I’ve been getting migraines and backaches lately. I went to an acupuncturist who felt my pulse and declared that I had a lot of anger….

I have been working on it, though. For many years. And yet, here I am. Angry as hell and wondering what to do about it.

I do think I am getting better. My good days are much better than they used to be but, surprisingly, even though my bad days are less frequent, they are almost as intense as before, sometimes more so.

Maybe it’s because the estrangement has been going on for so very long. Maybe it’s because the grandkids are now adolescent and pre-adolescent and it’s official – I’ve missed their childhoods. Or maybe it’s the moral indignation I feel as a result of the staggering cruelty of having been forced to give up  a normal relationship and contact with my grandchildren. I only know that I still wake up in the middle of the night, aching in my body and in my heart.

Due to the miracles of technology, I am now in touch with the two oldest grandchildren, who are 12 and 14 years old. They are delightful boys, intelligent and seemingly very kind. We text and once in awhile, we do FaceTime. I am glad about it, but I’m still not allowed to visit them nor are they allowed to visit me.

I admit to a certain ambivalence about this new turn of events. Why am I not I happier about it? I love them, love seeing their faces and hearing their voices, yet, I feel bereft and depressed after communicating with them. I can’t decide if it’s making things better or worse for me.

Although I work everyday on changing my thinking, staying in the present and searching for peace in my life, I can’t help but wonder why the wounds haven’t healed and why I’m still so hurt and angry.

There is no perfect outcome here. The relationship I once had with my son is forever altered and this new relationship with my grandchildren is tenuous. I will never be enfolded into my son’s family, at least not in the way I would like. I have to get it through my head that the dream of being a part of my grandkid’s childhoods is over.

Time to get real. I must choose courage. I must stop thinking about them and release myself from all this angst. It’s time I created a new dream – one that doesn’t include them.

I know one thing to be true: This stuff ain’t for sissies.

Posted in acceptance, communication, estrangement, grandchildren, grandparents denied visitation, Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Dealing with alienation and estrangement is a daily challenge: how to cope with the pain, how to live a normal life again, how to find any peace. Well-meaning friends may suggest that you get involved in activities, keep busy, structure your time, get out more. These are all good suggestions and there is a time for social activity and involvement.

There is also a time for solitude.

There were days I spent alone when I felt like I was submerged in a moonless river, stripped naked – just me and the teeming darkness of my soul. However, even though I was lost, I felt that somehow I was being carried toward a mysterious truth.

We live in a society that is caught up in quick fixes, shallow experiences and encounters. We want immediate gratification and we are impatient with any kind of ongoing grieving or sadness. But, when our hearts have been broken it is difficult to jump back into the flow of life because, for a time, we need the protective, womblike comfort of drawn curtains and soft shadows.

It is an act of courage and faith to embrace solitude. By doing so, you access a part of your mind, your heart and your soul that has been whispering to you, trying to get your attention.

Be still and listen. Dive into the mystery and discover the fertile creativity of solitude. Walk through your suffering to a place of peace.

Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god. ~ Aristotle


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Needing Validation

One of the most important things for any human to develop is self-respect. As it has been said, you are in your own company every day of your life, so you might as well make it good company.

When I was invalidated by my adult child, a part of me began to doubt myself. Were these accusations from my beloved child true? Was I seeing myself objectively and in the correct light? How could my perspective be so markedly different from my alienator’s?

I recently spent several weeks living near my brother and his family. Although they were kind enough to include me in their get-togethers, I always felt like an outsider. I felt sad that I had become a persona non grata in my son’s family, and although I had undivided support from my brother and his family, I nevertheless felt ashamed of my status within the other part of my family.

I soon realized, during my visit, that I was hoping for and looking for validation and love from them. I gave them the keys to my worth, happiness and self-respect. I was hypersensitive to any criticism or ambivalence. I come from a difficult family of origin, and these qualities have been an undercurrent in my life, but they were thrown into stark relief during this visit.

It was a good lesson for me, however, because I understood something very important for my recovery from the trauma of alienation: No person can validate me or invalidate me without my permission. There is no one alive who can make me feel less than I am without my consent. Nobody can make me happy for any length of time and I must learn to make myself happy.

I have been feeling more vulnerable to others’ opinions lately, and have noticed that I get hurt more easily than before estrangement. I have been relying on others to authenticate me and confirm my goodness. I have also been shying away from some social activities in favor of isolating, feeling safe by avoiding any interactions.

There are loving, kind and compassionate people who are helping me get back to a sense of myself. They are supporting me and helping me rebuild my courage and good opinion of myself. While doing this, I’m also practicing positive self-talk, reminding myself of all the wonderful things I’ve done in my life and all the loving ways I’ve walked on the paths I chose and even those I did not choose.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here and Now

I catch myself thinking about the past or the future too often. When I think about the past, my thoughts often create feelings of sadness, regret or anger; thoughts about the future often create feelings of anxiety and fear.

What am I doing to myself?

By allowing my thoughts to take me into the past or future, I abandon the most precious gift I have: the moment.

It’s difficult to always be in the present. A while ago, I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night, wondering if I was having a heart attack. I began to obsess, imagining myself lying on a gurney, speeding through the night, lights flashing, sirens wailing. Talk about a leap into anxiety and fear! And I’m perfectly healthy! But, instead of spiraling into a full-blown panic, I started to take some slow, deep breaths and calmed my thoughts until the anxiety was under control. Finally, I felt better and went back to bed, exhausted from my catastrophic thinking – which had taken me out of the present and into some imagined future event.

One of the unfortunate side effects of being alienated and estranged has been the onset of panic attacks.  My ‘gurney’ incident was a good reminder of the importance of living in the moment. Dealing with what is immediately in front of me and staying out of the past or future is an ongoing practice, but well worth the effort.

