New Beginnings, Part II… The Saga Continues
As a follow-up to my post yesterday, and on a more personal note, great strides were made one three sides of my family, each one affected by Parental Alienation. First allow me to wonder out loud: I can personally count at least five completely separate cases of Parental Alienation in my family, either blood related, or through marriage by way of in-laws. Aside from my family, I have come across another ten people, at the very least, in my close circle who either have been alienated (parents and adult children), or who are doing the alienating. Is Parental Alienation THAT prevalent? Now, I would go on to say that less than 50% are aware they are doing the alienating, or that there is a term for the loss and pain that they have been experiencing. However, save that issue for another post, this post is dedicated to New Beginnings!
A Realization and Admission of the Alienating Parent… My Mom
I have stayed quite mum on my work with Parental Alienation with my own Mum for a plethora of valid reasons: a) I don’t wish to hurt her feelings, b) If I accused her of alienating me from my dad the conversation could not possibly go anywhere healthy, and c) I am healing in my life quite well (I don’t think the process will ever end, but rather a constant work in progress, as it probably should be with any individual), and d) it is up to my Mum to come to terms with her actions. So, although I share the love of the English language, literary writings, and the passion for writing with my Mum, I will not share this blog with her. She may find it on her own one day, but I will not intentionally introduce her to my writings, and even more importantly I will not do that to MYSELF! I’ve called out a lot of people in this blog, no one is safe from my pen, er, my keyboard, especially when it comes to writing for the greater purpose of increasing Parental Alienation awareness.
It all started after a lengthy conversation last week with Wendy Behary, author of “Disarming the Narcissist”. I could not contain my excitement about an upcoming seminar and quickly called my Mum. I disclosed to her my discussion about Parental Alienation and Narcissism with Wendy, and here is where the situation could have potentially turned ugly, and yet it did not but for my own Mum’s curiosity. Oh blessed Curiosity! In response to my statement “many cases of severe alienation deal with an alienator who has narcissistic personality disorder”. My Mum stopped me there and said, “are you saying that everyone who alienates is narcissistic”? My following response not only calmed my mom’s fears and possibly her ticking rage, “No, Mom.” I continued, “There are three different types of alienators. Naive Alienators, who aren’t aware of what they are doing. Active Ailenators, who know what they are doing is wrong and feel remorse after the fact, however they have a button that gets pressed each time they get hurt, angry, etc. Obsessive Alienatiors are the ones who will do anything and everything in their power to spoil and sever the relationship with the child from the other parent, and these people could probably have a personality disorder such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder” OK now, wait for it. After a moment of dead silence my mom responded, “I think I may have alienated, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I may have been a naive alienator”.
WOW! I nearly fell off my chair. My own mother, who rarely ever admits to fault or apologizes, admitted that she “alienated”. We both knew she was talking about alienating me from my father. I left it at that, and casually made an acknowledging hmmmm, and quickly went back to the excitement of my conversation with the well-known author. However, after we hung up I let that statement sink in and resound throughout my being… My Mum just admitted that she alienated me from my Dad, and on her own accord! Wow. Wow. Wow. I was speechless as well as paralyzed momentarily, in the best way possible, and then I causally walked into the next room and shared this huge moment with my husband.
A Father and Daughter Reunite… On Daughter’s Terms.
Although I mentioned this in my last post, it is so good it deserves to be discussed again. This New Year brought in with it a New Beginning for my husband and his daughter. Ever since I met my husband twelve years ago we have lived with the alienating tactics that his former spouse used to drive a wedge between him and their daughter, and eventually the entire side of his family and his daughter. The alienation worsened and became more drastic every year, especially after the birth of each child between me and my husband, and every court action his former wife brought forward, and every letter from her attorney and from my husband back to her attorney, etc. However, it wasn’t until June 2009, when my husband’s former wife was going through her second divorce, that the SHTF (the Sh*t Hit The Fan), and my step-daughter cut us out of her life completely.
