Friday, October 24, 2014

Healing With A Dog Named Ascher

The Hebrew meaning of Asher is "happy" (fortunate; blessed). Biblical: In the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, Asher was the 8th son of Jacob and the second son of Zilpa, the maid of Jacob's wife Leah and was promised a life blessed with abundance (See Gen. 30:13).

The way I imagine it happened:
G*d had His weekly Friday meeting before Shabbat. Gathered in a serene place that I can only dream about, He requested the presence of all the doggie souls.
And it goes like this.....
"I have a very serious position open on earth. The placement, though one of the toughest I have ever assigned, is really quite rewarding - should you decide to take it."
Standing amidst all His canine creations,  G*d spoke and the doggie souls listened attentively, their ears perched high.
"A woman on earth has been through more than what I had ever wished for one of my children. Your job will be to help her heal."
"She had a childhood of things - not love. Of material gifts, not hugs or kisses.  But her then adult years are what is most troubling to Me. And the earth almost lost her."
"She was a victim of extreme abuse. Violence, emotional and psychological abuse, and has had so much pain in her life.  She was raped, beaten, and almost destroyed by someone close to her. A man. I am ashamed to say this man is of my own creation. I cannot control what free will those humans have so I had to watch this and wait...."
"This woman is no longer in that abusive relationship. The awful man keeps at her in court with legal and financial abuse, but she is hanging in there. Thank goodness she left him, but she did not leave unscarred. This man hurt her with all the vengeful ways a human is capable and in the worst way - he took her children, brainwashed them and taught them to hate."
G*d paused. Even G*d gets choked up sometimes. Wetness rolled down His cheek, as sadness leaked from His eye.
"So, this woman who made her children her life....well, her children were ripped out of her life when they were 14 and 17 years of age.  And you can only imagine the hole that has left in her heart."
"Your job is to fill that hole with every ounce of love, hope, trust, and kindness that I have created you with.  You will be a blessing to this woman.  You will help her heal."
"You will teach her to trust, where there was only disillusion.  You will teach her to love, with every ounce of her being.  You will teach her that she will be okay.  That there is life after abuse.  And it can be wonderful."
"It's certainly not going to be easy for whoever decides to take on this huge mitzvah.  You will have help, though.  I will be with you every bit of the way. And I have already put many of my best people in her life's path.  Oh, and she has a special person in her life that you will have to share some attention with. But that will be fine - you can have some learning time, too - everyone should learn how to share."
"She has severe PTSD from all she has been through. You will have to be very protective of her.  She truly needs you.  She is sometimes afraid to go out in the dark, afraid of noises outside the house, and a bit cautious of strangers.  When you hear the slightest sound or disturbance on the property - you will have to alert her and bark like crazy. She needs to know you are her safety net.  When she takes you places, you must check out the people around you with your extra senses - if they seem a bit off or dangerous, you must let this human know and guard her."
"You must bring her joy.  Every morning when she awakens, you must let her know that she is so very special and the center of your own universe.  But also make room for that other special human in her life - and be kind to that man,too.  His name is Steve."
"Make her laugh.  Make her smile. Other dog souls may enter your family with her - but know you are the blessing she so needed. You know what?  Let your tongue hang out - it will make you more unique and she'll smile a little more."
 "This woman is called Julie - but she will refer to herself as your Mommy.  She is one of my strongest survivors. And she is doing her best now to spread My work of repairing the world and helping others. I pray her past will not become someone else's future." 
A doggie soul stepped forward.  G*d smiled with pride.
"You will not be sorry, little guy. For she has more love in her heart than most.  And she is going to love you more than you can imagine!"
"And you will be named - Asher.  A true blessing for healing and all wonderful things in My world.  Wait, she is a bit of an unusual one....let's change that spelling. For you, too, will be unique.  Ascher with a c."
"Thank you, Ascher with a c.  Now get to work down there on earth.  Love and be loved.  And know G*d is with you."  
 Ascher - a blessing in my life for 6 years now.....

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur - Quiet, Never Silent

Tonight, the world will be quiet for me. Erev Yom Kippur. It is a time of reflection, remembrance, forgiveness and accountability. All shall hush in my soul.

On the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. I have always held a passion for my Jewish studies, but respect the beliefs of others. However, it is my strong belief that every soul on earth should have a Day of Atonement. A time of repentance, of wonder, and of evaluating their own behavior.

To those who I have offended, I ask forgiveness.
I strive to be worthy of all that G*d has in store for me, in the year ahead.
And I commit myself whole heartedly to my mission. A mission where others are changed in some way, situations are made better, and forms of injustices are corrected - because of me.
We all have a mission. The thing is - not everyone realizes it.

On a night where quiet will encompass Jews all over the world - I will stand in my own quiet.  Quiet - not silence.  You see, the most integral part of my mission - is to end the silence.

In the year ahead, may the silence end regarding our world's tragedies. May hunger, homelessness, and disease be unsilenced until remedies for all are incorporated into existence.  And on a very personal level, may the silence that surrounds domestic violence be resounded. Yes, my mission. In the year to come, may I prevent my past from becoming someone else's future. Parental alienation? May I assist in being the voice, not only of the loving parents who grieve each and every day over children who are still alive....but may I shout out for the children. The unheard voices of the children, who have been the true victims of parental alienation, when one parent turns a child against another parent (usually in high conflict divorce).  Children need both parents and should never be used as a pawn.

I pray that I will be heard.

In a time of quiet, may there never be silence again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Domestic Violence Database - We've Come A Long Way, Baby!

In a world where a victim's silence is the abuser's greatest asset, changes are being seen on a daily basis. There is power in voices - voices are speaking up and being heard.

With the recent news about the NFL 's connections to domestic violence, people are finally waking up to the tragedy in our country that is domestic abuse.  The term "domestic violence" is being googled, researched, spoken of and exposed for what it is - an epidemic in our world.  A world that rewards sports figures for their aggression, NFL is finally getting tough on it's players. It's time for all sports organizations to join forces to end domestic violence. It's time for our world to join forces and end domestic violence.

And that seems to be happening in baby steps.  The very first searchable online database of domestic violence agencies is now available.  It's called At this time, it includes roughly all 3,000 agencies in the United States.

Last week I was humbled and honored to have been contacted by Chris McMurry - the Director of Theresa's Fund (an agency founded to assist victims/survivors of domestic violence).  I gave Chris my word, that I would share the information....that was shared with me. It is with great pride in our land, that I can finally say there is help for victims of domestic violence - readily available.

When someone visits the database site, that person can find the help closest to them based on their location, language, and service preferences.  In a partnership with the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, The Theresa's Fund has made this possible.

Many years ago, back in the 1990's - I was referred to a domestic violence shelter via word of mouth.  It was as though there existed an underground network system for victims of domestic violence. And if you didn't disclose your situation to others who could network you to the proper location for assistance, you were pretty much stuck not knowing where to go.  Now, in the privacy of one's own home, you can find the support system you need to go from victim to survivor.  The only thing I recommend, after viewing the database for such information, is that if you are still in a domestic violence situation - erase the history on your computer, your cell phone, or your other device. As any victim/survivor knows - it's all about safety.

Go to

My heart and prayers are with you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shake it Off ? CAN'T!

Some things happen to you - that you can't wash off.  And some things happen in the world that you can't shake off.  Through all of life's encounters, phases and journeys, that which has happened to you shall become your history, your own story and much of who you are.  Should you ever try to ignore truths in an attempt to deny your past or just to cope with it, the end game will not change. It's just a matter of how deep you want to go into the realm of reflection. 

Whatever has happened to you, will translate into who you are and who you become.  Consciously or subconsciously.  Not being of the medical or psychological profession, I can only surmise my conclusions from what I've seen around me, in my own life and the lives of others.  

