Losing Happy

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Losing Happy
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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On June 14, 2018 we had no choice but to put our most precious Bichon Frise Happy down. She was in kidney failure and suffering. It was the day before she was scheduled for surgery. It would have been her third surgery for removing bladder stones. The bladder stones never really went away.

Happy was a heart stealer, anyone and everyone took to her. She was regal and intense and sweet. She had a mind of her own, she let you know what she needed and wanted. When you pay attention you really can connect and communicate with an animal.

From the day that we brought her home she was a family member, she was our child, she was our baby. We loved her, we took care of her and we protected her. Happy was smart, she was tuned in and she was sensitive. On a rare occasion if we corrected her, she immediately responded with affirmation of a lick or cuddling up. She always seemed to understand us and we felt that we understood her too.

Happy traveled with us, slept with us, ate dinner with us and was that family member that was always so easy to be with. We joke that we preferred her company over some people that we knew. She was pure delight.

Love is ongoing and a learning experience, we learn to love and we learn to give love and to receive love. Happy was one of our best teachers, as she was easy to love and she freely loved us all in return. The exchange of unconditional love is what we will miss the most. She never failed to greet us with kisses and expressions of happiness to see us.

Happy was a pure bred Bichon Frise and named after our first Bichon Happy, her full given name was Happy Again and that was exactly how she made us feel, we delighted in her, she brought us so much joy and so much genuine love. Real love where you give and you give and it is all given without any expectations.

Our hearts are broken, we are beyond tears, but we know that heaven has a new angel and we know that because of Happy we are better people, who learned to love better and to love deeper and to love without any conditions.

But we are also at peace, we are at peace because we know that we all shared in a good and meaningful and loving exchanges of life and living life. What more could we really have asked for?

We let her physical being go in love because we knew there really was no other choice, but Happy Again will live forever in our hearts, in our memories and in our prayers.

We love you Happy and we already feel the void of the gift of you, the gift of your presence in our lives … RIP sweet baby girl!

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

My Name is Brandon

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My Name is Brandon
This is me ….

by Bernadette Moyer and Brandon Sahm

The words below are from our son Brandon not a single word was edited. As a point of reference, just before the holidays this year, I told his father, my husband that I wish I could write about this but out of respect for Brandon it wasn’t my story to share. Oddly, two days later, he called me from yet another hospital crisis admission stay and asked me if I would help him write his story. There is so much more I could say here but I am choosing to keep it in my heart, at least for now.

He was always different but I chose to see the best of him and often chalked it up to him being an artist and an actor. Looking back with hindsight and 20/20 vision he was extremely well supported and loved or he most probably would not have had the successes that he did achieve. His birth mother died when he was born, I got him when he was 87 days old along with his twin sister. His natural father and I raised them together.

After what we lived through these past two years I no longer have that luxury of seeing him how I viewed him before this all began two years ago. I have loved him dearly and deeply. Today I know that I must let go… as difficult as that is for me. I am no longer the answer …it is so much more than what I am built to manage. I just want him happy and to be his best, however he decides to define it.

(You might want to grab a tissue…)

His words, his story, from his own handwritten journal and by his request …

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My Name is Brandon Sahm. I’m an Eagle Scout, a high school graduate, and a young adult who has recently been diagnosed with Autism and mental illness. But before you say anything I want you to know it wasn’t always like this. It’s just the last two years was like going through hell which it was. At 24 I lost my job at Yo Lavie, a frozen yogurt store one that I worked at for 3 ½ years. It was hard because it was a job I worked hard at and one I got on my own. Three-hundred job applications later I started working again at Texas Roadhouse. It was also around that time that I got my driver’s license. However, the job would be very short lived, after seeing the struggle of keeping up in a fast-paced environment my boss decided to let me go. I was devastated, and instead of going straight home to tell my parents I decided (and this was out of anger) to get drunk.

By the summer of 2016 my jump from hospital to hospital began. It started at Franklin Square in Essex. I wasn’t really fond with the care looking back because the groups didn’t talk much about their problems and did nothing but arts and crafts. Also it felt more like a place for people on drugs.

In August of 2016 after fighting with my parents out of impulse and anger, I attempted to end my life and commit suicide. It was raining when it happened. What stopped me was contemplation, I was halfway over the bridge on 695 when I stopped and got down. Soon after that the police came and took me to Saint Joseph Medical Center. There the groups were more active and the staff did care about the patients. After my lengthy stay and release I was an outpatient for 30 days. It was my mother who took me to all those daily appointments. I had many hospitals stays all kinds of diagnosis and according to my mom “more pills than any human body should ever consume” time and time again I called a crisis team and was picked up and readmitted. It wouldn’t take long before I would return for the holidays. On January 13, 2017 I was discharged again with a diagnosis of mental illness and Autism.

I was surprised to hear the word Autism but at the same time I had a sense of clarity and everything I did socially made sense. Because growing up I didn’t have many friends yet I excelled academically. As I said I became an Eagle Scout, made National Honor Society, graduated from high school all before the diagnosis. But of all the people that would tease me, my sister was the biggest bully yet. I remember every year she would make me lie about our report cards, and make me buy food for her at the mall. So at 18 when she left and changed schools I felt free for the first time. It was also our fights that made me think about suicide for the first time. And at that time when I told my mom, she said, “I had no idea.”

Sometimes when I think of suicide I think of how easy it must be to end the pain because to me I’ve always felt like a burden to my family. But now I see I have much to live for and now every time I pass by that bridge I think to myself, “wow I could have end it all but I didn’t.”

Back to the hospitals the next stay would be in Sheppard Pratt. I was there because I had a fight with my dad physically and realized I needed more help especially with my anger. I was there for almost two months and then sent to Harbor House.

I would be coming back to the house a few times including the holiday season. When I left back in December of 2017 I ran away because of the Christmas season, missing my parents, struggling mentally to accept what I can’t change. I hated myself even more for letting it happen, so much my desire for death was intensified. So I ended up spending Christmas in the hospital again and a Christmas day visit from my parents.

I still count myself lucky and grateful to have parents like them. I’m not much for writing but it is helping me express how I feel and it’s therapeutic, just like my art or any form of art for that matter. There are so many things that can influence us and make us into who we are, we just have to embrace it. My mom is like my best friend, we’re thick as thieves and she’s also my cheerleader. She’s known for her writing many of which I enjoy reading. What makes my mom special is that she has always been there for me, even when my sister and I were babies. The same goes for my dad, he could have easily left me and my sister up for adoption but he didn’t. My dad is a hard worker, a quality I picked up from him. He also introduced me to classic rock which I still enjoy today. My dad and I may argue sometimes but he is still my dad and I love him for raising us.

One of my fondest memories is being in boy scouts. One of those memories includes summer camps and getting to spend time with my dad.

(PLEASE keep Brandon and our entire family in your prayers as we continue to stumble through all of this)

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

“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

57 Things I Learned in My 57 Years

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57 Things I Learned in My 57 Years
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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1) My life and my happiness is my responsibility, period.

2) Kids will come and kids will go, build a life that is meaningful long after their departure.

3) Don’t take it personally, nothing other people do is because of you, it is because of them.

4) Gather as much information as you can and then make informed decisions.

5) Pick the guy who believes in you, supports you, loves you and thinks you are beautiful.

6) Bad boys are just that, bad.

7) Trust few but always trust in your own inner voice.

8) Every single day is a blessing.

9) Nothing lasts forever, this too shall pass.

10) People will come into your life and people will leave your life, let them.

11) You are beautiful just the way you are, believe it! No one knows your heart like you do.

12) Work hard, go that extra mile but play hard too.

13) Nature offers peace every single day and in every single season.

14) Animals have incredible souls and are capable of the most love and loyalty.

15) Writers write.

16) Estrangement is strange. It isn’t normal and there are no winners.

17) Trust someone the first time they reveal themselves to you.

18) Marriage requires ongoing efforts and commitment grounded in genuine love and care.

19) Surround yourself with people, places and things that you love. Create your own beautiful life.

20) I was a shy kid that stuttered; today I could debate with the best. Where you start is just a start.

21) Never ever give up on yourself.

22) Campy as it sounds, “Into each life, some rain must fall.”

23) Learn from it and then get over it!

24) Beauty exists everywhere and so does ugliness.

25) Good people can and do make bad mistakes.

26) You are not defined by one person, one experience or single life event.

