The Power of Unconditional Love, A Personal Story

This morning I was struggling.  The aftermath of my outburst last week was wreaking havoc with my emotions.  I was at work, thankfully busy, but every minute I was alone, I was in tears.  This afternoon, I became kind of numb to it.  Mostly because I have no control over the outcome, and my brain on overload just shut the emotions down.  I made it through the day numb.  Comfortably numb.

I worked late, on purpose, so that I wouldn’t sit home thinking about it.  On the way home, after a 10 hr day, I began to think about it again.  I said to myself, “So, if the worst happens, will it be the worst thing you have ever lived through?”

The answer is no…absolutely not.  I began to remember, in full living color, the darkest days of my life.  I got through them.  Successfully.  I triumphed.  I decided to write about it, I am ready now, to see it in perspective, and to recognize my own strength, my own intuition, my own gut instinct.

It begins with my son.

I moved out of my old house in March 2007, after 30 years of marriage.  I didn’t file for divorce until the beginning of August that year.  The reasons, the singular event that made me realize I HAD to file, for me but even moreso for my son, is another whole blog.  Just let me say, I had my reasons and they were compelling.

My son lived with his father.  My son played hockey, for over a decade I knew myself as a “hockeymom”.  His father controlled his hockey career.  Was his coach, his advisor, and his biggest and most cruel critic.  It was a control mechanism for his father.   His father used hockey to control my son, and he used my son to control me.

Example:  One day my son and I were going to go to the mall.  My ex normally hated shopping trips, hated the mall, had a bad back so hated walking around the mall.  But this day, he decided he wanted to go. He didn’t want my son and I alone without him.  Control.  We had been at each other’s throats for days, I did NOT want to sit in a car with him to the mall, and have to deal with him all day.  My son and I loved going together.  We would go to Dunkin Donuts, and fast food, and do all the things that his father didn’t allow.  Before we got home we’d have to empty the car of all the wrappers and bags, but we’d always be laughing.  So this day, his dad decided to go, and I couldn’t cope with his dad.  Simple.  I told his father he could go and I’d stay home and get some work done.  He insisted we all go together.  I thought I would lose my mind if I went, so I kept saying no.  He got my son on the phone and told him, that he was sorry, but he wouldn’t be able to coach him anymore, or go to his games, or practices, and that they wouldn’t be able to spend much time together because his mother, me, wouldn’t do what he wanted.

Those were his words, exactly.  My son became hysterical, he was maybe 11, and screamed at me, “Mom, what are you doing?  You HAVE to go, I’m going to lose my father….”

Needless to say I went.  I drove.  My son and I sat in the car, waiting for his father to come to the car so we could leave.  His dad finally came out, beer in his hand, got in the car, and said to my son, ” See what a little pressure can do?”  He was PROUD of his behavior.

So there you have it…the control factor.

When I moved out, my son lived with my ex, due to the hockey factor.  It was the main event of our lives.  My son refused to spend a night with me, or come over unless his father insisted.  He was terrified of angering his father, whose temper was volatile and scary.  He was 6’2″, about 250 lbs.  He had arms as big as most men’s legs and was strong as an ox.  When I filed for divorce, my ex kept trying to talk me out of it.  As I said, my reasons were compelling for any sane woman, and I refused to “pause” it as he asked.  My court date wasn’t for 2 months.  I had to get through those 2 months and then I would have some rights to see my son.  I could not help my son if I had no access to him.

I had been paying for all 3 cell phones.  After all, I was the one, only one, bringing money into the household.  We lived off my check.  I had continued to pay for them, because additional phones were only $10 a month or something.  When I refused to stop the divorce proceeding, my ex bought he and my son new cell phones, and they refused to give me the numbers.  I know my son refused because his father told him to, we have discussed it since.  My son was 15, and trying to survive.

But this meant, that I couldn’t call my son.  I called the house phone, they shut the ringers off.  I had no way to contact my son, and see if he was ok.  If you can imagine, he was living with a man who thought nothing of hurting him, in order to get to me.  And I was unable to even check on him.  So, about 3 times a week, I would go over to my old house and bang on the door, and beg my son to come out, and just give me a hug.  I was generally sobbing hysterically.  He would hug me until I calmed.  We might have a brief conversation, but mostly I just wanted to see he was ok.  To see him.  To hold him, my only child.  I knew that his father was on the other side of the door, listening to every word we said.

But I knew, instinctively, that my son needed to know that I loved him, that I was still standing, no matter what he threw at me.  He needed to know that I knew what was going on, and that I would never stop loving him.  Ever.  For two months, I stood there crying, telling him I loved him.  I asked nothing of him, except once in awhile, his phone number when the pain became too strong.   He would always say, “soon Mom, I’ll give it to you soon….”

Fast forward to a court date, where I got visitation, court ordered.  And the phone numbers, court ordered.  And it still took another month before my ex would abide by the orders.  He continued to play games with the phones.  But, I had 4 hours minimum with my son every week.  Dinner twice a week, and supposedly every other weekend.  I still was not allowed to drive him to hockey games, or practice or home.  Since he played both days of every weekend, my time with him was limited.

But…it was enough.  I showed him a different way to live.  He became glad to come over.  He still struggled with his father’s control, but eventually, he was riding his bike over to my house when it wasn’t my time, hiding his bike inside my house, just to have some “free” time.

Eventually, a year and 2 months after I filed for divorce, he left for school from his father’s house, and came home to my house.  He never went back.  He left EVERYHING, he came with the clothes on his back.  I had bought him a pair of jeans and a few shirts, long before, on the off chance he wanted to stay with me unexpectedly.  But I had to take him out and buy him a new wardrobe for school.  He didn’t want to even look at his father.

That was his freedom day, Sept. 29, 2008.  I got him counseling, I talked with him, we worked through a lot of really hard stuff.  It was not easy.  But today, I am so proud of the young man he’s become.  Just so proud.

Now, I’ve been known to say there is always a lesson.  We don’t always know what the lesson is.  Sometimes it comes years later, sometimes we never recognize it.  But the lesson here, for me, was simple, and is the core of my spiritual beliefs now.

Simply….the power of unconditional love is greater than any other power in the universe.  Nothing that evil can do can hold a candle to the light of unconditional love.  Fear, and anger, and hate…..have no power when faced with unconditional love.  I don’t know why I was so blessed to know this, instinctively.   Back then I had not one spiritual thought in my head.  But I loved my son, unconditionally and always.  This love gave him a place to go, a path out of the dark chaos that his father would have us in forever.  I take no credit for this.  I was the conduit for a source, an energy, much greater than me.  It came from somewhere, flowed through me, to my son.  And saved both our lives.

Back to this morning….I hope the power in unconditional love brings a happy ending to my struggle.  Is it a difficult struggle, yes.  But the worst of my life…No. I am strong.  I triumphed over the ugly, the cruel, the mean, and so did my son.  I will get through it, however it turns out.  I am strong, stronger than I ever knew.  I’d been forgetting that lately.  I make mistakes, I am good, bad, imperfect, loving, kind, mean, and crazy, at any given moment.   I’m working on it all.  But I am strong, all the time.  I’ll grow, I’ll get better.  Because I am strong.  And I know where real power comes from.

What Is Going On With A?

Some of you may remember A, the guy I dated after S did the prison whore, and then on and off as S and I went through our 2 week on-off cycles. A had a plan to sell his 3800 sq. ft. home and live with his 44 yr old son out of a camper. Which he did.  Put about 30,000 miles on his truck in 6 months. Finally, I realized that #1, I would never want an intimate long distance relationship, #2, that I was not really attracted to A in any kind of long term intimate way, #3, that the continuing communication wit him, mostly via text, was a distraction to me figuring out what I really wanted.

I communicated this to A, and he responded by trying to change my mind.  Just before this, he had been talking about buying a bigger motor home (the one he had was tiny, 150 sq. ft.) “in case you want to visit me” was his first reason.  I didn’t respond to that.  Because, it’s just not an idea I could wrap my mind around, and assumed there were other reasons, like even for his son and him there was no privacy in the small one.  I had seen it, it wasn’t really pleasant in any way.  He said that about the time he asked me if I’d have time to visit him next summer.

