Reunited After a 7 Year Estrangement
By Bernadette A. Moyer
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 more than a thousand miles away. 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. In her words she was a “defiant daughter.” 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.
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