Adjusting to the Adjustments 

Like a limb that’s missing, one learns to adjust. Phantom pain still lingers. Life moves forward. 

Blessed with good health, beautiful people in my world, their absence, once the center of everything, the adjustment grows, evolves, shifts. They are not my universe. They are my children. 

Words escape lately, as feelings are somewhat numb, without the disruptive urgency I had years ago.  Lives – theirs and mine, far removed from each other, loves never wanes. 

What wanes is the need, yearning, desperate longing for closure. The moments of desperation still arise. My heart skips beats when triggers prevail, though one learns to breath differently those times.  My eagerness for reconciliation, though welcomed as always, replaced – a mixture of gratitude and disbelief. Grateful they are alive and thriving young independent thinking women. Disbelief in that I did raise two daughters, did I not?  

After a time, the ‘why’s’ of estrangement lose the significance they once had. Each year, I’m learning, as a mother, I shall always be a mother. Each year, every year, my story moves in conjunction with theirs. 

There is no closure with estrangement. We can only begin to reconcile by beginning with ourselves. Perhaps a new chapter awaits. Let the language I love carry me further. 

We’ll find each other soon. ūüíú

Minimizing the Apologies

Narcissism exists. You are not crazy. 
That word, one which I paid little attention to before my divorce, I’m only now recognizing its significance in my life. The fear is paralyzingly real. To speak out, speak up, takes an enormous leap of faith…and a shitload of chutzpah. ¬†

After many years and counting of self-reflection, pain, the perpetual deep-seeded self-doubt, slowly emerging, a whole being.

Life happens so gradually, so innocent of time. The criticism was always apparent, only to become more frequent as years rolled on. Sarcasm was used repeatedly to emphasize his disdain for certain things he didn’t like about me. Teasing the size of my nose, the way I laughed, mimicking my voice talking on the phone, using the expression ‘clown-girl’ when I would attempt the use of new makeup. Wow. I didn’t see it. At all. I grew to accept this part of us, as if it were simply who I was, who we were. I laughed along for years, accepting this behavior as normal, as I always embraced self-deprecating humor. Yet, after a time, sarcasm broadened and it wasn’t so funny anymore. ¬†His lack of compassion, more apparent than before, caused concern. My voice, one that never quite matured enough before marriage, had risen, ready to speak, though more than not, opinions and thoughts were dismissed, discarded, discounted; his unwillingness to hear me. More comfortable reverting, acquiescence was always at the forefront within my comfortable role as wife and mom.¬†

There is no concrete moment, a specific¬†‘ah-ha’ to reckon with. Within a period of time, shortly before our separation and throughout our brief reconciliation, during our mediation and post-divorce, he convinced me, he convinced our kids, he convinced others, I was the crazy one. I had sociopathic tendencies. I wasn’t mentally stable. Made to believe I was broken, damaged,¬†unworthy. I was the one who didn’t love or care for her family; who intentionally abandoned them in order to make a new life for herself. While I knew none of this to be true,¬†I started to believe him.¬†

The crawl back up has been long, at times devastating; days certain I would remain in the rabbit hole. Let me just say, kids, the deeper one delves into their own psyche, the more fresh air one breaths. Depression is little excuse when it comes to hurting those we love; it is merely an added layer to a complicated situation. 

The¬†pain in our marriage manifested differently, our discord, in parallel. Most of the blame came from within who I was, no one else. ¬†It was then, a time too late, accountability became my mantra, as today I’m merely identifying so many “why’s” that came much later than I wanted, though now, a better human for going through the mistakes made. Insight is a tremendous gift only when one is able to escape the murky waters once lived in. ¬†

Almost five years since divorce, the reality of how my marriage unravelled, the kind of man I was married to, what brought my kids to estrange themselves from me, I now acknowledge.¬†I’ve made peace within myself, minimizing¬†my apologies for other people’s decisions while accepting my own and those consequences thereafter. Estrangement from those you love is a journey that is never-ending. I grapple, think, learn, every day. I’m still me, only more of what I was years ago, with a tad greater touch of chutzpah. More than anything, I’m the real deal. And that is nothing I need apologize for. Nor need you.¬†

We’ll find each other soon. ‚̧

The Bravery

“I want to be brave, like you.”

