There Is Always, Always An Up Side
By Bernadette A. Moyer
It took more than a decade, for me to reconcile my first husband’s death, more than 15 years would pass before I would and could speak of it and then write about it. Who knew when I started writing about death and grief that I would so easily connect to so many others. For many years I felt dark and different, so different from my peer group, they were in graduate school. And I was married with a little baby and then widowed too. It caused me to hide and go under and often medicate through much drinking in my early twenties. Everyone my age was drinking; they were drinking to celebrate their youth, and their freedom, freedom from parents and freedom from responsibilities. I was drinking to hide, to cover up and to medicate my pain away.
The upside of his life and his death and my becoming a young widow at 23, was a deeper appreciation for life, for living and expressing myself through my writing and the written word. Now I had something to say and something to share. My writing that would and could connect me to so many others. Others who knew grief and loss and could relate to me as I could relate to them.
I would never have gone into nonprofit work if not for the pain my child would bestow upon me with her desire to cut me completely out of her life. Her estrangement cut to my core, it was that blade, and that cut that all but ended my life. Nonprofit work was never in my mind or in my game plan yet it was here that I would do some of my best work. Taking that pain and that loss and turning it around to help so many other kids. Again I would write, write grants for kids that had little or nothing and needed financial support. When I was in that full throttle pain I couldn’t even help myself let alone any others.
When I got to the other side, I became motivated and took that grief and upset to motivate myself and a desire to do something good and positive with my life. I couldn’t control what she chose to do, but I could control how I responded to the loss and the pain. I wrote and I wrote. I didn’t let it destroy me, although it very easily could have, I used it to motivate myself. Even in this loss and this grief, there was an upside. There is always an upside.
Again, I had something to say and something to share, something that would connect me to so many other parents who knew the grief associated with estrangement. They didn’t just know the grief but the humiliation that would follow suit as a result of our own flesh and blood declaring that we weren’t worthy. We weren’t worthy of a relationship even though we were the very reason they were born at all. Another gift that came cloaked in the package of darkness and dread. It took more than a decade before I could own it and declare yes, that is part of my life story too.
They say that which doesn’t kill you only make you stronger. The hurts and the loss didn’t make me bitter or angry; it did make me realize I wasn’t alone and in the sharing with others who knew that same pain would come incredible healing. I would never have been a “writer” if I didn’t have something to share. Some of my best work relates to the estrangement, to abuse and to my own family history. It is my story.
The only way I know how to heal is to go through it and try and understand it. My writing affords me that, the process of getting it out and then sharing it and ultimately connecting to so many others who know that same kind of loss, grief and pain. We are stronger when we are together. We are connected.
The upside is connecting to so many good people that I would otherwise never have known at all. My story is their story. We are all more alike than not. What other people have done that has affected my life is only half of it, what I have chosen to do as a result is completely up to me. It is my half of it. My half is beautiful and it is bright and it is that way by choice. I won’t live in the ugly or the blame or the angry. It doesn’t work for me, it doesn’t define me and it doesn’t suit me.
(lyrics by Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon and Sarah Buxton from Set You Free)
I’ve been broken, torn and scattered, I’ve loved holy, I’ve loved sin, I was rolling on the wind, it didn’t matter, I was so sure of who I didn’t want to be
Every smile and every fear, every laugh and every tear, it was all me, it was all me Pieces of my heart, pieces of my soul, pieces that I’m gonna be
I don’t even know, I gave a lot to lovers, gave a lot to friends Everything I took from them, made me who I am
We’ve all been lied to, we’ve all been liars, Nothings perfect in this world, everybody’s been burned by the fire
Guess I’m learning, that which breaks you makes you grow
But I’m not hiding where I’ve been, Gonna let the light shine in
There is always, always an” up” side to every situation in life. Sometimes you have to be willing to uncover it. See it for the gift that it is and sometimes it is about timing, when you are ready and when you are healed and when you are able to match the half of the pain with the whole of you.
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picture above with Gary Allan (center) June 2011