Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Passing the Baton

The three year anniversary of me writing this blog has almost arrived! I never in my wildest imagination thought I would write one hundred posts! When I started this journey my goal was two-fold. I needed to express my thoughts which were exploding in my head every day, for my own healing. I also wanted to offer help and hope to others who were experiencing the divorce of their parents when they were adults. God has graciously allowed me to do both and I am ready to pass the baton. Read my posts, feel free to contact me via email, but my writing about being an adult child of divorce has come to an end. I think I have exhausted just about every possible topic and I am ready to follow and support others who take up the journey of running along side those of us who are on the journey.  I am grateful for all of those who have contacted me, read the blog, and I can't tell you how much of a privilege and blessing it has been to run WITH you these past three years.  I will be cheering from the sidelines and even join you here and there on the track, the baton needs to be passed.  Keep strong, keep steady, run with confidence and faith and move ahead in the journey.  All of us other ACODs are cheering you on!!
Sincerely , Serenity

Just recently I have begun writing a new blog to help us ACODS communicate and keep committed in our own relationships. Visit me as I get started at  : 

Levels of Feeling Bad : Regret, Remorse and Repentance

It makes me feel bad that parents who have struggled in their marriages and have chosen to leave feel bad. I don't enjoy hearing about other ACOD's parents who are mourning the choices they have made and the losses they have had due to their affairs or their leaving a long-time marriage.  Feeling badly is not something any of us like to do .

ACODs feel bad because other people have made choices that are out of our control that affect us in bad, sad ways.  Older parents who are divorcing feel bad because of their own pain and because of the pain and consequences that their decisions bring.

As I have read and counseled and thought a lot about all of this. I have learned that there are at least three levels of feeling badly. Read and think and decide where you fit or where your parent fits.

The first level is Regret.  This is the feeling of being disappointed or sad about something that has happened or been done. It is related to a loss or a missed opportunity.

The second level is Remorse.  This is a feeling of deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.  A depressed feeling can result.

The third level is Repentance.  This is deep, sincere regret and remorse.  It involves a change in the way we act and think and feel toward what we have done. It requires a change for the better as a result of contrition.

Regret means you are on the road, looking at red, knowing something has stopped the relationships you had.  Remorse means you are moving, proceeding . Repentance is the green light that enables you to move along the road to reconciliation in relationships that have been affected.

This is a partial quote from Wiersbe :

a distinction can be made between regret, remorse and repentance. Regret is that activity of the mind (intellect) that causes us to say, “Why did I do that?” Remorse touches us a little deeper causing us to feel disgust and pain (involving both the intellect and the heart), but not causing us to change our ways. True repentance brings in the third aspect of our minds – our will. To truly repent one must have a change of will.
Think about where you are in how you feel and what you are willing to do.  We all feel badly when a late-life divorce occurs. You are responsible for your own feelings , thoughts and actions towards others.  The 3 R's of feeling badly can give us insight on the sadness and hurt in our ACOD relationships.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adult Children of Divorce Sometimes Choose Estrangement

I have been avoiding writing this post in my blog because I realize that many acods maintain a relationship with their parents or even the “offending” parent after a late life divorce occurs.  I want to encourage that and hope and pray that many grey divorces do not end with estrangement of parent and child.  But in my own experience and in the lives of other acods who have written to me, or whom I have met, that is not always the case. Often the adult child or the parent chooses estrangement for many reasons.

“Offense”, “sin”, “hurt” …call it what you will, but when an adult child has one parent who has made a conscious decision for months or years to betray the other parent,  the adult child learning of the situation is often in disbelief.   Hoping to understand, they talk to the “offending” parent, only to receive defensive language and behavior and the acknowledgment of hurt and pain caused is denied.  Often a lack of personal responsibility and lack of feeling family members severe grief is evident.

In his book Bold Love, Dr. Dan Allendar and Dr. Tremper Longman III  address the issues of the lack of sadness or sorrow on the part of the one who has hurt others by their actions or words or both.  Before a meaningful conversation can occur, there needs to be signs of sadness or sorrow over what has been done. If the person in the wrong is not broken and humbled and not wanting to see his/her wrongs made right , there are choices for others to make.  If the person in the wrong is not willing to ask for forgiveness and go through the long process of rebuilding trust in the relationship, then there are decisions for others to make.

