“Didn’t you notice me?” He asked.

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“Didn’t you notice me?” He asked.
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was 1976 and I was just seventeen years old as I was running up the stairs in our Allentown house. I was in a hurry and anxious to talk to my mother, I swiftly ran past a three year old little boy named Brenden, who caught my attention when he said so confidently and so clearly ”didn’t you notice me?”

He was calling me out. Brenden was a child that I often babysat along with his older sister Ariane and three other siblings. I liked the name Ariane so much that I named my own daughter after her. They were the children of a Baptist minister and his wife; they were friends of my mother and our family. The kids were all adorable and each child was confident and proud.

It is more than 40 years later and I will never forget that day and that a three year old said what needed to be said, he stopped me in my tracks when he asked me “didn’t you notice me?” I felt awful and I made sure he knew that I not only noticed him but appreciated seeing him again. I apologized for attempting to run past him. All he wanted was acknowledgement. I never intended to “not notice him” but clearly my actions said otherwise.

I read much more than I could ever write and I see posts that I read but never comment on although they often strike a chord with me. Every single day sometimes multiple times in a day I hear from or read about families that are broken and relationships that have ended. More and more families have estranged family members. There are family members that have decided not to acknowledge other family members.

Often during the holiday season the wounds, hurts and heartaches resurface with greater intensity. Everyone wants that Norman Rockwell like Christmas and yet few families really experience it. Someone is hurting, someone is missing, and many things in the family are different. Mom and dad have adult children that not only don’t “notice” them but literally want nothing to do with them. Overall the parents are bewildered and the adult children feel justified.

In just about every single case, the narrative is pretty much the same the adult children say they were “abused” it was mental abuse, or verbal abuse or physical abuse or all three. They all had “terrible childhoods” and now mom and dad must pay. They must pay by “no contact” or by not being accepted and noticed. It is an intolerant response.

Most all of the parents I have spoken with declare that they loved their kids and did the best they knew how, they did their best with what they had and what they knew at that time. Many parents never saw it coming and most of the adult kids seem to think little or nothing of it. Bad parents must be erased, period.

What you learn though in life is that it is never ever that simple. Relationships are complex and complicated. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. The longer you are in any relationship the wider the range of experiences you will share.

Like Brenden, a small child, I used to take it all in and onto myself; I used to be willing to accept the feelings and the responsibilities that went along when someone, anyone decided to cut me out of their life.

Then one day I woke up and accepted that I am human, sometimes I do great and other times not so much, but at the end of the day I am only responsible for my actions. I take 100% responsibilty for the things I do and the things I say, how other people treat me is about them, it was and is never about me.

The way we treat other people says so much about us, it is never about the other person, our actions, our decisions are all ours. We own them. Just like our feelings and our emotions, they belong to us. Simply put, your anger is your problem.

When I woke up to it I realized that absolutely nothing other people do is because of me, it is always because of them. People do what they do and people create their narrative often so they may justify their own behaviors and all their own decisions and actions.

What kind of son or daughter looks good when they have cut mom and dad out of their lives? Zero and none at all and so it is determined that mom and dad must be the “bad” ones because it surely isn’t going to be their adult children.

The same thinking can be applied to marriages that break apart or most any other relationships that end, someone is declared “right” and someone else is declared the “wrong” one. That’s just what we do, a couple decides to divorce and we want to know who is at fault? Yet again it isn’t that simple.

Relationships succeed or fail because of what both sides do; both parties contribute to the success or to the failure. The success is because of both people as is the failure. It is never ever just one sided. I always try my best to live by the golden rule, treat other people in the way that you, yourself would want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want something done to you, you probably shouldn’t do that same thing to anyone else.

We beat ourselves up when relationships don’t turn out like we think they should, we might be better served if we just accept that we have done our best, acknowledge our own portion and learn the lessons that each and every relationship can teach us.

At the end of the day and at the end of this life, we ask ourselves about what do we need and what do we want. For most all of us that answer will be peace and to be acknowledged that we were here and that we mattered.

As we age, we learn that we can come to peace after we did everything we can to right our wrongs and to trust that with God comes the entire acknowledgement that we will ever need.

You can’t fix someone else, you can only be the best person that you can be, it has been said that if you can’t fix it, it probably wasn’t your problem in the first place.

“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” John F. Kennedy

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

Along The Way and Another Way on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

How Not Giving a Sh– Might Be Really Healthy For You

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How Not Giving a Sh— Might Be Really Healthy For You
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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(Notice in the cartoon how Tim is able to fly and is light because he doesn’t give a sh–!)

How many times have we stressed over things and over people that we literally had no control over or business in even trying to manage? We care about this person we care about that person, we care about what people might think and say? We want a different situation or a different outcome?

I am a person who cared about everything and everyone, I wanted people to be happy and to get along and then one day after years and years of stressing I recognized it really is NOT my place to stress over other people being happy or getting along. The best I could do was to make myself happy and to get along and if I couldn’t get along to move along.

One of the best parts to being older is that you have “been there and done that” you have worried and you have stressed and upon reflection it doesn’t change anything. All the worrying and all the stress in the world aren’t going to change the situation.

But what does it do? How many times have we literally made ourselves sick both physically and mentally because of things that are beyond our control? And perhaps not even our business in trying to control in the first place? We think we know better, we think our way is better, but better for whom or better in what way?

How about this? How about practicing not giving a sh–? I see so many friends reducing themselves in so many ways because they can’t accept our President. They do and say things that they normally would never do and say. They whip themselves up into frenzy because this was not the outcome they had hoped and wished for … but at what cost? At what cost to them?

Many things in life aren’t going to go the way that you had hoped for and at the end of the day, maybe they weren’t supposed to go that way after all. In many ways we learn more when things do not go easily or smoothly for us. We learn about grace, and about acceptance and about living life.

It is so free to let go, there is good reason it is called the Serenity prayer. Serenity … just think about that how would it be to live our life in serenity? Wouldn’t it be healthier than trying to force our will on people and on situations that are not ours to control?

Over the years and in many ways I have made myself sick over some of the decisions my children have made, decisions that they made as adults. Decisions that I personally would never have made, but what did whipping myself up over it do for me, for them or for the situation? Absolutely nothing! In the end, it was their life to live as they see fit and not for me to try and manage or control.

Today my children are aged 36 and twins aged 25, and each one is doing their own things, I have raised them, I have worried about them and I have loved and cared for them. And to all three of them this is what I say, I hope that you are deliriously happy and that you have a life of abundance, if things are going well and you want to share that with us, the door is wide open, but if you are struggling, creating drama or self-inflicted wounds, I say this in the most loving way, I am not going to give a sh–! You have your life and I have mine, be happy or not, be successful or not, it is no longer a reflection on me, it is your life.

And guess what? Me not giving a sh–, is the healthiest thing for me … and for them too.

Most of us would do well to practice the Serenity prayer … and/or practice not giving a sh–! It really could help you feel so much better and healthier …

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all
Things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

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

Holes in Our Hearts

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Holes in Our Hearts
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Most all of us have them; a place in our heart that wasn’t filled or filled enough or a loss that came later in life that created a void and left a hole in our heart. It may be an easy to see void like the lack of a father or mother or of a love relationship that ended or one that is harder to identify but lives deep within.

The longest relationship we will ever have is with ourselves and that is why we must practice self-love.

We fill the holes and the voids in our hearts, sometimes we fill them with healthy good choices and other times with people and things that may not be the best for us. When we overeat, or drink heavily or self-medicate, we can look inward to see that we are trying to fill a void.

The drinking, overeating and drug use usually is the symptom of a greater void and loss. What causes us to have a hole in our hearts or a void? For many of us there will be a different answer. What didn’t we get in our childhood? Who didn’t love us or who loved us too much? We all have our reasons. What hurts came later that left us feeling that we are off or have an unmet need.

When it comes to parenting I have always believed that we parent by one of two choices either the example of the parenting we learned and received as a child or by the holes and voids left from our own parents that we don’t want to bestow upon our children. Most of us are aware of what is missing in our lives, the choices of what to fill those voids can help us to learn and to grow or they can hurt us and keep us from maturing.

Little girls first fall in love with their fathers and if they have a loving relationship with dad, they are much more likely to find loving relationships later in life. A little girl who was raised without their father often looks for love from men that are unavailable to her. Simply put if dad was absent and gone and a “zero” she grows up and finds what is familiar to her. A “zero” father figure often translates into a “zero” boyfriend, husband etc.

