I Believe This Wave Will Bear My Weight, So Let it Flow

I made breakfast this morning accompanied by a song, posted here by someone with whom I have crossed swords with more than once in my journey to fully understand parental alienation.

Struggling through the undertow of difference however, we reach again a place where our common understanding of the world is the foundation stone of all that is between us.  Being able to cope with difference and conflict healthily, is one of the greatest gifts we can possess.  For alienated children, the existence of the healthy parent on the planet who can bear the weight of difference, is one of the greatest gifts available to them.  It is the gift of hope and of healing and of a recovered future. It is the protection against their own loss of their as yet unborn children and it is the rewriting of the historical narrative in the esoteric story of the individual family.

So many parents and the wider family members who suffer this horrible problem, swim in rivers tangled with the weeds of loss of hope and lack of resolution.  Staying safe and well and healthy in the face of this can feel nigh on impossible and yet it can be done and is done all around the world.  Whilst the brick wall in your child’s mind remains in place and the fear based anxiety which has been created by the psychological splitting remains, there is little that you can do directly, without tangling the weeds further and falling into the trap laid by the work that has been so carefully done by the alienating parent.

Behind the brick wall the child struggles with the repression of the love they still hold for you and the guilt and shame they feel for having rejected you.  On the other side of the wall you wait, hoping, wishing, praying for the day when the child can walk free.

You already know why bearing this is essential for your children, the how to bear it can feel impossible.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor Frankl

Victor Emil Frankl (1905 – 1997), was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.  He spent all of his life to studying, understanding and promoting “meaning.” His  book, Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. He went on to later establish a new school of existential therapy called logotherapy, based in the premise that man’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Finding meaning is not the same as accepting blame or being made to feel that one is responsible for the circumstances in which your children are being held against their will.  Finding meaning is about you and your life journey and the way in which your suffering can be transformed into the power to survive and thrive in the face of torment.  Finding meaning is about withdrawing the locus of control from the external world and internalising it, (taking control over your own feelings and experience and knowing the difference between the things you can change and those things you cannot change in the outside world).  For some it is about self knowledge and the relationship one has to those things which happen to you, for others it is faith in something greater than themselves. For all who transform pain and suffering into meaning, the reality is that the torment of railing against the person who is abusing you, (for rejected parents this is the alienating parent), stops and in its place is acceptance and peace of mind.  The path to this place is not easy and it is not for the faint hearted but it is real and it has been travelled many times by many people all over the world who have transformed great suffering into meaning and purpose.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades and he walked free to transform the whole of South Africa.  Viktor Frankl was a survivor of the holocaust who went on to found a whole new school of psychotherapy, transforming lives around the world.  Transformation of the self, leads to transformation in the outside world and the path to such transformation is the peace which comes when the belief in oneself, as the healthy parent to your currently trapped children, is nurtured and fed and cared for.

When fishermen cannot fish because of storms at sea, they mend their nets.  Mending nets is what we help rejected parents to do so that when their children are ready, their ability to catch their children well as they escape the prison of repression of positive feelings is strong.  This is a different approach to feeding the anger, the rage and frustration that comes with being a rejected parent, all of which brings not peace of mind and relief of suffering but heightened anxiety, shame and continuation of the split thinking which is the child’s current experience.  We know that rejected parents are at risk of the same psychological splitting as their children, we know that the actions of the alienating parent in dividing the child’s mind, also divides the mind of the rejected parent and that when this occurs, the alienating parent gains more power. The psychologically split state of mind is an infantile defence mechanism. When the rejected parent also begins to suffer it, seeing the outside world as for or against them, good or bad, right or wrong, the work of the alienating parent is almost done.  Psychological splitting is very very infectious. It is not uncommon to find that the child, the rejected parent, the wider family and anyone in contact with either side of the family (including professionals), are suffering from split thinking.

