As an alienated parent, I often struggle to find things I can be thankful for, especially right around holidays. Along with millions of alienated parents across the country, all we can think about is the missed experiences and the people absent from our family celebrations.
We spend hours scouring the internet searching for an answer to relieve our suffering and protect our children from this insidious beast, parental alienation. We often lay awake at night, wondering if our children are happy and safe, wondering if they are suffering and missing us as well.
If we lost loved ones during the alienation period, the trauma is even more profound. We know the time lost is lost forever for a beloved grandmother/aunt/grandpa/uncle.
The trauma of parental alienation is so easy to get so sucked into. Many Moms and Dads forget they are still alive. We get drawn into the daily grind of surviving our ordeal. We discover it's possible to feel guilty for moments of enjoying life without our children by our side.
How To Be Thankful
The purpose of this article is to give you hope and direction. I plead guilty to all of the feelings I just discussed. I have lived and still live your pain. A great mentor of mine taught me a valuable lesson at the beginning of my ordeal.
After six years, it is hard for me to remember the beginning. Life is a journey! I want each of you to think about your life right now. Think of at least one person who inspires you to be a better person. When you speak to this person, how do you feel?
I have never pushed my faith on anyone. It is your choice to believe what you choose, and I am not able to say I have not struggled with God over the years. I wrestled with understanding why God allows bad people to be bad. I struggled with why he allows the alienation to keep hurting my children.
I have found answers in my own life but cannot speak for others. In my experience, God always provides me with the people and comfort I need when I need it. When open eyes are required to reveal the truth, I found the truth. I am finally seeing the years of abuse have displayed a pattern to help my children and, hopefully, others as well. We are the pioneers in this movement. I do not plan to let my suffering or the suffering of my children to go in vain. So this all being said, what do we possibly have to be grateful for this holiday season? While we are grieving our children, what light can possibly exist?
We should be thankful for the people and experiences we meet in our lives.
Grateful for the friends who insist that we get out, even for a few hours.
Appreciative of the support groups that help us to realize we are not alone…
The activists that are working day and night to change Family Law for the better.
And most importantly, happy for the reunited children who, because of their experiences, share insights into our own children's lives.
We need to spend our time finding activities and people we enjoy. We should remember to live not only for ourselves but for our children.
When we look around at our misery, we need to remember that is the way our children are already taught to look at us. It's vital to show them that the perception is wrong. We also need to show ourselves that we are deserving of happiness.
I bullied myself for years, believing I deserved all of the abuse I had endured. I am here to say that was never true. Even so, my mistreatment made me a stronger and better person. Because of it, I can help others better.
There are so many gifts I've found in my life. I am grateful for all of them.
Yes, God placed me with my parents and knew the childhood I would have.
All of that suffering made me strong enough to stand up for my children.
I have learned to protect my mental health through years of counseling.
I have learned coping techniques to stabilize myself in conflict.
I have friends and family who love me,
and I have learned to appreciate every good day as a blessing.
As we enter this holiday season, take the time to see your strengths. Take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what parts of your situation you have control over and grab those areas by the reigns.
Use this time to regroup and replenish your spirit. Remember, you are running a marathon, not a sprint. Take every opportunity to build yourselves up. There are plenty of people lining up to tear us down. Please don't help them.
I love each and every one of you. I will do what I can to make life better for all of us.
My prayer is that our community will finally unite and start to make a difference in our broken world.
Wendy Wilson wrote this guest post for FUAN. The opinions of guest authors are their own. They may not reflect the opinions of FUAN, its Board, or any FUAN Participants
About Wendy Wilson
Wendy was born into a family lacking healthy boundaries. The abuse had gone on for generations and was viewed as a normal part of life. She was born fatherless. Her first stepfather was abusive in every way imaginable. By the age of ten, she had witnessed violence in her home that most people couldn't even imagine.
She suffered from severe PTSD. Then, there was nowhere to turn for help and support. She had a fantasy throughout her childhood; her father would show up one day to save her. She would finally be in a safe house with peace and comfort. She was convinced that if she had a Dad, he would love, cherish, and protect her.
As an adult, Wendy recognized her need for therapy. This revelation started years of misdiagnosis and struggling to figure out who she was. These years were hard, but they gave her tons of coping techniques that would become invaluable later in life.
She continued to lack boundaries and made relationship decisions similar to her mother. She still longed for a father in her life, and still was very much a victim. She could not see past her suffering and felt like a ship tossed around by the waves.
After Wendy had her first child, she realized that she had the choice to change the generational curse. Her decisions would make a difference in how her son saw the world. She wanted him to have everything she didn't.
Breaking the cycle was more difficult than she imagined it would be. The one thing she always did was to encourage her son's relationship with his dad. Even when his dad chose not to be involved, she tried her best to encourage involvement.
Years later, after another failed relationship, she remarried her other children's father. He was mentally, sexually, and physically abusive not only to her but to her children. She did everything to set boundaries and keep her children safe.
Wendy also tried everything to save her marriage in order to make sure her children would have their dad in their lives. Despite all of her efforts, Wendy finally had no choice but to put the children's health and safety first.
After the marriage ended, Wendy did everything in her power to encourage her children to spend time with their absent father. She couldn't always force him to show up but would try to maintain contact. After a few years, her ex-husband met and married another woman.
At that time, as is often the case, dad decided that his new wife was a more fit mother and that she should be raising the children. That was when Wendy was forced to battle in court.
It was several years into that battle that she learned a name for what she was going through… parental alienation. Wendy found her voice and began to help others. She refused to allow her suffering or the suffering of her children to be in vain.
Wendy continues the fight for the rights of children and against parental alienation. She has joined ranks with Families United Action Network, and we are thankful for that.