The Door

One day a happy little girl’s parents separated. She loved her Mum and Dad and they were both devoted to her. But she was taken by her Mum to live inside a huge walled city with her Mum’s new husband. She was given all she thought she needed in that city and quickly made new friends.

The city had only one door and for a while she passed through that door and had fantastic adventures with her Dad. But for some reason going to her Dad’s place seemed to go less and less smoothly and she felt it was her fault her Mum and stepfather couldn’t plan things when she was “going to her father’s place”. 

After a while she grew to be anxious of contact visits and these feelings made her not want to pass through the door. When she was with her Dad everything was fine. When she was inside the walled city everything was fine. But for reasons she couldn’t explain, the door began seeming more unpleasant to pass through because it inconvenienced others or it meant she had to go through without her friends or she would miss special events inside the city or she came to believe there were dangers and difficulties on the other side of the door that didn’t exist inside the walled city. It seemed all too hard.

She felt bad about not getting through to see her Dad or her Nan. She felt awkward if her Dad wanted to visit inside her walled city. She knew her Mum didn’t like her Dad to enter the city. She didn’t understand why there was anger if her Dad tried to visit but she knew she didn’t like upsetting everyone. She felt it was her fault.

Her Mum told her she could go through the door if she wanted but her Mum seemed to dislike that door too and so didn’t help her to go through. It seemed easier to avoid it all so she made that her choice.

Her Mum agreed she was a big girl now so she felt proud that she could and should make her own decisions. She felt her Dad’s surname didn’t make her feel comfortable so when her Mum asked if she wanted the same name as her “family” she said yes to replacing her name with the Stepfather’s surname. She felt she would then really belong. It was her name so of course it was her decision alone.  

Her Mum told her she had everything she needed and her Mum seemed happy when she stayed in the city and didn’t go near the door. When she thought about the door she felt sad and anxious. It was much easier to not think about the door and just stay where she was and have fun with her friends. Her Dad tried to keep in touch and she wanted that too but she couldn’t manage it without being reminded about the door that now seemed to be in a sad corner of the city that was so hard to get to on her own and it seemed full of problems. She just couldn’t go there – even to talk to her Dad. 

Her Mum agreed that the problems she felt about the door were real and she shouldn’t have to see her Dad or even talk to him if she felt nervous or unsure. She soon agreed with her Mum that her Dad shouldn’t be causing problems by knocking on the door. Didn’t he understand that the doorway was known to be a horrible place by everyone in her city? She soon worked out that life was great inside the city where she had the best friends ever and that’s all she needed. She knew her Mum and stepfather argued with her Dad about this stuff but she wanted nothing to do with all that. 

The years passed.

Sometimes she would think of her Dad when he tried to contact her but for some reason that made her feel bad so she put it out of her mind and got on with being a teenager living life in the moment. She was always busy at school, busy with her friends or busy with her Mum’s side of the family. She became angry at her Dad for not understanding about the door like her Mum understood. How dare he be so selfish! How dare he keep trying to contact her! Thank goodness her Mum and stepfather were able to keep him outside the door by telling the Court he was a bad father and this is what she wanted!

Her Mum said her Dad wanted to see her but that he causes problems for everyone, doesn’t care at all about her and only thinks about himself. She felt Mum must be right. She would sometimes get txts, letters and presents from her Dad but she put it out of her mind because her Mum had gone to a lot of trouble to help her solve the problem of having to go anywhere near the door. To reply would be opening that door and she had come to believe that opening that door could throw her whole world upside down. Instead she concentrated on the world she knew, the family she knew and especially the friends she knew. Her Mum and stepfather were happy and relaxed with this choice she made. Why would she risk this peace? So she ignored her Dad and ignored his calls and ignored his letters.

More years passed and she concentrated on her schooling and her friends.

School finished and she did very well. She wondered if her Dad would be proud. She had wanted to tell her Dad and her Nan but it was still easier not to think about that dark door. She was busy with her new freedom and her new boyfriend. She just wanted peace, not the unknown, not stress, not sadness. Sometimes sadness grabbed her but she knew how to bury it quickly. After all, she had made all her own choices and was therefore free and doing whatever she wanted.