In a week encompassed by media coverage of celebrity suicide, international siege and small town unrest, I can't help but reflect on how all this effects me.  And it certainly has effected me.  Too many people would like to shake it off - turning the page of the newspaper or changing the news channel of their television sets.  With me, it brings things up on a regular basis.  It makes me think of life in general and in detail.  It also reminds me to pray.

Actor comedienne Robin William died.  May his memory be for a blessing.  News reports proclaimed it a suicide.  For days, the media leaked bits and pieces of a life most did not know - one of addiction, depression and Parkinson's disease.  Labels were thrown at us as we searched to make sense of a death.  Reading of what had transpired in the all too lonely life of this public figure, I was reminded of my own experiences.  How could I not be?

People suffer.  Some in numbers.  And some people suffer in solitude.  You can carry a pain in your heart that overcomes any physical pain imaginable.  And you can just want that pain to end.  I was there.  At that low point in my life.  I remember a time when I thought I could not breathe, nor survive a day, without my sons in my life.  At 14 and 17 years of age, my sons and I became victims of Parental Alienation.  Their father was able to manipulate them out of my life during my divorce proceeding, via lie after lie after lie.  Unable to defend myself against so many untruths, never given the chance, the estrangement was deafening. Once in their late teens and early twenties, the abuse by my sons was unbearable.  I was sent emails and private messages daring me to kill myself.  One son told me to buy a gun and shoot my brains out - that pills were for wusses and that I did not deserve to live.  Another blackmailed me for thousands of dollars in order to "possibly" see him again -  yes, this was a time of hell on earth. I was afraid to live with the pain and disappointment that swelled in my heart. I almost didn't survive it. And I can't wash off the memories or shake them.

I did learn to live with them.  Hearing of Mr. William's publicly exposed suicide reminded me all to well of how strong I have become.  The need to expose suicide, eliminate the stigma of depression, is all too real for me.  It is imperative to talk about it. What we can take away from this tragedy is of utmost importance.  Hear your friend, your family member, your neighbor, and even that stranger you encounter.  Listen for their need of help or assistance.  Tell them you care.  And if you are suffering through an insurmountable amount of emotional pain, I find that the best way to lift your spirits - is by bending down to lift up someone else's. Isolation and withdrawal will not rescue someone's soul. Years ago, when I thought my own life didn't matter (if I wasn't a "mother" - what was I?), I began volunteering as a Soldiers' Angel.  I gave emotional support to our troops, as well as organized care packages sent to them in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And with a letter writing team, I learned the importance of just being there.  I also volunteered with the elderly, mostly Holocaust survivors.  It was there that I truly learned the importance of just listening.  As they told me their Holocaust and WWII stories of survival, I realized the miracle of strength they all had - and the importance of telling their histories.  They knew that I cared and admired them.  Just by listening.  I volunteered in food pantries, domestic violence shelters (where I was once a client), and in children's programs (oh! to see those young faces!).  Spirits can be lifted in the most unlikely places.  I was helping others, as I helped myself.  I re-invented myself as a warrior of sorts, too. And in learning to reach out, I realized I was never alone.   Life really is a two way street. 

All these thoughts and more resurfaced during the news barrage surrounding Robin William's death.  I couldn't shake it off.  I didn't want to. I was reminded of all the lessons I had learned and all the good that came from them.  

And today I read more about the siege - as airstrikes were claimed to be within the constraints of a limited campaign to break the siege of stranded Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.  I pray not only for the protection of American personnel and all the innocent people stranded in the siege.  I pray for the freedom and safety which is so at stake.  Evil is all too evident in our world.  As the days progress, what is happening to those people on Mount Sinjar?  Dropping water, food and supplies is not enough.  What next?  We cannot look away.  We should not shake it off.  Remember....first they come for the Saturday people.  Then they will come for the Sunday people.  Who is next, in this disaster of evil takeovers?  Involvement is key, support of the good and innocent is imperative.  No, you can't just shake it off and ignore it.

Then there is Ferguson.   Ferguson, Missouri.   Had you even heard of that town until the murder of a young man occurred there?  A death by a gunman - a police officer.  This is especially difficult for me to deal with.  Unjust, prejudice, descrimination?  Or self defense?  I'm reading and registering the facts that are disclosed.  Most disturbing these days is the way in which their local police force has dealt with their other citizens - those who want to have a voice in the pursuit of justice.  

If it weren't for my confidence in my own local police department - I would not be writing.  As a survivor of domestic violence, my safety is always an issue.  As long as my ex walks this planet, I will always have to look over my shoulder.  I never feel safe, but the officers in my present town are the best.  It wasn't always like that for me.  I can remember a time when I lived in a Westchester suburb of New York, and the police were called to my home regarding the domestic violence.  With a bruised neck, and a child clinging to me - an officer of that police department looked me in the eye and told me he was not there to solve domestic disputes, he spoke to my then husband, and left. I did call his superior to complain - and was given an apology. But then the violence continued for years - I had learned that the police were not there to help me. It was an awful way to survive.

I relocated during my divorce proceeding.  Now a proud New Jersey resident, I give praise to my present police department every chance I get.  People don't always know how that comes from my heart.  Without such honorable and brave men and women, I may not be here.  And I certainly would not have the courage to share my story of surviving domestic violence in order to help others.  When I first came to New Jersey, I registered an order of protection (restraining order) against my ex husband with them - and had to explain my situation and safety concerns.  They were nothing less than understanding, supportive and patient.  With the confidence they award me, I am able to do my best in educating others so that my past does not become someone else's future.

When I read of the police enforcement, behaviors and actions in Ferguson - I thank goodness I don't live there. And for those civilians who want their voices heard - may they forever find the strength to continue in their fight for justice and truth.  A life was lost tragically.  That in association with Ferguson, Missouri, should never be shaken off and ignored.  May justice prevail.  I have learned that there is power in voices, ever since I found my own voice.  We all must keep speaking out and speaking up in the name of justice.    

We all get the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  What we do with it, what we take away from it, and how we are effected by it  - is all unique.  We see good and evil.  We hear of joy and heartbreak.  We can participate in "tikkun olam", a concept referring to repairing our world.  Or we can try to ignore so much of what demands attention.  I will continue to be sensitive to all that surrounds me, and participate in tikkun olam to the best of my ability.  My past has made me that way. How do things effect you?  We can choose to make positive changes from negative experiences and information.  The most important thing is that we don't try to just shake it off.  What takes place in the world, really does effect each and every one of us in different ways. We should deal with it.  And most importantly, learn from it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Chose to Walk Away

I walked away- but will never disappear. Let me explain, briefly. On June 21, 2014, my younger son was married. I was not invited, nor included in any way. I knew where the wedding was to take place, I knew when it would take place. Some... people suggested I just show up, others offered to take photos for me - as they would be there......I chose to "walk away" that day. Instead, some wonderful friends made a dinner party for me on June 21. It was a difficult heartwrenching evening - but I was even able to laugh once or twice with my friends (in between a few tears, as I did not deserve how I was treated by my son the groom)....
For 15 years of his life, I was the one who raised him - pretty much single handedly. I loved him with every breath in me. But on this night of June 21, I knew that the bride deserved her special night - drama free. Even though my phonecalls and emails to her went ignored. I walked away that night - in order to give the groom and bride their special evening - a fairytale that did not include the mother of the groom. My letter to the father of the bride is on my blog - I wish he had organized a dinner/lunch where I could have met my future daughter in law - and the mother of the bride. Nothing was done. They just wanted me to disappear. Well, I walked away with dignity. But I will never disappear. I pray our children have much happiness in their future. And some day, compassion and peace in their heart.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bashert - Without the Mother of the Groom, for the Father of the Bride

(On June 21, 2014, my younger son, at the age of 29, was married. It was a lavish wedding. There were so many people in attendance at the New York Public Library extravaganza.  But not the mother of the groom.  I was not invited.  Below is a heartfelt letter that I wrote to the bride's father, only days prior to the wedding day.  I wrote it and posted it on my blog, as it was the only way I might be assured that he would see it and read it.......)