When the alienating parent achieves full splitting in everyone around the family, the repetition of their trauma wound is in control of the system and the power of the rejected parent is nullified. This is the goal of the alienating parent, to nullify the opposition to their efforts to recreate the traumatic patterns of their childhood years.  This re-creation of the past is a driver in the unwell parent which overrides everything else.  As the character Professor Louis Levy says, in the Woody Allan film Crimes and Misdemeanors –

When we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom you were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted on us. So, love contains in it the contradiction, the attempts to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.

whilst the schism in the psychology of the mother or father of our children is hidden from us when we meet and fall in love, the crisis of separation brings the fault line to the surface as the compulsion to repeat the past rises in the decompensation of the self.  Rejected parents find themselves watching helplessly as this compulsion repetition begins and they are edged to the margins of their children’s lives.  What most rejected parents do not know is that the end game of this action is not simply to split the minds of the children but to split their mind as well.  This is the only way that the unwell parent can be sure that they have absolute control over the circumstances, which is their way of defending against the decompensation.  Rejected parents must guard their minds against the psychologically split state of mind, taking great care around anyone who seeks to fuel anger and projection towards the unwell parent.  Yes it is an outrage, yes it is a tragedy, yes something must be done about it, but no, the other parent is not a demon or evil and does not require punishment conversant with such crimes.   To go down that route is to become as if you are the alienating parent, it is to become psychologically split in your own mind.  When that has been achieved by the alienating parent, the children are lost, their unborn children are lost and hope flies out of the window.

Don’t go there.  If you begin to see people around you as either for or against you, if you begin to lose the ability to think critically and find yourself loving or hating, liking or loathing, take the greatest of care.  Psychological splitting as a defence against an impossible pain is a common problem, your children are suffering from it, they need you to be able to guard against it at all costs.

Between the stimulus and the response there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response.  In our response is the key to freedom and growth.

Between the loss of your children and your response to it, there is a space.  In that space is the power that you hold to do everything you can to help your child and when you have done all you can, to do all you can to help yourself.  The meaning of this is that you are, for now, the parent of an alienated child, a child whose mind has been distorted through the actions and behaviours of an unwell parent.  That child needs you.  That child relies upon you to be there, healthy and well when they return.  That child gambled, when they made the ‘choice’ to reject you, that you would cope.  In your response, is not only the key to your freedom and growth, it is the key to their longer term survival.

When you have done all you can to ensure your child’s safety, when you know that you can do no more, put the burden down and go within.  Find meaning inside of yourself and the meaning in the outside world will make manifest.

So many of the parents who have survived this journey have done so precisely because this is what they were able to do.  Finding ways through the loneliness and the hopelessness by finding things which make their own soul sing, these parents have grown through their suffering to become giants within.

Each one of these people would tell you, that you are not alone on this journey, you do not need to suffer in silence and this too will pass.

Believe this.  because when you do, the health and wellbeing your children desperately need, will grow within and will become the thread which will draw them back to you.  It is the wellspring from which they will drink in their recovery and the nourishment they will draw upon as they heal.

Believe that this current wave will bear your weight and you can be sure that life WILL flow.

 

 

21 Comments

  1. Well, telling the alienated parent that the children will come when they can walk alone. Its like the christian believe there will be a second life, a rising from death.
    In the meantime, the alienated parent often has not seen his child or children for years. He or she does not know what happens to the children. Especially as the alienator would be willing nearly everything to cut parental roots. Would the alienators be willing to risk or accept child abuse?
    An alienated parent often does not know where and with whom his or her child lives. The child could go on holiday and there is not even the other parent (the alienator) with the child. And there will be no answer when asking the child with whom this child has been abroad.
    There is the fear that there could be another Rotherham to the own children. Courts and Cafcass will make sure that the parental roots are cutted and that the alienated parent does not know.

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  2. How eloquently put. You made me cry. That is so beautiful. I’m the custodial alienated parent. Working through this full-time. Choosing to rise above in the storm and working diligently to show love and patience and acceptance. I agree, this too soon shall pass and it is passing. Lots of love to you and everyone.

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  3. Lost for words Doctor. Lots of magical synchronicity occuring around at the moment after little noteworthy for sometime, too much to explain. Spooky goosebump stuff, internal subjective instances, and external improbable occurences. Like blackpool lights in October. Somekind of flow, perhaps a wave, could well be a tsunami! Something beneath the waves has shifted, tectonic proportions. Ive resisted splitting at times…its so exhausting until the dynamic is fully understood or accepted or both.

