“It is like being stuck in a cage of pain”
One of the many things that troubles me about combating the social disease of parent alienation is that it makes people do things they know are wrong, out of desperation . Because, to be blunt, when a parent believes that someone is abusing their children, it demands a fairly primal response.
I don’t mean wrong as in “breaking the law”. I mean wrong as in playing into the abuser’s hands, placing yourself at risk, feeding the worst appetites of the cruelest beast, making the situation worse.
You know it’s wrong to rely on lawyers, for example. But when faced with no alternative, you do it anyway. Yet it’s completely counter-intuitive to feed a system that is ruining your life especially when they take your money to throw petrol on the fire.
Boil it all down and what’s really behind one parent taking possession of children and then using them like a Tolkein dragon uses it’s treasure or the proverbial dog guarding a manger?
Simple. Chronic selfishness.
They are controlling the children to control you.
They are doing this primarily because they can.
It may possibly be because they want your house and your money? Something as simple as that.
But once they have those things, why isn’t it enough? Why not stop there?
Why do they persist with being so cruel when they don’t have to be?
Perhaps you’re just unlucky?
Married a rare “nutter”?
Talk to enough people on the receiving end, as we do, however, and you’ll start to hear the same stories, a history revealing something that happened to their former partners at some key stage in their development that rendered them so powerless that they now want total control of everything, including you. Because you know them for what they really are and that makes them vulnerable again
You have become the catalyst, the focal point. But chances are, if the core of their sense of powerlessness was down to their relationship with you, it would have ended when their relationship with you ended. Because it hasn’t, then it has to go much, much deeper than that and more likely than not it relates to their relationship with their parents growing up, as so many things do.
There will be plenty of clues in the way they performed at school, in jobs and generally in life. They may have had moments of glory, but they are unlikely to have sustained success as if they have behaved as they have with you, they will doubtless have a back catalogue of relationship problems at work and at home.
It helps to understand that to understand their behaviour toward you. But it doesn’t take away the problem or the worry.
We may be genuinely concerned for them as individuals. We share a special bond with them, after all. But we’re not therapists. It’s not our “job” to “fix” them and let’s face it, none of us are perfect ourselves..
Even when we understand this, it doesn’t take away the deep concern that this individual, who is behaving erratically and vindictively and clearly harming the children to harm us, is locked away with our children now and will most likely repeat the same pattern that made them the way they are. That takes some living with.
Worse still, the system set up to support us all, to help us, is actually reinforcing their destructive behaviour. It is, making it worse for all of us, and despite what they say, the alienator will be suffering too.
But try as we may, we can’t sort this out without help of some kind. For, be in no doubt, not only does the self-obsessed alienating parent feel nothing for your situation, but they are actually getting a kick out of being cruel and the power it gives them, mistakenly believing that they are “protecting”the kids.
They are feeding off the power the system gives them over you, their former partner for they wrongly believe it is giving them dominion over their core problem.
They are punishing you either for rejecting them or for how they perceive to have been wronged by you for failing to address the insecurities at their core, insecurities that have been there for a very long time.
So it is pointless the targeted parent appealing or begging as that simply provokes them further. For the alienator is trapped in a self-loathing cage of their own making and unless someone unlocks the problem at their centre, it will fester and grow until they themselves may not even remember the true root cause. All they will have will be the hatred and rather than take responsibility for sorting it out, they will clutch onto that hatred and focus everything on destroying their former partner.
Yet what they refuse to see is that the damage they inflict on others and their children festers and grows too. They are simply passing on the psychological virus.
Power corrupts. It becomes addictive.
For someone with low self-esteem reducing yourself to pleading with them reduces you to the level of the lowest of the low. So the more the targeted parent begs and wriggles and squirms, the more the targeting parent, supported by the system, enjoys the spectacle and feeds off the drama. It reinforces their new found low opinion of you, until it becomes the focal point for their life, their story.
Soon, their mythical struggle becomes the legend they live off and it bestows much needed status upon them within the local gaggle of family and friends who don’t ever see both perspectives.
How can the targeted parent ever compete with the power of the ill-informed mob?
So, what if, rather than decrying the ethical baseness and cruelty of the person perpetrating the alienating behaviour, traits that are not going to change because you demand they do, what if we were to re-imagine the story as it could be if the tables were turned?
How would things be different if we re-enabled the victim, over-rode the responsibility and the love settings that are trapping them with the abuser, and allowed them to do what they would normally do when faced with such abuse and simply walk away from the conflict?
What if we front-end loaded the divorce process with problem solving support mechanisms rather than adversarial mechanisms, if we opened the doors and windows of the cage to let the madness out rather than barring them to keep out an aggressor that actually already lurks within?
What if we focused entirely on the children, on objective, appreciative support for the adults to work out parenting plans based on the best attributes they both have rather than attacking them for alleged deficiencies,most of which have had to be invented to “win” a stupid war?
What if we focused on maintaining the children’s connection with both parents rather than forcing the parents either together or poles apart?
And lastly, what if, rather than denying the alienating behaviour we all know is rife, the support services agreed a clear diagnostic profile and applied this constructively, with a solutions rather than punitive focus?
Oh, there will still have to be “bite” in the process to give it rigour. But if the consequences of persistent parent alienating behaviour were not further undermining of the status of the targeted parent but a genuine threat for the alienator of being committed to an institution to resolve their mental health issues or imprisoned for a hate crime, that may actually focus both parties and restore some much needed authority and respect to the legal system too.
Well, in the absence of support, we’re now imagining a world the other side of the PA looking glass, a world beyond the pointless process and acrimony in which post-divorce parenting is transformed, where it is child rather than single-parent focused, as it currently is.
We’re envisioning a place where support services prove their expertise by working to help parents rather than destroying half the people who walk through their doors.
We’re dreaming of a system where any money spent will be seen as an investment in the family’s future, will buy enabling support services, not rob children’s bank accounts to line the pockets of the morally retarded who add no value other than destroying lives.
We may argue about the root causes or the symptoms, or even the identity of the true victims and aggressors, but what is clear is, however we spin the semantics, parent alienation has become a beast that is devouring the happiness of our children.
It is destroying whole families, with at least 7 million people being affected in the UK alone, so far.
Alienation spreads fast because our legal and so-called support services don’t acknowledge let alone sort out the problem. They feed the beast with ignorance, isolate rather than support and inadvertently help it grow and flourish because they focus on the wrong issues, time after time.
We need major change, a complete re-think, a radical overhaul of the system as a whole.
The world is increasingly more complex and our children need both parents in their lives to survive and thrive.
We can’t afford to feed the beast of malice and ignorance any longer.
We’re ashamed of what has become of parenting during our watch. We take responsibility for any mistakes we may have made and we desperately want to improve post-divorce parenting for the sake of our children and ourselves.
We all need a much better way and if the services we fund won’t support us then I guess we’re going to have to start from scratch and sort it out ourselves or our collective legacy will not be one of pride but of shame.