What’s in a dream?

Hi,

I’m a mature woman who has always believed that the power of a dream is something to pay attention to, though right now I wish I were not that person. I had a dream on Sunday night that rocked me to my core and 48 hours later, I hate the thought of closing my eyes to sleep. Silly, right? How I wish I believed that myself. I woke up from this dream about 2:30 in the morning, and have had difficulty sleeping since. When I woke up my first thought was “Who the hell is screaming?” only to realize that I woke myself up screaming and was sitting straight up. The details of the dream are so clear in my mind, but I’m not going to go into too much detail as to the content of the dream. It’s very personal, and almost too real. I’m afraid if I put a voice to it, I am giving this dream more credit than it deserves. Why should I let the dream have so much power over me? I’m trying hard not to, but find it almost impossible to not see it when I close my eyes.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you dreamed of someone you loved that was missing from your life and that they were in danger? Have you dreamed of a long lost love and found yourself back in their arms in your dream? I LOVE to dream of my Daddy, he died in April of 2000. I’ve only had a few dreams of him in the past 19 years, but I love that I get to “see” him again! I love dreaming of the beach on a hot summer day and then getting to go on a day just like I dreamed about is so special. I love to dream of seeing my beloved grandchildren again someday, and giving them such warm and loving hugs. In my dreams of them they are grown, and I often wonder if this means I won’t see them for at least 5 more years. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, but the estrangement shows no signs of being resolved, so I am led to believe that I am to be denied the freedom to love them any time soon.

This dream has me so frazzled and confused. It leaves me feeling much as the estrangement does. I’m bewildered by the lengths my estranged daughter has gone to in order to erase both myself and my husband from her life. Does she think erasing people like they never existed is okay? Does she ever see us in her dreams? I have only had one dream about her since she threw us away last year, and that’s enough. I woke up from that dream in a terrible mood and I don’t think she should have that kind of power over me. She made a choice I never would have made, and now my choice is to maintain and foster happiness in spite of all the pain. She isn’t any more welcome in my head than I am in her life, but she still (and always will) occupy space there. When I sleep I have no control over what I see or who I dream about, but while I’m awake she can and will continue to be pushed to the back of my mind as often as necessary.

Dreams can be so many things to so many people and I hope that as I close my eyes tonight, Sunday’s dream begins to fade from my memory. I can remember dreams from my teenage years, though not very many, so I hope this one doesn’t linger as those have. I know what I need to do to get my dream state back into a somewhat normal cycle, but knowing that and actually doing it are two very different things. I want to sleep peacefully again, and am not so sure that will happen anytime soon. The demons of the night creep up on us, just like estrangement and alienation do, and somehow all the lines and boundaries become blurred.

I’m going to bed soon and with a positive outlook as to the night ahead. I am hoping to see no one in my dreams, and should I, I am hoping to not remember who I saw. I want to close my eyes in peace and wake up the same way. I don’t want to suffer for reasons I can’t control, the estrangement and alienation bring enough suffering in a day to last a lifetime. I feel like my sleep is my own and no one else is welcome there unless they bring a smile and leave me feeling loved. I feel like love is in short supply these days as it is, so to lose it in my sleep to forces beyond my control is just not cool.

May your dreams be peaceful and sweet and may you come to know that you do not suffer the minefield that is alienation and estrangement alone. You only have to look to the left and right to know that there is something missing in each and every familial situation all around the world. Dreams should bring joy, not pain or terror, we suffer enough during the waking hours of our lives.

My dreams are made of this…
Sand, sun and surf.
Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West, FL
Photo by Barb Enos

I’m not just a mom…

Hey Everyone,

It’s a hot and humid day here in the low country of South Carolina and I am inside enjoying the AC. Sitting inside has me thinking about estrangement and how we as parents end up experiencing what we perceive to be a lack of control over the situation and all the baggage that comes with it. I fully admit to feeling like I was going insane when it all started last May, but in the year and few days since the beginning of the nightmare cast upon us I’ve come to know that what we experience is not insanity, it’s grief. Plain and simple grief, but beyond comprehension and so very complicated all at the same time.

