Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas can hurt

It's a difficult time of year, these Christmas days. Yes, Patrick and I have reunited, and we share a close relationship now. But I won't see him Christmas. It's for a good reason, though–he's a young man who has a sweetheart, Danielle. They're forging their own life together, and that's how it should be! 

Sadly, estrangement within families seems to be very common nowadays. Talk to anyone, and they'll mention s0-and-so who hasn't called or visited in years. Or maybe bonds have been severed for deeper reasons. It doesn't matter–the hurt's just the same. Even now, I deal with it, too, but with a different family member (not my children). This person treats me like I'm dead. I've just had to let go and let God. I can't fix the broken bond, though I've tried. So has my mother. It saddens me because life is so very short. We're here for just a short time. And even that's iffy....any day can be our last. All I can do is keep praying and ask God to heal the relationship in His time. 

If you've found your way to this blog because of separation and pain within your own life, please know that you are not alone. Even though Christmas is "suppose" to be that JOYOUS time of year, it's just not. My heart goes out to you, friend. Please e-mail me if you need someone to share with. Wherever and whoever you are, I've asked God to bless and strengthen you as you read this post.

In His Love,
sheryl

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving digizine

I recently found out that Guideposts magazine re-published my article, "Mom, Interrupted," in a special Thanksgiving online magazine. It's a very nice publication that includes many reprints from past Guideposts issues. Check it out!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Patrick offers his advice

Mom's been after me for awhile to share my thoughts on our blog. Here I am, finally. She told me that she's been asked several times by readers about how I felt during our separation and what she could have done differently to help heal our relationship. She believes that what I went through, too, can help other parents and kids. I hope so.

First, I'd tell parents to give your kids space. Lots of it.

The more Mom pressured me back then, the angrier I'd feel. Her pushing even seemed to accelerate my anger. It sure didn't help me. What I needed most was time and space to understand and process everything that had happened. I remember how infuriated I'd feel after I heard she'd contacted the lady I worked for.

See, I'd had a vision of The Perfect Familly, and that was us. Then one night, it was all taken away. The loss was a substantial blow to me. I felt so angry. I was in the house where Lindsey, my sister, and I had grown up. It was the physical boundary that had held our family. When Mom left, she left our "tribe," so to speak. Afterward, she'd e-mail me or call like crazy. I eventually blocked her e-mails, and that actually made me feel good. Real good. She was the one who wanted to leave so why was she still trying to contact me? When I blocked her e-mails, it was like shutting the door behind her. That felt great.

At the time, I really wanted the space, and Mom eventually gave it to me. Later, she e-mailed me again, using a different address, but she wasn't as aggressive as she'd been before. She came across less desperate and frantic. Which helped me feel a lot less pressured. So later on, when she invited me and one of my friends over for supper, I accepted. With my friend there, I felt less awkward.

In a nutshell, that's the main thing I'd tell parents: back off and give your kid plenty of space. E-mail and text them occasionally. Give them time to process the anger and pain that they're dealing with. They'll come back to you. When they're ready.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Doing the right thing

Since starting this blog last January, I've received many e-mails from hurting people, mostly mothers who've left their marriages, sometimes remarried but who've all lost relationships with some or all of their children. One sad father shared his story about being estranged from his three children. In many of the letters, the writers tell me how they try so hard not to put their former spouse down but that the effort is not returned. I realize I hear only one side of their stories, but I tend to believe them. Just this week, a mother wrote me and said everyone in her life encourages her to "get tough with her ex husband...and play the same games. But I don't feel the same way." I wrote back and told her that she was handling everything right, even though it's very difficult to be the bigger person when all you want to do is strike right back.

Sometimes I wish I could ask those former spouses how they treat and regard their own mothers. Do they love their mother deeply? Would they protect her, help her, no matter what? Do they honor her memory if she's already passed on? Then why can't former spouses see and understand that they're belittling and disrepecting someone ELSE's mother? That mother happens to be the mother of the very children they say THEY LOVE so very deeply. Sad, eh? I wish they could realize how much they hurt their children when they hurt their children's other parent.

