on the occasion of Bubbles of Love Day...
“To my children:
I never imagined that when you were given to me by God that I wouldn’t see the best of times with you, for I was there for the worst of your times, the falls, the mistakes, the faux pas, and the foibles. As your first teacher, I took what I was given and tried to mold you, letting your come-what-may traits do as they will, but loving you through the struggle. Your father and I - we made beautiful people - and that was special. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have always, will always, and never have stopped loving you. You were the hope for the world, the love that would continue on to fuel the world. You still are. I watch on the sidelines as you dance in the spotlight, becoming your own, and continuing to be beautiful people. As I was, on your birth, not so silently waiting-in-the-wings perhaps, I remain today - still and in awe of God’s creation and gifts to me. I will always and forever be - your mother.”
“The Light Gatherer” by Carol Ann Duffy
When you were small, your cupped palms
each held a candleworth under the skin, enough light to begin,
and as you grew,
light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
in your eyes,
warm pearls, shy,
in the lobes of your ears, even always
the light of a smile after your tears.
Your kissed feet glowed in my one hand,
or I'd enter a room to see the corner you played in
lit like a stage set,
the crown of your bowed head spotlit.
When language came, it glittered like a river,
silver, clever with fish,
and you slept
with the whole moon held in your arms for a night light
where I knelt watching.
Light gatherer. You fell from a star
into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside
mirrored in you,
and now you shine like a snowgirl,
a buttercup under a chin, the wide blue yonder
you squeal at and fly in,
like a jewelled cave,
turquoise and diamond and gold, opening out
at the end of a tunnel of years.
Jill Miesen - alienated mother
I'm Jill Miesen. I am an alienated mother. Together with Brian Boyles, I decided to use my voice to help others who face this painful situation.
My struggle with alienation began as a young adult when my own parents divorced. My mother attempted to alienate me from my own father, and she successfully alienated my youngest sister from him. I now care for my father in my home, as he is an elderly survivor of colon cancer.
I was fortunate that I was psychologically minded enough then to be able to delineate for my mom the relationship between her husband and her and my relationship with my father. Unfortunately, I was groomed to become a mirror for narcissists later in my life.
I then married young to my college sweetheart and endured a tumultuous 26 year marriage which produced three beautiful children. Throughout my marriage, it was clear that it was chaotic relationship built on cross generational family dysfunction.
My ex-husband's sisters both alienated their own children from their biological fathers as well. Enmeshment was no stranger to me.
The seeds of alienation in my own immediate family were planted well before my divorce 6 years ago and possibly even when my marriage was intact.
As I grew stronger in order to leave my marriage, the pattern that Cluster B personalities develop with triangulation and parentification became entrenched. I was told that I "would never see [your] kids again," when I first attempted to file for divorce in 2001, as all of my family lived out of state, and I moved to this area for my ex-husband.
In reality, the discard began the moment I was trying to become strong enough to provide for my children on my own. I went from being a stay at home mother for 8 years to finishing my Masters' Degree and going back to work in my field, and while I did that, an enmeshed relationship very similar to that of my family of origin's ensued with my children and their father.
When I finally did divorce in 2013, my children were in their mid to late teens. I tried to keep the marriage intact for as long as I could in the children's best interests.
The demarcation point of the alienation happened very quickly, from having my children go bike riding with me weeks before the separation and having a rich relationship with my kids that included teaching my youngest to drive and helping my oldest prepare for Prom, chaperoning trips to France for my youngest and band trips to Hawaii for my oldest, to literally no communication and demands to apologize for transgressions of which I "should know why."
Attempts at hiring a Guardian ad Litem and going to co-parenting counseling did not mitigate the damages. And now, my children, now ages 26, 23 and 22 are aged out. I have literally had no contact with them for 6 years without knowing what I did to deserve the hatred.
My own mother and sisters have been recruited as "flying monkeys" in the situation, and I remained for years unsupported by family in my grief. I have muscled through my emotions with only the help of a therapist who specializes in treating trauma.
As a mother and an educator, I have faced judgment and scrutiny intimating that I "must have done something" to deserve this. The stigma of this situation has cost me not only the relationships with my children, but stature in my livelihood and health as well.
Of course, I was not the perfect mother. No one can be perfect as a parent. But I did the best I could at the time. I was the chief disciplinarian and often the sole parent raising them because my ex was interested in befriending them rather than setting limits. I did not parent any differently than any other authoritative parent. Instead, feelings that it was not safe to be with me were fostered in my children.
Much of Dr. Michael J. Bone's, Amy L. Baker, Dr. Craig Childress, and Dr. Richard Warshak's research and descriptions of alienating behaviors is not lost on me. I have experienced most or all of them in my plight to fight to be a part of my children's lives.
I've since missed Eagle Scout court award ceremonies, Proms, graduations, major surgeries, post secondary educational decisions, and even marriages that involve my children while being told that they are "able to make up their own minds."
I have witnessed a great deal more of divorced parents who cannot put their children first when it comes to school functions. As a champion for the underdog, I often am a proponent of considering children's interests when it comes to making sure they feel heard and validated.
It is on this basis that as I evolve through the grieving process that it's my wish and desire to help others, both children and adults, who do not understand and cannot navigate this very prevalent trend.
No one should have to grieve for a living child. You are not alone.
While the high road can be difficult to take, it is always the best route. Love always wins.