You Have to Forgive Them

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You Have to Forgive Them
By Bernadette A. Moyer

forgiveness

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

Reunited After a 7 Year Estrangement

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Reunited After a 7 Year Estrangement
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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I thought it would be much more awkward but it wasn’t. I thought maybe she wouldn’t show up, she says she thought maybe I wouldn’t show. I thought we would struggle to keep the conversation going, we didn’t. I can’t say we picked up where we left off because she was different and so was I.

There was a long heartfelt hug as we met one another after a long seven year estrangement. I never thought she would have done it, leave home and not look back. I still don’t believe she would have done it if not for her half-sister my daughter who was already estranged for over ten years when daughter #2 chose the same path. They teamed up together which often happens with estranged adult children, they try and take others with them. And at 18 years of age and with some normal teen/parents growing up clashes she was easy to sway and an easy target.

This child had a father and a twin brother too that she left at home, a father who was angry and crushed by her actions and behaviors. It didn’t seem that she could ever come back from the things that she said and the things that she did. But that was seven years ago.

Then one day she e-mailed, a long lengthy e-mail stating, “I was young and stupid, I’m not 18 anymore, I am soon to be 25 and newly married and I don’t want to carry this around anymore. I am in therapy and I have grown up, I am working on myself and on my life.”

It was hard to hear some of her stories, her half-sister just got up and left her one day. She moved clear across the country and more than a thousand miles away. They are no longer in communication. She said she was in an abusive relationship that lasted for five years before it ended. She worked two jobs, and at times slept on friend’s floors. She had an accident and had rolled a car and injured her head. She talked and she talked and before I could respond she said, “I know that I brought much of it on myself.”

But there was much success and accomplishments too. She went to school and she became a Certified Nurses Aid. She maintained her independence and learned how to multi-task and hold down the responsibilities of a full time job. She survived.

She said that she goes to church and reads the bible she said some things made her think and she shakes her head at all the untruths she told as a teenager. In her words she was a “defiant daughter.” She seemed happy but different. She talked with a slight lisp that I don’t remember her having. I took it all in. At times I held her hand. She made me cry. They weren’t sad tears but tears of relief. I was just so happy to see her. I was genuinely happy that she was doing well and okay.

After two hours at our local coffee shop I was surprised that she didn’t want to leave me yet and I said, “Why don’t you come home with me and see your father?” I text messaged him that I was on my way and bringing her home with me. He can be more intimidating than I am and I told her not to worry I would help ease any awkwardness but it turned out that it wasn’t necessary. By the time I arrived home she was already there and out of her car and they were chatting. He said the first thing she said to him was, “I was young and I was dumb and I am sorry” he hugged her.

She came inside the house, this was her childhood home where she lived for 18 years and 10 months, and she recited the exact date that she left home. She said she always remembered it and it was October 2, 2010. Today we have a new date, a date of reconciliation, February 25, 2017.

Her dad asked her if she wanted to see her old bedroom. She did. I could see and feel her checking out the house. We chatted before sitting down at the kitchen table to chat even more and take some pictures. I was amused in a good way by her. She was definitely grown up and matured, she was also confident and really chatty and at ease within herself and with us. There was no game. It was all real.

In the past and for many years, almost two decades now, I have shared my stories and written much about estrangement. I wrote articles for parents of estranged adult children and for the adult estranged children. I have been interviewed on this subject and I have talked with thousands of estranged mothers and fathers across the country and beyond. For many years I have belonged and participated in several estranged support groups for parents of estranged adult children. I have seen and I have heard it all. As much as I have written on this subject I have read so much more.

The stories may be different and some are amazingly the same the emotional journey is often quite similar, it starts with shock, hurt, anger, shame, denial and sadness. There is a whole lot of hurt and anger and sadness that comes when an adult child decides to estrange themselves. Then comes the hardest part that seems to arrive after anger, and that is the acceptance. There is a new normal in learning how to live without your child. It feels wrong it feels awkward, it just doesn’t feel right.

A large majority of adult children never return home to mom and dad, they just don’t. I give our daughter a lot of credit, it took courage it took guts and it took maturity to face us again. She has grown up and she has proven to be a survivor. It had to be when she was ready; it had to be on her terms.

Today I feel like I received a huge gift from her and from God and so did her dad, I hope that she feels that way too. Her dad was hurt and he was angry but there wasn’t a single day that he didn’t pray for her.

She says that she is sorry but also acknowledges that she wouldn’t be where she is today, the person that she has become if not for the road that she chose. Today she is newly married and in love with her new husband and a home owner with a job and a dog called Bailey. She is happy. Sweet, what more could any parent want for their adult child?

“Reconciliation means doing away with anger, bitterness and resentment.” Healing.com

So the takeaway is never stop praying and always be open and receptive and if and when the chance comes for a reunion and a reconciliation just have those arm open and be ready to listen and to embrace and love your child. Just love that child!

And in the meantime don’t stop living and loving and learning because life with or without your child is a gift and it is a gift that should never be squandered and always be appreciated.

Here is to the future … however much or however little let it be grounded in love and in acceptance. We pray. Amen.

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