Healing and Happiness: Not Guilty

Why must we allow ourselves to feel guilty when we’re happy? Why do we feel the need to justify our healing process?

Healing from estrangement conjures up a multitude of haze along the path of the process. In some ways, the secret-rabbit-hole-of-pain was less frightening, as I chose to remain frozen, no need to look at myself, ask myself the kick-ass questions needed to heal. As my new-found happiness continues moving forward, I find myself questioning the impact it has on how I feel about my estranged adult children. Does my happiness mean I’m no longer sad about my estrangement? Do I love my children less because I’m happier?

Um, NO.  

The dance of happiness and sadness is mighty thin. One doesn’t always lessen or diminish the other. It’s possible to be happy in life, at peace with decisions made since my divorce while loving and missing my kids all at once. I am sad. Yet, my sadness doesn’t diminish my love for them. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am happy. I am sad. I love my life. I love my kids. If anything, healing makes room for more love thought possible.  

Keep loving. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

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The Limits of Unconditional Love: Yourself

I became a better person after having children. This itself, should’ve been an indication of things to come. Was I not a better person pre-kids? What were the qualities of goodness I saw in myself while raising them I didn’t see before they came into my life? And though I loved them immensely, why did I not love myself first?
Love – unconditional love, is not enough. I get it, I finally get it. 
This statement, those words have racked my soul since my mom passed away, early 2012.
For years I believed unconditional love was enough, would sustain, behold anything between me and my kids. Mom was the epitome of unconditional love. I always joked with her, “Mom, if I were incarcerated for embezzlement, you’d say, ‘Well honey, those guys were goombas. You needed to do what you needed to do.’ Seriously? But that’s the kind of mother Connie was. About unconditional love, she would quip, “Listen, I may not have given you enough guidance throughout your life, but no guidance is better than the wrong guidance.” (Please note her Jersey accent in written form) 
In the big picture, unconditional love most certainly made my life as a mother rich, full and joyous.I was able to let my children be, allow them to express themselves as they felt comfortable. For me it was as natural as breathing. 
A huge piece was missing in the equation of motherhood: my own personhood. Like my own mother, I wasn’t truly present to guide the girls, as I wasn’t too adept guiding my self.Why wasn’t I able to see this much earlier? Instinctively I knew something wasn’t right, pieces were missing from the person I was becoming. I just didn’t want to delve too deep. Way too scary. Having children balanced the scale of self-doubt. Because I loved my children with abundant abandon of unconditional love, that itself felt enough. Little did I see that my love for the girls was holding me back from loving myself first. 
We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Caring, Sharing, Being

Hi kids.

Time to talk. About estrangement. Yep, I know it’s uncomfortable. A better reason to discuss. Years in the making, I decided to share a bit more of my story in video form. Through pain comes strength….if we choose. All our stories vary from each other, though common threads run throughout. As one voice who’s been down the path of estrangement, who cares about those experiencing the complex world of family estrangement, my intent is to share and listen. Thanks for reading, for watching. 

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Refresh Yourself with Your Own Normal

January strikes quickly, as if we didn’t think she’d ever really come. Alas, she is here.

Welcome to 2018. 

Twenty-eight years ago I gave birth to my first kid. She no longer speaks to her father and I. What occurred between then, well, a great deal of years, a great deal of stories. That she was born early in the year always makes me pause and reflect on the new year, how we might make choices to become better humans than perhaps we were last year. 

Spending the holidays with my husband’s family (I remarried last July) eyes opened wide as I took notice of normalcy in a once broken family, now in the midst of continued healing. Time together included his ex-wife, their adult children, son-in-laws, grandparents…..and moi – all under the same roof at several different times throughout the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Gatherings of family wasn’t exactly the norm of my once-upon-a-time family, though I certainly never questioned our love for one another.  We were/are scattered, our own lives. My husband’s family, unscattered, one with each other; la familia intertwined by holidays, birthdays, celebrations of life. 

Reflecting on my own adult children, a new year, yet same situation. I’m sure my daughters view their family screwed up. Yep, true enough. We all desire what we preceive to be normal and ok. But here’s the thing, guys…

Whatever family you come from, you, yourself gets to decide how you want to live within your tribe. You can leave your tribe or stay in. Staying is hard, at times, brutal. To reach fruition within your tribe means being accountable, looking at your own truths. You can either figure out where you fit or not.

Silence is a choice. There are no rules in which families live by, only fierce expectations. Divorce or not, what constitutes normality in a family longs for major debates amongst the smartest of psychologists. We, on the other hand, the family members, continue seeking what’s most important in our own selective tribes. 

With estrangement, there is no normalcy. Over five years now, what once was deep longing, dissipates. There’s an odd sense of reality. The pain, of course, lingers. Tears were shed during the holidays, as always. Yet, I’m learning when one holds such disdain towards me, sees her mother as a mere memory, the acceptance of what that means nestles in further.

I sent a birthday email to my girl. My message was brief, intentional, the hope she lives an authentic life, that she continues loved by me, that I miss her person in my life. The sphere of cyberspace is vast. Whether or not she reads or discards my words is not a concern. Not anymore.

