Listening to Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and Led Zeppelin while I read the words, understanding, and compassion of a child alienated from her parent in Mother Erased: a memoir on this Father’s Day – without either my father or my step-father, and without my children due to their father, her words strike me in both my deepest fears and my greatest hopes. Of course, heavy thoughts of my daughters weigh my heart down.
But I’m also reminded how diligently and covertly my own mother attempted to do this to my father and me. I’ve not had many great gifts in my life other than my children and my dad, but I’m reminded to be grateful that in spite of my childish, innocent, desperate adoration of my mother, her alienation tactics didn’t work. Sure, she succeeded in creating and maintaining a great deal of physical separation between my dad and me while I was growing up. Yes, she succeeded in planting ugly lies and accusations in my head regarding my dad too. But it never went to my heart nor did it ever fully cloud the truth I saw with my own eyes. My dad was my only enduring and reliable source of truth and compassion and joy for me as a child. He didn’t live in a huge, brand new home or have much money like my mother married into after she left him, yet I greatly preferred my dad’s tiny little meager house to the big fancy one I lived in miserably with mother. Money just never mattered much to me. I preferred joy and laughter, safety and understanding; of which there were plenty resonating throughout my dad’s tiny home… and none in mother’s palace.
I have always had the cursed blessing of a great and uncanny depth of intuition. And although at that age, I couldn’t possibly have believed mother would (ever!) lie …yes I’m snickering/scoffing/psh-ing at that ludicrous thought now… I just couldn’t reconcile the off feeling in my gut that something about her words just might not be exactly true. I mean, back then as a child who blindly worships their parent, I was sure she wasn’t lying exactly…but something seemed off, felt dirty, smelled fishy every time she’d tell me heinous things about my dad…
And just five minutes with my dad would shine light and fresh air on that ugliness she regularly planted and spread, until it either didn’t really matter if it was true ( I would love him anyway!) or I maybe convinced myself it was some kind of misunderstanding between mother and daddy.
My sister didn’t fare as well, but then my sister is a replicated minion of mother now, so I’m not sure if that was a success back then or if it grew into it as the years passed. Nor do I really care at this point.
Mother was still trying to plant ugly, nasty ideas in my head when I was 19 and had lived, alone, several years with my dad and her physical power over me had greatly diminished although I still very much wanted her love.
I think of how desperate those continued attempts were. It borders on ridiculous. I was living with my dad for years; she had cruelly abused me my whole life up until the point when she kicked me out to live with my dad, and still she believed her power of persuasive ugly suggestion to me might overcome the truth I lived every day.
In hindsight I realize it’s because she had wanted me to be miserable. She had hoped my dad and I would have constant problems! We had a typical teen girl/ dad relationship. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. This was not the punishment she’d wanted to inflict on me by kicking me out – not happiness???! Not LOVE?!!?? NOT laughter?!?
My dad and I had a couple of conflicts, all of which I would consider very normal for my age at the time and never was my dad unduly cruel or out of line in his parenting tactics. I was punished when I deserved to be, but properly and justly so, not cruelly, excessively, indefinitely punished for any even slight typical childhood infraction.
This drove mother crazy! So, she continued her interference and her little evil plantings and ever-so-subtle persuasive, factless suggestions long after I lived the truth!
These tactics while I was even a young adult worked well though, to alienate me from my step-father. She has full control over him and his knowledge of situations, unlike with my dad and me; she only maintained some intermittent control over what we believed versus what we knew was true.
As much as my 6th sense has been a challenge in my lifetime, this is one instance where I consider it a great blessing. I think of this blogger who finally saw the truth and thankfully, isn’t suffering the worst of the lifelong after effects of parental alienation (like I’m desperately afraid my children might), but I realize my mother’s non-stop efforts to destroy the greatest, truest love I’ve known in my life – that of my incredible dad’s – and I can’t help but feel the hugest sense of relief that I did not miss out on that like she desperately wanted.
I would be truly beyond lost if she’d succeeded and if I’d seen the truth when it was too late and he was already gone.
I blame myself often for this now – the innocence, the stupidity, the childish faith and trust in the goodness of people and the inherent honesty and depth of love for a parent’s child to supercede and rise far beyond any evil personal agenda. I blame myself, but my experience is the exact reason why, short of murder or molestation, I’d have never ever, EVER have kept my daughter’s father from the beautiful gift of a relationship with his daughters. Mine with my father is what sustained me. Except for their own protection or safety, nothing that man or my mother could have done to me would have made me hurt and punish my children by poisoning that possibility of love from family for them in their lives.
My children’s alienation with the combined efforts of their father and my mother, has been remarkably, wildly successful and thorough. I don’t believe my children will come to the truth ever. I hope I am wrong about that, but the alienation has been so successful that at this point, knowing the truth of what’s been done to (and taken from) them, might destroy them as much or more than the lies they choose to believe. It’s a great catch-22 within itself… a web of tightly woven lies surrounding them that might choke them should they ever attempt to wiggle free.
So I’ve great fear my children may not be as fortunate to not suffer the long term effects of alienation, but I still have great hope that their first 13 and 15 years of living with a mother who encouraged and assisted them to have all the love in the world that was theirs, might some day still be deeply embedded in their souls and at the least, maybe help keep them from being the worst of the parental alienation statistics.