“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

Two Chairs

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Two Chairs
By Bernadette A. Moyer

tworockers

When was the last time you really talked to someone? When was the last time you spoke from your heart? When was the last time you listened from your heart?

Anyone who has ever visited our home whether it was our beach house or our primary residence would find two rocking chairs on our front porch. We like the look and we think it says “welcome come sit and chat” but for us it also meant more than that.

My husband and I started our life together 25-years ago. We started by getting to know one another by sitting on two white chairs in a beachside bar/restaurant called The Red Pump located in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in Florida. At that time he was recently widowed and my husband had died 9 years earlier. We both had children from our deceased spouses and we were both aged 32. We had a lot to talk about.

We started our relationship by just talking and really listening. We shared our past history, we shared our heart breaks and we shared our dreams and our desire for what a happy future could like, we sat on those chairs for hours and hours. We sat there getting to know one another. I can’t remember much of last week but I can remember most all of those early long conversations.

For us two chairs represent taking the time to talk, taking the time to listen and above all else taking the time to get to know one another.

In a world that can be crazy busy and all consuming, we still believe that two chairs and the people that stop to sit in them and hold long heartfelt conversations, are two people that are choosing to spend time well spent and of immeasurable value.

Stop, sit and hold those heartfelt conversations … share … listen … it doesn’t have to be so complicated. The greatest gift we can ever give to another person is our time and our attention. The greatest gifts come from mutual sharing.

Here is to spending more time pausing for a nice long sit, genuine conversation and really talking and really listening and doing it all from the heart ….

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

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Judgement

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Judgement
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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We judge and we are judged and it is just a fact of life. Yet I always find it interesting and even remarkable how two different people can look at someone and one person sees only good and goodness and another person looks at that very same person and all they see is evil, darkness and all that is bad.

So who are they really seeing and judging?

ca. 2000 --- Keeping Score for the Team --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

“People will love you. People will hate you. And none of it will have anything to do with you.” Abraham Hicks

For years I had this quote by Mother Teresa hanging in my office it read; “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” It was a daily reminder for me to look at people through the lens of love rather than one of judgement.

Matthew 7 reads Judging Others ”Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

For me it translates into the Golden Rule … what you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself. Treat others the way in which you want to be treated.

There is a Sally Field quote that I like a lot and she says; “it took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.”

Think about that for a minute? If we allow the judgements of others that truly can be all over the map, depending on who they are and what motivates them and more, rather than in knowing our own true selves how confusing and even devastating that can be to ourselves. Know yourself!

If we live our lives, trying hard, doing the best that we can with what we have and what we know and with the willingness to learn and to grow and to make an effort to see people through loving eyes rather than one based in judgement just how healthy and happy not them but WE can be?

Lay down your judgements and amp up your love … to the happy and healthy life!

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

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

Taking Responsibility – Making Time

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Taking Responsibility – Making Time
By Bernadette A. Moyer

 

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Today our son achieved his weight loss goal. He lost 50 pounds in six months, six months almost to the day. He has taken responsibility for his health and his life. He set a goal for himself and he achieved it. There was no trick, gimmick or special pill; it was all diet and exercise. He had to change his habits and how he thought and he had to make an effort.

When we change our thinking, we change our lives.

We take time and we make the effort for people and for things that are important to us. If our health is a priority we make the time and the effort to achieve good health. The same can be said about all of our relationships including the one we have with ourselves.

We show people we care about them by taking time out of our lives to spend time with them. How we treat ourselves also says a lot about who and what we are all about.

Recently my husband and I were talking to a salesperson and in that casual conversation he shared that he was recently divorced. He said that it was the result of neglect. The marriage died due to a lack of effort. As we drove home my husband and I continued the conversation that most relationships will die without any real effort. It takes work and it takes effort to make a marriage work long term.

A good marriage takes work and it takes effort, it is pretty plain and simple, there are no gimmicks or special secrets. We agreed that we work really hard at making our relationship a priority. Taking responsibility and making time for the things that matter to us is what we do to feed out hearts and our souls and to live our own best life.

Here is to taking responsibility and for making time … for all the people, places and things that make us happy and whole.

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

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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 …

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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
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Who Cares

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Who Cares
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Seldom does a day go by when my husband and I see something or hear about something and our united response is “nobody cares” or “people just don’t care anymore.” It is often in reference to old fashioned values like respect or concern.

We can’t begin to imagine raising kids in today’s climate. Where the political anger has spilled over into all areas of life and a little boy can “demand” that the Vice President of the United States must apologize for accidentally hitting him when he raised his arm.

Almost daily we witness behaviors that stun and even shock us. We see people that openly and willingly do things to others or say things about others that they would never want done to themselves and they do it for the entire world to see.

I see grandparents openly denigrate and disrespect political figures. This is the “norm” and the behaviors that many young people are subject to and witness and are sure to model later in life.

My husband and I also talk about how lucky we are to have each other and to care for one another. It is team work and based on love and respect and it wasn’t always that way either. We learned often through trial and error how to care for one another. We learned that we are better together than apart. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t experienced our share of issues either. We have.

The bottom line is that when you have found someone that cares; cares about you and cares about all the things and the people and the places that you care about that it is special and to be cherished.

At a time when our culture seems so self-absorbed … care and care often and see just how much goodness comes into your life as a result and watch who then comes forward and cares about you.

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