On Bended Knees

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On Bended Knees
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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As I was driving back home from the gym today I noticed a car with Texas tags, and living in Maryland I know just how far that Texas is and how many miles to drive from there to here. I had a rush of memories about the year that I lived in Beaumont, Texas with my first husband and our daughter who was just one year old.

I thought about how I came to Maryland to start a new life and to flee an abusive relationship. When I arrived in Maryland more than 35 years ago, I prayed I cried and I reminded myself of how I had to save myself and our daughter. This man that I married had a history of abuse from his previous relationships forward and I was warned about him. But just like any young girl/woman at just 19 years of age I had to make my own decisions.

If I had any doubts about leaving him our final day together soon took care of that as his parting “shot” literally was to punch me in the middle of my face. I skidded across the kitchen floor and ended up in a corner when he picked me up by my shirt and went at me again. That next morning I set out on an over 1,600 road trip home to my mother in Maryland. I wanted better for myself and for our daughter.

Less than a year later he died while taking a shower and had a seizure in the shower, he drowned to death. I had my share of guilt as he was alone at the time. As a society we don’t speak ill of the dead and since our child was so young I put the best spin I could on our marriage and our relationship. Just before her 18th birthday I told her the truth about him and it didn’t sit very well.

Victims live in shame and have all kinds of reasons for denying themselves and others the truth. It doesn’t change though, it is what it is and was what it was, an abusive relationship. Today I know better and am more than blessed. I don’t think he was a bad guy, I believe he was a troubled guy. Troubled from what he experienced in his first family and troubled from 6-years in the Navy during Viet Nam. His service experience left him an alcoholic (by his own admission) and with a seizure disorder.

He was a charming man and good looking too. Both his daughter and his first born grandson look just like him. I still celebrate our union on bended knees at least once a year at his gravesite. I thank God for all that I learned during our marriage and all the many lessons learned from his early death.

Thinking about Texas and that period in my life also reminded me of how important it is to pray and to bow down on bended knees. We don’t have all the answers but prayers and hope and forward marching have always saved me.

During tough times we find out what we are made out of. We can shrivel up and cry or we can turn it around and become stronger. Our hurt our anger and our disappointments can be used as the fuel that helps to propel us forward.

When I came to Maryland I arrived in an old late model Mercury that had a bad engine and probably took as much oil as it did gasoline. I lived with my mother for a few months until I could afford my own place. I was lucky to get a really good waitress job in a high end restaurant. I worked really hard and chuckle at the uniform of high heels, brown skirt and white dress shirts that we wore. I made great money and made wonderful friendships.

I became friends with many young people that were my age and made me feel new and young again. I was making it on hope and a prayer that first year. When my husband died we were still legally married and I was so fortunate to receive help from the Veterans. Things changed for the better. I changed for the better. I was resolved. I made my share of mistakes that’s what young people do but I always ended up back on my feet after so many prayers on bended knees.

Today I can look back with peace and with love and most importantly with gratitude. Every experience, the good and the bad contribute to who and what we are and above all else, I am a survivor.

My husband today keeps talking about our 25 years together and that next summer we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. We already have a trip planned. I am so happy but I never ever forget what my knees are for as I continue in prayer for all that I have and all that I have experienced.

Everything in life is either a blessing or a curse and for me with the power of my prayers and the strength of my knees I’ve known many more blessings!

You never know what will trigger a memory, today it was something as simple as Texas tags that took me back to another time, a time when I grew and matured and learned what it would take to care for both myself and for my child. It wasn’t easy but it was definitely meaningful.

Life is rich … and so much richer when after the struggles we find enlightenment. So many times it literally starts with the power of our prayers. Peace and prayers!

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

New books! Along The Way and Another Way on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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

New books! Along The Way and Another Way are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

When Your Holiday Season is Shaping Up to be Less Than “Norman Rockwell” Like

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When Your Holiday Season is Shaping Up to be Less Than “Norman Rockwell” Like

By Bernadette A. Moyer

“Tis the season!” For some people and some families the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are wonderful and a time for cheer and for celebrations. And for other people it may be a time of dread.

Recently I read a social media post that stated “wish I could just fast forward to January” they knew they would struggle with the holidays and with their fractured family and broken heart.

Sometimes the dread comes from a job loss or an illness or a death in the family. Many adults with children feel extra pressure to provide a “magical holiday” experience for young children while on a very tight budget. We see images on television and in our stores of abundance and an expectation that we can and will all afford these celebrations. Truth is some people just can’t do it, they can’t keep up because of their finances or because of their grief and sadness.

What we need to remember is that although the holiday season is often dubbed as “the most magical time of the year” this isn’t necessarily the case for every single person. Some people actually suffer from the “holiday blues” and for them this could be the saddest time of the year. Even in families where it appears to be “Norman Rockwell” like, it isn’t always perfect.

I’ve had absolutely great holidays and I have had a few where I just wanted to pull the covers over my head, go to sleep and wake up when it was all over. One year I had no family, no money and was starting all over in my career and at that time I had a little girl that was counting on me to make it special.

There was another year just months earlier we experienced a child estrange and this could have potentially thrown us all into a holiday funk, but it didn’t.

The first sad Christmas I experienced, I vowed it would never happen again and that year I made food, we went to the first screening of a newly released film playing in a local historic theater. And then by 9:00 in the evening we were snug in our beds. The next day I woke up refreshed and stronger for the experience. That year was the bench mark for what I never wanted to happen again. My heart wasn’t right and I was just so sad.

The year of the recent estrangement we changed all traditional holiday plans and headed to Key West, Florida. According to our son it was “the best Christmas ever!” Christmas day we were sitting on Smathers beach taking in the hot sunny weather. Not at all traditional for a gal born and raised in the Northeast but still a happy holiday spent with my husband and our son.

You can and you will get through the holidays and I am convinced that the sad ones are designed to make us appreciate all the happy ones. I also believe the sad ones serve as a shake-up that it just may be time to try something new and different for the holiday season.

Remember not every person out there is happy and having an easy time of it. Holidays bring about past memories with family and friends. Some for happy memories and some may drive home for us the void left from our lost loved ones.

Tips for Handling the Holidays Alone

  1. Don’t pressure yourself, go with your own flow!
  2. Take in the FREE sites, shopping malls and heavily decorated areas may make you feel better.
  3. Grab a coffee or a meal out, learn to be alone and to be okay with it.
  4. Churches have all kinds of Bazaars and cookie sells, support them and take home a few treats.
  5. Volunteer at a hospital, or food kitchen or pet rescue center.
  6. Go to the public library and stock up on must reads and films to view.
  7. Write! Write letters, cards, poetry, notes, express yourself!
  8. Contribute a toy for “Toys for Tots” or other meaningful charity.
  9. Go see a new movie, a new play or a live concert.
  10. Gather with friends and family and people that love you!
  11. Make new traditions and travel.
  12.  Don’t want to be in the public? Pamper yourself.
  13. Stock your refrigerator with healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Exercise. Walk. Move about.
  14. Take long hot bubble baths.
  15. Get your music, books and movies stacked up and ready so that when the holidays arrive you have your entertainment choices at your fingertips.
  16. Sleep! Often when we are sad and depressed we are lacking proper rest. Give yourself permission to sleep it off.
  17. Paint a room or engage in a mini home improvement project.
  18. Do something productive, the end result will make you feel better. Go to the gym and start your New Year resolutions early.
  19. Make cookies, make food. Create healthy dishes with vegetables and fresh fruit.
  20. Can’t afford to travel? There are amazing television shows and archived libraries that have travel destinations recorded for viewing, imagine yourself there!

No matter what is going on in your life and what circumstances you find yourself in this holiday season, just know that this too shall pass. Sometimes a down year is just what we need to inspire us for the next year. Not every holiday season is going to be “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Count your blessings, find gratitude in what you have, focus on what you have now and not on what has been lost and you are sure to find the holidays as peaceful as they can be. And if this is the holiday season that grief prevails, remember that grief can be a gift. You can and you will make it through the holidays …

Grief teaches us many life lessons and tears are the shedding so that the old can be let go and the new may be embraced. After the rain, the sun always returns and so often shines even brighter!

The holidays are coming, so what is your favorite holiday movie? Or your favorite holiday music?

For me, I love the movies; The Holiday and The Family Stone and for the classic movies; Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. And for Christmas music I enjoy Aaron Neville’s version of Such a Night and when Bing Crosby teamed up with David Bowie for Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Remember 2018 is a New Year and a chance for all that is good and wonderful, believe it and receive it!

Feel free to share your story by writing me at bmoyer37@aol.com and “like” my page at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer