Tag Archive: Parental Alienation

How do you forget?

How do you forget?


I get to wondering how it is that you forgot

How you slipped me off and hung me on a hook

Walking away as if this was just another change of season

How you adjusted so easily to your new wardrobe

While I’m still wearing you like the dog hairs

That stay affixed to everything I own

Maybe you’ll wonder someday, looking in your closet

If I might somehow be able to fit with you again.


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

(Day 10, Writer’s Digest prompt)

If these walls could talk

If these walls could talk

If these walls could talk, would we choose to hear?
Would we give them a chance to tell us how it really was?
If these walls could talk, would they even dare try
To shake us from the fantasies that we still believe were real?

Would they tell me what you were thinking
When you scarred them with your anger in black sharpie curses?
When you hid your food to pretend you weren’t hoping to starve?
When you began to carve yourself into diamonds, or dust?

Would they tell you about my stupid stubborn confidence?
How I wobbly-walked the tightrope that connected us, always slipping up?
How I almost knocked so often and then ashes filled my mouth?
How when I finally saw you, really saw you breaking, I let go?

If we listened, would they tell us too about the love?
That it wasn’t only pain shaking in their plaster and our souls.
That we both tried with everything we had, oh we did try.
That there’s room left for us to heal together into something new.

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

A thousand words

[part of a five-day art challenge in February]

Our story in pictures
Had a happy beginning
It was the ever-after part
That failed us both

I see it now in inks
How you hid your good cheer
To face the viewing public
With a mournful eye

Becoming the architect
Of your own story
(Im)proving my wickedness
In fairytale terms

Sending reminders
Into both of our futures
That things were always
What they seemed

~ Liesl Dineen 2015


[part of a five-day art challenge in February]

“You had one job”
The darkness whispers nightly
In the clicks and clacks
Of wheels on tracks.
And where is the girl
Who was entrusted to you?
Where did she go
When the train you were on
Stopped at that platform
And you both took that break
To stretch your legs
And look over the landscape?
You waited too long
And she side-stepped the tracks
Choosing a new destination apart.
You gave too much space
When you sat and waited in faith
And you knew when you decided
Not to simply wait any longer
At the crossroads forever
For her triumphant or broken return
You knew when you reembarked
Eyes set finally in a new direction
That the path you were on
May never cross hers again
And would certainly never
Find either traveler the same as
When they paused years ago
On that platform built for waiting
At the crossroads disguised
As something simple.

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

The truth in drafts

darkenoughSo after the huge move to WordPress, there was a little bit more I needed to move into this blog so that I could call just one place home. It was mostly old poems, things from BEFORE. Before the divorce, before I met John, before my daughter left and my son came back, so many befores. I know my own words, I remember where I was, what I was thinking. So reading these older things doesn’t surprise me. Some of the oldest poems reflect those not-yet-divorced times. I was angry a lot, trying to get out from under some things I’d been stuck in for decades. Trying to find out who the hell I was, really, after all that time. Trying to breathe on my own. I chose to put the poems here; they belong in my story.

Then I found a draft post, my first actual blog post. Of course I remember writing that too. Sarah smiles. It describes the struggle of trying to help a child who was being torn apart in ways I simply didn’t understand at the time. And it describes the thrill of knowing her joy was still somewhere deep inside her. It describes hope. I still, always, rely on that hope.

Here I am, over four years later, and not much wiser. I realized I’ve tried hard to keep names out of things, and to keep any real details out of my story, because it’s not where the focus belongs for me. I see so many parents who are alienated from their children so filled with bitterness there is no room for anything else. I never want to be in that place. The choice I made not to fight was a fight itself, and still is every day.

So I chose to publish the draft, finally, after all this time. I did it because it’s both an ending and a beginning – part of a story years in the making, a lifetime really. And it’s important, because when I wrote it I didn’t believe what I’d been told was going on. I didn’t believe that I’d lose so much, that my daughter would make a choice that she should never have had to make and walk out of my life altogether. So no, I’m not much wiser now, just older. I have learned to shift the focus of my life to myself, being the best person I can be, living the life I want and need to live, giving back whenever I can. I’ve shifted the focus from blame to acceptance, of myself and others. I’ve learned to practice, every single day, gratitude, love, patience. It’s practice, never perfection. But it’s the direction I chose years ago, and while yes, I do look back, cry, sink and rise again, my feet haven’t changed direction in all this time.

My life is so amazingly full now. I’m grateful each and every day, even on the really bad ones. And there are bad ones of course. Practice, never perfection. I believe in my self, and in my heart, and my intentions. I’ve forgiven myself and all the other players. Well, I practice that too. Someday, I hope, and there’s always always hope, that I will see another of Sarah’s smiles.

The agony of defeat…


Yesterday, after vowing to fight to the end, I let someone “win” a battle that hopefully ends any more chances for war. I backed down, rolled over, caved. I chose to lose. And after a good night’s drinking and wallowing, I woke up to the gorgeous NC sunshine (it’s been a grey week, so this is lovely!), to life going on as usual, to the same old struggles and a couple of new ones, but I know there’s a path through it all.

Yesterday I’d have told you I was defeated and in agony. But like I said, the thing is I CHOSE to lose. I chose not to fight a battle that I felt strongly I could WIN, because, simply, the costs would have been too high. Yesterday I’d have told you it was the same old story, me trying to stand for something and then caving in. Me drawing a line in the sand and then backing down, again. I beat myself up yesterday, and I cried, and I mourned for all the therapy co-pays I’ve spent, because it felt so much like failure on the biggest of all scales. But then I said something to my husband that made me realize an important truth. I said “Fighting would’ve been easier than giving up.”

Now, fighting would have cost me dearly, in many many ways. And it would have cost those I love even more. But fighting is what I wanted to do! I wanted to stand up there with my face painted in the bright reds of war, sword raised, and rally my troops and stomp my feet and MAKE THINGS RIGHT. And as hard is it is to believe, that would have been the easy way in this. Because when you’re yelling and stomping your feet, you’re almost always feeling pretty damn righteous.

But righteous wasn’t right. Really, nothing is “right” in this land of post-divorce alienation I’m in – decisions are all made in shades of grey, and all of them are wrong somehow. Pick your poison and keep moving forward, right?

So I chose to lose, because it would be easier on the people I care the most about. And because I know already how those pallid lumps of pride taste digesting over long periods of time, and I can live with that. You get used to it. Plus, I’m on reflux meds now, so that’ll help…
Anyway, I never want to say that I had no choice. I have always had choices, always made them, and they’re all painted in shades of grey, and that, my loves, is life. We all have to keep choosing, and moving on.

So yes, I think the agony of defeat sucks. But I truly believe that the agony of victory would be worse.

November Poem-a-Day: Day 30

For today’s prompt, write an inevitable poem. The poem that always had to be, or a poem about something that was inevitable. Maybe two people getting together was inevitable, or maybe two people splitting up was inevitable. But there are so many things that seem inevitable with hindsight.

In that way we have of knowing

In that way we have of knowing
I mean in our hindsight of course
That we knew the winds were blowing
And saw the red flags at their source

In that way I saw this coming
Events were planned out in advance
We were soldiers heeding drumming
Marionettes pulled into a dance

Denial was my greatest fault
While you struggled not to choose
Our good will was under assault
But I didn’t know we would lose

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 26

For today’s prompt, write a same poem. I guess it could be the same old poem, but it could be a completely different poem that looks at a person or thing or system that is still the same. Or maybe a poem about how all people are the same. Or take the “same” concept and show how things are not the same. And that opens up a universe of possibilities.

The search

I searched for the recipe
Like I was looking for the horizon-flag
Of a ship returning home
Like if I could just find
The perfect chocolate bourbon pecan pie
You’d manage to make it
Home for dessert

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 24

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “I’ll Be (blank),” replace the blank with a new word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “I’ll Be Back,” “I’ll Be Late for Dinner,” and “I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle.”


I’ll be there

She came back to me in a dream
Crying as much as I was
Holding on so it was hard to breathe.
If dreams ever come true
I’ll be there.

He sets off for his future
Making his own designs
And then coloring outside them.
If his colors ever get too grey
I’ll be there.

You notice me fading back and forth
Tight-roping on the very thin line
Between humor and melancholy.
If you look right in the middle
I’ll be there.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 8

For today’s prompt, write a blind poem. Three blind mice, blindfolded, “she blinded me with science,” “houston in the blind,” and so on. Maybe this is the one poem you try to write with your eyes closed.


The day I learned her secrets
I swallowed tears with hope
Grateful for the belated gift of sight

She hugged me that day
Held my hand in the mall
Smiled sweetly and promised healing

And then the magic girl
Played her final trick of the year
And disappeared into the dark

I wasn’t there to hold her hand
And all my calls, shrill and panicked
Echoed back to me in blackness

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

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