As I often do, I am reflecting on my current circumstances whilst writing this article. In terms of my current life stressors I am currently going through a high conflict divorce. I am also unjustifiably being denied any contact with my three beautiful children by my ex-partner. And I have recently returned to work following a three month period off sick with reactive, severe depression.

Both the high conflict divorce and my legal challenge to have some kind of contact with my children is resulting in an increasing amount of financial debt for me.

In terms of my children, the aim of their mother is continue to deny me any contact with my children. She ultimately plans to erase me from their lives and destroy what was previously a loving and healthy relationship between my children and I. The term for this set of behaviours being exhibited by my ex-partner towards me and my children is known as parental alienation and in this case it is severe. For those readers unfamiliar with this form of abuse see my What is PA? page

With regards to my depression, I am back at work but still in a phase of recovery. I am understandably being prevented by my employers from working any extra hours due to the current risk of relapse and the ongoing nature of the abovementioned stressors that triggered my depression.

By coincidence I am a mental health nurse on an adult acute psychiatric ward. Among many other mental health issues I see depression in numerous patients every day at work. So it was a surreal experience for me at the height of my recent depression to find myself a service user of mental health services. This topic is explored in more detail in my article below, recently published in Invisible Illness, entitled Roles Versus Labels.

I am fortunate enough to not be an anxious individual. Therefore this allows me to mostly reflect as opposed to ruminate negatively on all that I am attempting to manage and cope with to the best of my ability. In most aspects of life, when my mental health is stable I am an optimist, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. I am told by those close to me that I always seek a solution as opposed to dwelling on the problem.

With this in mind, I currently find my thought processes jumping from one subject to another in quick succession. I now find myself thinking about impairments of the mind and positive thinking. Please bear with me reader, the point will be made shortly. With autism there is what are known as triads of impairment. These so-called impairments summarise the difficulty of an individual with autism. They are an impairment in social interaction, restricted/repetitive patterns of behaviour and an impairment in social behaviours. This in turn got me thinking about a possibly new viewpoint in terms of facing, managaing and overcoming what at times appear overwhelming odds in managing ones own mental health.

“The family and close friends that remain are real, sincere, trustworthy and selfless. Without them I would not have recovered.”

First I would like to give the reader some context. During my recent bout of severe depression, when I was at my lowest ebb, I invariably shut myself down. As is often the case with depressive episodes I found myself denying the intensity of the way I felt. I found myself shutting off from my family and close friends. Family and friends, that no matter what would always be there for me.

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Due to the nature of parental alienation and my high conflict divorce friends and some family have ‘taken sides’ and are no longer there for me. However the family and close friends that remain are real, sincere, trustworthy and selfless. Without them I would not have recovered. Without them I would not be able to continue to face what lays ahead.

So this in turn brings me back to my new viewpoint. I dislike jargon, I dislike acronyms and I particularly dislike terminology for the sake of it. However my new view point is what I call The Triad of Empowerment. From my perspective this humble little concept of mine is the combination of, provision of and utilisation of care, love and compassion. Without which I would I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am with my continuing stressors.

In returning to my family and close friends, I am incredibly fortunate to have them. As a mental health nurse I see people struggle in times of acute crisis much more than me, and all too often they tragically have no one close to support them. My family and close friends have shown me unconditional care, love and compassion even at the most difficult of times of both them and myself. They continued to show me unconditional care, love and compassion even at times when I attempted to shun them.

The Oxford English dictionary defines care as ‘the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.’ 

That somewhat tricky word love is defined as simply being ‘a strong feeling of deep affection for somebody/something.’

And last but not least compassion is defined as ‘the concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’

“There is no substitute for true care, love and compassion from those that are truely there for you.”

So on reflection, it is these three attributes in others that I have come to value and appreciate the most in others. I now find myself having a deeper and more insightful understanding of care, love and compassion. I now feel able to identify better when people are expressing them sincerely. In addition to this I also now feel better equipped and more able to offer such attributes back to those in need in a much more meaningful and helpful manner.

At times life can be hard. But in my humble opinion there is no substitute for true care, love and compassion from those that are truely there for you.

Arthur Schopenhauer the 19th century German philosopher once said “compassion is the basis of morality.”

btg dad


Please Note: We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. Contact us for more details.

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made.

The Peace Not Pas Team

In my experience of battling parental alienation thus far I have come to realise the following: It is generally not recognised by the judicial system, dismissed by so called professionals, and underestimated even when recognised and documented as minimally as possible with phrases such as “exhibits alienating behaviours.” It appears to only be known by those affected by it.

So we have a set of behaviours that result in both short and long-term emotional damage of alienated children. But tragically no Government institution in the UK officially recognises and manages parental alienation effectively. For those readers that may not be familiar with the term parental alienation, please see here for a detailed definition.

However for those of us that are targeted parents, it is real. It is something we live with every day. As a parent, there is no worse emotional pain than being denied contact with your very own children. Severe parental alienation involves the alienating parent brainwashing the children into ultimately destroying any previously loving relationship between the children and the targeted parent. The emotional pain for the targeted parent is often described as grieving for children that are still alive.

