If you are an alienated parent your number one job is to keep yourself as strong, healthy and happy as possible. Why? For two reasons. First so that you can effectively fight for your child, and second because you deserve a good life yourself, alienated or not.
Your child needs you. He or she is being controlled by a sick person. Even if your child can’t connect with you now, the fact that you are there and can be counted on to be there matters and makes a difference. Your child needs you as an example of a happy, healthy, nice, sane person. The alienator can’t deceive your child forever. Your child may not even be fooled now, but cannot safely admit, even to him or herself, that he/she does not agree with the the alienator. If you are depressed and made crazy you won’t be able to fight effectively, and your kids will not be able to see you as a real alternative (now or in the future) to the alienator. I know that’s easy to say. I have been depressed and frantic and panicky and out-of-control angry and desperate and only made things worse for myself. I couldn’t help it and I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t blame myself and I wouldn’t blame anyone else who reacts that way. In fact it’s really logical to react that way! But it doesn’t help. You need to be happy and healthy to be attractive to your kids. You need to be a safe haven for them when they are able to break away.
How do you this? First, recognize that fighting PAS is a marathon, and confusing, frustrating, and very difficult. It is intense, gruelling and likely to go on for years, not months, even in the best of cases. Care for and prepare yourself like an athlete in training. Just maintaining the awareness that this is a marathon can help you maintain the necessary patience and faith. Take care of your body, mind and spirit. Go to the gym, go to yoga, go to the doctor & the dentist, to meditation or church or whatever works for you. Take vacations and breaks, eat well, and be sure to have fun. It is critical that you spend time with people who reflect back to you that you are loved and important to counteract the hostility directed at you by your alienated children. Get help when you need it – from friends, self-help groups, or professionals – to coach and guide and encourage you (and see Support).
About your responsibility to yourself: You deserve a good life, alienated or not. Perhaps you have put your own life on hold, waiting for the alienation to end. Maybe you did this consciously, thinking that it was your duty and feeling guilty if you did anything for yourself. Maybe you have been obsessed and preoccupied with the dilemma of alienation and it hasn’t occurred to you to do anything else. I don’t mean to be flippant, but focusing on yourself and creating a good life for yourself in spite of the tragedy of alienation can be the lemonade in the giant pile of lemons that is parental alienation. Losing what was probably the most important thing in your life, your relationship with your children, may have taken away your very purpose and identity. Now who are you? I thought I couldn’t bear life without my ex and my children, but having lost them, I am still here and I know that I am a stronger and better person, and in fact, a better parent. If you read the previous post you know how weak and diminished I was. It has been a slow process, but coming to terms with the loss and understanding my part in it and getting help and daring to fight my ex and learning to deal with both successes and failures has improved me. Diamonds are made from carbon under tremendous pressure, and steel becomes strong by being tempered – being repeatedly heated, cooled and pounded. I find that very comforting! Everyday I still feel sad about my children, but at the same time I have a deeper appreciation of my life, and I feel that I have more to offer because of what I have been through.
Don’t let the alienator’s illness ruin your life. Life is a gift. The alienator is a sick person who has forced his or her sickness on your family, and made your child ill too. The great thing is that this sickness is situationally caused, and is not terminal. As long as there is life, there is hope, and there is every reason to calmly nourish the faith that you will be reunited with your child. You, strong, happy and healthy, never giving up and always there, waiting with love, can be a beacon, and a refuge and maybe one day even an inspiration for your child.