I’ve been asking myself: Have my days become flooded with too many distractions like smartphones, texting and social media? Do I carelessly bloat my mind with loveless thoughts about myself and others? Do I multitask to the edge of oblivion? Have I forgotten about the ephemeral nature of a single moment and that my life has an expiration date?

When I get caught up in day to day busyness and distractions, I often tell myself to just stop. Reset my thoughts and replace them with enriching, happier ones. Take a moment and breathe. Lovingly fill my lungs and lovingly empty them. When I do this throughout the day, I notice more clarity of mind and lightness of mood.

Changing obsessive thoughts to peaceful ones is calming. Conscious breathing centers and grounds me. When I remember, I honor every breath, every holy breath I take as I come back to to the moment, to my body, to my presence, in all its wholeness and beauty.

Early in the journey you wonder how long the journey will take and whether you will make it in this lifetime. Later you will see that where you are going is HERE and you will arrive NOW…so you stop asking. ~ Ram Dass

Posted in estrangement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Collateral Damage

There were many injuries that resulted from being abandoned by my adult child, such as hurt, anger, confusion, grief, loneliness, depression and shame. Along with these painful responses to being traumatically expelled from the family system, were other unfortunate repercussions and unintentional targets: my grandchildren.

How are they handling the absence of their grandmother? What are they being told about me? They are innocent, accidental recipients of emotional wounds, confusion and loss. They are missing out on their grandmother’s love, which is a precious and holy thing.

Grandparents typically shower their grandchildren with unconditional love that is unique to them. In most cases, they no longer have the worries of everyday care and raising of a child, so they are freed up to love wholeheartedly with available time, attention and patience. It’s a beautiful gift to the grandchildren but, in the case of alienation, one that is heartlessly stolen from them.

There are ways to help ameliorate the damage: Keeping a journal helps, in which I write about how much I love my grandkids, miss them and remember good times with them. I write about who I am, about my family. I send gifts for birthdays and holidays (they are allowed to accept them) and write to them, either by email or letters.

I  also send my love to my grandchildren from my heart to theirs, even from this appalling place of banishment. I imagine them happy, healthy and basking in the warmth of the love that only I can give them. One day, I hope they will understand that, since the day I was taken from them – that terrible day when angels were looking the other way – I never stopped loving them.

Posted in estrangement, grandchildren, grandparents denied visitation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lessons My Dog Taught Me About Play

When was the last time you rode a bike, drew a picture, played cards with friends, swung on a swing, giggled, juggled, bought a yo-yo, walked barefoot on the beach, roasted marshmallows, skipped down the street, wore a silly hat to the grocery store…. ? When was the last time you took a day off just to PLAY?

I have a dog that loves to play, as most animals do. He follows me around with his ball and plays keep-away or hide-and-go-seek. He is a much happier dog on the days I play with him than on others when I’m pressed for time. It’s the same for us humans: we’re happier when we play.

What happens when we play? We laugh. Our troubles recede into the background, and because of the release of endorphins, we feel happier and healthier overall. We are creative, unfettered; we use our energy in a different way and, very importantly, we relax. We give our overactive brains a rest by focusing on something that gives us pleasure and release.

We may have to re-learn how to play by getting in touch with the little kid that is still inside us and wants to come out and play. Many of us adults have tamped down our natural instincts for fun because of the innumerable challenges we have encountered in our lives. I believe that it’s even more important to engage in play as we grow older because there are profound benefits to it.

If you’re a grandparent who has been blocked from seeing or knowing your grandchildren, no doubt you miss playing with them. But you can find other ways to have fun, other people to play with. Pick a day and focus on having fun and sharing laughs with others. Sing along to the music in an elevator, stand on a sidewalk and look up and see how many people also look up. Play. Be lighthearted. Goof off.

My dog loves to play, anytime, with anybody. He likes everyone and is always in the moment, happily wagging his tale, having a blast.

What a great role model.

The opposite of play is not work – it is depression. ~ Dr Stuart Brown

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day Hangover

Boy oh boy, what a pain in the neck Mother’s Day is, at least for me. After a restless night’s sleep, I woke up with a pit in my stomach and a pain in my heart.

Sudden remembering: Mother’s Day. Again.

Everywhere I looked, I saw men buying flowers, families together, mothers carrying gifts. It was like a cosmic joke. I did receive flowers – an emoji in a text from my son that said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Under the circumstances, and because I had low expectations, I felt that it was better than nothing.

That said, I find that each year seems to be a little more upsetting than the last. This year, after so many years of being treated like a pariah, this estrangement seemed a little sadder, a little more absurd, a little more frustrating than it has before. Too much time has now been invested in alienation. I have missed my four grandchildren’s baby years and childhoods. I have missed the laughs, the fun, the small adventures. I have missed hugging them and loving them from the pure, open place in my heart that I hold just for them. And they have missed out, also, though they might not know it yet.

So many years gone, dissipated like the scattering of ashes.

Yes, I weeped and railed at the sky yesterday. I felt cheated, enraged. But only I can change these feelings; only I can change my responses and attitudes. I know what I have to do. I will reconvene and start again, fresh. I will not be defeated by this because I am sick to death of living with intermittent, overwhelming grief and anger

The situation with my son and daughter-in-law is an example of a dysfunctional relationship on steroids.  To be truthful, I want no part of it – but I do want to know my grandchildren, and therein lies the rub.

One fine day, I hope to meet them and connect with them, even though we missed the blessing of knowing each other during the bonding years. If that day comes, I want to be grounded in love for everything that I am, good and bad. I want them to know the best grandma that I can be. That means it’s time to stop crying; it’s time to relax, to trust that grace is real and to drink from all the beautiful fountains of gold that surround me that offer sustenance.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments