Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Post Estrangement - Filling the Emptiness

Today I saw a statement on the support group page:

“Sometimes the inner loneliness and 
the emptiness feels too great to handle.”

This resonated with me,  I well remember that feeling and I realize that this is something we all share, this empty space inside.
  • Our past has been invalidated
  • Our usefulness has been derided
  • Our value as a person has been denigrated
  • Our role as parent has been negated
  • Our love has been rejected
  • Our connection with grandchildren destroyed
  • Our emotional selves have been emptied by lies and gossip

When so much has been stolen from us by the estrangers, we are left feeling like an empty vessel.  There is a vast empty hole inside as we face life after estrangement.

  • We deal with the emotions of grieving, knowing at the same time that there is no closure.
  • We learn things we never expected to learn
  • We handle situations we never expected to face
  • We survive what at the time feels un-survivable.
  • We struggle through each day just barely managing the overwhelming emotions that are released with each thought and each memory and even actions in the present that remind us of what has been destroyed.

And then there comes the day when we realize that there is a huge hole right in the middle of our being that has been left vacant by all that has been stolen from us.

  • That numbness that comes with accepting that things can never go back to how they were.
  • That knowledge that the love we thought would fill us and sustain us into old age is gone
  • The acceptance that reconciliation is highly unlikely and even if it is possible, so much has changed that it can never be what it was.

That is when we come face to face with “the emptiness” or what I have learned to call the sense of “loss of purpose”

  • The challenge is to take proactive steps to fill that empty space with new and different things. 
  • The predicament is to find a way to find a new purpose, at a time in life when we did not expect to have to start all over again.
  • The conundrum is that who we are now is so wrapped up in our role as parent that the “who else are we” eludes us.
  • The quandary is finding ourselves again, the "who we were before we became parents"
  • The dilemma is where to find the energy to start a process we never expected to need to take when our emotional resources are at an all-time low and the very people we anticipated support from have abandoned us.

This restructuring of our lives requires effort on our part which sometimes seems to take more emotional energy than we have.  
The good news is that every time you take a baby step to fill that emptiness with something you love and enjoy you heal a tiny bit more.

  • Pick up that old hobby you used to love,
  • Get a pet
  • Do volunteer work
  • Allow new friendships into your life,
  • Read positive self-help books
  • Study and learn new things

These are all little things that change us from the empty space outward.

We learn that it is in what we choose to do for ourselves that re-ignites the passion within. 

These are all options that are open to us as long as we are willing to try.  

These are things we do to honour ourselves and rebuild. 

In the process we slowly heal, the emptiness gets smaller and we are rewarded with the knowledge that we have more strength and more power than we imagined.

Finding the purpose in your life post estrangement is the road you travel to fill the emptiness.   It is not an easy road to travel but the rewards are well worth the struggle. 

Renate Dundys Marrello

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  1. Thank you for this blog! There are so many parents out there who are estranged from a child or children for unjustifiable reasons. It is good to know you're not alone in this.

  2. Once again, another fantastic post... thanks for your wise words that help heal us who struggle with this.

  3. I love how your blogs, just seem to "hit the spot".Thank you for sharing and caring.

  4. Thank you for this post. You're words are exactly right, as always. It's nice to know we're not alone.