By: Edward Kruk, Ph.D. Every day I receive emails from alienated parents and extended family members distraught over the suffering of their children as well as their own grief and frustrated by their powerlessness to protect their children from the egregious form of emotional child abuse that is parental alienation. In addition, I get numerous replies to my postings on […]
I didn’t see/have my son, Drew, for two Halloweens in a row…. Although I have regular access to my son and our relationship is tight, that wasn’t always the case. I was given the task of buying costume materials and making his costume by hand, but not ‘allowed’ to see him over Halloween, which is not my holiday. It’s still a trigger for me, and from what I have learned about C-PTSD, these triggers are something I have to learn to live with. The hyper vigilance, feeling unsafe… all of it…. it isn’t something that goes away at all… I can honestly say I am doing much better now that I was 60 days ago. About 4 or 5 months ago I was diagnosed with PTSD, it was horrifying and embarrassing. It also explained so much of my behavior that had never made sense to me. Holidays without my son are triggering, but knowing this, I am able to make plans to distract myself over the holidays or any special day/event in which the little guy in my life isn’t with me. How do I survive them? I let go of the every toxic thought in my mind. It’s easier said than done. I have had to learn to dial my stress factor down before I reach my anxiety threshold. As I have mentioned before, I got very sick just over a year ago…. I was worn out… I had nothing left in me…. I was so worried about the son I never had access to, that I landed in the ER and stayed for a while. My iron, potassium etc were depleted. Transfusions etc were necessary for an extended hospital stay.
I was so worried when baby daddy began making trouble for me and my 3 month old. A disgusting excuse for a human being he was, and still is. My son had a speech delay. I forced through a court order I wrote for weekly speech therapy, that’s how I parented in those days, by pushing my orders through the court system till they tired of it. With my handy fee waiver, I found I could get the court’s attention by costing them an arm and a leg. Don’t knock the method, it works, I’m living proof and so is Drew. I was constantly so worried that he was hurting and couldn’t express it. I almost worried myself to death with toxic thoughts. I imagined the worst… A life full of all kinds of abuse at the hands of a man who didn’t think twice about abusing me in several ways, repeatedly. It was killing me. My son was subjected to maternal deprivation and attempts at parental alienation. I wrote a court order for co-parenting therapy and despite his sickening attempts to pussy out of it with a fake CPO, the court no longer caters to him. Title 9 pays out only once moms, never fear. I got my co-parenting therapy orders upheld, and have been in co-parenting therapy for a couple of months now. My son’s interactions with me changed significantly. I bring my son’s behaviors to the attention of the counselor who exposes every email baby daddy sends her in our sessions. We have a no secrets policy. Everyone knows everything. This was not obtained easily. The sessions are annoying and I’d rather be anywhere else, but this is what is best for Drew, and for me, that is all that matters.
Toxic thoughts are caused by extreme stress. Stress comes at you in the form of predetermined custody evaluations, judgements and thoughts of your child feeling abandoned or alone. Without communication with your children, a parent often feels guilty for smiling and resents things and people that cause them to smile, as if being happy without your child is a crime. It isn’t. In fact, it will be the only thing to get you through it. If you’re case is anything like mine (and I’ll bet you a million bucks it is), the non custodial parent gets a report that describes the life of a rockstar. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. I was accused of dating someone weird while I hadn’t dated up to that point since my son was born. I was accused of everything under the sun, why? I had zero affection or feelings ever for this man. I was about to leave the country for work, he decided he couldn’t stand me being with anyone else or being happy. So he took the son he had blackmailed me to abort. It’s punishment, he once told the court, for the way she treats me. She doesn’t deserve to see her son. Yes, baby daddy is a total loser and no, he hasn’t had a single date since I walked out the door. I have no had quite a few, and even a relationship. Despite my custody trauma, I have a life. Creating that other life is the only thing that saved me. The ability to let go a little has given me much in return: my sanity. Toxic thoughts are ANY thoughts that rob you of positive feelings, thoughts that leave you feeling negative. In order to win your battle, you need to survive it first, don’t you? This isn’t an essay on how to be happy, it’s about why you NEED to be happy to survive. Like Mario Brothers (yeah, I’m THAT old), it takes a lot time, determination and perseverance to save the princess. You need friends, pets, games and laughs to get to the last level…. and even when you get to the final level (court trial) you may need a few more tries before completing your mission.
