Going Home

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Going Home
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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At first this blog was set to be called “Does your narrative match up to your life?” Then after more thought it seemed this might be a better title simply put going home.

In my opinion and experience there are four big reasons that adult children do not return home after an estrangement and they are;

1) The narrative that they have run with is “I am good and they are bad” good kids don’t leave a good home and a good family so “mom and dad” must be bad. Because it can’t be me.

2) The stories that they told to secure a new support system do not align with the possibilities of going home. For survival they need people that will support them. They become the “anti” family group of people.

3) Failure – they are not succeeding and the last thing they want is for mom and dad to be right and that they were wrong.

4) Not worth fixing – It is just too hard after so much time and so much hurt, it hurts to go home and it hurts to stay away so let’s just leave it as it is because staying away, this is a hurt that I can control.

The narrative – Mom and dad can’t possibly be good people if you decided to cut them out of your life. Right, we don’t abandon good people we leave the “bad” ones. Truth is sometimes we leave because it is time to grow up. Sometimes we leave because we want our independence and sometimes we leave because the rules our parents have set are rules that we don’t want to adhere to.

(Some kids do grow up and they leave because “home” truly is an abusive place and/or a place where they don’t feel good about themselves or feel loved.)

The stories – I have heard many stories that adult children tell to justify the estrangement. Some seem normal and easy to believe and some seem like a convenient narrative to justify their own actions and behavior. But once a negative narrative is declared that becomes the story.

Failure – A grown adult that estranges and is failing is a lot less likely to rejoin the family than the one that is happy and successful. Successful and happy kids typically want to share their success and happiness. Kids that know their parents won’t approve of their choices in life or kids who are ashamed by the things they did will often continue in shame and continue to hide and remain estranged.

Not worth fixing – The damage has been done and it may be too hard to fix it. If you blow up your parents, called them horrible people and even worse, how do you then come back to them? It takes a lot of growing up and a lot of maturity and being honest to face parents after lodging hatred and anger and insults at them.

Parents need to remember “Don’t take it personally, it isn’t about you, nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements book.

The road back home, there is always a road back home if you want it and are willing to work at it. Parents aren’t perfect people and neither are their children. To come back means that forgiveness has to be a big part of the equation and so does love and acceptance. Parents also need to take heart and remember you did the best with what you had and what you knew at that time. Forgive yourself.

Relationships that work are built on trust and mutual respect. If a relationship isn’t working on one side it isn’t working on the other side either. Both parties contribute to the success just as both parties contribute to the failure. Sometimes we grow together with people and sometimes we grow apart.

If a relationship has been strained and been difficult we may have to lower expectations. There are also relationships that are best left to die their own natural death. Below one of my favorite quotes from Bishop T.D. Jakes.

“There are people who can walk away from you … let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you … Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left. And I don’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that their part in your story is over. And you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over …”

After an estrangement going home will be different, it is not going to be the same and that should be expected. Time changes people and it changes things. We grow and we learn and hopefully we want to do what is necessary to create and maintain healthy relationships and if not, then being away from home is probably a better choice.

The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
The brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

songwriters Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin

Time and life experiences and maturity have a way of ferreting out the truth and what relationships should last and stand the test of time … Breathe and let being home and going home unfold naturally and in its own way and own timetable.

If it is meant to be, it will be …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Reunited After a 7 Year Estrangement

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Reunited After a 7 Year Estrangement
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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I thought it would be much more awkward but it wasn’t. I thought maybe she wouldn’t show up, she says she thought maybe I wouldn’t show. I thought we would struggle to keep the conversation going, we didn’t. I can’t say we picked up where we left off because she was different and so was I.

There was a long heartfelt hug as we met one another after a long seven year estrangement. I never thought she would have done it, leave home and not look back. I still don’t believe she would have done it if not for her half-sister my daughter who was already estranged for over ten years when daughter #2 chose the same path. They teamed up together which often happens with estranged adult children, they try and take others with them. And at 18 years of age and with some normal teen/parents growing up clashes she was easy to sway and an easy target.

This child had a father and a twin brother too that she left at home, a father who was angry and crushed by her actions and behaviors. It didn’t seem that she could ever come back from the things that she said and the things that she did. But that was seven years ago.

Then one day she e-mailed, a long lengthy e-mail stating, “I was young and stupid, I’m not 18 anymore, I am soon to be 25 and newly married and I don’t want to carry this around anymore. I am in therapy and I have grown up, I am working on myself and on my life.”

It was hard to hear some of her stories, her half-sister just got up and left her one day. She moved clear across the country. They are no longer in communication. She said she was in an abusive relationship that lasted for five years before it ended. She worked two jobs, and at times slept on friend’s floors. She had an accident and had rolled a car and injured her head. She talked and she talked and before I could respond she said, “I know that I brought much of it on myself.”

But there was much success and accomplishments too. She went to school and she became a Certified Nurses Aid. She maintained her independence and learned how to multi-task and hold down the responsibilities of a full time job. She survived.

She said that she goes to church and reads the bible she said some things made her think and she shakes her head at all the untruths she told as a teenager. She seemed happy but different. She talked with a slight lisp that I don’t remember her having. I took it all in. At times I held her hand. She made me cry. They weren’t sad tears but tears of relief. I was just so happy to see her. I was genuinely happy that she was doing well and okay.

After two hours at our local coffee shop I was surprised that she didn’t want to leave me yet and I said, “Why don’t you come home with me and see your father?” I text messaged him that I was on my way and bringing her home with me. He can be more intimidating than I am and I told her not to worry I would help ease any awkwardness but it turned out that it wasn’t necessary. By the time I arrived home she was already there and out of her car and they were chatting. He said the first thing she said to him was, “I was young and I was dumb and I am sorry” he hugged her.

She came inside the house, this was her childhood home where she lived for 18 years and 10 months, and she recited the exact date that she left home. She said she always remembered it and it was October 2, 2010. Today we have a new date, a date of reconciliation, February 25, 2017.

Her dad asked her if she wanted to see her old bedroom. She did. I could see and feel her checking out the house. We chatted before sitting down at the kitchen table to chat even more and take some pictures. I was amused in a good way by her. She was definitely grown up and matured, she was also confident and really chatty and at ease within herself and with us. There was no game. It was all real.

In the past and for many years, almost two decades now, I have shared my stories and written much about estrangement. I wrote articles for parents of estranged adult children and for the adult estranged children. I have been interviewed on this subject and I have talked with thousands of estranged mothers and fathers across the country and beyond. For many years I have belonged and participated in several estranged support groups for parents of estranged adult children. I have seen and I have heard it all. As much as I have written on this subject I have read so much more.

The stories may be different and some are amazingly the same the emotional journey is often quite similar, it starts with shock, hurt, anger, shame, denial and sadness. There is a whole lot of hurt and anger and sadness that comes when an adult child decides to estrange themselves. Then comes the hardest part that seems to arrive after anger, and that is the acceptance. There is a new normal in learning how to live without your child. It feels wrong it feels awkward, it just doesn’t feel right.

A large majority of adult children never return home to mom and dad, they just don’t. I give our daughter a lot of credit, it took courage it took guts and it took maturity to face us again. She has grown up and she has proven to be a survivor. It had to be when she was ready; it had to be on her terms.

Today I feel like I received a huge gift from her and from God and so did her dad, I hope that she feels that way too. Her dad was hurt and he was angry but there wasn’t a single day that he didn’t pray for her.

She says that she is sorry but also acknowledges that she wouldn’t be where she is today, the person that she has become if not for the road that she chose. Today she is newly married and in love with her new husband and a home owner with a job and a dog called Bailey. She is happy. Sweet, what more could any parent want for their adult child?

“Reconciliation means doing away with anger, bitterness and resentment.” Healing.com

So the takeaway is never stop praying and always be open and receptive and if and when the chance comes for a reunion and a reconciliation just have those arm open and be ready to listen and to embrace and love your child. Just love that child!

And in the meantime don’t stop living and loving and learning because life with or without your child is a gift and it is a gift that should never be squandered and always be appreciated.

