Going underground: into the world of the alienated child

First real day of sunshine and I am thinking about the way in which we survive cycle after cycle, the downward spiral into winter and the way in which the myth of persephone in the underworld plays itself out in our lives over and over and over again.  Born as we are, in a cyclical world, none of us can avoid the reality of life, death and separation from our loved ones.  Demeter lamented as  her daughter Persephone was taken from her by Hades the god of the underworld, in a story of abduction, reconciliation and regeneration.  In the Persephone myth, there is the foretelling of spring, renewal and reunification.  For the alienated child and family, none of this normal and natural renewal is allowed to occur and so the world becomes frozen in time as the child disappears, deep into the underworld, where the family they have rejected cannot follow.  As spring emerges from its slumber and the green shoots of renewal and regeneration are all around us, I think of those families, for whom the lament cannot end and where normal and natural cycles are stilled, frozen, almost as if between time.

So I thought it might be useful, on this spring morning, to write something of what happens to children in that underground world where families cannot follow.  In doing so I hope that I am able to bring some light to dark places and some relief to frozen feelings of loss and lack of hope.  I know that living with the experience of being alienated from your child can cause all manner of pain and suffering, it can bring hopelessness and helplessness and at times great waves of anger and resentment, directed not only to those who have caused your loss but to others too, sometimes those who do not even touch your life in any meaningful way.

I was prompted to think about how being alienated from your child can cause such a tsunami of anger and pain, by something written on a facebook page in recent days, from a father who is alienated to a mother who is alienated.  The anger directed by this man to this woman was palpable and I could hardly bear to continue reading the way in which he dismissed her experience, her suffering and her pain.  I was tempted to write something on the page to comfort her and to draw this man’s attention to the fact that she was not his ex wife, not the mother of his child and not the person who had taken his child away from him.  And that in actual fact she was suffering, just as he was, the same fate of having had a child taken away through distortion of the child’s mind and feelings.  I let it be, this man clearly has things to work through, this woman will hopefully find help elsewhere. It reminded me though that alienation does terrible things to people which, if they are not able to deal with them, may cause them to unwittingly prolong the withdrawal of their child and maintain the frosts in the underground world their child has disappeared into.

One of the things that I tell alienated parents to do is to keep themselves healthy and well and to embrace the emotional and psychological process that they are being forced to experience and understand it.  That’s not easy to do when there is so little understanding of parental alienation in our culture and its definitely not easy to do when your child has behaved as if you are the lord of the underworld himself, come to steal them away.  But those parents that I have met and worked with who are able to do this are those for whom the reunification process is swifter and easier and those for whom the possible future in terms of a relationship with their child over the rest of their lives, is a healthy reality.  Those who are well and focused and alive in their world, are those who understand what is happening and what the prognosis is for their child.

This post then, is directed at those of you who are currently in that frozen and distant place who need to know more about what happens to children when they go underground.  This is part of the empathic responding series of posts that I began a few weeks ago and gives you a window on the world of your child when they are in the fully rejecting stance.  It does not offer anyting other than a peek into that world, it does not offer answers and it cannot tell you how to retrieve your child from that place.  But it can give you a sense of where your child has gone and what your role, as the rejected parent  feels like as you sit and wait for spring to come.

Alienated children are all very different to each other in personality but they share some very common and recognisable traits.  They are usually very bright children and sensitive to the feelings of the people around them.  Many are the oldest child in the family system or the only child.  They are likely to have been very close to you before the rejection began.

Alienated children do very very well at school, in fact one of the things that their aligned parent will say to you and the world is how well their child is doing at school.  Immense pride in school achievements is a key feature in alienation cases, it is as if the child takes flight into doing well at school to cover the shame of what they have done in rejecting you.  Some very key research evidence points to this, Warshak, Baker and Bala have all written about the alienated child who does exceptionally well at school.  My own practice suggests to me that this is without doubt one of the major features when alienation reactions begin.  Down the line however, school performance can suffer as the child cannot maintain the flight into perfection. In the underworld, the child who has split parents into good and bad, has also split their own sense of self in the same way and maintainance of behaviour becomes difficult as the child occillates between good and bad within their own selves.

The early part of an alienation reaction is not the same as the middle part or latter part.  You will notice that I am speaking about alienation as a journey not a static experience and indeed it is though some reactions become fixed and immoveable, most particularly when a child is left in the care of a parent with a personality disorder who captures the child within that and fuses their developing selves with the disordered adult self.  Those children who remain fixed and rejecting are those for whom the prognosis is not so good and it is useful, in all cases, to know whether your child is moving along a spectrum or static and unable to do so.

Early alienation for a child feels like a relief.  As they disappear underground, taken not by you but their other parent, they will project their fears of being abducted onto you, the parent that they have chosen to reject.  In actual fact, many children appear to ‘know’ at some level that they have been taken by a parent and will talk about being chased, hunted, stolen or grabbed as one of the core fears that they hold of the parent that they are rejecting.  The reality is that these fears, which arise because of the ‘choice’ they have made, are being pointed at you when they really belong to the other parent.  Underground, in the world of the alienated child, what is good is bad and what is bad is good and black is white as everything becomes topsy turvey and upside down.  When the parent who has captured the child reaffirms this, the rejection deepens and becomes entrenched as the child literally loses the ability to know their own mind.  The relief in the early days for the child, is not having to try and process things through each time they are confronted with reality in the form of you.  No longer having to face the psychological trauma of turning things upside down and back to front and then having to reverse it again, brings an immense sense of escape and many children speak of feeling safe again and no longer fearful.  Whilst they project the fears onto you, the fears they really feel are those which arise from the fused nature of their relationship with the parent they have chosen to keep in their lives.  Perhaps as you read this you can begin to understand just how scrambled the internalised world of the alienated child feels.  In the early days there is much relief at not having to keep on coping with that.

As things move on however things become more difficult for the alienated child.  The further away from you they travel, the more complicated their reaction becomes.  If they are absolutely removed from you, without any form of contact and if the image they have been forced to accept of you is one of danger, fear and terror, a phobic like reaction may take root.  This is when children become upset and angry or sometimes even hysterical when anything about you or your family is mentioned. The distortion of you in their internal world has become so powerful that they cannot cope with any knowledge of you or any exposure to anything to do with you. These phobic like reactions are common to severely alienated children, who are protecting themselves from the pressures they are still experiencing from the parent that they are aligned to.  These are the children for whom life underground becomes fixed and permanent. These are the children who are very much at risk of emotional harm if they are not helped.

Towards the end of the journey of alienation, when reconnection becomes possible, your child starts to detect a light at the end of the deep dark tunnel they have been travelling through. Children at this stage will often make attempts to contact a parent, perhaps looking at facebook pages or connecting on other social media, perhaps sending messages and then retreating in silence.  Children in this stage remind me of small animals unable to tolerate too much light and working with them takes great care as over exposure to perspective work can be too much for them.  But children in this stage are those for whom the future looks brightest, if the parent they have lost is sitting at the entrance to the tunnel waiting for them, well and healthy and welcoming.  When children can put their hand in yours and move off with you into the next phase, safe in the knowledge that the past has gone and will not return, their lives (and yours) can rapidly repair.  You may need to be patient for some time as they come and go and retreat and come forward again, but once a child has started to reach out it is highly unlikely that they will disappear from your life again for ever.  Be ready, be healthy, be well for when that happens.

