I realised yesterday just how different I am today from the alienated person I used to be.
Within myself I am immeasurably more self-confident - not arrogant, but more self-aware and sure of who I am (the Asperger's notwithstanding).
I used to be very different. The alienated Me was tense all the time, stressed, frightened. I felt permanently stupid because I had been brainwashed into thinking I didn't know anything (again, the Asperger's notwithstanding - it's an issue that does merge occasionally with the effects of alienation but I (hopefully) am well able to separate the two). He always put my opinions down and calmly explained to me why I was wrong about EVERYTHING - even the day on which I celebrate my eldest child's birthday (she was born late at night in a different timezone from the one we live in. He believes that her birthday should be the day it was in the timezone we live in, not where she was born. This logic would also change the date of my own birthday but he never mentioned that) and about how to deal with my children, my sister, my mother's family, my personal life, that it was okay for him to walk into my bedroom when I was asleep naked with my also asleep and naked then-partner next to me, to feel me up, etcetera etcetera and und so weiter. Blah blah and blahdy blah.
I second guessed myself and worried about my decisions a lot. I was always *somehow* wrong if I asked him for advice or opinions. He always spoke down to me. He put me down too, indirectly - he wouldn't defend me if someone else made negative comments about me. My sister says truly terrible things about me. He liked to regale me with these. I once had a strange feeling about the way he was speaking that led me to ask if he actually agreed with her. His reply was that he didn't know. No. Probably not. It wasn't too reassuring - though I've never been able to put my finger on what was wrong with his response, my initial reaction was: he's lying. He does agree with her. He can't tell me outright that he doesn't. NOW, however, remembering the conversations properly, he seemed vague, not in denial. I don't think he had ever thought that deeply about me before. THAT is why I think he sounded so unconvincing: he truly didn't know because he didn't have a clue about my actual, personal character. He didn't know me. He once texted me when I was at a heavy metal concert. "What are you doing there?" he asked in surprise. "Erm, watching and listening to the band" I replied. "I didn't know you liked that sort of thing" he said. I joked that he didn't know me at all - and didn't get a reply to that.
Looking back, I'm amazed at that rubbish I fell for and the things I put up with. It's very easy to look back and wonder why the hell I put up with the abuse, how I believed the lies and manipulation. It wouldn't happen now - but that person believed in her male parent. She trusted him. She believed everything he did was for her own good and that he was behind her 100%. She believed he knew her and loved her. She did not believe a word against him because she had been forewarned by him that certain people were not trustworthy and only wanted to cause her harm. She had been shown how untrustworthy and evil her own mother was, and without him she would never have been able to unravel the subtleties of human behaviour to see that even the smallest gift was nothing more than bribery. He helped that little girl to see that her mother didn't want her or love her - but that little girl was in her thirties before she realised that he exposed her to terrible terrible thoughts and actions and beliefs like the fact that she was unloved ... and then left them to mill around her mind and torment her and haunt her. He sent that little girl to her bed at night in a house she was not wanted in, filled with people who hated her, ALONE. I spent days and nights thinking about my mother not loving me. It was on my mind constantly, even as an adult. Walking home from school was difficult because I was heading for that house where my presence was unwanted, my entrance dreaded not anticipated. I tried to earn her approval, just to receive a nice word, because it was impossible for her to love me, wasn't it?
When I think about my own offspring, especially the younger one, lying in bed crying and wishing someone else were her parents and that someone would come and rescue her from that hideous existence, it breaks my heart.
I sympathise with his heartbreak. I've been left too. I have NO sympathy whatsoever for what he turned me into because of it. I would NEVER tell my children their other parent doesn't love them! Even when things go bad and I feel like bopping my ex over the head, I try to explain that his behaviour is NOT because he doesn't love them!
Kids get hurt feelings when you don't praise their paintings enough. I can vividly remember the feeling accompanying the words "Your mother doesn't love you. She just wants to control you". My stomach would turn over. My chest would feel empty. My brain would feel like it had all fallen to the front of my head above my eyes, where it would try its hardest not to let them cry. My head would fall forward and look at my knees or the ground and the muscles in my neck would become solid. I'd wordlessly ask myself how I was going to live with this. I'd wish I was my sister because "she loves her because she doesn't look like me or you". How will I live with this? Of course, I didn't know how, I wasn't even in double figures, but my heart was broken.