“In most cases personality disorders are at the core of severe parental alienation.”

So I guess, in line with the title of this article we arrive at the following question. What drives the targeting parent to behave in such an abhorrent way towards, not just the ex-partner, but also their very own children.

The available research and evidence on parental alienation identifies that in most cases personality disorders are at the core of severe parental alienation. And herein lies the issue on non-recognition by numerous Western governments. The Family Court and social workers dismiss parental alienation because they all too often view it as a child custody issue as opposed to a child protection issue. In addition to this, neither of these professional fields have any understanding of mental health. And as such will be unfamiliar with the mental health concept of personality disorders. For example, early on in my own case my Cafcass social worker advised me “trust me, I’ve been doing this job for years, your ex will cool down, and in a couple of weeks she will come around to the idea of letting you see the kids.” That was the in the summer of 2016. To this day I am still pursuing contact with my children through the courts. My ex has not changed her approach. She continues to breach any Court Orders that promote or would result in contact between my children and I.

Due to the nature of divorce, particularly where children are involved, very few are free from anger, conflict and hostility. And all too often with parental alienation, it is not until separation that the targeting parent’s personality traits are fully revealed. To the extent that the behaviour being exhibited is vengeful, malevolent, dangerous and abusive.

So what are personality disorders? They are conditions whereby an individual will significantly differ from an average person. This is particularly in terms of how they feel, perceive, think and ultimately relate to others. Symptoms or negative behaviours are known to worsen in stressful situations. The British NHS states that “there is no single approach that suits everyone and treatment should be tailored to the individual.” This evidence based statement is clearly not considered by the ‘one size fits all approach’ provided by Cafcass. The futile and misinformed approach from Cafcass is to send both the targeted and targeting parent on co-parenting courses with the intention of modifying behaviours. However in cases of severe parental alienation that involve the targeting parent potentially presenting with personality disorder traits, such interventions will have no effect  on the alienator.

The following types of personality disorders are most prevalent in terms of the alienating parent in cases of severe parental alienation:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder will present itself as an individual exhibiting grandiose beliefs about themselves, regardless of whether they are real or imagined. The narcissist is completely lacking in empathy for others. And is normally totally consumed with self-gratification. Available research suggests that this type of personality disorder is most common in terms of the alienating parent of severe parental alienation.

Sociopathic Personality Disorder generally presents itself as a flagrant  disregard for the rights and needs of others. In terms of parental alienation, this will normally present as the targeting parent brainwashing a child/children against the targeted parent, therefore engaging in psychopathic behaviour.

Psychopathic Personality Disorder in terms of the personal traits can be quite similar that of a sociopath. However where sociopaths appear more normal, psychopaths are believed to be born with behavioural differences such as impulsiveness and under-arousal. Such characteristics can result in a lack of fear, resulting in risk behaviours and a lack of recognition or understanding of social norms.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is often referred to, within psychiatry as psychopathy or sociopathy.  Individuals with this disorder tend to have a complete lack of empathy and exhibit contempt for others’ sufferings, rights and feelings. In most cases they present as arrogant. They also have a tendency to believe productive work is beneath them. They are also known to be highly opinionated.

Borderline Personality Disorder normally presents with very impulsive behaviours. A distinctive trait is repeating pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships. Individuals affected by this disorder tend to fluctuate between opposite and polar feelings and behaviours. In terms of parental alienation, it is typical for the targeting parent to become consumed with the manipulation of others. While at the same time taking measures to protect themselves against any threats against them, whether real or imagined.

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So if we’ve explored what makes an alienating parent, it is only fair we look at what makes a targeted parent.

“The experience of being removed as a loving parent strikes at the heart of any loving parent.”

Targeted parents will be subjected to shame and stigma usually due to the character assassination implemented by the targeting parent and their enablers. The alienated parent normally has allegations of emotional, physical and sexual abuse made against them by the targeting parent. This is done to kickstart a safeguarding referral that invariably results in court ordered non-contact, while the allegations are investigated. However for the targeting parent this provides time for initial alienating behaviours on the children. It is worth noting that such allegations are virtually always disproved (Baker, 2005).

The experience of being removed as a loving parent from the life of one’s child due to a court order based on false allegations strikes at the heart of any loving parent. Statistically suicide rates are reported to be of epidemic proportions among parents going through such circumstances. This is of particular concern for fathers, who struggle to fight for a loving relationship with their children (Kposowa, 2000; Kposowa, 2003).

Parental alienation is arguably not a gender specific issue. However due to socio-economic reasons and a cultural and professional biased towards parental stereotyping, statistically (in the UK) most alienated parents are non-residential fathers. This in itself creates a separate issue. Research informs us of an alienated father’s most pressing need; their justifiable need to be involved with their children’s lives, remains unrecognised and unsupported across the professional field. The expectation and patterns of traditional gender-role socialisation creates a barrier in which fathers are not expected to acknowledge personal difficulties and request help. A pattern that all too often repeats itself across the field of men’s mental health. Even respectfully disregarding the suicide rates, such alienation all too often leads to the alienated parent giving up the fight for contact with their children (Lowenstein, 2007). This point is explored in more depth in an earlier post of mine Can there ever be any excuse for parental alienation?

