A love letter to 1983…

Hey All,

Here’s my broken heart letting go of what’s been in it for quite some time now…

Dear newborn daughter; How your dad and I waited and prayed for this day to come!!! You were due 22 days ago, but as we would come to learn, you would do things your way. After being induced into labor, you made your debut 12 hours and 1 minute later! Pink, round and robust you made your entrance into our lives with the lungs of a singer! What a beautiful, perfect baby girl you were! And we loved you… So much…

We were young, you helped us mature. We were inexperienced, you helped us learn. We were scared, you gave us courage. We were in love, you deepened that love. We were happy, you made us ecstatic. The smiles you freely gave, the hands that would reach for us, the eyes that would watch us as we moved around you, all of these things we treasured because we made you. And we loved you… so much…

As you grew, we grew. We watched you learn to scoot, crawl, walk and run. We encouraged you to be brave, and you were. We held your hands and swung you between us. We snuggled you, tickled you, hugged you and kissed you. We loved you… so much…

We thought you might never talk, but when you finally did, you had so much to say! You loved books, just like me. You loved birds, just like Daddy. You had a very curious nature and loved the water. You weren’t afraid to try new things, neither was I. You were loving, funny and sweet. We loved you… so much…

I remember holding your hand when you waited for the school bus that first day of kindergarten in 1988. You were two and a half months shy of five years old, and so confident. I cried my eyes out when that bus drove away with you, but was so happy to see your smiling face when you came home! You loved going to school and learning, and I loved that you were becoming a strong, independent little girl. By now you were a big sister to a newborn baby girl and you were the best big sister. Ever. We loved you… so much…

The years flew by and we all grew as a family, together. Your Daddy loved having little girls, so did I. We loved how you would hug your baby sister when she would cry. You loved to help make sure she was safe and cried with her when she was sick, which was often. Your heart was tender towards her and you would sing her silly songs to distract her from her pain. She loved you, so much. So did we…

You began to leave us by 1997, your teenage years were tumultuous for all of us, especially you. You were so self-demanding, so self-critical. You stopped shining and we tried to help you, but we failed. We were just parents, and you didn’t want us to be involved in your life. We’re sorry we kept trying to be parents, not friends, but parents aren’t supposed to be friends. We tried to set an example for you, but we failed. Daddy was gone, a lot, and we couldn’t seem to make you understand that his job was the Navy, and the Navy was life. I know we failed at times, probably many, many times in your eyes, but we still loved you… so much…

You turned 18 in 2001, several months after you graduated from high school. By now we knew we would lose you someday, we held on as long as we were able. You left home in Feb. of 2002 and we had to let you go. We didn’t want to, but you were of age. We watched you slip further and further away, but we still loved you… so much…

Adulthood came like a thief in the night and turned your heart away from us. We missed you… so much… Life took us in a different direction after the Navy, and we did what we thought we should do, but it wasn’t enough. You left us again… we loved you… and missed you… so much…

In 2006 you gave us our first grandchild and we love him… so much. We loved helping you and our hearts broke for you both when his bio dad left you. We hated him for that… but now we are just sad. We opened our home to you and the boy when you had no place else to go. We loved you… so much…

We were blessed to be a part of your life for almost 35 years. And blessed to have the love of our grandson for 11.5 years before you forbid us from having any contact. We still love him… so much…

We want you to know, wherever you are, that we loved you… so much… We are always going to be your parents and no matter how hard you have tried to erase us, we still love you… so much…

Our deepest desire for you now and in the future is peace… we pray you have found peace of mind, and know that we love you… still…

Stop Using the Children…

Hi all,

Ya know what really bugs me? What bugs me is the fact that grown adults use their children as weapons against those whom they have decided are not worthy. Denying children loving grandparents is cruel and scientifically proven to be a form of child abuse. And to think that those very same parents think they’re protecting their kids? What a laugh. These childish parents are doing more harm than good and will never admit it to themselves. Or to their children.

What long term purpose does alienating your child’s grandparents serve? Not only does it hurt your child, but it hurts the one doing the alienating as well. Even though most alienator’s would never admit it, they hurt because of their own actions. I know this because I never had the relationship with my own mom that my children had with me, but I never completely walked away. I regret not being more comapssionate towards my mom, but I am grateful for what she taught me. I look back now and see so much pain, and would love to have the chance to say I am sorry to her. And I would. I know my child would have never put her pride aside to even try to begin mending things, and now it’s too late.

How do you think the children that are being denied the unconditional love of their grandparents will grow up? Think long and hard… Will they be trusting of others? Probably not. Will they value the way they were left out of the grandparent’s lives? Probably not. What happens to them if one of their alienated grandparents dies suddenly and they miss out on ever reconnecting with the love they missed out on because their own parent decided that his/her grandparents weren’t good enough? I imagine that if this were to happen in my own family, our beloved, alienated granchildren would be told that they were better off without us. So sad. So very, very sad. All we ever wanted to do was love our family, all of it. Now we are imprisoned by the control issues of someone that didn’t care.

