One of my goals is how can you take something most would look at as terrible, horrific, a tragedy and turn it into terrific, life changing, inspirational? My goal is to share how you can do it with anything, no matter how insane it looks, how impossible. Let me share with you what is deemed as a parent’s worst nightmare and how I turned it into my life’s purpose.
I recently came across two women who left the orthodox Jewish way of life, as well as abusive husbands and were alienated from their children. In both cases the community ganged up against them, making it near to impossible to get them back. Parent alienation happens to both fathers and mothers. The effects are equally damaging for the parent and children, but there seems to be a weird trend linking alienation from a mother using religion as a tool.
One of the two women, now an actress and model was recently on Dr. Phil, calling the Jewish religion a cult, while the other is an author, who published her very sought after book Unorthodox. She was fortunate to eventually getting her two year old son back. The age of the child plays a key role in the alienation process. The younger the child, the faster the process, but the less damage is done, therefore making it easier to retain custody of the child. The older the children the more time it takes, but the deeper the mark, therefore making it much more difficult to reclaim the children into their mother’s lives. I have met many others in passing who left the ultra orthodox way of life, losing their money, identity and children in the midst. There seems to be a pattern where if a woman in an ultra religious setting chooses to end the marriage, she is ostracized from the community and shunned from her children.
Because I came from an ultra Orthodox Jewish background myself, I was particularly interested in these stories and what the women took from it. I too was alienated by my children from my husband and his new community who were very much part of the process.
This scenario happens in every major religious organization. Women have fewer rights then men, are usually owned or subservient to the man’s wishes and when they try to make changes to their lives, take more control of their destiny, their husband, if abusive will continue his abuse in the form of alienation. This fear alone tends to keep many women stuck in a unhealthy pattern. Many develop severe depression even before the process happens. They feel imprisoned to their circumstance. They don’t see a way out.
For many years I felt chained as well. I felt damned if I left and damned if I didn’t. As long as I was in the marriage I would be with my kids. I didn’t really believe I would lose my children, but there was always something, a feeling, an intuition, a gnawing fear that a part of me would die.
It didn’t happen right away. My kids were older. We were all non observant Jews at the end of the marriage. In order to use the religion as a tool they had to be probed and taught to join the religion again. As soon as we began the separation process the alienation began. One by one my kids joined the ultra religious way of life, starting with my oldest, until finally reaching my youngest 3 years later. Almost as soon as they became religious they changed the way they interacted with me. They stopped communicating with me, found every excuse to stay away from my house, even when it was my week with them. They stopped eating the food in my house, claiming it wasn’t kosher, even though I kept a kosher home since I was born. I had no way of mothering them. Every attempt to connect, love or even discipline was met with hatred. They eventually shared how they wanted to just live with their dad.
After fighting with my ex, trying to convince my children how they need me, asking for advice from countless “experts” and answering countless motions my former husband brought against me I finally realized what needed to be done.
I gave my children what they wanted, one home with their dad, one way of life and true peace. I understood the power of surrender and acceptance. I knew that by me giving them what they clearly wanted everyone would be happier, including me. I knew I wasn’t abandoning them. I was loving them completely, as well as teaching them what self love is, putting a stop to the abuse going on in my house. I understood they were taught to hate me, but with me continuing the fighting it brought strain, pain and more hate rather than peace. The motions left penniless and I felt no control over my life and children. I knew for now this was the only way.
I looked at my situation as a new beginning. I knew if I reclaimed my life and worked on me, when or if my children wanted a relationship with me again I’d be in a secure financial situation to help them. I knew if I allowed myself to heal and constantly remained committed to loving my children and making sure they knew that, that perhaps one day they would know the truth and want more of a relationship with me. I began to trust, become really present and focus on how I can turn this into something good. There were months and months of agony, screaming, sheer pain from being away from my children, but I also knew, just as you heal from a broken bone it hurts, so too does healing a broken heart.
As soon as my children and I separated the relationship I had with most of my children began to heal.
The three youngest and I began skyping immediately. Every time we talk, even now all we experience is love. They are happier in their religious way of life for now and by me accepting them fully I show them the power of true love.
I now travel the country sharing my book Breaking The Chains To Freedom, and share my story of how I broke out of my own chains, how I took my pain and turned it into my purpose. I became a national speaker and life coach. My pain, which turned into purpose has helped many others heal from their pain.
When i recently visiting a domestic abuse shelter in NJ and shared with them my story of healing one of the women asked what the situation with my children are. When I explained to them they are still with their father and why. She looked at me and said,
“Perhaps your children are with their dad so you can do the work you’re doing. We need to hear your words of hope and inspiration.”
This was something I knew, but how wonderful to hear it from a stranger.
So how can one heal, move on and turn pain in purpose? It’s simple but one of the hardest things to do. If you simply change your perception and begin to look at all the possibilities rather than what you are missing, those possibilities turn into your purpose, your passion and your mission. Your pain can turn into you changing yourself, your community and even the world.
The other thing to always remember is
The Only Constant In Life Is Change!
My children in a day, a week, a year can call me up and tell me they want to stay with me now. They might or might not, but the important thing to remember is my constant love for them and acceptance to the present will not just help my own family but everyone I touch. It’s our perception that causes our suffering, never the event.