Monday, December 29, 2008

Between Storms

The sky was still damp with darkness while birds awoke and began their search for one another. It is as if they have a language that alerts them to food or prey. She was numb with fear only able to comprehend her breathing as a necessary task for survival. Movement was difficult - her legs heavy - her arms weak - her eyes blurred with tears and blindness. The birds continued to emerge from their night time hiding places and provided a distraction of sorts. Nothing and everything mattered. Awareness was agonizing, as much as the voids were frightening. How long could she stay in the cold - how could she return to reality and go back inside? This was a place between here and there - a respite, self made, self indulged, and quiet, in between the challenge of here and there. Here is better, definitely better. There it all waits.

Her layers of clothing - red plaid flannel pajamas, his old bulky black robe, a scarf her sister had made of purple and shades of blue and green and gray wool socks and worn sneakers offered minimal warmth against the force of Winter. She fumbled for a lighter in the pocket of his robe, ah! She lit up - inhaled deeply and watched as she exhaled a cloud of white smoke mixing with the frozen fog that surrounded her. She thought - I could do this all day. Yes, this I can do.

The sun struggled to be noticed. The clouds were thick with snow and cold waiting to burst - spurting every now and then to warn of what was to come. It would be fierce and passionate, mysterious and ominous, a force that makes one tuck their chin in to their chest and turn away from the impact. A phenomenon of nature that she doesn't want to miss - a storm to endure - a stance of bravery and courage against the elements, a death-defying act.

The sun insisted on turning darkness to light despite it being hidden. She felt more vulnerable in the light making it more difficult to stay here, avoiding there. As light became more blinding and the spurting clouds became more fierce - the wind howled and her long hair was tossed about she was being pulled inside out of one storm and drawn into the storm that waited. Each was powerful, passionate, required bravery and courage and strength to endure, to face, to go through. She remained still for a time between here and there, this storm and that unable to move. She thought of just walking off into the now swirling, blinding snow, invisible, never to be found. She pondered how it would be to freeze to death - would sleep come first before it hurt too much? Her inability to answer that made walking into the storm too scary. But wait, walking in to the other storm waiting inside was worse. Her hands trembled, her teeth chattered, her heart pounded, breathing was difficult, her toes were numb - she was aware. "NO NO NO" she screamed - scaring every last bird back into the woods.

She fumbled once again for his lighter, deep in the pocket of his warm, bulky black robe. She lit up - inhaled deeply. As she exhaled the white cloud of smoke was tossed in to the storm-lost in snow and ice and wind - she followed.


Friday, December 26, 2008


His eyes are a deep blue. Short blond hair, tall and thin, quiet and aloof. Confident with a splash of arrogance. He stares as if he is seeing something no one else sees, nods in the silences between words, long after a thought is circling. He waits to be asked to sit as if he is fine off to the side - just beyond the gathering. In conversation he speaks a cold truth regardless of it's impact. He claims he hates fake people and has no intention of pretending. He calmly says '"this is who I am, if people like me, fine, if they don't, it is of no concern to me."
He has a large German Shepard, almost completely black and over 100 pounds. He calls him 'Gordo', which in Spanish means 'fat'. He is gentle with his daughter. She was quite energetic and chatty. Quite comfortable practicing her cheer leader routine for a pee-wee football team. She is nine. I watched their interactions with interest. I looked for fear - there was none. I looked for caution - there was none. While eating her pizza, she happily said, "Daddy, sit here next to me." I had to concede that they were comfortable together.
He was easily led in my conversation with him. Perhaps not led as I don't see him as a follower. He told me his biological father beat him every day from age two until age seven when he left and was imprisoned for robbery. He added that his father was supporting a drug habit. He also said that he had a good step father and that his real father was of no influence once he left. He spoke of his militant look and explained that his uncles were in the Marines and that he was raised in that discipline. He spoke of a 'white supremacy' impact and a close association with members of the KKK. He spoke of prejudice and much to my surprise said, "there are niggers and there is white trash"....I was quite taken back by this comment on many levels. I chose not to continue with that subject.
He spoke of his Mother being someone he doesn't get along with because she has too many opinions/advice. about his life. I asked if he was open to constructive criticism and he clearly said he was not. I spoke to him about our family and that I would not expect him to be someone he was not, however I would hope that how, what he did affected us would matter. It was a point of contention where he 'dug his heels in'. He said "I didn't do anything wrong so if you thought badly about me that's on you, I didn't do anything wrong." I wondered why it wasn't important to him to 'clear the air'. He was clear that he hoped there could be good feelings between us but there was nothing he could do/be differently to make that happen. I spoke of his lack of job security, his glaring at my husband, his marital status, his 'rough-play' with my daughter, and everything else that troubled us. He absorbed it well although I am unclear about what he did with it. He did react favorably to one aspect: I spoke to him about every parent hopes that their children will find a life's partner that is their biggest fan, like a cheer leader for all that is good and even not so good about them. I told him that if hey are not each other's cheer-leaders they should free one another to find someone that is. He has since, made many fun comments about that to my daughter, with light humor and good intention. This got him a few points.
I am still very unsure about him. I am not able to receive/welcome him as my daughter's boyfriend. I am cordial and kind and VERY cautious. I have barriers up because I am not comfortable around him. Meanwhile, she is being very welcomed in to his family dynamic, as is her son. So much so that she and her son slept at his Mother's house (which is where he lives), on Christmas Eve. They all opened gifts together in the morning and feasted on a hearty breakfast. Jen and Jo'el came her for Christmas dinner without him - I knew she was disappointed when we said , "not this year." She didn't stay long and when my son brought them back to her apartment he was there with his daughter making a pasta dish for the two of them. They are still together today - he didn't work at all this week.
I guess I am going to eventually have to be more inviting. Part of me doesn't want to 'see/know' anymore - fearing the worst. Or maybe I will learn something I can celebrate. It feels like way too much of a risk. I know I see history repeating itself - and there is nothing I can do to stop it except not be part of it. It is a very tough position to be in. Very tough indeed.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"The Five Senses"

Enough doom and gloom. Believe it or not I am a happy, funny person with a really good attitude and approach. My posts have been dark and true and dark. Very dark. Geesh. Taking my own advice about 'balance'.

I am getting excited as Christmas gets closer. I awoke early today to have coffee outside with the icy coating on our back deck. The trees were coated with white crystals and the brook is now frozen and quiet. The sky was gray and promising more snow. I decided to put all else aside about decisions, fears, and worries - they will all be there on December 26th - guaranteed.

I am holding on to what is good and 'just' in our humble space we know as 'home'. Our tree is lovely and there are presents all wrapped underneath. "Hope" - the tree is being adorned with pieces of loved one's lives that are precious to them - and their meanings of hope are written in the 'Hope-tree-book'. I am thrilled by this new tradition. I am mindful of the power of 'Hope'.

I am blessed to love and be loved. I am filled with gratitude that all my senses are alive - I can see, smell, touch, hear and taste. I can see the beauty of Winter, - I can smell the warmth of wood burning, the innocence of snow and the spices of Winter foods, I can touch my family and friends in long embraces, I can hear music, laughter and wind and ice storms and words of love and kindness, I can taste the delicious bounty of home made traditional holiday foods and wine. I am surrounded by all of it and I am drowning myself in every wondrous simple truth.

This season, I hope that you can put aside that which impacts your senses negatively as you remain open to the miracle of each sense stimulating you with the wonders that surround you.

"Merry Christmas"


Monday, December 15, 2008


The journey to surrender seems unyielding, at times. I wrote of a revelation a week ago - a truth to which I surrendered. I was impressed with myself - with making room for more of me. People wrote to me with words of pride and understanding. I felt quite elated. After some time has passed I feel a bit unsettled with this truth - always true but never before acknowledged. I thought the process was complete and so was I. Hah!
The oppressed memory, now active has facets of insight that slowly have made their intent known to me. I am accepting, however I am ridiculously surprised. How can that be given all I have embraced? And, I am remembering the other victim - made to watch, we were eleven.

I don't think I can detail the experience. Rather, I wish to write about Dennis. He is heavy on my mind, huge in my heart - my dear, dear friend without whom I know I would have died. I still love you Dennis, always have, always will.
A slight boy, with thick wavy brown hair and the brightest blue eyes. He wore glasses and had a perfect face. He looked great in his tight jeans and white T-shirts with a dressier shirt casually undone over it. He wore black boots, always. He said that shoes, strong shoes, made him feel powerful. Especially after.................................. Dennis was an orphan and lived in a home for boys. He spoke of what it was like now and then - mostly it was structured, clean, and for the most part, safe. He said that some times the residents got in to fights and that the staff was rough, if need be. He always said that he stayed out of the way and to himself.

Dennis and I stayed very close together at school and every Saturday too. We held hands, and kissed behind the school and wrestled and ran. On Saturdays' I would often bring sandwiches and cookies and sodas and we would walk to the gravel pit where we would slide down the piles of gravel and eat our lunch by the water below. The water was said to be bottomless. It was told that every year the cranes dug out twenty more feet of gravel and sand until there was just none left. In the warm weather we swam in that water in just our underwear. We were best friends. I warmly recall floating on my back, my young breasts peeking up from the water - Dennis touched them so gently and I floated forever as he explored each one, slowly. I felt my nipples become erect as Dennis swirled them. I was in heaven, and I guess, so was he.