The last defining moment in our “fun and loving, dynamic and complex blended family” was when our planned vacation to Disney World, that my husband fought for months to be able to bring his daughter along, went sour and we had no choice but to cancel the vacation. The sole reason being that I was very early in my pregnancy with our fifth child and I disabled with severe “morning sickness”. There was no way in hell I was going to be fit to from New Jersey to Florida, then walk around in disgustingly humid temperatures and over-crowded theme parks, then driving back to New Jersey, all in period of two week with sickness and weakness like I’ve never experienced before. Unfortunately, all my kids were disappointed, as were we.
However, that defining moment was the topping on the cake for my step-daughter, along with her mom to cut us out of their lives. The year leading up to those broken vacation plans were filled with confusion, and fear that my step-daughter had become emotionally statuesque. The issues that were surrounding her family life and the divorce from her mom’s second husband, along with the Parental Alienation were all too much to bear for this young teenager. We were out of her life for good. On top of that, the anger that she possessed toward my husband and his family was downright frightful. How the heck did this happen? Surely a cancelled family vacation couldn’t have caused this much strife in a family! Back then it was so confusing (what did we do?!), but now my husband and I know it to be the illuminating moment when the Parental Alienation tactics from the past seven years became Parental Alienation Syndrome. My husband’s quiet, shy, compassionate and creative princess was now like a bulldog; ripping my husband and our family to shreds with her words and her actions.
Present day, my husband is now seeing a hopeful emergence from the “dark period”. In January, my step-daughter contacted my husband and asked if he could “help with her homework”. This incredible moment came just one week after she met up with my husband’s niece, refused the Christmas gifts from my husband’s side of the family, and told her cousin that she didn’t care if my husband “died in a car accident”. Apparently, she did care. She does care. Hopefully. They have now been meeting weekly. Although my husband says she is very formal, and kind of cold, none of that matters very much. His daughter wants him in her life. (In the back of our minds, it could be that her mom is directing her to see her dad as the issue of “college expenses” are coming up…but we shall drive those ugly thoughts back down to the depths of our souls and continue with a reason to celebrate!)
Although it has only been two months of contact, after three years of turmoil, we gladly rejoice. My dear step-daughter has yet to express a desire to see her half-brothers, half-sister, me, and the rest of my husband’s family. On the contrary, she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to have a relationship with us. Never-mind that. Focus on the relationship between my husband and my step-daughter, Father and Daughter. That is reason enough to celebrate and be glad!
Son Reaches Out to Dad… A New Life
I have mentioned very little, if at all, about the relationship with between my brother-in-law and his son. My brother-in-law’s former wife and he divorced many years ago, and I have never met his son. I know that theirs was a high-conflict divorce, and thereafter when he married my sister-in-law things went down hill slowly but surely with his son. Apparently, in the beginning of the marriage between my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, it was a normal step-family with the usual differences, quirks, confusion, and love all mixed in one bag. However, issues arose as the former wife would continue to tell her son that “your father left us for that (fill in the blank)”, and other lies, and alienation tactics.
Sadly, my brother-in-law became consumed with anger towards his son’s abusive behavior once he hit the teen years. Had my brother-in-law been aware of Parental Alienation, and been aware that his son was only acting out what his mother felt towards his dad, and that his son’s behavior was “normal” unhealthy behavior of a child who has been brainwashed, my brother-in-law may have had more patience. He may have continued to reach out to his son, despite not receiving positive responses. However, he took it to heart when his son said, “I don’t want to have anything to do with you”, and in his stubbornness waited on his son to make the first move.
Well, I am happy to announce that, at the age of 26, his son made the first move. Along with this New Year arrived the reunification of Father and Son. As life would see fit, my brother-in-law’s son and his fiance are expecting their first child, and have a wedding date set for the end of this year. It was this life altering occasion that a boy, about to become a father, desired his own father’s presence in his life. Miraculously, both my husband and my brother-in-law were attending my Parental Alienation support group up until three months ago, and just two months ago the process of reunification began for both families. From out of a period of darkness of many years, a ray of light shone onto my brother-in-law’s family. Amazingly, theirs has been a strong reunion. They have also been meeting weekly, and my sister-in-law recently attended her step-daughter’s-to-be baby shower…invited by her husband’s former spouse no less! It is truly a testament to human behavior and the deep desire to be loved by one’s parent, and to be allowed to love one’s parent.
To be allowed to grow, to be allowed to love, and to be allowed to accept love. This is the plight of the alienated child.