I thought in the very beginning that I would never find my way through the instantaneous craziness and turmoil heaped on us by our adult child’s decision to throw us away. The longer the estrangement lasts, the stronger I become in the knowledge that I’m more than just a mom. I’m not only a mom, I’m a MiMi, a sister, a wife, a friend, a worker and a woman. A human being. What I am not is a piece of trash, though I have been treated as such. Once I started to fight my way out the fog of disbelief and anger, I began to claw my way back to what is rightfully my life. My life may not seem like much to those looking in from the outside, but it’s a beautiful life and I wouldn’t trade it for any reason. It’s been a tough life, but the rewards far outweigh even the darkest of times. Being thrown away by my adult daughter has caused me to look over my shoulder quite often to see how close the demons of the past are to catching up with me, and every time I look behind me they’re farther and farther away. I’ve been able to reach down deep and dig into lessons from my past to get me through these present times and I’m proud of that. I’m proud that I have learned that I have value to myself, and don’t really care if those outside of my small and intimate circle think of me as valuable. I don’t care that there are people out there that will assume I had to be a terrible mother to my child to be thrown away after 35 years of being her mom. I know I loved her and cared for her and I also know I made mistakes as a mom, but that’s what all people do. We all make mistakes. I know that self forgiveness is a lesson I learned in the past that has given me strength to navigate this estrangement. I wish with all my heart that our daughter could know that I am sorry that she feels we didn’t do things right, that we weren’t and aren’t good enough, but we know that we did the best we could and that does count for something. I see the mistakes I made as a mom and wish I could correct them, but it’s far too late for that. And I’m not going to wish my life away and focus on that which I know will never happen.

I think that today’s expectations for parents are so far fetched and unattainable that as the children grow and become more aware of the outside world, the parents become less than to their children. I think it takes decades for the children to realize that their parents loved them and tried really hard to be everything for them, but we all know not one single person can be EVERYTHING. I’ve spent the past year examining closely the relationship and lack thereof that I had with my own mother and know that I was wrong in so many ways in regards to the way I treated her as I got older. By the time I was 15 the relationship I had with my own mother was broken and I distanced myself from her as much as I could, though I never treated her like she didn’t exist. After I graduated from high school and moved out, I never looked back to my childhood until I was 37, when my father died. In all the years between 1979 and 2000 I was busy like we all are. I got married, we had our oldest, we joined the Navy, we moved a lot and we added a second child. We lost my husband’s Nana in the 1990’s, we kept on moving and we kept on serving. Somewhere along the line, my mother came to live with us as she started failing. It’s one of my biggest regrets now, but at the time, it seemed the right thing to do. After she came to live us, she became quite abusive to our younger daughter and as you can imagine, things between she and I failed. Miserably. We ended up placing her in an assisted living facility yet I still never cut her out completely. She hurt my child both physically and mentally and I could have easily walked away from her, but I didn’t. I look back on that time with her now as a learning experience. I learned from her how not to be and I have always appreciated that. When people ask me if I miss my own mom I tell them “I miss what could have been.” That is now how I feel about my oldest child. I miss what could have been. And what could be. Whatever she thinks I did to deserve being thrown away isn’t factual, but she has to figure that out for herself. The cycle is still going on, and for that I am very sorry.

I miss my grandchildren beyond description and this is where the grief really takes it toll on me. I fear that our daughter is denying them so much love and how can anyone not be resentful of that? I know they know we love them, but after more than a year of not seeing them, not being able to even talk to them, what do they think? These are the kind of thoughts that make this alienation feel like insanity and I have to constantly remind myself that I am not going insane. I want to feel the pain in some ways, because the pain means that they still have places in my heart that are theirs alone and that all of this is real. As a person that comes from a broken background (who doesn’t?) being able to give love is as important if not more important than receiving it. The bonds of the love I have for my grandchildren have not been broken, they have become stronger. I’ve had to learn that no matter how much we want to love them, we just can’t do that in person. I’ve kept their Christmas gifts, I’ve started memory books and boxes for them and I think of them every day. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day. They are never not with me or my husband in spirit and we look to the future while living in the present that someday we will be reunited with them. We also hope that our son-in-love will be a part of that someday, in whatever capacity works for him. When I let myself think of how his life must be at times, I cry for him. We’ve all lost so much because of the actions of our adult child, but we are still standing, living life and loving our family. We are not and will not be defined by this, though there are days I have to tell myself this all day long.

I am more than just a mom, and I hope that any alienated and estranged parent/grandparent comes to know that they are more than just a title. Or a victim. Victim mentality will only get you so far in a situation such as this, you have to find your inner strength and press on. For yourself, your other grand/children if you have them, for your spouse, your friends and your community. You deserve to be whole and happy, and I promise you that you can be, you just have to walk your specific path through the darkness that may seem to have no end… There is an end to that darkness and when you look behind yourself, I hope you catch glimpses of light that will eventually find its’ way out in front of you. Sooner or later the light will be leading you again.