Dennis was a pillar of strength during our difficult times. Somehow he knew what to do and what not to do or say. He always offered to wait for me when it was 'my turn'. I always declined. Dennis did not have many phone privileges at the boy's home but he always found a way to call me the night of..................I can hear him saying, "It will be better tomorrow, I promise", or, "let 'Beauty' (she was my wonderful dog), sleep with you tonight." I always felt like I could make it through until morning after talking with Dennis. In so many ways, he saved me. I like to think I saved him too, that we saved each other during a time we both needed saving.

When Dennis told me he was being moved to a home for boys far away I felt, no, I know my spirit cracked. Watching him walk away from me that Saturday in August was paralyzing. He had parts of me that never should have even been created, but they were. He saw me with our shared violator and had to take that image with him. His eyes were a mirror of my truth. I wonder now how he has carried that image and what it has done to him. I want him to know that I am sorry for what he saw, for what it did to him and that I couldn't stop it for either of us and I know he couldn't either. I want him to know that I was strong that day because of him. As awful as it was for both of us, that his presence saved my life. I want him to know that I know how hard it was for him to be in that conference room and I wish with all my might it wasn't so, but it was. I want him to know I have tried to find him and I haven't been able to. Maybe it is for the best, I really have no idea.

So as this memory has settled into my design I am remembering Dennis - what we survived, how we loved, how we were best friends, and what his eyes witnessed. My design is also part of his. I am honoring Dennis today and remembering that he too is within me - there is plenty of room for Dennis in my truth - in me. I believe that honoring him is another level of healing as I embrace the young man with the thick wavy hair and strong shoes - I am going to imagine myself floating on my back in the water with Dennis. Heaven.

I love you Dennis


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Storm

Life is 'thick' sometimes, suffocating even. Deep breaths, and shudders are often and temporary in relief. I am inspired and provoked and moved by so much and each revelation requires the process of adjusting. It seems this time of year brings adjustments in to sharp focus. Perhaps a better word is decisions. Yes, decisions. But enough about me, I have a story to tell.

She sat on her front porch sipping hot coffee, smoking a Newport and staring off to the snow covered mountains and valleys before her. Her mind wandered no place in particular. It was cold and her bulky sweatshirt, jeans and work boots offered little warmth. She didn't care. Her long blond wavy hair blew softly around her face and shoulders and back as the now snow filled wind surrounded her. She felt oddly protected by the flurry of snow, wind and cold. She was almost invisible. Her mind settled, once again, on him. He wasn't an educated man. He knew everything about nature and farming and animals. She had spent many hours learning from him about such things and she loved him, and he loved her.

She closed her eyes. The floor of the basement was tiled in large white and black squares. He had a work shop off to one side, separated by old style wooden saloon doors. She often spent time in that workshop while he puttered and showed her how to make bird houses and fix whatever needed fixing. She loved her special time with him. She didn't understand why he was holding her so close and for so long. Even at 8 years old she knew the hug had been over for a while. He told her he loved her as he slid his hand in to her jeans and underpants. She pulled back some and he encouraged her to relax, and she did. He put her hand on him, on his manliness and helped her to move it just right. She was scared and confused. He calmed her with words of love and of this being their special time and their secret'. She surrendered. For years.

The snow filled wind continued to swirl her hair and toss her thoughts into the glory of Winter. Her cold hands gripped her coffee mug tightly, only letting go to light up another Newport. She inhaled deeply, letting the cool sensations inside her lungs and the cold forces that surrounded her continued to protect her from herself, her thoughts and memories. He faded in a swirl of snow and tossed hair and once again the view of the mountains and valleys emerged for her to see. She placed him deep in the woods, at the base of a mountain, covered him with branches and rocks in the hopes that she would never see him again. At least until the next cup of coffee, out on her deck, while smoking a Newport in a storm.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Can't Say Goodbye"

He whispered, "I can't say goodbye.".... The full figured blond woman, with 'poofy' hair stood at his side with a look of victory. His wife of many years busied herself cleaning counters unable to look at him. She wanted him to stay forever. she finally turned and asked him how long he had been seeing her. He said "five years.". Tears stung her eyes as she absorbed such betrayal and ever so slightly raised her voice in question. He stared at her unable to break his glance, unable to leave.

"Where have you been staying all those nights?" He said, "we stay in a shack." Just then one of their daughters arrived. She sat by his side while gently rubbing his arm. "You have to say goodbye Dad, you can't just leave without saying goodbye.". Again he said, "I can't say goodbye." His wife continued to clean, unable to engage. The 'poofy' blonde's sister showed up, uninvited and unwelcomed. She was a brazen woman with red lips, dark eyes, big loud jewelery, large frame and more 'poofy' blond hair. She had been waiting in the car and wanted to "get this show on the road." Dad sat quietly, watching Mom. The sister began to chatter endlessly about the time and made random comments about how her sister should not have children. At some point she spat out, ".............and if she does get pregnant she better have an abortion!" Now Mom was engaged and she fired back, "get out of my house, how dare you say such things in my house!!" The two 'poofy' blond sisters left. Dad sat there, unable to leave, unable to say goodbye.

He held her that day for a long time. They laid in her bed - a bed he had never slept in - he died over 24 years ago. Mom dreams of other women often being the reason he is not with her. Somehow, in her dreams this is easier to accept than death. She can fight against another woman, certainly not about death. Mom has questioned and explored if hanging on to him is wrong - if somehow her hanging on to him has caused him unrest - being pulled from that world to this world, the here and there. After deep conversation today, we concluded that he has chosen to stay here, in spirit - to wait for her to be with him in the after-life. In some realm Dad surrendered. The other woman, is of no meaning other than to image the struggle of leaving, to say goodbye. He came to her, he tried to leave her again, say goodbye and he couldn't, wouldn't. He can't say goodbye.

I am glad.

Love, Gail

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sometines There Just Aren't Enough Rocks

Yesterday we had "mood snow.". I really savored the innocence of every flake. It was the purification I needed following Saturday's revelations. I remembered. I didn't die because of it. I went to my brook and threw rocks, although, like a line in Forrest Gump when Forrest said to Jenny, while she was throwing rocks at her father's house where she was abused, - "My Mama always says, sometimes there just aren't enough rocks." Geeze, is that the fucking truth or what?

I am actually surprised at my adjustment- how I made room for more truth, more of me. I have been avoiding this piece for a while now. Funny how another person's dream sparked my own, and how a debate started the eruption and how the honest writings of another, so close to my own, urged my surrender. I also know, believe, that I had to be ready or all the events that sparked recall would have sent me on a path of building thicker walls, deeper recessions, better hiding and more wine for levity.

I feel like I made it through some 'procedure' I had been fearing. I guess I did, I did indeed.


Saturday, December 6, 2008


Such a beautiful shade of deep red. The cardinals were fluttering about in the now struggling forsythia, dormant and in hiding. Winter - a quiet reflective time to search within for new life, old ideas, direction, applause, challenge, surrender, strength, weakness and solitude. Sounds like a type of depression, perhaps it is. If that is true and one comes out renewed in Spring? It is necessary.

This season in particular, and I mean the Christmas season, makes solitude difficult. The stimuli is endless and the flurry and excitement and meanings filter in and out like dialysis. The timing is no coincidence - were it not for the unavoidable flurry and stimuli many would slip away in to their own darkness. Still, many do. Memories are vivid during times of obvious recall and when those memories are tragic they can pull a person down to their knees. Over time, if one is so inclined or determined, the memories can be dis-empowered. I wish with all my might I could tell you they will go away, but that simply isn't true. What I can tell you is that you can take the memories power away and stop them from causing continuing harm.

I know this sounds like an over simplification and at first read this may even appear invalidating and some of you may be saying "Fuck You". I get it. As crazy as this sounds I have earned some unwanted weird right to speak of such things as I hold my own share of tragic memories, that I have given much power to and at times I still do. It is the nature of the beast. October is my most difficult month with vivid, vivid memories of events that have scarred me for life. I give in to those memories every year. And not to cause my self to be re-wounded and harmed but to honor my truth. I spent years harming myself to deny the truth until I came to understand that the lengths I went to, to separate myself from myself were more destructive than the memory itself. What happened will never change, go away or not be a part of me. Sad but true. Maybe sad is not the right word.

In Winter, I reflect on October and how I honored myself. I sob uncontrollably over parts of my truth because those parts deserve such. I laugh and sing and dance over other parts of my truth because they deserve such. It is a delicate balance of good and evil. This season of reflection and quiet, shaken by flurry and stimuli is a master design for deeper harmony and love of self. Each year I am able to love myself more, forgive myself more, honor my truths more, celebrate more, keep hope alive, believe more strongly that there is a purpose for every piece of my life's tapestry - because there is.

I will end with a dream, inspired by Utah Savage's powerful honesty of her life's tapestry, reflected in one of her recurring dreams..

