Sunday, September 11, 2011

Personal Memory of 9-11

Ten years ago started out as just a typical day. I was a fifty-year old college student. When the alarm went off I hit the snooze and laid in bed with tears rolling off my cheeks into my ears and onto the pillow. School had barely started and I was already so physically weak, exhausted beyond belief, and with the now familiar constant searing pain all over my body, it was a challenge to get out of bed, let alone make it to the bus stop to get to class.

I'd adjusted the alarm to allow myself a good half hour to forty-five minutes of snooze tapping so that I could slowly stretch out some of the pain before I even attempted to get out of bed. I also needed that time to psyche myself up for meeting the challenge of another difficult day--hopefully with a smile on my face. No need to bring other people down, right?

I remember thinking in the shower and as I dressed how this year I was already physically worse than last year...and how, since I couldn't take less than a full load at Concordia (private school), that maybe I really should look into MSUM (public college) for next year so that I could have a lighter class load...then maybe I would feel much better and things would turn around for me.

Hobbling a little less, standing a little taller, I headed for the living room. Glancing out the window to assess the morning, I clicked on the TV so I could check the weather channel prediction before I packed up my books and decided on how many layers and which coat or jacket to wear. Remote in hand, I stood a few feet in front of the TV and waited for the screen to come on so I could punch in the weather channel.

What appeared on the screen was the picture of the first tower smoking against the blue sky. What?! The announcers were wondering what had happened. I watched and waited with the rest of the world. But then a plane disappeared into the other tower...erasing all doubt.

At that moment, I remember an almost physical sensation of this monstrous wave of black fear energy instantly radiating and spreading outward from the towers--even before they fell. It felt like the blast from an atomic bomb--knocking people backwards. My first thought was--No! I closed my eyes. Don't let this do that to you! I felt like I wanted to wrap my arms around everybody! Tell them--Don't be afraid. Please! Please! Hold onto the light! Choose the light!

This lifting sensation gradually came over me. My entire body buzzed and tingled. I stood, eyes closed--even the sounds from the TV faded away--and this core of calm took hold of me. A vision of waves of dark energy spreading across the earth like ripples on a pond increased in power as the initial fear and shock of the people gave birth to raw panic, anger, and hatred. I stood.

As I spread my arms I felt my heart open so wide it was my whole being. Waves of this love energy began to wash over me...or through me...or from me...I don't know. But suddenly I realized...I wasn't alone. It was as if I could see rays of bright lights all over the world...reaching out...almost as if we were holding this lace blanket of light covering the earth...

[I had to stop writing because just remembering this reduces me to tears...because it breaks my heart that so many people are still washed in that fear.]

Anyways, I stood in my living room like that for an hour (felt like a couple minutes). Never moved. Never felt my body. Only felt attached by energy to all those other people...radiating white light...the waves of love reaching outward. Never felt so connected to the light, to love, to humanity. And then it slowly subsided. I opened my eyes...was still holding the remote in my hand. They were replaying and replaying that they will probably do again today. I won't watch.

Horrible things happen all the time. It's not what has happened to us, but how we choose to live through it and what we take away from it that determines who we are.

I have never had an experience like that before or since. But 9-11 changed my life in an unexpectedly positive way. Our choices do matter. They do make a difference. We are not alone.

We have chosen.

We are already holding hands somewhere in that dark blanket or in the light blanket.

But we have the gift of free will.

And we can change our minds whenever we choose.

Flowers and Garbage-Part Two

In this vision, GA and I went for a walk.

Imagine every person has their own little house. Each house has a yard with a fence around it and is part of this huge neighborhood with endless streets. We were walking down streets near my house. Some of the neighboring houses were pristine, while some were badly neglected, falling down shacks. I could tell that almost all the houses had originally been identical, but they had been painted, decorated, and cared for differently by each resident. Then there were a few people who had built their fences up so high and solid that you couldn't even see their houses at all--warning signs to trespassers on a couple of high fences.

The yards--they all seemed to have varying amounts of flowers and/or garbage, but there were a few that had nothing but barren dirt. A few were packed to overflowing with a rainbow of flowers and there were a few that had garbage piled so high you couldn't even catch a glimpse of their roof! Some people were out in their yards. Many were empty. Either the people were inside, in the back yard, or out walking.