Rejected parents are many and varied and working with them as I do I see many for whom I know it is a matter of waiting and some for whom I know that spring is going to take a long time coming.  This is not to blame parents who are alienated, I know how painful and difficult it is to experience never ending loss in this way. It is however, to flag up that there is a condition that some parents experience which acts against reunification possibilities and against your child returning to you.  This condition is best described as fixed projection of blame and it comes when a parent is so focused on the wrong doing of the other parent and what has been taken away, that they lose perspective.  This condition perfectly mirrors that of the alienated child and when it occurs, it is as if the child and parent become perfect reflections of each other, neither one moving for fear that change will come.  For parents in this condition, I often experience the fear of change as being greater than the desire for reunification.  When it occurs, it is incredibly difficult to raise with the rejected parent, who will become angry and blaming towards the therapist, solicitor, court process, anyone else who gets in the way, even, in some cases, other parents who have themselves been rejected as in the case of the man on the facebook page whose anger towards a fellow rejected parent so obviously demonstrated.  Loss of a child is a terrible thing, injustice suffered at the hands of your child’s other parent is intolerable and forced prevention of a relationship at the hands of the family courts compounds the nightmare.  The way you respond to this however, lies in your own hands, your own heart and your own ability to understand and cope with what has happened to you and your child.  Do not let the bitterness, fear and anger overwhelm you, keep a place in your heart for compassion, humility and strength to carry on. Most of all, keep your own life alive and live and laugh and share your world with others, and never forget that  those who really understand are those who have experienced the worst of it. Do not close them out.

Nelson Mandela, a man who experienced injustice, forced separation from loved ones and absolute discrimination in his life said of his release –

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

When your child comes up from the underworld, be free, be well and be there, right where they need you to be.

(This post is dedicated to Tim Haries, father of two children lost in the underworld and Paul Manning, father of a child also lost underground.  For your dignity, courage and ability to move beyond bitterness and blame, towards a better future, where your children are returned and restored to you).

40 comments

  1. PapaMissingKids · March 9, 2014

    Wow!

    I don’t know why but for me this is one of the most powerful articles I’ve read here.

    Good wishes and prayers for Paul and Tim Haries – ideally, somehow, however miraculously, you can be involved in their case.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 9, 2014

      PMK: you are not far from my mind today either, sending you good wishes and thank you thank you thank you, for all that you are, your children have a special father. K

      Like

  2. PapaMissingKids · March 9, 2014

    Means a lot coming from you Karen
    Thank you thank you thank you

    Like

  3. Denise Carroll · March 9, 2014

    I am sitting here with tears in my eyes having just read this powerful article. This morning at Milli’s I spent time catching up with an alienated father, a gentle man who has over the years and still continues gives his time to charities and Island community events. For this father his only hope is that his daughter will come looking for him when she can, having met her and having witnessed the bond between them I hope that it wont be long.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      And on Jersey now there is a place where alienated parents can go and find the support that they need and the help that carries them through. It is a marvel to me Denise that this work can be spread in this way, I have been so pleased to meet and work with you and find someone else who really knows what parents in these circumstances need. I hope we can work together for many years and build up the network of other like minded people so that we bring hope and compassion into as many lives as possible. k

      Like

  4. Kat · March 9, 2014

    There is something about this post that makes me feel very sad. I think your comparison to a small animal unable to tolerate too much light is very apt – I thought of little rabbits coming out of their holes and scurrying back again. I didn’t realize there was a link to school performance – we always used to talk about how school was clearly a safe haven, a place to escape it all. So in its own right school provides something these children need. On top of that doing well at school results in praise from the alienator – a way to gain some acceptance in a world where love and praise is metered out on condition only. But be aware school is also a place where external influences come to the child and the alienator may very well not be prepared to accept those!

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      Yes, I often feel sad when I work with children who in an alienated place, they are so closed, so withdrawn and so anxiously hanging on to the place they have been forced into. I will put some links up about school performance later today. Schools have an important role to play in the lives of alienated children, we will be doing some work with schools in education and awareness raising later this year, I will post more on this in a few weeks. K

      Like

  5. Grandparent Support · March 9, 2014

    When My daughter ‘Lost her fight’ with the father the subsequent alienator I stepped in to preserve the relationship, it was not to be, my daughter my granddaughter’s mother gave up hope and fight and relinquished all of her contact, she could take no more and suffered terribly choosing another path!
    I fought on to preserve the relationship I already had that of grandma and grandchild and gateway to the rest of my granddaughters maternal family,it took six long years and we have a relationship despite the father and ironically because of him,
    One day my daughter will be strong enough to deal with it and it will be easier for my grandchild I hope, as I help them navigate the treacherous waters of those deep held beliefs and untruths, whilst at all times protecting and illucidating on those fragile misconceptions.
    I thank you Karen for your post and clarifying what we all already suspected but could not have so eloquently said.
    I will be re-blogging this and sharing it widely with your permission. XX

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      you show how much grandparents matter, wiser than we were when we were parents, strong and sinewy to withstand the pain, you will bring much light to all your loved ones lives. K

      Like

  6. Grandparent Support · March 9, 2014

    Reblogged this on Grandparent Support and commented:
    If you were ever under any illusion about alienation, I dare you to read this and still think the same!

    Like

  7. Walter White (@Father4J) · March 9, 2014

    A haunting and stunning article Karen.

    I have just ‘won’ a court order to see my son, whom professes to “hate me”.

    If I had not read your blogs, and had the benefit of your advice via e mail, this statement from my own flesh and blood would be the end of me. As it is, thanks to you, and the advice I’ve taken from you, I live on in the knowledge of what’s happening, why it’s happening and what the reasons are for it.

    My new partner and I are 3 weeks away from the birth of our child, and I’ll take your lovely Spring metaphor and run with it. New child. New hope for my alienated child. New perspective on an injustice that has caused my life to stand still in a whirlwind of trauma for 12 years.

    Tim Harries will be seeing the light of day again soon too, and one hopes and dreams that he may find a reunification, and a bridge to a new life with his two girls. Lovely dedication; I dedicate my own hope to you Karen.

    Thank you. Xx

    Darryl Westell

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      I wish you and your partner and the new one to come and your boy underground, who will come up for air and life and love again one day, the best that life can bring. Let the love that comes with new life heal your heart and soul. You are not alone and even in your suffering you give much to others. Let us know when the new one is here, sending love for a safe journey into the world. K

      Like

  8. Torn 2 Peaces · March 9, 2014

    Reblogged this on Moms' Hearts Unsilenced.

    Like

  9. suewhitcombe · March 9, 2014

    As always Karen, you write about this in a way that no-one else can quite match. Thank you. I will continue to share your words in my work, and direct colleagues and clients to your blog.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      Thank you Sue and I hope that very soon I can be sending parents your way too, I think that doctorate must be almost finished now? K

      Like

  10. daddyhardup · March 9, 2014

    Thank you, Karen, for this reflection. It’s very helpful to those of us who have lost contact with our child(ren) through parental alienation.

    I’ve just been reading Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter, which tells a story of dying and renewal through the turning of the seasons. Moomins usually hibernate through the long northern winter, but on this occasion Moomintroll wakes up in midwinter and can’t get back to sleep again. He finds that the familiar landmarks of his home have been transformed by darkness, ice and snow, and that the strange creatures of winter are using them for their own mysterious purposes. Moomintroll has to learn to make this unfamiliar, hostile world his own, so that when spring finally comes, he doesn’t experience it as a release from sadness and loss, so much as an exciting new stage in the changes he has learned to negotiate.

    My daughter loved me reading the Moomin books to her, and we got to page 81 of this one (as I see from the bookmark) before contact finally broke down completely. Even before I read your latest post, I was thinking that the ice had closed over the Moomin house at that point with no prospect of a spring break-up. I’ve now sent the book to my daughter, via a tenuous go-between, and I hope it will reach her, and that she will accept it, and remember through it some of the good times we spent together.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      Daddy hardup, you have inspired me. I am going to start to write some stories for children myself, in fact I am going to start this very afternoon. I hope you will come back and tell me what you think. I have ordered the Moomin book you write of too, I think it could be a tremendous help for children, thank you for sharing. K

      Like

  11. ChrisTR · March 9, 2014

    From all of your posts since I have started following your blog, Karen, this is the one that resonates most with me and the one that I think best describes the situation my children and my ex-wife are in. The only contact I have with my children is through the monthly letters I send them. I receive no replies although my ex-wife is supposed to encourage them to reply to me and to “maintain the link” with their father. She has written to me (about a year ago) to say that she “cannot make them do what you (me) want them to do”.

    I went beyond the stage of anger, dislike and confusion directed towards my ex-wife well over a year and a half ago. I have been worried about my ex-wife as much as I have been worried about my children, because she is equally ‘frozen’ as they are. Without any form of reasonable communication between her and me and some kind of reconciliation, none of us can move forward and I fear for the future psychological and emotional welfare of my children and, indeed, my ex-wife.

    I believe that my children are fixed in a phobic state, without any chance of moving forward unless I and my ex-wife communicate and she comes to understand that this situation must not continue, for the sake of our children. As you say:

    “If they are absolutely removed from you, without any form of contact and if the image they have been forced to accept of you is one of danger, fear and terror, a phobic like reaction may take root.”

    Sadly, my ex-wife has refused my attempts to communicate with her. I wish she could read this post. However, I think that if I sent it to her, she would not take kindly to the part about the children left “in the care of a parent with a personality disorder”.

    I have in the past week received a photograph of my two children (my ex-wife was ordered to send me photos of the children every four months, before the end of each of February, June and October) and, like all of the photos I have received since October 2012, it shows the children looking very unhappy. I do not recognise them as the happy, smiling children they once were when we were living together. Through these photos I receive the message that my children are trapped, frozen and unable to progress through the tunnel towards me.

    For the time being, all I can do is send my love flowing towards my children. I urge all alienated parents in such a situation to persevere and do the same. Many times I have considered disengaging from this situation, for the sake of my own sanity. Through your blog and the stories of people in similar situations who post replies on your blog, I find the energy and strength to continue with the journey and to bring my focus back to my children. Thank you, Karen.

    Like

    • Walter White (@Father4J) · March 9, 2014

      Have strength friend. Have courage. You’re the moral compass here in this goddam awful mess. Thoughts are with you.

      Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      I am glad the blog and other people’s comments help, it is an incredibly difficult process to go through and horrendous in terms of your well being, self esteem, self belief and the erosion of all that you feel as a parent. You must however, stay engaged with your role as your childrens parent, it is something that is essential to you and essential to them. Somehow, many children who are alienated, are aware of their other parent at some level, even when they are far far away from them physically, emotionally and psychologically. It is as if the parent occupies a silent space within them. Some children have talked about the parent that they have rejected as being a ghost like figure inside their minds, literally haunting them. Some speak of nightmares that their parent is going to come and get them and kidnap them and take them away. This putting away of the parent, into a place which they feel is beyond their conscious reach, is actually a psychological adaptation to an impossible problem. Putting away a parent into a box inside the mind marked ‘do not open’, only sets up problems for the child when the parent cannot be kept in the box. Children speak of their parent in ways that tell me that they have pushed their parent into a place which is conversant with their super ego, which in layman’s terms is our conscience. We learn about conscience from the messages that parents give us and we learn how to contain and monitor and regulate our behaviour by listening to our conscience. When we have rejected a parent and particularly a father, who often plays the role of setting down limits and boundaries and therefore becomes a strong part of our super ego or conscience, we will feel guilt and shame (part of the tool box of the conscience which regulates behaviour). Many children tell me that they don’t like seeing the parent they have rejected or thinking about them even because it is irritating and it makes them feel guilty (normal signs of conscience) and so the parent becomes interlinked with the action of the conscience which, if overridden and supported to be overridden by the aligned parent, causes the child to lose the normal behaviours that govern conscience, leading to pathological behaviours such as action without conscience, cruelty, sociopathy and more. These are the reasons why children in these circumstances must be helped.

      I notice the frozen nature of children in severe alienation, their faces become almost statue like and without light or life about them. I think this is likely to be because of the way in which normal processes have been interfered with and their energy is spent in trying to maintain normal life despite that.

      What you must keep doing is letting your love flow towards them and keep sending them letters and cards and pictures. We know from research that children who do receive these find them important and miss them if they stop. Somehow, the normal child within remains preserved underneath and your letters will nourish the love that IS still there. Underneath the frozen terrain, the child has encapsulated love and pushed it away and out of sight. That keeps something of the healthy child alive and you can, when they are ready to come up from underground, nourish that and help it to grow back healthy and strong.

      Sending my support to you, I am going to write for children in the next few weeks, stories that you can send to them if you want to. I am going to ask my daughter to illustrate them so that you can print them off and post them.

      K

      Like

      • ChrisTR · March 13, 2014

        Thank you for your kindness and support, Karen. What you have written has helped me and I can see that I will return to this post every now and again to remind me of where my children are and what I must do for them.

        Like

    • polly · December 2, 2014

      I have only just read this article by Karen Woodall having been recommended it by MATCH. Chris, I can completely empathise with every word you say. The article provides not only an insight into our alientated children’s worlds but a much greater understanding and hope for the future. Like so many people who have left comments, I am keeping the contact alive as much as I can and despite little or no replies and against a background of overt rejection from my 4 children. This is really tough, but an insight in their worlds has provided some light into a very dark place.
      Thank you all so much….especially Karen.

      Like

  12. Pingback: The Lonely and the Rum | A Friend of God
  13. nick234678 · March 10, 2014

    As others have said, Karen, your description of the child’s underworld is brilliant and utterly important. I think it is even more so because your work is rare if not unique. I will also keep spreading your word … and look forward to receiving your new book shortly!

    I like too the way you show how the “tsunami of anger and pain” can be so awful that an alienated person may target another alienated person as if they were the enemy rather than a fellow human sufferer. You describe how, though so hard to do, important it is for the children – on their journey out of the underworld – to find ways to set this tsunami aside to be ready for their return.

    The example also illustrates, I think, how powerful gender can sometimes be as a false bullseye for those tsunamic feelings. Even though alienation patterns are found across gender patterns, the gender pattern of one’s own particular story can lead us to blast all those in that category, whether guilty or innocent.

    I reckon that false bullseye effect also fuels some of the tsunamic hatred between the sides in the gender debate on domestic abuse too.

    Nick

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      The false gender bullseye that you describe Nick was actually engendered by the way in which the discriminatory legislation encourages a sense of being targeted and treated unfairly. This man’s reaction seemed to me to be entirely about his sense of the alienated mother having it easier than him because she is a woman, his concept of being alienated being entirely about being a man and being discriminated against by a court system which feels biased against him. In many respects this man was wrong to attack this woman, mostly because as alienated parents, she, not he, faces the most discrimination in terms of how other people see their parenting and the questions that are raised about a father who does not see his children (he must have run away and left them) and a mother who does not see her children (she must have done something really wrong to be prevented from being their mother).

      But the false gender bullseye effect in terms of the gender debate also has its roots in reality, in terms of the way in which the debate is controlled by the side with the money (women) and the way in which violence and abuse is depicted as being perpetrated by men against women by the people with the money (women).

      When 40% of domestic abuse is experienced by men, one would imagine that 40% of the funding available to support victims would go to services supporting men. The reality is that a tiny fraction of that 2% or less, goes to support men, the rest to support women with the message underpinning it that domestic abuse is about men hurting women. When the highest category of violence in the home is suffered in lesbian relationships however, one would imagine that honesty and transparency in terms of women’s violence against other people (including children and other women) would be raised as an issue by the domestic abuse industry. But it is not. Rather, the endless and repeating soundbite is that violence in the home is about patriarchal power relationships and men hurting women. Its just untrue. And the tsunami of anger (some of it erupting from me on this site) is about the reality that this is unjust, discriminatory and that it endangers life and limb for men, women and children alike.

      When we are honest about the reality of violence in the home, when we face the facts unflinchingly and acknowledge that women are violent as well as men and that the issue of domestic abuse is about intergenerational patterns of dysfunctional behaviour (as pointed out over the years by Erin Pizzey) then we will be in a place where together, as a society, we can move forward towards emotional health and well being. We are far far far from that place.

      The tsunami of anger between the two sides of the dv debate is literally because the discrimination that men feel and experience about the lies, distortions and detractions from the truth perpetuated by the dv industy, is absolutely and undeniably real.

      Like

      • nick234678 · March 10, 2014

        Thank you, Karen, for your generous expansion on the particular example and the understanding the layers of what goes into the tsunami.

        I completely accept that these experiences and arguments are valid and absolutely real. The trouble is that the earth shaking continental plates that throw up the tsunami works like that because both of the colliding “continental plates” believe they are in the absolute right and driven by absolute moral certainty.

        In the absence of anywhere, world wide web included, to have a full and fair rational debate – and we know that you have tried many more years than anyone to do that – we are both / all searching high and low for ways to balance these unbalanced discourses. I sincerely believe that teaming up all our different ways of finding or fighting for more balance, will eventually get us there. Pushing and publishing and sharing will eventually work.

        And I repeat that I think the most important way to make this future happen sooner is to publish the kind of experienced and crystal clear accounts of children, family and helpers’ experience and work. As you do par excellence here.

        Nick

        Like

      • nick234678 · March 10, 2014

        Oh, and of course your powerful knowledgeable arguments are part of that fight too, to match the dominant culture that mostly has held the floor otherwise. Nick

        Like

  14. Phill Ferreira · March 10, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Story of my Twin Boys , Oliver and Oscar Ferreira and commented:
    This is a must read …. Thank you Karen

    Like

  15. Phill Ferreira · March 10, 2014

    Hi Karen , thank you for this great perspective , I have re blogged it on my twin boys blog , hope that is ok with you …

    Kind Regards,

    Phill Ferreira

    Like

    • karenwoodall · March 10, 2014

      Of course it is, I have been inspired by Daddy Hardup’s posting of the Tove Jannson Moomins story to begin writing for alienated children as well as about them, I will put my first go at that up soon and you can let me know what you think. I know that many people want to be able to give something to their children that might make a difference, I have been thinking about how to write something that will get through the blocks and barriers to children and show them, without pressuring them too much, that there is always another side to the story and always two sides to themselves. Check back soon and let me know what you think. K

      Like

      • Phill Ferreira · March 10, 2014

        Thanks Karen , I started this blog for my little men in the hope that they will know one day nor me or my family ever walked away from them….

        Like

  16. thunk2much · March 10, 2014

    Thank you. It’s been a long journey so far, but so helpful to see the journey my daughter is undergoing as well, and to keep the focus on the future. I believe Spring will arrive, some day.

    Like

  17. Garden Adopters · March 10, 2014

    A very powerful piece, Karen – graphically describing life for an alienated child.

    I’m sure it is no coincidence that your description of the Alice-in-Wonderland underground world of an alienated child is uncannily similar to the world described by Christine Ann Lawson as experienced by children with a mother suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Never knowing what to say or how to act and losing track of reality – is it any wonder that these children are damaged and often go on to replicate their own childhoods through their own children?

    Like

  18. fatherscontact · March 11, 2014

    Karen you are a shining star to all alienated parents and their children. If only I had known about you before I withdrew from court for the sake of my children and family! The new website will include your information along with Anna Pinkerton. Giving hope to the alienated is a great power to share. Thank you for your kindness and knowledge @fatherscontact

    Like

  19. carrie · March 15, 2014

    Karen, I love your writing. It is powerful and desperately needed. I meet children who are experiencing a living bereavement; locked in adult emotions and indeed frozen. Wishes and feelings of these children become magnified and professionals struggle as they are faced with “forcing” parental relationships, yet their wishes and feelings are not their own. Statutory agencies don’t recognise emotional harm unless children are bruised or unfed or dirty …..