“I had stumbled across an online community with an indescribable outpouring of support, advice and compassion for one another.”

From my own experience as an alienated parent and having sought out specific support, my conclusion is that there is neither support or recognition from any formal or government sanctioned services for alienated parents. So at this point I looked online for support and advice. And what I found was astounding. I stumbled across an incalculable number of alienated parents across the developed world passionately campaigning, advocating and pleading online for some kind of social change that will effectively challenge the abuse that is parental alienation. This was an online world I never existed. This is explored further in an earlier article of mine The Awe-inspiring Online Community of Parental Alienation.

Ultimately I had stumbled across an online community with an indescribable outpouring of support, advice and compassion for one another. This in turn provided me with an invaluable insight into what makes an alienated parent. The support, sharing of advice and overall feeling of camaraderie is astounding.

From my own engagement with other alienated parents, both on and off line I have realised the following. What makes an alienated parent is compassion, strength, resilience, empathy and ultimately support for one another. However in battling parental alienation, particularly when severe, both sides are just as determined as one another, but ultimately for different reasons. One for good and one for bad.

Mahatma Gandhi once said “when I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

The Peace Not Pas Team

Anyone that has ever experienced depression may well be guilty of it. Family and friends may have witnessed their loved ones guilty of it. As the title suggests I am exploring the denial of depression.

In the beginning of 2017 I experienced a severe period of depression, lasting approximately three months. My marriage broke down the previous year. And since then I have been denied any contact with my three young children by their mother. This form of contact denial is known as parental alienation. The discussion and definition of this form of abuse is beyond the scope of this article. See blog page entitled What is PAS? for more details.

“I myself succumbed to the denial of depression.”

My depression was triggered by the contact denial regarding my children. I had never experienced any form of depression before. I am still battling the contact denial while at the same time managing my depression, but the depression is no longer severe. I am a psychiatric nurse, therefore I am all too aware of the signs and symptoms of depression. However, despite this I succumbed to the belief that I was not depressed. I myself succumbed to the denial of depression.

At that time a work colleague respectfully challenged my denial of being depressed. I attempted to reassure her with a certain amount of misplaced conviction, that I was not depressed, I was simply sad. Despite both our clinical understanding of the difference between sadness and depression, I remained relentless in my denial of depression. At the time of my denial I was pushing myself to my absolute physical and mental limits. I was working long days and sometimes six or seven days a week.

This period of relentless exertion, denial and lack of insight lasted a couple of months until the depression hit me fully like a sledgehammer. As mentioned above I witness depression in others every single day. But to experience it for myself was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

It is incredily difficult to describe the nature of depression to those that have not come across it or experienced it themselves. Sadness can be defined as a sense of unhappiness and discontentment. Depression however is akin to a feeling of nothingness. A complete and utter lack of purpose. It is almost as if depression works as an evil force in pushing you away from loved ones, friends and family. It forces you to close in on yourself. It is all consuming and mentally and physically taxing.

DenialofDepression

As soon as the depression hit me, the denial was no more. I could no longer justify the denial to myself or others. The onset of severe depression for me was obvious. I had simply denied any correlation between my life’s stressors at the time and my impending and inevitable fall into depression. I now recognise my own reasons for such denial; I needed to work as much as possible to earn money for legal fees to pursue contact with my children. If I had allowed myself to recognise that, or even admitted it to my employers, they would have prevented me from working longer hours in the interests of my own well-being.

On reflection I have come to realise that there is another reason I was in denial. I thought I was stronger than I was. I thought I could carry on unaffected by the stressors that were having such a negative impact on my mental health. I thought I could shut them out, even dismiss them for a later time. I attempted to use work as a distraction and a money machine, instead of seeking the appropriate help and support. I believe I remained in denial for good intentions. But at the same time I felt that I did not want to let anyone down, especially my children, who I am still pursuing contact with through the courts.

“There is no shame or harm in admitting that one is unable to cope with certain life stressors.”

However from this I have learnt several valuable lessons. We all have our battles in life to fight. But we are unable to fight them unless we take care of ourselves first and foremost. We are unable to fight life’s battles unless we allow others to help and support us through tough times. There is no shame or harm in admitting that one is unable to cope with certain life stressors. Stress, anxiety and depression by their very nature are such subjective concepts. We all react to them differently.

To conclude, individuals reacting to them differently is not necessarily the issue. However refusing to recognise them to the detriment of our own mental health is the problem.

Stephen Fry the English comedian, actor and writer once said the folllowing of depression. “Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

For those readers not familiar with my blog I have now not seen my three beautiful children for over 13 months. This is due to my ex-partner and mother of my children breaching numerous Court Orders and ‘successfully’ denying me contact with my children. Like so many other alienated parents out there, my case is one of severe parental alienation. For those unfamiliar with this form of abuse see here for a more detailed definition.

So in returning to the subject of this particular post I recently put in a complaint to Cafcass (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). Cafcass is a government run body that claims to look after the interests of children involved in family proceedings.

First I would like to present the reader with some context. As stated above I have not seen my children for 13 months. Cafcass have evidence that my ex-partner is emotionally abusing my children by alienating them against me and Cafcass are failing to protect my children from this abuse. Cafcass lack the expertise, clinical knowledge and experience to deal with such cases. They continue to view such cases as child custody issues as opposed to child protection. They continue to believe such cases should be managed by social workers as opposed to mental health practitioners. Anyway these arguments are for another day.

And so, with my increasing concerns for the welfare of my children combined with Cafcass’ increasing incompetence and negligence I took it upon myself, several weeks ago to email the Senior Service Manager of my local Cafcass office with the following questions via email. In the interests of confidentiality and professionalism I will refer to the Senior Service Manager as Groucho Marx:

Dear Groucho Marx,

Could you please provide me with answers to the following questions please.

  • Can someone from Cafcass please explain why there is such a difference between theory and practice that has allowed this alienation to go on unchallenged for just over a year. 
  • Can someone from Cafcass please explain why Cafcass practitioners are clearly not knowledgeable enough to recognise parental alienation.
  • Could you please explain to me your professional understanding of the difference between acute, significant and chronic harm
  • Could you please explain the criteria, assessment process and formulation used to differentiate between these different forms and degrees of abuse.

Kind Regards

btg dad

GrouchoMarxComplaint
Groucho Marx

I left it a couple of days. Suffice to say I received no reply from Groucho Marx. I emailed it again directly to Groucho Marx. I left it a couple more days, still no reply. I left it another couple of days and sent it yet again to Groucho Marx. Totally predictable I know, but guess what, still no reply.

So I then put in an official complaint to Cafcass politely inquiring as to why Groucho Marx, or anyone for that matter was unwilling or unable to answer any of my questions. One would think that was a reasonable question to ask considering the complexities of my case. The following is my reply from the Cafcass Complaints Department about 5 days later:

Dear btg dad,

Thank you for your email dated #############.

We note your comments, however, we have nothing further to add.

Kind regards,

Customer Services Team


So I found myself sitting in front of this email thinking to myself, who the fuck does this organisation think it is. An organisation that claims to look after the interests of children involved in family proceedings, my arse!

So there and then I decided to telephone the Cafcass Complaints Department directly.

The following is not simply my own recollection of the numerous conversations, but a transcript as I took the liberty of recording all the phonecalls:

Phonecall No. 1:

Me: I explained the situation and put my point across that the emailed response from the Complaints Department was completely unacceptable.

Call Operator No. 1: “Have you actually received a response from us regarding your complaint?”

Me: “Yes I have had a response. But the response doesn’t help me in anyway. It doesn’t answer any of my questions. I find the response not actually answering any of my questions. The response actually implies that the complaint is now shut down.”

Call Operator No. 1: “But sounds like you’ve got some kind of response.”

Me: “But what’s the response though? I’ve asked them several questions and they haven’t answered any of them.”

Call Operator No. 1: “Let me see if I can speak to that team.” [She puts me on hold and then puts me through to a different person.]

Call Operator No. 2: “I just want to clarify that you have actually received a response from the complaints team?”

Me: “Yes I have had a response, yes. Because my case hasn’t had a case manager for over six months I have been in contact with Groucho Marx. He recently made some comments that I want to clarify, discuss further and get some questions answered.” [I then give another long winded account of my current circumstances. Then I read out the email response to her I received from the Complaints Department]. “The response is astounding because i dont really know where to go with this as Cafcass are supposed to be helping me.

Call Operator No. 2 attempts to interrupt me at this point.

Me: “Please let me finish, I then received a further email stating that this response has been quality assured” [I know what you’re thinking, this shit is unbelievable right!] I continued with my point… “It is unbelievable that the response from the Complaints Department that didn’t answer any of my questions has been quality assured. So I emailed back to the Complaints Department stating you still havent answered any of my questions!”

Call Operator No. 2: “We have heads of departments that oversee the complaints we receive. Each complaint comes in centrally to one location. There are a team of customer service managers that respond.”

Me: “So is it that my complaint has now been closed. No one’s going to answer these questions, or is it still open? Someone is clinically  able to make certain statements but when questions are raised in response to these questions it feels like they are just not able or willing to answer any of these questions.”

Call Operator No. 2: “I just want to clarify the these questions that you asked Groucho Marx, are they just questions or are you raising a complaint?”

Me: [I tell her the same story again.] “I have clinical questions about Cafcass. I am a service user of Cafcass I have the right to ask clinical questions about the practice of Cafcass. But no one is being supportive of this request.”

Call Operator No. 2: “We have a one step process in terms of dealing with complaints. Once we have dealt with a particular issue we will not revisit it again.”

Me: “But you haven’t dealt with the issue that I’m raising have you? I’m not leaving this phonecall until someone answers these questions.”

Call Operator No. 2: “What I can advise you regarding this particular call is that I’m not going to be able to answer these questions for you.”