Awhile ago, I looked around some more on the Internet and found a book written by Dr. Joshua Coleman, When Parents Hurt. He's also got a forum where people can post and share. I haven't spent much time reading posts, but the little I saw mirrored the letters I receive.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Above all, I wish I could so much more for each and every one of you who write. But please know that I do pray for you and keep you in my heart. God DOES answer prayer. In His Time.


UPDATE

A few minutes of yesterday's "Dr. Phil" show, "Exes Behaving Badly" (Oct. 27, 2011), touched on what I tried so hard to express above.....

Mark posted an online ad that compared his ex-wife, Sabrina, to the used car he was trying to sell.

Dr. Phil: 'This was my latest way to get back at my soon-to-be ex-wife.' But let me change that sentence. What you were basically saying is 'This is the latest way to hurt my children's mother. If I can win out and show that I'm the tough winner in this, that's good for my ego. But my children pay the price.' For  every percent that you gain, those children lose ten-fold. Your measure of success is how much you can hurt the mother of your children. How sick does that sound to you?

Mark: Sounds horrible.

Dr. Phil: But that's exactly, precisely, what you're doing! Tell me that I'm wrong when I say that in your absolute heart of hearts you want to say 'I have been childish because you've hurt me with rejection. And I'm sorry.' Tell me that's how you feel.

Mark: That's exactly how I feel.

Dr. Phil: Then tell her. Man up right now and tell her!

Mark did. He apologized to his wife and even cried.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ginny shares her story....

This morning, I received a long, heartfelt e-mail from a hurting yet strong-in-Christ mother who's estranged from her two sons. With her permission, I'm sharing her letter in hopes that her testimony and prayer request will help someone who else finds this blog...

"My story is so much like yours except I have two teenaged boys. I’m sure my story is on the same lines as the majority of others in this situation. It was not my desire for them to live with their father; their father made it known that his children would not live in an apartment since he wanted the house. He threatened to take me to court over them, but I could not put them in the position of having to choose between two parents they love. Regardless of their ages (14 and 15), they would either have to verbally or write down who they wanted to live with in front of a judge so I left. 

As you were active in Patrick's life, I, too, was active in both my children’s activities. My children will speak to me but only when they want me to buy them something. Or if I ask a question, I get a one word answer or a shoulder shrug. The oldest is the most voice-full and disrespectful; the younger is distant and silent. I’ve kept a journal of incidents between us, and I think how could we have gone from that to this? Their father has not encouraged them in anyway to spend time with me, and, of course, as in most divorces, talks negatively about the one who left. The negative talk doesn’t hurt anyone except the children, regardless of their age. 

I have no clue when it comes to their school grades except from the school’s website. Not a clue about their football or baseball games or anything except what I find out on my own or through friends. There was one case when my youngest was playing basketball for a different church. It just so happened that one of my coworkers was talking about how he enjoyed watching my son and his athletic abilities. I had to act like I knew all about it; come to find out, I had missed over five games. So I got a schedule from the church he was playing with and went to the rest of his ballgames. However, his father would sit outside in his truck because I was there. Because of this, my son asked me not to attend any of his baseball games. Of course, I could go on and on with incidents like these.
 
However, I have learned that this storm in my life is a blessing in its own way. It has taken my children’s actions to bring me to my knees before the Lord. The Lord did give me a verse as a confirmation, Psalms 1:3.* So I’m asking for a prayer chain for children of all ages, not just mine, for healing hearts, reconciliation, to put positive influential Christians in their paths and for parents in our situation, to be praying warriors for our children. If two or more are in prayer before the Lord, imagine hundreds or thousands!"



*And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prayer partners who share

Through this blog, I've made many new friends, though I'm sorry and sad for the circumstances that link us. Still, I'm grateful and honored that you've trusted me enough to share your heartaches and asked me to pray with you. Thank you.

Along the way, my friends here sometimes share something with me, like a resource or a thought. A few weeks ago, P.S. (#17 on our Prayer List) sent me an e-mail: "This devotional made me think of you, Sheryl." The link took me to the "New Living Translation Women's Devotional" for July 11th. The devotional has since been replaced with the current week's. But with permission from Tyndale House Publishers, I've reposted the devotional below. I hope it helps you in some way. Thank you, P.S.!

NOTE: You can sign up for the women's weekly devotionals here. I did! The webpage also offers devotionals for men, teens, parents, and leaders.

Endurance       
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Hebrews 12:1      

"There are times when we feel completely alone. We feel as if no one has ever experienced what we've gone through. No one could possibly know the agony of watching your child suffer from leukemia. No one could possibly know the pain of having your husband walk out on you. No one could possibly know the fear of being diagnosed with breast cancer. But you know what? There are women that have experienced the same thing. They have run the same race.

We are surrounded by women who have struggled through situations and spent countless nights crying to God for strength. They are witnesses to God's love and grace. They are witnesses to the life of faith. How did they manage to survive?

They didn't do it alone. We aren't made to live this life alone. God has given us people in our lives to run the race of life with us. This race isn't a sprint but a marathon. For anyone who has ever run a marathon, there are moments of highs and even more moments of lows. Everyone finds a point where he or she is ready to give up. Weighed down by the insecurities and doubts that slow us down in this life, you begin to feel that you can't go any further. But you're not alone. You are surrounded by others who are in this same race and struggling with the same fears and pain. They run alongside you and encourage you, helping you finish the race.

Praise God that he hasn't left us alone. As women, we have a natural affinity for relationships. Don't be afraid to ask someone for help. Allow God to direct you toward women who will care for you. Try finding an older female to mentor you. Allow stories of her struggles and faith to comfort you. Then, look for ways that you can mentor to someone else. Women of faith, we need each other. Come alongside other women and run the race of faith together."   
 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Online resources

Out of curiosity this morning, I Googled "parents estranged from children" and found several other Websites on the painful subject. At GardenWeb.com (of all places!), I found a page–Mothers estranged from adult children–on the Parents Forum, where many mothers post their heartaches. From this page, I found Estranged Stories, a members-only site that must have more than 800 members. The site, which is very sophisticated, offers forums, blogs, videos, groups and chat. Since I'm not a member, I can't further describe what's there.

I also found Healing Estranged Relationships, which is based in Dallas. Estranged Parents of Adult Children is a very simple website, which also has a lengthy list of book resources. And there's an active forum at DailyStrength Groups-Parents of Estranged Adult Children Everywhere. 

What all these websites together say is that: THERE ARE MANY, MANY BROKEN BONDS IN OUR SOCIETY. You are not alone!!

Beyond prayers, I wish we could provide much more through this blog. Because we can't, I will point you toward these other sites, where you may find more of the help you really need.

God bless you.
sheryl



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Fall Apart"

This morning, I just heard this song for the first time on KLOVE, and it is POWERFUL, dear friends. Please, please listen...."Fall Apart" by Josh Wilson, and let me know what you think. Did it help you deal with the heartache of separation or other hurts in your life? It sure does me!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bridget shares her story


Via Facebook, I received a letter yesterday from Bridget, who wanted to share her story with us. After reading what she wrote, I asked her if I could post it here in hopes of inspiring others. 

Here's Bridget's story:

"Sheryl and Patrick, I read your blog and would like to share a similar story. My husband and I were married for 16 years. He was 17 and I was 16 when we got together. I had already had one son. Yeah, I know, we were young! My husband was very abusive. I tried to leave him a few times, but our five kids would cry and I had no help from anybody. So I’d go back.

As the kids got older, they noticed some of the abuse. They were victims as well. My baby boy, Terry, was my boy with heart. He was an emotional child, but after awhile he did ask me to leave. At his urging, I did, but then he turned against me! The rest of the older kids understood. We had two younger ones as well girls, six and four.

Nonetheless, when I left I tried to talk to my boy, he said he had nothing to say to me. He even told everybody that I had died. We didn’t talk for more than two years. When it was time for visitation with the rest of the kids, he’d leave so he wouldn’t have to see me.