Dear Father of the Bride,

I'm guessing that as I write this, you are probably enjoying all the festivities leading up to your daughter's wedding - when she is to marry my son. In only two more days, you and I will be related.  Amazing.  Isn't it?

According to Midrash, after God created the universe in six days, He began arranging marriages.  According to Talmud, 40 days before a male child is conceived, a voice from Heaven announces whose daughter he is to marry (in Yiddish, such a heavenly match is called "bashert," a word meaning destiny). It is with all my heart and faith that I believe our families are going to be joined for a greater purpose.  People come into our lives as either a blessing or a lesson. 

Growing up in Bedford, New York, what were the chances that my 29 year old son would meet your daughter, a young woman from Millburn, New Jersey (only 15 minutes from my new hometown).  And the mere fact that you and I share so many friends and acquaintances?  Amazing.  I can't speak for your wife, as I have never met her, but I do think our paths will cross one of these days.  The world is getting smaller each and every day.

After you and I met, I was hoping things would play out differently.  Most often, parents play a key role in organizing and planning their children's nuptials.  It is an occasion of tremendous emotional magnitude. A wedding is one of the most significant of all lifecycle moments that a parent will experience.  Or not.

In this profound time, you may think you have merely inherited a situation.  I think differently.  It is my belief that if you are not part of the solution, that you effectively become part of the problem.  When, as a parent, you walk your daughter down the aisle on Saturday evening, the mother of the groom will not be present.  You have chose to exclude and shun me. Yes, I know my alienated son instructed you on that issue - but we all have choices to make.  If someone robs a bank, the guy driving the get away car is charged with a crime as well. 

My son is no longer a child.  He may think I don't know that.  But every scar in my aching heart tells me that he is now an adult.  You see, every Mother's Day, every birthday, every Chanukah, every Passover, every illness and every joy has been quietly calculated in the crevices of my heart.  And it all adds up to years of alienation.  Time that will never be regained. Every one of those moments when the fall out of our histories bled into the pain of the present. Today, he is my son.  And on Saturday evening, June 21 - he will be someone's husband.

As you walk your daughter toward the Chuppah, on that trail that may seem endless but takes only a may shed a tear or two.  As the wetness trickles down your cheek, I ask you to think of me.  Your daughter's mother-in-law.  And my own tears.  You see, I've been shedding them for days over this wedding.

My son is committing to a partnership with your daughter.  May it be one of blessed happiness and good health.  In a moment that will no doubtfully include feelings of great joy and celebration, will you not be reminded of the sadness and loss I feel?  The moment will never come again.  You could have done so much to change the circumstances.   It is easier for you to ignore me and hope I fade away. Sometimes the right decision is not the easiest.

Neither you nor your wife will acknowledge me, nor reach out to me regarding this blessed event that is to take place. This is my only way to communicate with you at this time. The bride - I wish I could meet her, but she has had no interest in returning my phone calls or emails as well.  I'm not going anywhere.  And every time you look at my son, I will be a sparkle in his eyes.  The good your daughter sees in my son, comes from me.  And I have the references to back that up.

Think about the way our children came together. Bashert, then it was always meant to be; it was fate.  Perhaps you can be the catalyst to bring peace between us.  Or perhaps your daughter will be the one to melt the ice surrounding my son's heart.  When my son was born, I held him in my arms and imagined his future - a life that always included me.  I never would have thought that a child who adored me so - right up until his 15th year of life, would turn on me as he did.  Hate has to be taught.  So, when you say that Parental Alienation is only a word - I beg to differ with you.  It's funny how I have all the documentation exhibiting a paper trail of estrangement, and you never asked to see any of it.  There isn't a day in the last decade that I haven't missed my son.  Even through his most unacceptable of behaviors.  For I remember the baby, the little boy, the young teenager - the one with the old soul and the heart of gold.  The young man who will be waiting for your daughter at the end of the bridal entrance, will forever be my son. And he knows that no matter what, he has his mother's unconditional love.

So, as the father of the bride, please relay a message from the mother of the groom.  I wish our children all that they wish for themselves and so much more.  May they find everything in each other that brings out the best of them. The goal of a great marriage is to go beyond the idea that you treat the other person the way you would like to be treated yourself.  I hope my son always puts your daughter first.  That is something that needs to be emphasized to my son. Unfortunately, he could not have learned such things by example.  May our children both treat each other better than they each want to ever be treated. I'm sorry, there is so much I wish I could write - but my own tears are getting in the way.

My present life partner teaches me something special every day.  So many times, I've heard him say, "It makes me happy to see you happy."  I pray that our children have reached the point where they achieve more joy making each other happy than in pursuing their individual happiness.

And as you "give your daughter away" on Saturday evening, you will no doubtfully feel a loss and bit of sorrow letting her go. Your eyes may become watery, should emotion take over such a sacred particle of time.  I will be crying with you.  Differently of course.  Remember, how you have the chance to feel that. To experience that with the young couple.  And how you have participated in denying me that - my own experience in seeing a lifecycle that will never come again.

Julie Levine
Mother of the Groom

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

If You Think Parental Alienation is Just a Word....Here's Proof in a Paper Trail


Below, is an old blog entry.  An important entry about Parental Alienation.  Someone just told me that it is "just a word."  Well, it's not.  It's not just a word.  It's my life for the last 14 years. And it's all documented. Read the evidence, share it, expose it and speak out against it.  Combat Parental Alienation. Those committing this crime should be stopped.  But can we ever save the children?  My sons are adults now.  They were taught to hate.  The alienator, their own father, was a good manipulator and teacher of hatred. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Trail of Parental Alienation : An Email - email

Keep a paper trail.
That is excellent advise. It really is important in so many aspects of divorce, custody, and all legal communications.

I kept such a paper trail. And the one that seems to console me most these days, is the evident journey of destruction related to my sons. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse. It should be prosecuted as such. Maybe some day, I will see that happen.

For now, via old emails, cards and letters - even phone messages I saved! - the visible effects of an abusive father brainwashing children is clearly exhibited through the history that is my life in the legal system - since I followed through with my 1999 divorce filing (it was the third time I attempted it)....

Part of the brainwashing of such children involved the concept of "independant thinker." The children are made to believe they are drawing their own conclusions and thought processes. Even when the targeted parent, such as I, know differently.
My sons always thought they were making up their own hate me. From loving me "over the moon" now wishing me dead.
What would make children turn like that?

My ex husband also told my sons that I was being abused by another man. It wasn't true. False information was fed to my sons in order to further denigrate me.

Click on the emails below for a better view.  You really should read the words!

I found this today:

I emailed it to my son....and wrote the below comments.....

Subject: JARED EMAIL - 2007.JPG
Date: 6/12/2012 1:05:45 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Reply To:

Sent from the Internet (Details)
Internet Address Card Attached

Listen, not going to write you again about all this - but where there is breath, there is hope. Would love to clear up all the distorted facts you were told. Not to bring up the past, but correct it.
In my heart, I know you can never be whole until you heal - and you can't heal properly without confronting things. I've come a long with all that! It isn't easy.
Jared, be the best Jared you can be. Always.
I may not be able to help you - if you don't let me - but what we went through is helping so many others in our world -
with pride,
Your Mom

found another old email....from 2003:

Monday, June 2, 2014

When Someone Tries to Keep You Silent - It Makes You Want to Sing , in memory of Maya Angelou

Her book, written in 1969, was groundbreaking. Dr. Maya Angelou was a legend.  "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was an account of Dr. Maya Angelou's childhood in the Jim Crow south. Her memoirs and poetry brought her to universal acclaim.  She was an advocate for all that is wrong in our world - speaking out and exposing oppression, prejudice, racism, domestic violence, rape and more. Sadly, Dr. Angelou passed away Wednesday, May 29, at the age of 86. 