    From a split state of mind one justifies the splitting unable to see beyond the polarisation, anything that moves is tracked in a binary fashion, good or bad, friend or foe, threat or ally….like looking through filtered lenses, sunglasses that turn everything black and white, but the lens is the split state of mind…..producing sillouettes of an angel or demon, who goes there? Are you an Us or are you a Them……with little chance of a We. ….we we we all the way home, as long as its bramall lane and not swillsborough. Afghan Whigs new album In Spades, second song..Arabian Heights…a lyric “a silouette of what you dont want to know” Incredible song…meaning well, thats upto you even when listened to in context with the rest of the song. …but recent experiences i have had getting to know someone has resulted in exactly this…..within my mind, and suffering from a certain degree of splitting and upon limited information….a silloutte was forming of someone i am kind of getting to know, a sillouette which would be easy to have had me running to… the Arabian Heights.

    Can we take the Tardis to boxing day 1979 at swillsborough and land it on Bob Bolders head?

    Ive crossed swords with everyone, i guess from a split state of mind this is what happens when things become polarised, detail is lost and sillouttes of your worst fears and hopes(angels and demons) appear all around….all out to get you, have a piece of you! Its like eing on a war footing i guess and only ever looking through infra red lens in the dark, nobody to be trusted, everyone a potential enemy, if it moves screen it track it prepare to neutralise.

    Something just occured just now…the person with a splitmind is doubly vulnerable…once over in regard to alienating themselves further from freinds family people who love them after being alienated etc…but also from those who are out to get them…once splitting has occured in the targetted parents mind..so very hard for them to ever escape the trap especially if they have nobody around who understands what is happening….and even then depending upon how long the alienated person has also been suffering from splitting there may be no way back for them to a healthy state of mind depending on how chronic the situation has become, alienated parents can so easily lose themselves as well as the presence of their children on the physical realms………it can be put right, nothing is impossible, where there is love, there is light, there is hope. With our hearts and minds and lights we can manifest an environment conducive to that which we seek and happen, an environment within and externally. It begins within. In that space between the stimulous and response. Right there. Bloody hard though depending on how big the stimulous is or the loom and scale of any impending threat. I guess when “they” the kids have gone/alienated…its no longer a threat but actual……so then acceptance is key to compose and gather the necessary understanding and keys and wrecking balls needed..lol…to unlock the doors and take down the walls, all done in the best possible taste of course. Everyones a winner. They just dont know it yet.

    Splitting, the split state of mind, thats what it is, a trap that cages and diminishes, sucks the energy from your life, mind, thoughts, focus, efforts, heart, spirit, soul. It prevents growth. It suffocates. It intoxicates. It decays. It silences. It reduces. It enslaves. It cages.

    I know the split state of mind, that infantile defence mechanism which reduces capacity and severs connections to loved ones and the source of all things internally/externally, causing decay, fear, stagnation.

    I have been susceptible to splitting at times.

    “I was a child, an open letter
    to be read aloud to the throng
    Caught in a spell of stormy weather
    Mnemonic lines to the fore..” Afghan Whigs, song 1, Birdland. “Coming out of the Cold.”

    Sometimes, another great song by James. I always wanted to call down lightening…absorb it, so i could fling it about i suppose from some kind of Arabian Heights. Again i digress a bit and chuck in some Afghan Whigs for nothing. Song 2, Arabian Heights….best appreciated at Mental Volume levels….as is the rest of the album. One to wake the neighbours.

    Sometimes you have to go through something to really know. My suffering hasnt been in vain. I think im still learning….i’ll probably suffer some more for it too.

    You Doctor are something else. Out of this World. Pop to Venus for a cuppa sometime!

    Josh wasnt, isnt lost. I finally see and understand what you were trying to say to me….which i couldnt have heard, being in a split state of mind dancing to my own ghost town beats……and feeling aggrieved and outraged, wounded badly, fearing the worst for my lad that he could ever know my suffering for himself or worse.