I choose to live with love. To forgive my frailties, misguided mistakes, fractures along the way. This year, new resolve, a refresh of normalcy. I welcome all challenges with less fear each day. May you live your own respective authentic life. May you understand your worthiness, complete value to others. May you establish and embrace your normal. It’s yours.

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Redefining Expectations: May We Find Our Own

Although most understand the WHY we celebrate Christmas, undoubtedly, we falter. We are one with the pack of ordinary folks who somehow become intertwined with true meaning and that umpteenth pre-Christmas-one-day-only-only-it’s-all-the-time sale at pick-your favorite-retail-establishment. The dinners, parties, gatherings and stuff. The traffic, the crowds, the stresses are all a bit much.

Our families, somehow, feel forced, as if Christmas beckons our expectations of what should be. It’s the time of year some might dread, while others celebrate their wacky and loving families with great cheer. Expectations are such, disappointment reveals itself – dissolution our reality.

But here’s the thing, kids:

You may be whatever you wanna be.

You may create whatever traditions desired.

You may love whomever you choose to love.

Families are rich with stories. We may not like our current situation, may be distant from each other, chosen or not.

We expect Christmas time shall provide more magic dust this time of year, all will make peace with one another, as if life were that easy and pleasant. Christmas is our benchmark of time, one in which we ponder what means most.

My own story evolves. This year, family defines itself differently. More and more, I’m gaining acceptance of what family means. More to share later..

For now, there is grace, self-forgivenesses, self-respect. There is you, the one who survived one Christmas to another. Give yourself some kudos. Keep doing your thing.

Merry, Merry, kids. Rock on.

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Doing The Best We Can

 

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Without empathy, there is little to salvage.

My former husband, a good man, does the best he can. I remember mom saying the same about dad after their divorce. “Your father is doing the best he can.” I don’t believe my ex is a vengeful person. He added to the dynamics of our immediate family, as I had.

The sadness sits, as there is no more immediate family. What was once a foursome, has evolved into four individuals; each surviving in the aftermath of divorce five years later; splintered, though perhaps better off. Who knows for sure. Silence makes for unwarranted assumptions.

Thanksgiving was spent among my new family; this year different, as my husband’s former wife was included. Another story for another time, but it got me thinking that fractured families are a choice. Certainly, we are individuals. Divorce more than sucks and shatters the best of most. We make our own choices. Yet what I witnessed with my husband’s family is that indivduals in this family all decided to begin their own separate processes of healing – a choice for conserted effort towards healing. Healing has its own time, it can not be measured neatly. To have been a part of his family; his daughters, their husbands/boyfriends, his ex-wife, sit around a dinner table, reminising of childhood plays and current happenings in their lives….the strangest feeling. Anything….is possible. There is…..hope.

My ex shared some good news about our youngest daughter today. For the first time, I did not share the usual kind of enthusiasm as I always seem to muster. It’s easy to muster enthusiasm when you love a kid as much as I love her, though I couldn’t bring it today. And I realized it’s not my kid. I always love her. I’m always proud of her. I am numb about my ex, not how I feel about my kid. He cares, though doesn’t seem to grasp my pain, still, after five years. Thus, I think I can let go of this now. Finally. Gone are the times I’ve allowed myself to feel as if I’m the bad selfish egg, talking about my pain, as if that diminished his or our kids’ pain. Empathy is a game changer, only if brought to the surface and practiced.

For years I placed all the blame on myself. That if I hadn’t made the mistakes I chose, our family would still be in place. Oh, ye of little wisdom. How I see things more clearly each year. I see two daughters, whose disdain for their mother, their willingness to disassociate from me and most every mutual connection speaks of their hurt and anger. Watching my stepdaughters laughing with their mom, young adults who were all hurt deeply by their parents divorce, once again, I saw hope

I also realize how much I cheered my family on. Each one of them, their biggest fan. Not too many wives were more excited about their husband’s career accomplishments that this ex-wife. To have completely devoted myself to a family who was everything, to the fractured disconnect today, it is numbing. But it’s ok, too.

Maybe, on this day, we’re all doing the best we can.

We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

Alice and the Pearly Gates

Sitting in her studio apartment, steps away from her hospital bed, she breathes. Labored, unsteady, her body slowly giving way. Family members arrive. One by one, we hold her hands, caress her face, brush her short, silver mane, kiss her sweet forehead. We tell her how deeply she is loved, that it’s ok to let go. We sit in awe, in disbelief, for one is never quite truly prepared for death. We are aware of illness, our own mortality growing older, yet we end up taking time to live rather than focus on death. We are not God, nor do we understand why things happen as they do.

For this moment, there is hospice, comfort care, a caring assisted living staff and a family with love of such magnitude, hearts are full and entrenched with all things Alice. Mom, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister. How we adore all that she is, the comfort of knowing those pearly gates are in her midst. She will arrive in splendor. God’s love lives on, infinitely and she is almost home.