It's a harsh reality - many parents give up their lives for their children. They sacrifice years of work and personal time to ensure that their kids are safe and have the best opportunities in life. But what happens when that same sacrifice is not returned with the love and respect it deserves? When children – today as adult adults – ghost their parent, that basic bargain of "this is my life's work so you can have a better future" is thrown out the window. For some caregivers, they can't help but wonder: why me?
It's hard to not feel trapped in this scenario, washed away like a ship lost at sea in perpetual storms, unable to affect its outcome or be rescued. Painful emotions assail these parents, a cacophony of sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion. Dealing with these feelings can become overwhelming and lead to a sense of defeat. At this point, it would be natural to give into grief and anguish, or worse still ghost oneself by relying heavily on distractions from alcohol or drugs just to get through the day.
The first step towards overcoming such parental ghosting is recognizing that no one deserves this treatment. No matter what may have happened in the past, nothing obligates any child to return maltreatment. This isn't about blame shifting, but rather understanding that exhaustion came with a cost. Parents must come to terms with their own feelings and know that what happened was out of their control.
The second step is gleaning courage from within. Having gone through an ordeal, it can be difficult to push ourselves out of our comfort zones or make decisions that affect our future. But self-reflection and acceptance can help parents find the strength to continue on. This could mean reflecting on past accomplishments or hobbies that once brought joy. Revisiting these once cherished activities can help create a fount of renewed enthusiasm and motivation. Finding ways to live again for ourselves will alleviate the pain and provide a tangible strategy for overcoming the darkness.
The third step is reaching out for support and guidance with like-minded individuals. Friends, family members and acquaintances who may have had similar experiences can provide much needed empathy and comradery during those times when grief runs deep. Professional counseling through psychotherapy (if available) could offer insight into ways to cope as well as practical coping techniques to use going forward. Taking on these forms of support can lead to meaningful breakthroughs in understanding oneself and the situation at hand.
While recovery may take time if facing parental ghosting, one must remember that no one deserves mistreatment in any form. It won't ease the hurt, but it will help give context so that parents can see why their child might behave in the manner they do despite all the sacrifices made for them. Then, armed with this knowledge and a newfound confidence, those same parents might realize that putting down their anchor does not mean staying in the same spot forever. Rather, it's about finding the courage explore alternate possibilities for a better tomorrow.