As soon as parental alienation ‘takes hold’, and you start talking about it, sooner or later somebody – perhaps someone new to your group of friends, or even an old friend you have reconnected with will ask you this question – “What did you do wrong?”
The answer is of course in most cases simple – nothing. But what do you say to actually bring this across?
This happened, and still happens to me every now and then. The person asking usually falls into two camps:
- sceptical, and will listen with a view to changing their mind, or
- is convinced that you did something to deserve this abuse
Lets take the first case. I have noticed that the majority of people who have an open mind or have had some experience of PAS: either personally, in their circle of friends, or professionally. A good example was Silke a close friend of mine. I have known her the best part of 30 years, though we only reconnected around 5 years ago. She was quite sceptical to my story at the start, but thanks to the fact that my ex-wife used tricks instead of simply blocking, and that Silke was actually there when one trick ‘arrived’ per email (More in a later story) she started slowly to believe that my ex-wife was the source of the problem. It also helped that I was able to explain how the tricks functioned without recourse to insulting my ex-wife with the help of lots and lots of naughty words. A main factor was also the fact that she is a secondary school teacher, and told me that she has heard quite a few cases of PAS in her career. I personally think the key is to focus on the tricks, rather than the big picture.
The second case is a little bit of a problem and needs to be dealt with very carefully. A lot of people are not aware PAS even exists, and cannot comprehend that a parent would do something like that, or more importantly that a child is capable of being brainwashed to such an extent that they can deny one of the own parents. I have had this conversation so often, and always left it with the feeling that that person doesn’t trust me as far as they could throw me (I have put on some weight – but the the answer is still not too far!). I have come to the conclusion several years down the line that it is a sensible approach to assess someone before you bring PAS and estranged children into the conversation.
So the takeaway here is – be careful of who you tell your story to. Even those that like you need time to process it. Others will not even try.
It is also worth bearing in mind that even I took a while to see this all for what it was – emotional abuse directed against my children and myself. For those with no direct experience, this is sometimes a paradigm shift too far!
A last point (promise) is that I personally feel that for those of us that have lost contact with our children through no fault of own should tell their story. Only when enough people are telling their experiences, and bringing PAS into the public view will this dreadful crime (it isn’t anything else) gain the visibility it needs to be discussed in the public arena and for something to be done about it.
© lostdad 2017