The Alienated Parent’s Experience

We are a group of brothers and sisters that have many labels. We are called Target Parents inside our circle. Our Alienators and their “Flying Monkeys” call us losers, weak and unfit. Our close friends and family call us fragile, frightened, and delicate. Those distant acquaintances just shake their heads for whatever reason. What I have realized is that no one really understands who we have become. One thing is for sure; we are not the same person we use to be. We have changed and we are different than we use to be. Today I want to take you into our world. I want to give parents a relatable post that they can share to the world that gives the world a peek into the existence of a parent that has lost their authentic children.

We are traumatized! As you read this we need you to remember, we have endured a lot of trauma. Think of the most precious thing in your life, for most parents it is their children. Most parents value their children more than anything in the world. Alienated parents have had their children removed from their lives, and this happened covertly over a long period of time. The only “offense” committed by us was that the marriage or union was severed, and our partner did not approve of this. Most of the time they were rejected in some way but they couldn’t manage this rejection, so they go on a campaign to hurt the one that hurt them. Sometimes they sever the relationships but they feel that their partner is not worthy enough to “co- parent”.

Whatever the case, the alienating parent is reliving a sick and twisted past experience of their own. To some degree we all have a little knowledge of narcissism. Looking deeper into the other parent, they suffer from a cluster B personality disorder. (This includes Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Psychopaths). They are all damaged children themselves. They were not raised in a home filled with empathy and they were not given all of the proper tools to function in life as adults in a normal and socially acceptable way. Some of their internal systems have not, and will never mature as most of ours have. They are children in adult bodies. Imagine if you take a normal five-year-old child and put them in the body of an adult. The world sees a grown man or woman and this person has the ability to function in many aspects of life, but there are a very few important areas that they lack. When they are rejected they do not have the tools to cope with this rejection. They can’t move on. That five-year-old child within them comes out and throws a continuous fit, but they don’t have a parent to alter the behaviors. This is a recurring pattern seen over and over when one is trapped within these confusing situations.

We need you to understand what we are dealing with. We are fighting an unchecked child in a grownups body. They receive the respect and acknowledgment of an adult but they haven’t fully matured and that is what we have to combat. We sit here not wanting a fight; this battle is one-sided. We are happy to co-parent with the other parent even with their many flaws.

We know that nobody is perfect and we are willing to deal with this. It is the other parent that is creating this drama that plays out in the public view. We do not like to sling blame so we keep quiet. But today we’ll say it so you can hear the words, “The other parent is creating this drama”. They have an upper hand on us because, like a child, they resort to lies when they are trapped. These alienators will project and distort the facts in front of a judge. We are blindsided every time this happens because the lies are so outlandish and so meticulously thought out. We sit there in disbelief not able to react. In court these parents can easily convince a judge that the sky is purple. Who knows how they do it, but time after time they come up with stories and examples that shift the battle in their favor. This is devastating and confusing to us. We put our faith in our attorneys but they are part of the system that caters to the alienators. They are on our side but they allow these behaviors to go unchecked. The lawyers don’t make up the rules; they just work within them. There is no system within the courts to identify what is going on so we lose, and we lose most of the time. We cannot, and will not, lie as well as our exes and that is one simple reason we lose our children within the courts system.

We experience severe trauma. Most of us have been diagnosed (or should be diagnosed) with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). We have spent months, years, and some of us even decades not having authentic access to our children. We bottle this up so that you won’t see it. We do this because we all have an attacker waiting for us to slip up. Our instincts tell us to hold ourselves together because there are too many examples of our vulnerabilities being exploited. Our exes know us well; in most of our cases we were married to them for a long time so they know a lot about us. If you want to see the power of a master manipulator then allow them to study a person for several years before they unleash their wrath of manipulations upon the world. We endure these attacks over and over again, all while not having the access to our children that we need.

