I am a reunited adult child.

I am a reunited adult child.  For thirty years of my life I was alienated from my mother. I am reunited now. As a result I am no longer wrestling with demons and ghosts. I was used by my father and his mother, to replace the girl child she had never given birth to. She took me and he let her, as compensation for that.

I was alienated from my mother in one single moment, in one single minute, in one single hour, of one single day.  I recall it, relive it, remember it now. For thirty years I had no way of knowing what had done to me or why.  All I knew was that anger and blame and something not right, severed my love for my mother and trust and belief.  Looking back I see how the trigger was pulled and advantage was taken and I, as a trophy, was won.  ‘One of us’ I heard them all say, and in from the cold and surrounded by safety and warmth, that’s how I felt, (for most of the time).

Cut out and cut off and in danger.  At times a cold wind would howl through my bones as I glimpsed the reality of what I was facing.  Some days the love that wound round my heart and the sense of belonging would fail me and leave me and show me the truth of what my life was.  Though they claimed me as ‘theirs’ the truth was that I wasn’t. I had ears and eyes and noticed the things that I wasn’t supposed to be able to see. For the first decade apart from my mother, I found myself wandering in a parallel world, playing someone I was never been destined to be.  Loss of love and of roots and of safety, I was living with people with secrets and lies in their lives.

In the second ten years apart from my mother I gave birth to my own child and found with a rush and a shock that my love and my memories came right to the surface and I battled confusion and shame and desire to put what was wrong back to rights.  Each time I tried though the barriers set up by my mother’s frustration, resentment and blame put up walls that were too high to climb and too wide and to long to find a way round. I had hurt her and was hurt in return when I tried to repair, find a way, put things right.  My grandmother soothed me with ‘see, I was right, she’s selfish and she doesn’t love you like I do, come away, leave things be, you are one of us now.’

The death of the alienator didn’t release me, it couldn’t, I had no-one else to hang on to. Instead I was drowned in a sea where the waves crashed relentlessly down. The feeling inside was that no-one had loved me, I’d been kidnapped and kept and had fallen in love with my captors who used me for their needs not mine, the love that they gave me was hollow, no substance left nothing to stand on when life gave me lemons.  My grieving was complex and took over my life, something was wrong and I skirted round madness and pain as I tried to find something of me left inside.

Ten more years and I began the attempt to scale the wall of my mother’s hostility, a state that I now know as protection of self and of soul from the pain of the loss that she triggered with blame. Had I not been prepared as I had been, her words would have passed over and by me and whilst she was silly and selfish to do it, alienation would never have struck us had my mind not been altered by the stories they told me, things I should never have known. They laid a trap and she fell right into it.  She blamed me and her counter rejection of me kept things frozen. After twenty five years though I tried and she tried and somehow a crack in the deep frozen feelings began to arise.

Looking back I can see that this crack in the deep frozen feelings was managed.  My father, had plans and  in need of a proxy to free him, he wooed me and soothed me and persuaded me back. When he left and the bomb that blew up our lives left us sitting in fragments of sorrow and pain, my mother and I, without anyone else to assist us, began the long and the painful, piecing together and we found, in the doing of that two significant things –

1. I was used by my father, his mother and father and all of those people on that side of the family, as a weapon. I had never been loved, not really, not truly. I was used, as part of a campaign of hatred that hid terror and fear and things in the background that put children at risk. That side of my family was rotten and hid it by shining a light on the other side brightly. In the shadows each player moved pawns that kept secrets and lies and abuse under wraps. I had lived in a horror house, not just me, there were others. Projection of blame and alienation was how they kept secrets untold through the years.  My mother came too close to knowing.

2. The love that I felt for my mother didn’t die, it was wrapped in confusion and fear and in shame and in guilt.  Her love for me didn’t die either, as our fear of each other began melting away we found things that we liked and things that we didn’t like, things that are similar and much that is different. But we both found perspective and balance and for me finally, someone who loved me because I was me existed again.  The Kaleidescope pieces fell into place and my vision was clear. Three decades of questions and wondering, three decades of travelling a path that I never intended to take, thirty years of being used as a weapon and shield fell away.  And the love for my mother came spiralling upwards, twisting round roots which were gnarled and misshapen but there all the same to be smoothed out and polished and practiced and given again.

