I know what you’re thinking. You’ve just sighed, possibly rolled your eyes and probably muttered “ANOTHER awareness day – what is it THIS time?!”
Proving there, that an awareness day is absolutely needed. And I’m not trying to be smug, or holier than thou because I know what it is and you didn’t – until this morning, I didn’t know either, yet this is something that affects me, in quite a big way.
So, a wonderful Twitter friend, Bren (@SlimySnail) first alerted me to Parental Alienation & Separation Awareness Day, April 25th. I talk to Bren often, she’s funny, wise – a very talented writer – and a kind, compassionate soul.
Yet I had no idea, that she was carrying the sadness of parental separation. I didn’t ask for specifics, for fear of prying, but Bren hasn’t seen her son for over four years, and Bren’s beautiful three year old daughter has never met her brother.
That’s a heart-breaking situation. As a mother, I can’t begin to comprehend how Bren feels. Actually, as we speak, my daughter has been away on holiday two weeks. She’s 19 and it’s the longest I’ve ever been away from her. It’s hard, I miss her. Despite the fact that we often work opposite shifts, so we can go a few days of not seeing each other while living in the same house, it has been difficult to not have her around for a fortnight. And we’ve been in touch every day, one way or another. I don’t know, but I’m sure Bren hasn’t had that luxury over the past four and a half years.
How must that feel for her and what must this be doing to her son? There are no winners here.
As I said, although I hadn’t had any knowledge of the PAS movement, it is something I have some experience of – my parents broke up when I was tiny, and I have not had any kind of relationship with my father.
How does this feel? Sad. Lonely. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s like not knowing where I came from. So many unanswered questions.
This spills over into so many areas of life. Whenever I fill in a medical questionnaire, invariably there is a section or range of questions beginning “any family history of…..?” I have to write that I don’t know.
I have often cried myself to sleep. Was I such a terrible person at aged ~3 that my father would reject and abandon me? I was never happy on my birthday. I always felt sad, for my dad. I was sure he must be thinking of me, on my birthday. You couldn’t have a child then walk away and never think about her, could you? Surely you’d think, on her birthday “my little girl is 5 today. I wonder how she is?”
If this is the case, this year he’ll be thinking “my little girl is 50 today. I wonder WHO she is?”
That’s the hard part for me, not knowing who my dad is. What does he look like? Do I look like him… I don’t look anything like my mum, so maybe I do.
Do I have brothers and sisters? Do they even know that I exist? Do I exist? There have been times in my life when I’ve felt like I don’t. If my dad doesn’t want me and my mum absolutely detests me, why am I even here?
When I got married, my dad wasn’t there to give me away, to tell me I looked beautiful, to ask if I was sure he was the one. (He really wasn’t the one, but that’s another story)
And all of this could have been avoided. Parental alienation and separation is real. It’s damaging and it leaves irreparable scars. Parents have a right to BE parents and children have a right to see their parents, to know that they are wanted, cared for and loved.
If you know someone in this situation, support them. Be there. Listen. Don’t judge. If you are living this situation, I’m here for you, I’ll stand with you and I’ll talk about this.
This is not a taboo subject, to be hidden and swept under the counter. There’s is no shame and should be no stigma. This is abuse, it causes distress and is damaging to emotional well-being to parent and child.
Lets make things better.