Living in the Light

This blog is dedicated to the strength of women. Everyone has a story about how they have made it through those moments when nothing was as it seemed. The rug may get pulled out from underneath you but you CAN still land on your feet. Life is about choices.I REALLY WANT TO READ YOUR STORIES ABOUT YOUR MOMENTS. PLEASE SHARE THEM.

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Location: Ohio, United States

I am a third year graduate student in film school. I have three children and I'm a single mother. My journey hasn't always been smooth, mostly it hasn't been, but it has been a good one!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My Grandmother PT 3

So there she was, in 1939 with six kids, five boys and one girl, my mother.

The big question still remained. Why did you leave your family? How could you do such a thing. As a mother I understand how overwhelming it can be at times. But how do you just walk away? As we sat there listening to her explain it all, the feelings of resentment turned to sorrow. What an incredible story this was.

My grandmother said, "you want to know why I left? I'll tell you why I left." Maybe she needed to finally tell someone because after she said that the story poured from her lips. There was a woman who lived down the street from her. They were friends and she came to her one evening and said she had something important to tell her. Velma had put the kids to bed and listen to this woman tell her that Johnny, my grandfather, was planning to kill her. Now my grandmother went on to tell us how Johnny used to beat her. My dad had confirmed that years ago when we asked him about our grandfather. He said he was mean to my grandmother, and then to my mother. But, Velma didn't seem comfortable telling us anything bad about Johnny so she made sure to say, "but he was a good man and a good father. He worked hard for his family and provided for them." Hmmmmm I wonder why then, did my mother have to make dresses out of her brothers hand-me-downs? None the less it seems that the need to defend the actions of abusive men still remain today.

The woman convinced my grandmother that her husband was going to kill her and that she should take some money that was hidden under the back porch in a jar and leave. She showed Velma the jar and indeed it was full of money. The woman handed her $10 and helped her to pack. Then she was gone. Over the years I've often wondered how she just walked away. But it wasn't like that at all. Velma said she went up a hill near the house, into the woods and there she sat for three days on her suitcase, in the rain. She was trying to decide if she was doing the right thing. As she told us she talked about how frightened she was and that the longer she was gone the more frightened she became. She started walking back toward the house one day, unsure really of what she was doing, when a dump truck came by. The driver saw her and stopped. He asked her if she was okay and if she needed a ride anywhere. She said she just got in the truck and sat there. "He was a real nice fella. He didn't ask me a lot of questions. He just said to tell him when I wanted out and he would let me out anywhere I wanted," she explained. She ended up in Charleston WV, about 3-4 hours from where she started.

She would stay there for a year working in a liquid TNT factory making explosives for the military. Then, some people she knew said they were heading to LA. She said, "not without me you aren't!" And that's how she ended up in LA.

Only knowing little bits and pieces all of these years It always seemed like she left her kids to be in LA, where are the action is, where she could be single and free. But she wasn't looking for action, she was trying to stay alive. Now the question is, was that woman who told her that Johnny was going to kill her telling the truth? Velma said that some years later she figured she was lying because maybe she wanted Johnny herself. I guess we'll never know for sure.

The thing that strikes me the most is how this one woman's words, in one night of my grandmothers life, changed three generations lives. We were all effected by that one night.

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Grandmother PT 2

Her name is Velma and she was born in southern WV on Aug. 8th, 1908. She's nearly 98 years old and sharp as a tack, as they say. She's my grandmother.

Growing up was so different for her than it was for me. I really have to stop and think about what the world was like in order to even begin to understand the journey of her life. She told us the story of when she met my grandfather. "I had come home and had my shoes hangin 'round my neck because I didn't want to get them dirty," she said. "Then someone knocked on the door so my mother opened it. There stood Johnny with a pair of shoes around his neck!" That was the first time they met. Johnny had come from a reform home or something like that. I know he had been orphaned as a child. He was looking for a place to stay and a job. My great-grandmother ran a sort of boarding house where men would come and work and pay, .75 cents a week to stay there. It was because of this that my great-grandmother never let Velma go to school. She needed her to stay home and help with cleaning and doing dishes for the men that were staying there. Every once in awhile my grandmother would get to go, but most of the time she had to stay home and work. Her brothers of course got to go to school.

When Velma was about 14 or 15 years old Johnny took her on a train trip to Clarksburg WV, where he had an aunt living. My grandmother recalled the trip for us. She said, "where are we going?" "We're going to get married," Johnny said. "I ain't marrin you!" But she had no choice and they arrived in Clarksburg and got married. She told us how scared she was. She was just a young girl and didn't know what men were all about. Johnny was 8 years her senior. Here she was in an unknown place with Johnny's aunt telling her that she was a married woman now so she had to go in the room and sleep with her husband. My grandmother described this to my sisters and I with the most amazing look on her face. It was as if she still couldn't believe someone was telling her to do such a thing. After all these years you could still see a hint of how scared she was.

