The Beginning of the End: What Parental Alienation Looks Like in Adult Children of Divorce

What Parental Alienation Looks Like

What Parental Alienation means for children of divorce

I was 18 when my first boyfriend pointed out how odd my home life was. 

Until this point having friends round was a rare and stage managed production. So the world I lived in was very small.

Don’t get me wrong outside of the house we were active in the church, local community and I would have generally been described as a bubbly child.  

More importantly I thought everyone lived the way we did. I could see that other families had more people in their cohort and I longed for brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

I became a very self sufficient child and I was very close to the person that it would turn out was doing me the most harm.

Mine is not just a story of parental alienation, there was sibling alienation (half siblings), grand parental alienation, aunts, uncles and cousin’s, there was even a set of grandparent’s who were totally unaware of my existence.  Anyone who questioned our situation was gone, never to be forgiven and never to be readmitted.

At first the exit’s were subtle. Friends that didn’t tow the line or questioned things were removed and replaced by like-minded fellow souls who reinforced the norm until they themselves were rejected.

At three my parents divorced and I was taken away to a completely different city (with or without my dads permission I never found out).  

He followed and for a few years we had weekly meetings where he would diligently hand over an envelope filled with maintenance. 

It was a dripping tap of comments from there, refusals to open the door and demands that the all important envelope be posted through the letterbox.

Weeks would pass without seeing them, then months and even years.

parental alienation story

What parental alienation looks like

Eventually one fateful day in my 18th year the aforementioned boyfriend made a passing comment that made me look at things very differently.

Over a period of weeks the person that had set me apart from the world had started to realise that they were loosing the carefully constructed control they exercised over me, they pushed before they were exposed, and I was asked to leave and was forced to make my own fateful exit. 

Scared I went to the only place that I thought I could dad’s, despite having not spoken for two years, I prayed that he would:

a. answer the door and

b. let me find my bearings.

They did and a new cycle began.

Having been on the receiving end of this situation for all those years they now exacted a non-invasive revenge.  Non invasive is the key word, they didn’t let the dust settle and encourage a reconciliation, they did nothing.

The shoe was very firmly on the other foot now.

Scared, rejected and distracted by having to make my own way in the world I assumed that the situation would resolve itself. They were the adults, you asked me to leave, I deserved the apology.

Years turned into decades, graduations, marriages, births, deaths all those major events slipped by.

PASAwareness celebrates 10 years of raising awareness today and I wish it and the internet were around all those years ago.

I have a new family now. Not through choice it is one that is devoid of any blood relatives. Which as I write this I still find very upsetting.

What would I say to my 18 year old self?

To my mum who started the cycle and my dad that ended it.

No one wins.

Everyone losses.

I have lost 7 members of my family as a result of alienation.

I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. 


Thank you for sharing this powerful article with us.

photo credit: J*U*L*E*S ☺ via photopin (license)
photo credit: Teen Angst via photopin (license)

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