By: Amanda Sillars
I am 11, my father has taken me 15,000km away from my mum.
I am distracted by new possessions, stories, places, people and a new life. My world with mum is suddenly gone. Old friends are all gone. People I trusted are gone, the places and activities I did with mum are gone. Where is my family, my community? Does anyone care? I miss mum but I am being forced to forget everything that meant something. There are no more loving cuddles, fun loving conversations, someone to accept me, encourage me, guide me and love and adore me. I can no longer hear her laugh or see her smile. She is gone – I have to move on but I don’t know how.
I see other children with their mothers. I try and find the place where my mum exists in my mind, but it hurts too much – I push it down. I feel angry but I don’t have anyone to talk to that understands. I am afraid of speaking about her as I don’t want to disappoint my father.
One day I answer the phone and it is my mum. She sounds excited to find my voice on the line and asks me how I am. I cannot speak, my chest is tight. I have no words – no one ever asks me how I am. I don’t know how to think or feel about me, but I am hurting and I don’t know why. Why can’t I see her and everything go back to the way it was? I put the phone down, overwhelmed. Was it just a dream? I am shutting down. Why couldn’t I just tell her that I love her?
I watch closely at parents talking with their children, observing how excited they are and watching them interact. I start to flood with sadness and push away from everyone as it hurts too much. Why cannot someone love me like that? Why have I become a loner and so unlovable?
The day comes where I meet her after 7 years. She is now much shorter than me as I have grown up into a woman. She is frail, her chest and face flushed red. She looks alcohol ravaged but greets me with a sad smile and a soft hug. I don’t know her journey and all I can think of is why did you let this happen? I watch her speak and I see tears in her eyes but all I can think about is myself. All I feel is pain and confusion.
Mum tells me how she has been fighting in court for over seven years to see me. She tells me I am so much like my father. How could she say this? It was like a sword through my heart. Inside I scream with anger. “I am not like Dad, I am like you, and I even look like you!” She breaks off a rose and gives it to me.
I have just turned 19. Sitting on my bed, the phone rings. I answer and a voice says, “I am sorry to hear about your mum.” “What do you mean, you’re sorry?” “You better go read the paper,” the voice says. I drop the phone and run to the newsagent, pick up the newspaper and there on the front page is a huge photo of my mum. I read the headline, “How the Red Tape Destroyed Nola.” Racing my eyes down the page I learn that my mother had taken her own life. She was gone.
“Children of high conflict divorce or separation need support and tools to cope, to put down boundaries and be free to have both parents in their life with no pressure.”
Nothing my mum did was ever right in my father’s eyes and everything he did he believed was right. He thought he was the best parent and thought my mum was not worthy of anything, not even her children. He punished her and did everything he could to emotionally, financially and socially destroy her. He made me believe that he was my saviour and that everything was fantastic living with him. I didn’t know who I was or where I belonged. No one could ever replace my mum. I ended up developed the eating disorder bulimia.
My father could not show the same type of love towards me like my mum did; we were so close – best friends. She was the most fun loving mum that anyone could hope for. But Dad wanted to destroy her and it didn’t matter to him that he was destroying a part of me too. He showed no empathy. I grew up with no identity, didn’t know what a healthy relationship was and had no guidance.
It has become ‘normal’ to grow up with only one of your parents, but this is unconscionable when there is no evidence of any harm or ‘abuse’ on the part of the parent left behind, regardless of their gender.
Parents must never be allowed to isolate their children from their other parent. Children are being isolated through various means including false allegations of abuse, manipulation of protection orders, abducting children interstate, overseas or even just the same suburb.
Children don’t understand that what they are experiencing is emotional child abuse and mental health workers need to be educated in the dynamics of parental alienation and its sinister sister, parental abduction.
If you are a child or teenager that has found yourself disconnected from a parent you love and once had in your life – reach out and connect with your other parent. It is important to get support through a counsellor or psychologist to help you cope, put down some boundaries with both parents and help you gain confidence in yourself and control back in your life. You have the right to love, and be loved by, both of your parents equally.
If you are a parent that has been isolated from your child and you are experiencing unbearable grief or are finding it difficult to find your way in life without your child, or are having trouble communication with your child seek support through a counsellor or psychologist. Visit our website. Stay strong and rise above. Your child needs you more than you can imagine.
For Amanda’s full story, click here.