If You Break It

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If You Break It
By Bernadette A. Moyer

broken-china

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 …

bracelet

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.

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

Dear Moms …

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Dear Moms …

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We are about to celebrate yet another Mother’s Day. For some of us our children will be here to celebrate with us. And for some of us our children will not be. Our adult children make that decision. Each year my adult son takes me out to lunch and a movie to celebrate Mother’s Day. It has become our tradition. Half the fun for me is witnessing his excitement in planning it and making it happen.

My husband always treats me special on Mother’s Day. I think the thought that he could have been left alone to raise newborn infant twins when his first wife unexpectedly died was terrifying for him. He has always appreciated me for stepping up and assuming the mother role and raising his twin children with him. Today we can’t imagine our lives any other way.

My oldest and I were extremely close when she was coming up; so many people thought we had the “ideal” mother – daughter relationship. I have the most vivid memories of her as a toddler and later as a young teenager. She was strikingly beautiful and just as intelligent. Often I sat in amazement at her spunk and spirit. My memories are mine and no one can take them away from me.

For some families the kids will come home to see mom and celebrate together with family. Some will travel to the cemetery and lay flowers in remembrance.

Today there are statistics that show that 1 in every 5 families has an estranged family member, many are the adult children who have mothers that will grieve their loss and the void left behind on Mother’s Day. Through the years and because of my writings I have heard from thousands and thousands of mom’s who suffer a broken heart because “John” or “Jane” decided that mom was just not worthy of any relationship. It is hard not to be angry when I hear such hurtful stories. It seems that many adult children have no love and no respect for the very person that gave them life.

But for all of us mom’s we can share in the knowledge that we were brave and filled with faith and trust in just becoming a mother. There is no greater task in life than the awesome responsibility of bringing another life into the world and then the depth of commitment that it takes to raise one until adulthood. My heart was never so filled with pure joy and genuine love as the day that I first became a mother.

Often we beat ourselves up or second guess ourselves when the truth is that for most all of us we did the best we could with what we had and what we knew at that time. Know that you did the best that you could have with what you had and what you knew at that time. Our parents were not perfect and neither are we nor are our adult children. Flowers, cards and gifts are often a big part of the Mother’s Day celebration.

If you are on the receiving end of acknowledgement this Mother’s Day know that giving is for the giver and although we may be the receiver, relish in knowing that your child thought of you and did so in a way that lets you know that he/she is capable of love and of giving.

If you are feeling the pain and the loss of an adult child who does not acknowledge you or appreciate you, just know that you are not alone. Allow yourself a few minutes alone to grieve it, let it out. Cry it out, shout it out, write it out, whatever it takes just release the grief so that you are freer and can cleanse some of the loss and heartache away. Know that it is normal to feel the grief and that you will always have a soft spot for your child no matter what they have said and done. Say a prayer for them and for yourself.

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Then do your best to pick yourself up and treat yourself with kindness and care. Whether you are acknowledged or not you deserve to be appreciated. Appreciate yourself! Take a walk or a long hot bubble bath. Buy your own flowers or candy. Go to lunch or dinner with a friend. Buy a new book and get lost in a story, treat yourself to a movie. Buy a new dress or new shoes. Take a day trip. Go to an event. Do something outwardly that shows that you are important and that you have value. You do have value, believe it!

We give others too much power over us; we allow their judgement to take center stage. The only person who truly knows you and your heart is you. Try not to get caught up in the negativity that your child has placed upon you. Estrangement is not an act of love or of kindness nor does it come from a caring person. We are not our children. We are not responsible for any of their adult decisions.

We gave them life. We gave them the ultimate gift. Celebrate! You deserve to be happy and you deserve to have peace and love. There are always people that can and will love you. Love yourself. Treat yourself well.

Always remember that you gave your child the greatest gift ever when you gave them life and you raised them, you deserve to be celebrated. If not celebrated by them then with others who can appreciate you and celebrate from within yourself.

Happy Mother’s Day with much love and peace,

Bernadette

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

All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

After The Hope is Gone So Often Goes The Love

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After The Hope is Gone So Often Goes The Love
By Bernadette A. Moyer

brokenhearts

One of my colleagues Renate Dundys-Marrello wrote a piece about losing hope after estrangement takes place. How it happens that by clinging onto hope we only continue to hurt ourselves. Her article chronicled the stage when we finally come to acceptance and are ready to stop hoping. For days I thought about the journey that she has walked and the one that we have shared and shared with far too many mothers and fathers.

Think about a break up? The relationship has ended and you just can’t and won’t accept it. You keep hoping for another outcome yet day after day, month after month and year after year it never happens.