I was on a boat, actually an open flat boat with benches. I was with my two closest friends and support during the very beginning of my healing journey. They insisted they had to get off the boat and that I must stay. I felt so scared in this dream because I wanted them with me, always. They each got off the boat and I set sail again, alone. Another boat came by and my boat and it stopped in the middle of Long Island Sound. He was on the other boat, he being the teacher who abused me. He boarded and there we stood. The last thing I recall just before waking up crying was his voice saying, "It's time......".

I had that dream many times over the years and some Octobers I still do. This October, in particular, I had this dream often. I was jolted wide open by "The Great Debate" (an earlier post if you are interested). I have known for a while that for me, "It's time" meant it was time for me to face more of my truth, and face it, him, alone. I understood that to run and hide empowered him and to finally face him would empower me. And so it began. It was time, time indeed....... There is still a memory or memories I long to discover and this season my longing is being fulfilled. I am still awed by this because for years I did all I could to NOT remember. I, over the years, have come to know the value of knowing my own truth. And again, not to live in the pain and shame and horror but rather to be in charge of me, no surprises that can throw me in to a downward spiral. All of this was quite active after The Great Debate" and has since receded. And so, in my quiet time of Winter, away from the flurry and stimuli the memory is resurfacing. I have the balance of wonderful magic, love, energy and passion surrounding me and in me as I entertain full memory. I also know I must face him alone, just like in my dream which I experienced last night after reading Utah Savage's childhood dream/memory. "Thank you Utah Savage for sharing your dream", Thank you also, Menopausal Stoner for your honest sharing about your healing, spattered with pointed humor and the most amazing 'nic-names, ever! And "Thank You Fallen Angel for the still unfolding power of the "Great Debate". You , in many ways were the catalyst, the key to unlocking my vault. There is no therapist (sorry Barbara), or intimate person in my life that can reflect and search and acknowledge what is just under the surface. Only I can do that, it is my journey, my truth, my memory to face. I write today as one on the brink of something unbearable in it's detail. Something necessary in it's purpose. Something frightening by it's nature. Something freeing by it's being finally acknowledged. Something empowering by my ability embrace it - a part of me. Something wondrous because I can feel it and no longer mask it, hide it, beneath fake smiles and wine. The memory is right here...............and as odd as this sounds, I see it as a gift of self, a tribute to my healing journey, and again, to those of you, without even knowing, that helped me to finally say, "It's time........." I say 'thank you'.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

P.S. on previous post - "Huh -DId I mention?"

Well, well, well. First, what is interesting is just how uncomfortable I was to have a chat with Jen. She is, shall we say, quite defensive, which I get, I really do. Rather than talk to her about her, I talked to her about me and my part in the on-going insanity. It is hard to argue or defend against someone who is talking about themselves, their perceptions and so forth. I wavered from time to time and mentioned some of her choices which quickly brought her defenses up or allowed her to argue a detail that she recalled differently, albeit insignificant in the whole scheme of things; like a day of the week, or a shorter or longer time span, and the like. I would re-group and keep my words so that they were only about me.

I talked to her about the purpose of knowing one's history, and not to live in 'error' but to learn from our past so a better present and future can be created. I spoke of my history with her in regards to the men in her life and my saving her many, many times. And based on where she is today, my rescues did not change anything, in fact, it has only gotten worse. Here is a rundown:
It is lengthy, but it is what it is..........

1- She went to Florida with her son's father while she was pregnant, - against all warnings to not do so. His father was a 'drug-dealer'. The house they were staying at got raided. The father was 36, his girlfriend 17, their child, 2. I think that is considered statutory rape, although I could be wrong), She was told that when they came back that anyone in the house would be arrested. My nephew and his wife who lived in Florida devised a "rescue plan". They picked her up at a hotel, and got her to the airport and I bought the plane ticket and flew her home to me.

2 - Once here she decided to move in with a girlfriend - also against all warnings to not do so. I knew enough about this woman and those who "crashed" at her apartment to know this was a very dangerous environment. I wanted her to just stay here until she had her baby. I couldn't stop her from going. Most of what I feared would happen, happened. There were drunken brawls, people "hiding from the authorities in the attic and/or basement, DCF involvement in regards to her 'friend' and her two children. She was now about six months pregnant and decided to go and live with her sister in upstate NY. Her sister was very excited to have her. I paid all expenses and off she went.

3 - Once there, Kristie found her a cute apartment just a few minutes from her. Our family 'chipped in' and got everything she needed for her baby, and actually furnished the entire apartment. Eventually the baby's father joined her there just a week before her son was born. Jo'el was born and for a few months they were like a family. He was much younger than she, by six years. His work ethic was quite weak and it wasn't long before they were falling behind. I kept them 'afloat' by paying part of her rent and utilities and endless diapers for her son. Her sister did what she could to help, as well. Then, it happened. She was arrested for 'welfare fraud'. There was no wiggle room, either she showed up in court with the $1,593.00 they calculated was fraudulent or she would go directly to jail, right from court. I did what I had to do and sent her a money order made out to the court for the amount required to keep her out of jail.

4 - She told me she missed being near me and wanted to come back to Connecticut. She told me she was going to live with her son's father's Mom. I had concerns but felt I could be more involved if she was closer to me. I paid for the U-haul, again, and they came back to Connecticut. She put all of her belongings in his family's basement - actually his grandmother's house. Which, strangely, somehow all got destroyed due to water in the basement. every piece of furniture, toy, hand made quilt, destroyed. Come to find out they were not living at his Mother's house but had moved back in with the 'friend' who was under DCF investigation and still a cast of characters in and out that made the HBO series "OZ" look like 'Romper Room', comparatively. I found out quite by accident when, on my way home from a trip to the Mall decided to stop by his Mother's place with some gifts for "Jo'el" and was told by her other son that they did not live there. I was dumbfounded, as I stood there with clothes and diapers for Jo'el and scented candles for Jen. I found my way to the 'friends' house and stood outside crying and frightened. Anyway, she was surprised to see me, to say the least - the conversation was very awkward - I gave her what I bought and left. I never went back there. Some two months later her son's father left her and Jo'el and went back to Florida to his drug-dealing father. I took Jo'el whenever I could and invited Jen over often for dinners and visits, until.........

5 - It was a Tuesday, and my friend from work was over for coffee. He has M S also and wheel-chair bound. I can't remember why I had the day off but it was lucky that I did. The phone rang and all I could hear was my daughter crying very hard and trying to squeak out words that I really struggled to hear. (The arrangement they had was that Jen would watch her friend's new baby, 'Jose", who was now a month old or so and she would also get the other two kids off to school while her friend worked 7 to 3. Jen worked as a waitress at night and in turn her friend would be there for Jo'el.) This one particular Tuesday, while she was in the shower, the younger of the other two kids was knocking frantically on the bathroom door saying "Jose" wont wake up. Jen ran to the crib and the little baby had died. It was later determined it was S.I.D.S. Jen was hysterical. My friend drove me there right away. By the time we arrived there were police and news teams, DCF and hysteria. My friend left me there and I did what I could to lend support. It was SO awful. Her friend never forgave her for this happening and Jen was forced to leave. She and Jo'el came home with me. My friend in the wheel chair had a truck, - I took my husband's SVU and that weekend we all went to that house, loaded all her and Jo'el's stuff up and they moved in here. FOR TWO YEARS!!!

6- We made it as easy, comfortable, fun and supportive as was humanly possible. We baby-sat while she worked, albeit part time. I finally said that it was too much to baby sit at night after I worked all day. I gave her two weeks to find a day job and day care for Jo'el. The two weeks came and went. One late afternoon she came down stairs in her waitress uniform. I said, "Where are you going?" She replied, 'To work", I asked, "Who is watching Jo'el?", she said, "you, aren't you?" I said, "No, no I am not. I gave you two weeks to find other work and you didn't even try. I also said, which is often a point of humor between us now, I got up and said, while moving one hand up and down in front of her and then myself, I said, "your reality? you have a two year old, - my reality? I don't have a two year old!!" She was quite upset and quickly got on the phone to find someone to watch Jo'el. Within a week she had a day job and Jo'el went to day care. It was me making a different choice that motivated the change. There were many obstacles, things to undo, fix, rearrange, creditors to deal with - all left over residue from her chaotic past. Somehow we got through it. I guided her through the child support enforcement system, filling out court papers for sole custody and she got them both, securing day care financial support, acquiring state insurance, re-instating her license, paying off old tickets, I also put money aside for her that I said was "rent" when in fact I just saved it for her. She often didn't pay so it never really amounted to much. During this time there were endless lies about her where-abouts, always around some man she thought was worth betraying us for. It was mind boggling.

7 - Eventually she was tired of living with us. No home is really big enough for two families and 'Jo'el needed more space. They shared the extra room we have upstairs with a loft. Her sister wanted her back in NY. She decided to go. Once again, we secured a U-Haul, her sister came down - they loaded up the truck and off she and Jo'el went. The money I saved for her was enough for a deposit and one month's rent on another apartment her siter had waiting for her.