Repression or suppression of toxic thoughts is how we temporarily deal with the emotions that are generated by anger, loss, sadness or trauma. This gives your mind a chance to catch up with loss or trauma by experiencing a temporary amnesia. However, the toxic emotions that are repressed don’t go away. You can bury your emotions, but you need to know you are burying something that remains alive, and that is a horrible prospect. It’s not surprising that your mind perceives suppressed emotions as fear. That fear remains unless you deal with it. You can consciously decide to deny or reject an emotion that is uncomfortable, but once you have done so, it goes into your non-conscious mind in a process called automatization: you first do it consciously and then train yourself to continue until it becomes an automatic reaction. This is not the way your brain deal best with toxic emotions. Repressing them destabilizes your brain’s natural chemistry and disrupts the multiplicity of feedback loops that usually expels toxic waste. In fact, unprocessed emotions impede that flow of they naturally generate, often referred to as the ‘molecules of emotion’. When stress prevent molecules of emotion from flowing freely, the automatic processes (digestion, breathing, immunity and blood flow) that are regulated by the flow of peptide will collapse into a few simple feedback loops. This causes the suppressed toxic emotion to become an emotional stronghold, the magic trees of the mind, that changes cellular memory within the cells of the body. It won’t allow you to function well on any level, physical, mental or spiritual.
So how do you keep these toxic thoughts at bay? DILUTE THEM. If you’re like me, and chances are you are, your life revolves around your child. And when your child isn’t with you? It becomes about politics and policy, media and communication or like myself and a few others I know, it becomes about the laws governing our family courts and getting yourself an entirely new career. Who were you before you became a parent? What personal hobbies, interests and career goals did you have? Do you have a social support system? Not an emotional one, but a sociaone? This is going to be your most valuable asset in the war for your sanity. You need reality checks, confidence and loyalty; friends are the perfect people to give than to you. Friendships are give and take, as females, we know that our job is to listen and agree when needed. If he or she pours their heart out for an hour, you know you get that same hour in return. and unlike therapy, your friends will tell you what you need to hear to get moving in the direction you need to head in. In the last week, I have gone out 4 times. Dinner and a comedy show on 2 different evenings. Dinner with a friend on Halloween and a wine tasting and tour a few days ago. I knew Halloween would be difficult, I anticipated this and planned accordingly. Having these friends to be weepy with made me comfortable, and that lead me to hours of laughter during days that would have been spent feeling sad, miserable and angry. Thanksgiving is coming up. I don’t know who will have Drew for that holiday, but I have a small trip to San Diego coming up the week before, so if I have to wait till Christmas, I think I’ll survive. It may be smoke, mirrors and window dressing, but I’ll survive. I have to, you have to, we all have to in order to keep going and changing the status quo, I first have to be happy to be alive, that wasn’t always the case.
A snake asked a man walking up a steep mountain to carry him to the top.
The man said he couldn’t because the snake would bite him.
The snake promised to be good.
The man carried the snake to the top upon their arrival the snake immediately bit the man.
The man said you promised to be good.
The snake said you knew my nature all along and for some reason you expected me to not act in my nature, just because I promised. All things will act in their true nature unless it benefits them to hide their true nature. I lived up to my true nature when you were no longer of use to me…
At that the man, who was a survivor and tired of all the poison in this world, flung the snake off the mountain where he was crushed to death by the fall. The man then sought out help for the poisoned bite.
After a time the man made it to a first aid station where he recieved help from people who cared for other mountain climbers. Since they were brave enough to live in the mountains in order to help others the man would live and after some time would recover.
After his recovery he decided to always carry a snake bite kit with him in order to help anyone he may meet harmed by a snake.
I took an old proverb and added a happy ending. It is what I hope we alienated family members can start doing as we move through life. How many times have you overheard someone speaking ill of a non-custodial spouse? How many times have you remained silent, even if you knew the other party wasn’t the “BAD PERSON” s/he was being made to seem like? Vow to carry a snake bite kit with you, and to have the courage to toss the snakes off their mountains. Leah Talley
Source: Poetry Corner – A Family Divide
As Mother sits in the corner, cries
We all try to hide in lies…
click above to read the entire poem
10. We know what it’s like to go through custody battles, and we don’t want to seal our kids to that fate by marrying the wrong person.
So you’re going through a divorce and one of you really is the victim – or so you think. You were cheated on. You were abused. I get it. You were wronged in some way. And you have children with this person … We all know that we’re not supposed to tell our kids the […]
https://waltersingletons.wordpress.com/Well, today I feel stuck. Just absolutely stuck. The pain of missing my children is always there to some degree, but today more than anything I feel completely FRUSTRATED. Helpless. I know where my…
Source: 9/20/16 – Being Stuck
Once upon a time there lived a family. A kind man married A lovely woman and they had two children.
Sadly not every happy family can make it forever and so, this family began to fall apart when their two children were in their formidable teenage years.
In the early years both children enjoyed a close and loving relationship with both of their parents. However, when the bitterness of divorce began spreading its ugly roots within their once very happy home, the teenage children began to show distain for their father. It was inexplicable the amount of anger and hate these two loving children now held out for their father. On every issue they seemed to solely side with their mother, even the tiniest thing like what to watch on TV or where to go for dinner. If these kids believed that their mother would not like the places or choices, then neither did these teenage children. They would often refuse to spend time with their father, eat dinner with their father, or even watch television with their once cherished dad.
