If You Break It
By Bernadette A. Moyer
How many times have we read a sign in a store that reads, “If you break it, you bought it” I think the same can be said for our relationships.
Each and every single day I hear from people who are suffering a broken relationship. Where my general rule of thumb is that it takes two, it takes two people to create a relationship and it takes two people for a relationship to succeed and/or fail.
But what about the person who single-handedly decides a relationship is over? In my view the person who ends it without input or agreement from the other side, now fully owns the outcome. If they can live with the outcome and their decision so be it, but if not, then they are the ones tasked with making the effort to re-build it. They broke it, they bought it, and they own it.
One of the things we learn in visiting a ”china shop” is to be careful, and why? Because broken china can seldom be repaired to its former condition before the breakage, broken china is often replaced with new china.
The relationships that are long term and that we care about will test us, we grow together or we grow apart. Often a long term relationship is based on love but also includes acceptance and tolerance. A relationship that breaks down many times comes down to what we are willing to accept and tolerate.
Not every single person is supposed to remain in our lives; some come and go and some stay with us. In family we want it to work out and many times we will tolerate and accept things from family that we would never tolerate and accept in others. Some families remain close some just don’t.
A few days ago our son came home from work and shared with me that he ran into his former fourth grade teacher. His teacher asked him about his twin sister since he had both of them in his class and knew them well. Our son told him that they aren’t close and really have no real relationship. He is a twin and as the mother that raised them both it makes me sad. We always thought it was so special that they were twins and had each other like a built in best friend. But what surprised me most was his teachers answer. He said, “My sister and I never got along either.”
I have a hard time believing that families that suffer with estrangement are ever truly happy and healthy even for those that made the decision to estrange. How could you NOT think about “mom” on Mother’s Day or “dad” on Father’s Day or on their birthdays or on holidays?
Same goes for the parents, I don’t know of any mothers or fathers who don’t think about their children on their birthdays and on holidays. I don’t think it could be humanly possible to NOT remember the day that you brought a life, another living person into the world. This fact alone makes it hard to accept estrangement as any “norm” or normal behavior.
This July I will have been estranged from my oldest daughter for nineteen years. In my view she was young and foolish. She made decisions that were life altering and affected many others in hurtful and negative ways. She was just a kid and just shy of the age of eighteen. What makes it baffling isn’t what she did at eighteen but all that she has continued to do to keep it going. She is committed to her anger and to her narrative a narrative that many immature teens go through but most grow up and grow away from.
Like my many followers, friends and sisters and brothers who struggle with and suffer in estrangement, it is like any loss and grief with the many stages from denial to acceptance. I don’t believe that there is any stage that you are over it or 100% healed from it nor do I believe that estrangement has any winners. To deny your parents is to deny facets of your own life and who you are and what made you and where you come from. This is to live a lie.
My husband was the first to bring that line to my attention “they are living a lie” think about that? If you deny your parents and your roots, what does that say about the life that you are leading? And what stories now go along with that lie to justify living in such an abnormal way?
Things change. I suffered through shock and my heart was shattered when my child left home. I was completely broken. I never saw it coming. I didn’t think I could go on. I honestly believed I gave her everything any child could want or need. I beat myself up. I would have done anything for a different outcome.
Then I started to heal. I saw how easily I was to manipulate after her dad died. I became stronger. I went to work for several nonprofits that supported kids, many that were truly disadvantaged kids. I began to see clearly just how much I had spoiled my child.
But I still and for more than a decade I held out hope, I thought for sure she would mature, grow up and life would show her just how much she had. When she had her first child I was devastated not to be included but I also thought great now she will see what it means to have a child, to raise a child to be a mother. Sadly that didn’t happen.
Life is long life is challenging and life is filled with many decisions. I have always tried to live my life with the thought that yes I will stumble, I may fail and I may fall but I do my best to try not to do things that I can’t come back from or recover from.
And I do believe that if you break it, you bought it and you now own it …
Broken china may not ever be able to come back together in its original form but many beautiful mosaic pieces have been made from the broken pieces. Beautiful jewelry and all kinds of beautiful newly created artworks can come back together and create something truly beautiful, different and unique from what was once broken and shattered.
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10 thoughts on “If You Break It”
I love you Bernadette💓 Thank you for all the help on my journey of 4 and half years of total silence from my daughter and 8 grandchildren
I am at peace
She owns it
Yes she does! God Bless You Diane! I love you too! ❤️
Love love your writing!
Love your blog !
Thank you so much! ❤️
Thank you for writing. I have been feeling so alone in that my two oldest children have died- one by an accident and another by illness. Then I have a daughter who is estranged- blaming mom and dad and family for her
” horrible” life. This is the first time I have someone who I can relate to. Please stay in touch!
So sorry for your loss! One would think the estranged child would have more heart since you lost two to death! But sadly it’s always about the estranged and what they didn’t get and how horrible their life is! Blaming mom and dad allows then NOT to take responsibility for their own life and adult decisions! You deserve better! Be kind to yourself! Fill your life with the people and the things that give you pleasure, God Bless You! Thanks for reaching out! Big hugs to you!
Dear Bernardette: After my divorce, my ex-narc husband took our house, the Club Memebresy, and everything!! He did not give me the total amount of child support he had agreed to and we had to move to a smaller house, I had to work, etc. I was very depressed and my elder very annoyed but with me. At the time she was 15 and kept living with me till 25 when she started an affair with her boss who had just had his first baby. She started abusing me and even hit me once. I talked to her father to buy her an apartment or something because we weren´t able to live together anymore. My youngest had gone to study to the US. He did nothing and I couldn´t bear it anymore and left my house. Then I was accused of being a bad mother that had abandoned her. She told me she will not invite me to her wedding and the she won´t let me know my grandchildren. She kept her word and I have not been able to get to know my granddaughter. My other daughter doesn´t tell me anything because she doesn´t want her sister to get mad at her. She lives in Melbourne, so I only see her from time to time. Know I learnt she had married an alcoholic and is undergoing her own divorce. I tried to reach her through one of her friends as she has blocked me from everything!!! I sent a letter telling her to “forgive as I have forgotten” and she got mad at it saying her fríend I have nothing to forgive her of and that I should contact her directly and not through any one else. (How if I am blocked) Well, I tried. I did my best. Now I am at peace and living my life but very sad for my granddaughter!!! Thank you for your post!!!
So sorry you had to go through all this … what you describe is what often happens with parents that give too much. Once we say enough or no more to be discarded. Many young people today have a sense of entitlement. They are owed everything no matter their behaviors. Most of the parents didn’t grow up that way and it is shocking! My favorite book The Four Agreements quote “nothing other people do is because of you, it is because of them” remember that. Try to make a full life for yourself and remember with or without them you deserve to be happy! Thanks for sharing!
This was helpful in reassuring me that life can go on without my son and grandson. Thank you for the support. Looking forward to life.