Then after two years, he called and asked if he could come and stay the weekend! I loaded everyone up and went and got my baby. I cried all the way there! We have been close ever since. He is 22 now. He was 10 when this happened.

When my husband and I got divorced, I moved to Ohio with my mom, and I took my kids with me. The courts gave my husband rights to the boys and I got the girls (NOT RIGHT). My baby girl would always say, “Mom, would you go back to Dad?” I’d always reply, “Why would I go back to the abuse?”

For about six years, we transported our children every two weeks to the halfway point between Kentucky and Ohio. I finally decided to move back to Kentucky. In January 2007, a dear friend/uncle passed away, and the funeral was at a church.  When I walked into that church, there sat my family, whole but separated. We weren’t allowed to speak to one another because of whom we were with. My husband was with a woman who would not allow us to talk, and I had a man the same way.

In the middle of that church, standing as an unbeliever in God, I looked at my family and saw how we couldn’t comfort one another. For the first time in six years, I knew what was wrong! We were divided. For the first time, I prayed to God to fix what was wrong. I had never prayed like that before because I was an unbeliever. So much bad had happened in my life that I’d convinced myself that God wasn’t real. If He was, how could all this happen to me, both as a kid and a grown up?

As I prayed, I had no idea what was going to happen. But it tore my heart apart as I looked at my family. One son stood in the front of the church with his wife. My baby girl was in the middle by herself. My other son was in the corner with his family, and my husband was with his girlfriend. At that time, I’d actually wished her dead because I blamed her for everything.

My family couldn’t comfort one another. As I said, I prayed so hard to God to fix us because I didn’t know how. I left from there and went back to Ohio. But in three months, I moved back Kentucky and reunited with my husband. My family was back together! But a lot of damage had been done.

In May of 2008, my husband and I were saved and remarried, two unbelievers in church for the first time, saved and baptized. My kids are all grown now except one. She’s 14. I can see the damage all this has caused to our children. But I am a Christian now so I know without a doubt that God will continue to heal the hurts.

A friend told me to write a journal or book about us because it truly is of God that we are back together and I’m in church, despite my sad past. My husband is no longer abusive. Why? Because our then seven-year-old daughter prayed for three years to get her mom and dad back together. And God answered her prayers.

Also, I believe the death of a very sweet man brought us back together because God can use anything, everything, and people, too, to be a light and show us what is wrong and where we need to be in life." 

THANK YOU SO MUCH, BRIDGET!!! Yes, God works everything together for His Good!

Love, sheryl

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A testimony from someone who's been there, too

Just awhile ago, I found this wonderful, encouraging comment on this blog left by Kelly McCormick. Thank you so much, Kelly! Now I'd like to share your thoughts and insights more fully by re-posting it here. That's what I'd like this blog to be–a place of sharing and caring for one another. Like you, Kelly, I searched for someone, too, who truly understood my heartache.....

"My story gives hope to the hurting mothers out there who wonder when if it will ever be over. I was estranged from my son for 12 years. I'm here to tell you that reconciliation happens...regardless of how long the separation. 

Like so many others, I didn't see it coming. My son, daughter, and I were very close. I had been in a difficult marriage for many years, and I officially ended the marriage. The divorce was very reasonable; there was nothing much to divide so we did it all through a paralegal. I had custody of our two children and my ex had visitation. 

My 11-year-son started to be angry and rebellious towards me. Soon, he told me that he wanted to live with his father. I agreed because I thought it would be temporary and that he would "learn his lesson" and return home a more humble boy. I was wrong. The rift deepened, and I couldn't seem to regain footing. 

Over the years, I tried everything from counseling to begging my ex to persuade him, to confronting my son, meeting with his teachers, meeting with adolescent experts...everything. Like so many, I tried anything and everything, over and over again. I had turned from God during my divorce because the Bible said it was wrong to divorce and I decided to get one anyhow. The situation with my son felt like God's punishment. I was truly heartbroken and could hardly get out of bed some days. Although I didn't think of suicide, I knew that I wouldn't fight death if given the option. 

