The following is an anonymous contribution from a former alienated child that approached me, wishing to share her experience of growing up with parental alienation. The individuals’ names in the following post have been changed.
I am a former alienated child and I would like to share my story for two reasons. First of all (in no particular order) I would like to raise awareness of the damage and impact parental alienation has on all those effected by it. The second reason is to give alienated parents out there hope.
“I was supposed to be a daddy’s girl wasn’t I? It just didn’t make sense to me.”
When I was aged around 11 years of age my parents separated. Thinking back it did not seem an acrimonious split and subsequent divorce. All I can remember from back then was that one day my dad was present in my life and the next thing I know, he was suddenly no longer in my life.
At the time I really didn’t understand why my dad would walk out on my mum and I. After all, I was supposed to be a daddy’s girl wasn’t I? It just didn’t make sense to me.
My older brother, who was 18 years of age at the time left shortly after my parent’s divorce and he went to go and live with my dad.
This also didn’t make sense to me. First of all my dad had left my mum and I and then my older brother, who I had always looked up to, then went on to abandon my mother and I.
“Very quickly I took on the belief that my father and brother were bad people for abandoning my mother and I.”
I don’t remember feeling sad for too long following my father and brothers’ exit from my life. However what I do remember is that these feelings of sadness were replaced very quickly with feelings of anger towards my father and brother. My mother’s version of events were that my dad wasn’t the dad he pretended to be and neither was my brother for leaving us to go and live with my father. I do remember my mother constantly commending me for staying with her. She would always reinforce the idea that I had made the decision to stay myself and she would very often commend me for “sticking with her.”
And so, very quickly I took on the belief that my father and brother were bad people for abandoning my mother and I. As I went through my adolescence I can recall not only hanging on to these feelings of anger, but I also remember them increasing in there severity. At times they were all-consuming. I would go round friends’ houses and see their fathers there with them, I would also see older siblings and particularly older brothers. On such occasions I vividly remember feeling really angry and bitter inside due to the fact that my father and brother had left me and my mother.
Looking back on this period of my life I can also recognise that I had a constant need to please my mum. I became more dependent and even overly-compliant with her strict parenting style simply because I was afraid she may abandon me too, just like my father and brother had done.
Fast forward to the age of 19; I had got myself a boyfriend named Adam, (who would go on to become my husband). In the early days of our relationship I remember Adam asking why I was not in touch with either my father or my brother. At first I was dismissive and would shut down such inquiries from Adam.
“How do you know what you have just told me is completely true?”
However as we became closer I remember Adam asking again and again about the lack of contact with my brother and father. On one of these numerous conversations I must have felt comfortable enough to disclose what ‘had happened.’ Adam’s initial response was to simply listen. By simply listening I gave him the full account of what I believed had happened within our family.
I will never forget his initial response, once I had stopped telling him. “How do you know what you have just told me is completely true?”
This comment of Adam’s did not have an immediate effect on me. I accept we talked about this subject a little longer that day, however I did not feel that my beliefs had been sufficiently challenged.
However over the next couple of months, Adam and I found ourselves talking about this more often. The more we talked about it the more I allowed myself to consider the idea that my mother’s version of events may not have been the entire truth.
Fast forward once again to almost a year later; I had met up with my father for the first time in almost nine years. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say that over the course of a couple of months my father and I reconnected. It was tough at first. I felt conflicted, I felt unsure whether to trust my own father.
However at no point throughout this period of reconciliation did my father ever talk about my mother in a negative manner. He was able to speak about their marital difficulties with such candour and respect.
Several months later I went through the same process of reconciliation with my brother Anthony. This time it was much easier, compared to my re-connection with my father. I do not attribute this to any negative aspects of my relationship with my father. I feel that it was simpler as it was, after all the second act of reconciliation I had undertaken. I now realise that while reconciling with Anthony, my mind was now more receptive to having my mother’s false narrative challenged.
I now understand and accept the real version of events; my father left my mother because he was incredibly unhappy. Their marriage had been loveless for many years beforehand. My mother told my father that if he ever left her she would make sure he never saw me or Anthony ever again. My father stayed put in this loveless marriage for another couple of years. He stayed until such a time he felt Anthony and I would be old to understand what was happening and ultimately with this, he believed he would continue to have a relationship with both Anthony and I, post separation.
However my father was gravely mistaken. Following their separation my mother immediately brainwashed me against my father. She also brainwashed me against my brother. During the time of the separation Anthony knew the truth; as much as he did not take sides, he simply chose to go and live with my father.
“I now know that what my mother did to my father, my brother and I was parental alienation.”
I ultimately went through almost nine years of my formative years with an absent father and brother. I now realise my mother completely brainwashed me at the age of 11 into believing a completely false narrative regarding my father and my brother not being in my life. I now know both my father and brother attempted to be a part of my life immediately following the separation. My father sent me regular letters, however my mother simply threw them away without me knowing.
I now know that what my mother did to my father, my brother and I was parental alienation.
I currently have somewhat of a minimal relationship with my mother. I no longer trust her, but she is still my mother. I forgave her a long time ago.
Despite the lost years I now have a loving, healthy and close relationship with both my father and brother.
I will never get those lost years back. But I will always make the most of the time I have left with both my father and brother.