Just as the sky will always meet the horizon, my heart will love freely.
Nevada desert, Nov. 2018
Photo by Barb Enos

Living an impossible life…

Hey all,

It’s been a couple of days since I sat down to write, and I feel every single hour when I sit here trying to figure out how to say all I’m feeling. The life of an estranged and alienated parent/grandparent is so layered with hurt, loneliness, anger, grief, questions, rage and so on, that sometimes I feel like I am caught in the acts of insanity that got me here in the first place. I know I’ve said this before, but this is not a choice I would have ever made for my family and I feel like screaming because our daughter has no right to keep us trapped by her choices.

Things have been okay lately, though not all is rosy. We have learned to not be hopeful when it comes to anything estrangement related. I feel like living without hope makes things impossible, but living with hope brings a crushing sense of disappointment, so it’s all like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t way of living. It gets tiring. It gets exhausting and it gets me feeling like defeat is waiting for me around every corner. Defeat in a game that I don’t want to play! I so dislike the way the human mind thinks everything is a competition. Estrangement and alienation are not competitions, they are acts of abuse and cruelty. Those are definitely things I have no wish to “win” at. Not ever. Over the course of this estrangement I have absolutely come to abhor the word win. Win? Win what? Does it bring the abuser pleasure in knowing that they have ruined relationships? Shattered trust? Denied love? If that’s winning, then I want no part in it. None at all.

We have survived and moved forward this first year of living without our oldest child and her family, though it has been an uphill struggle most of the way. Every time we get to a point where we feel like progress has been made, something happens that tries to knock us backwards. We’ve become more skilled over the past 12+ months at recognizing threats to our well being and fending them off. That also means we have learned to trust fewer people and become more insular in who we invite into our circle. I think it’s a coping mechanism that no one wants to develop, but has to in order to survive such a painful and hateful act against themselves. Trust is not assumed any longer and I doubt I will ever put my heart out there again when meeting someone new. Another thing taken from me without my permission…

Do you ever think about the long term when it comes to estrangement and alienation? I do. I so do. What will happen when there is a family emergency? What if someone passes away? What do we as the ones thrown away do when there is a need to reach out and breach the silence? Do we just assume that the adult child cares so little for any of the family they’ve thrown away that they don’t want to know if something happens? Do we invite their wrath by trying to break through the silence? Do we open ourselves up to more abuse? More hatred? My husband and I have discussed this many times and we feel like we have plans in place that we can live with should we ever need to. We aren’t getting any younger and to know that our daughter cares so little for us is hard, but it’s not unmanageable. We will get through whatever comes together and face whatever backlash may come from our decisions together. Having plans in place for your financial future is smart and everyone knows this, but do you have plans for your emotional future? It’s sad that we even have to consider such things, but it is reality for us now and we can’t not be ready.

Living an impossible life isn’t impossible, it’s just hard. And sad. And so not necessary. As human beings, we’re supposed to be able to reason things out, but you can’t reason with the unreasonable, and therein lies the impossibility of it all. Estrangement and alienation are unreasonable actions taken by people who are so intent on hurting others that they probably could never admit how much they’ve hurt themselves. Pride gets in the way. Or at least it seems like pride to me. I know that my pride was in my own way when I left my husband back in October of 2017, and had I not come to that realization, we would be divorced by now. I have thrown my prideful self away for good and am never ashamed to seek help and guidance when I need it. I need both help and guidance and so much more to get through each day now that we have been cast aside by our own child. We support one another, we love each other and we know we will never let anything or anyone get in the way of our marriage again. An impossible life is possible, it just takes grit, stamina and removing the rose colored glasses we all wear when it comes to really seeing those we love.

If you’re dealing with the vast range of extreme emotions that accompany estrangement and alienation, please know that you are never alone. There are thousands upon thousands of families around the world going through the same hell you are and it’s vital that you not hide and feel shame. Reach out for support, seek guidance and hold tight to whatever small joys you experience in a day. Time is one of the best healing tools we have, and I know that seems like a lame piece of advice, but it’s true. One year and one day ago we were thrown away, ripped from our grandchildren and son-in-love and totally crushed and defeated. One year and one day later we are more solid in our marriage than we have ever been, we are thriving instead of just surviving and we are living this impossible life with joy!

