Also by Nancy Richards: Heal and Forgive
Anyone who has heard the devastating words, "I never want to see you again!" from a parent, sibling, or child, knows the torment of family exile.
All one needs to do is search the web for sites dealing with family estrangement to find endless choices for the countless individuals seeking help with family cut-offs. Google lists 776,000. Yahoo lists 890,000! Although there are no formal statistics for family estrangement, the numbers available are alarming. From celebrities to friends, co-workers, and neighbors, we find people everywhere dealing with the effects of family rifts.
After a painful fourteen-year estrangement, author Nancy Richards and her family reunited. Heal and Forgive II: The Journey from Abuse and Estrangement to Reconciliation presents a first-hand description of the long journey towards healing and offers a blueprint for coming to terms with the past.
Reconciliation can bring joy, excitement and a sense of awe like that of a miracle. At the same time, reunions can be frightening, stressful, fragile, and wrought with many pitfalls. Rebuilding relationships requires a great deal of emotional work and a willingness for each family member involved.
Often, re-establishing relationships with family members can appear to be an impossible task. Indeed, reuniting is not possible for everyone. Some individuals experience continued physical and emotional violence within their families to a degree that prohibits any safe contact. Other estranged individuals may desire a reunion only to find family members unwilling to see them. Yet sometimes people are surprised when the road to healing and recovery leads to new beginnings.
Whether re-establishing a relationship with a family member or remaining apart, healing is vital for the individual's happiness and well-being. This work demonstrates to the reader the healing process necessary to make peace with the past, healing in a fashion that maintains wholesome separateness with or without rebuilding new relationships.
This thought-provoking work effectively diagrams the healing and reconciliation process while placing the reader's well-being firmly in his or her own hands.
"Nancy Richard's latest book reminds us that wisdom born of pain and struggle is true wisdom. She has the ability in sharing her story to engage others with similar experiences and in ways that give insight and direction. We are indebted to Richards for sharing her strength and courage with us. Again she helps us realize the limitations and capacities of the human heart and gives us hope that adequate healing from violence in families may be possible. I recommend this book to any survivor struggling with the brokenness that an abuser can do to a family. May truth help to heal the wounds and soften the scars." Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune, Founder and Senior Analyst, FaithTrust Institute
"In Heal and Forgive II, Nancy Richards picks up where Heal and Forgive left off, taking us through the aftermath of divorcing a parent, to arriving at the acceptance that allows us to heal and move on to a new life. Whether you regard the idea of a family reunion with eager anticipation or numbing dread, Heal and Forgive II is a must-read. I would not advise anyone to even consider reconciliation without educating themselves on the pitfalls as well as the victories they might expect, and how to handle each one. In sharing her experiences, Nancy Richards gently guides us through the confusing jumble of conflicting thoughts, feelings, fears, and hopes involved in a possible reconciliation with our abusive families. Heal and Forgive II will educate you about the aspects of reconciliation you never even thought of, assist you in processing and understanding each one, and help you decide how to proceed next. An essential resource before taking that first step toward reconciliation, and an invaluable reference for every step along the way." Sister Renee Pittelli, Director, Luke 17:3 Ministries For Adult Daughters of Abusive, Controlling, and Abandoning Birth-Families
"Richards offers a gripping and revealing piece of work. Heal and Forgive II brings new meaning to the act of forgiveness. The author takes us on her journey from surviving horrific abuse to becoming a successful advocate on the subject of healing. I was moved by the similarities of our childhoods. I too, was a victim of child abuse and am comforted that I am not alone in my struggle to make peace with my past. Nancy illustrates the importance of validation, self-love and self-protection. Since reading her books, I am now on the right road to recovery." Leona Idom, survivor
Table of Contents
Foreword by Mark Sichel
1. Kaleidoscope of Emotion
2. Stumbling Forward
3. Scapegoat Mantle
4. Pinning My Hopes on Me
5. Standing in the Truth
6. The Triple Whammy: Abuse, Mother-loss, and Family Rejection
7. Saying Good-bye to Grandma
8. Longing for a Mother’s Love
9. Learning to Mother Myself
10. Healing, Forgiving, and Overcoming Abuse
11. Accepting Estrangement
12. Mourning the Lake
13. A Voice from the Past
14. Fear of Public Exposure
15. Unbelievable Turn of Events
16. “Hi, Honey. It’s Mom.”
17. Navigating Slippery Slopes
18. Preconceived Notions
19. As Time Marches On
20. Is the Time Right for Reconciliation?
About Nancy Richards
After a lifetime of abuse and betrayal, the day came when I reached the end of my endurance. I walked away from my mother, and embarked on a healing journey. After "divorcing" my mother, each of my family members--one by one--severed their relationships with me.
For more than a decade, I struggled with healing and forgiving those who caused my abuse. I shared my journey with the publication of Heal and Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse.
Following a fourteen-year estrangement, much to my shock and disbelief, my family and I reunited.
Reconciliations can bring joy, excitement and a sense of awe like that of a miracle. At the same time, reunions can be frightening, stressful, fragile, and wrought with many pitfalls. Rebuilding relationships requires a great deal of emotional work and a willingness for each family member involved.
As unfair as it may seem, we have no control over the choices, desires, behavior or emotional progress of other individuals included in our family fracture. We can only affect a change within ourselves.
One of the several changes that helped me reconcile with my family were the many years I had spent healing enough to let go of my anger and forgive my abuser. I no longer needed validation, acceptance, and help from my family. I also learned to respond in a healthy manner, even when old unhealthy family patterns erupted.
I don't think one can experience the joy of reconciliation without first expressing the pain of estrangement--the cause of the rift--and the growth that must happen in order to reunite. When reconciling with a family member who shows remorse, the temptation is to deny or minimize old trauma. However, it is important to stand firmly in the truth. Accepting and making peace with the truth of the past illuminates the miracle of genuine reconciliation....
My mother and brothers each have experienced their share of suffering, grief, and sorrow. Although our collective family dysfunction and the abuse my brothers and I endured runs much deeper than I share on the pages of this book, what I do offer is a blueprint for my healing journey.
The following pages present a personal account of the abuse at the center of my family fracture, the effects of estrangement, and the steps necessary to heal sufficiently in order to explore the possibility of reuniting. I have also included a final chapter to share what I have learned about reconciliation.
Most of my life, I felt alone. If you are a survivor of abuse, and/or estrangement, most likely you have felt alone as well. In this age of technology, all one needs to do is search the web for child abuse and estrangement recovery sites to understand that we are not alone! On the contrary, millions of survivors are seeking and searching for answers to quiet the pain of abuse and estrangement.
As a recovery seeker, I have soaked up as much information as possible to view life through a new lens--not the lens that was provided to me in childhood, but the one I needed to create for myself. It is my hope that you will find pieces of your own story in the pages of this book that offer validation, comfort, and a roadmap for healing and placing your own well-being first, no matter where that journey takes you.
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2008
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