"I didn't even know where babies came from!" she said. "My mother told me they came like pumpkins in a pumpkin patch! So, when my belly started growing I didn't know what that was." Intrestingly, when my sisters and I talked about it later, we realized that this tradition had passed down. My mother talks of the same lack of knowledge and that she nearly had my oldest sister in the toilet because she didn't know what labor was or that she was about to have her baby. She thought she had to use the bathroom. Then, when my oldest sister had her first baby she nearly did the same thing. Her water broke and she thought she had pee'd the bed. So, she got up and when to the bathroom. She was pushing and the baby was crowning! Thank God, neither was born in a toilet!

Velma was 16 when she had her first child. And she would then be pregnant seven more times by the time she was 31 years old. She had six children and miscarried once. In 1939 or 1940, I'm not quite sure of the year, she left those six kids with their father. It's always been a mystery for me as to why she left. I ran so many scenerios through my head but couldn't believe any of them. How could a woman do that?

More to come......

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Grandmother PT 1

You must always be open and willing to learn more about yourself. If you are, then you have the ability to be touched by other peoples stories. You're able to move beyond the boundries you've created in your life. You'll also discover some amazing things about yourself and in turn about the world around you.

Yesterday, my sisters and I visited my grandmother. She's 97 years old. She's my grandmother by the fact that she gave birth to my mother, but that's the only reason I would refer to her as my grandmother. She has never baked me cookies, or held me close or given me a birthday gift. She never had me stay over at her house, as a matter of fact yesterday was the first time I had EVER been to her house. Basically, I've never known her has a grandmother.

For many years as I was growing up she was a mysterious figure. I heard things about her but never knew who she really was. There are pictures of me when I was young at a family reunion and she is there but I don't remember her at all. I think that must have only happened once. I only knew her by her first name and I knew that she was the woman who left her 6 kids and went to California. There she started a new life and didn't look back for many many years. That's all I knew and that's all I ever really cared to know. She didn't mean anything to me. She had nothing to do with me and nothing to do with who I was. So I thought.

She was around a little bit when my mom was dying of breast cancer. I resented her for that. I thought how late it was to try to be a mother. I think my mom resented it too. My mom would say she had forgiven her but I don't think she really had. She had too many unanswered questions. It's been nine years since my mothers death and I've been thinking about what happened a lot. I hadn't thought about my grandmother in years but there was something inside me that hadn't forgotten her. There was a resentment that I had lost my mother, who was a good mother, a loving mother, one who was ALWAYS there for me. Why did I lose her? Why was my grandmother, who hadn't done her part, who had NEVER been there for me or her own children, still around? I didn't want her to die....I just didn't want my mom to be gone. Somehow it seemed unfair.

What I learned yesterday changed all that. What I learned yesterday set me free in so many ways.
She has an amazing story and I'm going to share it......over the next several days.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

When I was drowning, I found my life

There were many times after waking up to the fact that my life wasn't what I thought it was, that I felt hopeless and lost. It was like being out in a dark sea alone. I truly didn't know what I was going to do. Blaming my husband for my misery didn't make my misery go away. I had tried running away the last time he cheated on me and that didn't work either. What I really needed to do was to face MYSELF. And I needed to figure out why I had chosen, or IF I had chosen, to be there and be in that situation.

When I was alone it was hard to fight the urges to go and confront "Katy" or to do something really crazy like go into my husband's job and confront them both there. I didn't REALLY want to do that. Mostly because I didn't feel he was worth fighting for anymore. I wasn't mad at her either because she really didn't know who she was getting involved with. I figured in the long run, if they stayed together, she would reap what she sewed by getting involved with a married man. Sometimes I think that sounds evil to say but it's true. I know I've paid for the decisions I've made in my life. I can't be the only one.

So, I started reading books. The first one I read was "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. Wow....this book was amazing. It really helped me keep focused in those times. My mind wanted to try to figure out the future, and based on my past the future wasn't looking so hot. The trick is to stay present in the "now". I found these ideas so powerful. It was like exercising though. It only works when you put it into practice. Just watching a workout program on tv doesn't make you any stronger. Neither does reading a book like this and saying, "wow, that's pretty insightful stuff," and then continuing to do the same old thing. A friend of mine always says, "Fake until you make it." I did just that. Every time my mind tried to figure out the future I would get trapped in the past which made the present unbearable and then I would want to confront someone or do something for revenge. So I tried to keep focused on two things all the, the present moment and two, ME.