A close friend said this to me recently. Stopped me in my tracks somewhat, as I don’t feel brave, though her words humbled me. My intention in life is not one of bravery, it is merely to be who I am as an authentic kid of God. 

Upon thinking about it, pausing awhile, here’s what I believe bravery to be. 

~Bravery is telling others you’re not brave. 

~Bravery is facing oneself and admitting how ridiculosly hard it is – the entire shebang of YOU. 

~Bravery is writing or saying your own truth without excessive editing. 

~ Bravery is a cycle of learning. One not need be brave an entire life. 

~Bravery is having the kishke to press publish and go on with your day.  

~Bravery is asking questions and being ok with no answers. 

~Bravery is waking up, feeling alone and calling a friend. 

~ Bravery is laughing at yourself, with just a touch of self-deprecating humor.  

~Bravery is admitting your mess ups. 

~Bravery is owning your success. 

~Bravery is acknowledging behaviors. 

~Bravery is changing behaviors. 

~Bravery is making a difficult decision, be it baby steps or full on plunge. 

~Bravery requires thoughtfulness, compassion and empathy. 

~Bravery is believing in someone bigger than you. 

~Bravery takes time. It can not be rushed, pushed or forced. 

~Bravery is exercising unconditional love. 

~Bravery understands vulnerability. Vulnerability is the bravest of all. 

Take note, kids. You’re probably braver than you know. Keep on. 

We’ll find each other soon. ūüíú

Motherhood: Failure is Not an Option

“Living with a shattered sense of self is devastating. You feel like you are no longer valid, your value as a person has been negated, you have no purpose.¬† And when you have no value and no purpose you begin to question why you should live.¬†And the most devastating question I had to face was this: ‚Äúif I was a failure at what I considered the most important job of my life how do live with myself in the aftermath. Since so much of my self-worth was tied to my desire to be the best possible parent I could be, one of the major repercussions was that my self-esteem was devastated.‚Ä̬†

Renate DundysMarrelo

I failed as a mother.

Not as a human being, as a mother. There is a distinctive separation of the two.

Moms make mistakes, I get it. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The kind of failure I’m speaking of is the most monumental: betraying a child’s trust.

A failing marriage has the capacity to become a¬†failure as a parent. Parenting is hard. Marriage isn’t exactly a slice of pie either. We look at other marriages, other parents, judge each other as if they’ve discovered something we haven’t. We’re all connected at the party. No one has the quintessential antidote for successful marriage or parenting. If it were the case, Dr. Phil might actually have to work as a real family therapist.¬†

The Behemoth Consequence 

Think about behavior, decisions you make. Think about the consequences of those decisions.¬†Think about how your child, at any age, would view you as a parent if you were to make a poor decision that would garner mistrust. Young adults don’t grow out of observing and watching their parents actions and behaviors. To break a child’s trust is the utmost betrayal a parent can make. It is for this reason why I judge others less harshly these days. Self-acknowledgement is a bitch. It’s pressing, humbling, lonely, unpleasant. Yet it is also necessary for the beginning of a person’s healing journey.¬†

As much as I’ve written on the painful issue of estrangement, there is a consistent yearning to subject myself; one voice, willing to tell her truth, to be judged,¬†criticized, perhaps verbally punched up a bit for speaking out on something excrutiatingly difficult to talk about. I welcome all of it, as there is little to be fearful of anymore. The release of vulnerability becomes an easier glide once you have the chutzpah to push through the shame. The more openly estrangement is discussed, the less shame one adheres to.