I searched for books or stories of other women in similar situations and couldn't find any (the Internet has come a long way). I couldn't comprehend how we had gone from a very close relationship to completely estranged. I was worried sick about my son's well-being. I believed that I must be a bad mother because I couldn't protect my child and I couldn't find anybody else who experienced this. I was deeply ashamed and became withdrawn. 

As the years went by, I continued to ask questions and do deep soul searching that led me to some wonderful places. What could I learn from this? How can I have peace? What do I need to see about me? How can I grow? How do I forgive myself? How do I forgive others who played a role? Who is God anyhow? 

The questions led me to beautiful places I couldn't have dreamed of. There was a lot in the middle, but the rift ended as suddenly as it started. It was not the result of a new trick, profound advice, or slick technique. Now that I have some perspective (we've been reconciled for about three years), I believe it changed when my heart was right; when I truly accepted and felt grateful for the whole ride. I did not do a thing. 

Out of the blue, my daughter told me that my son was moving to Houston from Los Angele, and it was happening next week. Through my daughter, he agreed to come to my husband's and my house for a family dinner. His only stipulation was that he did not want to talk about the past. We have been building our relationship since then and I have honored his request. 

There is so much more to tell and so much is difficult to put into words. My main message is that I am living proof that there's reason for hope. I also agree with the other posts that demanding answers sent me backwards rather than forwards. Now, I am in the joyful place of asking what I can do to help other mothers (and fathers) who are in similar situations. I hope that commenting on this post is encouraging to somebody out there."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To my hurting friends

Just now, I got up from the floor, where I'd been reading through your prayer requests in my Prayer Book (there are 20), and went straight to my computer to write this. I wanted you each to know that I lifted you in prayer and asked God to be with you and heal your broken bonds and hearts. You are in my thoughts every day.

Please let me know how you're each doing. 

With love and hope,
sheryl

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day....

 I feel as if a part of me is missing.

A hurting mother wrote me that this week. She wanted to know how I got through Mother's Day. And I've been thinking about that these past few days. How did I? I just got through it. But not without a lot of hurt, anger, frustration, resentment...all those emotions and more. I just felt so cheated!

I know so many mothers who are separated and/or estranged from their children. Some of those mothers are very close to me. One left town so she could get away from memories and breathe. Another mother I know is strong, too, and bears her pain without saying much. And then I think of all the mothers who've lost children through miscarriages and death. Mothers who gave up their children at birth. Mothers who don't even know where their children are. They'll all be hurting tomorrow, too.

You know, a long time ago, someone created Mother's Day with good intentions. But for a lot of us, the day only brings heartache. My heart goes out to you all, and I'll be lifting you in prayer all weekend.

So, yes, it's true what that dear hurting mother wrote me. There IS a part of you–a huge part–that's missing when your children aren't in your life. We are MOTHERS, so strongly tied to the children that we nurtured and raised. We love them. No matter what.

This past week, I don't know why but that Bible promise–"Her children will rise up and call her blessed" (Proverbs 31:28)–has been in my head. Maybe it's because of Mother's Day getting close. Or maybe it's because God is bolstering me as I deal with issues in my own life right now. But I do believe that when we as Christian women and mothers continue to cling to God and live according to His ways, even when we ache and want to give up, He will bless us. What's more, He will keep that promise in Proverbs, and it will happen. Maybe not tomorrow or next year or even 10 years from now. But someday our children will understand and accept the truth and see the true Godly women that we were and continue to be. Even when there are huge parts of us missing.

God bless you all. Please be easy on yourself this Mother's Day. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to yell, yell. If you need to talk, talk. It's okay to feel anything and everything your heart is feeling. Just get through the day, and remember this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And God will work everything together for His good.

In the meantime, here's a thought: if you can, reach out to another hurting mother on Mother's Day. Call her, pay her a visit or surprise her with a gift. When we minister to others, the ache in our own hearts lightens.