Here is to the future … however much or however little let it be grounded in love and in acceptance. We pray. Amen.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Bye

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Bye
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was the middle of summer 2016 and our adult son was acting out, it was one episode after another and one lengthy hospital stay after another. No matter what we did or what we said our son was determined to end up at our local hospital. He always had “issues” we all have “issues” but this summer he was full blown acting out in ways that not only weren’t helping him but they were in fact hurting him.

I raised him from the time he was just an infant although he was not my biological child, he was his father’s son. We were at wits end and really uncertain as what we should do next, nothing was working. We literally were on standby mode, our son was in charge, it was his life and as an adult he was making all his own decisions.

We felt completely helpless as we witnessed him doing things that were not going to help him and definitely were hurting us too. During the midst of the crisis my husband woke up one morning and said, “I had a bad dream last night. I dreamt there was a note left on the kitchen table. It was from you and it said “bye” just one word “bye!” We both laughed really hard.

They say behind every joke there is a hint of truth. I knew right away what he was saying. No one needed to be put through some of the stuff our adult kids put us through. Some marriages don’t survive it. After everything we had been through together with our kids he knew that someone else might have said that is it, I’ve had it, “Bye!”

Until you are a parent yourself and until or unless you have raised children to maturity you have no way of truly knowing just how much work and effort and love and determination go into raising kids. There is just no way to know until you do the job yourself.

“A simple bye can make us cry, a simple joke can make us laugh and a simple care can make us fall in love.” Author Unknown

What would “bye” have done for him or for me or for our family? Yes I wanted out of this situation with our son but I didn’t want to leave my husband or my marriage over it.

Some relationship need a healthy “bye” when it is over and time to move on. Today after everything we have shared in our marriage we can laugh and say “bye” but what we really mean is we don’t want that issue or that thing to be creating any harm or hurt or upsets between us.

And now that some time has passed and we all survived the drama and recent episodes our son created and survived it together, our marriage is stronger and better and healthier and we hope and pray that adult son takes the good and the lessons and leaves the rest behind with a big healthy “bye” of his own.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Parental Love

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Parental Love
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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There is no greater opportunity for love like the love a parent has for their child.

“Parental love is a limited reflection of a limited love. In the experience of parental love I was wounded as were you, and every other human being. Most parents are the best and the greatest, but in the human experience, parents are also very broken people.” Henri J.M. Nouwen

I am always intrigued by how parents speak about their children and equally intrigued about how children speak about their parents. Parents aren’t perfect and neither are their offspring.

The kids that profess to come from the “perfect family” alarm me as much as the ones who declare they are a product of the “worst family” I suspect neither to be 100% true.

In a recent news story three tiger cubs band together as their mother’s maternal instincts fail. It was a first time mother in a zoo and the staff there is tasked with nurturing the baby cubs. The vet says that they won’t re-introduce the mother because she won’t recognize them. There was no bonding that took place. Most mothers could never imagine this and yet it happens, it also happens that offspring reject their parents.

Most parents would literally kill for their children, hurt the child and suffer the parental consequences.

John has a grown daughter that he once loved dearly and would have killed for, today they are estranged. His feelings have changed. Now he states, “she is not a good person, I don’t like her and how she acts” it is hard to imagine how he could feel one way and then the exact opposite way.

He says, “I have feelings too” in reference to the things that she has said about him and done to him.

We all witness the Trump family and the adult children that seem to have such a close and loving relationship with their father. Whether you like him or not, he maintains close, loving and supportive relations with all his kids.

When my own daughter became a teenager and started acting out like so many teenagers do, it was the first time that I saw her through different lenses. In her behaviors I witnessed her father who was deceased before her third birthday and although not around she had many of his traits and characteristics.

Parents are people with the same wide range of feelings as all others and kids can make their parents proud as easily as they can disappoint them. Parents find joy in their children and they also suffer sadness and grief because of them too. It is no different than any other relationship.

Maybe we expect too much from our kids and therefore can be disappointed. I think the best place to be is where I am today. My children are all adults aged 25 to 36 and I no longer view them as a reflection of myself or my parenting but rather as their own unique individuals.

There is such freedom in having adult children that you are no longer responsible for and you can do as much as you want with them and for them or as little as you choose.

Today I view parenting as though the gift is and was in the giving and like any gift if it was well received all the better but my part was solely as the parent that gave the gift of parenting.

Parenting is an awesome responsibility and it is not an exact science. Most all of us go into it wanting and doing our very best. Where the outcomes may be different the tasks, responsibilities, love, commitment and efforts involved in parenting are all so similar.

“There is nothing wrong with the pleasure that comes from a big meal, a sexy night, or victory on the playing field — but it is fleeting. Raising kids, working through marriage troubles, and volunteering at a soup kitchen may be less pleasurable, but these pursuits provide fulfillment – a sense that you’re the best person you can be.”

From LOVE THAT BOY by Ron Fournier

Happy parenting and happy being the best that you can be …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Ice Cream for Breakfast

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Ice Cream for Breakfast
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Open up the windows in January and build a fire in June, eat ice cream and pizza for breakfast, why not? Sometimes doing things against our “norms” is a good thing and a healthy thing too.

Break all the rules! We are bound by our own code to live by and by our belief system. What part of our lives or anyone else’s will be harmed or somehow less than by letting fresh air in our homes in January or by enjoying the warmth and excitement of a fire during the summer. How about that cold leftover pizza for breakfast?

It becomes easy to live our lives by routine and mindlessly going about our day, and by doing what we have always done.

One of my least favorite lines in response to change is; but that that is how we have always done it! And when you have set new goals that excuse is not good and not good enough. If you want growth and you want development you must embrace change and a new way of doing things.

Change your thinking and change your world …

Try new things, set new goals, visit different people and new places … eat ice cream for breakfast … try something new and different and exciting …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.bernadetteamoyer.com
All books by Bernadette A Moyer on Amazon and Barns & Noble

What ever happened to the Golden Rule?

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What ever happened to the Golden Rule?
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Remember the golden rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Matthew 7:12 has it gone out of style, treat others as you would want to be treated? And with it went kindness, proper behaviors and respect?

I read everything and I’ve learned to comment on few things. Yesterday I read political posts from people that I know and like and basically they were full-throttle trashing the President. All I could think was/is if your son or daughter or grandchildren said the same things about their class President would you think that was appropriate language? I know they wouldn’t. No school would allow a student to talk to another student with such disrespect.

We model all our behaviors for our children and for our grandchildren, would you take pride in your child or grandchildren if they spoke the same way and used the same words that you use? How about this, how about if someone said that same things to you and about you? Would that be okay?

In a world full of change and filled with different opinions and views, I still do my best to live by the golden rule. Spewing hate about anyone just makes YOU look bad it doesn’t make the person you are attacking and degrading look badly.
Civility and kindness cost nothing and yet so many seem to forget that. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE PEACE AND LOVE, BE FILLED WITH PEACE AND LOVE!

I will never get the mental image of both Madonna and Ashley Judd out of my mind, the way they spoke during the Women’s March and the words they used didn’t make me think badly about their intended targets but it made me look at them in a very different light. I can’t think of any situation where I would ever want to be like them or speak like them.

The attacks all seemed beneath them Ashley Judd saying Trump looks like he rolled around in a bag of Cheetos? Really that is your supporting statement? I love a good debate but on the merits and not on personal attacks. When you have to go so low to try and make a point, you probably don’t have a very good argument to begin with, sad.

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My mother was famous for saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Seems to me this is still good advice. I worry and I wonder about a generation of young people who witness what goes on in this hateful divisive climate and how what they witness today will do to affect their own behaviors tomorrow.

And what about Karma, when you spew hate and unkindness I don’t think you can be surprised when it all comes right back at you? What you sow in the universe becomes your very own garden. I prefer to sow the seeds that grow love, kindness, understanding, tolerance, acceptance and most of all I do believe that the Golden Rule is still relevant and I do my best to treat others in a way that I would want to be treated.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes and Noble