I became so used to that feeling (because it was permanent. He reinforced it every time I saw him) that it felt normal. When boyfriends or friends made me feel that way, it felt normal - and I'd let them abuse me too.
He didn't just tell me these things once or twice, he told me them continuously for YEARS, from 1976 until 2005. He deliberately inflicted that heartbreak on me (and he knew how it felt to believe your mother might not love you because his was kicked out of the family home when he was eleven), but not on my sister.
After 2005, I was free of him. He was out of our lives completely. It was like a detoxing. Slowly I came to understand (and it's ongoing) what a heinous crime he committed. Slowly I came to review past events and revise their definitions where appropriate. I'm like a historical revisionist now. Once I realised that he was lying about me, everything started to unravel in my mind (and that moment came a few months after he disowned me, it wasn't immediate). Understanding of what he'd done and what Parental Alienation is has grown within me since then. I did not have a sudden epiphany - but I'm a different person. I'm stronger now. I trust my own opinion. I stand up for myself more. I am calmer and more content in many ways. I trust my own plans for my life. I don't feel stupid or worry that I am a bad parent or a let-down or a disappointment or that I can't make my own decisions.
If I saw him again, I'd have an absolutely screaming fit. I'm sure of that - right now, that's how I feel. I wouldn't be able to feel calm at this point in time. I'd scream and scream and scream for him to get the hell away from us. I'd call the police if I needed to. He'd start with his excuses and rationalizing and putting me down ("Don't be so silly") but I wouldn't put my head down and put up with it. I'd scream the place down. I'm not letting that psycho anywhere near us, no matter what rubbish he spouts. My kids - well, the younger one hardly remembers him but trusts Mum. The older one knows that man has legal rights to his grandchildren and has never even attempted to assert them, let alone call since the last birthday in February of 2005. They're loyal to me and they know as much as is appropriate for them to know at their respective ages. My ex supports me.
Time was I would have believed anything he said, including his definitions of my character (a character into which I stepped and played for decades until I realised he had applied the personality traits he wanted to me, and never actually saw the ones I truly have). He told me I was a tomboy (I'm not but I believed him and played that role whenever I was around him - but never at home), that I was loud and gobby (I'm not. Asperger's can make you the opposite, it can make you hide away, shy and nervous), that I'm a typical Leo (!), that I might be the reincarnation of his previous wife (WTF?! See my post about Covert Incest!), that I'm stupid (I'm not going to brag about this. Suffice it to say I'm CLEVER. It's the one aspect of my being that I'm proud of. I have nothing else that shines, just my stupendous brain. Okay, so now I'm bragging.), that the only reason I married my ex is because he was a "big, tall American", that I allowed myself to be fooled by my mother every day of my life - that I mistook her acts of love for bribery or manipulation or guilt or showing off or competition against him, that I needed him to help me form my opinions and see things clearly.
I can't help but look back at how foggy my brain was when I was under the spell of Parental Alienation. I can remember my ex ranting at how "pathetic" he thought my male parent was. He reached a point with him when he just lost his patience and couldn't deal with him without wanting to scream. I remember not being able to understand AT ALL where my ex was coming from. I thought he was mad. When his friend formed the same opinion, I thought he was mad too. My ex's exact words stay with me today because they sum my male parent up perfectly: "He is a pathetic man". He didn't mean, he's a pathetic person. He meant a pathetic male of the species, and only now do I understand the two meanings. He meant my male parent is not a real man, according to the standards of other men. It's telling that my male parent has never, ever had any male friends. His friends have all been women - and when I remember them, I remember them as being easily manipulated, vulnerable women just out of divorces who dumped him or withdrew their friendship after a year or so. And I am sorry that he has spent so much time alone - but he has no conception of it being his fault. He thinks it's everyone else. I believed that too.
I am stunned when I realise how much rubbish I accepted.
Parental Alienation is Emotional Terrorism. It is the deliberate harm of innocents in the pursuit of selfish desires (usually revenge).
There is no need for it.