With lots and lots of love and prayers,
sheryl

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sometimes you have to keep trying

I think every day about writing you. But then I don't. I just don't know what to say....

The other night, I wrote an e-mail that I'd been putting off. When someone won't respond to your efforts to reach out, it's so difficult to keep trying. When my son and I were estranged, I experienced that over and over and over again. I'd reach out, he'd refuse to respond, and I'd pull back, full of frustration and even a bit of anger. I'd tell myself, well, that's it, I won't try again! But then I would. I just couldn't give up. And like I wrote in a comment on this blog recently, I can look back on those sad years and at least know in my heart that I never gave up. I kept trying.

Now I have other broken bonds in my life. Once again, I feel the same "what's the point of trying?" frustration. In that e-mail I wrote the other night to this loved one, I was honest when I said I think every day about writing. But something always held me back. Finally, though, I sat down in front of my computer and wrote.

I didn't expect a reply. And so far, one hasn't come.

That's where the part about "Give it all to God" comes in. I have to keep doing my part--reaching out, even when I don't want to--and let God handle the rest. In His time, He will heal this broken bond. I just have to be patient.

And that's the hard part. 



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Give it all to God

Sometimes, that's all you can do. Give up and give the situation to God. When there's no understanding, few lines of communication, anger and hurt. I want so very much to fix the relationships, but sometimes my attempts only worsen the separation. It's even hard to talk to God. Why bother? Nothing changes. It's hard, too, not to feel guilty for not continuing to try and heal the wounds. But when my attempts fail and make matters worse, then I have to give up even that.

Let go, and let God.....

Okay, God, show me what to do... Tell me how to handle this.... And please take away from own anger and frustration. 

Please heal these broken bonds.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A prayer book

As our Prayer List page grows, I'd begun to think about how I could better keep up with specific prayers in a more personal way. Plus, I wanted to be able to pray without sitting in front of my computer. The answer: a prayer book.

As a writer, I'm sometimes given empty journals. Through the years, I've picked up a few myself. So I had plenty from which to choose! So I pulled down my stack of books from a closet shelf and looked through them. I liked this pink book the best. This morning, I finally sat down with our Prayer List and opened the book.

So far, we have 12 hurting people (and their family members) on our Prayer List page. Now each of you have your own page in this book. In honor of my original three mothers, I wrote each of your names on the first three pages. One of those moms is #1 on our Prayer List page. Whenever someone writes and asks for prayer, I will now include that person on the Prayer List and in this prayer book. I'm writing the person's name (or "Anonymous"), city (when given) and date of the prayer request. Plus, I'm printing out the specific prayer request and taping it on the page. I will also note the names of family members so I can lift them up as well. And any time, someone sends me an update, I'll note that in the book, too.

Thank you from our hearts for sharing your heartaches and burdens with us. We WILL pray for you and your loved ones!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Composed....frustrated....

Lately, I've been thinking, wanting, to ask Patrick a question or two. He doesn't have time to write here because he's so busy with his job, his sweetheart Danielle and just LIFE. But part of my goal in starting this blog "with" him was so he could give perspective from the "other side"–the estranged children. That was one of the things that was so hard being separated from him–I couldn't even ask him what he was feeling. And I wanted to know because I truly cared! So in wanting to help other mothers understand how their estranged children may be feeling, I've wanted to ask him to go back in his memory and explore his own feelings from that painful time.

First, I'd ask some simple questions...

What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?

The thing is, I already know...I think...some of his answers. 

Yesterday, as I watched Dr. Phil and two mothers on his segment, "Is This a Cult," I remembered some of my own feelings from back then. Mainly, FRUSTRATION. I could sense that very much within Leisa, whose daughter, Ashley, has chosen to live with a reclusive man known as Golden Elk (Clemente Suriano). Subsequently, Ashley has cut off all ties with her family. So has Elon, who last saw his mother, Iris, in 2007.