If the tone of this post sounds angry, it is. I am not angry very often anymore, but I find the closer my beloved grandson’s birthday gets (he’ll be 13) the more the feelings of anger and bitterness try to take up residence in my broken heart. I frankly have no room for them anymore, and writing helps release them. Life is too short to let such negativity get a hold of my heart and I am strong enough to defeat it. I love my grandchildren with all that I am and no matter what has happened, no one can take that from me. Not ever.

So, I hope someday the adult children that think it’s okay to rip out the hearts of their own kids, and their parents stop using love as weapon. Love is to be nurtured. Sure, we ALL make mistakes, and we all need love, but we don’t need for people to be so cruel and unforgiving…

As the Journey Continues…

Hi Everyone,

I realized today that I am seeking certain things because of the journey I’m on and I’d like to share those things you.

Yes, it’s true that I’m a survivor of a great deal of pain and loss, as all of us are but I want to be so much more than that. I want to thrive!!! Thriving is achievable in spite of whatever you’ve been through, are going through or will go through. How you get there is part of the journey your life takes you on and my journey is picking up its pace. I’m embracing the pain I have to face to get to the thriving I crave, and I’m learning to ask for help when I need it.

Asking for help is not an indication of weakness on my part, I see it as strength. I’ve worked really hard at letting go of my pride, and that was one of the first things that tried to rear its ugly head when our daughter left us. How dare she make a decision that altered the course of not only my life, but the lives of many? How? Pride and indignation were my companions in the beginning but I dropped them off at the side of the road when I stopped asking why. I’ll never know why she did what she did, and I’m okay with that. I know what she said and the lies she made up, but I also know she had no proof of anything she accused us of. Nor is there any. I prayed for her to find peace, and I still pray, but now I pray for peace for myself and my husband. When someone makes the decision to erase you, they are actually erasing themselves. We are still standing and facing the fact that our daughter is gone, what else can we do?

To thrive takes a positive attitude, and no matter how bad things are, or get, you can dig down deep into the core of your spirit and find somethinng to be thankful for. I am thankful for my husband, for our younger daughter, for our 4 grandchildren. I am thankful for the rain that has finally come to the deep south and I am very thankful for every morning that I wake. The weight of loss is lessening as time goes on, and I find that to be very positive.

Thriving also involves work. Hard work at that. I have to work at banishing thoughts of what our daughter did. I work hard at recognizing that the constant worry about her has lessened because she decided to take herself away from us. I work hard at thinking through things now instead of instantaneously reacting. I couldn’t control what she did to us then, I can control how I react now. Learning to rein yourself in and think first is a huge step in healing. And in thriving.

Thriving is so much more than working, it’s learning, it’s accepting and it’s letting go. It’s being able to accept that you are powerless over just about damn near everything in your life and that what you do has great affect on others. Thriving is accepting what is, though to me it doesn’t mean you don’t question what is from time to time. Believe in yourself, love carefully and embrace the future with the confidence you possessed in your youth. Don’t let the people who have hurt you determine your course, they’re most likely to crash and burn…

What’s in a dream?

Hey all,

I guess these past two weeks have been dominated by my dreams, but at least last night’s dreams were much more welcome. I dreamed of my Daddy who died in April of 2000. He was vibrant, healthy and happy in the landscapes of this dream. I love dreaming of those I’ve lost as long as the dreams are happy. After the dreams of last week, this one was great. The downside to dreaming about him is that I have to wake up, and it’s usually many, many months before I dream of him again. I miss him so much, but am grateful he’s gone and not witness to the demise of my family. He would’ve hated seeing all of us, including his oldest granddaughter in so much pain. He loved her so much.

I wonder if our daughter ever dreams of us and if she ever misses us. My guess is no, but I’ll never know. She has made it clear that she wishes us gone, and we have no desire to try and reconnect. It sounds harsh, but when someone you’ve loved so much spreads lies and spews hatred towards you, you have to come to the realization that no matter what you try to do or say, your words and actions become fuel for their fires of discontent and you just have to stop trying. I know that estranged parents and alienated grandparents never go a single hour of life without thought of those they’ve been cut off from. It’s like the soundtrack from your favorite movie that you can’t get out of your head. You repeat it over and over and over, never growing tired of the music. I am tired of the endless ache of missing my grandson and granddaughter. I am tired of seeing how much my husband hurts but says he doesn’t. I am tired of feeling so many emotions in the course of every day. I need rest… I crave rest… I fear rest will never come, though.

I have been feeling angry about the estrangement these past few days and especially yesterday. Something happened in the family that the oldest should’ve been included in, and because she has decided we all don’t matter, it appears events don’t matter either. All I could think was that she should be here with us and she’s not. As time goes on I understand that longing never dies, but it does ease. I wish that easing were here already, I really abhor becoming angry. The anger only affects me, and when that happens I just get angrier and angrier. I’m better today, just a bit melancholy. The melancholy is always present, it ties directly to this MiMi’s heart missing her grands, not the daughter. I’ve come to accept the loss, what else can I do?

How do you mend such brokenness and find the hidden beauty in the pieces that remain of your broken heart? It’s not easy, and the fight to remain positive is exhausting. I believe that staying busy helps to keep the bulk of the feelings at bay, but when the waves of emotion crash unexpectedly, give yourself some grace. When you lay your head down to sleep, try thinking of that which brings joy. I know it sounds simple, but it’s far from simple. As wounded as we are from the estrangement, we find thinking positively, especially in the quiet hours of our lives is almost impossible. I wish with all my heart I could erase the pain of those I love and rebuild our lives, but I can’t. I can offer to hold a hand, give a hug and try to encourage. It’s all I have. I pray for dreams that I don’t remember, I just don’t want to wake up hurting any more than I already do. I don’t want that for anyone.

I’ll end for now as I’m beat from working in the 100+ degree heat that has gripped the southeast this week. May your dreams be sweet and filled with love…

Under an old railroad bridge
Brevard, NC
Photo by Barb Enos

I can’t unfeel…

Hi,

How do you know when you’re healing from being rejected by your adult children? It happens in so many ways, in so many moments both large and small, and sometimes the healing isn’t noticeable to you until you pause and look behind you. Today has started out as a good day and I feel healing happening as I sit in my office here at home and share my heart with you. I have had some momentous healing events because of estrangement, but most of my healing has and is happening minutely. Sometimes it’s really hard to recognize the healing for what it is and we push back against it until we’re so beaten down, we say we’re giving up. We’re not really giving up, nor are we giving in, we are surrendering our need to know why this has happened and we are seeking the healing we know is out there.

My first healing moment came last year after a weekend trip to visit our younger daughter and her family. I spent the weekend being a MiMi that was present in the lives of our two youngest grandchildren and I cried my heart out when I had to go back home. Being able to feel the sting of leaving my precious grandchildren was the first indication that I was moving forward. I am and always will be a firm believer that we can learn so much from the pain we experience if we just allow ourselves to. Leaving the children behind me, watching them in the rear-view mirror of my SUV was so painful, but I felt it, and since my heart was so full of the pain from the estrangement, I didn’t recognize what I was feeling at first. By the time I made that 3.5 hour drive to our home, I started believing that I was going to heal if I would just give myself time, patience and grace. I’m not the most patient person on earth, and if you knew me, you’d know how difficult it was going to be to walk through this one day, one hour, one minute at a time. That’s where the grace comes in. I have had to learn how to be kind to myself and not blame myself for falling apart because of the actions of another person. I continue to remember that I am not responsible for the break up of my family, but I am responsible for how I react to it. That’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes, but it’s a part of my healing process.

The title of today’s blog comes from a Kenny Rogers song called “I Can’t Unlove You.” Music is a healing tool for me, but this particular song knocked me to my knees the first time I heard it. I listened to it over and over and over, causing myself untold amounts of pain, but it was exactly my life at the precise moment I heard it. I did the same thing with Diamond Rio’s song “One More Day” after my daddy died. The lyrics of both songs are so personal to me, like they were written and sung just for the moments of my life they had come to represent. Over time, the songs have not lost any significance to me, but I don’t sob when I hear them. Now I find I am transported in my mind to the happier times I spent with my daughter, or my dad. I guess you could say that the songs strike a certain nostalgia in my heart and I choose to remember the love I feel for them. I can listen to the song our daughter danced to with her dad at her last wedding and not feel anything but happy that we got to share in such a beautiful day with she, her husband and the children that became a blended family that day. I can’t unfeel the hugs we all shared that day. I can’t unfeel the joy and pride I felt as her mom when her daddy walked her down the aisle. I can’t unfeel holding my beloved grandson’s hand. I can’t unfeel holding my 8 week old granddaughter at the reception. No matter how hard our daughter tries to reject us, she can’t make me unfeel anything, and that’s healing.

