Not Why? How…?

Hey all,

Damn! It’s hot here in the Lowcountry of SC!!! It’s sticky with humidity, the skies are heavy with moisture and the sky is a beautiful Carolina blue. I’m sitting on my patio, thinking about the place I’m at in life at this very moment, and I find my thoughts have turned the corner from “why?” to “how?”

How do parents survive the loss of a child? Not why. How does a loving mother come to accept actions she had no control over? Not why. How do people move forward after a decision they would have never made has been forced upon them? Not why. How. Here’s a glimpse into some of my how..

I didn’t ever, not one single time, believe that I would be the mom that would have to go on without her child. Not once. I loved both of my girls with that mama bear love… You know, screw with MY kid? Awww, hell no! I don’t think so! I never thought my kid would screw with me… Not like this. Our younger daughter is still in our lives and I will never be able to put into words what that means to me. To me and my husband. She knows, and that’s what counts. As for the older one, I had never once entertained any type of thought that she would cut us out and leave us out in the cold…(figuratively speaking of course!) I thought like any other mom and/or dad that we would be the loving, doting grandparents of whatever grandchildren we would be blessed with. We would be the parents that would open our door on Christmas morning to those shining and eager faces of our grand-babies , with their parents smiling over them and the hugs… Oh, the hugs!!! I don’t ask why anymore. Why not? I ask how. How do I move forward? How do I make sense of all the pain? How do I smile? How do I love?

Here’s how… I accept that which I cannot change. It took more than a year to find the place where I CAN accept, and still it’s not easy. I accept it never will be. Easy doesn’t teach us anything. I accept that I have to move forward without her, that life pushes us along even when we don’t want to go for the ride. I accept that I am broken, but beautiful. I accept that I forgive. Not only myself, but the child that left us as well. This is how I go on. I dig down deep inside my broken spirit and crave the light that hides from time to time. When that light shines brightly, I KNOW that there is a future filled with joy and wholenesss and love. I turn my face towards the light and let it soak in to my heart and soul. I am no longer asking why… I am SAYING how!!!

How does anyone make sense of that which is nonsensical? We don’t! Once we can accept that, once we can admit we have absolutely no power over that which has come to define us, we break free of the chains that hold us prisoner to someone else’s actions. I didn’t ask to be cast aside. My husband didn’t ask to be thrown away. We DID NOT choose this alienation for our beloved grandchildren. Someone else did. It’s really that simple. After more than a year, we are no longer seeking any type of resolution. We ACCEPT there isn’t any. How? Not why… How happens so slowly you may not even realize it until you are deliberately looking back over your shoulder for the first time in a long time and finally SEE it! IT becomes a defining moment in your life, and everyone’s IT is different. There’s the how… Not the why. I am free from the asking why and am actively seeking the how!

One of my biggest hows can be directly connected to music. One of my FB friends put a song on my page this week that gave me a whole new, and very welcomed perspective on my life. If you have time go to YouTube and search for “Song of Survival” by Nicole Nordeman. Listen. Listen again. Listen a third time… The words were and are a healing balm to my bruised and battered spirit. Listen to “Build a Better Boat” by Kenny Chesney. Listen to “I Can’t Unlove You” by Kenny Rogers. Listen to “Surrounded” by Michael W. Smith. Listen to “Broken and Beautiful” by Kelly Clarkson. Listen to whatever type of music speaks to YOU! That Michael W. Smith song? It states THIS IS HOW!!! Not why!!! HOW!!! I cannot live without music and never want to, it’s the bandage for the bleeding soul that lives inside of me.

I’m in a good place right now and am very, very appreciative of this fact. I know my world can come crashing down with just an unkind word, a non intended slight, or because of any other small, insignificant reason. I know this! I also know that I am not afraid. I’m not inviting pain, but I absolutely refuse to run from it!!! This is HOW I move forward, it’s not why! The why? I deserve to live in the light just like any other creature on this planet. I deserve it… So do you, dear reader. So do you!

Until next time….

I have to…

Hi All,

It’s 12:45 pm here in SC, and I’m so glad I have time in the day time hours to write. Normally I squeeze my writing in after dark, but today has been a good day already, my hubs and I have been to breakfast, been to the Navy Exchange, drove to find the church we are going to attend for the first time tomorrow and came home with little else to do other than what we want to do. I have to… Sounds like a familiar phrase for all of us in our daily lives, but today it means something other than the connotation it portrays in the course of a busy day.

I have to… remember. I have to remember that I am not what I have been accused of being. I am a woman that hurts exponentially because I have been accused by someone I loved more than my own life of inflicting grave harm upon her. I was and am still a good mom, I am not the monster that I have been made out to be. I have to… forgive. I have to forgive these accusations and stand fast in the knowledge that I did make mistakes, I will make more mistakes, and that I can forgive myself first and foremost. I forgive my lost daughter as well, though she may never know this fact. I forgive her for throwing her Dad and I away, I forgive her for making me her scapegoat, I forgive her for hurting me, and I try to remember to forgive her for all the losses we have suffered because of her decisions. I have to.

I have to… seek joy. A life without joy is not a life. There is no joy in losing someone you love, but there can be joy in learning to navigate life after loss. I have to… smile. I have to remember that I am the one in control of my reactions and that I need to have things to smile about. Smiling increases your face value!!! I know, I know, it’s an old saying, but it’s true. Smiling increases your joy and makes your life worth living. I smile when I see my grandchildren, I smile when I think of our lost daughter as a child, I smile when I hug my husband. I have to smile when I think of all the people that love me and stand beside me. These people encourage me to keep seeking joy. They encourage me to face the immense pain of losing my child and to remember what it felt like to hold her hand when she was waiting on the school bus to pick her up for her first day of school. They encourage me to cry when I need to and to laugh when… I have to.

I have to… love. I love with a broken heart these days, but I picture my heart like a shattered piece of glass. The sun shines on the shards and the glass sparkles and gleams. This is the way I love, with sparkle and gleam. I am not afraid to love, I am just cautious now of whom I give my love to. When someone rips your heart out for their pleasure and then stomps it into the dirt, you become guarded. I have to… be guarded. Being guarded doesn’t mean you can’t love, not by a long shot. To me it means you just don’t reveal your heart and its’ vulnerabilities to everyone. I have to… be patient. By being patient I can discern as to where to give my heart over to another, and love. I have to.

I have to… be thankful. I am beyond thankful that I had my daughter for almost 35 years before she left us and I cherish the memories we made during that time. She was a beautiful baby, a darling little girl, a challenging teenager and a woman in her own right. I love the concerts we attended together, I loved watching her dance recitals, I loved tucking her in at night. I loved her. I am thankful that I was chosen to be HER mom and that her Dad and I were gifted beyond measure to watch her grow. I have to… allow myself to grieve. Being thankful doesn’t take away the grief, but in our family we say “some is better than none” and I will be thankful for the almost 35 years that she was a part of our hearts and lives. I grieve the loss of the beautiful person she was, and I am thankful that I knew her before she became so tortured by the events that she believes led to the destruction of our beloved family. I have to.

I have to… be strong. I know that strong people break, but I am in a good place right now and work at staying there. Being strong to me doesn’t mean I’m cruel, a bully or do harsh things to others. To me it means working at staying kind, it means helping others when they need help and it means saying no when I have to. Strength in women is still an anomaly to many, but I am strong and I surround myself with other women that are strong as well. My best friends are some of the strongest women I know and they are women I admire and respect. Being strong gets me through the dark, undiscovered minefields of grief and without that strength I have no idea where I would be in this journey called life. Being strong is hard, but I have to be… I am not now nor have I ever been one to curl up in the corners of my life and hide. Not ever. And the older I get the more I realize just how important having inner strength is. As a mom who has lost 50% of her children and 50% of her grandchildren, I have to fight some days to be strong, but I manage to do it. I have to.

I have to… finish here for now. I’m going to go enjoy the rest of the day with my husband and continue to seek joy, smile, be thankful and be strong!!! Until next time…

Be kind to yourself!!!

Peace of Mind…

Hey all,

I took a long walk this morning and enjoyed the peace of mind being out in nature brought me. It led me to think about what exactly peace of mind means, and I think it’s different for all of us. I know for me it can be different quite often, depending on where I’m at in my life. In my mind. And what I let bring me peace of mind. Is prayer your key to peace? Is music? Is alone time? Time in nature? Whatever it is, I truly hope you recognize it for yourself and invite it in to your life as much as possible.

I spent the day today enjoying the company of some very good and very safe people. I am not a trusting soul since losing my daughter, but the people I enjoyed sharing time with today are all well acquainted with me and the situation I find myself in these days. I was able to share my pain and express myself without fear of judgement and scorn. Knowing that I was being loved on brought me such peace of mind, and for moments like these I am truly grateful. Peace of mind is a gift that is well received if you can recognize it for what it is.

I also had an appointment today with my therapist and she is by far one of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She asks the hard questions, and knows that I am not afraid to answer them. Lack of fear leads to peace of mind, and I’m attempting to live as fearlessly as possible these days, therefore I feel like I am consciously investing in my own peace of mind.

I realize I am not an expert on how to handle loss, estrangement, alienation or any other trauma that can befall us human beings. What I am is experienced in my own journey and willing to share my feelings in the hopes that someone reading finds comfort. Or that someone finds an idea to incorporate into their daily lives to find their way through the minefield of the pains of loss. Finding peace of mind when your life has been thrown into chaos because of another person’s decision(s) is key to healing and moving on.

Take some time to do some self care, you’re worth it! No matter what has happened to you, who has hurt you, or where you’re at right now, you deserve a peaceful mind. We all do…

Until next time…

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