8 - She found a job rather quickly which included CNA training. I was thrilled for her as she began to improve her life and create a stable home for herself and her son. I willingly sent gifts, and food baskets, and celebrated her new life. For some reason she wasn't happy and it wasn't long before she admittedly (later) began to sabotage her world. She called crying saying she was behind in her rent by 2 months and had received an eviction notice via the town sheriff. I entered in to a payment arrangement with Barney, yes Barney, her landlord. I gave him a lump sum up front and paid the balance off over time. It was about $1200.00.

9 - Again she cried that she wanted to come home to be closer to me. What mother doesn't want to hear that? She found an apartment 'on-line' just down the road from us. I went and secured it for her - $500.00. She also emailed her resume to a nursing home, had a phone interview and was guaranteed a job. Yes, I paid for a U-Haul, again and she and Jo'el returned. We happily bought her a kitchen set and also a futon so she had a place to sleep. It was an adorable one-bedroom apartment. We filled her cabinets and refrigerator with food and they arrived. Jo'el went to day care and she worked and for a few months it went very well.

10 - The "he" came in to her life, her abusive "X". I will call him "angry-man". At first, he presented well, he worked, interacted well with us and seemed like a good guy. We really were genuinely excited and thrilled and very involved with them as a couple. He would even come here while Jen worked on a weekend on his way to take him fishing. It all looked so perfect. Hah!! He lost his job, went off his bi-polar meds and all hell broke loose. He was quite abusive to her and to Jo'el. verbally and physically. I watched her change as she tried to make his world perfect to ward off his rage and control. I talked to her endlessly and she defended hm saying things like, oh it's just because he had a bad day, and then he lost his job and was angry that he had to get up with Jo'el so she could be on time for work. She ws paying for his gas, insurance, food, and housing. He got angrier and angrier, she became ever more submissive and afraid.

Jo'el cut his foot on the school bus and it became badly infected, so badly that he was hospitalized for a week on I V anti-biotics. I went with Jen to the E R after it happened. while we were there I heard her on the phone with 'angry-man' saying, "I'm sorry your dinner wasn't in the micro-wave for you but I had to take Jo'el to the E R................." When she got off the phone, I said "What did you just say to him, do you hear yourself?" We stepped in to the outer area and she broke down and confirmed my worst fears. Angry-man' was so enraged that while she was at the hospital over night he packed his things and left her. He left behind a ton of unpaid bills, as well.
Once Joel was out of the hospital and we sat down and looked at what she now owed because she had supported him, well, it was a lot. I paid her electric bill, her gas bill, her day care costs and bought food. Well over $1000.00. Once again, she was more or less, back on her feet.

11- 'Angry-man' began calling and promising her he would take his medications and insisted that he loved her and had a job with his father making good money. In three months she let him back in. He moved in, again. We were stunned. It wasn't long before he was too sick to work and his rage enraged and she was living in fear, again. He also was abusing opiate pain medications and his rage was unpredictable. She had a visit planned to see her sister. She and Jo'el left one Friday in May. She received a phone call from a young boy she had befriended who was there over night while she worked so 'angry-man' wouldn't have his sleep disturbed in the mornings when Jo'el needed to get up for school. 'Angry-man' slept in until the afternoon. Anyway, this boy called (he is 19), saying that he and 'angry-man' were told that they could not be in Jen's apartment. 'Angry-man' moved out that night. Jen had no idea what had really happened so we all agreed Jo'el would be safer if she left him with her sister and she drove the 500 mile trip all night. Angry-man was waiting for her when she arrived.

12- Jen walked in to her apartment. Her entire CD, video, and electronic game collection was gone from the large shelf unit. All of Jo'els favorite games. Her and Jo'el's WII, MP2, DVD player and all the controls and accessories were also gone. Jo'els piggy bank was broken and empty as well as her 'quarters' for the washer and dryer. 'Angry-man' said that he accidentally left the door opened and her house was robbed. They argued all day and he finally left. Jen heard from various people that 'angry-man' along with the young boy had robbed her, took it all. She called 'pawn places' and the "game Stop" and 'the stupid angry-man- had sold the games and DVD's and CD's and accessories and even signed for them. All total? He stole $3800.00 worth of games, and movies and equipment. When Jen finally called me I told her she had to call the police, it was then that she said, "Mom, you were right about him..........the night before I left when he tried to get me not to go he held a knife to my throat and threatened me and Jo'el saw it all." She also finally told me just how abusive he was to Jo'el, as well. We both cried so hard, neither of us could breathe. I went to her house, as support when the police arrived.
Eventually he was arrested, he has to pay the $3800.00 in restitution, is on probation for threatening, robbery and risk of injury to a minor. DCF was also involved, and 'Jo'el stayed in upstate NY until just last week - over six months. She had said it was just for the summer.
Meanwhile, once again, Jen was financially behind. She had let many of her financial obligations slide in order to support him and keep him from raging. A day after he left she called me to tell me that her car had been repossessed. She was crying hysterically. I put $1050.00 on my credit card to get her car back. We agreed on a payment arrangement. I haven't seen a dime of that arrangement.

13- Over that summer she met "the intruder". He, more or less, took her focus off doing what she had to, to make it safe for Jo'el's return; things like, getting a day job, setting up before and after school day care and most important, getting herself in to therapy to explore her choices in men. None of that happened as she involved with the intruder. Her sister was confused as to her role, meanwhile she had Jo'el in counseling and other services to help him emotionally and academically. Jen was having fun and spending time with the intruder, and his daughter and that freaking dog. We have valid concerns about the intruder, as I have said; no job, still married, abusive (she has bruises all over her arms that did not come from that freaking dog), his neo-Nazis look and dark stare, his love of guns and other high-risk behaviors etc His "creepy" reaction to my husband....and his broken 11 year old truck. The intruder is NOT a good choice. When I spoke to Jen last night she did not disagree with his abusiveness, nor did she defend his lack of worth ethic. I told her that if 'Jo'el ever went in to school and told a teacher what he told me that DCF would be at her door in a hear-beat. Remember, he said, "he is mean to my Mommy, he slaps her and pulls her hair."

14 - So, I have decided that I need to make different choices that don't enable the insanity to continue. I have to own my part in it's continuance and do something about it. I told her I will not support her relationship with the intruder. I want to see her and have Jo'el over but not him. I told her she has to resolve her day-care crisis on her own. I told her that my paying her electric bill is the last financial involvement. I told her I believe that the intruder is very dangerous and will only bring harm to her and her son. If she chooses to keep the intruder in her life then the outcomes to that are hers to resolve. For the first time I am giving her full reign, freedom, a way to find her own strength, make her way, pick herself up, and hopefully feel good about her successes. I don't know how this will turn out. I DO know I will not direct it. I will love her and spend time with her and with Jo'el and give because I want to, not because I am undoing some crisis. I am very scared to step back. I am going to believe, that left to her own devices she will rise up stronger and whole and will design and build a safe world for her and Jo'el. A world free of abuse and oppression, a world of integrity, honor and decency. In all of my rescues I never gave her the opportunity to know this about herself and now I am. I am indeed.

I am fucking petrified.


p.s. did any of you count how many U-hauls I rented? :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Huh. Did I mention?

The intruder continues to show cause for concern. Upon our first meeting I was somewhat hopeful although skeptical and cautious. His neo-Nazi look and love of guns is alarming to me. Him being in the process of a divorce is also unsettling. My daughter has many bruises on her arms. She claims they are from his dog, a large German Shepard, which is always with him. What's that all about? Huh. My little grandson says that he (the intruder) is "mean to my Mommy". Huh. She explained it away with some awkward defense about how it is all in play, rough-housing for fun. I am shaking my head as I write this. The flares are going off like a July 4th display of fireworks.

My husband ran into Jen and her son and the intruder Monday evening on his way home from work. He saw her car in a convenience store parking lot. He pulled in and approached the car. The intruder looked at him, no, glared intensely at him with a blank stare. He said later, to Jen, that he didn't know who it was at first. Perhaps it's me but once he realized who it was he should have smiled and said, "Hey, how are you. My husband pondered this until he got home. He was struggling to come up with a word to describe how he felt. He figured it out, "creepy", it was all quite creepy. He also told me that our grandson was in the back seat with the big German Shepard crawling all over him while he hid under a coat. This was 10:30 at night.

One might wonder why Jen and her son and the intruder were out at this hour. I certainly did. Apparently, her babysitter fell trough and the intruder was going to stay over night with her son. Huh. Jen had to go and pick the intruder up. His 11 year old truck is not running, again. Did I mention that he has no "real job" and lives with his mother and step father? Well, now I did.

Jen has been home with her son for about 4 days. Yes, four. In that short time she has not been able to secure a reliable over-night babysitter (she works 12-8), and oh, her electricity was turned off. I, in turn, being the good enabler that I am, have paid to have her electric turned back on and her son slept here last night and he will come back, bag and baggage again tonight. History is repeating itself and I am in over my head. Did I mention that his 9 year old daughter shot a bear? Well, that is what the intruder 'proudly' shared with us. He said that while he was in the shower at his house in Massachusetts, (all quite sketchy), anyway, she heard rustling in the woods, got the rifle, and shot the bear. Now, I could be wrong but should a 9 year old be allowed to do that? And to hear the intruder speak of this event as a proud moment was disturbing on many levels. Did I mention he has an 8 year old son he doesn't see. I tried to figure this all out but I just cannot. His daughter is 9, his son is 8, so that means while he was with his wife he also had a son by another woman? Huh.