27) Everything that seems bad really can be turned around and into something good.

28) Be a life-long learner. There is always something new to learn.

29) Gratitude is an attitude.

30) Life goes on …

31) God is good. In an ever changing world God is my salvation.

32) Family is so much more than blood; it is the people that love, support and see the best in you.

33) Girlfriend time is always time well spent.

34) Stress less. Pray more and worry less.

35) Eat the good foods and exercise. Life is about balance.

36) Make love, lots and lots of love.

37) Negative people are just that, negative.

38) Take the time to get to know yourself and always be your own best friend.

39) There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely.

40) Peace is always possible.

41) Stability doesn’t have to be boring.

42) Make something build something bake something create more. Just do it.

43) Build on a solid foundation.

44) Embrace change. Don’t fight it be open to new things, new people and new experiences.

45) Painful lessons are lasting lessons.

46) Pretty comes and pretty goes but being nice will last forever.

47) Share as much as possible but don’t allow yourself to be taken for granted.

48) Hatred and anger doesn’t look good on anyone. Not ever.

49) Forgive but don’t forget.

50) Not everything ends with “happy ever after” but that doesn’t mean your happiness has to end.

51) Give back! Every single person has something to offer.

52) Never wrestle with a pig, because you will both get dirty and the pig likes it.

53) We all have a birth date and a death date, no one gets out alive. Enjoy everything in between.

54) Getting old is a gift, cherish it.

55) Wisdom is born with age.

56) Breathe. Take long deep breathes.

57) Most things can be cured with a long hot bubble bath, a cup of tea or a glass of wine and a big warm embracing hug!

BONUS!

#58 Just because someone said it, doesn’t make it true.

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

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

Growing Up Maturing and Viewing Life Differently

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Growing Up Maturity and Viewing Life Differently
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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“When I was a child, I spoke like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.” Corinthians 13:11

Remember when we were young and we knew it all? Then we became an adult and realized you don’t even know how much you don’t know.

I was that strong willed teenager who thought way back then that I knew much. I raised a few kids that also as teenagers thought they knew it all, only to experience real life as an adult and then understand so much more. With some maturity and with life experiences we tend to view life differently.

Maybe as a child we have nothing else to compare our life with or maybe we just haven’t had many experiences yet to see things for how and what they were.

Our 25 year old daughter called a few days ago and in that conversation she stated, ”I have so many good memories from when I was little. I had so much fun then.” This was a far cry from her words and actions as a teenager. She was estranged from us for 7 years and in those years she struggled, fell down and picked herself back up. She needed to learn in her own way.

So what changed, was it her childhood or her perspective now as a maturing adult? Clearly her childhood didn’t change but her outlook on life surely has. My response; “you were just too young to appreciate all that you had.” And she was young.

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It takes tremendous courage to be honest and to own the things that we might have said and done as a kid that later in life as a mature adult we can honestly say I know better now!

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

It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich

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It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It’s not just a ham sandwich, it is a memory, a memory that I share with my father. My father loved a good deli sandwich with freshly cut meats and cheeses. He has been gone from this world for more than a handful of years now. He left the home I lived in when I was just a child in the sixth grade when my parents divorced. As a teenager I visited him often.

He taught me how to make and eat the best ham sandwich and all these years later that ham sandwich brings me memories of him. It was a sandwich made on the freshest white bread with deli cut ham and white American cheese and sliced tomatoes with lettuce and mayonnaise and of course salt and pepper on the tomatoes. I remember summer tomatoes on this sandwich and I remember sitting side by side with him while we chatted and ate our sandwiches together.

Like all people my dad had a good side and a not so good side, he had a dark side but he could also be the most charming man. I could remember his temper or his darkest moments but I always chose to see the best in him. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t see the bad stuff; it doesn’t mean that I liked it but he was my father and the only father that I ever knew and loved. Much of his darkness was tied to his alcoholism, a disease that he managed to stay dry from for the last 30 or 40 years of his life.

I could focus on the negative, he did a lot of crappy things when he was married to my mother but just like that ham sandwich that I so enjoyed I would rather remember the good in him. He was a small town guy from a tiny town in Pennsylvania, he was Irish and Catholic. He was one of five children one brother died as a child at the age of 7 and another sister as a young woman from alcoholism. He entered the United States Army as a teenager and served two terms in Korea. He was injured in the service and honorably discharged with a purple heart. This injury caused him to have epileptic seizures.

