Facing life’s adversities and navigating new paths
This is not a story of airing dirty laundry. No mudslinging of any sort. It is a true but anonymized account of something that could happen to any parent.
I have three children. But, I have had no meaningful contact with any of them since summer 2016. This lack of contact was triggered by the separation and later divorce of my ex-partner and me.
I have now come to realize that this relationship was not just toxic. But also coercive, and involved elements of domestic violence.
Let me ask you. Did you assume the perpetrator was the father? I would of. This is due to my unconscious bias. Explained as follows: Unconscious bias is the descriptor of what happens when our brains make incredibly quick judgments of people and situations. And this happens without us realizing.
I was not the perpetrator. By leaving a toxic relationship I became an alienated parent. This occurs when parental alienation is the form of abuse being inflicted on a targeted parent and children. It is both a trigger and a consequence. Parental alienation has devastating long term effects on the mental health of the affected children.
The experience of being an alienated parent has led me down so many different paths. None of which I would have come across if it were not for the trauma. The trauma of being denied a relationship with my children.
I have always described the effects of being an alienated parent as a parent grieving for children that are still alive.
Some of the paths I have taken have been enlightening. Some have been cathartic. Some have been incredibly purposeful. And some of them have been a veritable dark and bottomless well of depression.
I recently walked a new path. Not a metaphorical one. A real one. I walked at least 2,000 steps (approximately 1 mile). From my home to the street that two of my alienated children walk down every day on their way home from school.
The path is through a forest, a stone’s throw from my home. This forest is a place of such natural beauty. And yet ironically leading me to a place where I knew I would experience rejection by two of my very own children.
I didn’t walk this path alone. On that day, I took my trusted companion, my Romanian rescue dog, Thor.
Thor and I reached our destination. Then I saw one of my sons. As he walked past I told him I loved him and that I missed him. He told me to go away, in what I perceived to be a very emotionally blunted manner.
Within minutes I saw my other son. I told him the same. He was not rude to me. He did not engage with me. But did not appear to be attempting to shut me down. I saw him go inside his home.
Thor and I both then both walked home.
While walking back through the forest path I reflected on what had occurred in the last hour.
I reflected on my children’s continuing rejection of me. I understand they are basing this on a false narrative.
I also decided that Thor and I will walk this path as often as it takes. My hopes and dreams are that if we continue with this path my children will benefit. They will benefit from a reconciliation of love, and attachment between themselves and me.
Originally published in Medium publication ‘Hopes & Dreams for Our Future‘ 10/06/19.