Parental alienation is a form of child abuse. Parental alienation is the process, and the result, of a parent psychologically brain washing their child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect and even hostility towards the other parent. In some cases, the alienating parent will deepen the brain washing by witholding the child from the other parents’ parenting time, manipulating the police with false allegations, taking advantage of the courts – who don’t have effective mechanisms to handle these cases. These children victims often suffer social adjust challenges face difficulty re-engaging with the needed love of the targeted parent.
Parental alienation is very prevalent, with 13% of all parents reported alienation and 48% of those to be deemed extreme(Harman, Leder-Elder, Biringen 2016). Of note and contrary to popular belief, there is no significant gender variation – it’s about 50/50. This is growing health crisis and hidden epidemic, out of sight because the children have no physical signs of abuse and they don’t even know they are being abused. A parent who inflicts parental alienation child abuse typically has either a narcissistic personality disorder (6% of the population) or a borderline personality disorder (6% of the population) or fit both diagnoses (10% of the population) (Grant et al. 2008). If one of these diagnosis is present, divorce trauma anxiety often triggers that parent to initiate alienation behavior in order to mediate their loss experience associated with the divorce. (Interpretation from C.A. Childress, Psy.D. 2015)
The long-term effects of parental alienation revealed seven major areas of impact on the victims: (1) low self-esteem, (2) depression, (3) drug/alcohol abuse, (4) lack of trust, (5) alienation from own children, (6) divorce.
What makes alienation so easy? Humans need security. To ask someone to stop and question 10-15-20 and even 30 years of their security is something most people cannot handle. To learn that half of their life is built on lies and half-truths is unfathomable. Life is easy, why complicate it.
In most circumstances, only a tragic event will make a person question what they believe; and how many parents are willing to ask that their child suffer so great an event, that they hurt deep enough to make them question what they believe.
Many times, only after the alienated parent is long gone, does the alienated child come to the realization all was not right. By then, it is too late. So, why then, do kids not question when they have those nagging thoughts that God has placed on their hearts? Only they can answer that and the unknown is scary.
So, for eighteen years, I have spent Thanksgiving alone, Christmas alone, Easter alone, summers alone, days and weeks alone, birthdays alone. I don’t know if it will always be that way, but at times like this, it feels as though it will be.
Sometimes I get really really angry. Anger is the emotion that feels the void my kids no longer fill. It sneaks up on me when my heart is aching so much that it is an actual physical pain. Pain takes my breath away and anger keeps me from exploding. There is so much pain that anger consumes me.
It’s Thanksgiving Day today. It is a day when we are supposed to be grateful for everything in our lives. It is two-fold for me. It is a holiday that I thought I would always spend with my daughters. Now, I have only the memories. Holidays make me sad. I am thankful they are both happy in their lives and I guess that should be enough. But it’s not.
I am so very thankful that I had the first twelve and sixteen years of their lives. Sometimes it feels as though life has been suspended. Although they are no longer twelve and sixteen, they remain so in my mind. They are my babies. I wish I could gather them in my arms and hold them one more time. I wish I could smell them again. I wish I could tell them that I love them one more time. I wish I could see them smile one more time. I wish I could tell them I am sorry that they felt abandoned. I wish I could tell them that I didn’t abandon them. I wish I could tell them how broken I was. I wish I could tell them I was hanging on by a thread. I wish I could ask them if they could love a broken mother. I wish I could ask them if they could still love me.
My dad passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 84. He had been struggling for a while, suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s. The one person who should have been holding the family together, was more instrumental in tearing it apart so that now we are a family divided.
The last time I visited with my dad was this summer. He didn’t seem to know who I was. He still looked well and I felt good about my visit with him. That was the last time I saw him. I know that as time marched on, his condition deteriorated and I chose not to visit. While some may view this as a cop-out, I look at it as self-preservation. The family drama also made visits difficult.