Me: “So can you put me through to someone that can…”

Call Operator No. 2: [She then starts to talk over me] “This is is what’s going to happen. I’m going to take these questions and send them to our ‘enhanced service manager’ and actually get them to look at the complaint that is on file and then come back to you. And that will be done by email.”

Me: “When should I expect a reply and are they going to be able to answer my questions.”

Call Operator No. 2: “I can’t advise you what the response is going to be, I’m telling you that I’m going to forward this information on.”

Me: “So you’re saying you’re not sure they are going to be able to answer the questions but hopefully they can?”

Call Operator No. 2: “I can’t guarantee what the level of response will be. Thank you very much.”

Me: “Please don’t hang up on me.”

Call Operator No. 2: “Thank you goodbye.” [She ends the call.]

I then call the complaints department straight back again. I repeat my story of my current circumstances and get put through to someone from the Complaints Department yet again.

Call Operator No. 3: “You will get a response today responding to your complaint, it will be via email.”

Me: “Ok, but will they be able to answer my questions?”

Call Operator No. 3: “They didnt go into any detail?”

Me: “The problem is that we just go round in circles. Ive already had…” [I start to tell her the same story again, she interrupts me at this point.]

Call Operator No. 3: “So it will be in response to your conversations today.”

Me: “So will they be able to answer my questions then?”

Call Operator No. 3: “They will respond by email.”

Me: “If they respond by email, and still don’t answer these questions then nothing is achieved. The frustrating thing is that I dont actually get to speak to anyone that can help me.”

Call Operator No. 3: “If I was you I would just wait and see until you get the email.”

Me: “But I just want to speak to someone who can help me.”

Call Operator No. 3: “Well you spoke to someone earlier didnt you?”

Me: “Yeah but they were unable to help me. I still get no answers to my questions.”

Call Operator No. 3: “I would just wait for the email, and it should be the response that you want.”

Me: “Well that’s highly unlikely. And then if it isn’t the response, as in answers to my questions, do I then need to do all this again tomorrow?

Call Operator No. 3: “Well all I can say is just wait for that response.”

Me: “So if they continue to not answer questions I have been asking for over a month do I just keep going through this procedure?”

Call Operator No. 3: “Well you could call the complaints call centre again.”

Me: “But the point is no one is able to answer the questions I am asking. I’m just wondering when I will actually get to speak to someone who is qualified enough to answer my questions.”

Call Operator No. 3: “Im not sure becauses I’m in the call centre.”

Me: “So do I just need to do this again tomorow when I get an email response that will probably not answer my questions. Is that what you are saying I should do?

Call Operator No. 3: “Yes I would advise calling the call centre again.”

Me: “Well that’s the whole point. I’ve done that before and it doesn’t get me anywhere.”

Call Operator No. 3: “I think you just need to be positive and wait for the email. Thank you.” [She ends the call immediately after her sentence.]

Now, I am an incredibly patient and determined individual. So I thought, lets call them back again!…

Me: [I give the same story, get put on hold then get put through to someone else.]

Call Operator No. 4: “I can give you the number for the ombudsman.”

Me: “But the ombudsman isn’t going to be able to answer my questions.”

Call Operator No. 4: “There is nothing more I can do for you I am just in a call centre.”

Me: “So I need to go through an ombudsman to get answers about Cafcass?”

Call Operator No. 4: “We have already sent our response.”

Me: “But it wasn’t a response, I asked questions and no one answered them.”

Call Operator No. 4: “Okay, but that was the response they sent to you.”

Me “But that response is insufficient.”

Call Operator No. 4: “Ok this is somethng you need to bring up with the ombudsman.”

Me: “There must be someone there more senior I can speak to. Cafacass are supposed to be an organisation that safeguards children, I have concerns but I’m not able to speak to anyone directly about these concerns.”

Call Operator No. 4: “Because we have sent you a response there is nothing more we can do.”

[At this point I then hear a faint male voice in the background instructing the call operator to end the call.]

Me: “Can I speak to the person that is speaking to you in the background?”

Call Operator No. 4: “Theres nothing more I can do I’m afraid.”

Me: “You didnt answer my question, can I speak to the person that I can clearly hear in the background?”

Call Operator No. 4: “Unfortunately you can’t.”

Me: “I just find this whole process incredibly frustrating…” [she interrupts me.]

Call Operator No. 4: “Okay there is nothing else I can do” [I can clearly hear a male voice in the background telling her “end the call, end the call.”] Call Operator No. 4 then says “thank you for your call” [and then she hangs up on me.]

I then call back again, believe it or not:

Call Operator No. 5: “How can I help you?”

Me: [I explain yet again my circumstances.]

Call Operator No. 5: “I understand sir that you have recently spoken to my colleague and I cannot give any further information.”

Me: “I know what youre going to say. People keep hanging up on me. I’m not being aggresive, I’m not agitated, I’m not getting irritated. The last person I spoke to wouldn’t let me finish my sentence and cut me off.” [Call Operator No. 5 attempts to interrupt me]Can you please not interrupt me, can you please let me finish my sentence?”

Call Operator No. 5: “Certainly sir.”

Me: “Can you please put me through to my Case Manager?”