In her article  The Difference Between Estrangement and Parental Alienation Syndrome  ,


Cathy Meyer states The father who leaves the family for another woman, neglects time with his children and dismisses the harm done to his children is likely to become "estranged" from them. It is fair to say that no one responds positively to poor treatment, least of all children.”  “Estrangement results from a parent behaving badly toward his/her children which, in return causes the children to cut off contact.

It isn't uncommon for a parent who is estranged from his/her children to blame the other parent of PAS. It is easier to blame others for bad behavior than to accept and acknowledge bad behavior.”

When my father’s affair was first discovered and when the events and conversations of the first months after that ensued, I had to often ask myself what information I was hearing was first, true, and then what information was an attempt of one parent to sway me or influence my thinking. I doubted truth on each side, although I had to look at their “track records” and weigh that. I sought counseling on how to process the information and I also sought out information about both of my parents from friends and relatives at that time.

Phone calls and letters to different people shed some light on the information I was hearing and the secrets that were being brought to light. As an adult I began to make my own decisions as to what was truth and what was manipulation. As an adult I began to choose my boundaries very carefully.  The only thing about being an adult child of divorce that was a blessing, was that I WAS an adult. I WAS able to choose and to process with an adult mind . I was able to see more clearly and be more objective than a child may be. Still, it was excruciating to look into my parents lives in this way and to choose to make choices of how I would relate to them now separately, given the behavior and information I now had concerning them as individuals.

I had to wonder if I was being alienated by my mother, or choosing to be alienated to my father by my own choice.  Cathy Meyer explains it well in her article as she says that the parent’s behavior helps us know what is going on.

Parents who are becoming or who are estranged ( in contrast to those who are being alienated) think the child is responsible for fixing the relationship. The parent can not see things from the child’s point of view.

Things became very clear to me as I processed all of this , with the help of counselors  and clergy. I had choices to make. Boundaries to set. It was something I did NOT take lightly, and I had to examine my motives.  I had to ask myself  if it was a way to take away my pain, or limit my future hurts, and if I was slamming the door on the relationship with my father, or just leaving a crack open.  Was estrangement to some degree extending a wake up call and a warning that the continuing of this behavior and thinking on his part would only bring more hurt and distance?   Dan Allendar in his book Bold Love calls estrangement a “final good gift”.   He acknowledges that it is not always clear and is not to be done in hate, fear, or arrogance. It is serious business.

Dan also talks about tears. The tears of ours, the tears of the offender and the tears of God.  We shed tears for years after we lose a parent or both parents, but he says it is not loving to the other person to allow them to sin against us and continue to accept that with out repentance and change. ( p. 253)

At some point the “offender” may have tears. The tears can be from regret, remorse or repentance. That makes a difference ( I will be writing a future post on this!) . And then we have God’s tears.  Allendar presents a beautiful picture of all of our tears combining over the grief of living in a fallen world.  There is a necessity , he says, to apply a “radical surgery to the advanced cancer of sin”.

Dan Allendar tells of his own realization that he was estranged from God. He realized that he played a part in that. He took responsibility,  felt broken and humbled, and knew that things were not right with God. He repented, acknowledged the hurt he had caused God and was willing to do what he could to make things right with his maker.  That was his way out of estrangement with God.  It is a process, he states. For a relationship to become un-estranged, the offender needs to take responsibility and see the other person’s side.  The process of any relationship:  Communication, listening, talking, trust, love, feeling …… 

By the offender feeling the shame , and acknowledging the loss of relationship due to his/her actions/thoughts/behaviors,  a choice can be made by the offender to repent and work on a better relationship.  In our relationship with God, as with others , we can see a contrast in the deepest feelings of estrangement and the deepest feelings of relationship.  Allendar’s list of contrast is this :   Estrangement based on self-love, betrayal, lies, unhealthy communication  verses the Deep Relationship based on unselfish love, trust, truth, honesty , healthy communication. 

In God’s estrangement from us, based on our “offense”, he waits for us to respond and desire to have a “new” relationship with Him.  In Adult Children of Divorce’s estrangement from our parent(s) , based on their “offense”, we often wait for the parent to respond and desire a “new” relationship with us.

Feelings and evidence of estrangement with our parents, as adult children of divorce, is common.  It is a vivid reminder that things are not right between us. We are not willing to settle for “fake”.  That is not the way of true , loving relationships.  Let’s examine our hearts, and motives, when we enter into the withholding of relationship.  May it be for the good of all. May it be for the restoring of a better, real relationship.  May the effect of distance and loss of relationship produce a great examination of self , that possibly can lead to restoration of the relationships at some time in the future. This may or may not possible, but may it be our continued prayer as we consider estrangement from a parent or parents,  as adult children of divorce.

Wisdom From A Cheater

Many adult children of divorce have a parent or parents who have had an affair that ended the marriage. How we wish our parent had considered their choices more carefully and weighed the consequences more accurately BEFORE they entered into the affair!!

Author Rod Arters writes an article of truth and warning about the affects on the person cheating and the family of the cheater.  It should serve as a reality check to those who think that an affair or divorce will not change anything.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

ACODS Need Courage

I cried a lion's share of tears a few days ago. It has been a long time since the pain of my parents divorce has brought me to gut wrenching tears, but they came with fierce force.
It felt good to face the pain that still is there and to let it out and stand in the face of it.

As an adult child of divorce I have written about the sadness, the pain, the anger , the healing, and the moving ahead of being adults when our parents divorce.  My focus on the blog has been to face the issues with strength and honesty. I have tried to view my experience as an adult child of divorce within the greater context of my adult life, which is very much separate from my family of origin, in many ways and relationships.

In an attempt to deal with the many and varied issues that stare us in the face and roar loudly in our ears over and over again, I don't want to magnify our experience over other challenges that we and others face.

There are many people that need courage. We are just one of those groups of people.
I have observed single parents work overtime at home and away from their home, to put food on tables and provide security for their children , on their own. 

 I have known people in the military who have given precious time away from their loved ones to fulfill a purpose greater than themselves in service to many people they will never meet or know, but because they want to ensure safety and security to others. 

I have seen the ravages of disease take over a person's body and cause aches , pain and loss of dignity. The courage to be positive or to solely endure seemingly endless hours of agony takes immense courage!

These are just a few of the examples that I have seen where courage is required.
We are just one group as adult children of divorce. And many of us may also be a part of one of the other groups, as well, which may demand more stamina and bravery than we ever thought possible!

I used to ask "Why Me?"  when I thought about my parents divorce.  I often ask "Why NOT Me?"  now.  I am not immune to the pain and hurt that others experience. God often entrusts it to us to do amazing things in our lives and to help us see Him in a new light in the future.   I try not to ask as many questions about my situation as I used to .

To be ready and prepared for unexpected things that are hard is something I strive to do better and more, just as the lions I watch on nature shows.  They are calm, confident and always aware of what may be lying in wait on the other side of the tree line.  When unexpectantly attacked, they respond. They may fight, or run , but they are ready.  They roar and make themselves heard and somehow "take it in stride".  They have learned to prepare for battles, not to be surprised by them and yet to have courage in the face of an enemy.

People with courage ( single parents, military people, ill people) often look to faith, and self-sacrifice in the response in their battle.  They often serve and look for purpose in the midst of their difficulty.

As adult children of divorce, we need courage.  Many others who do not have divorced parents need courage , too!!  Let's not forget that in all our pain. May we reach out to others who have hurts and anger and pain and sadness , too.

We can cry our tears with them and they with us and in doing so, we can all learn not to be surprised by difficulty in life, but to be prepared and ready and strong when the next battle comes.  Paw in paw, hand in hand, we all need courage to face the challenges of life!!!


JANUARY TOPICS : Help and Hope
Bonds Unravel


MARCH TOPICS: Accepting Change
Forgiving Parents
Time For Serenity
Things/Objects of Meaning

Photo Album

JUNE/JULY : Reflecting and Writing Again

Acods and Listening
Acods and Materialism
Acods and Identity

Serenity Prayer Worksheet
ACODs and Simplicity
A New Look to the Blog!!
Serenity Prayer Extended Version/Worksheet
Why do we Blog???

ACOD Serenity Prayer
ACOD Fathers and Mothers
Things Still Aren't Right This Christmas

Grandchildren of Divorce
ACODs and Affairs
Keep Going
ACOD Forward and Back
Lord' Prayer ACOD version
Ripple Effect
Grief Revisited
Too Many Choices
ACOD Times To Remember
Telling the Truth
Behind the Curtain

Popular Posts