Years prior to her 1969 memoir, African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote a poem, titled "Sympathy," also referencing the singing of a caged bird. 

He wrote:

 I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

Reading the above stanza, the image of Dunbar's caged bird struggling with its confinement is vividly displayed.  The bird yearns for freedom, as the bars of the cage separate it from the world.  Wounded from struggling against the iron barriers, the bird does not give up.  The wounds heal, the bird continues to sing and struggle. The bird sings a prayer, wishing to be free. The metal bars of oppression, of  abuse, of racism, of poverty are not enough to silence the spirit. For the spirit cannot be broken as long as it does not give up.  And singing keeps this creature alive as much as the breath within its being. 

Dr. Angelou knew why the caged bird sang.  And she revealed her own song through words contained in all the volumes of her writings.

As much as Dr. Angelou was that bird - in her roots of the deep south, I also feel an affinity for the small creature.  As a survivor of domestic violence, having lost children in a high conflict divorce to parental alienation, overcoming disabilities and injuries, I, too, have a story that needs to be told.  And as Dr. Angelou's books and poems were her own song, my blog is mine.

I know what it is like for someone to try to cage you. And do all in their power to silence you. Literally, and metaphorically speaking. The human spirit is capable of many things.  Especially when trying to survive. Literature gives voice to those struggling to be heard.  You don't have to sing, just write.  Write the untold stories, share the personal experiences and claim your own history. A history of anguish, injustices, and abuse tends to seem more tolerable when given purpose. And exposure lends way to strength. It can also be a way of preventing one's horrible past from becoming someone else's future.

Angelou wrote her own poem about the caged bird singing in "Caged Bird."

Here is the last stanza:

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

When someone is trying to silence the voice of another, freedom is lost.  A boundary is crossed.  Even though Dr. Angelou's bird is trapped, it still has hope.  It does not succumb to the domination of those who wish to leave it caged.  I believe the message is clear.

Stand up, and speak out.  Always.  Even if your voice is shaking.  There will always be someone who doesn't like what you say - that's their problem.  Freedom is worth singing about.

May Dr. Angelou's memory be for a blessing.  She has taught me to keep rising, and tell my story.  Quieting a story that needs to be told, is like trapping the caged bird all over again.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Blog status : Public vs Private/Restricted

To All My Friends and Blog Followers....

I am thinking about making my blog,, private with restricted viewing access; but first need to figure it all out! I do not want to lose all my old blog entries and am technologically challenged when it comes to figuring out these specifics!

If you wish to continue following my blog when it is set to private status, you will be able to request access ...You would send me your email address so I can place you on a private viewing list. I promise the only purpose for your email address would be to allow you access to my blog, and nothing else. I'll keep writing, and healing....However, it will be restricted from public viewing and only accessible to those requesting access.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with your own opinion regarding this.  I'd love to hear from you - so post, private message, or email me your thoughts and comments about this suggested change. Your feedback is always appreciated.
What do you think?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day, 2014

To Mothers who are not with their children (of any age) today...Dr. Joshua Coleman has many suggestions. He states,"My experience is that most estranged parents err in the direction of not talking to their friends enough about their estrangement. They're so worried about burdening people with the ongoing, unrelenting tragic tale that we don't say anything. We assume that our friends are sick of our problems, feel guilty that they don't know how to help us, worry that their empathy isn't enough, or are frustrated that we haven't fixed it already."

Reach out to others if you find you are struggling on your own today. Silence is isolating. One good friend may make all the difference on a difficult day such as Mother's Day. And if you are reading this, and know of a Mom who is alienated/estranged from her children (of any age), please call her today...pick up the phone....reach out to her today. Perhaps an email or text to say you are thinking of her. For she will always be a Mom. Someone's Mom. And validation is priceless. Your voice may just be the one she needs to feel better today.

Happy Mother's Day to all. Stay strong.

Friday, April 4, 2014

WARNING: Contains Adult Content - Testing the Waters

A victim may be defined as anyone who experiences injury, a loss, or misfortune, resulting from an event or series of events. Trauma can trigger this and send the person's mental stability and self esteem into a downward spiral. The experience one may muddle through allows for the emergence of a somewhat victim mentality. A sense of victim hood. Always feeling that they deserved their bad luck or harmful situation, a person can be conditioned to take the bad....over and over again.

I did just that. However, with all my writing, I hope you realize that I was able to transform victimization into a victory of survival.  I'm alive and kicking, a voice against all the injustices done to me. I am a survivor. All that I am is clearly exhibited in Until You Say Uncle. Right here for me to share.  And it has been quite a journey.  I still catch myself when I'm scared to fight back and stand up for what I believe in against an aggressor. And then I remember...things are not what they used to be. I will not be silent.

In 1978, I did not believe in myself.  I was easy prey for a predator.  I will not dwell on the what ifs...but know surely with all my being that had I a parent who believed in me, my life would have turned out differently.  Sometimes, I still imagine what it would have been like.  Me, as a child, with a mother who loved me, and told me just that.  But that was not my lot in life.  I was dealt a Mom who told me the contrary.  She also told me she should have had a miscarriage when she was pregnant with me, wished I would die from cancer, and how I ruined her life.  I was told I was never going to amount to anything - and that is what I held on to. The nicknames my mother had for me were wielded like a sword to cut through any self esteem I could have had. When you are constantly told how ugly you are, especially from the one person who can shape all you hold dear, well - it becomes who you are - the way you see yourself.

So, in 1978, I was not in the most confident of mindsets.  I was a senior in college - seeking employment and housing (my mother said that I could not live at home after college), with little to no self esteem.  Then along came a young man, someone whom I knew since childhood, and he lavished me with attention.  That is, until July 4 of 1978 when he raped me.  

We all have a moment in our lives when we know we are changed forever. I can tell you that at 11:30 pm on July 4, 1978, was mine.  Most victims of rape don't talk about it.  I didn't. Who could I tell?  My parents were not the kind of people I could go to. Instead, I internalized the crime. I withdrew. Became silent.  I isolated.  I felt branded by this incorrigible young man who stole my future in that one act of sexual violence.

And after this life altering night, it was as though he owned me.  The only way I can describe it is to tell you that he stole my dreams. Every single one of them in his selfish act.  Branded.  I remember watching Bonanza shows, and seeing how they branded their ranch's symbol on the cattle.  That is what rape did to me. And more. This young man - Bob, at 20 years of age, saw me as a body he was able to control, manipulate, use and abuse. I couldn't fight back. I didn't even know how to. 

I became a perpetual victim after that.  I continued to "date" my rapist, if that's what you can call it.  And he escalated his abuse on a weekly basis. Bob, the abuser,  became Bob, my "boyfriend."

My victimization empowered him and he become more brazen.  I guess he figured if he could get away with rape, he could get away with anything.  It no longer mattered what he did to me in public.  We went out to eat with another couple at a yacht club once.  When our meals came to the table, I saw that Bob asked for a side order of macaroni salad, which I loved. When I asked him if I could have a taste, he turned to me with a look of disgust on his face and spit into the bowl of macaroni salad. Right in front of  the other couple, Evan (may his memory be for a blessing) and his girlfriend,Leslie!  They were shocked. I was numb. Evan took Bob aside to talk to him.  I did nothing.  I no longer wanted any macaroni salad.  

Another time, my friends from college came down from Connecticut for a visit.  We were all set to go out to dinner, with Bob and I in the backseat of their car.  Headed to a nice restaurant in New York, Bob brought up the subject of my religious faith.  He didn't like my relationship with my Rabbi - I admired the Rabbi alot and it infuriated Bob.  Bob was probably fearful that I told the Rabbi about all the abuse.  I never did. I didn't tell anyone back then. When I opened my mouth to defend myself - whack! Bob smacked me on the side of my head.  Then again - all while my friend was driving us.  But seeing this in his rear view mirror, my friend stopped the car, screamed at Bob to cut it out...Silence. And we continued like it never happened.

1978 was quite an eventful summer.  It was my first summer of being a victim of sexual assault and violence at the hands of someone I was dating.  I was sucked into hell at a slow pace.  A pace which was speeding up at all costs toward the end of the summer.

The warm summer weather left us. However,in September, Bob still wanted a few more weeks of taking out the speedboat he owned. The name of his boat was Foreplay.  Distasteful, but I never saw the signs back then.  I was oblivious to anything - except accustom to being scolded, criticized, demeaned, and hit.  One chilly afternoon, Bob demanded we go out on the boat.  I thought the weather was not accommodating, but I had to accommodate "the boss", as he liked to be called.

Well, we took the boat out that day.  We left the Castaways Yacht club in New Rochelle, NY, and headed to Mamaroneck's Orienta Point.  It was so cold that afternoon, that I wrapped myself in the two huge bath towels that we brought with us.  It was not the kind of weather for a boat ride. I was about to put my sweat pants and sweatshirt on over my bathing suit, as the breeze was overwhelming and chilled my bones.  His voice loud and ringing, Bob told me not to touch my clothes.  His face was red, about to go into rage mode? I thought.  We were alone in the middle of the Long Island Sound. Anchored off the shore of Mamaroneck's coastline. I could see Orienta Point Beach, but not another soul was out on the water.  Or on the beach.

"Get in the water!" Bob demanded.  "I want to see if it's cold or not.  You're going to test the waters!" 
I don't know what got into me, but I refused.  Huge mistake.  But I didn't think that until the second after I said, "No.  I don't want to."

Bob pulled his penis out of his swim trunks and peed all over me.

And then the what I call hyena laugh.  There was the wicked laugh and evil smirk that he became known for.

"Now, I bet you'll go into the water!"  "And let me know what you think the temperature is - I might want a swim."

Okay - so how disgusting was that?  I don't remember crying.  I certainly don't think I said another word.  What I do remember is getting up, feeling like I was going to puke from being drenched in Bob's urine - and I jumped off the boat, and into the water.

It didn't end there.  Demanding my opinion on the water temperature, I said it was too cold.  He helped me back onto the boat and took out a joint.  Then he had another thought.

"Take off your bathing suit and get down on the floor (of the boat)."
It was time to be his sexual victim again...

I didn't fight, I didn't yell. I had already lost myself and my voice.

Do you know the story of the frog that dies in boiling water? 

If you drop a live frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out of the pot. To escape and save itself from sure death.  However, if you put this frog into a pot of room temperature water, and then slowly, steadily, bring the water to boil...the frog will stay in the water until it dies.

I was a frog in a slow boil.  Rape, public humiliation, denigration, and mind control were the tools Bob used to bring the pot to that slow boil.  Thinking I deserved what I got, who knows what else went through my mind back then...I married him. After all that he took from me, my dignity was shattered. I didn't think anyone else would ever want me, as the remains from Bob's torments left me a broken person.

I didn't think anything could get any worse. However, in married life as husband and wife, the hell got hotter than ever.

Why am I telling this story, my history? 

If you ever think my voice comes from the soul of a victim, I wish to correct you right now.  At this moment, I can tell you differently.  I don't know who I was back in 1978.  After that July 4th evening, I lost who I was.

And now I feel like I have finally found her.  Me. But how many other girls end up being abused during the dating period, not knowing the signs from the very beginning?

Bob lavished me with attention.  He would call me several times a day in the beginning.  I thought that was sweet, showed that he cared. Wrong.  It was a means for him to know where I was at all times.  And is all part of the control these perpetrators need to have.

The gifts I was given? I came from an affluent background, so Bob had upped his out-of-the-blue surprises to Gucci handbags, a Louis Vuitton briefcase, flowers, jewelry....He'd hit me, buy me gift.  Rape me, send me flowers.  A cycle that was tumultuous in and of itself. Beyond damaging!  Crazy making. 

And this all happened PRIOR to my marrying him.  Of course it is with a huge amount of humility that I share my experience.  I was not shallow, being swayed with gifts - but I did always believe that Bob was sorry and could change.  I ended up thinking that for 2 decades - and it never happened.  Never any remorse. 

My concern now is for young women everywhere.  I never had any daughters.  But I pray for daughters everywhere.  Young women need to believe in themselves to a point where no one can take their dignity away from them.  They need to be taught the differences between a man who truly cares for them, and a man who needs them like every prison guard needs a prisoner.

And young women need the unconditional love of their mothers.  Mothers should nurture their daughters, guiding them to develop into strong women in their own right.  

Teen dating is much like testing the waters.  In order to end domestic violence, women must escape situations whether the abuse is swift and unyielding...or slow and unassuming.  Young women need to learn the signs of abuse at an early age, so they don't have to learn how to undo the victim mentality like I did.  It's not an easy road to transform the v for victim, into the v for victor.  Not everyone is as lucky as me.  Not everyone ends up finding their voice. 

Teach your daughters the difference between a man who considers her property, and a man who views her properly.  The difference between a man who wants to control her, and a man who wants only the best for her.

Teach your daughters the difference between a man who needs her as a means to an end, and a man who cherishes her until the end of time. 

And we must teach our sons to be the better kind of man.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Making an Entrance

Why is it we learn so much in hindsight?

I would like to ask you to view this video that a friend shared with me this morning. It brought tears to my eyes. My reaction was due to my past, my present, and the future.  After taking 2 minutes to watch the video linked below, I'll tell you more about my association with it.

On February 16, 1980, I entered a room without my parents, without my sister, without my grandparents....without any family...and faced an audience with a Rabbi whom I had just met, and the young man with whom I was to marry - standing under a chuppah.

My parents would not acknowledge nor approve of my wedding (I did always believe they would finally show up - but they didn't), my grandparents were afraid to go against their daughter (my mother), and my sister...well, she was 21 and could have been my maid of honor.  I had purchased a dress for her, which hung wrapped in plastic in a dressing room - paid for and never touched.  Until the very last moment,  I had hoped she would show up. She never did.

But not even the Rabbi I knew since childhood would approve and officiate at this marriage.  He contacted a friend of his from California who was in town for the week, who officiated.  I should have known better.  I didn't even register all this back then.

When it came time to walk into the ceremonial room of the Fountainhead in New Rochelle, New York, I had already had 2 glasses of wine. The young man who was to be my husband was high on cocaine.  As was his groomsmen.  Did anyone notice? Only moments after the ceremony, the "best man" passed out cold, in a plate of food. 

And as the music started, signalling the bridal entrance, I stood outside that huge wooden door, with my future husband's family on the other side, and I wanted to run.  Not down the aisle to a man I was to marry - but run away!  I wanted to escape.  The hall's manager gave me the cue to walk into the room as his hand was on that door's handle.  I then said I didn't want to.  He opened the door, and literally gave my back a little push - a shove.  And there I was - a single young woman, 24 years young, who had already been raped and beaten by the young man waiting on the other end of that aisle....walking into a life that would be nothing less than hell on earth.

By the time of my wedding day, I already had the mindset of victim mentality. My future husband had given me many first experiences, like having a gun held to my head in order to coerce me into doing something I didn't want to do.

Well, I made my entrance.  Nothing like the bride in that video as viewed above.  I don't remember wanting to sing, I don't remember love in my heart - I'm sorry but I don't. I felt branded. I remember regret and sorrow.  Fear and humility.  Sheer panic. If I ran, and embarassed him - I thought for sure he would kill me. How I wished I could have run away.