Prior to The failure of the marriage the kids had a close, loving relationship with both of their parents. Now their father was a loathsome creature, not worthy of consideration, care or love.
Once the divorce was final, the children completely cut their father out of their lives. They also renounced all ties with their paternal family. As well as daddy’s friends from around town.
Heartbroken, he could not understand how children he loved so deeply could turn their back on him in such a way?! How could they forget him on Father’s Day?! His birthday?! pretty much every day? His friends said, “give them time, they will come around you will see” … But they never did, until one day when his worst fear was realized.
Yes, he had just learned he had cancer, his time on earth was short.
He now reeled in the pain of regret. He was suddenly overwhelmed with regretful sadness of not BEING THERE because of their attitude towards him. Suddenly He regretted as he realized he had a right to attend every birthday, that he had not insisted upon attending even the smallest event even if it meant watching quietly from the back of the room, without drawing undue attention. He regretted missing things like graduation, their first play, their wedding day, and the birth of his grandchildren. He missed it all because he was “Waiting for them to come around”.
The pain of his suffering didn’t bode well in his battle against the big “C”. He suffered now not only from cancer but from depression as well.
A friend of the family took it upon himself to call his children to tell them it was time.
Now as adults, they rallied around him and he was in awe of them. His love for his children left him in tears every night when they left the hospital. He hung on every word they spoke, memorized every story that they told, each memory recalled, or thing they joked about; all the time he had missed “Waiting for Them to Come Around” was now laid before him by two strangers he now knew less about than he knew about his attending nurse.
Before his diagnosis he had been seeing a woman and really enjoyed her company. He asked her to marry him just two days before those terrible test results came back, she had agreed, but no date was set due to his diagnosis and the sudden the appearance of his formerly lost children. They seem to permeate every aspect of his now cut short life. They took over and routed her out. He was unable or unwilling to to limit this sudden attention of his adult children in this the final stage of his life. So every day he laid back and memorized everything about his long lost children. All the while forsaking the love of his present. Why should he care about the future? He reasoned for he had no future. It was this sudden, unexpected, and long dreamed about arrival in his present that he was so stunned by that really nothing else mattered to him. Forsaking all others, he simply watched his children as he rapidly faded and died.
Because of state laws the actual people in charge of the funeral where his children. Even though they knew nothing of his desires for internment. they had not asked him if he wanted to be buried or cremated, and once again due to his amazement of their sudden appearance in his life, he never mentioned how he wanted his funeral handled. Even if he had told them how he wanted his body handled or how he wanted his estate handled, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have cared. He was after all nothing more than a stranger whom they shared genetic code with . They really didn’t remember him from their childhood. He had not attended any important events and didn’t even know their spouses so they thought nothing of having him cremated and throwing his ashes in the middle of a lake. How were they to know that he could not even swim?
The next day, the children cleaned out their father’s home . Swiftly, carelessly removing items that were quite obviously items belonging to his fiancé. They placed everything with the state seller who could get rid of all of his stuff within a week and for a nominal fee. Next they hired a real estate agent sold his property and split the money three ways mom and two kids.
No one thought about his parents, their paternal family. Sadly they hadn’t seen or cared to hear from their father’s parents, their own grandparents, in years. The grandparents did not get to attend the funeral, did not get to say goodbye to their son, and in fact they never again saw their grandchildren.
Sadly, they learned of their sons death by reading an obituary in the newspaper mailed by a friend some 10 days after the funeral.
They weren’t really that close to him but they definitely loved him. They always sent their grandchildren birthday, Christmas, and other occasional cards with money inside. They did this despite never receiving A card, a return reply, “Thank You” call or correspondence. Their son wrote to them often but since his divorce had remained aloof.
One friend said: “Who disowns their own grandmother?”
Alienated children, that’s who.
They came back into their father’s life just long enough to benefit from his death; conveniently showing up so that hospital staff and social workers would defer to his kids instead of a truly involved, mother, father, sister, brother, fiancé or other relative for his final wishes. Oh, They came around all right, just not in the way he thought they would.
I’m sure, in the mind of an alienated child, this is acceptable and maybe even normal behavior. After all they were taught daddy is a lowlife and he ruined our family so now they’re going to get what they feel they deserve.
That concept is One of the most frightening and abhorrent things about Parental Alienation victims behaviors: it is mystifying and wrong in every aspect. No matter if you’re the alienator, the alienated or an adult, untreated, child of acrimonious divorce, you do not comprehend A true family unit or fully understand how families should work, Sadly many of you do you not know at all what real love is like.