Your self-worth shall not be defined by mistakes made as a parent. My hope is you take time to think, process; realize you’re still going to breathe when failing. I’ve arrived at a place where I recognize my¬†failure does not equate with the kind of mother I was or¬†am, for I am still a mom. So are you.¬†

We’ll find each other soon. ‚̧


Age of Grace

She lives in a theater, she lives by the sea.

She lives in my soul, she lives within me.

I see her face, pieces in mine.

How I learn, her voice, still kind. 

We age together, though she is not here. 

She teaches the importance of releasing my fear. 

I see her differently the older I grow. 

Her death is a comfort, as I, too, will pass, I know. 

Parents and children, a curious bunch.

Let them be, for in time, there is much.

Relationships are complex, there is no other. 

Give, forgive, embrace the love and grace.

Gently and sweetly, I kiss my mother. 

Connie at the Stage Door  Segerstrom Center for the Arts  1/7/2017









Lessening the Illusions: Year by Year

With each year (albeit the still-on-occasional set back) I’m more apt to delve a bit further into the silent issue of family estrangement and write openly. One of the main reasons for this blog is to let you know how much I care; those who decided to stop contacting a family member and those who had little say in your estrangement.¬†

Since before divorcing end of 2012, family estrangement has been at the forefront of my life. I’ve been paralyzed with fear coming forth in my writing. Though now, at this point in my journey, I’m much healthier, more accepting. Vulnerability is part of my lexicon and I intend to muscle her up a bit. There is no soapbox. Only one voice willing to talk about something unpleasant, something that makes one squirm. To this day, estrangement has given me an undeniable quest for meaning of family.¬†

During the first several years, it caused unspeakable pain, serious depression, suicidal thoughts, an uprise of anxiety, significant and brutal feelings of unworthiness, isolation and self-loathing.  The grief of estrangement is unlike the grief of a death: one is finite, the other, ambiguous: both require their own processes in their own timing. One is not more painful than the other, they simply differ. 

There’s a couple of notions about estrangement I’d like to talk about, here, and in future posts. Not necessarily to dispel myths, rather, discuss certain assumptions.

You obviously were the cause of the estrangement. I thought you were a good mom. What happened is your fault.  

This is a biggie, if not the biggest assumption for most.

We are all responsible for our actions. No one is immune to consequences. Took me a good couple of years to figure this one out. When one finds herself knee-deep in the rabbit hole, she ain’t thinking too much about consequences for her actions. Yet, with each passing year, clarity reigns, as does acknowledgement for poor decisions I made years ago. My children were 17 and 21 at the time. Essentially they had two distraught parents that were so consumed with their own unhappiness, they weren’t emotionally available. This didn’t happen overnight. As their mom, I held on tightly to the notion – the illusion of family. Marriage was dissolving yet family was everything. I would do whatever I could to keep it together. This would become the main ingredient, losing myself in such a way, destructive behavior seemed the only way out. The girls suffered because of me and my decisions. The amount of remorse can not be measured. This, I accept. ¬†

Understanding unconditional love.

Mom used to say, “I never gave you enough guidance. Better to love unconditionally than to have limits on those we love.”¬†Like mom, I raised my girls with the kind of unconditional love given me. Like mom, there were few restrictions laid upon them to be someone other than who they wanted to be. I nurtured that most of all. It came as easily as breathing.

Perhaps therein lies the problem: I gave my girls too much power in allowing them to be themselves, yet not guide them by questioning how others might feel. All this talk of letting people be themselves without apology gets mixed up somehow. Where is compassion? Empathy for others? Did I not demonstrate the kind of compassion I felt toward others?

As mentioned a time or two before, there are no do-overs in the book of parenting. You don’t get that make-up test or extra credit points years after raising them. Yet, here’s what you get with unconditional love: a life-long journey of self-realization; the kind of love that blossoms with joy, contentment, curiosity and awe.¬†

Loving my children is the most important teacher I know, yet it is not what sustains a relationship in and of itself. Dig deeper. There is far more there….

What has unconditional love taught you? 

Keep on. 

We’ll find each other soon. ‚̧