Eventually you have to let go and even when it is your child, your own flesh and blood you have to accept it, that it is over and that no amount of hoping will change the outcome. And when you do and not long after you finally give up hope you will lose your ability to love that person the same way again. The heart that you once had for them has changed, maybe one day you can grow a new heart but after the hope leaves and we accept the loss our hearts are forever changed.

It happens in just about every relationship that has ended so why would we think that it wouldn’t happen to us after so much time without any relationship with our own adult child?

Sadly we will lose that loving feeling. We have learned how to live without them and they in turn have learned how to live their lives without including us. Life goes on… it’s a different life. It is a life as a parent that we never envisioned but it now belongs to us, like it or not.

I think the longer estrangement takes root the less likely for any true and meaningful relationship. It would take a miracle, an awful lot of effort, hard work and a true desire for reconciliation and determination to face all facets of it; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Love can be so fragile; it can easily be destroyed and worn away. That is why when we find love we need to cherish it and protect it. We also need to understand that we are only one side of any relationship and if the other side declares that the relationship and that we are unworthy we need to accept it. Hard as that may be at times; the letting go and letting go in love is the ultimate act of grace.

What are we longing for? I don’t believe that any parent that has raised and invested in their children is ever going to easily accept estrangement. For those of us who were present and actually did the work it just feels so wrong. Yet for many of us estrangement forces us to live in a way that we never believed could and would happen.

lovelost

Like the quote above, we don’t miss what we have already had and shared what we do miss is the future and the possibilities that will never be realized. There is nothing harder than surviving a broken heart and there is no greater loss than to have lost a child.

Tin Man by Miranda Lambert
Lyrics by songwriters Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall

Hey there Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
You shouldn’t spend your whole life wishin
For something bound to fall apart
Every time you’re feeling empty
Better thank your lucky stars
If you ever felt one breaking
You’d never want a heart

Hey there Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
I’ve been on the road that you’re on
It didn’t get me very far
You ain’t missing nothing
‘Cause love is so damn hard
Take it from me darling
You don’t want a heart

Hey there Mr. Tin Man
I’m glad we talked this out
You can take mine if you want it
It’s in pieces now
By the way there Mr. Tin Man
If you don’t mind the scars
You give me your armor
And you can have my heart

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

Post Estrangement: Changing What You Hope For by Renate Dundys-Marello

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Post Estrangement: Changing What You Hope For
by Renate Dundys-Marello

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(Every once in a while an author speaks to me in a way that I felt I could have written these words myself. This piece by Renate had that impact on me and with her permission I am reposting here on my site. Thanks Renate for sharing! – Bernadette A. Moyer)

In Renate’s words …

During the early days of estrangement you hope and dream that it had never happened. This is the denial stage when you still have the misguided notion that it is all a bad dream and you will just wake up one day and it will be back to family life as usual. That whatever they were upset about will be dealt with and you just go back to being a normal family; a family that goes through difficult times but manages to stick together and work things out. Blood is thicker than water and all those kinds of messages run through your mind as you struggle with the hardship of being shunned.

Then you get to the stage where the estrangement has been going on for long enough that you accept that it is real. Your child really has done this thing called estrangement. They have also cut ties with those members of the family that do not agree with them. You realize that this is a power struggle and they want above all else to be “right”. They drop anyone who suggests that compromise might be in order.

During this stage you start to ask all the harrowing “why” questions, that unfortunately resolve nothing. But you cling to hope. It is a desperate kind of hope.

Your hopes change to wishing for your estranging adult child to recognize the damage they are causing to the family and that they will somehow come to their senses and do what is necessary for the family to reconcile. You have these hopes that it is a “personal growth phase” they are going through and when they “grow up” they will realize how silly their behavior is. You hope that this Mother’s Day or this Christmas or this Birthday everything will be resolved. You send letters and then hope they will reply or hope they will open the door to communication.

During this stage you place all your hopes on the adult child that has estranged. You hope their hearts will soften, you hope they will care enough to make amends. You hope they will change.

And as you hope for change; and have your hopes demolished day in and day out by the continuing silence you come to realize that this hope is slowly destroying you. This hope causes you pain every morning and every evening when your hopes are once again unfulfilled. This hope keeps you stuck in wistful thinking and magical make believing. This hope takes power out of your hands and places that power into the hands of the very person(s) causing you to suffer.

This stage, I fear, was the longest and also the hardest part of the grieving journey for me. It kept me stuck in the past. It kept me repeating useless questions like:
• What made her turn out to be the kind of person who can do this?
• Why doesn’t she see that this is not the way to communicate and work things out?
• Why won’t she respond to my letters and my apologies?
• What did I do that was so horrible that deserves this kind of punishment?

