Most of you reading this are estranged from your kids because of a former spouse who is alienating them from you. I wish I had good solid words of hope for you today. This is my third Thanksgiving without my kids and most likely without even a text or phone call from them. It just sucks. People are always telling me that eventually when they get old enough, they will come back and want a relationship with me. I know I have prayed for that and wanted to believe it. After 3 years, I’m beginning to think that this is a very long way off. This blog has always been about how to survive amid the pain of alienation and I will continue that here.
So how am I surviving? I think it’s just a natural follow on to the thread that flows through most of this blog: I move on. Having dated a girl with a good size family for the last two years helped a ton. There was little kids and extended family around quite a bit and that keeps you busy, gives you places to go where people love you and puts somewhat of a bandaid on the pain. Since we broke up 2 months ago, that is obviously not there like it was in the past. So this year is a bit different. That said, the breakup has forced me to push out and make new friends and expand my spheres of relationship over the last few months. This has been such a blessing for me.
Of particular help has been the Divorced Dads group that I am in. Each of these guys struggles with kid and ex-wife issues. I’m fairly new in it, so it’s a bit unclear how many have struggled with Parental Alienation as well, but I’m sure they would understand pieces of it. I sat in the Thanksgiving Eve service at my church with this group (and some women that seem to just like being with us all as well) and thought over the last few Thanksgiving Eve services. In spite of the girlfriend and her family, I had been alone in the church for both of them. They were difficult nights — lots of tears, painful remembrances of past Thanksgivings and my kids and quite simply, just hard nights. The first Thanksgiving I remember not getting off the couch for 3 hours or so in the morning and just watching the parade and feeling like crap. They were hard times.
This time, though, I had a group of 10-15 friends around me. We all went out to a wine bar afterwards and then even later, to Karaoke. It was a night filled with laughter, bad singing, meeting new friends, banter, teasing and just, well, Fun. This morning, I was up early picking up a friend to bring her to a “feed the homeless and give them coats” event in my city. It’s huge . 1000s of homeless and poor come each year, hundreds of volunteers. We served with our group for 5 hours or so.
Just got a text from her (after I got home and took a nice nap) inviting me to Thanksgiving with her family. One of the other Dads also wants to go watch the 2nd Football Game with his kids and I. I have options. I’m not alone. I texted a couple of friends last night thanking them for being a friend and got great replies back as well. I think if anything, this year, God is showing me that I’m not alone. I have friends. And they are developing into very good friends.
So I would encourage you. If this is your first year (like mine on the couch) or second year or wherever you are in your journey, you must move on. By that I don’t mean that you forget your kids or ignore the pain. Neither of those options are helpful or good for you. But you need to work hard at forging your new life. The more you dig in to making new friends and widening your life — getting involved in your church, in service opportunities, in a 2nd job, etc., the less time you have to wallow in your sorrow and your regret. You need to be a bit careful in this though — I’m not encouraging you to be so busy you just cover up your pain with activity. You still need to be honest about what you feel, you need to cry, you need to feel the hurt. But then, tie a bow on it, put it aside and go serve or sing Dancing In the Dark while doing the Bruce Springsteen dance. It’s pretty easy to do, and helps you feel alive and pretty cool at that (assuming you are over 35 and know what the heck I’m talking about!).
So I hope you all have a great thanksgiving wherever you are in the process and that your kids would continue on their process to eventually reuniting with you.
And if you need some joy — you must watch the WKRP Turkey Drop video. Best of all time.
Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless You All.