Continuing with the current theme of guest posts by former alienated children, the following is an individual’s experience of growing up with parental alienation. The individuals’ names in the following post have been changed.
I don’t know where to begin really. I guess like the telling of any story, one should start at the beginning.
I grew up in a one parent household. I was the youngest of two siblings. I can’t quite remember how young I was when I realised that my sister and I lived with just one parent, instead of two; like the majority of the community in our small village in North Wales.
I can’t really recall any memories of my father as a young child, prior to him leaving us. However I do recall very clear memories of how my mother and older sister felt about my father. They didn’t talk about him often, however on the rare occasions that they did, they would tell me how much of a bad person that he was, that he was a bad dad and that he did not deserve to have us in his lives. They also told me that he had decided to leave us one night unannounced.
And so I was brought up believing that my father had cruelly abandoned, not just my mother, but also both my sister and I.
“You are definitely better off without him”
As I entered my late pre-teens I became more aware of my one parent status within our close-knit community. I remember our neighbours and friends always providing moral and emotional support for my mother with comments such as “you do so well for a single mum,” “you are definitely better off without him,” “you are doing such an amazing job bringing up your two little girls after what he put you through.”
“All I hope is that I have done my best to protect them from what he did to me.”
I remember my mother replying to these numerous comments with replies such as “thank you so much, I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without your help,” “I try my best and all I want is the best for my two girls,” “all I hope is that I have done my best to protect them from what he did to me.”
As I entered my teens I became more aware of these comments and conversations between my mother and the family and friends around us in our village. I strongly believed, as did my older sister, that my dad, who we now referred to as Jack, had indeed left us all due to him having met another woman. My sister and I strongly believed for numerous years that our father had no longer wished to be either a husband to our mother or a father to either of us. It was this strongly held belief that would turn into hate. I hated my father for what he had done, not just to me, but also my mother and my sister.
This hatred made me doubt the intentions of most of the male figures that were coming into my life at the time, as my social circle grew and grew. I now realise that in my mid to late teens I was at my most mistrusting of men in general. I strongly believed that what had so easily happened to my mother could also so easily happen to me. It genuinely scared me. I simply did not want to go through what my absent father had put my loving mother through.
“I have always been there for you, you just don’t know it.”
One or two years later I went off to University, which took me away from home for the first time in my life. My confidence grew, however this mistrust of men always stayed in the forefront of my mind.
Approximately a year and a half after settling into University life I received a letter:
To my beautiful Hannah,
Whatever you have been told about me, whatever you may believe about me, please allow me to tell you the following.
I have never stopped thinking about you every single day. I have never stopped loving you every single day. The same goes for your sister Maria.
I have missed you both more than words can describe.
I would love to meet you. If you say no, I will respect your decision.
However please remember this, I have always been there for you and Maria, you just don’t know it.
With all my love,
I was initially angry; really angry. Almost hateful. My first thought was how dare you, after everything you put me, my mum and my sister through. Who do you think you are trying to worm your way back into my life?
A couple of days later I struck up the courage to confide in my best friend at the time Tara and showed her the letter. Her response was not at all what I expected. She went on to tell me a story of a family she once knew in her home town.
The story went that a single mum with two sons, was left deserted after her husband had left her and her two young children for another woman. The friends and family of this mum were horrified as her husband had been such a hands-on dad, always around, always at the school gates, always at children’s birthday parties etc. To the outside world this father had on the face of it appeared to be a loving and doting dad. However the mum’s friends and family were horrified at what they believed her husband had done. Tara explained to me that it later transpired that the mother had been lying.
“These two small boys ended up hating their dad for what they falsely believed he had done.”
The truth was that the dad had not left them all at all. The mother had thrown him out, having met another man. The mother denied her husband any contact with the children and effectively brainwashed the two boys against their dad. The result of this brainwashing was that these two small boys ended up hating their dad for what they falsely believed he had done.
Tara told me it was rumoured the father had spent the next couple of years attempting to see the children with no success. Tara did however know that the father took his own life approximately two or three years later after succumbing to depression and heartbreak. His two sons never knew the truth. They were left to grow believing their father had abandoned them.
Following this unexpected response from Tara I allowed myself to reflect on her story for several days.
The next time I met up with Tara we spoke at great length about the potential options open to me regarding how to respond to this letter from this man claiming to be my father.
Despite my conflict of emotions I was unable to shut myself away from the heartache, such as I had done as a child.
Words can’t describe how glad I am that several months later I decided to meet up with my dad.
“I now know I had no reason as a child, to hate my dear dad.”
In terms of the present day circumstances I now speak to or text my dad on a regular basis. We now have an amazing, loving relationship. He is also now a proud and loving grandfather to my own children.
I now know I had no reason as a child, to hate my dear dad. I was lied to as a child by my very own mother. My mother worked very hard in ensuring I missed many years with my dad. When the truth finally became apparent I initially hated my mother for what she had done to my dad. However, life is too short for hatred.
I guess the love I have for my mother is out of obligation and nothing else. I am unable to feel any emotional attachment to my mother now.
Regarding my sister, we have somewhat of a challenging relationship. My gut feeling is that even to this day she is still trying to come to terms with her ongoing conflict of emotions. But I will always be there for her, as my dad was always there for me.
As for my dad, I love him because he is and has always has been there for me, even when I didn’t realise it.