Until finally I woke up one day and realized I was losing myself in useless hope. I was giving up my own power by placing all the hope for healing into the hands of the very person who caused the wound in the first place.

That was when I realized I had to change the direction of my hopefulness.

Instead of placing my hope outside myself and giving power to the estranger, I had to place hopefulness on my own shoulders and upon the actions I could take to regain peace in my life.

To live means to hope, but the hope needs to be about what I need and what I want to have a better life. That meant I had to become hopeful that I could and would survive this traumatic event. I had to build and then believe in the hope that regardless what my estranging daughter did or did not do I could create a meaningful life.

• I started to hope that I could heal
• I started to hope that I could create a different life than I expected but a good one none the less
• I started to hope that I could find joy and happiness again
• I started to hope that I could live an exciting and enthusiastic life even though…..
• I started to hope for new and rewarding friendships
• I started to hope that a future without what I had expected can still be good.

And as I started to place my hopes in what I could do for myself, I was able to start the long journey toward healing, toward reclaiming the right of every human, a full and rewarding life here and now in the present.

Hope placed in my abilities to change and transform was essential for me to recognize that just because the life that I dreamed of did not turn out, I still had dreams to pursue and challenges to be met and living to do.

And best of all, I started to realize that I deserved this!

Because I am worth it!

Renate Dundys Marrello
2014 – 04 – 19

Google Renate and read many more of her blogs and writings! or http://lifeisajourneyreflections.blogspot.ca/

Photo credits – as marked or unknown

New Zealand

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New Zealand
By Bernadette A. Moyer

New Zealand, 2006

We never know. We never know when we write who our words will touch. As a writer who writes about life and takes the advice of many famous writers when they state “write about what you know” and I do. Recently I read another bloggers article that touched me deeply; I felt that I could have written every single word myself. Not only did I feel this way but my son and another friend thought it was me too. Thanks Renata! Well said! We are connected because we share a life experience, we are connected because we are mothers, we are connected because we have adult children that have estranged.

A few weeks ago I received a message from a reader who lives in New Zealand and this is what she shared with me; “You’ve become like a spokesperson, an advocate, a voice for us – all over the planet. Just knowing that someone else a mother, a friend, has experienced similar and can articulate those feelings so well … I’ve appreciated very much your openness and honesty …”

We chatted more about the weather and the time difference from where I reside in the United States and where she lives in New Zealand. Our exchange left an impression how nice to be “appreciated” and so great to feel the human connection from so far away.

Given the choice I would never have estrangement in my life but sadly it is a big part of my life story and I am thankful that any good can come from it. We never know when we open up and share just where our connections will take us!

Thanks New Zealand for reading me and for writing to me … you matter to me …

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

All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Teller of the Story

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The Teller of the Story
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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All writers are tellers of stories. Recently a friend shared her “immigrant book” where she writes and tells about family stories that originated in Italy. Her family history and roots are important to her and she writes about them and wants to share them.

Miranda Lambert has a new song called “The Keeper of the Flame” the lyrics;

I’m the keeper of the flame
The teller of the story
Keeper of the flame
For the ones that came before me

I think that is all that we have and can truly value; our stories. I also think that is why relationships that are broken are so hard to accept because we want to share our story and we want to keep the flame going.

In 1998 my oldest daughter estranged and I am holding so many stories that I want to share with her. Funny little stories that might not mean much to most people but they are part of our history. I want to tell her about the first time she tried broccoli. She was just two years old and she took a bite while in our small Texas kitchen. She walked from one room to another chewing on it and chewing on it and chewing on it and then returned to me in our kitchen and spit it out in my hand. She tried it and really gave it a good try but just didn’t like it!

I want to tell her about how she took her Beta fish to show and tell in kindergarten. How much spunk and attitude she showed as a little girl when someone didn’t say her name correctly. And so many other little stories … stories that are lost forever if not shared and told.

Today is the anniversary of my husband late wife’s death. It was 25 years ago. She left him with pre-mature infant twins a son and a daughter. He is the “keeper of the flame” as he alone has so many little stories about their very first few days and weeks of life. How they were as infants and how he was as a first time new father.

We all share our stories partly to connect and in part to keep the story alive and remembered. Our stories are important to us as they chronicle our lives. I think most parents have vivid recall of the early years of their children’s lives. The stories help to show us how unique and special they are and we are and our stories validate our life.

When we are the witness of the life of another person we automatically become “the teller of the story” and the “keeper of the flame” for them, we are part of their story and history. Broken relationships don’t allow for the sharing and telling of the story.

When we fail to share the flame becomes much harder to keep alive and keep burning.

In history where would we be without story tellers? And without those that were willing to write about them and document them and keep them alive and burning for the next generation?

Stories should be shared as they teach us about life about ourselves and about one another.

And because Miranda Lambert says it so well, more lyrics from her song Keeper of the Flame;

I’m walking in their footsteps
I’m singing their old songs
Somebody blazed this trail
I’m treadin’ on
I’m bent, but I’m not broken
I’m stronger than I feel
I’m made of flesh and bone
Not made of steel

When I’m drowning
When I’m fighting
When I’m screaming
When I’m hiding
When I’m losing
When I’m winning
I go back to
The beginning

Keeper of the flame
The teller of the story

Share your stories, tell your stories, write your stories because in the end that is all we really have … the stories are important and so are you and all the people in them!

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

You Have to Forgive Them

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You Have to Forgive Them
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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You have to forgive them; you have to do it for yourself and for them. You have to take the high road. This week alone I have heard from a father who is coming to the end of his life and been estranged from his two daughters for decades. He is looking for help in mediation with his adult girls. He wants to talk to them before he dies.

Another mother wrote to me that this is the week her daughter is getting married and once again she feels the pain, the loss and is at risk of losing her peace over it … all over again. Every other day or week I get letters and messages from parents that are heartbroken over the loss through estrangement of their adult children.

These kids are our kids and its forever, whether they are in our lives or not and no matter what they have said and done to you, you have to forgive them. Pride is foolish. It is not a good enough reason. Even when they are not sorry or don’t show the remorse that you believe that they should, you must forgive them. And if and when they do say they are sorry, you have to accept it, let it go and work towards picking up the pieces and building a new and healthier relationship.

Remember when we thought we knew it all and that we could and would do it better than our parents did, in raising us? We were going to be better parents. We were going to be the best parents ever. Then life happens and you get thrown a curve. You do something, they did something, someone did something and the bond breaks down. Are they better off without you? Are you better off without them? They probably are not and you probably are not either. And what good comes of the anger, the hurt and the outrage? Justified or not, who does it serve?

All three of my now adult children have done things that I would never have done but they didn’t do it to me, they did it to themselves. Sometimes they are influenced by outside sources, people that enable them. You don’t know what they may have said to get support and what the motivation really is but you have to forgive them. Even the so called well intentioned “enablers” that help to break apart a family, you have to let it go, you have to forgive them. They hear one side. And there is always another side, always. Getting angry with the “enablers” is like being angry with the girl that your guy cheated on you with? She doesn’t owe you anything. The relationship you had was with the guy not her. Your relationship is with your child, they made the choice, others may have helped but this was their choice.

Adult children make their own decisions. Our kids do things that we don’t like or that we don’t agree with. They make decisions good ones and bad ones but at the end of it all, they have to live with their decisions as we must live with ours. Even if your estranged child doesn’t allow it or present themselves to you, forgive them. Again do it for you and do it for them. Take the high road.

No one was more shocked and stunned than I was when my first born child left home at age eighteen. But it was her decision to make. It is always their decision. Just like with any other adults we choose who we allow in our lives and we choose who we let go of.

I know the stories, I have heard them all and we lived through many ourselves. Yes the pain is real, the loss is real and the hurt and anger and disappointments are real. But we have to take the high road. We have to take care of ourselves first. We have to get through it. We have to accept that we only control our side of the relationship. They can and they will do what they do. Get on with your life, live. Do new things, make new friends and have new experiences. Allow yourself the process, the process of going through the loss, the voids, the hurts and all of it. Try not to be bitter.

You absolutely have the right to your hurt and anger. It’s real. But in the final analysis hanging on to it serves no one well, it just doesn’t. I am not suggesting that you continue to try, call, or send notes etc. if a wall has been put up accept it and respect it. But also be open. Be open if there is a chance to reconcile, be open to whatever comes next. And no matter what forgive them and forgive yourself too. You did the best you could with what you had and what you knew at that time. We are not perfect people. We are not perfect parents and our kids are not perfect kids.

If they are not in your life, pray for them. Pray for them again and again and pray for your own peace and wellness too. Jesus said, ”Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

One of my adult children recently came home. Life has a way of making more sense to us when we grow up from some life experience and gain some wisdom. I know now that she is sorry. I know now that it hasn’t been easy for her. It hasn’t been easy for any of us. But we all survived.

I had to learn to let go of how I thought it should be I had to learn that forgiveness truly is the gift that we give to ourselves. You can stay connected in your heart to people that may have gone away from you. You can wish them well even when you don’t see them.

One of the things that I have learned is that my children didn’t do it to me, they did it to themselves. Don’t take it personally, hard as that is to do, it wasn’t about you, it never is, nothing other people do is because of you. It is always because of themselves. Read more about this philosophy in the book The Four Agreements. It will help, it helped me immensely.

Peace and love and forgiveness …

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