Joy. Such a Small Word…

Hello again!

I’m really not very good at keeping this blog up on an every other day basis like I had planned, but I have to remind myself that I write for my healing first, and healing isn’t something that can’t be scheduled.

As I journey through a new life imposed upon me by the actions of someone else, I have come to learn just how important joy is. I’ve also learned how hard it is to find, and how looking for it is pointless if you don’t ask for help. I seek joy as often as I possibly can, and lately I’ve been lucky in finding it. I find it while watching my almost 2 year old grandson run towards his Poppa with the most awesome smile on his face. I see it when my 4 year old granddaughter colors me a picture and is so proud of herself. I feel joy when I look back on the events that have changed my life so much and have come out on the side of love. I refuse to lose myself in the chaos of confusion and intend to love, and live, joy filled.

Finding joy isn’t easy in a world that promotes hatred, division and hurt, but it is possible. Look for small things. Things like the birdsong of early morning, the feel of the sun on your face, the touch of a human hand. Reach out to a neighbor in need, smile at a harried mom in the grocery store, pay something forward. No one but you is responsible to fill your heart with joy, but others certainly can add to it. You decide what you’ll accept and not accept in life, even when someone else thinks they have all the control. It has taken a great deal of hard work after the loss of my daughter to be joy filled, but with each passing day, I’m learning to let her actions speak for her, not me.

I think joy is and will always be like the tides that wash up on the Carolina shore; an ebb and flow of time, energy and consistency. Joy is never far away from any of us, no matter how or why we hurt. Joy is like your invisible best friend from childhood, no one can see yours but you, until you decide to let it shine! Life is a messy, beautiful ride, and joy can be your chauffeur if you should decide to let it!!

I pray for anyone and everyone suffering with pain, shame, guilt and confusion to know joy. To know that joy is as close as their own fleash, and to know that people care more than you know. Remember always to be kind and know that even the most simple act of kindness brings unfounded joy to a broken heart.

G’night!

Remember the fallen, always…

Hello All,

On this most somber of holidays, I hope those of us experiencing the death of relationships with our estranged children can take a moment and reflect on something other than ourselves. We have so much to be thankful for as Americans because of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for our freedoms. Even when there are so many of us that feel those very freedoms threatened by the powers that be, we need to remember that nothing is more permanent than death. We have rights to protest, assemble, sit-in, strike and many other manners of freedom that many around the world just don’t have. For these freedoms and so much more, I am eternally thankful.

Both my husband and I come from military families and we are honored to have served as well. Serving is such a wonderful word, and something I believe in with all that I am. I hope we can all stop and think about what service to our country means and find it within ourselves to say thank you. Service is the reason I am able to live where I do, live as I please and live a life that I pray brings honor to the memory of those that have fallen. My husband’s uncle died at Iwo Jima and is buried in Hawaii. His dad served in the Army for 22 years. My dad was a Navy man. We both have brothers that have served. Please remember…

A life of military service is hard, but the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices. We have a lifetime of service behind us and are proud to have raised our children within the military community. We had a good life while we were in, though hard and quite painful at times too. I missed the military community very much when we moved from Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC, though I didn’t miss the actual service. Community is everything to a military family, that’s what keeps us going during months of deployment, random phone calls to get ready to leave everyone and everything you love behind within a day and community cares. Caring for the safety and well-being of our country isn’t easy, but it is worth it all.

Today I spent a lot of time thinking about how the freedoms granted us by those gone before us also play a part in what has become our life after losing our oldest daughter. We came home to Charleston 4½ months after we lost her and being closer to our military background has helped ease some of the pain of loss. We have resources that we didn’t have in western North Carolina. We have reconnected with our roots and we enjoy seeing the community support our young military members everywhere we go. It’s all part of the lifestyle of the military. Nothing hurts more than losing a child, and today made me think of how many children we have lost since the birth of this country. It makes my pain seem insignificant today. I still have a daughter that loves me, grandchildren to play with and my husband to love me. Many people have lost all of that and so much more… Remember them. Honor them and thank a veteran next time you see one.

I’ll be back on to write more about estrangement and alienation later on this week, but I wanted to share my heart before going to sleep. I tried to go to bed earlier, but thinking about all the fallen made it impossible to sleep without honoring them through my writing. Good night to you all and thank you to all who have paid the ultimate price. We honor you all this Memorial Day…

In remembrance of the fallen…
Shared image from Facebook

Shredded a little bit…

Hey All,

It’s funny to me that my heart feels like the bag of shredded mail and paper I have beside me right now. I shred all the mail with any address information that comes into our house and I recycle all the shredded paper, along with envelopes, magazines and junk. Junk… estrangement and alienation are just that. No one should be comfortable with shredding another person’s heart, and it says a lot about someone that cares so little for others. I’m not a piece of paper that someone can put in a household shredder and forget about. I am a person that loves deeply, hurts beyond belief and deserves answers. Answers to the questions I have stopped asking because I know those answers will never come. Hell, if they ever do, the answers will more than likely be lies, and I’m sick of the lies as well as the silence, so maybe it’s best if I just keep moving forward and stop looking for answers.

Earlier tonight I watered our lawn as we are gripped by excessive heat right now and the watering triggered the thought that if something is worth having, it’s worth taking care of. I hate spending the extra money on our water bill, but until the county declares a ban on watering because of drought, I will continue to water the lawn. I need to take care of it. Just like I needed to take care of the daughter that threw me and her dad away. We cared for her, we watered her and we watched her grow. We were so happy to be blessed with a little girl for our first child and we never imagined that we would be accused of terrible and heinous things when she grew tired of us. We nurtured her like we try and nurture our lawn, but it was all a waste of time. Just like I believe the grass will not survive the next five days of extreme temperatures, we didn’t survive the extremes of parenthood, though we sure did try. We miss our daughter, but we have to stop watering that which refuses to continue to grow.

As parents who have been alienated, we have had to learn a whole new way of caring for not only ourselves, but for the grandchildren caught in the crossfire. Here is where the idea of caring for something worth having takes its’ toll. We are like millions of other grandparents around the world. We love our grandchildren more than we ever thought we could love anyone, and when that love is denied, it’s just so mean to the kids. The children have no voice in any of this mess and it’s beyond impossible to figure out how someone who is supposed to love them thinks that it’s okay to deny them love. What has happened to the family structure here in America and around the world? Why is it so acceptable to claim your parents were abusive and neglectful just so you can walk away without looking back? Where is the forgiveness? Where is the proof of such actions? Where is the caring about someone other than yourself? Taking care of something and someone isn’t easy, but if they or it are worth having don’t you find a way? Don’t you find a way to water that grass through the dry periods in hopes that it will survive? I know for me that I will never give up on nurturing the love for my grandchildren, it’s just not like me to turn off that hose.

As the summer bears down on us here in the southeast, we have to be aware of how fragile we become once we are exposed to the damaging effects of the sun. It’s the same once you become a victim of alienation and estrangement. You get burned. It’s that simple. Once you’ve been burned, you either take protective measures against further damage, or you don’t. When I’m out in the sun, I stay as hydrated as possible. I wear sunscreen. I seek shade. Now that I’ve been burned by estrangement, I guard my heart from further abuse. I write this blog as a way to process the pain and anguish that I live with every day. I stand fast in the knowledge that I know I wasn’t a perfect mom, but I sure as hell tried to be the best mom I could be. When you’re told by your adult child that you were never good enough, whether by word or actions, or both, you die inside. It’s like the sun destroying my lawn, it happens a little more every day. Though I still feel like I die a little every day, I also feel stronger and more positive for the future. That damn sun won’t win every summer, not even every week, though while the heat is so intense it seems hopeless to think anything could grow.

I can honestly tell you that my husband and I have grown through this estrangement and we are like the roots of the thirsty trees seeking water at this current moment. We have learned to be patient and wait on the rain, but in the interim we take care of ourselves as best we can. We love each other, we love our children and grandchildren and we love our family and friends. Love is the nutrient needed to keep us going, even without that love being received or returned by the child that tossed us aside. Without love life is not worth the effort, so like those tree roots seeking water, our hearts will seek love. Love can burn your heart as the sun burns our grass, but I’ll suffer heart burn any day knowing that it does eventually ease.

Growth is hard. Being shredded is hard. Being thrown away is not necessary. Remember, if something is worth having, take care of it. Take care of yourself through the droughts your heart will experience because of estrangement and alienation. If you are anything like me, you didn’t ask to be shredded, burned or forgotten, so remember that you matter. I matter. The people we love deserve the best of us, and even if the best you have to give is a little water to those who love you, a little water can go a long way. Stay cool, be calm and look ahead, the heatwave will end and things will be greener again.

Happiness matters!!
Photo by Barb Enos

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

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

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.