Finding joy in the every day.
A tranquil walk
Arnold Arboretum, Boston, MA
Photo by Barb Enos

It’s over until next year…

Hey Everyone,

Mother’s Day has come and gone and I survived!!! I actually wasn’t dreading it like a ton of other moms that have been alienated and estranged, I just didn’t look forward to the sadness I knew I would feel on and off during the day. That sadness never really made an appearance and for that I am so very grateful. How does any mom that bore children and then gets thrown away by them ever find peace of mind over a situation in which they have no control? Or choice? It takes determination, grit, support and strength, that’s for sure. It also takes patience and that’s the one thing in my life I have never had enough of. Especially with myself. Self-patience has always eluded me and I’ve struggled throughout this past year trying to find it.

I am a firm believer that any relationship needs certain items to begin to build a strong foundation. After the foundation is laid, the real building begins. First and foremost for me to be able to build or rebuild any relationship is trust. Trusting in myself comes first and then a layer of trusting someone else is added on. Over time, as people begin to grow together, the trust strengthens and confidence gets added to the mix. Confidence that the trust you’ve placed in someone else isn’t and won’t be violated, abused or broken. What happens when a foundation built on trust is demolished by someone you loved? Someone you had confidence in? Can you rebuild? Do you want to? Those are questions I can only answer for myself and the answer is usually yes. I want to rebuild, though in the case of estrangement, I fear I will never be able to nor have the chance to. The pain of accusations that have no merit overshadow everything else. I’ve told people that if I had something to apologize for, I would have by now. How do you apologize for loving someone? How do you apologize when no one listens? How do you apologize when the apology isn’t authentic? So many unanswered questions surround the subject of estrangement and alienation, and those unanswered questions are barriers to rebuilding the foundation of trust that needs to be present.

I know that there are thousands of families around the world being introduced to alienation and estrangement at the whims of their adult children. To those families I say I am sorry. So very sorry that you are now part of a group of people that never wanted to be a part of a in the first place. You’ve been blindsided by someone you trusted, and now you’re in a violent tailspin from which you are sure there is no escape. Let me assure you that there is an escape route, but you have to give yourself time to find it. Give yourself the patience it will take to face the next hour, never mind the next day, and remember if possible that you are not alone. You are never alone, even when you tell yourself this just can’t be happening. I agonized for days on end and thought for sure I would die, but I’m still standing. And standing stronger. You can, too, just remember to love yourself enough to give yourself grace for the feelings that will overwhelm you. Feelings will very much overwhelm you, you’ll question everything you ever knew and believed, and you’ll blame yourself. Don’t. Our children are adults, let them carry the burdens of blame and shame, those are vestments you never asked to wear.

I miss my daughter and her family, but I have had to learn how to live without them. And I have. You can too. The foundations of the relationship you shared with your adult child(ren) may be broken, but you don’t have to be. Believe in yourself first, dig down deep within and take that first baby step towards healing, it’s totally worth it. It’s been a year for me now, and the healing seems so small at times, but it is there. Don’t make the same mistakes I did and hold yourself responsible for someone else’s decisions, it’s not fair to you. I admit that I made mistakes as a mom, but who doesn’t? I don’t accept the reasons given for being thrown away, I never will, because I never tried to hurt my daughter the way she claims. I don’t lose sleep over the reasons given like I did when everything fell apart, I lose sleep over not being able to see our grandchildren. I try very hard to remember them the most, they don’t deserve to live a life void of loving grandparents…

As the sun sets on the horizon, it will rise again over another…
Outer Banks, NC
Photo by Barb Enos

Happy Mother’s Day? Why not?

Hi All,

I am keeping tonight’s writing light and positive, because I know how hard it’s going to be for a lot of us to get through what is supposed to be a happy day tomorrow. So why not focus on the happiness of love and not the darkness of estrangement? I gave birth to two beautiful girls, but because one doesn’t want me anymore isn’t any reason to hide from what is a new day on the horizon. Sure, it hurts like hell to face Mother’s Day with our family in shambles, but it’s my choice to remain positive and shine a light into the darkness that is estrangement. My choice. I didn’t choose to be thrown away, but I do choose how I approach the day I’m given when I wake up.

There are those of us out there that have only one child and that child has decided to throw you away. Or maybe multiple children have estranged themselves from their parents, and that’s so sad, it doesn’t make sense. Remember, you didn’t ask to be thrown away, so unless you’re some type of evil doer, hold your head up high and seek out the sunshine. If it’s raining, go play in the rain. Walk on the beach, go for a hike, do something kind for someone you don’t know. Pay it forward. Live. Live in the knowledge that while you hurt, you still breathe and you are valuable. You matter. I know it’s not easy to believe that you matter because there are days that I believe I don’t, but I do. My husband loves me, my other daughter loves me, my grandchildren love me. All of them. I know they do, and I have to believe that they always will. I matter to my circle of friends, and and so do you.

