hope that these tips will help others mitigate the damage from their own personal war of parental alienation. Please stay strong, endure, and one day your children will come back to you.
Only speak about the other parent in neutral positive terms – if your child is having difficulty with their other parent, help them develop a plan of how they talk to their other parent and resolve a situation.
Be open to talking to your child about the other parent – what they like and value about them. Remember it is not a competition – your child loves both their parents mutually.
Try to see the other parent like a business partner and relate to them in this way. You are in the
business of raising your children together.
Be flexible and return favors – timetables with children may have to change suddenly.
Remember you are doing it for your child and not for the other parent.
Keep your children informed – predictability and routine are essential for children. Let
children make arrangements directly with the other parent as they get older – let them have
some age appropriate control.
Never lose hope.
Over a Year
We sat together to share some food.
Our first meal,
my two sons and I,
in over a year.
Minutes, hours, days.
I don’t want to get myself caught,
caught on the side of fear,
the figures feel real.
Though, as much as time hurts,
we all know it can heal.
Being alone in those many dark days,
not knowing when I will see you and you again.
I turn to knowing,
my son, my son.
Every other child I see that is around the age or height is you and you.
It’s too easy for parents to cause shame with blame,
forgetting that a child’s life is not a game.
To write these words and say something like this doesn’t seem true.
It isn’t the real me,
or the father I am for you and you.
Now at this table, this moment for us,
we create and hold our own rhythm,
an environment we trust.
So rather than always counting the days, the months, this year,
I’ll send my breath upon the wind,
and you, and you, and you, will hear.
It is now a year since I have had any contact with my three beautiful young children.
My ex continues to deny me any contact with them. My ex continues to take advantage of a flawed system. A system that enables her to ignore and breach court orders for contact and engagement in interventions, with no legal consequence.
I do not claim to be an expert in parental alienation. My story is no worse than any other of the incalculable number of alienated out there.
The following is certainly not intended to be viewed as some kind of checklist to battle parental alienation.
I have simply reflected on the last year and compiled a list of what I have learnt during the last twelve months.
Normalizing the sense of sadness and low mood one will invariably experience as an alienated parent is okay to do.
Allowing this sadness and low mood to spiral out of control is a slippery slope.
Professionals that claim to be experts should always be challenged.
Reading and learning as much as one can about parental alienation is an integral part of fighting this battle.
Connecting with other targeted parents, be it online or in person is incredibly important. Invaluable for emotional support, sharing of ideas, information and advice.
Complaining to services and institutions with a dignified, articulate and well informed argument is key. You may not feel you are making a difference, but every bit of ‘chipping away at the system’ helps.
It took me far too long to realize that the […]