    I will be following your work with interest.

    Carrie

    Like

  20. Cathy Conner · December 17, 2014

    My dream was always that my parents would follow or look for me, but they didn’t. They didn’t want me to begin with and said so – so I’m at the wrong website.

    Like

  21. lizarcher66 · May 8, 2016

    I have been alienated from my sone now 19 and 17 over 5 years. However a medical emergency with their sister now 11 meant a years reunification. Easy. Snapped right back into place. Family therapy revealed a very unhappy emotionally deprived experience with their father. Over 10 months things were great. My first family holiday with all my children. My middle son continued therapy he was so influenced by his elder brother and the most lost. The therapist said he had to change residence because it was not emotionally safe for his emerging authentic self to be at his father’s. I truly understand his dilemma now. The safety of the known aspect. A second traumatic alienation experience as we had no legal or family support. I can see now the harm caused to him made this probably the mostrich scary decision he would have had to make. He chose safety remained and has rejected me again. Watching your child almost virtually go through psychological splitting in front of you… truly the most single painful experience of my life. Feeling powerless to protect just agonising Karen, if only I knew about your services then.

    Like

  22. Ms Marple · May 21, 2016

    Am lost in the Underworld myself…. How do you care for yourself effectively over the long run? I have been separated from my sons for 18 months… I know..not long compared to some but every day a torture, minute by minute. I have pushed away people close to me as I cannot always bear their clumsiness and minimising of the situation. Also, I have noticed others cannot take an open wound, they want it to be healed,or they want to heal it, so we can all go back to normal. So slowly but surely they begin to resent and judge you for being wounded and you become the problem. I have reached some kind of full stop, I can feel it but the days won’t stop, the morning always comes, hours til sleep, hours of consciousness to be parcelled out, the relentless ticking of the clock. Social services are involved and I must attend therapy with the alienating family. How can I speak openly? My eldest son had recently made contact. Things I said about his situation at a Signs of Safety meeting were then reported back to him and he broke contact. Meanwhile my youngest son shows almost textbook symptoms, no happy memories of our 13 years together, complete historical revision of past, complete splitting. I try and explain to the professionals involved, and I am by no means inarticulate or emotional in my approach, but still they focus on our relationship, asking me to explain how/why he feels this way. And, as a woman, so judged…always the unspoken…’what did you do?” If I am logical I am cold, although I am only trying to contain the hurricane, to speak clearly, if I am emotional I am damaged and my children remain frozen, rearranging letters in some distant ice palace. My life has shrunk to something I don’t recognise, I move through the world like a normal person, occupying space, crossing roads, catching trains, but in my heart i am trekking across a frozen tundra with no destination in sight, moving because I must move, breathing because I must breathe, because I don’t know how to stop. I am lost, so lost and so far from my children. Words cannot explain my loss, it lives in my body, too large to be described and I am its slave.

    Like

    • polly · May 21, 2016

      Wow. Only a Mum who has been so unfairly and unjustly ‘alienated’ can put her feelings into words so eloquently and effectively. People…everyone will tell you it’ll get better…The children will grow up and understand. I hope they will. (in fact with my eldest he has) but the real tragedy is the ‘here and now’. The children missing out on that vial link with their Mum and vice versa. I often wonder what my children think and feel and what really upsets me is that they are sad and unhappy. I am sure if most alienated parents honestly believed their alienated children were really happy and content without them, then as a parent the pain would lessen. I doubt that is the case in reality. Being ‘alienated’ with no contact leaves your imagination spiralling……..

      Like

  23. Pingback: Going underground: into the world of the alienated child – The LAMB in Seguin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s