> No More Secrets And Lies: The Slow Tear

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Slow Tear

I had wonderful daughters who loved me immensely until one day when they didn't anymore for no apparent reason and for nothing I did.    -- My Journal

It's the slow tear that causes the most pain, that prolongs it, that produces the perpetual wasteland alienated parents are forced to live in. It's the slow severing of the relationship we once had with our children that seers into our minds the dying relationship we now have with them. 

And it's the non-healing of that wound that seals the true permanency of that death into our psyche and leaves us stranded in a no-man's land where we watch from afar as our children carry on with their lives as though nothing has happened to them and they're quite happy about it.

It's all of these things as opposed to a swift and clean severing.

You know, like a death.

And yet there was a severing and it was very swift and death-like with a certain finality to it. We alienated parents remember well the last moments we saw our child slamming a door in our face, telling us they hate us, and proclaiming that they never want to see us again. And even though most of us who have experienced this nightmare fully grasp the fact that this phase of our life is over and that we should move on because we'll probably never see our children again, we would do just that ... if not for the crazy notion of hope.

And so we don't, because of hope.

Because of Hope we live our lives as though our lost children will rise from the ashes one day and return to us – doesn't matter how they might do this rising and returning or how remote the chances of that ever happening are; as long as they're alive we hold out that hope. 

Because of hope we see our little girl somewhere over the horizon boarding a train and traveling across the mountains to show up at our door like Lassie returning to Timmy or Shadow to Peter with bags in hand saying, "Hi Dad. I'm home."

Because of hope we think our children will come back to us and so we wait and wait and we don't move on ... because our lives are on hold, because our wounds don't heal. Because the tear is slow.

Because of hope.

Crazy hope.

Which is also a good thing; don't get me wrong. Hope is the thing that makes us human and makes human life bearable. Hope keeps us going when we don't think we can go on any longer. And the belief that if we endure something long enough we'll eventually be connected to that which we value is a deeply-rooted instinct that has been a part of our makeup since consciousness crawled out of the oceans, or wherever it came from. 

And a parent's hope for his or her children is one of the most deeply-rooted instincts of all which can no more be ignored than can our quest for food or water. The lizard brain wants what it wants. 

Which is also a good thing, unless what it wants is unattainable, as in the case of children who have been poisoned and brainwashed to reject loving parents. 

Our instinctual brain doesn't understand the cultish death of parental alienation nor the ghoulish death of our children's minds. It doesn't know about the on-again off-again macabre game of wishing and anticipating to reconnect with our child, and the savage wounding that follows when, once again, our expectations fall through.

It doesn't make the connection between the eternal optimist in us who believes he can see his little girls again, if he only waits long enough, and the back-and-forth slicing like a knife when the dashed hopes tear at the wound some more and bleed everything out of us.

Everything, that is, except for hope. 

* * *

Because we know that on the other side of those mountains our child still exists, we wait as a visitor on this side -- part of us wanting closure, another part recoiling at the idea of ever giving up.

And so we see silver linings wherever we can, even though we know that, rationally, there shouldn't be silver linings.

And even though we been down this road a hundred-and-one times and return empty-handed just as many, we still keep a candle burning, we still wait, we still hold on, and we even hope, even though it still tears us apart.


Cindy Jackelen said...

Beautifully written, my friend. It makes me feel the deep ache in your soul.

John Brosnan said...

Thank you, Cindy. That's very nice.

John Brosnan said...

I realize that maternal and paternal affection for offspring doesn't arise from the lizard brain, but the point is basically the same: that it isn't always part of our rational mind either. I also like the way it sounds.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain -- from a daughter's perspective. Don't even know how I stumbled on your page but it touched a chord. My mother was my best friend when she died in 1974. She was 54; I was 14. My father, brother, and I tried to function as a family afterward, but our father had somehow by this time grown isolated from the rest of us. The death of our mother was devastating to him. Conscious of this awkward estrangement, we tried very hard to pretend that there was love in the relationship, but I am ashamed to say that more often than not, there was coldness. It was a complicated relationship before my mother's death -- immeasurably more so afterward, so much resentment that seemed so immutable hard as I tried to suppress it. In the end, it took every strength of will to show just a little compassion, or even make eye contact, during his failing health and I still feel shame and regret over the years before his death in 1981. All this to say that I understand the grief you must feel and the complexity of the feelings children have for their parents. I regret the way I treated my father and yet, over thirty years later, I still occasionally have a dream where I'm reunited with my father doing something mundane (driving somewhere, eating) and I will be so aggravated by his presence that I must resist the urge to snap at everything he says — all the while knowing I was wrong for behaving so and trying not to be irritable. Perhaps you might find some very little comfort that it is likely not something your daughter understands, but I suspect it vexes her as well. I often hope that there is an afterlife, that my father can hear my thoughts, and that he finds comfort knowing that I understand how hard it must have been for him; that he gains a glimmer of understanding of why I behaved as I did; and that he knows that I was and am sorry.

John Brosnan said...

It's such a tremendously sad phenomenon: that of ruining their minds and ruining our relationship, that their mother has orchestrated, that it simply ruins life itself. Thank for you for the comments..

Gail Morellen said...

I'm researching recent reports on DHS child-protection failures and ran across your comment on Aimee Green's oregonlive post. I, too, have a book that's relevant to your situation. It is being read and discussed (again) by Human Services students at Lane Community College and I have the opportunity to visit with them May 4th. Thus, my research to refresh myself with the broken system. If you have any links to reports of this nature, I'd appreciate your help.

John Brosnan said...

We should definitely get in touch. I think I see your Facebook page.

Anonymous said...

There is so much I just can't say....

John Brosnan said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think maligning someone is truly one of the worst things a person can do to another person. The thing is it is so easy to do. Especially easy with children because they trust that parents tell the truth, and may not even remember how their poor view of their parent evolved. It is absolutely unforgivable for a parent to turn their own child against another parent.

After my divorce, my ex and I were careful not to bad mouth one another. We had often read and heard how damaging that is to a child's well being and we were frightened of ever going there. For a child to hate a parent they have to feel an enormous amount of pain and loss to get there. I really am so sorry for what you have experienced. In my life, I have seen several people maligned for no valid reason by people I no longer respect- It is devastating to see how mean-spirited and cruel those actions are. Sometimes it's done out of insecurity, or a disagreement that led to bad feelings, or jealousy, or in the case of parents, hurt from a marriage ending. But to not think of the loss to a child from those action - It is incredibly selfish. You see parent alienation in action in that movie, "The Squid and the Whale" but there is a realization by one of the kids that he is treating one of the parents terribly because of the other one's hurt. I hope your children have a similar realization for their sakes and yours.

John Brosnan said...

Thank you. You're absolutely right and it's a scary and sickening experience for both parent and child.

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