Monday, April 20, 2015

Post Estrangement: What is the nature of healing?

I continue to think and firmly believe that there is "healing" after estrangement and that healing is a real possibility. Without this hope I fear I might give up.  I cling to the hope that I am right. 

I have heard it said that you never heal.  That for me is unacceptable.  Right now this feels too much like giving up, like surrender. And I am not ready to do that. I am a fighter and I will fight to regain that joy of living that I feel is my right. 

I want to be a "survivor of" not a "victim of" estrangement. 

For me hope and healing walk hand in hand down the path toward my future. 

Maybe I have a different definition of healing, but I feel that healing is possible.  As with any seriously grave wound, whether physical or emotional, there will be scars.  Of that I am accepting.  I understand that what has been done can’t be undone.  Like a limb lost in a horrible accident that cannot be reattached, so the loss of a child due to estrangement is a forever thing. 

Healing does not mean that the wound never existed.  

Healing means learning to live with the consequences of the wound and not allowing the wound to determine the rest of my life.

Healing does not mean that there won't always be a scar.  Severe wounds leave severe scars.  That is the nature of our lives.   However I believe that healing means learning to accept the scar as a symbol of what I have endured or even maybe even honouring that I have survived!

As I struggle each day to find my way on this healing journey; I am ever hopeful that it will be possible to learn to live with the consequences of the estrangement.   The emptiness, the sense of loss,  the occasional fear that if only I had known something more or better it could have been avoided, these are all thoughts that haunt my mind.  These and the many other questions that we estranged parents face, are the challenges I must work through.  

In working through all the emotions and feelings associated with the loss I feel in the aftermath of estrangement, it is my hope that I will be able to put them away as thoughts processed, rather than thoughts before me which somehow control my present.

If I think of the losses that estrangement has placed before me, not just the loss of the adult child who chose this past, but the whole relationship and family dynamic that has been lost, as something tangible, like the loss of a limb, I can start to see a different path toward healing.

When someone loses a limb, they don't get the limb back, and yet they still live a full life, a loss is not the ending.  There is learning to live after the loss.  There is rehabilitation; there is learning to use a prosthetic etc.  And yet every time that person looks at the stump, they know what they have lost. For them healing is learning how to live with the loss, learning to accept that which has happened, and finding a way forward and making life valuable and precious and good in spite of the loss.

When I see the emotional wound / trauma of estrangement from this perspective I realize that I too am in of need of time for rehabilitation and learning.  For me this change happens in my mind.  Yes every time I think of my estranging daughter and her actions I will be reminded of the event, the trauma, and the pain.  You can’t erase such a powerful memory.  However, if healing is learning how to accept the pain and the loss and finding a way forward, making my life a precious and valued commodity in spite of the loss, then healing is possible. 

I feel that healing for me, means that I must find a way to see NOW, this moment, as a new beginning.  No I will never deny or forget what has happened, but I must remain focused on the "rest", the certain “what else” that means that my life has focus and value and beauty and direction.   

For me healing means accepting that while the loss that I have endured will always be a part of this new "rest of my life", I don't think it has to remain the "defining" part of my life. 

It means moving from the thought that" 

"I am an estranged person" 

to this new one, 

"I am a person who happens to have been estranged".  

That, to me, is the goal of healing.  That is the struggle; that is the path that I am on. 

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 - 04 - 20 

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  1. "Healing is learning how to live with the loss, learning to accept that which has happened, and finding a way forward and making life valuable and precious and good in spite of the loss." Well said!

  2. There is always pain but you can acknowledge it yet choose to detach from suffering xx

  3. healing
    Your blog is really cool and this is a great inspiring article.