Call Operator No. 5: “No you need to speak to the ombudsman sir. That is your next point of call and I need to be quite firm in that. There is nothing we can do here. I am unable to put you through to anyone.”

Me: “Okay, lets forget the complaint, can I just speak to my Case Manager about the welfare of my children?”

Call Operator No. 5: “Just give me a moment and I will see what I can do. [Puts me on hold] “Well that request is outside of the complaint. Let me see if I can put you through.” [Puts me back on hold]. “Her line is busy sir, but what I can do is email the person you are requesting to speak to and ask them to call you back.

What else can I say! What a bunch of idiots! And the sad and tragic point is that this organisation’s aim is to safeguard children.

The American writer Walter Dean Myers once said “idiots don’t know they’re idiots, which is unfortunate.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

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The Peace Not Pas Team

Since Chris Cornell’s death on 18th May 2017 I have been considering whether to write about it or not. I decided to reflect on this decision for a while and consider what it was I actually wanted to express, discuss and disclose.

As a music fan I first came across Chris Cornell as a musician with my purchase of the self titled album Temple of Dog which was released in 1991. This album blew my mind, Temple of the Dog is without doubt one of my all time favourite albums. The sheer quality of the songs, the vocal arrangements between the two vocalists is phenomenal, along with the underlying message of the album itself.

ChrisCornell.jpg
Credit: Central Mo News

The album was a tribute to Andrew Wood, the former lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone. Andrew Wood died in March 1990 due to a heroin overdose. Having been a close friend of Andrew Wood, Chris Cornell gathered together musicians to form Temple of the Dog. The line-up included former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament. Soundgarden and later Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron was also involved. Newcomers Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder were also included due to their involvement with a project with Ament and Gossard, a project that would become Pearl Jam.

“As with any suicide the Cornell family are seeking answers.”

What went through the mind of Chris Cornell on that fateful night, only he knows. Cornell’s post mortem toxicology report notes that there were seven different drugs in his system, including a significant dose of the anxiety medicine lorazepam (Ativan). However “these drugs did not contribute to the cause of death” was the statement of the medical examiner.

As with any suicide the Cornell family are seeking answers. They have previously blamed the rare side effects of lorazepam, that includes suicidal thoughts. However the medical examiner noted that the level of lorazepam in Cornell’s blood was not high enough to suggest a correlation between the drug and the possibility of such side effects. Chris did on occassions talk openly about his depression. But for those unfamiliar with the complexities of mental health, the obvious question may arise “why would someone, in one of the biggest bands in world, married with three beautiful children want to kill themselves?”

I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m just a humble mental health nurse that works on an acute psychiatric ward. My own understanding of intentional suicide is simple but tragic. For whatever reason, an individual finds themself in a deep, dark and despairing state of mind. At this point the individual has lost all hope of recovery. The pain is all-consuming. This pain is so intense, so immense, that the only way out is to end their life.

The writing of this article has prompted me to reflect on a past experience at work. Sometime ago we had a particular patient with us for a number of weeks. This patient was so acutely unwell, that he was absolutely determined to kill himself by whatever means he could find. Suffice to say this individual was placed on what is known as an arms length constant. There is one particular incident regarding this patient that will always stay with me. On this particular shift this patient attempted to ligature himself to death (as he attempted to do on a daily basis). An alarm was pulled by staff and additional staff immediately responded. Once the immediate risk had been managed I found myself in the company of the patient and two nursing assistants, in an attempt to continue to de-escalate the patient’s obvious anxiety.

“Fuck that bullshit, such academic bollocks is irrelevant in such extreme circumstances.”

Now I’m normally quite articulate with my words, but it is incredibly difficult to describe in words the compassion, empathy, kindness and overall unconditional positive regard these two nursing assistants showed this patient. Now I have a first class honours degree in mental health nursing. Fuck that bullshit, such academic bollocks is irrelevant in such extreme circumstances. I learnt more from the way those two nursing assistants spoke to that patient than I could ever have hoped to learn from my nursing degree. Their overall approach, demeanour and care for this individual on that particular day will stay with me forever. I am honoured to count these two members of staff as close friends of mine. And they in turn have been there for me in recent times, and I am eternally grateful for their love and support.

So in returning to Chris Cornell we still have no answer. All too often suicide occurs due to our ability to put on a brave face that dangerously hides any or all of the pain and torture being experienced.

To conclude, I think we all need to be talking about mental health more. Whether that be in a public or private capacity. Stating the obvious, the more we are there for each other the better.

The lyrics from Say Hello to Heaven speak for themselves:

“And he hurt so bad like a soul breaking, but he never said nothing to me.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

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The Peace Not Pas Team

All too often I find myself reflecting on recent events in my life. Arguably, this could be called pro-crastination, but I prefer to see it as self-reflection.

During such a recent period of self-reflection (okay, lets call it pro-crastination for arguments sake!) I considered the recent positives in my life that have come out of this ongoing battle of mine against parental alienation. This in itself presents itself as somewhat of a paradox. The very idea that a physically and mentally draining battle to simply be a father to my three beautiful children has provided me with beneficial opportunities that I would otherwise have not been presented with.