When does the sadness end? As far as I can tell it doesn’t, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have joy in your life. Don’t let your estranged child(ren) steal your joy. Don’t let anyone! Do you love music? Movies? Books? Focus on you, because you deserve it. We focused on our children while they were young and many years beyond that, and maybe, just maybe, it’s your turn to focus within. I don’t have the answers for how to get through Mother’s Day as an alienated Mom, but I do know I am gonna try like hell to be happy with what I still have. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the last time I heard my daughter’s voice. Great, right? Not. But, it means that the first year of everything without her is almost over. Tuesday is the one year anniversary of her tossing us away, so that makes me think we might find a little closure. Maybe we won’t, but to us it’s like the first year of everything special after someone you love dies. First Christmas over, check. First Thanksgiving over, check. First birthday without them, check. You get the drift.

What are your plans for the day? Do you have other children that will honor you? Is your own mom still alive? Mine is not, but my mother-in-love is and I know we’ll talk to her at some point. She is saddened by her granddaughter’s desertion of the family, but she also knows it’s not anything any one of us can control. My mother-in-love is a wonderful woman and I have been blessed to have her in my life. She has taught me so much and modeled life in a way I appreciate and that I’ve learned from. I wish we lived closer to her so we could see her, but she knows we love her. I am honored to be married to her youngest son, and hope she knows that.

I pray that tomorrow is a peaceful and good day for all of us moms, alienated or not. We miss our daughter, but the choice to not be a part of her life is not ours, and we have no choice but to accept that. What we do have a choice in is what we do tomorrow, whether we stay home, shut the phones off, close the blinds and stay in, go for a drive, go see our younger daughter and her family, go to the movies or whatever. What we do decide to do is not be sad, not be defeated or not be unlovable. Life is way too short to focus on the negative all the time, so I hope you try to smile, make the effort to be happy and remember that you matter no matter what!

Happy Mother’s Day!
Photo by Barb Enos

What do the kids think?

Hi All,

Today someone in my life asked me about my grandson and his dad, and it got me thinking about things in relation to the children caught in the middle of estrangement issues. It’s not any place any parent or grandparent that has been thrown away would ever want their beloved family members to be, but what do the kids think? It’s kind of set me back some, wondering if the children being denied the love of those of us that have so much to give feel abandoned by us. I know our daughter has told our grandson lies when it comes to why we moved, but the whys of the move don’t matter to the 12 year old boy that must feel like we left him. It breaks my heart to think that our grandson and step-granddaughter might think we abandoned them when they are being kept from us by someone else. We love them, we miss them and we didn’t move after the estrangement because of them. We moved because we needed to be where we were accepted as parents and grandparents. Had we only had the oldest child and she threw us away as she has, we still know we would have moved, just not to SC. Northeastern Florida would have been our destination.

I can’t help but try and put myself into the shoes of the children that have become victims of their parent(s) actions. It makes me so sad to look back and remember the feelings of abandonment I felt when my parents separated and then divorced all those years ago. I know now and have for decades that I didn’t cause the demise of my parents marriage, but when you’re 8 years old, you think it’s all your fault. So does that mean when you’re 12 and 6 and your grandparents move away, you’re to blame? I can say over and over and over again that we moved because of the pain involved in the every day living without them, but they can’t really put that into context for themselves. Or can they? The bonds of love between us were and are deep, strong and true, so I have to believe that they know we didn’t abandon them like I believe they are being told we did. When someone so callously decides that their parents aren’t valuable anymore, are those parents supposed to shrivel up and die? Or do they forge ahead while battling great sadness and try to figure out how to grieve the living? Grief is the number one reason we moved, and while the grief we feel over such loss hasn’t lessened much, it’s lessened more than it could have had we stayed where we weren’t wanted.

It is my sincerest wish that I have a chance to someday reconcile with my grandchildren and tell them face to face how very sorry I am for the pain I know we caused them when we moved. I hope to someday find the words to tell them that all we ever wanted was to see them, but that we weren’t allowed because someone else decided we just weren’t good enough. We know better. We know that we’re not perfect, but we love our family. Love is messy, but so beautiful at the same time. The love story between us and our alienated grandchildren isn’t done being written yet, and the person who stole the pen last year will someday come to realize this. And if she doesn’t I don’t think it will matter all that much. You can learn a lot about someone when you’re cut loose by them, and it’s only through grace and forgiveness that you can move forward.