The processes we go through as rejected and alienated parents and grandparents are unique to each of us, but there are many commonalities as well. Once you’ve been thrown away like garbage by a child you created out of love, you feel emotions of such magnitude that you don’t recognize yourself. I went through periods where I hated what I was becoming, and to turn that process from rejection into healing is like pushing a snowball up a sand dune in the Sahara Desert. Literally. Grief is especially hard when there is no hope of reaching a point of complete closure. When you grieve a living person(s,) you cling to the hope that you might see them again one day. With death, you have no choice but to accept that you will never see them again. That we cannot fully let go, no matter how hard we try, is something that becomes part of the new normal of the life we’ve been given. I can only speak for myself, but my only hope now lies in seeing my grandchildren and possibly my son-in-love again. I have had to force myself to accept the fact that we will most likely never see our oldest child again. This is her choice, not ours, but we have no sway in the matter, so we have to let go as best we can. We miss her, that goes without saying, but we don’t beg, or plead, or cry out to her. She has made it quite clear as to how she feels, and we have no choice but to save ourselves now.

I can’t unfeel the love I have for my children and grandchildren, but I can acknowledge that those feelings do change. The love people share needs to be nurtured and cared for, but by all parties involved, not just some. We’re human, we make mistakes, and we forgive those mistakes and each other when the relationships we share are functional. When dysfunction comes, and it always does no matter who you are, it’s how we react to and learn from the dysfunction that matters. I’ve learned that I matter even if I don’t matter to my oldest daughter. I’ve learned that I can become someone I don’t recognize when my anger gets the best of me and I don’t like that woman at all. I’ve learned that pride and shame are NOT going to stand in the way of asking for guidance, those two things are best left in the trash can. I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try I can’t unfeel my mother’s heart, even though I want to sometimes. I’m still learning and probably always will be that no matter what our daughter tries to do to us or says about us, we have a family that loves us and friends that support us. I don’t want to unfeel everything about our oldest, but I do wish with all my heart I could unfeel the longing that never goes away when I think about my grandchildren. Maybe I shouldn’t wish for the longing to diminish, I’m not sure. There are days I can’t feel anything else, and those days seem to be the hardest ones to get through.

So, we all have to find our healing in our own ways, and unfeeling is not always an option. I want to feel, I want to experience the feelings I have and learn as much as I can from them. Living in denial isn’t really living, and I have to keep making choices that I can live with. Choices, like feelings, are personal, but can have great effect on those around us. Making the choice to unfeel isn’t an option for this rejected Mom/MiMi, making the choice to learn and heal and grow is…

Tonight I’m tired…

Today was a good day in spite of a bit of emotional letdown, but it seems letdown comes with the baggage of estrangement and alienation. I’m not too terribly sad about the lack of help I’ve reached out for today, I’m just tired. I’m tired from being in the car for hours on end three out of the last 6 days. I’m tired from the constant strain of worrying about family members. I’m tired from not sleeping all night long because of heartburn or noise or both. I’m just tired.

This evening I had an impromptu picnic with my two youngest grandchildren and then we played at the park. It was a fun time and watching their joy while they play makes my heart melt. I am ever grateful that I still get to be a MiMi and that I am close to my grandchildren. Not only geographically close, but heart close. The love from them is like a soothing balm for the bruises and deep cuts left behind from the slaying and stabbing of my heart last year. Love and time are both natural healers and I have invited both into my life even through the worst of the pain. I hope that someday our grandchildren will all be with us again and we can have a picnic with the four of them. My heart is happy tonight, but a bit sad as well, but that is as normal as it is now.

Do you ever wonder how it is that some people always seem to hold all the cards while you struggle to find a decent hand? This is another reason I am tired tonight. I feel defeated, and knowing that this is what our daughter wants me to feel makes it difficult to admit this publicly. I struggle very little most days with the feelings of rejection, bewilderment and defeat. I haven’t given myself enough credit today and the way I currently feel speaks of that to me. I need to rest and recharge, but there are nights that just get away from me and I feel like I do right now. I plan on making the rest of my night better by making tea, reading and going to bed soon. I plan on sharing my heart here on my blog and helping the turmoil that’s rolling around in my head find some peace. This blog has become a lifeline for me and I am going to keep writing as long as I have words that need release. I want to keep writing. I want this blog to be a place of encouragement and inspiration to anyone who reads it, and that’s why I started it. Even on nights like this when I am tired and feeling defeated, I need to write. Not writing make me feel like I am giving away my power and I refuse to do that.

Estrangement and alienation are power struggles that those of us who have been thrown away would much prefer not to be a part of. The constant wondering why is the biggest struggle I face next to the emptiness of my heart without my grandson being able to spend time with us. The mental toll estrangement takes out of us is exhausting, so much so that we don’t generally acknowledge it until it overwhelms us. Once we become overwhelmed we become more apt to push ourselves to run on empty, and that’s where I am tonight. So it’s time to stop pushing myself and rest. I hope that anyone reading this understands that it’s okay to take care of yourself first, and that’s what I am going to do. In closing, I hope everyone has a peaceful rest and remembers that no matter where you are in your journey of estrangement, you are never alone. Good night.