I lost a sister fifty years ago to Leukemia. I was 5 and Debbie was 7. I remember some things as though it happened yesterday. It was an event in my life that changed me forever. I do not deal very well with losing people. I know that it’s part of life; just not one that I deal with very well.
I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life, beginning when I was very young. The last, and most devastating loss was during my divorce from my children’s father. That was 18 years ago. Although they are blissfully unaware of what transpired (the therapist said I protected them too much) and how things have progressed to where they are now, it was through manipulation called Parental Alienation Syndrome. That’s the problem with PAS. Children do not normally realize what happened until sometimes many years in to adulthood and they get angry any time it is mentioned. Sometimes much too late to reconcile with the alienated parent.
This is a loss I wake up with every day of my life. While we bury some of our loved ones, grieve, and somehow manage to move on with life, this is different. It is a loss of a loved one every day and you continue to grieve, but not move on.
My Dad wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But, he was a good dad. He was a State Trooper for many years and because the pay was extremely low, he sometimes worked three jobs to support his family. If I had a “situation” he was there to fight my battles, to defend me. He sewed my broken bra straps. He dried my tears. When I needed a bug collection for science class, he helped me catch the bugs and then he carefully preserved them and mounted them inside of a glass case that he built for me.
He built two wooden shadow boxes and hinged them together. It had a handle and a latch and looked like a wooden briefcase. Inside each side he mounted styrofoam board with my bugs and installed glass over each side. It was the best in the school. While others mounted their bugs on poster board, my dad helped me mount them in first class. I was teased unmercifully, but like Dolly Parton’sCoat of Many Colors, that bug case was made with more love and attention that most kids get in a lifetime.
There was a Christmas when I received a little keyboard and I learned to play the Blue Danube. He was so proud. Anyone who came to the house had to listen to me play! I remember my dad singing all of us to sleep with Red River Valley. I also remember him keeping a little jar of lemon drops on the dresser and we were forbidden to enter my parents bedroom. We’d go to bed and listen to make sure they were in the kitchen and one of us would sneak into the room and take a couple of lemon drops. He never said anything about the missing lemon drops, although I’m sure he knew we took them.
He passed on his love of German Shepherds to me. He accepted me as the person I am. I am proud to have had him as my dad.
When my dad began feeling the effects of his illness, he mention two things that he wanted to do. One was visit the State Police Academy and the second was to visit his hometown of Olla, Louisiana. My husband (also a retired trooper) made arrangements to take him on a tour of the academy and he had the opportunity to sit in the Colonel‘s chair. He enjoyed his day tremendously and I was so blessed to have this time with him. The second in command presented him with two State Police medallions and when we returned home, I printed a photo of the old academy and of him in the Colonel’s chair and framed it along with the medallions. He loved to look at it everyday and tell the story. I regret that his health soon declined and we never had the chance to take him to Olla.
My dad had retired from the State Police by the time my second daughter was born, but when my first-born was little, he loved driving up to my house and putting the lights on for her. She would stand in the window and clap her hands. She adored her grandpa and he her. She was the first grandchild and the darling of his eye. He often picked her up and took her home with him.
While I miss my dad terribly, I know he is in a better place. A place where he can no longer hear the drama and manipulation around him. A place where he can now hold the child he lost so many years ago. That brings peace to my heart and I feel more happiness than sorrow. I’ve had him all these years and now my sister will have her turn in eternity. That makes me happy.
Those thoughts will carry me through his wake and funeral. I’ll grieve but it will be bittersweet. Goodbye for now my wonderful Dad. You were here for me when I needed you and I will miss you. Enjoy your life in eternity.
As the days are slowing creeping by, more memories have been floating around and I wanted to add them to this post, mostly for myself, but I also thought you might enjoy them as well.
When I posted on Facebook – what did we do before Facebook – to let my friends know that my dad had passed away, they began sharing memories of their own, which in turn, brought back memories for me.