I found it much easier to make clear decisions that way. So I decided to return to Orlando, even though I had no job, no car, and no place to live. The next year would prove to be the most amazing year of growth and enlightenment that I have ever experienced. I FOUND MY LIFE.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Stories from you

My goal this summer is to find the stories of strength and enlightenment from anyone who wants to share them. I'm currently working on my thesis idea which is a film that mixes the conventions of narrative story telling and documentary. I'm researching ideas that involve those moments in our lives when we become totally aware that everything is not as it seems. The world is actually a different place than the one we created, or thought we created. Much like what happened to me when I thought I was building a family and a life with someone. I believed in the "happily everafter". I thought I was taking the right steps to create that world. Then I realized I didn't live in that world at all.

The other themes are listening to our intuition. Those fantastic moments when we've listened to our intuition and we were led to places and people that impacted us so greatly...or not listening to our intuition.

I would love to read your stories if you would be willing to share them here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Film school

These are pictures of me shooting one of my films in my first year of film school. Who would have thought I'd be here.

This is where I'm meant to be!

I'm thankful for the moments that I've had. The ones that I had to fight to get through. It was worth it to be here now.

The months after the letter

It didn't take long. Maybe three weeks or so after moving to Atlanta and my husband was beginning his pursiut of this girl. Katy, was how she signed the letter. Katy was an intern in the store where he was a manager. She was plump and plain but she had something that caught his eye. It didn't really take me long to figure out what it was. Her family had money. A lot of money. We were struggling because he hadn't worked in over a year and I had just finished grad school and was looking for work until I started the PhD program. We had kids and responsiblities that he felt was too much. I once told him it was like we were in a boat in the middle of the sea. The waves were high and crashing all around us. Instead of riding out the storm with us, his family, he jumped out and into the first yacht that came by. He left us to struggle and find our own way.

After I found the letter I confronted him. His response was the worst thing I had ever experienced. He simply said, "so I'm cheating on you, so what?" That was it? That was all the compassion he could muster? I had JUST forgiven him and taken him back after the last affair. I had loved this man with everything I had and this was it? He didn't even seem to care that I was completely broken. The weeks that followed were pure hell for me. I was in a new city with no friends, no family and now no husband. I was lost. I didn't feel like I could turn to my family even with a phone call because I had defended him to them. They knew he hadn't changed and tried to tell me but I wouldn't listen. I wanted to see something else, someone else, so I did. With my tainted eyes, and my heart that wanted to hold a family together, and a heart that just wanted someone to give my love to, I saw a man who deserved all that I had to give.

These were the moments for me that I realized that nothing was as I thought it was. My pretend world was crumbling. I had given all my power away. I was left with nothing. I couldn't imagine where my life would go. It felt as if I was drowning.

I couldn't have in my wildest dreams imagined where I would be just three years later. I'm at the greatest point in my life. I own my power. I recognize who I am now when I look in the mirror and it's great!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My moment three years ago....

"Until we own our own power, we will constantly seek it in others, particularly in men, and power sought that way never saves us; it destroys us", Marianne Williamson from A Woman's Worth.

It was about three weeks before Christmas of December 2002. I was doing laundry, so I gathered up some of my husbands clothes. I checked pockets for anything that might go into the wash and I pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. My stomach rose to my throat and I could feel the life drifting from my body when I read a letter from another woman to him. She was expressing her fear of losing him to his wife and child. She said she loved him and she knew he loved her because he had told her he did. I felt numb. I felt lost. For a moment I wasn't sure where I was, who I was and mostly I couldn't figure out WHY I was. Why did I exist? For this? Had I made the decisions to live this kind of life? Did I really chose this? Again? I only wanted a family. I didn't want this? Did I?

A year and a half earlier I had packed up a Uhaul and moved myself and my three children from Florida back to Ohio where I had lived before. My husband had been cheating and doing everything possible to destroy our marriage. He had started going out, and staying out, all night long. One night I packed a suitcase with his clothes and put them on the driveway. He didn't even give me the satisfaction of coming home to find that he had been kicked out. The next day I gave up and pulled the suitcase inside. He was torturing me. He knew it too. So I left. My heart was broken. I had lost 30 pounds and really didn't want to keep going. A few months later he called me. He was broken and lost and said he didn't want to lose his family. He explained how he just became overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. His response to his frustrations with work, and bills, and kids was to pretended that none of it was there. But he didn't find peace in that either. He wanted us back. He said he loved me. The night before he called to tell me all this, I had a dream. I dreamed that the girl he was cheating on me with was pregnant. I asked him about it. He said she was. But, she ended the pregnancy and he came back to us. We worked on "us" and things were going well. I was in graduate school and he was taking care of the kids. When I finished we decided to move to Atlanta so I could do my PhD. Well, that was what was supposed to happen anyway.

Story to continue........