    Karen thank you for your kindness and patience. Ive tried you. Ive tested you from a split state of mind and at times only ever having siloutes to go on……from a split state of mind the colour may be present, the detail perception changing but the split mind filters it out into binary schisms…angels and demons…trusting neither.

    When the pain strain anxiety becomes unbearable, the ground so easily opens up…for those about to split making their worlds polarised and bleached of colour and hue and detail and hope, overwhelmed and flooded with threats.

    Like Tina Turner sang………STB, you are. Doesnt suprise me, from Yorkshire.

    Jung would pick you to lead the way. No doubt whatsoever. He doesnt need to pick you to lead the way. You are!

    I have recently been climbing sliding upon other learning curves too after such a long time, a bit like buck rogers…asleep for decades to awake to WTF is going on here then, whats this all about…….”coming out of the cold” stolen lyric adopted for my own meaning…in quite a few ways to be honest. The song is “Birdland” from the Afghan Whigs latest album “In Spades”…stunning album. I digress a bit more. It all makes sense honest! In time! Just a bit wilbbly wobbly for the uninitiated.

    Coming back to what you wrote about between the stimulous and response, that space. I so needed to hear that at this point in time, things have been difficult recently, finding myself somewhere i havent been for a long time, if ever to be fair, once again feeling like a child, an open letter.

    So much of what you have written, youve known all along where i was and hundreds of thousands like me….so lucky to have come across you and met you Karen, Galifrey only knows where i would be if we hadnt crossed swords and paths and travelled through time and space…..between stimulous and response. Now that is wibbly wobbly is it not.

    Great album…Afghan Whigs “In Spades” if you havent got it……i rate it as probably the best album this century, forget the year or decade….probably only three other albums come close for me….again Afghan Whigs previous album “Do to the Beast” and the Manic Street Timelords…”Rewind the Film” and “Futurology”

    Outstanding Karen. Thank You. What a woman. What a friend. What a soul.

    Theres a key in the door for Alienated Parents and Alienated Children….even the Alienators too…..and beyond the door, wonders will never cease. x

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      1. if ever I could write the experience of the alienated child this is it.

        Ive crossed swords with everyone, i guess from a split state of mind this is what happens when things become polarised, detail is lost and sillouttes of your worst fears and hopes(angels and demons) appear all around….all out to get you, have a piece of you! Its like eing on a war footing i guess and only ever looking through infra red lens in the dark, nobody to be trusted, everyone a potential enemy, if it moves screen it track it prepare to neutralise.

        much work still to do, so much to teach and share and learn. Yorkshire folk. Salt of the earth, we know how to navigate that space in between, we were born in a Tardis. You are on a new journey. Venus, for that cup of tea, round about soon. x

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  4. Thought I had reached Acceptance after a decade of this but I was still struggling again a week after our Fathers Day here. Thankyou for putting me back on track with such eloquence. Precisely what I needed.

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  5. This hit me in that ‘nether region’, what kept me going when I felt totally helpless and isolated……”Between the loss of your children and your response to it, there is a space. In that space is the power that you hold to do everything you can to help your child and when you have done all you can, to do all you can to help yourself. The meaning of this is that you are, for now, the parent of an alienated child, a child whose mind has been distorted through the actions and behaviours of an unwell parent. That child needs you. That child relies upon you to be there, healthy and well when they return. That child gambled, when they made the ‘choice’ to reject you, that you would cope. In your response, is not only the key to your freedom and growth, it is the key to their longer term survival.”

    Especially, the line…..”That child gambled, when they made the ‘choice’ to reject you, that you would cope.” That thought (and belief) kept me going when my mind had reached the end of the PA creek and there was no paddle

    Thanks, Karen

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  6. Beautiful and powerful writing. Thank you. I have been mending my own nets for so long, I look forward to going back to sea at some point…

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  7. I rise, I stumble, reduced to a crawl. I haul myself up again. I fall. Then bawl. Hurt eats me again. I regroup. Breathe. Haul myself up again. Exhausted. My child(ren) is out there somewhere living a life I know nothing of. Flesh of my flesh. I live a life with a space reserved for them, a space that remains unclaimed. I hold back from changes just in case…..should I let go, embrace my own life fully? If a return ever happens it will not be a child who returns but more likely an adult…..what am I doing? Reserving that place in my life is costing me dear…..