Grief. We grieve the loss of our children. That is what you are seeing when you look at us. Humans have good days and bad ones. Take the last year of your life and hand pick some of the worst days out of that year. Now line the top three or four of those awful days up and have them repeat over and over again. Some days you see us strong and we appear happy. But the truth is, we are experiencing traumatic grief. So walk with us a little deeper into our world. If you have children, then imagine all of your children dying. It’s an unbearable thought isn’t it? This is one of the most unpleasant thoughts out there. This is hard for any parent to even imagine but if you allow these thoughts in just remember, they are only thoughts and they won’t actually come true just because you think them. Now to throw fuel on the fire, imagine not being able to ever overcome this feeling. We cannot process this grief because our children are still there. We live everyday as if our children have died and their ghosts are hovering amongst us, everyday. We can’t process the loss because they are still around, yet we feel that they are gone forever. We don’t have closure, we never attended a funeral, it’s like they were just gone one day and we are expected to just go on with life. Could you do it? We do the best we can.

Another issue that we deal with is our exes. Some of them have always come across as jerks and unpleasant people, but many of them aren’t. Many of our exes are pillars of the community and contributors. They are beloved by their inner circle and even admired from afar. They can be leaders and function with the best of them. But they have something in common with each other. They are victims themselves. They suffer from their own childhood traumas. These people are damaged; they weren’t given some tools growing up by their parents. They lack empathy and this is where our nightmares begin. When they feel the rejection their minds spin out of control. They turn their misery on the ones they deemed to have caused it, US! We all have our specific reasons that ended our relationship but we share one common result, our ex’s mindset is “you leave me, I’ll take your kids”. They believe they are just because they are damaged. The professionals label it as a Cluster B Personality Disorder. We know it as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. While at times beloved, you could have easily fallen into the manipulative traps set by one of these people. It’s ok, we fell for it too. Most of us wore blinders when we were with them. How could anyone stay with a person for so long if they always looked at the dark side? We quickly learn their true side when they start their campaign against us. They are brutally stupid. Many of their actions are so outlandish that we look like liars for accusing them of the actual truth. Every day a judge will look at one of us and scold us for trying to tell the truth. Can you imagine living your life inside a box like this? Trust us, it is not easy but we somehow do it every single day.

Most if not all of us are classified as suicidal at some point in this journey. If you read the definition we all experience the symptoms at some point. Not all of us attempt it but many of us walk very close to that line and some even cross it and pay the ultimate price. We lose brothers and sisters all the time. If you have even spent very much time visiting a nursing home you understand what its like when you walk in and the person you are visiting tells you about another friend that had moved on. It is a weekly occurrence but it is expected in that space. Each time we lose a mom or dad we grieve extra hard. Unlike the grief of the loss of our children, we are able to process the loss. We always remember but it gets easier over time. It is tragic because we all empathize with our now gone friend, we understand the pressures they have endured and we all wish we could have done something. We lost a brother on September 9th, 2019. One of our brothers Ryan Powell posted this video after it happened. Please click here and watch this video. His voice is authentic and he speaks for many of us.

As friends, family members and acquaintances, we want you to know what you can do to help us. In reality you can’t save us, we already know this. We do need some things from you. We will not ask you to just believe us because we say something, which is what our exes expect from you. We ask that you actually just listen, and once you hear what we have to say please assess the situation. Don’t believe them because they have a louder voice. We distance ourselves from most of you and we are sorry that our relationship isn’t what it once was. We are not crazy like they claim; we didn’t do most of what they say. We have our flaws but those flaws are often exploited and embellished. For the most part we keep our mouths shut, even to our detriment. We have to play within a dis-balanced, unfair game. We didn’t chose to play; we only chose to take a different path. Sometimes we are accused of having a “victim mentality”. We don’t, we are victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The mental abuse that we endure is overwhelming. We need you to understand that we are not weak, we don’t have a victim mentality, and we did not suddenly go crazy. We love our children. That is why we are like we are; we just love them more than anything. We do not need you to pick our side over theirs. We do not think like they do, it is not about sides. Remember, we are trapped in a one sided battle and we are not fighting like they are. We ask that you empathize with us. We hurt and we keep a lot bottled up. You can’t save us; you don’t fully understand our experience. It is normal to not understand what is going on because what is happening is unnatural. Normal people shouldn’t get this.

We are self-educated because that is all we can do. Many of us connect on social media and we all understand what each one of us is experiencing. We know that when we shift our situations that we are the ones that will lead the charge. We wish that someone like you could save us but that is only wishful thinking. We will lead our own charge when it is our turn. We will empower ourselves when our moment hits. We will use our allies and resources as needed, but until then we need you to just, “understand.”

I Alienated My Kids Before I Was Alienated

I want to share an absolutely true story where I took part in the brainwashing of my children when they were young.

As I was making a sandwich yesterday I realized that several years ago I took on the roll as an Alienator. Growing up I hated mayonnaise; mustard or ketchup were my preferred condiments on sandwiches, burgers and other things. Mayonnaise was a big no-no for me, I hated it for whatever reason and I still feel the same way today.

As my three kids came along I decided to “train” them so I didn’t have to look at a mayonnaise jar every time I opened the refrigerator door. It was selfish of me but the decision was easy because I could see no real health benefit if my kids became mayonnaise lovers. The alienation of mayonnaise was actually easy. At home, I and my now ex-wife just wouldn’t buy it. When we took the kids to grandmas or a restaurant I would point out the evils of mayo and they would gladly order their burgers with mustard or ketchup. It actually became a thing in our house that if someone said the word mayonnaise the kids would start screaming “you said it, now you have to eat it!!! You have to eat it, you have to eat it!!”

Since my divorce I met the love of my life, and unfortunately she’s actually a mayonnaise eater. Early on I tried to get her to quit mayonnaise but she is a little stubborn and wouldn’t honor my request. I have decided that I can live with her one little flaw. When I was able to get my youngest son to come around us he was very reserved until she offered to make him a sandwich. When she asked if he wanted mayonnaise on it he muttered under his breath “you have to eat it”. That was an awkward thing to have to explain to my fiancée.

After my divorce I became a jar of mayonnaise to my kids, and it really sucks. I made my kids fear mayonnaise to the point that they could go on the Maury Povich show and be interviewed about their strange fear of mayonnaise. They might not be traumatized at the sight of mayonnaise but they certainly see it as the evil condiment.

So yes I admit it, I’ve used alienation tactics on my own children and it worked. After experiencing being severely alienated from my kids I have to wonder, is this actually the work of the Hellmann’s company seeking revenge?

I’d like to qualify that I am not poking fun at alienation, I’m just trying to keep it light and hopefully make someone laugh out loud today. Lord knows we all need to giggle a little!!!

Don’t Be Tom

Tom just seemed like a quirky guy (or so I thought at the time), but hindsight is a funny thing… it gives us a whole new perspective. Twenty-five years later I can finally recognize the truth: Tom wasn’t a “quirky guy”. He was a drowning man. 

I met Tom somewhere around 1994.  Motorola was building a new semiconductor plant on the east side of Austin, Texas and my father acquired a portion of the contract. My dad is a contractor whose company installs water, sewer, and drainage pipes and moves dirt for road and building construction.  He had followed his father into the business when he graduated high school in the early 70s, and I naturally jumped head first into the family business when I was a teenager during summer breaks. It was a great experience for, and it also introduced me to a lot of people, both good and bad.

Tom was one of the good ones. He was probably 15 years older than me, and because we respected each other it was fun for me to be around him. Tom had graduated from Texas A&M University with an engineering degree, and was one of the top bosses on the Motorola site. He was smart, funny, and would work as hard as anyone. He had a lot going for him in those days.

He was newly wed, and would have two kids before the turn of the millennium.  In the mid to late 90s Tom built his dream house with an underground shooting range. He had designed and built it himself so he could shoot guns on his terms. Tom was always jokingly accused of being an extreme “ADHD” type of guy. He was a gas pedal to the floor character and you never knew what to expect. An adventure was always lingering just around the corner, to say it mildly. 

Despite Tom having so much going for him, his life wasn’t all sunshine and roses. A common gossip topic often revolved around Tom’s wife. She was controlling and unfriendly… she was obtuse and I can’t remember anyone mentioning that it was even slightly pleasant to be around her. Somewhere along the way Tom and his wife got divorced.  At the time their divorce happened Tom was not an everyday figure in my life but our paths would cross from time to time. By this time I had graduated high school and was well into building a career in the construction world, working for my dad’s company. I can recall that each time I crossed paths with Tom, I could see him changing. He wasn’t the same person that he used to be. Tom became more withdrawn, and he started slipping in life.