“Although the tragedy of losing a child was never really minimised, there was in fact a personal gain within the loss itself for many of the parents.”

I recently read an article that informed me that the above idea I was reflecting on is known within psycological terms as post-traumatic growth. This term was coined in 1995 by Richard Tedeschi, PhD and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD to focus on the concept of one growing as a result of managing trauma. This term came from a decade long study of theirs regarding bereaved parents. Their findings were that although the tragedy of losing a child was never really minimised, there was in fact a personal gain within the loss itself for many of the parents.

Tedeschi and Calhoun found that some of the parents in their study chose to extract meaning from their loss. These parents found themselves moving towards and engaging in activism and acts of compassion and altruism that they wouldn’t have otherwise found themselves engaging in had they not experienced their trauma.

Targeted parents affected by parental alienation often describe their suffering and trauma as that of grieving for children that are still alive. As such I can see a clear parallel between Tedeschi and Calhouns’ observations of their grieving parents altruistic behaviours and that of the behaviours of alienated parents I have come across. There is an incalculable number of alienated parents across the developed world passionately campaigning, advocating and pleading online for some kind of social change that will effectively challenge the abuse that is parental alienation. They also ultimately showing, providing support for others in similar cicumstances. I have covered this subject in more detail in a previous article entitled The Awe-Inspiring Online Community of Parental Alienation.

In returning to the discussion of positive opportunities that present themselves from traumatic events, it could be argued that we have some kind of influence on our environment and in turn can often maximize our odds of a favorable outcome with good information in any given situation. However due to the very nature of life itself there will always be a chance factor. Trauma can occur to anyone of us and invariably it will be unexpected. In such cases we have little to no control over such events.

“The key component in attempting to maintain a realistic level of stability with regards to our own happines, is our ability to adjust our expectations.”

We can, however, to some degree control our responses. In such situations we are faced with two options: We can choose to respond with a sense of acceptance and seek meaning and growth. Or alternatively, we ultimately give in to such circumstances. In essence the resulting response will be the difference and all too often a pivotal point in one’s life. At the risk of stating the obvious how we respond will affect the way we feel. And how we feel will ultimately determine whether or not we are unhappy with our life overall.

The argument I’m putting forward here is that the key component in attempting to maintain a realistic level of stability with regards to our own happines, is our ability to adjust our expectations. The point being that we can attempt to limit our unhappiness by cultivating our ability to constantly adjust our internal expectations.

Any resulting feeling that we experience in response to an event will generally fall into two categories: good and bad. Over time, good feelings will collectively nurture and encourage conditions for what we define as happiness. And obviously too many bad feelings are the cause of unhappiness.

An easier way of viewing this last point is to view good and positive feelings as sensations and emotions that occur when reality meets or exceeds our internal subjective expectations. And with that in mind, the point is that bad and negative feelings as sensations and emotions occur when reality falls short of our internal subjective expectations.

So in essence, it all comes down to our internal subjective expectations. Many of those that subscribe to this point of view often allow themselves to come to an all too easy conclusion. And that is that the key to happiness is to have low expectations. With this point of view the objective reality almost always meets or exceeds internal subjective expectations. And on the surface, at least, it should make sense.

However, here in lies the problem. Living a life with low expectations is just not feasible. For example. If a professional football player started every match not expecting to play to their best, they likely wouldn’t stay a professional fotball player for much longer.

“Periods of unhappiness are required for true happiness to be much more appreciated.”

Therefore the argument shouldn’t be to eliminate happiness, but in actual fact to limit it. In reality, elimination of happiness would just not be sustainable. And more importantly, periods of unhappiness are required for true happiness to be much more appreciated.

So therefore, arguably the secret lies in our ability to modify and adjust the level of our expectations when such a shortfall presents itself to us. In simpler terms, we must allow ourselves to be flexible in how we manage and navigate our perception as and when various scenarios present themselves to us.

Most of us are aware that having meaningful relationships, purposeful work and gratitude are all key to a happy enough life. And all available research informs us that the way in which we perceive, understand and work towards happiness is very much driven by our genetic make-up. However the vast majority of us, attempt to pursue happiness in whichever way we believes suits us best. However my point here is that far too many of us don’t understand, comprehend or simply know enough about minimising happiness.

In order for anyone of us to have a good enough chance of reaching a reasonable level of happiness we must first familiarise ourselves with the strategies and actions that limit dissatisfaction in our lives.

“I used to see my three beautiful children every single day. I have now not seen them for over a year.”

And this is where I would like to re-introduce the link between the above discussion and managing the trauma that is parental alienation. If someone had told me in 2016 that my then partner and I would separate resulting in her denying me any contact with my children and then attempt to abduct them abroad, well of course I would not have believed them. However this is not the point I’m trying to make. The point is this, since 2016 I have had to, like so many other alienated parents deal with, manage and live with the traumatic fallout of the emotional abuse that is parental alienation. I used to see my three beautiful children every single day. I have now not seen them since 2016.

