By Bernadette A. Moyer


Shame can be a powerful motivator; it can push us to get ahead and to move beyond our current situation. Shame can also cause us to continue to live in shame all the while hurting ourselves. I began this blog just before I received yet another e-mail from a mother who is estranged from both her daughter and her mother. The devastation left her suicidal and losing her job too. She like many in her situation is ashamed by it.

My husband Brian grew up in the projects of Baltimore City where his family was the only white family and where his father was the only parent there with a full-time job. He couldn’t understand it and was ashamed of his humble beginnings. He was ashamed of their ways and their behaviors. His shame pushed him out of the city and toward a better life. He wanted better for himself and for his family.

Some people never climb out of it, and they create generation after generation that is born into poverty and often a shame-filled existence. Education and a work ethic often are the vehicles that help drive us toward success and out of poverty and shame.

“How do you do it?” My recent writer asks me, how do you go on after the shame of losing your precious child to estrangement? My quick response is “You put one foot in front of the other and you walk away. You leave it all behind you.”

Yesterday I experienced more hatred and family drama after my husband’s father died the night before. Family members that broke into our home after driving out from the city to our suburban home, they were not invited nor did we know they were coming. When they were uncovered inside of our home, I was verbally assaulted. Called all kinds of curse words and names. I may have seen these people three times in my entire life. My son said, “Now I know why my dad wants nothing to do with them.”  My husband said, “This is why I never took you around them, they have embarrassed me my entire life.”

For years I grieved lost relationships. Most women who are mothers want their families intact but sometimes it becomes very clear that like both my husband and my son state, “we are better off without them.” There is nothing there that is healthy and whole, it took my husband incredible strength and fortitude to get out and to move behind his family of origin. They are an angry people.

After the verbal assaults that took place in our home his family proceeded to scream and yell and curse loudly on our property and in our neighborhood. My husband once again experienced shame because of his family.  The difference is that today they are all grown adults, they aren’t kids anymore. He has changed and grown up and they are still set in their “hood” mentality.

We are better off without them! Women typically don’t want to hear that or believe that and men seem to have an easier time accepting it. Today after many years of grief I am 100% with them. Our lives are happy and they are peace-filled and the self-inflicted family drama is of no interest to us. Simply put, we don’t live like they do. We have respect for people and for their privacy. We would never enter someone else’s home, family or not without being invited.

On the day after my husband lost his father, he found himself sitting in the police station making a report regarding the family members that broke into our home. Even the policemen stated, “people in your neighborhood, don’t do that.” More shame for a man that has moved past it.

I’ve begun to believe that the people; the family members departure from our lives is truly a gift from God.  When their time is over, it is over. Shame can be used as a powerful motivator; it can help us to push onward and upward.  My husband never felt good enough, until he was grown up enough to understand that their stuff was about them and he could decide what was right for himself.

“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” Brene Brown

Shame can destroy your life if you allow it. It can make you believe that you aren’t good enough; truth is that we are all children of God, we are good and we are all good enough. We must push past our shame and we must believe it to make it so …

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