Thirty eight years ago I was taken, kidnapped in my mind and forced down a life path that never was mine. Now I am back on the path that I always intended to take and my mind and my heart and my soul are recovering, I am healthy and well, my perspective is good and my grieving is over.

Alienation hides fear and a deeply distorted reality and living it hurts and corrodes, it is damaging, exhausting and frightening.

When they come looking, your children need you to be healthy and well and willing to open your arms. However they hurt you, I beg you, whenever they come, open your arms and welcome them home. Their journey is hard and their lives are fragmented and their minds, so distorted and fractured and hurt are in need of one person who is healthy and well, with love in their heart, to sit with them.  They didn’t mean it, they never stopped loving you, they were forced on a path that was not theirs to take. Guide them home, dress their wounds, help them heal, give them peace and your love.

Without that I wouldn’t be here.


  1. I don’t cry easily. I’m a grown man.

    I don’t cry easily. Over the many many years of suffering my in-laws, I have had to become hard-hearted.

    Yes, the previous posts here made my stomach churn. But I just don’t cry.

    This post brought tears to my eyes. And I’m now about to cry.


    Thank you for sharing this Karen.


  2. … And, after reunification, Karen-who-was-lost went on to become Karen Woodall-world-leading-expert-on-PA that can put other so-called-professionals-and-experts to shame with her rate of successful reunifications ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome Kat, it’s not something I talk about often because it is about the people I work with not me, but it’s something that helps me to understand what is happening to the children that I work with. It is why I do what I do I guess though I was doing it before I was reunited, I guess the subconscious has the knowledge that the conscious mind cannot yet embrace and leads one to it in the end. In the end real love, well and healthy love, wins out. Had I not had my mother when I uncovered the truth of my life, I am not sure I would be here in the same way today, it is as clear and as simple for me as that.


  3. I wish I could believe that this will happen. As an alienated parent I dont think I will ever see them agein…


    1. Annamarie, I cannot say for certain because I don’t know your situation but it is rare in my experience, both personally and professionally that children (however severely rejecting), stay aliented forever. Do not give up hope, never stop loving, it isn’t their fault, PA is a terrrible thing to suffer as a child, you are their hope for the future. Thirty years is a long time for a mother and daughter to be so terribly separated, if you could see us now you would never believe it had happened. The magical thing for me is that mother holds memories that emerge in my mind and she is still here to share them with me, I cannot tell you how much that has helped me to heal. I have a mother who loves me, words that are still utterly magical to me and they will be to yours one day. Sending my support to you. K


    2. Annamarie, do NOT give up! As the Alienated Parent (Mother) it took 7 years. After 13 years of raising my daughters as a single mother, like Karen, in 1 day, 1 moment they both where gone. It was legal and I fought then to reverse what he had done, but my lack of $ to fight in court cost me both my girls. Not a word for 7 years. When the first hit college there was a reachout moment from her, but then nothing. Then when the youngest hit college (2 months ago) she reached out and now we are on the path. First I did not bring anything up. I had researched and studied on how/what to do on the day that I always had Faith would come. So, I stuck to it! Just talk of how they are ONLY. Now the talks get deeper into what they where told, the lies, the stories, the un-truths. – so please have Faith! – I only comment because I am now online searching for help dealing with the Alienator (their father). They are scared he will find out we’ve reconnect and explode on them. Christmas is coming and just last night I got an email. “Mom, when I come home from college I want to see you (and my side of the family) for Christmas, but I don’t know how. I can’t tell him (her dad) where I’m going he will flip out. – Be prepared! for the day they come to you and the days following that…. but always stay in Faith!


      1. Within the chaos of alienation, it’s always, ALWAYS, lovely to hear or read of a reunification. Well done for handling it so well! Here’s to hoping you and your children have a memorable, treasurable, lovely and safe (yes, safe regarding the alienator!) Christmas and beyond.

        The rest of us – our best hope, actually, IS to keep our hopes up….


  4. I am going to hang onto this with everything I have left. I became severely and suicidally depressed this year and I lived through it because I kept telling myself that I have to be here in case my daughter ever comes back, she was alienated finally and completely at 18 after 13 years of solid work by her dad and stepmother, she will be 21 in February. I tell myself that love and truth wins. I have no revenge in my heart, no hatred of her, I am a little frightened of her because of the pain inflicted, but I love her with all my heart, and today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life I will be waiting with open arms, no hate, forgiveness if she wants it, though I don’t blame her. I blame PA. Thank you for sharing this Karen. I have always wondered how you KNOW so much and so well. Now I do. Bless you and keep up the amazing work.


  5. Wow. Powerful read. Been on my mind all day. After 3 1/2 years my son has contacted me. I’m not really sure how to handle it. I am here. I am available. I listen. Don’t ask anything. I am really stumped on how to proceed. Is there a way to contact you?


  6. Spare a thought for me

    I am the one you label the Alienator.
    It was never easy without you around and I never felt that our children should not see you anymore. You always seemed to oppose me when we were together and I accept our parenting styles were different. I knew the parenting job well and it was my perception that I could parent the children well if needs be. After the separation you seemed to oppose me at every opportunity; if it wasn’t through the law courts it was niggling things like washing the school uniform properly or the kids feeling upset when they returned from a visit with you………sometimes they were happy saying how much they enjoyed being with you and I would be fearful that they would leave me to be with you forever. This was difficult for me to accept.

    The final straw came when I recognised you supporting your mates who had been making fools of themselves in Trafalgar square………..I couldn’t have our children a party to that kind of behaviour, and I hope you respect my feelings on this. As time went by it became easier to deal with your absence in respect of the children. I had a new partner in my life who was well capable of fulfilling most of the roles that would have been yours. Most importantly the children now had another adult that they could look up to. The gap in the children’s lives in terms of providing entertainment and goodies could be fulfilled by a new person, who was also very special to me.

    And now after ten years the children have switched allegiance to you I feel cheated and aggrieved. Kids are so ungrateful. You devote a huge part of your life to them and then they throw it all in your face
    I’m mad I’m angry I feel just like you must have done all those years ago when we first split up. You kidnapped the kids. I want to continue my relationship with them but all I get is an accusing look as if I have deprived them of something. It was not my fault I did not want this to happen.
    It’s all very well saying that we should have sorted something out that meant the kids could be cared for by both of us, but you know as well as I do that we just used to rub each other up the wrong way and that was not good for the kids to witness.

    On reflection I see now that there were parenting courses which we could have gone on and counselling that we could have listened to, but at the time my main concern was the care of the children and anything you suggested I could not trust. Negotiating the children away from me was not on my agenda.

    I go through cycles of depression and anger. Sometimes I find it difficult to face the children; they now make me feel so guilty as if it was me who deprived them of a parent they saw so little of.

    Irony of ironies I am now with the same therapist that you went to ten years ago. I am learning how to deal with anger and grief. They are helping me deal with what seems like a complete role reversal.
    Of course we cannot go back in time and put everything right to please you, me and the children but they are having a bloody good go at helping me realise more about the mess I’m in and how I might get myself out of it.

    I don’t want to apologise to you because I feel you are equally to blame, but I do hope that my admission to what I thought happened is something you may be able to understand (especially after all those self-help books and therapy sessions you say you have been having)…..empathy is a very fine thing.

    I just want you to know this is my personal struggle now……..tell the kids I love them x

    Kind regards


    1. Think this is probably an alienator in a hybrid case. In those cases children do switch allegiences, it is because they cannot reconcile their split psychology – basically the original alienation taught them they can only love one – so if they love the other now, they cannot love the original one. In those cases BOTH parents have to do the work of change.

      In alienation which is pure, which is what this piece is about, the route to repair is different for a child. In this case, which is a child protection case, restoration of the relationship is about correcting distorted psychology. Understanding the danger one was in whilst alienated is important in order to be able to prevent a relapse into feeling sorry for the people who used the child, Understanding the dangers one was in allows boundaries to be built that safeguard one in the future because life in a severely aliented position with people who have been shown to be dangerous means vulnerability to others who prey on people.

      Complex issues but important to discuss.


    2. As an alienated parent, I don’t think anyone should have the right to judge the other parent. We are all unique, we are all different. We are (usually) not all bad or all good. If you feel the other parent is truly abusive, report it. Otherwise, stay out of it. If you can’t stay civil, just don’t say anything against the other parent, or make the kids feel like traitors when they do love the other parent. Not your business what goes on in the other home. Do your best and leave it alone.


  7. Karen, thank you so much for sharing this. Your words are very powerful and reach deep into the fracture that parental alienation causes.


  8. I guess all the people reading this that have an emotional connection are either alienated as a parent or child. I feel the parallels completely. It is sadly not just one person involved in parental alienation. It is often done with support of wider family members. A collusion of cruelty. This is another inspiration to give everything to the battle against parental alienation.
    Even if not involved in this twisted charade of parental alienation I hope my friends who read this share on Facebook can understand the pain it causes.
    I don’t suppose many people can read this with dry eyes. But also it is a message of ‘hope springs eternal’.
    Thanks for this Karen.


  9. Thank you for sharing. Through these kinds of writings, may awareness reach the “stolen” children. Our family’s story in a nutshell- alienation from father started by the mother at ages 3 and 5 of daughters. Every extreme tactic taken by mother. Full alienation achieved from all paternal side since August 2001. Daughters now 24 and 26. No reason to believe there will ever be reconciliation given the few glimpses of internet pics show mother and daughters remain very connected. Hurts to know you are unjustly loathed by your own children.


  10. I read your words as if they were poetry crafted just for me and my beloved daughter, with alienation begun about ten years ago. God, how I prayerfully hope that our story will not take thirty years to play out; yet I’m well aware it may, or God forbid, never actually come to resolution at all. Reunification is what drives me – what propels me to want to go on … No, I don’t let it consume me exclusively because I do have a life with people who love and respect me, but still, my own flesh and blood – my legacy – still remains at such a distance and unreachable for the timebeing. I will remain hopeful, though, because of you and those like you, who have come forward with your raw,wounded hearts open and exposed to let us know that there is indeed HOPE. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and my tear-stained face has a trace of a smile as I think of that fine day.


  11. I am in the US. I was once an alienated parent. My daughter, not as much, but, my son refused to communicate with me in anything but the vilest of ways for about 3 years. It was difficult to understand how young adults could be so manipulated, but such was the case.
    Your article provides encouragement and hope, that many alienated children, however long the wait, will eventually return. I can’t say enough that your advice to wait with open arms, to let them know there will be no blame, to be willing to listen if they choose to talk, or to be silent if they choose not to talk is so important.
    I have learned to wait until my adult daughter chooses to communicate with me (of her timing, rather than mine), which she does fairly often. She is now married and lives in another state, and communication is pleasant and loving.
    Today, I am also the happy grandparent to my son’s beautiful daughter, and he, my daughter in law and granddaughter live close enough for me to see my grandchild whenever I want.

    It was worth the wait.
    An ex-alienated parent.


  12. My fiancé is in a very similar situation. He too decided to give the girls ” what they wanted” which was to be left alone… My question is what do you do during the holidays when there is no other communication?


  13. this story brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart… I did nto understand what all was happening for many years. I did nto know what PA was until I stumbled onto it somehow. than it all made since except I had full custody and he had visitation. as I read the things I realized out of fear and pain I did some of the aliegition also. not meaning to.
    my mom keep me from my dads family after his death and kept me from loving him for years. she never let me forget what an evil person he was the whole time I was growing up.
    than I divorced an abusive man and he used the kids against me.. and he got one of the kids from me. cruel what he did too. kept him 10 months from me.. but brought him home dumpted him off and rarely saw him for the next 14yrs.. abandoned him really. so sad him and his family did.
    than he turned two of my kids against me . had been doing it for years. part of it was I had to set up boundaries. treat me right or else I will remove myself from being around you. this was after they adults and no longer lived at home. I love my children but I could not deal with the pain they inflicted on me anymore.I love myself more and had to be a fully healthy person… than he died last yr my son came back. my daughter and her two kids never did..
    when she was in her early teens she started having night tares of accidents with body part bleeding and drying & flying everywhere. she also started having migranes..
    it never made since to me until I found PA . now I wish I could tell her bt she has completely cut all ties I have not seen hr for almost three year nor he kids. everyon etells me she is doing fine. maybe she is…your story makes me think she isn’t. sometime I think if she gets reminded of me she hurt again…
    so sometimes I figure ti is better she is not in my life. if she is happer than I am happier I tell myself but sometimes I feel like I am drying inside…
    th elord gave me another child a daughter. who looks like me and wants ot be like me and who I adore. if is wasn’t for her. I would crawl up and die. I have a good husband who I adore, he does not get why I hurt so much. thank you for your letter for what you said it gives me hope. my daughter knows where i live and my number. so it is in her court now.
    thanks so much for sharing maybe someday my daughter will come home to me


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