My new reality

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“Hatred is poison, which damages the one who carries it.  It’s a fire that burns the one who is embattled with it.”

“There is no victory in a war.  All are losers…the only way to truly end the conflict is by coming to a mutual understanding via education.”

– Izzeldin Abuelaish, founder of Daughters for Life

 

Since seeing my alienated step-children a few months ago, I have been living in a new reality.  I am thinking about them constantly – which was always the case, but now it is in an even more conscious and distressing way.  I am having dreams about my step-daughter almost every night. I also think about their new, burgeoning relationships with their half-siblings and what sorts of conversations might stem from those interactions.  Will their father always be the elephant in the room, always present but never discussed?

I want nothing more than to speak the truth, to reach out to them, to tell them in no uncertain terms what really happened. But in so many ways over the past years, I have always let their father take the lead.  If he wants to reach out, he can do so, and I will be there as well, to support both him and the children.  I feel as if it’s not my place to do the heavy lifting, as difficult and challenging – or maybe even impossible – as it might be for everyone involved.

I also have reservations about presenting information in a direct way.  With the older children, we have tried in some ways to shed some light on what the situation actually was when they were little, but they don’t want to hear it.  They are still so deeply programmed and their mother has successfully spun things in such a way that there are no arguments to be made.

My husband has always been keenly aware of this dynamic, and he is so good at biting his tongue, leaving the past in the past, and focusing on what sorts of relationships can be forged in the present day.  I guess this is where we differ on a basic level, I want to sit the kids down and explain everything and read them the letters that we’ve written them over the years and send them our photo album from when we were having happy visits and show them the 200-page CAS file and ask them why they think there is absolutely no mention of violence on their father’s part. I want to tell them that their last social worker was brought up on ethics charges and his report is blatantly false.  I want to show them how they are exactly like their father in so many ways. I want to hug them and talk to them and tell them how I’ve missed them and not a day goes by that I don’t try to send them my love through the ether and hope that one day they’ll realize that we were always here.

I have to just step back and let things take their course. Allow for the lightbulb moments to happen.  Let those cracks appear to them when they are ready. I think I grossly underestimate the psychological damage that has been done to them and what additional damage may be caused by learning the truth.  I remind myself that Ryan Thomas was 25 years old before he started questioning his childhood, and many other people are well into adulthood, even having children of their own, before they realize and understand that they were actively alienated from a loving parent.

In the meantime, I’ll try to let things run their course, and trust that love always wins.

XOXOXO

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Simple words mean so much

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After 5+ years of alienation and estrangement, my husband and I often discuss what is the best way to reach out after so long, how to find the words without being overly dramatic or blaming the child’s mother. Here is a lovely example of a letter that an alienated father wrote to his adult daughter after never knowing her as a child:

https://cca-support.org/2018/08/08/i-had-no-reason-as-a-child-to-hate-my-dad/

Stories like this always give me hope, as we had some very good times with my stepchildren before the alienation really took hold.  I’m hoping that in the future they will look back on those times with fondness and see them clearly for what they were.

10 Questions

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I often think about what conversations I will have, eventually (if ever), with my alienated step-children. If and when we reconnect, will I try to explain the past to them, or will we just let it lie?  – the JUMBO elephant in the room, the albatross around our psychological necks.

There are many questions that I would like to ask them, just to see if they remember ever  believing these things in the first place, or if they remember their mother telling them these things, or if they remember repeating them to various social workers, child psychologists, etc.:

  1. Do you believe that there was a restraining order in effect that prevented your father from having contact with you? I believe, to this day, even after five years have passed, that my stepchildren still believe this is true. There was never a restraining order (called a peace bond in Canada), never any reason for one, and even if there had been they expire after six months and do not stay in place forever (as they have probably been led to believe).  I kind of love that their mother has fed them this line repeatedly, because it would also mean that there is an external force keeping us apart – that it’s not for lack of us trying to see them, or wanting to see them, or loving them.  It’s almost better than them believing we just didn’t care or didn’t try or walked away.  It’s also a very VERY very easy thing to prove or disprove.
  2. Do you believe our neighbourhood (and by extension, the city that we live in) is full of pedophiles?  They gave this as an excuse once for why they refused to travel to our city to see us, as they were afraid they were going to be kidnapped by the pedos that lived in our neighbourhood.
  3. Do you believe that your dad was physically violent towards your mother? My husband is the most kind, gentle, compassionate man and doesn’t have a violent bone in his body – but they believe that their mother lived in fear of his violent and aggressive outbursts, even though there are no police records, no reported 911 calls, and a 100-page CAS file and thorough OCL report that makes no mention of any past or present threats of physical abuse.
  4. Did you really believe that your father and grandmother attempted to kidnap you and had plans to move with you to Florida? This accusation occurred early on, even before I had met my husband, after he picked up the kids from school to take them to their half-brother’s soccer (or rugby?) game. There was no visitation order in place yet and he had free access to the children at the time.  Their mother actually dragged him to court and attempted to charge him with kidnapping, despite that fact that he has 3 other children in our city and his mother also has other children/grandchildren that she would never move away from.
  5. Did you ever get our cards/letters/emails/voice messages throughout the years? Obviously we stopped sending them after a while, but birthday and Christmas cheques would go uncashed, and their mother cancelled their home phone so that they only way to reach them was through her cell, which was always turned off, and messages left were never returned.
  6. Did you really believe that we would steal your house keys, travel to your town, break into your apartment and go through your things when you were not at home?  The reason given by my 8 year old stepson when we asked why they didn’t have their own set of house keys.
  7. Do you really believe that I yelled at you, hit you, terrorized you, bullied you and threatened you when you were under my care? I was investigated several times for abuse by the CAS and OCL and no evidence of these things was ever found – none of it ever happened – yet the children continually regurgitated this language as one of the reasons they didn’t want to see us.
  8. Did you believe that we were drug users and that this posed a threat to your safety while in our care?  At one point, my husband and I were stopped at the US border in a borrowed vehicle, which had pot and valium inside. Their mother found a website that mentioned the incident, as I guess all arrests at the border are published online for some reason before they go to court or anything is actually established (unbelievable). This was a very small article and came up only on page 10 or 15 of the google search when you googled our names, so she would have had to do some real digging to find it.  Needless to say, she showed it to the children and told them that we were horrible people and did drugs and could not be trusted, etc.
  9. Have you ever suspected that your mother might have a mental illness? We are convinced that their mother has undiagnosed BPD or PPD and her behaviour and language is pretty classic/textbook in this regard.
  10. Do you have any knowledge of your father’s disabilities?  Their mother once convinced a social worked to write a report stating that my husband had Narcissistic Personality Disorder – and even though social workers are not psychiatrists and have no authority to offer any sorts of diagnoses, this really was the nail in the coffin for us with the courts. My husband does indeed have his own struggles – he suffers from extreme adult ADHD combined with a sleep disorder (Idiopathic Hypersomnia) which manifests itself in numerous ways.  One thing is that he is often (nay, always) late for things, including picking up the kids for visits.  His ex-wife would use this against him, spinning it that he was late because he didn’t want to see them or didn’t care.  Unfortunately, his ADHD was not properly diagnosed until after our marriage, when we had already lost the battle against PAS.  Hopefully one day, the children can understand the challenges he faces on a daily basis, how they manifested themselves in his parenting and were abused by a truly mentally-ill Narcissist, to the detriment of her children.

A Wedding and maybe a crack

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I’m posting this a little late, but we had a breakthrough day about a month ago, in October – it was a huge day, and I mean Y-U-G-E.

It was my oldest step-son’s wedding, and he invited his two younger half-siblings, who have been alienated from myself, my husband and (most of) their paternal family for over five years.

The first crack appeared in November 2017, when my mother-in-law (their paternal grandmother) passed away of scleroderma.  They had not seen her in any real capacity since summer 2013, except for maybe attending their cousins dance recital and sitting in the same row at the theatre.  Maybe some kind words were exchanged, but for the most part, they have been programmed and continually instructed not to engage with that part of the family, that they don’t care about them, that they don’t want to see them, etc.

Anyways, in November of last year, my youngest (alienated) step-daughter attended the funeral.  With her mother and friend in tow, natch, but it was the first time my husband (her father) and I had seen her in person in over five years. She was almost 17 years old at that time. The fact that she attended the funeral at all was pretty impressive, as she had not been in contact with that grandparent for a long time – I’m still not sure why she felt compelled to go, but it was a small crack in the Iron Curtain and we were glad for it.  I even went up to her at the church, asked her if I could give her a hug – and she said yes.  I then told her that we loved her and missed her and were always there for her.  Then I proceeded to drink rum and cokes so fast at the wake that my lovely cousin had to scrape me off the bathroom floor, and I can assure you, it wasn’t due to my grief for the recently departed.