And if I had, what were the possibilities that could have lay ahead?  I stayed in that marriage for almost 20 years, and it was ugly. The only light I had in my life was giving birth to two sons. They kept me going. All the luxuries I appeared to have - a beautiful home in Bedford, New York, fantastic automobiles, going to the best restaurants and hotels, only designer clothing, high end jewelry - it all was paid for with my life.  With broken blood vessels, bruises and emotional torment.  If only I had never made that entrance.

It was all about taking the one step beyond the door's threshold. And giving up all my childhood dreams. I didn't trust my gut.  I never believed in myself.  Now, I'm getting there.  And the second I feel an usettling feeling in my core about anything - I listen to my body, and contemplate with my brain.

At 7PM on that February 16th, of 1980, I made my grand entrance, wearing an $83 sample wedding gown that I purchased off the rack of a White Plains bridal store.  I made the entrance which led me to who I am today.

I survived those wedded 20 years - barely at times.  I made a final exit in filing for divorce from my abuser. 

When I saw the video of this bride's entrance, I cried.  Not only for how wonderful her heart must feel.  Thinking they sure look too young! to make such a commitment....

But because of what was taken away from me when I made my own entrance in 1980.

(I'm also quite in tuned to weddings these younger son's wedding is coming up on June 21...I hope the bride's entrance is a grand one, with only love and peace in her heart. I'm not sure that will be possible, considering how I am being treated.  As of this time, neither the bride nor my son have included me in their lives/wedding plans - and I am the mother of the groom.)

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Musical Memory

My older son always liked to play the "cooler" one of my two boys. It was a facade for everyone else, but not me - his Mom.
My older son was the one who would cry quietly, tears rolling down a cheek in the shadows. In 1992, when I was hospitalized for having a miscarriage (one of several I suffered), my older son was the one who cried for his mother when staying over at a friend's house.
It is only now, years - a decade - into not having my sons in my life, that I reflect... and realize so many things. My older son ran out of rooms, fled the house, when his father raged so many times. My older son was too sensitive to witness it and process it. As no child should. My younger son would remain witness to more than his older brother, thus has had so much more to deal with.

 I remember when the song "Tears in Heaven" came out. A ballad written by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, it was about the pain Clapton felt following the tragic death of his 4 year old son. My older son at 11 years old was so moved by this song, that he would cry whenever he heard it. It was amazing that this tough kid, the one who tried to hide so much emotion from everyone...understood the pain in every lyric and note. Every time the song played over the radio in the car during carpools, etc. I made sure to change the station. And my older son knew that I knew. The power of the word, and how that music went right to his heart. Even at so young an age. 

As you know, parental alienation took over my relationship with my sons. That song that moved my older son at 11 years of age....I wonder how he would feel about it now. Now that he has cut me out of his life since 2000, only to hurt me time and time again. You can say that the alienating parent, my ex husband, is to blame. My older son is now 32 years old. I pray that he be brave enough to put the pieces of our lives together again. 

 And if he is reading this,  perhaps with his own 3 year old son on his lap, ....

this is for him. My first born.

I just wonder if he feels anything anymore. Or if becoming a father has brought him new insights.

Now I am the parent who lost a child. 

Two to be exact.
Pleae click on the you tube link and take a listen.  And if you know my son, play it for him.  Maybe it will open his heart.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Faith : What good is it?

Recently, I heard someone say, "Faith begins where knowledge ends."

I strongly disagree.

I had faith, even when knowledge existed.

Here I sit, contemplating, reflecting, and questioning.  I have the knowledge of who I was, who I am, and who I strive to be.  I also have the knowledge of how close I was to both my sons throughout their childhoods, how I never put myself first (not even before an abusive husband), and  how I did mitzvot every chance I got. Of course, I have and had my faults, did and said things that were sometimes not the best choices...but I never did anything to be mean to another living creature and always focused on acts of lovingkindness. I grew up in an abusive household and swore to never be cruel like my mother, or indifferent like my father. I modeled my life on the theory of "opposites."

I lost both my sons to parental alienation (brainwashing and manipulation of one parent - turning children against the other parent), my abusive husband is now an "ex husband" who continues his torture of me via legal abuse and prohibiting me from having a relationship with my sons (including now a 3 year old grandson). All that mitzvot I did...donating what I could gather to drop off at food banks and serving people at soup kitchens as a married woman, always done on the sly (the husband forbid such things) - well, in the last decade I was found on the other side of the server's in similar establishments - with food stamps for a while, as I became a victim of an abuser's economic abuse (my ex husband owes me alot of money - for years he did not abide by orders for financial support as a means of punishing me further).  

I have resided in shelters, gone without food, and even remember a fall season when I had no socks or warm jacket.  I have lived in my car, washing up in local hotels' rest rooms for a time - Arrowood in Rye was the best. In America, you get as much justice as you can afford.  Married, I had no access to all the money we had.  It wasn't until I met someone, after I had already begun the divorce process, who was so compassionate that he lent me his life savings - enabling me to retain counsel in the legal process.  And all that happened simultaneously to when my husband lived in our Bedford estate, drove the new Bentley convertible , the Jag, and traveled to exotic places on vacations. He would throw money around like there was no tomorrow.  And he threw alot of that money at my sons, too. The court system left it that way.  There was the inequitable distribution during my divorce -  and my abusive husband's hidden assets and money galore never entered a courtroom. 

I have shared my experiences of being the victim of brutal rape, being locked in dark closets, and having endured horrific suffering orchestrated by that husband.  Through it all, I had faith.  I guess I did.  For when I was limited to the isolation of a darkened closet as punishment for whatever I may have said or done (and many times just because the husband felt like it), I prayed.  My Higher Power was the person I spoke to. G-d!  So, would you not say I had faith? 

And shouldn't I have lost it then?  Lost all faith?  Bad things happen to good people.  Do those good people continue to believe in G-d?

I did. But you know, it is getting just so hard on some days.

I cannot say my G-d is all good and loving anymore.  How can He let such awful things happen on earth?  And if He is "all knowing," wouldn't he know who was evil and who was good? Even I know that. Wouldn't horrors be corrected?

Did you ever walk into the children's ward of a hospital?  I have.  Every time I go to a hospital, I make sure I do that.  I'm disclosing this for the very first time.  I walk through the halls and peek in to see the children who are awake.  I grab a nurse to assist the children who are crying.  A little over two years ago, I was visiting a friend in the hospital, and took the time to go to the children's wing.  I saw something that haunts me to this day.  A small child standing in a crib, crying - bandaged head to toe.  Only her eyes peered out at me when she noticed me near the door.  I smiled, said hello...she may have been 3 years old.  I made funny faces, funny noises - the crying continued.  I got a nurse to see her, and pain  medication was administered.  The nurse told me that the young girl had a pot of scalding water poured on her - by her mother.  On purpose.

I went back to the hospital, to see this child again.  I brought her some toys and a very soft pink blanket.  I didn't know what else to do.  I sang a silly song to her for a few minutes, and she just peered out at me through her bandages.....A few days passed, I went back again.  She was gone.  The nurse told me that they were hoping the mother would be jailed for a long time, and that social services came for the child. They had no information on a father.

Now, did I stop believing in G-d?  And what of my faith?  I wondered what the nurses who tended to the children in such situations believed in......

Logically speaking, I should be mad. Mad about so much and at so many.  I have a hard time with that emotion.  Therapists tell me that "mad" was literally beaten out of me during my 20 years of domestic violence.  And they are most likely correct.  I don't want to be anyone's victim anymore, but my tolerance level for people doing the wrong thing by me was higher than the average person's.  Battered women's syndrome can do that to you. Now, things have changed.  I bet that's part of my healing.

Now what do I do with this idea of faith?  

