Monday, August 26, 2013
PARENTAL ALIENATION: Just because YOU were a failure as a spouse doesn’t make ME a failure as a parent.
I was a good mother. I cherished my role. Even from the very beginning my nurturing abilities were instinctive. I nursed my children instead of giving them formula. I prepared their first meals with natural ingredients in my food processor. I took them on daily outings. As babies and toddlers, they enjoyed weekly playgroups. Their medical and dental care was always up-to-date. They were always bathed and dressed in freshly laundered clothing. There was nothing they lacked, except for paternal interaction.
Their father frequently proclaimed that because he worked during the day, he should not have to take care of the children. He considered them “work”, and announced their activities “boring”. His life centered on his job, getting high with his friends, spending time on his boat, dalliances with other women and his drug dealings. His choice of lifestyle greatly conflicted on my family values. I always believed that family came first. I always anticipated dinners, activities and outings with my family. Instead, I had solitary meals with my children. I had no access to money, so our activities were limited to my creativity. Everything in my life was controlled by my husband’s rules and temper. I bore the brunt of his anger, but my sons were victim as well. They wore the marks of his beating, and endured the scars of his harsh threats. I was too frightened to call the police, as I felt it was my fault for my inability to stop his attack on my sons, and feared he would next turn his anger on my 2 year old daughter, and surely killed her. I thought I would be punished for his abuse and lose custody of my children.
Night after night, I would pray for a way to be rescued. I found my escape in the form of an inheritance from my great uncle. Having my own money meant freedom, and I eventually used every penny to leave and hire a divorce attorney. Life without him meant peace. My heart palpitations stopped, as did my stress. I viewed my lifestyle changes and going back to work as a small price to pay for being able to breathe again. I had no anger toward my ex husband; I merely did not want him as a life partner.
The fact I filed for divorce meant much more to him than the dissolution of a marriage. Divorce meant he had failed as a husband and a father. To view it that dramatically was not unusual for a man who met all the components of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. It is not uncommon for two personality disorders to merge, but when they do, it makes for an extremely dangerous individual. The narcissistic sociopath believes the world revolves around him, is concerned with only his needs, feels societal rules do not apply to him, and has no empathy toward others. Severing a relationship with a narcissistic sociopath, creates a reaction that is severe and retaliation that is cruel. They are incredulous that someone would leave someone as wonderful as he believes himself to be, and evokes the need to prove to the world that she is actually the crazy person.
Despite his years of disinterest in the children, he filed for custody. Serving as his accomplice was a woman chosen solely for her willingness to obey his directions and provide childcare, so he would not have to alter his lifestyle. Along with his lawyer who had previous sanctions for unethical practices in custody cases, he was prepared to implement his punishment to the mother of his children for ending the marriage.
It seemed impossible that a judge would actually award custody to this man, yet, by using her unscrupulous tactics, his attorney was able to find a judge who changed the custody. It did not matter that he had a criminal record, was a drug dealer, and batterer. He denied everything – even the submitted pictures of his fingerprints on my neck after he strangled me; and appallingly he was awarded sole physical and legal custody.
I was granted liberal visitation, and did not have to pay child support. Although heartbroken from the unfairness, I continued to parent successfully, becoming extremely resourceful in juggling my meager salary to provide a loving lifestyle for my children. I rallied and began to experience many positive changes. But each happy occurrence was like a thorn in the side of my ex husband, causing him to retaliate in some cruel ways, usually to the detriment of the children. He did not allow them to bring clothing or toys to my home, he stopped their medical and dental care, and he cut off my daughter’s long hair. Each joyful event in my life was punctuated with another malicious deed, even a physical attack when I was pregnant with my new husband’s baby.
But anything he did or said could not erase my children’s memories of the loving mother that used to tuck them into bed each night. So, my ex had to take more drastic steps. He filed false criminal charges against me, and brought an ex-parte motion into court on my birthday to halt my visits; resulting in the outcome he desired, lasting more than four childless years, based on a lie. During that time, he would show court documents to my children and tell them, “Your mother did something very bad”, tainting their memories.
After years of fighting the judicial system, I was reunited with three strangers, who had become teenagers during the lost years. Although parts of their memories were unblemished, their father had created doubts. Despite the loving thoughts that may have sustained them during those vacant years, reservations were thrown into their young minds creating confusion of what they really remembered.
As we slowly began to rebuild a relationship, my ex requested we forget the past and start fresh. Agreeing for the sake of the children, I should have realized that he had not changed. He still viewed each positive change in my life as a dagger of his own defeat. The more the children enjoyed time with me and their younger sister became the trigger my ex needed to build upon the chain of maternal negativity he had been creating for years. And this time it had to be final.
He used every method of negating anything I did for them, as well as taunting them that I only cared about my youngest daughter and spent all my money on her without revealing she received monthly stipends from her late father. One by one, they broke off communication with me. They would never reveal why they were doing so. Any calls, letters or e-mails were ignored. My final attempt was an e-mail I sent informing them that their only biological grandparent had passed away. My sons ignored the news, but my older daughter, who had once written a note to me in crayon stating she wanted to live with me every day of the week and not just weekends, sent a cruel message indicating that she did not feel it was important to go to her grandmother’s funeral because the relationship she had with her “wasn’t pleasant”. Despite my attempt to inform her that attending a funeral was to support the living, her responses were bitter, unbending, and gloating of her “wonderful life” with her father.
I can only feel pity for three children whose memories have been replaced by bogus horror stories fed to them since childhood. I can feel sadness that they have been raised by someone seeking vengeance rather than offering love. My ex has not changed his ways. His lifestyle still revolves around himself and his desires. In contrast, my youngest daughter has enjoyed the benefits of being raised with unselfish love. She attended private school, summer camp and has traveled to
. Her medical and dental care is up-to-date,
and she has embraced her religion. She
has grown up with all the traditional support and values celebrated within
wholesome family environments. Israel
In predicting the future of my alienated children, I fear they will be faced with a myriad of problems and obstacles. From behaviors I have witnessed, I see years of counseling. Should they choose to seek answers, it will mean looking at themselves and their past, something that many people are too frightened to learn. Maybe they will then turn to me for answers. I hope that the truth will bring some clarity to them and dredge up the memories of the mother who cared for them, and the father who was seldom there. I hope they will come to their own conclusions; for if they chose to alienate their father, it will be of their own decision, and desire to erase the demon of their past.