Hi, recently I have come across a thing called "Parental Alienation Syndrome", and while I'm often a bit sceptical of overly neat "syndromes", from what I've read about PAS it fits my situation exactly!
I was involved in an extremely protracted custody dispute concerning my daughter, now aged 15. I lost primary custody, got back 50% custody, and now I've lost custody entirely - or perhaps I've "abnegated" it in a way. The issue was that two years ago daughter's dad simply began defying court orders and stopped bringing her to see me. The catalyst, supposedly, was that I disclosed the real story of my own suicide to my daughter in an "abusive" way.
Since my mother's suicide I've been very depressed, and although I was once a professional woman, I've only had casual jobs for the last 5 years. One day my daughter threw a huge tantrum to the effect that I don't make enough money, She was saying everything she could think of to wound me, and instead of staying calm, and remembering (as I should've) that she was only 13, I just lost it, had this outburst, during which I told her that her grandmother had taken her own life. I think at the time I was trying to make her understand how hard things have been for me, but she was very upset, so for the first time ever I let her go back to her Dad's early. I felt dreadful.
The next I saw her, Dad stipulated just a day visit, but I apologised with all my heart to my daughter for the terrible way I broke the news, and my daughter tearfully accepted my apology and even apologised for her own behaviour. She said she loved me as much as ever and would come back and stay as normal next time.
However, Dad kept putting off an overnight stay, and in the middle of everything, demanded that I sign away my right to increased child support payments. I actually agreed, and rang up the child support agency, but they told me he'd had a big rise in income and that from now on he was obliged to pay me the new rate. I got back to him about this, and he told me "okay, no more child support".
And then he simply stopped bringing our daughter to see me. Even though he was contravening a parenting order, there was nothing I could do for months. The Child Support people told me that even if Dad was violating a court order, they still had to calculate child support payments on the basis of where the child was actually staying, not on where she was supposed to be staying according to any court orders.
Back to the family court. By this point I hadn't seen my daughter for about three months, I think. I tried to get a recovery order and was told my only option was to assent to having my daughter picked up/dropped off in a cop car! I couldn't believe it. I thought the order could be enforced by fining the Dad ... but no. I knew my daughter would loathe the cop car deal, so I said no, okay, leave it - I'll have to trust Dad to bring her to see me when he feels like it.
Of course he hardly ever brought her from then on. A family court psychologist talked to all of us about 6 months into this - dad had to be court ordered to attend. The psych reported that my daughter no longer wanted to live with me because she "lacked respect for me", and felt I had "no basic life skills" (one of her Dad's pet phrases - I recognised it from when we were still together and I was told I had "no life skills" if I burned the dinner or didn't mop the floor the way he thought it should be done!)
But the real point was that the psych was concerned that Dad was actively raising my daughter to despise me, and determined to minimise our mother/daughter relationship. She also said that she did not believe I had abused our daughter with the disclosure about her grandmother's suicide - as regrettable as it was - and recommended that everyone attend counselling. In the case of Dad, the point of the counselling was to make him aware of the harm he's doing by denying his daughter any sort of relationship with her mother. Of course, Dad never agreed to any counselling. My daughter was willing to see a counsellor with me at the time, but I've never been able to get it going. To be honest, I've given up on that angle, because the alienation has escalated to the point that I have seen my daughter just once this year. She rarely returns my calls or texts. Occasionally she says she wants to get together but nearly always cancels at the last minute.. I didn't get so much as a text message on Mother's Day, There was no phone call last Christmas, and no phone call when I was hospitalised three times over the course of this year because of a badly fractured arm.
Actually I don't really care about her failure to call me on special occasions etc, I just wish I could hear her voice on the phone sometimes at least! It's all text messages with her. I can't recall one actual phone call with her this year.
I have no idea what is going on in my daughter's life, aside from the fact that she now plays football (which seems weird - she was never sporty), she loves her drama (lovely! - but if I hadn't called her school I wouldn't even know she was in a play or how to get hold of tickets ...).
I know this might sound a bit sick but I was rather touched when she confided in me about possibly being gay - before she told her Dad. I guess I treasure that because it suggests that on some level she still feel close to me.
Oh, I miss her so much! I don't know who I am anymore. I'm so depressed without her in my life. I've emailed Dad and begged him for just dinner once a fortnight, but he insists it's totally her call and beyond his control. Nonsense. If he supported me even the tiniest bit I know it would make a huge difference - he is now the authority in her life.
All her old clothes are in a "nostalgia box". A lot of the time I can't even bear to see a photo of her - because I no longer have recent photos, only older ones from when she was little. My God, we loved eachother so much. So much has been lost. She was never ashamed of me before or thought I lacked "life skills" - I have a PhD and used to lecture at universities. I've published a book. I know I need to move onto new things now, not just coast on my past achievements forever, but it is so hard to get started.
I cry so much. I haven't been looking after myself very well. I've lost so much weight. I've had relationships with men since all this happened that are probably ill-advised, mainly as distraction.
Has anyone ever combatted anything like this? What strategies (apart from improving my financial situation) can I employ? I know Dad will never change his tune.
Any advice would be welcome