Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Is there a Gossip behind your Estrangement?

I think that for most of my life I was too na├»ve, to my detriment, I am sad to report.  I had no idea the evil that can be perpetrated by those who use gossip as their tool for control and manipulation.  I thought, erroneously, that since I would never spread vicious lies about others in the form of gossip that others would be equally conscientious. How wrong I was!

I personally now believe that gossip is evil, and that there are people who use gossip as a tool to destroy lives.  And even if you don’t believe that there are people with evil intentions, you do know the gossip has evil consequences.

I have heard hundreds of stories now from estranged parents and I am convinced that in every story, if you scratch the surface just a bit, you discover a “Gossip.”  In every story there is someone who takes a kernel of truth and twists it and distorts it and wraps it up in well-meaning and sympathetic phrases to convince the listener that their target (the victim) is a horrible, demented, emotionally disturbed individual. And heaven forbid the victim respond with anger to the slanderous things being said about them behind their back and in such a way that they never have a chance to defend themselves.  That righteous anger is now used as proof of their unbalanced personality.

In my own story, my daughter and I never had any major problems in our lives that could not be solved by talking it out until this person came into our lives that changed the easy going dynamic that we had.  With a smile on her face, and rational explanations she convinced my daughter that I was emotionally disturbed, unbalanced, unhinged, incapable of making choices and decisions, unable to do my job, and even a disaster as a parent.  She shaped my daughter’s view point to such a degree that the end result was estrangement.  In my heart I am convinced that without the interference of this evil person my daughter and I would still have a strong and close relationship.

For me it took working with a therapist to recognize the evil that had been perpetrated against me.   When I thought that maybe I was as “crazy’ as they told me I was; I needed the help of my therapist to learn that no, I wasn’t crazy.  I felt the way I did because of what was done to me.  The clever tactics to undermine my perception of reality (gaslighting) and the shunning were two of the most obvious.

I also learned about character disturbed people, and that they enjoy causing others pain and yes they know what they are doing!   But that is another blog topic.

I firmly believe that most problems; under normal situations, can be talked through and worked through.  But the gossip is so intent upon being right that they make it impossible for communication to take place.  They convince others to not give the victim an opportunity to clear their name.  That is why the silent treatment is used.  It prevents communication from happening.  Communication implies hearing the other side of the story and that implies that the lies might be revealed!  As long as there is no communication the lies are safe!  The gossip makes sure to say whatever they must to convince their target to not give you the chance to explain your side of the story.  You must be kept out of the loop at all costs.  Just look at the family and friends that now join in shunning you.  What have they been told to keep them from asking your point of view? And notice how the ones who do hear your side of the story are now suddenly shunned also!

Is there a Gossip behind your Estrangement?

So now, with your eyes wide open, look at your own story.  Is it your child that, as an adult, has become the gossip, spreading lies and half-truths dressed up as damning evidence as to why you can’t be in their lives?
Or is the gossip someone close to your adult child, like an ex-spouse, a daughter or son in law, a mother or father in law, a friend of the family, an acquaintance, a work associate? 

Take a look.  Who is spreading the stories and the lies behind your back and serving it up as the truth?   Who is convincing your child to believe all the worst about you?  

Renate Dundys Marrello 

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Post Estrangement - How Can One Learn to Laugh Again?

Today there was a question in my inbox from a reader.  She asks, “I want to know how one can learn to laugh again?”

I sat with the question for a while, because I have walked that path and had to learn to find joy again.  But because the journey is such a personal one and such a difficult one I also did not want to create a false illusion about the nature of that journey.  Here is the answer I finally sent.

There is no short cut is the best advice I can give you.  It is a deliberate step by step choice you make each and every day to heal.

You have to work through each emotion, each feeling and resolve each one for yourself.

I found joining a PTSD support web page very beneficial for me.  There were always tips and advice about how to take a trauma and change and heal after trauma.  Actions to take now, to not let the trauma define the rest of my life.

I found meditation and gratitude to be helpful

I found resources that helped me to work on my self-confidence and self-esteem helpful.

I found dealing with co-dependent issues helpful

I found dealing with past issues in my life that I just sort of swept under the carpet because "things were okay" to be helpful.

Basically you make your own future by the choices you make each and every day.

I have been on a "healing rampage" for almost 2 years now.
Am I there yet?  NO.
Am I closer than I was 2 years ago?  FOR SURE!

Do I laugh now!   Yes I do have joy in my life.
Am I finished with the sorrow!  No there are still days when I feel the need to rant and cry and scream, "why is this happening to me?"

Is there hope that my new purpose in life will sustain me?
Will I ever be completely free of the effects of the trauma?
Unlikely, it is a part of who I am now.

I hope this helps you on your own healing journey quest.

Renate Dundys Marrello

Photo credit - as marked or unknown

My journal blog entries and pictures are copyright
I love when you share my page to spread the word.
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Post Estrangement - Coping Strategies - guest author Nina Wornham

I am devoting today's blog to my fellow author Nina!  
Here is her excellent post on "Coping Strategies" 

Coping Strategies 
by Nina Wornham

In Cognitive Behavior Therapy, the process of understanding our responses to various situations is best described as a triangle of having a thought that leads to a feeling which leads to a behaviour.

Therefore how we think directly relates to how we feel and then how we respond.

It's been said that shunning and cutting off another human being is down to passive rage. But so far no one knows why.

When I began researching estrangement almost 2 years ago, there was nothing on the internet except a silent wall of shame. I noticed the occasional parent had made a veiled comment but apart from this, estrangement was a mystery. I had a hard time finding anything concrete about the topic which is why I started this group.

Parents felt it was only happening to them and because of this they felt that they'd somehow failed.

They thought if they openly revealed their situation they would be judged and made to feel worse so they said nothing and hid away suffering in silence instead.

Slowly the floodgates began to open and while the finger naturally pointed at blaming the parents originally, even the few experts that were noticing the rise in EC cutting their parents off, began to realise that it couldn't be a simple case of just blaming the parents. Something else was wrong.

Today, the internet is overflowing with parents sharing their concerns and stories about their children estranging from them. A tide has turned, the stigma has retreated and now it's out in the open appearing somewhat worryingly as a new trend.

No one knows why. No one knows what's breaking the glue that bonds a child to their parents.

Originally divorce was an issue but even the traditional married parents that have sacrificed everything are finding their children are ditching them without a backward glance.

I have a retail business and hear it regularly from my customers. Respectable, solid, upstanding people that have been devoted parents only to watch their relationship with their children fall apart over the most minor issue such as not agreeing to a request, saying no to a loan, having a different opinion or simply not being available to babysit.

It's staggering the wrath that the adult child can inflict on a non compliant parent.

The few 'experts' that there are on estrangement, (I don't think there are any), are baffled. If they don't know, we're not going to know either. The whole thing is mind boggling.

There are obvious indicators such as parental alienation, we know this is a major problem in severing a child's loyalty and affection to another parent.

But it's hard to guess what other factors are involved in encouraging our Adult Children to make such drastic decisions when they cut contact with their parents. It's tragic because not only are the parents isolated and estranged, the Adult Child is also cut off and estranged although this probably won't dawn on them until much later in life if the estrangement continues.

What can you do? Immediately, there isn't much you can do if you've tried to resolve the issue without any progress. All you can do is learn how to manage and cope with the fallout of being estranged hence the reason for (support) groups.

One thing I would advise is not to get into right fighting (I'm right no matter what!), or a power struggle to control the situation. This only polarizes the situation further. I have listened to my daughter scream abuse at me and rant many times. I have stopped defending myself or trying to reason with her. Instead I've recognized that she has an anger problem and when she vents her anger onto me, I walk away. This kills the argument.

Many EC are angry and while they may feel justified in being angry, it may not be you that's made them angry. They've simply chosen to direct their anger towards you either by shunning and ignoring you or by sending you rage filled vents in emails.

Either way, one thing you can do is refuse to be on the receiving end of their anger. You do have power in this sense.

Listen to them by all means but don't be a verbal punch bag. Staying calm, explain to them that you love them and that you want to listen and make progress but they have to communicate with you calmly and in a civil manner.

Too often we get browbeaten into a position of being submissive and because we're parents, we accept a lot, far more than others would. Our love for our children and our emotional attachment often means we allow them to treat us unfairly. This is perhaps our downfall. They get used to treating us in this way and by accepting it, it creates a pattern of how we ourselves expect to be treated. This is not a healthy relationship and we need to resist the urge to tolerate this dysfunction simply to be on speaking terms with our children.

One coping strategy is to develop a healthy expectation of what you will tolerate (within reason).

Being yelled at, blamed, threatened or held to ransom is not acceptable. If you can learn to walk away from this kind of unhealthy treatment, or at least erect a mental barrier from it, you start to move the relationship onto a new footing even if it seems you are as far away as ever from a solution.

By setting down a boundary of expecting to be spoken to and treated with the same level of fairness and civility as anyone else, you are at the start of changing things positively.

And so going back to the thought, feeling, behaviour process, ideally you could begin to manage your situation and feelings better if you start to think...'I deserve to be spoken to in a civil manner'. This should make you feel slightly more stable and able to cope. Your response would then be if you need to respond to an email containing angry comments............'I love you and I'm sorry that you're so upset. I want to resolve things but I find it difficult to reply when I receive angry comments in an email. I hope we can find a better way to communicate and understand each other soon'.

(shared with her permission and acknowledgement) 
clip art credit - as marked or unknown

About the author:
Nina Wornham is a life coach and is currently studying CBT.  She writes from experience as an estranged parent. She is a published author of "Darker Side of the Sun" available on Amazon.

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this goes for the words of my fellow author Nina Wornham as well.
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Post Estrangement: a turning point.

hope blooms amidst the dreams unfulfilled 

The process of grieving in an estranged relationship has so many levels and variables to come to terms with.

Your child, the one you loved and nurtured from the moment they were conceived and born, until the moment they told you they wanted nothing more to do with you has cast you out of their present and their future.  

This child, now an adult, has chosen to withhold their time, their energy their affection and love and even their offspring from you.  You still love them. They are still a part of your heart, after all once a parent always a parent, but you are also very much alone.  You suffer rejection. You face abandonment.  Your worst fear faces you, loneliness in old age.

Gone are the hopes and the ideals of what you though would be.  Replaced with the irrefutable knowledge that it can never go back to what it was.

So you grieve the loss of relationship,
You grieve the loss of innocent belief in the future.
You grieve the words spoken and the words unsaid.
You grieve for the stranger who now inhabits your child’s mind and body and spirit.
You grieve the loss of your hopes and dreams.

Your child lives but so much else has died.
Some days you even fear that love itself has also died, especially on those days when your heart is numb because it can’t bear any more pain.

Inevitably in the process of grieving you grow and you change.

Change at first was forced upon you by your offspring.  The lonely days filled with unanswered questions, the self-examination and guilt and self-recrimination inevitably they change you.   They leave you feeling vulnerable, exposed raw and unsure.  These changes force you to take action lest they destroy your spirit and will to live.

Then in the course of healing you address and face unresolved issues from your own past.  You heal your own inner child that you shut the door on as you yourself became an adult.  You face those unresolved fears and self-doubts that lingered in the dark recesses of your mind.  You face abandonment and rejection issues, confidence issues, fear of doing wrong or not doing good enough and you even learn to face your own mortality. 

And everything you learn deepens your appreciation of life and the precious nature of those days that are given to us.

Then to try to make sense of it all you learn about psychology and character traits and personality quirks that make people do things the way they do.  And in the process of learning things you never thought you needed to know you start to understand things that you never expected needing to understand. 

You start to see your child through the eyes of this knowledge and you start to feel sorry for them and that in some way they have become stunted in their growth toward maturity. 

Somewhere within all the hurt you feel, a compassion starts to blossom.  Not an excusing of inexcusable behaviour, but rather a feeling that they have somehow lost their way. 

Whether or not they will ever learn or find a way back is not the point, rather the point is that you let them go, you give them their own future and their own regrets that will come as life teaches them lessons they never thought they needed to learn.

All of this happens slowly and gradually amidst tears and grief and anger and sorrow and desperation and all the other emotions that grab you on any given day as you struggle to come to terms with the loss. 

In between you start to build new aspirations.  You start to awaken old dreams that were put away so you could devote more of yourself to you children.  You start to dream again of a different future and you find a new purpose in life.

As you fill each day with these new experiences you start to experience joy and happiness again.  You start to feel content that even though you don’t have what you had hoped for, what you do have is, while not perfect, not bad either.