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    1. Sadsam,

      I think only another parent who has experienced this can fully appreciate what you write. I feel every word of it – the fear of “letting go”, of maintaining that space for them. So true. The cost is crushing me, each and every day. I pray to find a way beyond this, but again, I fear the beyond.

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      1. Peter…. all I know is that we do what we can, when we can, how we can….sometimes that is constructive, sometimes it means just survival, and sometimes it means floundering in a pit…..until we can haul ourselves back up again….. pain is the flip side of loving. Take care.

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      2. A true story of someone forced to attend AA meetings………

        “As part of the treatment agenda I had to attend a peculiar session in the hospital auditorium. Twice weekly, people from the community came in, walked onstage, and talked about themselves. They said how awful life used to be when they were drinking, what had happened, and how good life was now. They had gone from trouble and pain to living happily ever after.

        I sat in the back row, as far away from these people as possible. One day, a man said something that hit me right in the solar plexus. He was no longer talking about himself. He was talking about ME – my pain, my struggles, the fears I had hidden, even from myself. Something changed despite my agenda. I got sober.”

        Transpose ‘treatment agenda’ with being alienated and ‘drinking’ (where applicable) with an individual’s chosen PA coping strategy and you have, in the above testimony, the reason why this blog is so precious to so many. A ‘safe place’ to come where you can share your hurt with others who understand, speak the same language and will usually listen without judgement. After all, for most of us, the ‘seeds’ of our PA nightmare were sown in an upbringing where we were rarely listened to

        More importantly, many of us are looking for someone who has already trodden the road we are yet to tread, in the hope that their knowledge, experience and willingness to share will make our own journey more bearable

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  8. Sam, I too heard your words and I too am living them. I am having my own pity part today but I shall rise up again soon. I know I will.

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  9. EHFAR. You are right about why this blog is so valuable.

    Sadsam: I sent a copy of your words to my sister who seems to regularly hover between thinking I should be over it by now or trying to fix it without knowing just how hard, if not impossible, this alienation thing is to fix. I think, after reading your words, she might just have finally got how I feel and what a roller coaster of emotion we all feel and keep bouncing back from.

    Karen: Have you noticed the prog on BBC One – DR Foster series Two which seems to be about revenge and parental alienation. Reviews so far seem to be both ‘wildly addictive’ and ‘seasons silliest drama’. Either way it brought back a fair few dark memories for me. But I also noticed that there no help lines given at the end …………………. made me wonder if any such a thing actually officially exists.

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    1. Willow – my view (and, I think, what Karen often reminds us) is that while the alienator is implacable and the PA remains in place the only thing we can ‘fix’ is ourselves. The answer to the rejected parent’s pain lies within the individual and the members of this forum (led by Karen) provide the resource and support (via their journeys) to guide us to that peace of mind we seek

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    2. Willow… I feel humbled that you chose to use my words to help you communicate with your sister….. They truly came from my heart. I’ll always keep striving without beating myself up for the times I am less than perfect…..

      Re the current Dr Foster series I too am struck by its central theme of the out and out campaign by the father to oust the mother from their son’s life, though I also noted how the mother(Dr Foster) previously had thanked her son for originally choosing not to go to the father’s wedding party…..so neither side is coming out roses. It’s a hard hitting drama that’s for sure…..

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  10. Sadsam – credit where it is due 🙂
    Your words struck chord and I ‘think’ that they have opened a chink in my sister’s understanding of our roller coaster world. I hope so.

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  11. Fantastically written, and with great understanding. I’m an alienated parent, and after 10 years of being the better person, of being strong for my daughter, there looks to be light at the end of the tunnel. Everything you write seems absolutely spot on, I just dig know why more people don’t see this for what it is, and why it isn’t taken so much more seriously by the family courts and child advisors. Well done for continuing to stay strong against those who seek to discredit you. Your articles are a source of strength for me knowing that someone out there cares, and understands what myself and others are going through.

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