If You Break It

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If You Break It
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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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 …

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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

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

No Trust – No Relationship

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No Trust – No Relationship
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Think about it? You might tolerate someone that you don’t trust but you won’t be close to them. A lack of trust equals a lack of closeness and the ability to form truly close interpersonal relationships.

I know people that worked through their trust issues in marriages and in family relationships but it took time, it took maturity, it took forgiveness, it took ownership and most of all it took the ability and the desire to fix and to attempt to repair what was broken.

Because of all my writings I hear from parents around the world, parents who had adult child estrange themselves for whatever reasons and the number one take away when that adult child makes an attempt to come back is “guard your heart” and “I could never trust them again.”

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When we hurt others and when we are truly sorry most people will forgive us and if the relationship is important and meaningful, they may try to repair it. But when you have someone in your life that not only hurt you but shows no true sense of remorse, it is virtually impossible to have a relationship with them. You may decide to tolerate them but there is no true closeness and no real relationship.

Every single one of us has done something in our life that we regret and are sorry for and about, and if we want to be forgiven and to be acknowledged and accepted we must start by 1) owning what we did and 2) try to right any of our wrongs.

Sometimes it is worth the time and the effort to work on repairing and in other relationships it may just be healthier and better to let sleeping dogs lay. Some people just don’t deserve another chance. Some people do.

In my lifetime, I have forgiven everyone, everything and I didn’t do it for them or because I wanted to have a relationship with them, I did it for myself, I did it so I wasn’t stuck and burdened with that kind of garbage. I have also owned my stuff, what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Sometimes ownership is all it takes.

My husband and I have been together for over 24 years now soon to be 25years, in that length of time we have hurt each other, we have done things to one another that required true forgiveness.

“It takes seconds to destroy what it takes years to build.” Lou Holtz

Forgiveness that was always followed by our truest sense of sorrow, sorrow over our hurts toward one another and our willingness to put our ego aside and humble ourselves enough to not only be sorry but willing to accept the consequences of our actions and work toward rebuilding those hurts.

Anyone in a long term relationship or marriage knows that inevitably we will hurt our partners either knowingly or unknowingly but the desire to work through it is greater than the need to be right. The greater goal and the greater good are always to get through it together and remember than there is no “I” in “we.”

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

A Restored Trust

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A Restored Trust
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Earlier today I wrote an essay about Broken Trust and how important trust is to every relationship. After writing it I was reminded of a “broken trust” that was restored. It was with our son.

A few years ago over July 4th holiday when my husband and I went to the beach our son was scheduled to work so he remained home. At that time he was 19 years old. We never had any real trust issues with him, he is an Eagle Scout and we often tease him. We tease him about his honesty; let’s just say you wouldn’t want to rob a bank with him. Because in a second he would give both himself and you right up!

That holiday he invited a few guys over to swim in our pool he is a lifeguard and we have no issue with this. The problem was that a few friends turned into about 60 people and it was obvious by all the empty beer cans and empty booze bottles in and around our home that underage drinking had taken place. Not to mention the cigarette butts and huge fat cigar remnants.

He thought he had cleaned the place up but he missed many things and the youngest coolest neighbor came by to tell us just how loud the music was and how many people were here. He was busted!

Father and son had words, I was disappointed and at that time our son wasn’t sorry but rather defiant and we all agreed it best if he went to stay with a friend until things cooled off a bit. My husband’s very expensive watch was missing and probably stolen. The kids that came, many were not his friends. There were so many people in and around the house that by our son’s own admission “It was out of control.”

I did something similar when I was a kid and I wanted to use this as a teaching opportunity, my husband never did such a thing and saw it as a huge disrespect and that trust was broken. Within a month our son returned home. He was really sorry and made amends. Even though he couldn’t afford to replace the expensive watch that was gone, he did buy his father another watch.

He vowed it would never happen again and we impressed upon him all the issues with allowing underage drinking to take place on our property and in our home. How bad this could have been.

It is really easy to forgive someone when they are sorry and when they try and make it right. The take away for me is and remains, that the love and respect we have for our son and that he has for us far outweighed this lapse in judgment. He was a kid and doing what many kids do, today he has learned something and we are all closer than ever before.

Even though we felt hurt and disappointed and somewhat disrespected, he didn’t have a pool party to try and hurt us. Things happen in all relationships but it is what we do with what happens that determines whether we move ahead together or not.

Forgiveness is always possible but first we have to accept our role and if we are in the wrong, be sorry and try and make it right.

Today more than four years later, our son now 23 appreciates everything. Just about every card he gives us for birthdays and other holidays he talks about maturing into being an adult and how much he loves us and sees things so differently from when he was a child.

Trust in relationships can be tested and what we do during that “test” often determines in what direction the future of the relationship will take. Thank goodness we all grew and learned and that the love in our family was far greater than a temporary lapse of good judgement and a broken trust.

A broken trust doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship; it can be the beginning of a greater understanding and appreciation.

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