Thursday, November 09, 2006

Life Changing Experiences

We can't have enough life changing experiences. They are what make us who we are. Our struggles forge our souls...sometimes better, sometimes worse. My last post told you a little bit about my ex-husband. He is an alcoholic and worse, a verbally abusive man.

However, when I examine my life, I realize my father was a verbally abusive man. He belittled all of us. My mother, all my siblings, actually anyone who got in his way. This type of abuse is soul changing. One starts to believe what is being said to them and about them. It is what becomes the foundation for every relationship in our lives.

It was normal to have screaming and ranting in our home. Therefore, I grew up thinking this was normal. I didn't like it, but there is a comfort level in sameness. Even when the sameness is crazy. I always wonder if we are doomed to constantly repeat the lessons we've learned as children.

Fortunately, I was not a verbally abusive parent. But the only men I was drawn to were verbally abusive. That was my comfort zone as sick as it was. As I moved into my 50's I realized this was not a normal way to live. That is when I started to move away from the abuse I had lived with my entire life. It took until late in my 50's to realize there must be a better way to live. That one didn't have to be abused, either verbally or physically to exist. Even when that is the only way one knows.

There are days I wish things had been different. There are days I long for my ex-husband as sick as that is. There are those days when I wish, I wish he had only said "please tell me what to do and I will do it"! He never said those words, he dug in his heels and said "you want a divorce, fine".

It wasn't fine, it isn't fine. Love just doesn't shut off like the faucet at the sink. Love lives in our hearts even when our hearts have been ripped out of our chests. It took courage to divorce. I had been with him for almost 26 years. What would my life be without him. For even though he was very abusive, he was funny and charming sometimes.

Extraordinary how evil people can be so charming. But he was and there are days I miss him so much I ache. That in itself is so sad because I have a wonderful life now with a wonderful man who is sweet and kind. For the 1st time in my life, I truly believe I deserve to be treated well. We all deserve to be treated well and if we aren't, we need to ask why are treating me badly?

There truly can be a happy ending, we just have to search for it no matter how elusive happy can be.

Constantly changing,

Saturday, November 04, 2006


My son Mark, who lives in Northbrook, IL with his beautiful wife, Marguerite, their 2 daughters, Nicole and Brooke (my wonderful granddaughters), came to visit today. I haven't seen Mark since August when we were in Chicago. Once again, time flies!

Mark directs commercials. We knew he had talent when he was young and could draw anything. To see this talent develop the way it has, is truly remarkable. When I look at him my heart fills with so much love I almost feel as if I will explode. He is such an extraordinary man. He is the most amazing father to his girls, a terrific husband to his wife and a wonderful son.

Mark has a biological mother who raised him until he was 16. At that time, he came to live with his father (my former husband) and I, along with his younger brother Cary. To say our house was chaotic would be the understatement of the century.

Living in our home was my ex, my son Aaron, our Saint Bernard, Bernie and our cat Precious. Soon Mark, Cary, Sunshine (a sheltie) and Rascal (a rascal of a cat) moved in. Life was not the same and hasn't been since. It's better.

My former husband was an abuser. Not with his hands but with his mouth. Verbal abuse leaves scars just like physical abuse. However, while verbal abuse destroys your soul, it leaves no physical marks. Just scars all over your psyche.

He abused our children as well as me. However, the children were the innocent victims. I walked in with my eyes wide open. The pity is I didn't pull them away immediately. I am not certain why we stay with people who abuse us. In my gut, I believe we just become so accustomed to the abuse we don't know any other way to live.

Now that I am older and (I hope) wiser, I realize what a mistake it was to stay. I see what the abuse has done to my sons. What is amazing is that they are all so SANE! They, unlike their father are not abusers. The legacy does not have to continue.

My son Mark has proven that. He is the kind of father that every child should have. His oldest, Nicole, 11 years old, knows there is nothing she can't talk about with her dad. She knows he will always love her, even if he has to discipline her. She knows his love will always be there for her. He makes her feel safe.

He does the same for Brooke who is 3 now. Mark may not be my biological son but he is the son of my heart. I look at him with pride and thank the powers that be that he has become a Man! A wonderful, loving human being, in spite of the abuse that was piled on him.

Mark has a talent for bringing out the best in everyone. Whether they are acting in one of his commercials or students in one of his spinning classes, Mark makes them feel special. Mark makes me feel special and I'm the Mom.

How wonderful, that no matter how old we are, we can learn lessons. Especially loving ones from our children.


Friday, November 03, 2006

The Joy of Giving

It is important to savor the small moments in life. Those times when we truly feel satisfied. It helps us to feel validated as humans. For years I was a docent (speaker) for Lyric Opera of Chicago. As such, I would go around the greater metropolitan area of Chicago and had the extreme joy of telling the stories of the Operas of the season while playing excerpts of the music the audience would hear.

It was an extraordinary 15 years of my life. As much as I thought I knew about Opera, when I was doing the research on the Operas being performed that year, I always learned something new. My greatest joy came from teaching the children through a program called "Opera in the Classroom". We would go in to classes from 2nd to 6th grade.

One week at a time with various teaching tools that allowed them to hear the sounds of Opera. The last 2 weeks of the 4 week program involved the telling the story of an Opera while playing short excerpts of the music. The following week the children would dress in costumes (generally things we found at the Salvation Army, Husband's old shirts and ties, Skirts and bonnets for the girls. As well as all the accessories needed. Fans, muffs, swords (play of course) guns ( plastic) and whatever props were necessary for the performance.

Frequently, the Principal of the school would make it an event that the entire school would get to see in the form of an assembly. It was the most wonderful thing I have ever done with time next to raising my children and running a very successful business. For many years, after I retired from the program, because my business grew so rapidly, I would see these young people who were now grown.

They would run into me in airports around the world, restaurants or at trade shows. The immediate response was, "do you remember me"? You came to my 3rd grade class, or 4th or 5th, etc., and taught so much about the Opera that I am now a season ticket holder.

At the end of each class there was "immediate gratification". However, years later when I would see these young people and know that they were enjoying something so wonderful because of the few hours I donated a week to teaching them, that was "everlasting gratification".

It seems the most wonderful times we have in life in when we are giving of ourselves. We receive so much more back in return.