During the program, each mother had the opportunity to see or at least speak with their child. Leisa and her 27-year-old daughter, Chelsea (twin sister to Ashley), managed to see Ashley, thanks to a surprise meeting set up by Dr. Phil's staff. Both Leisa and Chelsea were calm, controlled and reassuring. Neither tried to persuade or beg Ashley to leave Suriano. Before parting, they told Ashley that they loved her. Inside, though, I just KNEW Leisa longed to grab her daughter and HUG HUG HUG her! But she kept her composure throughout the encounter. So did Chelsea.

Not Iris. While attempting to contact Suriano at his home, Iris yelled and kicked at the door when the woman inside politely told them to leave. Later, she also grew impatient on the phone with Elon and even hung up on him.

I completely understand both reactions. I felt both ways. I remember being cool, calm, so in control of myself when Patrick came by to pick up his sister. I'd go outside to try and talk to him. He'd ignore me. I'd smile, go back inside the house, then bawl. Other times, I tried to force a conversation with him, like the afternoon I sat in his pickup and wouldn't get out. Then there was the time that I drove to Patrick's home and told his father that Patrick NEEDED to see his mother and that he should back me up. No go. A demanding attitude, I quickly learned, rarely gets you anywhere.

Finally, after more than two years, I accepted that I just had to let go and let time heal our hearts. And it did. But until that happens, I well understand the pain and frustration a mother feels when she's separated from her child. Because there's just something in a mother's heart that yearns to know that child, to be a part of his/her life, to protect, nurture and guide. Even a teenager (and beyond)! 

So, please, forgive us when we kick a door, yell on the phone or make demands. Sometimes we frustrated mothers just have to let our dammed up feelings OUT and do something! But believe me when I say THAT'S LOVE MISBEHAVING. If our hearts were empty, we simply wouldn't care. We wouldn't have the need to be composed or frustrated.

I still want to hear Patrick's thoughts... When I get up the nerve, I'm going to ask him....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hurt-filled days

I just received an e-mail from Geri V., a hurting woman who recently lost her infant granddaughter, Rebecca Jane, to SIDS. Her words brought tears to my eyes and heart. "I feel broken," she wrote. "But worst of all, I feel alone and forgotten by God." 

If only I could hug her! If only I could say the right words and help her feel better! If only I could give Geri a tiny bit of hope and some joy as well! But I can't. I can't do a thing for Geri. Except lift her up high in prayer and keep praying for her. Keep asking, begging, God to give her comfort, strength, peace, reassurance. And ministering angels. Please, God, place a multitude of ministering angels around Geri and her hurting family! A beautiful, precious bond within their circle of love has been broken, never to be restored here on earth. Please please please touch this family with Your divine love and let them know somehow, in some way, that little Rebecca Jane waits for them just past the thin veil that separates us from heaven. And You. 

"Even in darkness and deep deep despair, God is beside you," I wrote Geri. "You may let go of Him, but He won't let you of YOU." Such trite, minuscule words for such a devastating loss! But they are offered from a heart who wants so much to help.....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Everyone needs understanding

I have no answers. No solutions for you. If you found your way here because of pain and separation in your life, I can't fix the problems. And I so wish I could! I honestly do. But I'll listen, friend. And I'll give you understanding that comes from my own past tears and hurt. And from what I remember, that is what I longed for so deeply when my own dear son shut me out several years ago. Just someone who understood.

Just yesterday, I was visiting with a close friend on the phone. She deals with terrible chronic pain every day. I listened, but I felt so helpless. I couldn't change a thing for her! I couldn't take away the excruciating sensations in her legs nor give her a peaceful night's sleep. But I did encourage her to call a mutual good friend. Because this elderly man, a much loved retired minister, lives with pain every day. HE would understand completely. He would listen AND know exactly what her life is like. And isn't that, I realized just awhile ago, what we so desperately long for as humans? Not only to be loved but to be UNDERSTOOD.

So please share. Unload your heartaches. We want to be a safe place to come. Last night, cloaked in the loneliness of 3 a.m., a hurting mother left a message here, asking for prayers for her children. I assured her that I would indeed pray. Today, as I've padded around the house or worked at my computer (while trying to stay warm!), I've thought of her often and said a prayer for her hurting home. I prayed for the other mothers who've reached out in pain, too. Broken bonds take time to heal. Sometimes a great deal of time. And often the waiting is just as painful as the separation itself.

