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.
One Reply to “Parents Worst Nightmare Turned Into Purpose”
Esther, I came across you on a page about parental alienation and I’ve been readiing your website and will be getting your book. I was married to a man for over 24 years when the inevitable finally happened. I moved out and we got divorced. The minute I moved out he started the alienation, though I didn’t know what it was called then. He is a big intimidating man with a supervisory position at work (UPS) and very controlling. My kids behavior towards me continued to worsen, less respectful, demanding, yet towards their father much more allegiance and needing to be there because he said so. It was actually there all the time, it;s just that when we split we were no longer joined forces and I saw how it was His Way or the Highway! Since I was the highway. After 2 1/2 years of being divorced with shared custody I dropped my son off at the bus stop and never had him again. He was 14. I was served papers on a temporary custody change and allegations of me being emotionally, mentally and physically abusive to my son were charged to me!!!! Bottom line, after home studies, Parenting Coordinator at $100 with me and my son during visits, and his weak testimonies in court…although stating PA was going on…I never got to see my son again. Instead I was told not to contact him but give him. I sent him a Valentines day card…they held me in contempt of court and ordered him an attorney which I had to pay 1/2 of. I finally attended a huge track meet my son was in and sat with other parents from his school. Afterwards I was served a restraining order from my son! Went to court with 5 witnesses who testified that my son was lying about certain things he said I did. His attorney allowed him to commit perjury all over the place while my witnesses all countered what he said with truth and all were consistent. The judge granted the restraining order but stated she needed to order some type of mediation and counselling that I had been begging for for 2 years. She asked me to submit a new parenting plan to the court. I had provided the court with 15 years worth of Mother’s Day cards from kids and Ex stating what a great mom I was, none better according to my Ex…and pictures before and after divorce with my kids…I used to pick them up from the bus stop on horseback! Then 5 months later…she denied everything she had agreed to do, denied my new parenting plan, granted a permanent restraining order…until he graduates from high school or when ever he chooses to see me. My oldest son didn’t invite me to his wedding 2 years ago and refuses to talk to me . I have sent anniversary cards and $ and notes of my love for him, and how anytime he is ready I am here. My middle son is 23 and he has contact with me but very very guarded…and still feels obligated to be with his Dad for his brother’s sake…Yet, he lives on his own and will not talk about this mess. They all have it in their heads that according to my ex’s manipulation the court kept saying that I was a narcissist and histrionic where my therapists and others merely testified that if anything I was way toooo good to them all and if any diagnosis was made it should be co dependent. Now, my son is in his Senior year of high school and I have missed all his years of high school and the step mom is loving this. My ex is her 4th marriage and she is 10 years younger than me and my ex. (i am 52) I have gone thru so much humiliation through this unjust court system…there is no reason I should ever have lost the ability to have contact with my son He was 14 when “abducted” and will be turning 18 in Oct. I have also been dragged through the system on child support and actually had to go to the Appeal Court for overturning a ruling they made on the basis of me making $7,000 per month! I won and we had to go to court to reconsider the amount of pay I make. They added another $1,000 to what I make for me to pay on…She took it to the Supreme Court of Colorado and they Denied her request. Now I am having to go back a 3rd time for a 7 month period of child support not accounted for in the previous hearing…the County Attorney stated that she would settle out of court if I agreed to pay $7,000 for the 7 months! That amount had already been denied by the Appeal Court! Then my EX told his attorney that he would settle and forgive any child support current and the past 7 months at question if I would relinquish my 1/2 of his Retirement!!!!!! Does hhe think I can’t do math. We are talking about me giving up about $100,000.00for about $4,000…anyway I thought child support was suppose to be about the child, not ones retirement. I have to go to court in Nov about this. Also the CA wanted my tax and financial information dating back 12 years…I gave her what was legally necessary and asked the same of my ex to provide. She is trying to make it so he doesn’t have to provide the same info she is asking of me….I know this should only be on reality TV except it is all so unbelieveibly real! So I am going to try to go to her superior about he unrelenting onsidedness and all the money she has cost me and her ridiculous amounts she is expecting me to pay and the ridiculous stuff she is demanding me to turn over. I also had to go through bankruptcy and my EX called the trustee to make sure he knew of any asset I had after the divorce!!! My Ex is a sociopath and will stop at nothing! He is mad I left him to his own demise and his affair with the other woman had to become his reality! I am remarried to an amazing man who continues through this mess with me. But we have alot of fun and a good life and are in the process of becoming Foster Parents. I’ve decided to only Go Where You Are Celebrated! I have faith and confidence that one day things will change, but in the mean time…having a restraining order above my head I cannot do anything towards my youngest. My whole side of the family no longer exists to my children, aunts, uncles grandparents and cousins no longer play a part in their world. It is so sad how much this will hurt my kids more and more but my EX does not care. He is truly the narcissist and his sociopathic behavior I saw long ago with how he treated his co-workers, his subordinates and any one else in his life…he has no conscience. So sad. I pray for them all and that God will ultimately be the influence on my sons…as I have turned them all over to Him as their rightful Father. I believe in the “Suddenly’s….” in life and am looking forward to that, meanwhile, I too am a Life Coach, a Substitute teacher and hopefully will soon have a couple of foster kids or even potential adopted kids if it works out. Life is still good and we practice the saying,” DON’T WAIT FOR THE STORM TO PASS, LEARN TO DANCE IN THE RAIN!”
Enough of my rambling…My Redeemer Lives so I can live too! Nanci Cooley
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