What’s this? Suddenly her Dad was inside the fortress door. “What is going on? Mum told me he was a stalker! Mum said he only cares about himself. Mum is worried about me being upset. How dare he embarrass me. He just likes to upset people. I’ll send him a txt telling him to leave me alone. Better still – I will ignore him.”

But she still received letters from her Dad. She instinctively thought “Can’t he leave me alone? He keeps saying he loves me. So why does he keep interfering in my life. He says we should open that door. I hate that door. Don’t send me stuff about the door.” She stayed in hiding.


“Who’s this No Caller ID? Dad on my phone! I am angry. All this mess is his fault. It’s not Mum’s fault. She told me what he’s like. I am an adult and I know exactly what I am doing.” She tells her Dad it’s his fault and not to call her. She spends 30 minutes telling him this because she just can’t hang up. There’s something stopping her. Her Dad’s voice seems good and bad to her. Good memories seep out and melt some of her ice words. She considers the door. She is not scared of that door. She just chooses not to go through it because…….well because she doesn’t want to feel bad and it’s his fault she feels bad.

And then…

“Whats this? Dad again! Whats he talking about now? I told him he is the problem. He had a chance and he blew it. I am angry with him for everything. For contacting me. For sending me stuff. For making me feel bad. Some of this doesn’t make sense. Aagh! I don’t want to think about this. I’m outta here!”

Weeks later.

A Beautiful Young Lady Travelling on her own in Europe sends a txt to her father on the other side of the world.

Hi Dad. My friend was playing this game and it made me think of you. I’m having the best time of my life over here. Hope you and___ are well. Look forward to seeing you when I’m home! Miss you. Lots of love xx”.

End of Chapter


Turning point for her? No one can possibly know. There’s no paths to follow in this landscape of hope and uncertainty.

The father has learned he can’t open that door for her. She contacted him through a window she opened from another city and with what she has been through, that took courage. She will come through the door when she is ready. She may then leave it ajar or knock it down. The father thought he could help her by showing her how the door had been locked but he was wrong. IQ is not EQ.

One day she may work out how that door was jammed tight from the inside. But that’s her journey. The father’s focus will be on the present and on the future. His focus has always been on her happiness. And that will never change.


6 thoughts on “The Door

  1. Very well written. It’s very difficult to see things from the perspective of an alienated child. You did an amazing job. I’m glad your daughter called you. It gives me hope that one day my sons may contact me.


  2. Can i ask what the father was doing about the door and why did he live on the other side. Did he still visit the school or had he been banned by some legal order such as “prohibitive steps”. It seems tragic, perhaps symptomatic of insufficient time spent with Dad outside the wall. The task of maintaining Dandlebear bridge is immense; more work needs to be done on making it’s use as comfortable as possible. It is so much more difficult to maintain parent/child relationships when parents live apart; the life of the child is often constructed around the school, the home where they predominantly live, and the friendships they form in that vicinity. The other parent can quite easily become the monetary provider and the part-time entertainer.


    1. Thanks for reading. After separation the mother started a new relationship and then had the resources to repeatedly manipulate a broken legal system that is stacked against the role of Dads and has no penalties for lying under oath. Institutions such as the schools follow the path of least resistance and this is clearly the wishes of the enrolling fee paying parent and the alienated child. Bruises show and must be reported. But an enmeshed child being alienated from a parent will defend the alienating parent. If the overworked Courts don’t see through the charade and step in, why would the schools risk intervening?

      So distance too became an issue and a formidable weapon. But regardless of Court Orders, distance, local friends, habits etc, the bottom line comes down to goodwill. If both parents agree on the priority and importance of the child’s entitlement to maintaining a viable relationship with both parents, then it will happen. If there is no goodwill, then given the inclination and opportunity, a parent with a mindset to alienate the child will probably be successful. If mature rational adults can be drawn into cults, what chance does a child have who relies on and trusts that parent? Not much at all. It’s child abuse – nothing less.


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