“Didn’t you notice me?” He asked.

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

boy

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

The Lost Child

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The Lost Child
By Bernadette A. Moyer

lost child

My grandmother on my father’s side, (my nana) lost a son (Jimmy) when he was just seven years old and just weeks after his first Holy Communion. She never got over it. It was an unexpected illness that quickly took his life. I imagine that a part of her died too. She talked about him all the time. She cried about him often.

I was just a little kid that visited her and I knew very little about death way back then, but I sensed enough to know and witness her heartbreak, sadness and uneasiness. She was tormented by her loss. It showed itself in her verbal and consciousness and stream of thoughts and words. Her actions showed intense grief. Today I can’t help but wonder how different her life might have been if Jimmy had not died so young.

The lost child changed her; it changed how she related to everyone including the remaining family members. How did it affect her marriage? How did it affect her relationships with her remaining four children? How much of the way that she was determined how her children became? Really we can never know but I think a reasonable person could agree that everything and everyone in that family was altered as a result of such a loss, like the loss of a child.

We can lose a child to death, to estrangement and to mental illness, where there maybe different types of loss, losing a child brings a wide range of emotions with it. We lose a piece of our hopes and our dreams. We lose a piece of ourselves and a part of our futures.

Mothers put so much of their own wellness on how their children are doing; they want their kids to be healthy and happy. I’ve read somewhere that “a mother can only be as happy as her saddest child.” I sure hope that isn’t true, but I do appreciate the thought.

I’ve never known the death of a child, thank God, but I have known losing a child. My first child was lost to me through estrangement on July 4, 1998. This year marked 19 years, she has been gone longer than I had her. For me she is a lost child. I too grieved her intensely and often talked about her too. I think that we talk about our lost children so that we can somehow keep them alive. It is all so unnatural for any parent to lose a child, regardless of the type of loss and a loss is a loss.

I changed. Initially my world was forced into an upside down position. Everything that I once held so near and dear in my own life like being a mother was shattered. I had to look at myself, I had to look at her and I was forced to look at everything. Being a mother meant everything to me, perhaps more than it should. I was consumed with grief. I went through all the stages from denial to acceptance. It felt like a death to me. A death of my child and a death of a part of myself, today I am different, very different. I see from a broader perspective from more of a life experienced, my head learned much, my heart initially shrank but then as the years passed by my heart grew larger with more acceptance and a greater understanding. Funny how that can happen, but it did.

Remember when the best stories ended with the phrase; “and they lived happily ever after”? After you experience enough life you soon realize that not everything ends with “happy ever after” but that does not mean that your happiness has to end.

You find new and different things that make you happy; you learn over and over again that true and sustained happiness comes from within.

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

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