To offset the negative, I also often receive positive comments and here this week I received one of the most wonderful comments. A comment to make my heart and yours, sing.
To cheer us and encourage us, to underscore all that we say and do at the Family Separation Clinic and to keep your faith, hope and belief in the love that your child holds in their heart for you, with permission I have reproduced the comment so that everyone can share.
Go well in your world this weekend and tend to your heart and your soul. In the heart and soul of your alienated child, nothing, but nothing is forgotten.
I have posted previously, sharing my experiences as an alienated parent. I am happy to now post as a reunified parent. Just before her 18thbirthday, my daughter who had completely stopped all communication with me, called me on the phone and with an uncertain, trembling voice asked if she could come stay with me. I answered “Of course. “
Her stepmom called me shortly thereafter and told me all sorts of rotten things about my daughter, saying she just wanted me to know”what I was getting into.”
My daughter returned. She was nervous at first. Neither knew what to expect. I was calm and told her I knew there was a lot to talk about but I also knew she was processing a lot, so just told her to come in and make herself at home and when she was ready we can talk. Later that night she asked me to come speak with her. I let her talk. She cried as she apologized for cutting contact with me. She told me she used to get reprimanded, belittled, and even punished for talking kindly of me or saying she wanted to contact me. She said she’d been happy after the last time we spoke and immediately her stepmom got angry, calling her an ingrate and telling her she’d ruined all of their lives, including her stepsisters, because she was the reason they’d been to court so many times, and now she was reaching out to me anyway. She said they made it clear she shouldn’t be talking to me so she stopped. She then told me about years of manipulation and control by the stepmom. How the stepmom told her she was horrible and she didn’t want to be her mom. How the stepmom accused her of illicit behaviors my daughter had never been involved in. How her stepmom spied on her and her stepsister through their bedroom windows at night. How stepmom ransacked her room, upturning the mattress, dumping dresser drawers, tossing clothes from the closet, and sweeping all items from countertops to the point of breaking things, all to see if she would catch my daughter doing something wrong. She didn’t find anything.
My daughter said at that point she told her stepmom she wanted to leave. Her stepmom replied with a sneer “And where do you think you’ll go? Your mom won’t want you back after everything that’s happened !” My daughter replied “You’re wrong. I already called her and asked if I could go and she said yes.” Stepmom went into a rage and told her she had an hour to remove all her belongings from the house. She shut off my daughter’s phone, and then called me to tell me horrible things about my daughter, insinuating she was sleeping around and doing drugs.
None of that mattered to me. If my daughter needed help, I’d be there to see she got it. I welcomed her back. I half expected her to come in the door with track marks, crazy dyed hair, piercings and tattoos, and be 6 months pregnant. Nope. Just my same beautiful girl, clearly shaken by the upheaval in her life, walked through my door. Everything stepmom said was lies. Apparently she told my daughter as she left “I’m calling your mom and she won’t want you after I get through!” My daughter sobbed as she recounted those words saying she was so nervous that I would believe the awful things her stepmom said and wouldn’t want her back. I told her “your stepmom clearly dosn’t know me if she thinks that’s all it would take.”
I let her know that I understood this was all a lot to process. That she didn’t have to “unpack” it all now, and that I’d be here whenever she wanted to talk. I also told her that for all her many faults, her stepmom was trying to parent in the way she knew how. It was not my way, and the I don’t condone the actions, but I told my daughter if she harbored hate for her dad (who she called a coward because when she turned to him he told her he’d always side with stepmom) or her stepmom, it would be worse for her than being at peace with understanding who they are.
Of course I wanted to badmouth them. My stomach was churning as she spoke. But I didn’t, knowing that while it would make me feel good, it wasn’t in her best interest. For years I’ve held steady, absorbing the pains and frustrations of alienation, relying on ambivalence as much as I could muster. Now, at the moment of reunification, I dug deep to find it again.
My daughter has been home three months now. She is happy, chatty, and warm. She confides in me about everything, checks in with me multiple times a day, and told me she sleeps soundly now whereas she hadn’t slept more than 3 or 4 hours a night in months prior to leaving her dads home. She still hasn’t said “I love you” to me. I talked about it with her one night when she began the conversation. I told her I know she was conditioned to withdraw and feel mixed negative emotions when I said “I love you” to her. She confirmed it was true. She said she’d just taken a psychology course, and recognized that her disgust at hearing me say “I love you” was a conditioned response. I let her know I understood. It took years to ingrain it in her and would take a while before it left her. But, if it was ok with her, I was still going to say it occasionally to her, because it was true and my heart was so happy to have her near. I also told her I didn’t expect her to reply with “I love you” back, and that I never wished for anyone to say that unless they truly felt it. She thanked me for understanding.
I tell her I love her about once a week or so. She is growing more accustomed to hearing it, and accepting it. And she hugs me. Genuinely. We have come a long way from the young girl who flinched away if I touched her and screamed that she hated me. Patience and ambivalence are my longtime companions. I can wait for the day, which I am now certain will come eventually, when she says “I love you too, Mom.”
…………………… In the wee dark hours, lost and forlorn, struggling through the hopeless dysfunction of alienation year after year, you and your blog were a source of hope and understanding, as well as a toolbox that I could turn to for help.
We have never met, and yet you were one of the most powerful forces on my journey. You gave me strength and hope and guidance. Your experiences, shared for all the world to see, were often my only navigation system through the thick muck and deep, murky waters of alienation.
I never had the financial means to hire local counselors whose expertise is treating targeted parents. And yet, there I was, able to turn to one of the world’s leading experts for help. I was not abandoned. I was not alone. Nor were the thousands of other struggling alienated parents across the globe. Someone cared enough about us to help. YOU cared. Without any personal gain, and often at the risk of facing backlash, you reached out to us through your blog and offered your wisdom, advice, concern, and cautions. You continue to guide us through our worst days and prepare us for the best yet to come.
I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me and my family. We may never meet, but you will always have a special place in my heart.
Much love from California!
For all others who may be reading this: hold tight to the belief that one day you will have your own happy ending. Keep hope alive. And in the meantime, be kind to yourselves. You have been through so much. Live as fully as you can, as happily as you can, until that missing piece falls into place. You will be all the better for it when that time does come.
What else is there to say? From the heart of a mom reunited, stay well and happy and be kind to yourselves, you will be better for it when that time does come.
Go where the love flows
Go where the heart is held in gentle hands
Be with your peace in an ambivalent world and do not let what has been done to your child corrupt your soul.
Stay true to who you are and become one of the giants who walk amongst us.