There were times when I was stopped by policemen and didn’t understand why. I was always told I was going too fast, when I was pretty sure I had not been. Years later, I found out the reason. My dad, who was a State Trooper at the time would occasionally come across other law enforcement officer’s children who were speeding. He had a habit of following the kids home or driving them home, if need be, and standing there while they admitted to their parents that they had been driving way too fast, or were inebriated. Turns out, it wasn’t always appreciated by the parents. Also turned out, I was an easy target. I drove to school my senior year and like most places with one highway, it was easy to spot your target. While it bothered me at the time, I’m pretty proud that my dad tried to take the better road by trying to help these fellow classmates out rather than plopping them in jail. I can only imagine the retaliation I would have received if that had happened.
My high school boyfriend said there were many scary moments with my dad (I think I may remember more than my fair share – blushing here) but the one he really remembers is when he hit a parked car as he was driving past my house – about 15 miles away from where his father thought he was.
Another school mate admitted that my dad had stopped him for speeding and he must have been singing my praises (he was a friend) because being my friend got him out of a ticket.
I guess those were the good old days with such simple stories. My little group of friends and I were the goody two-shoes as the saying goes. Our idea of trouble was stopping in a curve on the “back road” and running into the graveyard to touch a grave. Of course, it was Deadman’s Curve where the groom was racing to see why his bride had been delayed and they crashed head-on. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this?
My dad’s CB handle was the Toy Maker. He carried his wooden toys that he made in a box in his police unit. When I was expecting my first daughter, he built a cradle for her. It is a work of art. He later made replicas for both of my daughter’s for their dolls. I have a toy train that runs around my Christmas tree each year.
I’m not calling this post finished because I know there are lots of memories that I will remember. Hope you enjoyed some of them.
Yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay….….the priest caught my attention for a few moments in church this morning when these words, made popular by The Beatles in the 1960’s, came blaring through the speakers. I sat up straight and listened for a few minutes before drifting off into my own little world once again.
And with my train of mindless wandering broken, new thoughts began to emerge. I have lived these lyrics for many years without a second thought, and today I came to realize that my life has moved past these words. I no longer think of the yesterdays with such an all-consuming passion and even the tomorrows have ceased to exist. I have begun to live in today, and I find myself thanking God each evening for the little things that make up my life; the love of a good man, a dear friend, and the precious smiles of two small children whom I am so fortunate to love and to receive love from.
To think of yesterday would be dredging up pain and attaching it to long ago sweet memories of my own two children. To think of tomorrow would be hoping for reconciliations that today seem impossible. Either of these scenarios would bring gloom into a sunny day. I think I finally understand, or I am beginning to understand, just what is meant by the popular phrase, “Live for Today.”
To live in the present, to live for today, is at the same time both easy and difficult. Living in today takes both extreme concentration and focus for me to accomplish. It resembles a well choreographed dance. My first sleep-filled thoughts in the morning are of my husband when he gently kisses me good-bye as not to wake me before leaving for work. As I drift back into slumber, I thank God for bringing such a wonderful person and partner into my life. As the sun rises and beckons me out of bed, I offer up another prayer of thanks for my dog. Having her insures that I do not loll around in bed thinking of reasons not to get up. After all, she can not feed herself. After breakfast it is my walk time, and I am thankful for the ability to walk, as each step and each breath give me the daily strength that I require. I offer another prayer of thanks for the blessing of a wonderful home and peaceful sanctuary where I am fortunate to reside. And with many, deep, cleansing breaths, my day continues.
To think of the yesterdays would be to think of the unhappiness and discontentment of an ill-fated marriage, and the anger and disillusionment of parental alienation. To think of today brings thoughts of happiness and contentment, peacefulness and tranquility.
….and all my troubles seem so far away. Some days they do, and when that happens, the day is good. I am not sure if that is what the priest meant for me to come away with, but it has worked for me.
“The answer God has for you might be right in front of you – have you been overlooking it?”