His career as a stable, top-level construction manager transitioned into a career that bounced from one company to another in search of the right fit. When he ran out of local options he started his own small business. But his business ventures seemed to be on a short fuse, and nothing could go Tom’s way. He had some successes, but the cards always seemed to be stacked against my friend. Eventually Tom came to work for our family business. My dad wrote a story about one experience that shows both the brilliance and the fallout that followed Tom. (Click here to read The Inks Dam Anchoring Project) He eventually moved on, unable to find his place working within our company. When 2005 rolled around, I had gained enough experience in the underground utility business that I felt ready to start my own company. Along with a business partner, success came easily for us. We were in our late 20s, and we had buckets full of motivation and ambition. After a year or two we hired Tom. By this time his life was a chaotic adventure and he often brought it to work with him. One would have sworn that Tom was an addict but on a few occasions I challenged him to a take a drug test and he passed each time. Something else had a grasp on this once highly functioning guy. By this time he was not a stable employee, but his numerous trade licenses helped to keep his value with us, he was around for a few years.

Tom developed a fear and paranoia of the local law enforcement. He gave me power of attorney so that when he was arrested it was easy for me to get his vehicles out of impound. I lost count of the number of times I visited the county impound lot to get a pickup truck or Harley Davidson motorcycle. I came to know that process well, and was on a first name basis with the officer in charge of the lot.

Along the way Tom was diagnosed with, and heavily medicated for, bipolar disorder. The medications proved time and time again to help, but he would refuse to submit to it consistently, and some sort of force would take over and drive him into another hole. Tom owned a small ranch that sat about a half mile from my office. On several occasions we would hear or see a police helicopter flying overhead and a gut feeling told me it was Tom. Tom was never a violent person, but he was a risky one. He earned his bed in the county jail each time. It’s a sinking feeling to watch your distressed friend with helicopters overhead and swat teams closing in on their position.

Two things were a common factor that brought him to these events. It started with crazy-making and false allegations brought on by that ex wife. Remember me mentioning her?  They weren’t what directly brought the swat teams out, but on several occasions they were what started the event. The second factor was Tom’s mental health.  Tom was, and still is, a guy that marches to the beat of his own drum. Between the mental illness taking over, and his natural rebellious demeanor, he was not just going to submit to the law if he disagreed with the situation. Tom was a danger to himself and the public but there was no system then to understand the bigger picture. 

I was extremely ignorant during the beginning phases of my divorce in 2015. After watching Tom go from hero to zero over a 20-year span, I coined a term that I repeated to myself (and a few people that were close to me), “Don’t be Tom.” I said it often to myself, “Don’t be Tom, just don’t be Tom!”  My understanding of divorce in general was that it was always a nightmare, but it would get better over time. I didn’t know any better then. I thought, “Just ride out the storm and then move on.” I didn’t know that the only way to ride this storm out was to build an ark. It’s just too big. I would still say those words, “Don’t be Tom,” but as the months came and went, I started to become more and more like Tom. Nobody was going to provide me with that ark; I now know that it was something I had to build myself. Along this journey the people that really care about us can throw life preservers out to keep us afloat, but they can’t build our ark, they cannot save us. Only we can do this.

The ark I constructed started with my mother dragging me to the Parental Alienation Symposium in the spring of 2017 in Frisco, Texas. Wendy Perry pulled together an amazing event that helped me find the blueprint to begin building my ark. After hearing Dr. Craig Childress and Dorcy Pruter speak that day I finally understood what was happening. This storm wasn’t going away. I needed an ark. I sat around for another six weeks before I finally decided to contact Dorcy. She was the only voice that actually had a solution.

Dorcy and Dr. Childress have brought me the tools and showed me how to use them. It’s been a long journey, but I have finally built my ark. I have completed it and when it storms I seek shelter there. As long as I seek shelter, there always comes tomorrow and the rain eventually stops. It’s beautiful when you walk outside after a storm and the sun is shining down on you. When you don’t seek shelter from the storm, it’s much harder to enjoy the sunshine and peace once the storm passes. Some days the storm still blows, but I have my ark. Plain and simple, it’s all about personal stability.

My dear friend Tom never built his ark. His kids are both grown now but the effects of his high conflict divorce have followed him to this day. The last I heard, Tom was working as an independent contract “hotshot” driver delivering cargo across the country.  It’s just Tom, his pickup truck and a trailer. I’ve always looked up to Tom and I miss his witty demeanor. When our paths cross again I am going to offer some tools for him to start building his own ark when he’s ready. I wish I could pull him into mine, but I can’t; it’s only big enough for me, and if I do, both of us will sink. 

After becoming a client of Dorcy’s, I joined her Coach’s training program. She has gifted each of her coaches with some amazing tools for us to offer Target Parents. She dislikes the term Target Parent and prefers to use Authentic Parent in its place. I agree with her but I see it a little differently. I was a Target Parent until I built my ark. There was nothing authentic about my life. I had to mask my trauma, and I pretended to function, but I could only tread water for so long. Everyday that I tread water, the next became harder. It’s not until I climbed into my ark that I was able to stop telling myself “Don’t be Tom,” and I became an Authentic Parent.

I am now a Certified Conscious Co-Parenting Coach and our job is to show you what tools to use and how to use them to build an ark of your own design.  Contact me, or one of Dorcy’s other trained coaches, to start your journey.  If you feel yourself slipping, just tell yourself, “Don’t be Tom.” Tell this to yourself when you get into “that place.” I promise there is a way to come out much stronger than you were before.  You just need an ark.

Michael Lewis
Certified Conscious Co-Parenting Coach
New Paradigm Family Solutions

Michael Lewis – Certified Conscious CO-Parenting Coach

I am a father of three amazing kids, but my relationship with them was tossed into a wastebasket when I filed for divorce, and this left my world turned upside down.

I grew up the second of five boys to two amazing parents. My dad is true Texas character and I can only compare my mom to Martha Stewart but with a clean prison record. I have a lot of the traits of these two instilled in me. Much of my childhood was spent as a construction site kid, running around my father’s job sites as if the pieces of heavy equipment were oversized Tonka trucks. I’ve spent a lifetime watching my family’s business both thrive and struggle, and also experienced my own solo successes and crashes. Despite being familiar with life’s many ups and downs, nothing prepared for the devastation I felt when, during the process of my divorce, the relationship with my kids began to decline, and I felt helpless to grasp what was happening, and how to change things.

With the help and support of a few family and friends I was able to pick myself up and move forward to where I am today. And, painful as it’s been, my post-divorce journey has also helped me to understand how I was constructed as a person, why some dysfunctional things had been normalized, and where things went wrong in my childhood, even when being raised by two loving and authentic parents.

If you are struggling with the emotional pain of being alienated from your children, I know the emptiness you are experiencing. When you say, “My story sounds impossible to believe,” I get it!

I do understand what it means to walk in your shoes.

I have since left my business in the construction industry and I’m making it my mission to help families struggling with high conflict divorce and pathological parenting to repair their situations. I supply them with the tools they need to create positive change for EVERYONE.

First, through my work as a client with the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, and now as a partner, I have gained a relatable understanding of how to guide depleted, rejected families to a goal that they’ve set. I offer private coaching sessions along with guidance to several resources and programs that designed to help families in need.

If you are not directly involved in a situation involving High Conflict Divorce or Pathological Parenting, it’s still likely that you know someone affected by the pathology that can cause a child to reject a parent. Think of certain family members, friends, co-worker’s or that mom or dad at the little league field. Some of these people have endured specific traumas or rejections along life’s path that have created a seemingly inescapable and distorted new reality. I am here to help eliminate the false reality and reunite families on an even playing field. As I share my thoughts and information here, my goal will be to give hope and encouragement that they are not alone and, when they are read, to offer guidance and help shift their families to an authentic new chapter.

. If you get nothing else from me, please follow my Facebook page and blog. This arena that I’ve entered covertly surrounds us all and I am here to first stop the bleeding of those suffering but if my information can educate someone now, these type of events can be completely avoided. I am here to help the moment you are ready and want to see change.