When I was almost four years old, my father threw my mother out of our home, quite literally. It was late at night. It was loud and volatile, my father full of rage. She had betrayed him.
We lived upstairs from my paternal grandparents, and my father quickly gathered his allies in casting my mother out. His family, friends, neighbors, and teachers all saw him as the “favored parent,” the “good parent.” After all, it was my mother who had abandoned me.
In the months that followed, when he had to tear me off of my mother after our scheduled visits, he repeatedly told her that I was better off without her. He told her she was hurting me by making me have these painful goodbyes. Broken and intimidated, she began to believe him. She showed up to see me on my fifth birthday and my father had remarried. His pacing and clenched jaw told us all that my mother was not welcome there. I wasn’t supposed to love her anymore. I wasn’t allowed to.
Not all alienation cases are this dramatic. Many alienating parents use subtle tactics, especially if the children are older. But the results are the same: the child-parent bond is disrupted, causing trauma to the child and the rejected parent.
My mother was essentially bullied out of my life, eventually only sending cards and letters that I never received. I was helpless to change the situation. I couldn’t ask for her. I couldn’t even grieve. I associated her name with my father’s rage and it did not take me long to learn- to know– that my father’s love was contingent upon me rejecting her.
And this is what all alienated parents need to be clear on: your children are being forced to reject you. Alienation is an extremely sophisticated and cruel pathology inflicted by the alienating, narcissistic parent. Your child is essentially held hostage by a psychological threat. They need to be rescued from this. It is up to you to acquire the tools you will need to do this. You cannot afford to stay stuck in victim mode.
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