Then one day you awake to realized that you have put the dreams of what could have been aside.  Your grief for what you don’t have diminishes.  You realize that those dreams are not a part of your future and that holding on to them would be holding you back from healing and moving forward.  You realize that while they were good dreams, they were only your dreams and not your reality.

And that day you realize that you have healed a lot more than you ever hoped could be possible on that long ago day when your world disintegrated around you, when you first looked despair in the face and said “I don’t think I can make it through another day”

I had such a day recently, when I woke up and felt joy at being alive, and gratitude that I can do the things that I now love to do.

Will I still regret the loss of all that could have been?  Without a doubt.
Will I still sorrow for the relationship that was broken?  Indubitably.
Will I still wish things could have been different?  Most definitely.
Will I continue to miss my old dreams?  Assuredly.
Will grief linger in the recesses of my heart?  Oh yes!
Will I miss what could have been? Always.

But regret is not a place to live.  In that direction lies the lingering death of waiting for the shell of a body to die while life passes you by.

Life is embracing what is and making the most of it.
Life is reaching out and touching and growing and learning.
Life is going beyond sorrow to learn to love and trust again.
Life is letting go of the past a creating a different future.
Life is connecting with joy and contentment and gratitude and a different kind of happiness.

I find that I have reached that turning point.
I choose life.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2015 – 07 - 09

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pondering the Concept of Forgiveness and Emotional Healing:

We are human.  We make mistakes.  Once we accept that fact about ourselves we also have to accept the fact that others will make mistakes also.  In our relationships with people we will make mistakes in our dealings with them and we will also feel the effect of mistakes that others make.

“To err is human, ”
~ Alexander Pope
Mistakes have consequences and one of the saddest is when a mistake causes grief or sorrow or pain. Now I am not talking about criminal mistakes like theft or murder.  I am talking about the mistakes that often happen in the heat of the moment.  Things like saying unkind or thoughtless words or spreading untrue rumours and gossip. 
“We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward.”  ~ Alison Croggon
The fact that these things happen is not a problem, the problem arises when there is no apology offered for the offending words. At the time of the incident, or shortly thereafter a sincere apology can quickly resolve the injury and the friendship can heal and move forward.
“More people should apologize, and more people
should accept apologies when sincerely made.”
~ Greg LeMond

 It is the silence and withdrawal following an error in judgment and hastily spoken words that changes the relationship.  When the person who has said damaging or accusatory things removes themselves from the relationship, when they refuse to talk things through, then the relationship suffers.  When gossip has been spread as truth, the consequence to the relationship is a withering of trust.  Suddenly someone who was close is now like a stranger, distant and unapproachable.  Something precious has died.
“A genuine apology provides so much benefit with so little cost,it is surprising and unfortunate it is not more common.”  ~ Leland R. Beaumont
This leaves an emotional wound.  In the absence of resolution, the hurt festers.  Some wounds are just superficial.  However attacks on integrity and character assassinations create wounds that penetrate deeply, to the very core of our being.  These are wounds that can last a lifetime. 

 “Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.”
~ Alice Duer Miller

To move forward we have to grieve the loss of what was once good.  The relationship has withered and died.  But the hurt remains.  We remember and replay the hurting event over and over. We cannot forget but at some point in time we have to forgive. We don’t forgive the actual thoughtless words or actions, but we accept that humans make mistakes and we forgive our ex-friend the mistake. We do not forget but rather we accept the character flaw that prevents them from offering restitution for their mistake.

"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future."  ~ Louis B. Smedes

If we can forgive the mistake, we can move on.  It does not heal the relationship, because healing requires sincere apology from the offending party.  Rather, in the absence of an apology, forgiveness can create a sense of closure.  The open sore can become a healed wound or scar and the possibility of new relationships can be entertained.
"Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were." ~Cherie Carter-Scott

Since healing and moving in on is what becomes important for your personal survival, it is important to work your way step by step through the stages of grieving, through forgiveness. The building of a bridge to the future becomes a lifeline.  Forgiveness is not absolving the other person of what they have done but rather an acceptance of their human frailty.  Forgiveness is not forgetting but rather a letting go.  A decision to get off the treadmill that has you living in the past with the hurtful event and moving forward with optimism to a new a different and hopefully better future.

 “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”
~ Suzanne Somers
      © Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello

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