Today I would like to take a 5,000 feet view on the topic of Parental Alienation
from the perspective of attachment traumas.
~+~If you are not into reading then please scroll now to the
bottom of the blog to watch the video of the verbal version.~+~
To better understand this topic, I would like to recommend you read
my first 2 blogs in this series about Parental Alienation and US Family Courts.
Part 1 Parents in Pain, Legal Child Abduction and the AB-PA Love Brigade: Awareness and Solutions
Both the alienating and alienated parent have
attachment traumas and carry deep shame.
They hold core beliefs of being unlovable and bad yet
they cope with it in different ways.
For the purpose of this explanation, let’s call
John the targeted (alienated) parent-to-be and
Jane his wife, the future alienator.
He seems to really care.
The relationship is rocky from the start but both have not had too
much luck in relationships in the past and a better partner
doesn’t seem to be available so they settle for each other.
The clock is ticking for Jane and they decide to have children together.
As years pass and the pressure increases between raising children
and the stress of their jobs, their relationship becomes more and more miserable.
Jane does not fully understand why but John irritates her increasingly.
As a result, she constantly criticizes John whose self-confidence deteriorates.
John keeps trying to make Jane happy but he feels at a loss as
nothing seems to please her, and Jane keeps nagging at John.
Their arguments become more frequent.
Jane explodes at John unpredictably for something seemingly trivial.
John gets defensive which makes Jane even madder.
Then John spends the rest of the evening trying to calm
Jane down and soothe her but nothing seems to work.
Jane holds him fully responsible for all the issues in their marriage and their life.
John keeps trying to be a better husband. The children are raised in this conflictual environment.
They understand that mom is the boss and that dad keeps creating trouble.
If he could just listen to mom, things would be so much better.
In order to cope with their miserable relationship, John focuses on his
business and he is often on the road, away from home.
Jane gets passionate about running marathons,
which allows her to release her anger.
They are both starving emotionally.
During one of his business trip, he meets another woman and has an affair.
Though he feels very guilty about it, he holds a lot of repressed resentment
towards Jane and sees it as a way to get back at her.
The romance lasts for a couple of weeks. His girlfriend is very loving and kind to him.
This shocks his reality as he thought he was so defective and unlovable.
He starts thinking this is not a way to live, that he has the right to be happy too.
Maybe he is not as defective as he thought he was.
Maybe there is someone out there who can love him and be happy with him.
He starts disconnecting with Jane.
He has lost his interest placating Jane when she starts her regular tirade.
He just retreats to the guest bedroom then which infuriates Jane even more!
During a heated argument, Jane gets so angry and tells him to get the “f*** out of here”.
He takes this opportunity to pack and sleeps at a hotel.
He is so glad she kicked him out so that he can still feel like a good
person that he did not abandon his family. He rationalizes that she made him do it.
Although John is afraid to be alone,
he starts to appreciate his newfound freedom and less dramatic life.
He is now considering divorce seriously but feels guilty about the children.
Then, he rationalizes that he knows many people who divorced
and it was in fact better for the kids as they were not constantly in the middle of conflict.
He proceeds with divorce.
When he thought his life was bad in his marriage,
he is about to experience a completely new level of personal hell.
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The divorce is high-conflict and they lose most of their assets
to their lawyers during the divorce negotiation.
Every new girlfriend he has becomes terrified with his ex-wife and feels
it is best to select a partner with a more tranquil life.
He ends up getting joint custody but his kids get more and
more distant and antagonistic with him
Within a year, they refuse to spend any time with him.
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He loses many friends too that Jane alienates against him.
He sinks into a profound depression feeling alone and unlovable.
Jane knew he would collapse without her.
She really tried so hard to make a man out of him but he was simply too broken.
Children realized this about their dad too and this is why they refuse to spend time with him.
Jane’s priority is rightly the children so she needs to protect them against her ex husband though the court said it was best for the children to keep seeing their dad.
She is the mother.
She knows better what is good for them
and it is her responsibility to keep them safe no matter what.
From a psychological standpoint,
Jane has a strong sense of self however
she has a false self.
She is not introspective and is always convinced that
she is right, and knows better than John.
She has no conscious awareness of her shame and deep
sense of inadequacy so she projects it onto John.
She hates herself but is not terrified of this feeling,
so she projects it externally by nagging on John constantly.
When John leaves the marriage and does not beg his way back to her,
it creates a narcissistic injury.
She needs to show to the world that the marriage ended because
John was bad, as she cannot admit anything wrong with her.
She achieves this goal by alienating the children against John,
which sends him into a depressive spiral.
John struggles with self-love and shame too but is more aware of it.
He knows semi-consciously that there is something wrong with him.
He does not know who he is and this is why he is so attracted to Jane who
seems to be clear about what is right and what is wrong.
Because he thinks he is bad, he welcomes, subconsciously having his
partner punishing and criticizing so often.
He thinks he deserves it.
He is actively working on himself during the marriage as he thinks
there is something wrong with him so his awareness gradually increases.
His growth stops making him a match to Jane.
He decides consciously that he wants to be happy,
and he finds in himself a tiny authentic self that is lovable
He decides to start a new life from this place.
The problem is that we are only 10% conscious mind and
90% subconscious mind and this is what is reflected in his reality.
At that point, the true test starts.
John has lost his dysfunctional way to cope with his negative beliefs
through an abusive partner. He now needs to face his shadows directly.
His whole life now reflects his lack of self-worth in particular
with his own children who are despising him. He sees himself for the first time,
and it is absolute hell.
He is at a crossroad.
He can either become self-destructive because the
mirror is too strong, or start a laborious journey towards
self-love and building an authentic self.
He may give himself a new name that symbolizes the
positive vibration of his new loving self.
It is a journey he needs to take, facing consciously all the repressed
negative emotions from his childhood such as loneliness,
depression and self-hatred.
As he does his inner work,
he will gradually shift from powerlessness to self-love.
He will finally accept the reality of the formidable pressure
his children are under, and the complete futility of his fight.
He will stop expecting them to fight for him,
and will learn to love himself without the external validation
of a romantic partner and his children.
As he becomes autonomous and whole,
he eventually meets someone special to restart a life with.
For years, he sends messages of love and gifts to his children
that rarely receive any acknowledgements.
After years of inner work,
he finally finds peace and autonomy.
He now lives a happy life with his partner and her children
though there is some sadness in his heart because he
continues to miss his own children.
When he expects it the least, he receives a call from his daughter
who has had a big fight with mom and has been kicked her out of the house.
He realizes his ex wife and his children were his main
teachers in his journey towards self-love.
If you are not into reading then
please watch the video to hear the verbal version