I fight day in and day out against a judicial and legal system that is out-dated, misinformed and ultimately not fit for purpose. This trauma, again like so many other alienated parents, has taken me through a severe depressive episode. However I now find myself in a different state of mind. I do not love my children any less. I do not miss them any less. I am no less motivated to fight to be a part of their lives. However, I have had to modify and adjust the level of my expectations regarding my ongoing battle against parental alienation. Either consciously or subconsciously I have become flexible in managing and navigating my own perceptions as and when certain battles are won or lost, regarding fighting parental alienation. The harsh reality is that I have had to accept that for the foreseeable future, however long that may be, that I no longer have the privilege of seeing my children everyday. In actual fact I do not see them at all. This is just one of the many harsh realities I have had to accept in order for me to have and maintain a certain amount of happiness in my life. During my severe depressive period I had no happiness at all. Obviously that was not sustainable in the long term.

To conclude, in order for me to cope and manage with the acceptance of such harsh realities, I have found myself extracting some kind of meaning from my loss. And this in turn is where we return to the theory of post-traumatic growth. Like so many other alienated parents I have found myself drawn towards and engaging in activism and campaigns for social change. I have also found utlising unused skills and even drawing on skills I was previously not aware of being in possession of. Despite my ongoing loss, there has been a personal gain, I have exponentially grown more as a person than had I not been dealt the cards I were given.

John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars writes “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

The Peace Not Pas Team

During my various meanderings on the internet, as part of my ongoing battle against parental alienation I have come across and networked with numerious people and groups. However most recently an opportunity to promote awareness of Parental Alienation has presented itself to me. For those unaware of what parental alienation is see here.

I have become friends with a Birmingham based (btw that’s Birmingham, UK) author by the name of Colin Ward.

He is about to release book, a crime thriller entitled To Die For. One of the story’s themes is that of human depravity. How we allow hatred to drive our thoughts and feelings and subsequently how we treat one another. Another key theme of the story is Parental Alienation which Colin is incredibly passionate about.

ToDieFor

For more details regarding the book see Colin’s most recent promotional article here.

As all those affected by Parental Alienation know, this is a misunderstood, easily dismissed and ultimately evil form of abuse. And is in desperate need of being brought into the public domain for further discussion.

And this is where the anti-Parental Alienation online community come in. Not only should we be promoting and aiding a UK based novelist in promoting his new book, but also a book that has the subject of parental alienation as one of its core themes.

The paperback version is due out Mid-late August. Digital formats are available on

Amazon
iBooks
Google Play
Kobo
Barnes & Noble

There is also a book launch event at the Gunmaker’s Arms in Birmingham on 21st October later this year, Colin has asked me to give a talk on Parental Alienation.

For anyone passionate about writing, supporting local writers and of course promoting awareness of parental alienation please, please show your support by sharing, liking, retweeting this post. If you are able to make the event on the 21st that would be even better. Thank you and stay posted for more details.

Colin can be contacted/followed by the following means:

Twitter

Facebook

Medium

Colin’s dedication in his novel resonated with me, particularly in the context of parental alienation. For all those voices silenced by hatred, in the hope that one day they might be heard again by love.”

btg dad

(Photography use by kind permission from David Sturchley, Fluid Arts and Gary S. Crutchley)


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

Before discussing this question, please allow me to put this into context for those readers that may not be familiar with this blog.

I am what is known as an alienated parent. Following the breakdown of my marriage my ex has ‘successfully’ prevented me from having any contact with my three beautiful young children for what is now a year. She has ‘brainwashed‘ them against me, and openly defies numerous Court Orders advocating direct contact me, with no legal consequence for her actions. She is in fact, as confirmed by the authorities involved, inflicting emotional abuse on my children on a daily basis.

This is the sad and tragic nature of parental alienation, for a more in-depth definition see here. I am one of an incalculable number of alienated parents out there. We all have our own story, but ultimately we are all fighting the same battle.

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An alienated parent will invariably find themselves being dragged through a multitude of emotions. Personal reflection is somewhat of a double-edged sword as one attempts to process and manage the associated thoughts and feelings.

One particular emotion that I myself find difficult to manage is guilt. The Oxford English dictionary defines guilt as a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation. Within the context of psychology guilt is viewed as a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realises (accurately or not) that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct.

“However as a loving parent this advice presents itself to me as somewhat of a paradox.”

During the last twelve months and on the advice of several healthcare professionals, I have tried  numerous coping mechanisms in an attempt to keep myself mentally well. Some were effective, some were ineffective. Ultimately the advice is to distract myself from the thoughts that bring me down, namely thinking about my children. However as a loving parent this advice presents itself to me as somewhat of a paradox. And this is where the feeling of guilt comes in.

I am a mental health nurse, so I am all too aware of the importance of distraction techniques and keeping myself mentally and physically well. However, regardless of how much I reflect on it and how irrational it sounds, thinking less about my children makes me feel that I am failing some way in my obligation as a loving father. The feeling that creeps up on me is that I have somehow compromised my own standards as a loving parent.

So, does thinking about your children less, mean you love them less?

Perhaps the answer can be found from Ayn Rand, the American-Russian novelist, philosopher and playwright who once said “the worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team