Women loved him and boy did he love women! He married twice first my mother with whom he had five daughters and later his second wife that he had two more girls and finally a son. He was a carpenter by trade, built a few houses and worked in the engineering department of the same hospital where my daughter was born. Dad worked there for about 25 years before he retired.

His soul was that of an artist, he could draw and paint and build things, he worked with his hands, and dad taught me to love country music. He loved music by Johnny Cash and the Highwaymen.

So today for lunch I had the best ham sandwich…but it really was so much more than that … it was about my father and me, it was about loving and respecting him as my father. It was about knowing that he wasn’t a perfect man, he had challenges and he had struggles but he cared about the people in his life and he lived by a code. No one had to tell him when he screwed up because he already knew.

When you really love someone you love them imperfections and all, if I wanted to, I could make a case as to why he didn’t deserve my love, but that isn’t how I was built or who I am. Maybe I learned it from dad; if you want to be forgiven you must also be forgiving.

Thinking of you dad! May you be resting in eternal peace, I pray.

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

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

Enablers

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Enablers
By Bernadette A. Moyer

"Hello, my name is Roberto, and I will be your enabler this evening."

There are all kinds of enablers some may be knowingly enabling and others unknowingly. My father was an alcoholic and my mother the classic enabler. It was a typical co-dependent relationship. I am sure she thought she was helping him. She was a registered nurse and in a “helping” profession. She loved him and supported him and stayed with him even when his behaviors dictated that she shouldn’t have.

As a parent I am sure we enabled some behaviors that we would not have accepted from any others. We loved our children and often thought we were helping them. If we had it we wanted to share what we had with them even after they became adults. This often showed itself in “arrested development” the more we did for them, the less they did for themselves. This often leads to resentment on their side and our side too.

There is often a fine line between helping and enabling. What I have learned as a parent is that as hard as it is to watch your child fall and fail you have to step back and let them pick themselves up. Trust that they will figure it out, it is part of learning and growing up. Once they learn to pick themselves up they start to build their own confidence and become successful in life.

I hear about “enablers” quite often in my estranged parents support group. This is usually a person or a family that supports the “victim” the “co-dependent” and helps them to go against their parents. The “enablers” support them in making decisions they might otherwise never have made without the assistance of these “enablers.”

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A friend’s daughter recently was married and mom and dad were not invited, to make matters worse the grandfather gave the bride away. The grandparents took the young daughter in and supported her in estranging from her mother and father. What were they thinking and why? These are life altering decisions that will last forever. Dad is not only feeling betrayed by his own daughter but by his father too. Would the grandparents want this to have been done to them?

What should they have said and done? How about go home and work it out, all teenagers and young adults have struggles with their parents, you only have one mother and father, we love you but you have to go home and work it out.

I experienced this twice now myself with both my teenage daughters who found women to take them in and go against mom and dad. And it was always over a boy. One woman I never met even though I asked to meet with her. She “enabled” the behaviors of a struggling teenager. This woman has now raised my grandson who recently turned 18, my grandson who has no real relationship with his birth mother and who never met his maternal grandmother. So who won here? And I am left to wonder what kind of woman involves herself in another woman’s family without even meeting them for yourself and making your own opinion? Who has a better life because of her “enabling?”

Second daughter returned home seven years later, she sees now in her own words that she was “young and dumb” she got used by people that “enabled” her poor teenage behaviors. She admits to being a “defiant teenager” sadly the “enablers” used her for their own gain.

I think a lot of “enabling” points back to ego, thinking they know better or are better. Today I don’t question the young teenager who naturally rebels against her parents as part of growing up but I do question the real and true motives of the people that have enabled them. What was in it for them?

Motives, agenda and egos all play a role in the type personality that enables, ask yourself what is your true motivation and agenda and what part does your ego play? Are you helping or are you hurting? If you are doing things to impact another family that you would not want anyone to do to your family that is probably a good litmus test.

If you really want to love others and help others, stop enabling and start trusting that the people that you think you are helping will figure it out for themselves, they will! And they will love you and appreciate you all the more for not stunting their growth and allowing them to develop into their own mature and successful selves!

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