The real estate stories don't add up. The house in Massachusetts we just found out was quick deeded over to a "friend" (who lives in the house with his girlfriend), so that his then or maybe still wife cannot get half when the supposed divorce is final. Huh. The farm his dead grandfather left him in the mid west somewhere, well, that is all I know. There is also a cabin somewhere, not sure where. His biological father, who spent most of the intruder's life in prison died two years ago, March. Then it came out that he didn't actually just die, he was murdered. Huh.

The word "creepy" seems to fit more and more. We had a gentle chat with Jen last night. We explained about how her focus needs to be about defining her 'core family' with her and her son. We added that outside influences such as the intruder has to offer will make that defining process quite difficult and fragmented. The time she is spending with the intruder, his daughter, and the big German shepherd is time taken away from rebuilding her core strength with and for her son. We spoke of the energy and time and money it takes to involve with one such as the intruder. we spoke of how difficult it is to maintain her responsibilities and priorities while being divided by someone that is quite broken. We talked about how sensitive her son is to 'rough-play' given their history with her abusive "X". We spoke of patterns of her "fixing" a man and about the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The same is true for me, so it seems. I am doing the same thing too by saving her, again. Do I just say "no"? I have been told that is exactly what I need to do. That for her to be motivated to change I must stop rescuing. Where do I draw the line? Is there a line? When her little boy asks to sleep here and says the intruder is mean to his Mommy, what the fuck do I do?

The intruder is not a good choice. A choice I do not wish to support. I don't know how to separate it all, or how to not be involved.. Honestly? I am scared for her and her son and fear prompts some unexpected reactions. We ended by telling her that there is NO more money to be given. We also told her that we are NOT her solution to her baby-sitting crisis. I/we feel quite confident when we say it, until she is crying at our door with her son at her side and no where else to turn.

Perhaps we should move far away. Any thoughts readers?


Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lost Ice Skates

Her red dress was tattered, faded and torn. It was trimmed with fur on the hem and sleeves as any proud ice-skater would wear. Her scarf is faded gold and frayed and awkwardly tied around her tiny neck. Her blond hair was matted to her head with strands darting this way and that. Her deeply set blue eyes remained shut except when her legs moved her eyes blinked in some odd unison. Her legs were scarred and cracked, brittle and tired. Her feet were bare. They once were bound by lovely white ice skates covering thick warm red socks. Now, they were gone, the socks - the skates, gone. She had been abandoned years ago. She wasn't well liked, actually she wasn't wanted at all. She was left to her solitary confinement in a box for half a century, decaying, darkening, fading and forgotten. Her purpose as a gift was never appreciated. Her delicate frame and lovely attire were of little consequence. She was pushed aside for toy guns, monopoly, a frog collection, a blue bike, a softball glove, bat and ball, and tree forts. She was dead. There was no grieving or longing or even memories of her 'place', she had none except to be hidden away and forgotten in a box, a pink and white striped box.
She was found, quite by accident, last week, still laying in her pink and white striped box. She was held for the first time in fifty years. She waited a very, very long time to be touched. She was in a bigger box, in a storage area of the garage. Her grandmother found her, all alone and waiting, still. Her grandmother gently took her out of her dark cold cave and held her close to her chest, warming her and remembering her from years ago. She carefully brought her upstairs in to the light. Her eyes still blinked in that odd unison when her brittle legs moved. Her torn red skating dress was still in tact. Her matted blond hair, still pretty in it's own unique way. Her feet, still bare.
She was placed in a lovely gift bag wrapped in the whitest tissue paper for her journey back to me. I was being given another chance and so was she. I opened the bag oh so carefully and I remembered her easily. I remembered how I didn't want her and I recalled putting her in that pink and white striped box and leaving her alone. I have no memory of taking her ice skates off - that remains a mystery. I picked her up and held her close. I moved her legs and watched her eyes blink in that odd unison. Her deep set blue eyes still had some sparkle. I think she has forgiven me. She is now sitting proudly on a center branch of "Hope" - the tree. She is a hopeful reminder that all is not lost and forgotten even after fifty years. That new life and meaning CAN be realized long after a gift given is tossed aside. She has a 'place' now, a purpose and she doesn't need her ice skates to fulfill this awakening of spirit.
Who knew that when I left her all those years ago that my life would be as it is now and that she would be found and sit proudly on a tree named 'Hope". There is so much irony in this that I could go on and on. Instead, I hope that you will take from this story what you will, as it may apply to your life and things or people you may have long since put in a box in the dark.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Where To Put The Moose

The moose takes up so much room. It's bulky, loose awkward stance also required that it leaned on something. He was cute enough but also so cumbersome. It was somehow understood that moose are more or less "Christmas-like" especially this one, with his red collar. He was a gift, a big bulky gift. For a long time he was placed near a closet, leaning on a wall, crunched up against a dresser. Comments were made like; he is so big and is taking up all the wall space", or "I can't figure out where to put that moose", and on and on.......... with every comment/complaint I would think, what a glorious problem, 'where to put the moose'. Eventually it was decided that the big bulky moose could be outside, on the deck, as a Christmas decoration. He was placed outside in the cold, leaning on the cold outer house wall, wind blowing his deep brown fur and floppy ears this way and that. There was an element of proud relief as I was told, "the moose?", well, he is outside now, I finally decided to get it out of here, he was just too big, I couldn't even get in to my closet well." And anyway, if it rains or snows I will bring him back in. Problem solved. Again, such a glorious problem to solve, 'where to put the moose'.

A deliver man happened by. He saw the moose, fur all askew sitting alone on the deck. When he rang the bell for his delivery, he said, "Pardon me Ma'am, that moose is going to fade color from the sun and the cold will dry it and it will crack and what if it snows? She said, "I will bring him back in if it rains or snows." "Well Ma'am, the cold and wind, well, it's not my business Ma'am but it wont last a month out here". She signed for her package and he left.

The moose is back inside. He has a new place in her home near the display of family photos and just near the end table., He fit perfectly and she can see him as she watches TV. He has a name, Elmer. Why did I tell you about the moose? I did so because 'where to put the moose' is the biggest problem my wonderful 85 year old Mom has to resolve. I am so grateful that a moose is her focus and not oncology appointments, or visiting nurses or meals on wheels or a hired driver and so forth. She is healthy - she prepares her own meals - she drives and shops - and other than her yearly routine check-ups she has no medical appointments on her calendar. The moose and our many conversations about what to do with him were a beautiful reminder of what is and is not going on in her peaceful life. I never ever minded when she complained about how the moose was in the way or an 'eye-soar' - I loved every discussion about what to do with the moose.

I wish for us all and those we love that the biggest problem we all face is "where to put the moose."!!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Protector verses The Intruder

The phone call was not unexpected. I had cautioned that soon good would turn to bad if changes were not made. I was right. And may I add, being right has it's own set of consequences. I wish, with all my heart I had been wrong.

He had no right to call her. After all, she has been the protector, the one who provided safety and a place of healing and love following a desperate time. He decided he had a 'place' in all this. A place he has not yet earned by any stretch. He said such things as, "oh get over yourself, and stop making this so hard and we are coming to get OUR son!" Our son? What the fuck? He hasn't even met him. He has no idea what this child has been through. And her, quiet and submissive, allowing him to talk to her this way. The hurt and betrayal is intense. The protector expecting to be defended for all that has been done, the intruder barraging the protector with 'his' feelings, like they matter and the child's mother unable to stand up and do what is right. To say, "Don't you dare talk to her that way." Instead she justified his feelings and right to be rude and offensive.

And so the child is suppose to come home, Tuesday. She and the intruder will go and get him. If not, she will take custody and he will not come home at all, maybe never. The protector said the intruder is not allowed on her property and for her to come for her son alone. She, without question, stated that she will call the police if he steps one foot on her property. As sure as I am writing this Post I know the intruder will be with her. Her ability to tell him otherwise is lost in her needs and sense of self. He is in control. The protector is in control also and when the two forces meet it will be nothing short of a war, a fight for power and validation and the protector will win. I just don't know what 'winning' will look like. I only know that the protector will win, hands down. Readers, you have no idea how true this is.

I am thinking of my letter to her, my 'Why I Am Thankful For You' letter. As you know, those of you who read it. i spoke to my trust in her process for bringing her son home. I considered changing the letter. I think I will leave it as it is. I still have to stand by and wait to see what she will do, with or without the intruder. I will do my best to warn her of the force waiting for them if she allows him to go with her. I will also remind her that if she doesn't go and get him she will lose custody of her son. And then I will wait. I will continue on with my Thanksgiving preparations. I will neatly fold each letter and place them lovingly on each person's place-setting. We will eat and drink Nouveau Beaujolais and laugh and maybe even cry. There is much unknown at this time. How many will be at our table? Will her son's thankful letter need to be mailed or will there be a place setting for him here on Thanksgiving. I have no idea right now. I do know that the intruder will not be here. He is not invited.

I will pull from every inner and outer resource for balance and peace and kindness. I, like the protector, want to knock him in to next week. How's that for one who professes peace? Or maybe it's her, the submissive one I wish to shake. I know I will defend the protector. The intruder has no idea of my wrath when it comes to protecting my own. I am fierce, relentless, and quite brave. I have the ability to cut someone down with my words. It is a defensive skill I have used only several times in my entire life. I feel it's presence today, waiting to be released at the first sign of needing to defend. I am ready. There is an odd comfort in knowing this - like having a weapon should I need it. Yes, comfort indeed.

Time will tell -

Ready and waiting.

peace and war

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"HOPE" - The Tree - Is Here

We went to Lowe's On Tuesday. I really don't like stores so big and cold. We went to get a new Christmas tree. We always have fun where ever we go, what ever we do, so the minor inconveniences were of little consequence given the joy of just being together, out and about.

And Yes, we caved a few years back and stopped buying live Christmas trees. It was a really difficult decision despite the event that pushed us to it. This particular year we 'top loaded' our wood stove before going to bed. When one top loads, the stove is quite full and to add to the intense heat we closed the doors of the stove.. It was a cold, cold night and we believed this would keep our home warm until morning. Our live Christmas tree was decorated beautifully and standing proudly in the same room as our wood stove, now roaring with fire. At some point in the middle of the night we were awakened by the loud beeping of the fire alarm. We had never heard it before, thank goodness and it was alarming us for sure. We both jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. At first glance, our jet black Vigilante wood stove was now a glowing red. The entire stove had changed colors due to the intense heat. Next we both felt the heat filling the room, so intense it was stifling. I was close to our tree and I intuitively touched it and the needles fell off like dried up leaves. It was seconds away from going up in flames. Skipp began throwing open doors and windows to let the cold air in to lower the temperatures. He knew he had to open the doors of the stove to lessen it's power to burn. He was over three feet away from the stove and still the hairs on both of his arms burned off like cigarette ash. He jumped back moaning. I was petrified. Eventually, with the handle of a long metal shovel he was able to flip the latch on the doors of the wood stove. That, combined with the cold air filtering in from the now opened doors and windows the stove slowly began to change colors and become black again. The air cooled and we were out of harms way. Most of the pine needles were on the rug and our tree stood there, brittle and bare. Our ornaments survived. The following Christmas we purchased our first artificial Christmas tree. Amen.

Artificial trees eventually need to be replaced and this was the year for just that. We looked at many and finally find one that was a natural color and just the right size. While there I noticed a display of live pine trees. The kind in pots and that stood about four feet or so. One in particular was quite lovely. It's needles actually sparkled like it was sprinkled with tiny diamond dust. It was the only one like that. I swear, the only one. I called Skipp over, (he wanders off), and suggested we put this lovely Norfolk Pine outside our front door and later plant it outside. He thought it was a great idea. We had one of those 'flat-bed' long metal carts and he placed the tree on the cart along with our new artificial tree. She was so beautiful. As I waited by the cart, (Skipp was off looking for decorations for his restaurant). He won the best decorated restaurant for Christmas last year and intends to win again. Anyway, as I was sitting there guarding both trees, yes sitting. I travel with my 'Rollator'. It has it's own seat so if I get fatigued I can simply rest for a bit. I am still amazed at how much attention it draws when a person simply "sits for a spell" - whatever. An employee happened by and kindly asked if I needed any help. Apparently when one sits it is assumed help is needed. My experience with this deserves it's own post, it truly does. I asked her if the lovely Norfolk Pine could be in direct sun light. She replied that so long as it is placed at least a foot from a window it would be fine. I was confused, so I questioned, "Why would it need to be a foot from a window while outside?" She replied, "oh no, this tree cannot be outside, it wont survive in temperatures under 40 degrees, this is an inside tree only." I was quite dismayed as I envisioned our home with little room for a tree of this size. I waved to Skipp to come over and told him the news. We both felt we simply didn't have the room. I felt SO badly. I watched as he lifted her off the cart and placed her back on the display with the others. She stood out boldly and beautifully, still shimmering with diamond dust. I felt like I was abandoning this tree - that she belonged with us. I actually was quite sad.

Skipp finished getting decorations and we checked out and left. I could not get that tree out of my mind. I felt like I had abandoned her. Oh I know this is all wrapped in other experiences and I don't care. Maybe this is the grandest of all metaphors, again, I don't care. I know what I felt and it was real. I had a hard time sleeping. By morning I was thinking of ways to rearrange our living room by the picture window to make room for the tree and now I had named her, "HOPE". I shared with Skipp how I was feeling and he joined me in figuring out how we could make room for 'HOPE." We did, with little effort and he got in the car and drove back to Lowe's to get her. I was SO excited I could hardly stand it. Rather than drag me along, rollator in tow, we both felt it would be faster and easier if he went alone. I continued rearranging items and other plants making a perfect place for "HOPE.". I also asked him to get a strand of white lights for her. I opened the door as he carried "HOPE" in to our home and emotionally watched as he placed "HOPE' by our front door and window. She fit perfectly. We put on the lights and we both immediately felt wonderful.

A new tradition has been born with "HOPE." I realized that this Norfolk Pine is a tangible reflection of hope. In honoring that thinking, we hung two items on her diamond dust needles. Items that mean 'hope' to us. I hung a necklace my daughter and children gave me with a little blue stone and tiny diamonds with the hope of family unity and love. Skipp hung a peace rock on a string that his sons carved for him, representing his hope for them to always be at peace. We are asking people to bring something to hang on 'Hope-the tree' that represents hope to them. I am going to keep a small book of what people bring and when and why. This tree will be filled with 'hope'.

I am thrilled by this opportunity. I am in awe of how it came to be. The attraction and draw I felt to her was strong and determined. I was very unsettled when we left her at the store. I was calm and peaceful when Skipp brought "HOPE" home.

"HOPE" is here...........


P.S. If any of you, my readers, wish to send me something to hang on "HOPE'-the tree, we can work it out. I would love if if you did.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"CHOICE" and how not to be "Tied To Te Whipping Post"

I just deleted a "post", titled "Tied To The Whipping Post", named after a song by the Alman Brother's Band. I saved it in a document for later posting. It wasn't time. Perhaps it will never be the right time.
I was definitely strongly challenged regarding an understanding I live by that explains perfectly, all human behavior. I am going to put it out here for your considerations. I have touched on this in earlier posts. Here goes: This is founded in William Glasser's 'Choice Theory' upon which the counseling style 'Reality Therapy' was developed. For this writing the focus will be an explanation of 'Choice Theory', earlier referred to as 'Control Theory'. To validate my right to even explain this I will tell you I am certified in this theory, on the Board of Directors of The New England Assocition of Reality Therapy and live freely, not blaming or as a victim by knowing its rationale.

What motivates a behavior? We are internally driven not externally driven to meet our basic psychological needs, no different than our basic survival needs for food, shelter, procreation, these needs are encoded within us. They are: 1- love and belonging, 2 - power and control (meaning that we believe what we do has value to ourselves and at least one other person, 3 - fun and 4- freedom (to choose to live our life as we desire, such as sexual orientation, style of dress, and so forth). Every day from the day we are born until the day we die every behavior is our best attempt at the time to meet one or all of our basic psychological needs.

Let's take for example a baby. What behavior does it use to meet all it's needs. Right, crying. Eventually, when that doesn't work the baby may try cooing or whatever and so begins the process of each person storing, what is referred to as "need satisfying behaviors to meet our needs". We all have what I will call, a "picture album of behaviors that meet our needs". These "pictures" change over time and the one's we no longer find need satisfying become memories and new pictures are put into our albums for easy access. The best way to explain this is with the following example. When I was three my Dad brought home a little red tractor that he made for me. That tractor met all my needs, it was fun, I had belonging because other little kids came over to ride it, I had power because I felt quite grown up and in charge when I rode it and I was definitely having fun. When that tractor no longer served to meet my needs I replaced it with a bike and eventually a car. The tractor was now a memory of what used to work. Otherwise I would be riding it to work! Right? :-) Moving along. A little about how we are internally motivated to behave to meet our needs and not externally driven. This seems to invoke the most resistance. I understand as I resisted too because in embracing this I could never blame anyone for my behavior and as unsettling as that is I will tell you it is truly empowering and freeing beyond measure. Examples: If you are stopped at a red light and it never turned green would we find your decayed body at that light years later. Of course not. One stops at the light because they are choosing not to break the law. So yes, the external prompted the thought but meeting one's internal needs drove the behavior. I, like you, have gone through many red lights. Another example - when the phone rings do you always answer it? No,I am sure you don't. SO the ringing does promote the thought or feeling but the behavior/choice to answer is internally motivated. We are bombarded by many external factors but what we choose to do in response is ALWAYS about us. No one can make another person behave/act. Breathe............

Okay - phew.............

Next -, "What is a behavior?" Every behavior is broken down in to four parts. 1-thinking, 2- feeling, 3-doing, 4- physiology (as in increased heart rate or tears just flow, etc.). Of the four the ONLY part we are 100% responsible for all the time is the DOING. Every day we are bombarded by external stimuli that forces us to' choose a behavior in response to the external stimuli and what we do in response is always about the one doing the behavior and not about their external world. Here is a very personal accounting to make my point for you, my readers:

When my daughter was seven she was tested and labeled mentally retarded. The language back then was harsh. This label opened up a whole set of discriminatory events, one of which being she had to ride the "special bus" to another school to learn in the 'special needs program'. Those buses were a big red flashing sign that might as well have just flashed "retard". Quite unkind. Anyway, her 'special bus' would pull up around the same time as the 'normal bus'. One kid in particular targeted her. He was older, 14 or 15, a "Jock" type, my little girl was 10. He would do such things as call her cruel names, pull her hair, bump her, pull on her back pack and so forth. She came home crying, often. I spoke to the school, the bus driver and even his Mother - I did all the right things. I would stand on the hill looking down to where the buses stopped. One day my daughter got off the bus and he came up behind her, tore her back pack off so aggressively that she fell face down. In seconds I was charging down the hill, I, without skipping a beat, threw him off balance and right on to the ground, I had my knee in his shoulder while yelling, "you wanna try that with me?" Now, who was responsible for what I CHOSE to do? Certainly not him, that was 100% about me. Did his behavior provoke angry thoughts? Yes! Did his behavior provoke strong feelings? Yes! Did his behavior create an immediate physiology in me? Absolutely, my heart was racing, my hands were clenched. But he DID NOT make me run down that hill and put him on the ground. That made sense to ME at the time. I could have been arrested, thank God I wasn't. And clearly, he never bothered her again and I was known from that point on as the 'crazy lady who waited on the hill!' I share this to make a point. I would never even consider crediting him with my behavior. It is not his to own. And so we are faced with choices every day that are stimulated by many factors. Again, what we do is always about us and our internal drive to meet our basic psychological needs. And by the way, we can never assume which need another person is meeting by their behaviors, it is unique and individual to each of us based on the "pictures we have stored in our album of need-satisfying behaviors.

Some of the more horrific external stimuli are quite difficult to apply to choice theory. It is so much easier to blame, I know. Having been a victim myself I take responsibility for what I did in response,. Of course I wish the stimuli never happened. We are powerless over other peoples behaviors and powerful in our own, even in the worst of circumstances. When I think of the sexual abuse I endured I know what he did was not my fault. I did what I could in that horrible situation to survive the encounters. I give him NO credit for how I survived him, that was about me. Yes, he is to blame for his actions and why that made sense to him will remain a mystery. What pictures did he have in his album? As one who survived I take all the credit for surviving him.

Sometimes the pictures we have stored in our albums are harsh as they meet the demands of our internal world. I had need satisfying pictures no 10 year old should ever have to have, not ever. Again, as a survivor and not a victim I take great pride in my choices and I hold him to nothing. The list could go on of behaviors people have stored in their albums that are so unfortunate and horrid, times of war, assaults, violence, all types of abuse, illness, and the list goes on. I wish with all my might such things didn't exist and that everyone had picture albums filled with gentle behaviors to meet their needs at any given time. Again, I am writing this to empower you. To let you know that no one can ever blame you for what they did nor can you hold anyone accountable for your behavior. Yes, they, sadly, are responsible for their actions and you are then able to create a picture of a behavior that will work to meet YOUR needs. Even in the worst of times. The on going argument is always, "if they didn't do whatever then I wouldn't have done whatever"> I get it, I do. I guess if we wait for the world to be okay so we only have to choose 'nice behaviors' we will be waiting until we die. There will always be powerful events that provoke a strong reaction, it is just that what we DO in response is about the one doing the doing.
In new situations we are forced to find a way to meet our needs by creating a new behavior and then storing it in our album until it no longer works to meet our needs. When I think of the work I do with addiction every client is there because what they were doing no longer works and they are searching for new behaviors to replace the old ones, i.e - using drugs or alcohol. Each person is deciding if they can get high once more or drink again without consequence. Every one is deciding if they have had enough pain. Pain and pleasure are powerful internal motivators that promote changing pictures of need satisfying behaviors. It happens in marriages all the time and certainly applies well to addiction. If people couldn't change the 'picture' of who they choose to love then there would never be a divorce. It is really no different than my red tractor story - in theory. You keep the picture and thus the behavior until it no longer works to meet your needs.

At the risk of beating a dead horse I will conclude. I hope you have been empowered by 'Choice Theory" and that you at least will consider that your behaviors are just that, your behaviors. You are 100% in charge, not of what the world hands you but what you do in response despite the challenge. I am sure this has raised a few eye brows and I understand why. When I think of how I started this post referencing the title "Tied To The Whipping Post" I am aware of my own internal conflict of what will be most need satisfying. My own basic needs are in conflict over this which is often the case. for all of us. Consider, if you will, the wondrous uniqueness and freedom in the above writing. It will only be so if YOU decide it is in your best interest in meeting your basic needs at this time.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is Life Fair?

Some times life simply isn't fair. Yea, Yea, I know, - Who said life is suppose to be fair? Blah, blah, blah...........
I was walking in my yard today with my physical therapist. He was more or less mapping out a trail for me to navigate to increase my strength, balance and endurance. That definitely seems fair. All things considered, it is very fair, indeed. I like ending sentences with the word indeed. Gives it a finality or determined feel. Whatever.

What wasn't fair was the details of a phone call I received. My 'ill' family member got more ill. Rushed off to the hospital with some type of liver distress. Not fair, indeed. Enough.

I went outside in the rain afterward. I allowed the cool drops to hit my face and dampen my hair and jacket. I was glad my hair was natural, as in no hair spray, because wet hair spray is quite unsightly. The wind was strong and the rain drops quickly tuned to little bee bees stinging my cheeks. I didn't care. I leaned on my cane, which, by the way, I had specially made. It is yellow with colorful butterflies and flowers and was hand carved in Vietnam. Initially I feared it was made in some child labor mill. Actually, I still think that. Sorry.

The grass was squishy and muddy. As I looked around a few leaves clung to branches for dear life. Our wood pile, stacked between two trees adorned with those tree face characters, awaits it's final journey to the fires of our wood stove. I heard the U P S truck. Every vehicle is of interest because there is no traffic here, other than the neighbors. The U P S guy brought a large package to our door. I sauntered over. It couldn't be. I just ordered that yesterday! But it was true, indeed. My son's "Go" board arrived in less that 24 hours. Mind boggling. For those of you who do not know, the "Go" board is a game with little black and white pieces that move around the board. I have no idea how the game is won or lost, only that my son asked for it for Christmas. I am sure I will learn how to play when he is home during the Christmas holiday. I am looking forward to it. I dragged the heavy, bulky box inside out of the elements.

I had a wonderful evening with my daughter. The "North-South' gal. We had a joyous time. I made, what she refers to as "plucky foods". Cute, huh? We started with fried dough and marinara sauce for dipping. One of her favorites, and mine too. Real comfort food. Then we had steak quessadilla rolls and potato skins. All fun food. I had all the right dipping sauces and toppings to complete our meal. It was perfect. She talked a lot an I listened intently. Her new guy' sounds all right and I/we will meet him soon. She makes me laugh like no one else can. Her humor and wit is right on. And, I , with ease, wrote her "Why I Am Thankful For You Letter' yesterday, as well. It is a beautiful writing. I guess our upheaval last week was needed to clear the air, so to speak. I got to the love and gratitude easily and her beauty and wonder and gifts flowed on to the paper like soft rain. Mother's, well this mother, rallies quickly and I prefer to live and relate in the goodness and love rather than any hurt or fear. I know those feelings and outcomes demand attention and I also know, once expressed, that resolve must follow.
Here is the letter I wrote to her.

Thanksgiving - 2008

Dear Jennifer,
This year has had many facets. Regardless, our love and ability to work through anything is amongst one of my greatest gifts with and from you. Any relationship can stay strong when it is smooth sailing. You and I have weathered many storms - each one bringing us closer and with more understanding of who we are as Mother and daughter. This too fills me with gratitude. I love that you believe I am worth it, that we are worth it. There is no greater gift than to be “worth someone’s while”.

I so admire how amazing you are with your clients at work. Your ability to make them feel worthy, safe, comfortable and able to even laugh at themselves is truly a gift, and a tribute to you and your good sense of self. Not everyone can work in such an environment, but you? You shine like a bright beacon of hope for so many who are lost. I am filled with joy when clients tell me how wonderful you are, or how you took extra time to just listen to them. You are helping people to heal and grow and re-empower themselves and you do it with sensitivity, humor, kindness and wisdom. Just think of the many lives that you have helped re-shape. I am so thrilled when I say, “Jennifer? - that’s my daughter”!! :-)

I agonized as I felt, deeply, the events that broke you. And I stood at attention applauding your courage to finally say, “ENOUGH”!! You have turned your whole life around and I know how hard it was to move on. But you did. I know your heart breaks for Jo’el’s distance from you. Mine does too. I believe in you Jennifer, and I know you will do what you need to do to bring him home. It is in your time and your ability to do so and I stand, lovingly, in waiting. I cherish who you are as a Mom and I have been privileged to share in your being Jo’el’s Mom. I have been selfish in some ways, wanting you to do things on my time schedule. That is no longer the case. I trust you as his Mom, and I cannot even begin to imagine what this separation has been like for you. And I know that you are driven to be united with him again and so I will trust in you, your process for reunification. Until then, know that I carry in me, your sorrow, your hope and your amazing courage to start again.

I am forever grateful for you. You still make me laugh like no one else can, and I love you SO very, very much. - NO MATTER WHAT!
Love, Mom

I started this post writing that life isn't fair - as I conclude I realize that this outcome is quite fair, quite fair indeed. (love that word) :-)


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Apricot Brandy!

"I am going to buy myself a bottle of apricot brandy"!!

Hearing those words from my Mom this morning filled me with gratitude and hope. She had received some money in one of her birthday cards and decided to 'treat herself' for her "85th"
birthday, tomorrow. Of all the things she could have said she needed to do or get or deal with she spoke happily of apricot brandy.

We talk every day, two to three times a day. We visit often and enjoy each other tremendously. She is, by far, one of my most precious gifts to behold. At 85, she still drives, takes herself to church, the hairdresser, shopping, and to my house for lunch. She is always "chilly", so I always make sure there is a fire going strong in our wood stove. She loves her 'sweets', so I always have cookies or pastry here when she visits. She would prefer just the sweets rather than traditional luncheon foods - and so what! She can have whatever she likes.

Her sense of humor? Light and often unsuspected. One never knows what she will say.
Her faith? She has enough for all her family.
Her love? Is stronger and bigger than the highest mountains.
Her beauty? Is gentle, simple and with a touch of elegance.
Her mind? Sharp as a tack.
Her memories? Endless, with joys and sorrows, birth and death, hope and despair, tradition, and an abundance of wisdom.
Her purpose? To lead her family through good times and bad, with gentle wisdom and guidance and faith and always with love.
Her needs? For her family to stay close not only to her but to each other, to know we will carry on her traditions long after she is gone, to enjoy the simplest of life's offerings - the smells of Thanksgiving, the first snow, winter doves, fried dough on Christmas Eve, forgiveness, a hot cup of tea, faith, warm apple pie, the colors of Autumn, cloudy days, afternoon "snoozes", comfy quilts, patience, teddy bears, bells, poems and photos marking occasions, prayer, home made sauce, family gatherings, honor and loyalty, and to love no matter what.

And of course, relaxing in her rocker with a nice snifter of apricot brandy to soothe anything that ails her.

"Happy 85th Birthday Mom - I love you SO very much!

Friday, November 7, 2008

North or South

It was rainy and dank - the day had been long hobbling about to attend to simple needs. The teapot looked so far away. Navigating balance, a cup of steaming tea, the cane and my dignity are a bit too much all at once. The South West Indian table and chair was my destination. A short journey I never even thought about it but here I was so aware of every odd step and all the spills of tea now on the floor and me. I made it.

I was waiting for her to arrive. I was excited for the company, for the comfort of not being alone. I lit a candle setting a mood of warmth and welcome suitable for two queens sharing a simple meal and kind conversation of interest and humor. Oh yes, this will be wonderful. I slowly sipped my tea while straightening our place mats, soon to be covered with plates, amethyst in color, forks and knives, pretty glasses and flowered napkins. I removed papers and magazines I leafed through earlier to gain insight for Christmas, placing them under the table on the bench that lines the back of the table. The benches are upholstered in a fabric of mosaic design, subtle, with jade, beige, Burgundy and teal. The high back chairs are covered in the same earthy Indian fabric design. The harvest table has served many and this evenings meal is special, just me and her.

I was ready and waiting. I started to feel that nervous feeling as time marched on and I did not hear from her. Huh. She must be running late, I thought, she said she would be here to help with dinner and spend time. Huh. "Should I call?" "No, I will give it a little more time." I finished my tea.........and called.

"Where are you?" - I asked. "On my way to the mall", she replied. I felt sick, "The mall?" I questioned. She said she thought she would be back "in time". I challenged, "in time for what, it is late and I was waiting for you to have dinner." She fumbled over her excuses claiming she did not recall our plans including dinner and that she hoped to stop by after she finished at the mall. I was stunned by her thoughts. Clearly, we had plans for dinner and not only to spend time but because as I regain my strength I need the help. Again, I was stunned. Her reasons and excuses were endless and none made any sense. I wanted them to because I did not want to believe that she simply "blew me off!" That is exactly what she did, she blew me off to spend time with 'him'. That came out later as I pushed on with the what and why and she eventually said she was going to the mall with him.

At some point she claimed she did not do this "on purpose". I pretty much lost any ability to be calm at that point. I said, "when you got in your car with him at 5:00 and headed South towards the mall rather than North to my house as was planned - that is absolutely "on purpose"" Amazingly, she still argued it was not. I thought I was losing my mind. (As a side note, he is one of many attempts at a relationship - he lives with his Mother, (he's 30), has his own construction business and he is the only worker and interestingly, his "business" allows him to be free most afternoons to be with her, and his truck is often broken down.). Perhaps this is better than the one just before who was wearing an ankle bracelet locked on by the Department of Corrections as an extra measure of security while on parole - p.s. two weeks ago he violated his Parole and is back in prison and now this new one is "on the scene". It is mind boggling if not very frightening, disappointing and yesterday, very hurtful.

I have to share what she claimed was the violation of parole. She said, "that while they were at a "Haunted House" for Halloween his ankle bracelet could not be monitored and so they put out a warrant for him claiming he was out of his allowed distance from home. Good one, huh?

I haven't met the new guy. I pretty much am sure I don't care to. I asked her how she thought that a man with no job security, no reliable vehicle and resides with his Mother could enhance her life? She spoke of him being kind and fun and nice and that she wasn't looking for anything 'serious'. If the 'nothing serious' part is true than why would she choose not to come and be with me as we planned? I felt like a fool actually, believing she would be there as excited as I was to be together. Talk about humbling!

If I look beyond my hurt I am overtaken by unyielding fears. Her choices in life's partners have proven to be violent and abusive. It is only six months ago that her 'man' robbed her apartment and threatened her with a knife, witnessed by her six year old son. The legal outcomes were endless and her son now lives with her sister some 500 miles away so he is out of harms way. Little has changed to make it safe for his return which is a heart-breaking beyond words. I have talked until I am blue about how this is affecting him, but to no avail. It is a sensitive line to walk - on the one hand I am so amazed at her sister for taking on this responsibility of caring for her nephew and on the other hand I am sick over her allowing this to go on. So choices such as yesterday remind me of all her other dangerous decisions which over shadow any hurt I may feel. I have tried to not ask any questions, and let it all be and I have tried the extreme opposite - nothing makes a difference. I think this is what powerless really means, huh?

I managed to fumble around the kitchen and slice some chicken off one of those ready cooked one's Skipp bought at the grocery store. It served the purpose, to sustain. I can't remember a sadder or more frightening meal while alone recalling her life and her son's life, as well. I am struggling with a decision I need to make. This will sound just awful, I know, but it is how I feel today. She was planning to meet her sister halfway between upstate NY and here so she can bring back her son and his two cousins to have Thanksgiving here. Today, I want to tell her to have Thanksgiving in upstate NY - just keep on driving and cook for herself and her son and his cousins. I don't know if I can pretend as much as will be required. I make no apologies for how I feel only regrets that I even have such situations to wrestle with and carry. Also, I write "Why I Am Thankful For You" letters to everyone who sits at our Thanksgiving table. Whatever would I write? This tradition is HUGE in our family and has been for over a decade. Today it feels as if it has been desecrated.

Or perhaps the love and kindness of the day can promote healing and give hope and example of family and time honored traditions that provides comfort and something to hang on to when all else is bleak. My dilemma is that she does not know it is bleak, I know...........but if she is unaware how can she benefit from the many gifts of the day? I am not one who gives up easily and that is evident if you have read any of my blogs. I also love hard and care deeply - also evident in my writings. I am frozen. Paralyzed with fear and desire to dismiss. Maybe dismiss is not the right word - 'let go', yes - 'let go'. I have been the beacon of light and hope and wisdom and all for naught. I have provided a roof over her and her son's head, rescued her from a dangerous situation in Florida, rescued her from yet another dangerous situation in New Haven, paid to get her car back from the 're-po' guy, kept her lights on, her gas on, and paid back balances on Day Care bills, provided other financial support and emotional support following many wrong decisions she made. And here we are again, the same cycle of self destruction and lack of regard outside the need to be with a man. The void is not mine to fill -I thought I could, I believed I should and I did all that was necessary to be her answer when all else crumbled around her. Enabling you may ask? Probably, it is hard to discern in the moment. When your child is broken it is a natural force within to fix and save. I don't know how to not do that. I don't know how to let her go........... I believe it is what I have to do, I just don't know how. The 'Thanksgiving' thing wold make quite a statement about letting go, too much? Your thoughts would be considered.