The recent wedding was another milestone, stemming in part I’m sure from that blustery November day. I’m not entirely sure how much contact my older step-children have had with their younger half-siblings in the past year, but it was obviously enough to give them an invite to the wedding – and we were glad for it.  They both came to the ceremony – alone, unaccompanied by their mother.  It was the first time I had seen my youngest step-son in over five years and three months, from the ages of 10 to 15, my how he has changed and how much of the paternal family he resembles!!!  He is even a D&D Dungeonmaster in his own right, following in his father’s footsteps, which is hilarious as I’m sure he doesn’t even realize it, or maybe he does?  Anyways, he and his sister sat in the back during the ceremony and we went up to them afterwards to say hi – they were talking (reluctantly) with their paternal grandfather and dad’s cousin, and we just stood there, giving them the opportunity to acknowledge us.  They didn’t – they pointedly made sure to avoid eye contact and not say anything to us, then quickly walk away at the first opportunity.  That was kind of to be expected, as I’m sure they had been severely coached prior to coming to the wedding.

At the reception that evening, they were in attendance, and it was amazing that they got to see us in a natural environment – dancing, eating, having fun, and socializing with their half-sibling and their mother (my husband’s first ex-wife).  We did not present as the monstrous, violent, horrible people that they have been led to believe, and we danced, gave toasts, sang songs, and in general enjoyed a lovely evening and I was glad that they got to bear witness to that.  The bride and groom even thanked us in their speech for our support – something that I hope will resonate with the younger children on some level.  Obviously we have not forsaken the older children, as they may have been led to believe, but are active in their lives and have healthy relationships with them.

Again, I approached them, just sitting at their table quietly while they spoke with other members of the (paternal) family.  They were obviously uncomfortable and checking their phones often.  Back when we would have visits, their mother would constantly text them things like “stay safe”, “watch out for your dad”, “stay together” and other vague but foreboding warnings – without being specific, just preying on the idea that we were dangerous in some way.  And it sure has taken root – my younger step-son avoided his father like the plague and acted as if he were about to be attacked in some horrific and violent manner at any moment.

I have to take the shimmers of hope wherever I can get them, and this seemed like a massive breakthrough in so many ways.  Even the fact that they are in contact with their half-siblings is huge, as maybe through conversations with them, they will realize that we are worth having relationships with.  Also, they are in touch with one of their paternal uncles, aunt and cousins, and I hope that throughout the next few years they will become aware that they might not know the entire story, or that many things they have been led to believe are outright lies.

Regardless, I will keep my candle of love burning for them, no matter what.  ❤ ❤ ❤

APRIL 25th is PAS Awareness Day

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I wrote the following, which I intend to post on Facebook very shortly.  I do not speak of my experience with PAS very publicly and even with close friends it has always been difficult and traumatic for me to explain to them the depth and complexity of the issue.  Unless people have experienced it first hand, it is very challenging to accept how effective and subliminal PAS can be.  I know that friends, family and others are going to be able to read this and hopefully it will cause some reflection among some. The thing I am most scared about is my older three step-children reading it.  I don’t believe they truly know what happened between us and their younger siblings, they never ask about them and my husband isn’t one to discuss this issue easily either.  I will probably reach out to them before I post, in order to give them a heads up so that it doesn’t blindside them or at least they can be aware that it might be triggering.  I believe they suffered (and continue to experience) mild alienation at the hands of their mother, but it has never been framed as such.  Maybe this will make them angry or sad, or maybe it will help them gain some perspective and heal.

I was debating making it a public post, so that my younger two step-children might come across it and read it, but I don’t think I am ready for that yet.  I’m sure if their mother were to see it there would be some new onslaught of attacks and vitriol, which I would rather avoid at this time.

Here we go:

TW:     Parental Alienation, #divorce, child abuse, #BPD

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April 25th is Parental Alienation Awareness Day and every year I tell myself I am going to help create awareness. Every year passes and it is too difficult, too traumatic, too hard.  PTSD rears its ugly head and I am consumed by sadness and panic. I want this year to be different.

As of July 31, 2018 it will be five years to the day (with one brief exception) since I have last seen my youngest two step-children, now 15 and 17. They suffer from extreme PAS, which is somewhat explained here:

https://peacenotpas.com/2018/04/24/this-is-parent-alienation/

And here:

http://ryanthomasspeaks.com/rt-videos-2018/

In the years 2009 – 2013 I was investigated for child abuse at least 4 times and my husband many more.  Supposedly, he and his mother (RIP) once kidnapped the children and tried to move with Florida with them.  We have been accused of bullying, terrorizing and threatening the children with violence.  Our neighbourhood has pedophiles that live near us and if the children come visit they will get kidnapped by them.  Our cat is mean and if they visit they will get scratched and hurt and we won’t care.  The artwork in our apartment is too scary for them and we won’t take it down (of course we would take it down if that was true).  We are not really married because our wedding was a fake wedding because it wasn’t in a church (their mother got married at City Hall).  Their dad is a bad driver and he is going to get in a car accident with them (he hasn’t had an accident in 10 years but their mother has). The children have been convinced that there is a restraining order against us so that they are legally prohibited from seeing or calling us (not true). They think that if they come over to our place, we will steal from them or take their house keys and sneak into their apartment when they are not home and go through their stuff (they live 90 minutes away).  I could go on and on with a thousand additional examples, but these are the ones that stay close to the surface.