Other father figures can and do fill the holes left by an absent father but only if the child is open and willing and receptive. You can’t miss what you never had. Medical studies show that it takes 6-months to a year for a child to bond and connect to mom and dad. A child who never connected to a “mother” or “father” figure in infancy may feel a void but it will be for the figure and not necessarily for the birth parent that they never fully bonded with or knew. (Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman)

When we learn to put ourselves first, we can learn to fill our own voids and the holes in our hearts with acceptance and unconditional love. Our belief system may need to be adjusted or changed.

“Imagine living a whole new way of life … a life where you are free to be who you really are. You no longer rule your life according to what other people may think about you.” The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz

It takes maturity and some time and the willingness for introspection for us to know ourselves. It takes quiet and the willingness to look inward. When we understand who we are, what is right for us and can identify where our holes are then we can make the choice to fill our own voids with good choices.

Healthy choices would not include overeating or excessive drinking or doing drugs but allowing our soul to speak to us and help us to decipher what we are lacking from within. It is possible to heal from our holes in our hearts but first we have to be willing to identify what caused them and how do we want to fill them to be our best and happiest and whole self …

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

The Estranged Dad

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IMAG2534The Estranged Dad
By Bernadette A. Moyer

Dads hurt too! Barely a day goes by when I don’t hear from an estranged mother who is grieving over an adult child that decided to dismiss mom and dad from their life. Rarely but very rarely do I hear from the dad’s. But when I do the pain shared is no different than what the women have shared. Men seem to keep it in, are more cut and dry about it and seldom do they show their grief outwardly.

When I asked my own husband “what single thing in your life has hurt you the most?’” I was surprised by his response.

This is a man who grew up in “The Projects” and who became a widower at age 32 just after his wife delivered twins pre-maturely. He had a younger brother that he loved commit suicide; he is a man that held his mother’s hand as she died and has a father suffering from severe dementia. (Since this article was written his father has died)

His response; “our girls” and “It didn’t have to be this way.” He was talking about their estrangement. They chose to turn away from their family under the guise of “abuse.” Both times it was over a teen boyfriend that they were determined to have and neither one ended up with.

My husband was a huge support to my daughter. One year he wrote the entire check for her Catholic prep school tuition. During high school he drove her to school every day before going to work. He was invested in her success even though she was not his biological daughter. He attended every single father-daughter dinner throughout high school and he wasn’t just happy to do it but he was proud.

His twin daughter is his namesake that he took up for the entire time she lived at home. Always doing battle with anyone that came to tell him that she was failing, he didn’t want to hear it or believe it. Whether it was a teacher or an employer he only wanted to hear the best about his daughter.

Many times it would be her own twin brother reporting to dad about her latest scheme and how awful she made him feel. He dismissed his only son to support his daughter. To him, she walked on water. Until … right up until he could no longer look the other way. Until she would not only estrange but declare that she was “abandoned.” After all she needed to have a story to support her decisions to disrespect the house rules. And at the age of 18 she certainly had every right to live her life, her way. But we all know that when we live with our parents and in our parent’s house, it is by our parents rules.

Fathers take it differently from what mothers do and looking back I would be willing to bet that my husband stayed strong so that I could be the one that fell apart.

My son describes his twin and her departure as a “low blow” and a “sucker punch” to their father. I believe she acted in haste as many teens do and at the time truly did not comprehend the magnitude of the decisions that she was making. Friends will come and friends will go, but family is forever, or it is supposed to be. He was also the one that didn’t want us to go after. He stated, “She will just do it again” and “I know her better than anyone” and “we are better off without her.”

This is not what any parent wants to hear. We raised our twins to have their own interests and seldom did their interests intersect. He was an Eagle Scout involved in the theater and drama; she played the flute, went to band camps and played soccer. Although we always hoped they would be close and we tried to instill in them the importance of looking out for one another. We thought it was a blessing that they had each other. Little did we know that our desire to keep them together and close was often at our son’s expense and well-being.

My husband isn’t the kind of guy that has regrets. He lives and he learns and he has accepted that the daughter he loved and adored didn’t or doesn’t hold him in the same esteem. His immediate response when she left wasn’t one of hurt or of anger, his response was “I am so disappointed.”

We find it amusing that you can raise kids in the same home, at the same time with the same parents and schools and everything and how one child can be so appreciative and happy and constantly reflects on all the good things he had in his childhood. He states; “I had a great childhood” and another child who was probably given even more states that they weren’t happy and estrange.

From all the parents I have talked with over the 16 years since estrangement entered my life I hear many common threads. Parents that feel betrayed by their children. And their kids lied to them and lied about them. Kids that grow up and decide to estrange from their parents while making the choice to play the victim rather than to succeed in life.

The parents in my support group are the ones that are just like my husband. They are really great dads who gave it their all and never dreamt that all the efforts he put forth would be minimalized and unappreciated. My husband is a strong man, a Christian that prays every single day for the daughter that he thought he raised.

We have great memories of all our kids and all the years that we were raising them. We are so happy that we survived those years with our marriage intact and even stronger. It easily could have gone another way.

Like all the moms and dads who have done the work and raised their children; we want for our children what we have always wanted for them. We want them to be happy, to have peace and good health and a good long life filled with as much love as possible.

Thinking of every dad out there on this Father’s Day and every single day …

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

New books! Along The Way and Another way available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

What We Leave Behind

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What We Leave Behind
By Bernadette A Moyer

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There is nothing that I have ever had and lost or grieved over that I would welcome back in my life. Isn’t that funny? We cry so hard. We want another outcome. But once we have the time to process it becomes so clear that what we thought we wanted and what we thought we needed was never intended to stay in our lives. It could be a relationship it could be a job, it could be almost anything that was once so valued and later becomes just what we leave behind.

Many years ago I was involved with a guy and I will never forget his own father saying to me, “What is a girl like you who is so on the ball doing with a guy like him?” At the time I couldn’t see it but it turns out that he was right. That guy was never really intended for me.

Recently I was talking with a really good friend. He shared with me the first relationship that ever broke his heart. He talks about how much he wanted it to work out. Not that long ago he looked her up she had more than 50 court cases where she was the defendant. She is a drug addict and eventually pled guilty to prostitution. Now all he can think is thank God that didn’t work out. Or maybe it did work out exactly as it was meant to be, she was never intended to be a lifelong friend and partner. Her time in his story was short and it was over. It was what he left behind.

Today I look back on so many things that changed and things that I once grieved over and not one of them would I want back in my life. The following is one of my favorite quotes;

“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, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. Your destiny is never tied to anyone that left. And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that their part in your story is over. And you have to know when people’s part in your story is over.” T.D. Jakes

It is so freeing to just accept that we will leave people, we will leave places and we will leave positions behind. Nothing is meant to last forever. We learn from all that we leave behind. If something or someone was meant to be in our lives, they would be in our lives, period.

There is so much to love and so much to do and experience in our lifetime. When one door closes, truly another one opens.

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” Richard Gere

Here is to living the good life and to appreciating all that we have all that is yet to be and knowing that it is perfectly okay to leave somethings and some people behind …

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

Ten Years of Tears

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Ten Years of Tears
By Bernadette A. Moyer

 

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Cryin’ For Nothin’
Songwriter Kevin Welch, Performer Country Music Artist Gary Allan
All of that cryin’ for nothing
All of that tryin’ for nothing
What has it ever got me
What has it ever taught me
I’ve got to keep believing
In somethin’ baby
‘Stead of just tryin’ for nothing
Cryin’ for nothin’ at all

When my first husband died my mother said, “Death is easier, it is so final.” She had been divorced from my father and struggled with her grief over the failure of their marriage. My husband’s death was final. I had no choice but to accept he was gone for good. Maybe it was easier for me.

In 1998 I lost a child. It may just as well have been a death. I had one therapist tell me it was an “amputation.” It wasn’t my choice but one I have finally accepted. I spent more than ten year crying over this loss. Ten years is approximately twenty percent of my life. Against all odds I hoped, prayed and pleaded for another outcome. It was not to be.

During this time I communicated with several people through online support groups. One woman had her own website called Pennies for Heaven. It was a bright and inspirational site dedicated to her toddler Michael who died. Michael crawled through a doggie door at night when his parents were sleeping. The next morning they found him floating in the backyard pool. He had drowned to death. Michael’s parents were young and he was their only child. I wrote his mother often and she wrote me back. We connected through our grief. Two mothers crying over the loss of a child.

I believe that site and newsletter went on for years. I read all her words. Then one day she made an announcement stating that she was writing two more issues and then shutting it down. She said she will never stop loving Michael but it was time. It was time for her to move past her tears and her grief. They were starting a new chapter in their life and having another child. I always admired how she took her grief made something positive come from it, helped others like myself and then moved forward. Maybe death is easier since it is so final. She had made a decision to move past her grief and start living a happy and whole life once again.

For me I hung onto hope, I thought in time, with age and wisdom that someday we would reconcile. Clearly that is never going to happen. What I am left with is my memories of another time and the fact that I cried for nothing. No amount of tears was ever going to change the outcome.

Grief is a process and has been a cleansing process for me. I still cry over my losses but I only allow myself a certain period of time for tears and then I let go. I won’t spend ten years of tears over anyone ever again. I just can’t allow myself that kind of pain and the loss of my own quality of life. They say, “The first cut is the deepest” and maybe after that much grief you learn to come back quicker.

Like country music artist Gary Allan sings from the song Cryin’ For Nothin’ “cryin’ for nothing’ tryin’ for nothin’ what has it ever got me. We could not reach it and I don’t know why. It took so long just to say good-bye.”

Good-bye to Ten Years of Tears … it was a long sad rainstorm, and just like after any good long rain, when it ends, the sun shines even brighter.

Today April 7, 2016 is the 5th anniversary date of my mother’s death. I don’t cry anymore. I know our history, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad. I choose to remember our story in its entirety, not all bad and surely not all good either. I pray for her soul, I visit her gravesite once a year. I remember her. I know that she is and always will be my mother. I respect that fact. Many of her strong and positive qualities like a work ethic and strength as a woman I learned from her. I learned to soldier on regardless of what has transpired in my life. And I am willing to bet from her vantage point in the next life that she is proud of me, proud of her second born daughter and all that she not only accomplished but survived.

Our tears are important for cleansing and for clearing the way and after the tears it can be and should be an opportunity to reset.

There is life after loss, there is life after sadness … we just have to want it!

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

New books! Along The Way and Another Way are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Inez Totani’s Daughter

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Inez Totani’s Daughter
By Bernadette A. Moyer

Inez

It is coming up on the 5th anniversary of my mother’s death. I am Inez’s daughter, her second born daughter. Yesterday I visited her gravesite. I shed no tears. My heart is filled with love and with peace. My mother had many wonderful qualities as she was a brilliant nurse, an excellent student and a force of life. Her weaknesses were in the men that she chose. Both of her husbands were men who were abusers.

You couldn’t tell her anything once she made up her mind about something or someone there was no changing her mind. Any facts that flew in the face of how she wanted things to be were dismissed and destroyed.

My mother would have been proud of me for standing up against a child molester and for taking a stand. The only problem is/was that the child molester was her second husband.

In my mid-fifties, I no longer need my mother’s approval nor do I really need anyone’s approval. I know who I am. I am Inez and Bernie’s daughter. I am Ariane’s mother. I was Randy’s wife. I am Brian’s wife. But most importantly I am my own person and a really good person.

You never know what you would do in any given situation until you find yourself there. Hind sight is always 20-20. We are a wealth of all our experiences.

Yesterday as I drove through my parent’s small town in Northeast Pennsylvania and the little farm where I spent my early years, I am proud of where I come from as a small town country girl. I know my roots but I also celebrate the full and rewarding life that I later secured for myself.

My parents taught me that if I wanted something I needed to work for it and I have worked for the lovely life I lead. My parents taught me that it is through the struggle that we find enlightenment. My parents taught me to persevere. My parents taught me to have faith, to have faith in God and faith in the world and ultimately to have faith in myself.

On this Good Friday and just a few weeks from the anniversary of my mother’s death I know that my faith is stronger than ever before and that I have forgiven all those who have hurt me and disappointed me. I have forgiven my mother.

I believe that my mother watches over me and that when I do pass through this life, she again will be one of the first people that will greet me. I have faith. I have forgiveness. I have God. I have love.

Being Inez’s daughter is only part of my journey and only part of who I am … I am grateful for my life. I am happy to be here and I thank God that I was able to come out whole and through it all to the other side.

Peace and love …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
New books! Along The Way and Another Way on Amazon and Barnes & Noble