In talking to me after my communication, he told me that he would never get remarried (he is a widow of just over a year), which is fine with me because marriage is not an idea I ever want to visit again.  He also told me he planned to be homeless and live out of the camper/motor home for a couple of years because he was enjoying their travels so much.  He said he had wanderlust enough to last a long time.  When he left CT he had a plan to be in Santa Fe by this fall, then go back to his brother’s ranch in TX, then decide where they might want to stay for next spring/summer, but he loved Santa Fe the best, it was his first choice.

Now, I think it is fine for someone to follow their dream, or their bliss, it is, in fact, what anyone, everyone, should do.  However, I would not have any interest in visiting him (or anyone) for any length of time in a camper/motor home.  It’s just not my thing.  I told him I was a home body, just talking in general, that I would always want to have a home base.  (To be clear, I could stay on a boat for 2 weeks, a nice, good sized boat, but then that’s my thing.  Not camping.)  So, I was happy for him, I knew I would never want to be a part of that and he didn’t seem to be asking me, until he started with the visiting thing, and the needing a bigger camper/motor home in case you want to see me thing.

So, for all these reasons, I decided to just block him.  Then I wouldn’t get texts I felt compelled to answer, and if he just stopped hearing from me, hopefully he would move on, and let go.  It felt like a clean, necessary break to me.

For some reason, even though I have blocked all  his numbers, and everyone on his group text list, I still get his group texts.  I cannot stop them.

So a week after I just stopped the communication, I got a picture of his new, much larger, camper/motor home. This is about a week after he said the thing about needing one in case I came to visit him.  I immediately thought, “Damn, I hope he didn’t buy that thinking I would come to see him.”  But I thought, that would be crazy…no one would do that, would they?  No…I hope not.

Today, I got a group text with pictures of a house, and the scenery around it, in Santa Fe.  With the message “going to make an offer on this house tomorrow.”  WHAAAAA?  This is a guy who not more than 3 weeks ago insisted he didn’t want to own a home, wanted to continue to roam the countryside, seeing new sites, visiting new place, meeting new people, and was quite content to be “homeless.”  A couple weeks later he’s buying a house.  And he JUST got to Santa Fe about 3 days ago.

Again, I thought…I hope this has nothing to do with me.

I’m probably just paranoid.  He has not tried to reach me that I know of.  Of course, being blocked, I don’t get any texts, which was our main way of communication.  But there are no blocked call voice mails, and no emails.  It’s just that he was the kind of guy who got into me so much that all my interests became his.  Except the camping thing, which he and his son planned long before he knew me.  But the music I loved became what he listened to, my spiritual journey started to become his.  If I was going to Sam’s club he wanted to come with me.  Or anywhere.  ….idk.  That was something I didn’t really like.  At first, I found his attention flattering.  Then…it became too much.  We didn’t go out that long, only a few weeks, maybe a month.  He pushed it along way too fast.  When we first met I was broken, and bruised by S and the prison whore, it felt good to have someone who adored me, and made me his world.  But I realized that was totally selfish, and that I just didn’t feel the same, and found it easy to tell him I was going to try again with S.  That was 6 months ago.  Then I saw him a little bit before he left, when S and I were constantly breaking up. I just fear that A hasn’t really let go of some story he made up.

Anyway, when I got the text, I deleted it, as I do all his texts.  I hope he decided to buy a home because he wanted one, not because he suddenly thought I might come visit him if he had a home.  It just was so sudden, as was his purchase of a much bigger camper/motor home.  Didn’t seem particularly thought out…planned out…and was the opposite of his intention just weeks ago.

I sure wish I’d stop getting his group texts.  I’m looking forward to the day when I’ve shed past entanglements and made room for something new to come in the door.

You Are Enough


Thinking about connection this morning.  Brene Brown, in her TED talk on vulnerability says that after  you’ve been a social worker for 10 years, you know that the reason we are here is for connection.  It’s the basic premise of her work.  She goes on to say how her research (6 years of it) proves how so many negative emotions are outgrowths of the fear that something about us, or something we have done, will cause us to be not worthy of love and connection.