It isn’t just the children who need help it’s the alienator the ex-spouse, or even someone else involved in the situation such as an in-law or a stepparent if they participate in alienating behavior they need help. The estranged ex-spouse certainly needs help, and don’t ever forget the children because they are our future and if they don’t know how to love this world is in serious trouble.
the children think their behavior is natural and ordinary. Is it typical for a person to disown half of their family? When you’ve been raised by an alienating parent, unfortunately, the answer is yes Source: Waiting until illness descends upon a Targeted Parent
A general view of The Ministry of Justice building Joanna Morris / Thursday 3 December 2015 / News Published Thursday 3 December 2015 / News THE family courts are damaging children and vulnerable families by failing to enforce their own orders, says a Darlington woman. The woman, who did not want to be named, and […]
Source: The Missing Years
Alienation is a cruel experience because it removes from a child or young person the opportunity to engage with all of the aspects of people who love them in ways that enable them to accept that people can do good and bad things. It causes children and young people to adopt coping mechanisms of cutting out or running off, of avoidance of conflict and of heightened self righteousness in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the brain of the child, the critical firing of neurons and synapses fails to take place and the opportunity to build conflict resolution skills, perspective and a strong sense of self is lost. The false self which emerges through the missing years when a child is alienated is a ghost like persona, fragile and uncertain, masking fears and anxieties and a sense of self which is both over inflated and crumbling all at the same time. What happens to children and young people who are pushed into an alienation reaction is that so much more is lost than the relationship with a once loved parent. That is why prevention of this harm done to children is so essential, those missing years steal more than love from a parent, they steal the very chance a child has to build a normal and secure sense of self.
I work with children who are being alienated, who are alienated and who are struggling to recover from alienation. I meet them almost daily in my work and I understand that what they are experiencing is a complex trauma which is deeply hidden from the outside world. So well hidden in fact that most of the children I work with do not know it is there and most of them would tell me and anyone else who asks them that they do not need help thank you very much, apart from help in removing the target of their hatred from their lives. Work in such circumstances is counter intuitive, it is against the grain of what we are taught in our society and what we believe about children. A child’s decision to eradicate a parent is often accepted on the basis that the parent must have done something bad or that the child needs to be protected from conflict. If we only knew what we were condemning children to when we allow this to happen, many more of us would work harder, strive longer and find more creative ways of keeping children engaged with the parent they have ‘chosen’ to be rid of in their lives.
There is increasing evidence which demonstrates that the underlying problems which arise as a result of rejecting a parent, leaves the child carrying a burden which grows heavier as they get older. Children who are allowed to reject a parent and pretend that the parent no longer exists, fail to learn many soft skills that are essential in life if one is to navigate the relational world successfully. Children who have been alienated grow up believing that only their perspective on the world is the true reality and that avoiding people who do not share their world view is a normal way to behave. As young people grow, those missing years of relationship with a parent means that they do not have the opportunity to learn that parents are people who provide boundaries and they miss the chance to respond normally to the differences which are eventually expressed between parents and their children on the road through to adulthood. This is why alienated children will eventually struggle. The vital relationships with provide them with the opportunity for healthy brain development which in turn gives them sound relational skills and capacity have been cut out of their lives. If only those working with families in these circumstances knew the extent of the damage being inflicted when a child’s ‘decision’ to reject a parent after separation is being upheld.
Recovery from being alienated is about being able to learn that people can behave in ways which are good and bad and that those behaviours do not need to trigger a defence mechanism of believing that bad behaviour means a person is wholly bad. This is an extraordinary task to achieve if the capacity of the brain is limited because a person has been using the coping mechanism of psychological splitting. There is evidence that people with personality disorders for example, do not have a well developed corpus callosum. This is a bridge which divides the two hemispheres of the brain and which is made up of a bundle of fibres which enable communication between the two sides of the brain. A well developed bridge assists with a balanced use of the brain, in studies however, people withborderline personality disorder are seen as having a less developed corpus callosum, as are those with high conflict personalities who lack the relational skills to see other people’s perspectives.
All of this evidence is convincing us at the Family Separation Clinic that what we see in children and young people who are attempting to reject or resist contact with a parent after separation are behaviours which will, if they are upheld, lead to longer term problems for the children concerned. Problems which will not be readily resolved because the missing years of that parental relationship and the lack of resolution of the child’s efforts to utilise a coping mechanism which is harmful, leads to a lasting gap in the child’s capacity to achieve positive and healthy brain function. Fortunately we also know that about the plasticity of the brain and its capacity to continue to grow and change. Which means that whilst those missing years can never be regained, there is a possibility for repair and recovery should the young person be enabled to resolve the splitting which prevents reconnection to the lost loved one.
Missing years, missing knowledge, missing opportunities to prevent harm being done to children in the critical years of their lives. Isn’t it time that someone noticed that the gap which opens up between parents after separation causes children to have to deal with something more than conflict?
This is another Huffington Post Blog for W/C February 15 2016