I am having great difficulty right now trying to get the words that are in my heart transferred onto the page, and I can’t figure out why. I think I’ll end here for tonight and hope for a better flow come tomorrow night. Please remember to be kind to yourself and others, the world needs this so much. Goodnight.

Serenity sought and found at Newport Harbor
Newport, RI
Photo by Barb Enos

37 years and still going strong!

Hey All,

Yep. Today is mine and my husband’s 37th wedding anniversary and we are still going strong! We’re still like two teenage kids that hold hands, kiss often and love spending time with each other. He’s my person and I am dedicating today’s writing to him. He has seen me through so much in not just this past year as an estranged and alienated parent/grandparent, but throughout our life together as well.

We met back in 1973, when we were both in Mrs. Sallen’s art class in the 6th grade. Needless to say I wasn’t all that impressed with any boy back then, even him. His next oldest brother and my older brother were friends and in Boy Scouts together, and as any pestering little sister would do, I tagged along. A lot. I wasn’t necessarily welcomed, but that never stopped me from trying. I was and still am pretty much a tomboy, being a girly girl seemed like too much work back then. Funny, to me it still does. Anyway, I would be a pain in the behind as much as possible but after a while, we all ended up becoming friends. By the beginning of my freshman year in high school, I was known for being a troublemaker, but that’s another blog subject altogether… I wanted to go to the same high school my future husband (we still weren’t an item at this time) was going to but no, I had to go to an all girl’s catholic school. I hated it. I hated it so much I ended up getting kicked out and off to public school I was sent. Still not the same school, but closer. Much closer.

On New Year’s Eve of 1976, my husband to be would walk me home from his house after playing board games and asked me “will you be my girl?” I said yes and the rest is still history in the making. We dated through high school, went to proms and dances together and had a very intense relationship. We are both the youngest of our families, though his is much bigger than mine. Being the youngest was and is interesting to say the least. We learned how to use our familial positions to our advantage, and to this day it shows in some ways. We were crazy for each other then, as we are now. When I look back over the past 43+ years of knowing my husband, I realize how lucky I am to have a man like him in my life. He’s pretty lucky too, but I didn’t believe that until we had been married for a very long time.

We got married in May of 1982, 2 years after graduating high school. We were young, invincible (or so we thought) and not ready (which we thought we were.) All things considered, we have a wonderful life. We’ve had more than our share of trials, errors and failures, but we are still in love and still strong. We have raised two daughters and both daughters are now mothers themselves. We have cried, raged, begged, screamed and cussed at each other. We have loved, laughed, hugged and sought each others’ company out over the years. We’ve treated each other with disrespect and respect, with kindness and meanness, with impatience and patience both. We’ve learned that trial by fire brings the richest and most difficult lessons life can offer. We’ve lost our dads to death within 9 months of each other, and our daughter to estrangement and alienation, but we’re still together. By choice, not because we have to be. We’ve lost so much over just the past two years, but we have learned to nurture one another through losses so great, no matter how hard I try to convey how it feels, I don’t come close. We lean on each other, we hold each others hands and we trust. Without trust we have nothing, and we have everything. Almost everything.

I could never survive the pain and anguish that estrangement and alienation has brought my heart without my husband beside me. He handles the emotional things differently than I do, and I wish I could be more like him in that way. I wear my heart on my sleeve for all the world to see, and he is much more private. I love that he only shares the softer side of his heart with me. I see his love for his family and me shining in his eyes when he sees our younger grandchildren, and I see pain, too. Pain that our older two grandchildren are missing from our lives. I see hope that someday we will be reunited with those two grandchildren, but the years that need to pass between now and then deserve to be lived with joy, and joy is what we will seek as we move toward another year of marriage. I love the man my husband was, is and will continue to become as we hold hands and walk toward the future together.

I don’t pretend to know the secret(s) to a long, happy and successful marriage, I just know our secrets. I didn’t fully accept my husband’s love for me until I left him in 2017, but I will never not accept that love again. I need him, but know I am perfectly capable to stand alone if I have to. I want him, but know we don’t always get what we want. I appreciate him for the steady, loyal and quiet soul that he is. He is the perfect balance to my outgoing nature and I pray that the universe and all its’ powers grants us many more years to come. Years that will see reunion with our alienated grandchildren, years that will bring adventure, joy and peace. I love you, babe, so much. Happy Anniversary!!!

Taken at our youngest daughter’s wedding.
Reading, PA.