I'm hurting in a terrible way..  There was a time when I thought I could not live through such a period.  When I thought I could not survive losing my sons during my divorce, I did not want to survive.  Then was the time suicide first entered my thought pattern.  Escape from the pain.  Leave the mess in my life behind.  Stop my heart from hurting so.  But that is not the answer. That would not be acceptable to G-d. It is also against the law....

So, what is the answer to ease a heart that hurts? Faith is?

I have seen children dieing in hospitals, and as a Soldiers' Angel for a decade - I have received letters from mostly 18 to 21 year olds telling me how shooting someone for the first time changed them forever. Many of my soldiers lost their own young lives.  Senseless.  I have gone through a cold season with no socks nor winter jacket. I have awoken on the back seat of a sedan that was my home, for another day.

And through all that, I had faith.  I had this idea that there was still hope in the world and something greater than I was watching out for us all. 

I grieve on a daily basis over two beautiful boys who grew into hurtful and heartless men. My own sons. Now no matter how they treat others in their lives, how do you make your own mother suffer so? I met the Aunt of my younger son's fiancee. She told me how wonderful my son was.  "Really?" I wanted to say, but did not......and I continued in thought..."Then how could he be so mean to me, his own mother?"  I'd say that is pretty far from being wonderful!

"G-d, I need my faith.  Now more than ever.  Please, find me."

I am floundering.  I need something, a lifeline. In the last month, I have been extremely disturbed by a representative of my own faith (I want to make it clear : this "man" was not of my congregation), bullied by people who don't even know me, and still my court actions are delayed as my ex husband amuses himself with me as his hobby. Five weeks ago, I had major surgery to correct injuries inflicted on me so long ago - when I was a victim of domestic violence, as doctors missed the proper diagnosis until recently. I was scheduled to speak at a local event, bringing awareness to domestic violence...then silenced as someone canceled my few minutes of awareness. The woman who canceled my speaking appearance did not even think enough of me to tell me the truth.  On another note, my son became engaged to a local New Jersey girl...and they will not speak to me nor meet with me (parental alienation is forever?).  Disappointments have not been scarce this month.  What a month January has been.

I need faith. 

Faith is not something that approves or disapproves of G-d.  It doesn't pick up when I have no defined answers, or knowledge.  For me, faith is something that is necessary to face the turmoil life throws at me. On a constant basis. All the time. It is a feeling enmeshed in the belief that there absolutely must be a bigger picture involved here.  

Faith may just be the only tool I have to help me survive right now.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Son, My Heart

I find it is always better to "sit" on things that bring you conflict.  And I also find that going with my heart is usually the best solution for any sort of resolution.

Have you ever held a newborn in your arms?  And for all you women out there,Moms, try to remember what it felt like when you held your own flesh and blood in your arms for the very first time.  You Dads, too - remember?

I had a scheduled C section when my younger son was born.  It was scheduled for 8 AM on March 22, 1985.

During my entire pregnancy, I sang to my son.  I talked to him.  I prayed for him. I gave him his name as soon as an ultrasound revealed I was having another boy.  But with all that I had imagined, nothing could ever have prepared me for the joy in my heart when this little guy met me - face to face.

Although this wasn't the first time I gave birth, it kind of was.  My first son was born after 11 hours of labor and an emergency C section - prematurely.  With a due date of January 26, first son was born on December 19, 1981, weighing only 4 pounds.  Rushed to the Intensive Care Preemie Unit in a well known NYC hospital while I was still sedated, he was born with underdeveloped lungs. And I developed a fever in the Bronxville hospital where he was born.  The two of us did not meet until he was already weeks old.  I loved him with all my heart, when I hadn't even seen him.  That was one of the worse times of my life. I prayed with every ounce of my being for his survival. And my prayers were answered. Baruch Hashem.

So when I saw my younger son for that very first time, after I awoke from the anesthesia and he had already been cleaned up...I truly realized that having a child is like having your heart survive outside of your body. I loved him with all my being. I melted, I cried, I thanked G-d.  Mostly, I thanked G-d.  This child was a miracle.  A true living miracle. And when I looked into his face, his little eyes told me he knew it.  And he loved me back just the same. 

During this pregnancy, I lived with my parents for the last 6 months until my baby's birth.  I do not want to soil this wonderful memory I am reliving by the fact that I left my husband for the safety of my unborn son. My older son and I lived with my parents through months of reflection, as I knew I had to protect this unborn child at all costs.  My husband did not want another son and when I delivered the news after my 12 week ultrasound, he went into rage mode.  He did not want 2 sons, he couldn't fit 2 sons in a Ferrari, he didn't want 2 sons in his business, etc.  I was bruised and battered. My parents packed up my 2 year old and me...not a pleasant memory at all. The only time my parents were ever there for me.....

Getting back to the sacred meeting of this baby boy.  I will refer to it as a sacred meeting.  He was a holy one from the moment of his conception. I don't know if this has ever happened to another Mom after delivery, but I already saw his future - or what I had hoped it would be.  I immediately thought of his becoming a Bar Mitzvah.  I thought of his wedding under a Chupah some day.  And I felt my heart mesh with his as we would be together forever. Or so I thought.

My Nana, of blessed memory, came to the hospital to meet her second great grandson and proclaimed that his hair had a circular motion on the tippy top of his head.  According to her, that meant that this newborn was going to be a Rabbi some day. It was indicative of the Yarmulke he would wear, she said. And she,too, felt that he was an old soul.

And I believe he was.  As this child grew into his own self, his compassion, understanding, and empathy for others was overwhelming.  Way beyond his years. Often times, he would astound me.  He would come home from elementary school, always missing his Transformer gloves, or a hat, or a favorite pencil case.  I'd ask him where these things were, and he would tell me,  " oh, ____, liked them and I gave them to him so he could be happy today."  My little old soul.  And the times that we would take left overs from a NYC restaurant, to see homeless people on the streetcorners as we walked by, when he would go up to them - even at 5 years young - tell them he wanted them to have a good meal...he would take the leftovers we were carrying and hand them over, without another word.  This little boy was amazing. 

My son.

I can go on and on with those kinds of stories.  He was the one who felt so much for others. He was always concerned with the wellbeing of other people, asking of the elderly and ill. And no one had to even tell him to.

My son.

In second grade, his teacher, Ms. Damien once asked the class, "If you were to find a treasure at the bottom of the ocean, what would it be?"  This son answered her without thinking, "My mother."  I recieved a phonecall that day, and was asked to come into school.  It was the first time a teacher picked up on the possiblity of domestic violence going on in our home.

This little boy saw too much.  It wasn't like when his father would hit me, like I could ask him to take it to another room.  Where my older son would flee the surroundings during his father's acts of violent rage, this younger son would remain. Crying and begging his father to stop hurting his mother, me.  Many times, he would tug at his father's shirt to make him stop pulling my hair or choking me.  And this was the child to always bring me ice packs and bandages, tending to my wounds.

My son.

I am not proud of what I am telling you.  I exposed my children to domestic violence. I had no where to go. Frightened out of my own skin.  When I had reunited with my husband, after my baby's birth, my husband decided there was no room in our lives for my parents. (There was a huge blowout between my husband and my mother at one point. My parents "disowned" me.  My mother always said she didn't want me anyway.) I had no one, as the isolation of an abuser is only part of the plan.  No money, nowhere to go - my goal was to survive and keep these children safe.  I did the best I could.  I swear.  And I am sorry about so much.  Especially not getting out of that situation somehow, someway - but I just didn't know how.

We had all the finest material things you could ask for.  My sons grew up.  My older son became a Bar Mitzvah.  Not shortly afterward, I fled to a domestic violence shelter while my boys were away in sleep away camp.  I went back to my husband, though.  My husband said he would not allow my younger son to become a Bar Mitzvah if I didn't.  

