Thursday, May 28, 2015

Post Estrangement: The Changing Nature of Hope.

I came across a question recently that made me stop and reflect.  An estranged parent asked: "are all estranged parents bitter?" and "is there no place for hope?"

These questions address some of my fears.  I often ponder whether I will always carry a trace of bitterness in my heart over what was done to me and whether it is possible to look to the future with hope. 

As I sat reflectively with the question, thinking how to answer this parent I found myself becoming more aware of how my journey toward healing has changed me. 

I am for the most part, beyond my being bitter days.  I strive each day to be better about my mind space and where my thoughts take me.  That is my place right now in my journey. I do not claim to be over the resentment I feel, but I control where I allow those feelings to take me.

I realize that living immersed in bitterness over what is being done to me, does nothing for the quality of my life.  I am alive under circumstances that I never envisioned.  And true there is a part of me that resents this!  

However, I remind myself that I am alive and that I have choices that I can control!  One of my choices is to see the gift of my life as precious. Once I choose to see my life as having value beyond what is being done to me I can determine where I allow my thoughts to focus.  

Therefore each day I choose to focus on this inner power.  I choose to not allow my estranging daughter to rob me of joy in life!  
  • She has robbed me to time with her.  
  • She has broken our family and the quality or family life I had envisioned.
  • She has stolen from me the time I imagined with my grandson.  
Over these things I have no control.  I however determine to reclaim control over what is in my control.  I control my mind and my thoughts.  
  • I do not have to live with negative self esteem, I can empower myself to reclaim that!   
  • I do not have to live with guilt and shame, I can work through these and reclaim my rightful sense of value and self respect
  • I can reclaim my right to joyful living and take actions toward that goal.
My journey forward in healing is always about what is my human birth right and reclaiming those emotions, values and feelings that I have the power to control.

Having said this, I realize that when I look back, I see in my recovery from the trauma of being estranged many days when the bitterness has tainted my peace of mind and I am not ashamed to admit that this was a part of my journey.  Yes I had many bitter, angry, hurt filled days.  

It was in accepting my feelings and giving myself permission to feel those feelings that I started down a healing path toward more positive emotions.  There is a process to recovery, and part of that process is owning the emotions and the feelings that sometimes threatened to overpower me. To deny those emotions is to deny my healing.  It was in facing them that I was able to accept the reality.  And in accepting reality I was able to chart a different course toward my future.  

As for hope, that too has evolved.

I believe we as humans can not live without hope. Hope is what gives us the strength to face each day with the optimism that things will work out.  Without hope there is no possibility for joy or anticipation or exuberance. Without hope we remain stuck in a "this is as good as it gets" rut.

I firmly believe that we need hope in our lives but we need to be aware of what it is we hope for.  If we hope for something that is unlikely to happen we set ourselves up for disappointment.  The path toward keeping hope alive is to learn to balance it with reality.

In the very beginning of the estrangement I used to hope that this awful thing had never happened, that was when I was still in severe denial. Over time I recognized that this was a self defeating place to be.  In hoping for the impossible I was denying myself the opportunity to move forward through the other emotions of grieving that I needed to deal with.

As time progressed I entered the second phase of hope.  I purchased a "hope" charm" that I wore on a necklace. During this time I clung to the belief that "one day this would end". That like the story of the prodigal son, my daughter would repentantly return and joyously and miraculously our family would be healed.   

unrealistic expectations 

It took a long time for me to realize that this hope too was not balanced enough to be either helpful or healing for me.  It was so filled with the fairy tale hopefulness for a "happy ever after" ending to ever truly be a possibility. 

And then slowly as the months lengthened into years and I gradually changed through my own efforts to heal, I realized my hopes had changed once again. 

I realize that now I hope for the strength to face whatever the future may bring. 

In accepting that something precious in our family dynamics has been broken and that there really is no going back to what was before, I have set myself free.  I realize that I can only hope to navigate whatever may come with dignity and grace. 

My hope now lies in my rising above what was done to me even while accepting that what was done was wrong. 

My hope is that I will be able to handle the challenges I will face should my estranging daughter return to my life without the anger and hurt resurfacing to disturb a possible reconciliation. 

My hope is that I will have the strength to stand tall and firm and proud in who I have become in the process of healing so that my estranging daughter  knows that I am no longer the easy target I was before and that if she wants a forward path together it will be as equals and not with her telling me what she expects.

Yes, for the first time in my journey of dealing with estrangement, my hopes rest squarely in me!   
  • I hope that I become a better, stronger more capable, person. 
  • I hope that I have learned from the experience and that I am becoming a more complex and well rounded human being.  
  • I am hopeful that because of what I have endured I am more compassionate, more understanding and more thoughtful.

I see the changes happening in me.  I learned that I deserve to be loved as much as I love and that I deserve to be respected as much as I respect. This testing by trial of estrangement is leading me to be a stronger more confident more self aware person.  I really like who I am becoming!

Yes I am proud of who I am becoming!  I own the bitterness that was part of that journey of self discovery!  For without crossing that river of bitterness I would never have arrived at the place where I am now.

Is a reunion is in my future? I do not know. 

My faith is that what is meant to be will be.  What lessons I have to learn and what lessons my daughter has to yet to learn are unknown to me.  

Will we learn those lessons in time for a reunion?  That too I do not know.  I find peace in accepting that it is not my role to understand the grand scheme of things. 

My role is to learn and grown.  I will do my bit to the best of my ability to prepare for whatever the future may hold. 

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 – 05 – 28

My Facebook Reflections Page 

picture credits as marked or unknown


  1. Like this. So healthy and solid. Thank you for sharng.