I think it starts with our family of origin.  I was blessed to be born into a family who never ever made me doubt for a minute or even a second, whether I was worthy of love and connection.  I took it for granted, that all children got this from their parents. It took a long marriage to someone whose parents were incapable of unconditional love, to understand the ramifications of that one seemingly small, but actually enormous and boundless thing, having or not having unconditional love. The shame that my ex experienced crept into every corner and facet of his life.  I truly believe that because he felt so unworthy of love and connection, that he believed that anyone who professed to love  him, like myself or our son, either wanted something from him or was just stupid.  And in the end, this is how he lived.  He treated me like I was stupid and sought to protect himself from me by excluding me from all things financial.  He was sure one day i would leave him….

A self fulfilling prophecy, I would say.  Of course I would eventually realize I was not part of any equation involving the two of us.  That apparently I was there to serve him, yet only to reap the benefits which he chose to give me,  which in the end were none, because I was, in his fearful mind, stupid and/or (alternatingly) out to take him.

Although, it was the abuse of my son that really moved me to get out of the marriage.  I realized at some point that if I didn’t get out, and offer my son a clear choice of love vs. fear, that I would lose him forever, and quite possibly condemn him to a very unhappy life.  I realized it when he was 9.  It took me until he was 14 to actually put together an exit plan.

All of that pain, though, every bit of it originated in my ex’s belief that since his parents could not unconditionally love him (Love for them had to be earned, and could quickly be taken away.  They thought it was motivation.) that he simply was not worthy of it.  When I realized this, my anger at him turned to sorrow for him.  I can’t imagine living a whole life, not ever believing you were worthy of love and connection.  Is there a more painful way to live?

Some people can  figure it out.  Some people can find a pathway to a creator that unconditionally loves us, or realize that we are all connected.  That there is a vast ocean of love, that we can all dip into.  Some people manage to figure out that the lessons they were taught were just wrong, and that the people that taught them  were flawed people doing the best they knew how.

Since I have been out of the marriage, I tried once or twice, when my ex opened the door, to show him a different way to see the world, and a way to rebuild a relationship with our son.  He has so far been unable to hear it, or see it.  I think some progress may have been made, that maybe he no longer believes me to be the cause of all his problems, although I don’t know this for a fact, and I do know that he doesn’t have any good answers to why he is in the dire straits he is in.

I have a friend, who had a similar childhood, who has tried to reconnect with a sibling now that their parents have both passed.  I wish this person much luck with this endeavor.  I hope it happens.  I also am real, and know it’s chances are slim. And my job, if I have one at all, is to make sure this person knows, no matter what the outcome that they are worthy of love and belonging.  That they are enough.  Just because they are, because they exist, and for no other reason.

You are enough.

My Personal Freedom Day.

Today is my Freedom Day. The 10th of March. Eight years ago today, I left an abusive 30 year marriage. I moved out with 3 pieces of furniture, enough kitchen stuff that I could cook, and my clothes.

I spent the night in my new home, a rented condo. And slept the first peaceful sleep I’d had in years. It had taken me 5 years of planning, scheming, hiding money, breaking emotional ties. Clawing my way to the surface. I had to somehow get a car in my name, so he wouldn’t call the police saying I’d stolen his car. I had to get a job, on my own, without his blessing, while I worked with him, for him, in our business. I had to hide money which was always in short supply. I had to somehow hire an attorney. Thank God for credit cards.

I had to leave my 14 year old son, and somehow find a way to help him see he had a different choice. He did….18 months later he left his father’s to go to school, came home to my house and never looked back.

So, 8 years ago today, it all came together and I started my new life. It took me 4 years to finish it off, it was epic, all the way to our state Supreme Court as he appealed the lower court decision, and tried to make me accept less than 10% of the modest estate we’d built.

But life now is so much better than I ever dreamed it could be. I am proof, that thoughts become things, that once you know what you want, the universe conspires to make it happen.  I live in a lovely home, that is MINE,I have a good job, my son is doing extraordinarily well, I have the most wonderful group of friends, and I have a new man in my life who is teaching me what it feels like to be really cared for.

You gotta believe. You can do it. And remember, love never hurts. If it hurts, it isn’t love. So, love yourself enough to find a way to leave, if you’re living in an abusive situation. It’s hard….but nothings harder than staying.