Many of you might judge me for that.  All I can tell you is that my Jewish faith was of the highest order.  And I could not let this man take that away from my younger son. My younger son became a Bar Mitzvah. Then, I tried to get us out of the violent atmosphere 2 more times...but with the new threats of never seeing my sons again....I always went back. 

When I knew the man I had married was going to literally kill me, as he promised me he would - it was the last time.  He had his hands around my throat and said, "Should I kill you right now, or see if you gasp for breath?" In 1999 I filed for divorce for the third time, and kept to it despite the threats that I would never see my sons again.

Never see my sons again? Who could believe such a thing?  I was so close to my boys.  Although I am focusing on my younger son here for a reason, my love for my older son was the same.  My boys were my world and my life.  We played basketball together (their father was not interested in them), we played soccer together (I was even an assistant soccer coach - and their father was not interested in them).  I went to every play, every game, every milestone.  And almost always alone.  Their father was not interested in them.

Not until I followed through with the divorce proceedings and it would cost him money for support.  But better yet, he thought, it was a way to torture me for the rest of my days....taking my sons from me, their mother.

For a while, my younger son would remain in my life during our divorce proceding.  His father had literally told the boys that if they stayed with me (custody) they would end up on the street, like he said I was going to.  Scaring his own sons into submission, they said they had to live with their father.  I still saw them.  Visitation was diminishing though.  My husband would call them constantly during our time together.  My younger son's visits would always be interrupted by at least 4 phone calls from his father, demanding he get home for a haircut, or some other lame excuse.  The phone line dedicated to my communicating with my sons....their father transformed that into a computer line so I couldn't contact them anymore. The therapist visits that were court ordered to strengthen the relationship with my sons, the one that their father was destroying with lies, well....those appointments were canceled so many times by my husband that they became non-existent.  He told my boys I didn't want them anymore, that I didn't love them anymore.  I tried to combat that, but eventually my sons would not see me anymore.  They were fooled in two ways: 1. by believing their father's lies and 2. by not giving me a chance to tell my truth.

And I reflect on that moment when I looked into the eyes of my newborn on March 22, 1985.  With every hope and dream a mother can have for a child.  He had a little red mark on his forehead, which eventually faded.  But I believed he was touched by my Higher Power.  I saw something in him I had never seen before.  And at the time, I couldn't describe it.  Now I can.  Hope. He appeared to be the entire theory of Tikkun Olam in one vessel.  He looked like he was not only going to repair hearts, but the world.

How wrong it all turned out, though. The pain that little soul brought into my life, almost killed me.  Via a planned course of manipulation, the father of my sons destroyed much of the spark within both my boys.  A child will never cut a parent out of his/her life.  A child has to be taught to do that.  And my sons had a psychopathic teacher, their own father.

Over the years of 2003-2008, I would receive vile emails from both my sons. I saved each and every one of those emails.  Now imagine this.  That little soul you loved so grows up into a teenager and sends you emails - telling you to get a gun and shoot yourself.  Telling you that pills are for wusses and that you should kill yourself the real way - a bullet to the head.  And an email calling his mother a cunt.  Another saying that he is waiting for me to die alone. My older son, he took another route.  One of less expressive anger.  He, too, has made hurting me a hobby - I have a 3 year old grandson he will not let me meet.

If you were ever to tell me, so many years ago, that my sons would not be in my life some day - or that they would hurt and abuse me in any way....I would have said you were crazy.  It couldn't happen.  But it did.
In 2004, my younger son was court ordered to see Dr. Paulina Koernberg with me (I never stopped fighting for them in court).  In our documented meeting, my younger son told Dr. Koernberg that he thought his mother was a goddess (yes, he said that exactly).  The kind Doctor looked at him surprised, as I sat on the other side of her.  She looked at my son and asked, "So, what happened?  Now you don't want to see your mother at all?"  You know what my son answered?  "My father opened my eyes."

Here I sit, contemplating what to do about  a current situation.  My younger son is now engaged.  Hope, right?  That was my first thought.  For in 2009, he had a wonderful girlfriend who contacted me and believed that everyone needs their mother.  She was trying to make ammends between my son and I after she told me what this son had explained to her.  She said my son told her his mother abandoned him as a child because she didn't want him anymore. Incredible!  And she had believed him...until she got to know me.

Well, that relationship did not work out.  And my son is presently engaged to another young woman, one whom I have heard so many wonderful things about.  I didn't find out about this until only weeks ago.  Someone who works at my husband's company of Foodirect (many people don't like him) called to tell me of this news. My sons both work there, for their father. 

With one son married already, I would lay up at night worried about my younger son being alone - after he broke up with his former girlfriend in 2010. When I heard he was engaged, at first my heart hurt for not being included first hand in his life.  Then, as I think any loving mother would feel?  I was ecstatic that he was not alone.  That he had love in his life.  And perhaps someone who could melt the ice around his heart.  The ice that keeps me out.   

The wedding is scheduled for June 21, 2014.  And here is what I call the real kicker.....are you ready for this? I'll have to give you some background first.  An insight into this mother's soul. 

Last October, of 2013, was the most amazing month of my life.  My faith has kept me alive in so many ways.  I try to abide by Jewish ethics and values every day of my life.  And for the first time I traveled to Israel.  I not only took that journey, but I became a Bat Mitzvah - ON MASADA!!! On October 15, 2013.  And here is what I did, only moments prior to that extraordinary ceremony.....

I sat alone on a ledge of rock, holy rock, and spoke to G-d.  We had a conversation.  And no....G-d did not speak to me - well, I didn't hear Him at least.  But I felt His presence in every part of my being.  And I asked him to please, bring my sons back to me.  In some way.  And let  us know the greatest gift of all.  Shalom. Peace- I want peace. I prayed for nothing else.  I thanked Him for all my blessings, especially for making my pilgrimage to the Holy Land happen.  I told Him of a few special blessings that I was so happy about - the wonderful man in my life, a Rabbi that is amazing, a commmunity of wonderful people....and then I asked.  Please, G-d.  Bring my sons home.

With that said, when I learned of my younger son's engagement...I was also told of his fiancee's name.  I googled her.  And almost fell off my chair. My younger son, now of 28 years old, was engaged to a young woman from MILLBURN, NEW JERSEY!!!!!!  My son, who lived in Bedford, New York, and worked at Foodirect in the Bronx, found the love of his life from a town only ten minutes from where his mother relocated!  What were the chances?  That was a gift from G-d. Her family lives only minutes from my home, of West Orange, NJ!

I have since learned much about the young woman who is to become my daughter in law.  She is kind, smart, loving, compassionate, and lives a life of mitzvot.  And, she has brought a glimmer of hope into my life, though I have never spoken to her nor met her.  I have reached out to her - but she has yet to respond.

I'm waiting.  And hoping.  And praying.
I'm also thanking G-d for making this happen.  

And in order for miracles to happen, I believe we have to take a bit of action upon ourselves.  I'm not going to be quiet and just sit back about this.  I have already reached out to this young woman and much else has transpired.  It's been difficult. Her father has had a middleman contact me, and tell me that he wants to have my situation remain quiet.  He does not want this matter "exposed." Does my history of domestic violence upset him?  Or is it that fact that my son has tried to erase me for so many years?  I am not exposing anyone, merely being the mother of the groom.   A groom who might not invite his own mother to his wedding. How can anyone sit back and let that happen?

I pray that this young lady is brave.  May she have the courage to speak to me, meet me, get to know me...and perhaps, have the understanding - that everyone needs their mother.  And if she doesn't realize it now, may she one day understand. I know it might not be until she has a child of her own....

Maybe that will be what it takes for her to realize that when you do have a child, it is like walking around with your heart outside of your body.  Maybe she can help me reunite with my son. And just maybe she will understand my heart.   

With love.