Please, God, I pray for the hurting parents who've reached out for understanding and hope. Wrap Your loving arms around them and give them peace in their troubled hearts. I ask that You grant them strength and wisdom, too. Somehow let them feel Your love in their lives. Also, please, please bless their precious children, protect them, and help them navigate through these difficult times. I pray that Godly people minister to them and love them in the absence of their parents. In Jesus' name, we ask all these things. Yet not our will, but Yours. Amen.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Welcome

Broken bonds. Healing hearts. I've been there. So has my son, Patrick. But together, we found our way back to one another, and today we share a wonderful mother-son relationship. That's our prayer for you...that you'll find hope through this blog and reassurance that God does answer prayer.

When the hurt and pain of divorce separated Patrick and me, I tried so hard to find someone else who understood my pain. In August 2003, I posted messages on Writer's Weekly, sharing my situation and even asking for another mother to e-mail me back. No one ever did. Several years passed, and I forgot about the messages. In the meantime, my son and I reconciled. In 2006, I remarried.

Then in July 2009, a hurting mom in Texas found those messages.

"I was reading your answer you gave about six years ago regarding your 16-year-old son not wanting to speak to you because you were divorcing his father," she wrote. "I am going through the same thing with my 15-year-old son and it is really difficult for me. Could you tell me what your outcome was and how you handled it? Thank you very much!"

My heart immediately hurt for this woman, and I e-mailed her back with words of comfort and hope. I told her that I'd pray for her and her son.

Less than a month later, ANOTHER woman e-mailed me.

"I was searching the Net for stories like mine and came across yours," wrote the mother from Louisiana. "I was wondering if your son ever came around. My son is 16 and is very angry with me for wanting a divorce. This has only been going on for four months now, and it's killing me not have the relationship we use to have. Would love to hear how it's going with your son and to know if there's any hope for me."

Once again, I wrote back and promised that I'd pray for her and her son. "My heart goes out to you," I told her. "I KNOW your deep pain so well. You are not alone! Despite our great relationship now, still I grieve a bit for those last years I missed in my son's life."

When a THIRD mother emailed me two weeks later, I really thought someone was pulling my leg. In fact, I shot off a fast note back to her, thinking it was a joke. Then I reconsidered and sent her a second note.

"I'm sorry I was abrupt," I wrote. "But yours is the THIRD inquiry in the past several weeks and at first I thought you might not be for real. No one's emailed me about this until NOW. So it's WEIRD that I'd get emails from THREE different women. If I can be of help, please write back. Back then, I longed for someone to talk to who truly understood, too."

Not long after those hurting moms contacted me, I wrote our Guideposts story (with Patrick's permission). It was published in the November 2010 issue.

Since 2009, we've all kept in touch, those three hurting moms and me. Fast forward to last week when one contacted me via Facebook, asking if she could share the Guideposts story with other hurting moms. YES, I told her! And please let me know what else I can do to help. That's then the idea came.....a blog.....with Patrick.....to help other hurting parents and teens. God? Is that something you want us to do? The very next day, a second of those three hurting moms sent me a message via Facebook, asking how I was and that she still missed her son....

"Oh my goodness...." I wrote her back. "What a God thing it is that you're contacting me! One of my three other mothers (y'all together were the impetus behind the Guideposts article) contacted me YESTERDAY on my wall and asked if she could share the GP article. Her question inspired to consider starting a blog with my son. I talked to Patrick last night and he said yes! So I'm working on the initial design etc right now. The title will be "Broken Bonds, Healing Hearts." What do you think? A place where parents like you (and like me back then) to share and find understanding and hope. I so desperately wanted someone else who knew what I was feeling!"

Less than a week later, here we are...a new blog just for you..... Please, God, bless this ministry and help us to help other hurting hearts.

P.S. Two of those three moms have since reconnected with their sons!