> No More Secrets And Lies: PART 1: MADMAN DAYS

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I'm not going to tell you my…whole autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. 
Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

In early 2011 I found myself once again sitting in a therapist's office trying to explain all the crazy stuff that had happened to me and my family during the previous four months. From August of 2010 to Christmas of that year I had lost my job, my 17-year old daughter, and my mother, all for reasons I still don't fully understand. I was wrongfully fired from my job, my daughter suddenly started hating me, and my mother was beaten to death in a nursing home in Florida.

At the time I was mostly concerned about my daughter, and I was telling the therapist how strange it was that I had lost both her and my job in the same week, and how strange it was that both of these things had happened because of something I did — even though I was never told what it was I did. I told him I was sure my daughter was being manipulated since she and I had always been very close and I could think of no other reason she would be acting this way.

I continued with my story, concerned that at any moment he would start rolling his eyes in disbelief like so many others had done at this point in my story. But he didn't. This guy was different. Not only did he believe what I was telling him but he told me the same thing had happened to him ten years earlier.

He explained: When his two sons were ten and twelve years old, he and his wife were going through a custody battle, and for a couple of weeks he wasn't able to see either of his sons. When he finally was able to see them they had changed dramatically. They wanted nothing to do with him and told him they hated him, just like my daughter said she hated me. And like me, he had always been a very involved parent who was very close to his children. And also like me, he was never told what he had done to make them act this way. He now knows his wife poisoned his sons against him and he told me this is more common than anyone realizes. Once this happens, parents rarely see their children again.

He tried everything he could think of to reconcile with his sons but nothing worked and seemed to only made things worse. Soon weeks turned into months, with no contact from his sons, and holidays came and went with still no sign of them. After a year he gave up all hope of ever seeing them again and finally came to grips with the terrible realization that his children were gone from his life forever. He had no choice but to move on — on to a new life without his children.

He hasn't seen his sons now for ten years, and he wonders what they look like or if he has grandchildren. He doesn't like to think about this, though.

I told him this was the most ghastly thing I'd ever heard and asked him how in the world he was able to get through this.

"I cried a lot," he replied.

I felt like crying too after hearing this.

He then told me I should also think about moving on because there was nothing I could do anyway that would bring my daughter back. He said I should face the fact that my relationship with her was over, and as terrible as it sounds, I should forget she had ever been in my life. He said I needed to move on just like he had to do.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This was his advice to me — to forget my child? This was crazy talk. I told him I would never forget my daughter and I couldn't move on even if I wanted to. I hadn't done anything wrong. This was wrong, and I was going to do everything I could to get her back, no matter what it took.

He wished me luck.

I left his office feeling worse than I had before I came, yet I took some comfort in the fact that I wasn't the only parent this had happened to. It happens to hundreds of parents just like me all the time — a fact I really didn't want to take any comfort in.

For days I could think of nothing but my conversation with that therapist and my slim chances of ever seeing my daughter again. And while I knew I would never accept a fate such as this, I didn't know how to prevent one like it either. What I did know was that my daughter was hurting and that the young girl who said she now hated me wasn't my daughter. But knowing this wasn't enough, and I had to wonder if maybe he was right — especially considering that even a family therapist couldn't do what I was trying to do. I had to think of something.

And then it hit me and I knew what I had to do. I would do the opposite of everything he had told me. I would keep trying to connect with my daughter and never give up. I would remember everything about her and never forget her. And I would write everything down and tell it to everyone. I would tell our story — all of it — all the secrets and all the lies.


Anonymous said...

Holy F man, this shit is dank!

John Brosnan said...

Is that a compliment?

TSElliott said...

I haven't seen my son in almost 2 years and he is 15 now. I want to believe that you are right - that trying harder will help you get your daughter back. In my experience, the harder I tried - the worse it was for everyone. I was also a therapist when my son was turned against me when he was only 6 years old. After all of theses years - the only comfort that I get is hoping that one day he will come to me and choose to know me. I am not dead yet and I just pray that one day he will see through all of the lies and get to know me again. I think this happens to a lot of men, but as a mom I feel like this should never happen. I think lawyers and courts actually get in the way - they never help.

John Brosnan said...

That's too bad about your son. Of course, this shouldn't happen to mothers or fathers. And I think most lawyers and courts do help or try to.

Alton Billingsley said...

Thank you for your post, thank you for fighting for your daughter. She needs you, and deep down she still loves you. PAS is child abuse and She is being forced to say those hurtful things and forced to lash out against you. Keep fighting. I'm going through the same thing with my Son, and I will keep fighting against any abuse to my child.

John Brosnan said...

Thank you. I try to remember this. I think it's the hardest part -- understanding what's being forced upon children who are put in these positions. Good luck connecting to your kids. - John

Anonymous said...

Never give up! Love is eternal. My daughter suddenly changed her opinion of me from hero to total zero in her junior year of high school. I am emotionally devastated but will never stop loving her and trying to nurture a reconcilliation. Good luck, John. I admire your courage.

Pennie Reese said...

This is a noble undertaking. To tell the story. It doesn't matter the result. It's the telling that counts. That's where your integrity breathes life into others.

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