During those four years I shared some great times and in between the investigations were many lovely weekends, movies and outings, trips to the cottage and lots of love and support. But I lived in fear.  Every day I would panic.  When is the next attack going to come? What form will it take? I was convinced that our business was going to be arsoned or vandalized.  I feared the child abuse claims were getting worse and would one day escalate to claims of sexual abuse. We had already been slandered to co-workers and family members, who would be next? My husband lost several job opportunities because his ex said he had Anger Management problems and was a domestic abuser. The only recourse was to become his own employer.

Parental Alienation is real and it takes many forms.  Most of them subtle, invisible or disguised as concern. I think of my stepkids every day and send them as much love and support as I can, from a distance, with the hope that one day we will be reunited.  #PAS #parentalalienation

 

Fearing for my own Safety

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I just posted an article earlier this week about the family of a target ex-husband who were all murdered by his alienating wife and new husband.  After years of botched investigations, the two conspirators are headed to jail but there was mention in the article of the extended family still having concerns about the mother’s influence and alienating tendencies affecting the children from jail.

Certain characteristics of the mother seen in video and described in the article were vividly reminiscent of my own experience with Alienators and Personality Disorder.  It is so tragic that this one man’s fight to see his children and remain a part of their life had to end is not only his own violent death but that of his parents as well.

During my own years of being under attack as a target step-parent by a toxic alienator, I often feared for my safety.  Not so much physically, but emotionally and psychologically. I was investigated numerous times for child abuse even though there were never any substantiated claims, except of finding that the children had been “coached” or “influenced” in their opinions and stories.  I lived my life in fear – daily – always wondering when the next attack would come and what form it would take.  I could never relax, I was constantly bombarded by mind-games, excruciatingly abusive emails making wild accusation, and I never knew when to expect the next barrage. My step-kids’ mother would act normal for weeks or months, except that I knew she was planning the next attack.  We were never safe for very long.  It became a real strain on our life, our sanity and our resources, both emotional and financial.  Having to take time off of work to go to court, drive out of town for interviews with Child Services or the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, for claims that ranged from the mundane to the completely absurd. At the one extreme, the children were afraid to come to our house because we had “scary pictures [artwork]” on the walls – to this day, I don’t know which pictures they were talking about – and on the other hand, my husband and his mother were accused of kidnapping the children and trying to move to Florida with them – when they were just down the street at their brother’s Rugby game.

Finally it became too much.  The battles, the fear, the suspense, the not knowing.  I was thoroughly convinced that the next escalation was going to be of a sexual nature.  I just KNEW that sooner or later, she would have my step-son saying that I touched his pee-pee or took a bath with him or slept in his bad or god only knows what.  Nothing was too obscene or ridiculous or out of reach.  Living within the sphere of a toxic personality disorder is unpredictable at best and nothing you can say or do can keep you safe from their delusions. Another fear that I lived with daily was that our place of business was going to get vandalized or burned down, a simple molotov cocktail through the window and BAM, I would not have been surprised in the least.

This summer, July 2018, it will have been five years that I have set eyes on my step-son. I would say the same for my step-daughter, except that she came to her grandmother’s funeral a few months ago.  She didn’t say much, but she let me give her a hug and she was there, which is something, helicopter mother in tow. She is going to be 18 years old in January, imagine that.

I miss them every day and think of them all the time.  But I also remember what it was like to live day to day with your very sanity at the brink, being controlled and manipulated by someone who wants nothing more than to see you wither and suffer.  Living like a puppet on a string, pulled this way and that, with your heart breaking into a million pieces at every tug.  I’m not going to say that life has been good this whole time, living with grief is a process and I have definitely suffered from PTSD of a sort after our experiences.  But years of therapy and a very strong bond with my husband have helped tons.

Reading the article about the Harrison family triggered something with me – that could have been us, eventually, had we continued down that road, or if circumstances were slightly different.  I remember those days of constant struggle, of just trying to keep a handle on living minute to minute and hour to hour, trying to get through a day without breaking into wailing sobs and desperation. It’s no way to live a life.

The Worst Case Scenario

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After killing her children’s father, grandmother and grandfather, woman and her husband are both sentenced to 25 years in prison.

“Some [of the Harrison family] spoke of fearing for their own safety and fearing that Merritt [the mother], from behind bars, would continue to manipulate her children and turn them against the remaining Harrisons.”

http://projects.thestar.com/harrison-family-murders/