And there were quite a few people out walking the streets. As you walked by the people who were out in their yards, most of them ignored you. There were a few who offered me flowers over the fence, and some actually tried to hit me with their trash! Attacked me and I didn't even know them! (Pissed me off and I desperately wanted to give them a piece of my mind, but GA grabbed my arm and kept me moving.)

There were actually people wandering up and down the street pulling wagonloads of garbage and tossing it in people's yards! And yet there were also a few carrying armloads of flowers that they were randomly handing out. Most were just scurrying past, trying not to be noticed.

We came across a garbage fight! Neighbors pelting each other with trash! And another fight! Shoveling over the fences into each other's yard. Screaming at each other! Hurting each other!!

Chaos! Looked crazy, chaotic, and dangerous--made no sense! I just wanted to go home.

So, GA took me to my house.

Much shabbier than I expected--kind of run down. And my yard! A few scattered flowers...but a ton of garbage. I was devastated! I had tried so hard all my life to be a good person and my house and yard looked like that?!!

GA showed me my life--like a strange flowers and garbage movie.

I did see flowers sprout and grow in my yard. I had genuinely felt love for people, animals--and I felt that was related to flowers, but I wasn't sure how. People often hurt me or let me down--garbage dumping--and I didn't trust them anymore. Flowers grew. Flowers withered and died. But--the garbage never seemed to stop multiplying.

People came to me and handed me flowers...and I usually gave them flowers back. Sometimes, even if I planted the flower and tried to care for shriveled up and died, no matter what I did to save it? And yet other flowers sprouted all by themselves for no apparent reason. Some of the flowers I was given and went to plant...discovered that they had been plastic and not real at all!

Certain people stood by my fence and begged me for flowers...and I gave them flowers...real flowers...and they withered in their hands!? But they keep those hands outstretched until I had no more real flowers to give and reluctantly gave them plastic ones. They didn't seem to notice the difference, but I knew. I felt guilty, but those people drained me. I only had so many flowers to give.

More recently...I saw my second husband pelting me with trash. He scared the hell out of me and I hid in my house a lot. He came with wagonloads and dumped them over my fence while I stood there silently. Sometimes he snuck back and tried to retrieve some of it. I didn't dare throw any at him or raise my voice in my defense, but my garbage pile kept growing--even when he removed some of it?

He'd barely left the scene and then my first husband arrived...backed a dump truck of steamy, smelly trash right up to my yard! I stood there and screamed at him...threatened him...threw handfuls of garbage in his face...but he just kept on dumping...and drove away laughing. And that pile kept growing long after he drove away.

My yard was overflowing with garbage!!

I was ashamed.

I wanted a pretty yard with flowers.

A yard I could be proud of.

But I hadn't a clue how to get rid of all that garbage...and keep it out! Or how to get flowers to grow in my yard...and keep growing! I couldn't even tell a real flower from a plastic one! How do you keep people from dumping trash in your yard, even if you didn't get involved in garbage fights (the red rubber ball thing)--they still just did whatever they felt like!

Tears of abject sorrow and defeat...

(It was a roller coaster night--LOL!)

GA revealed the secret to flowers and garbage.

The only thing that matters is what you give away. Whatever you give to others, multiplies back in your own yard.

(I know to many of you this is a "duh!" moment, but I was, and still am, a slow learner.)

The garbage people give you doesn't matter at all. Not one tiny bit. Don't give one piece of it a second thought. It is what you give that matters.

There is nothing to gain in wandering the streets, neglecting your own yard, to check out other people's yards. Asking others for flowers, needing flowers to be given to you...will not help your the people who stand and beg at the fence. Only giving flowers, grows flowers in your yard. Same as the people who attack, use garbage as weapons, and try to destroy other people's yards--it will not make their yard look better. They could even scoop it up and haul it off to dump in various people's yards, but it only multiplies the trash back in their own yard.

If someone dumps a garbage pile in your yard and you send anger, fear, annoyance, frustration, or hatred in return...then that is what will grow in your own yard because that is what you are giving away. Even by your thoughts, your energy! You retain and create your own garbage in your own yard. Nobody else can.

If you react by giving flowers--even by thought alone--that pile of trash will just fade away and poof! It's gone. Like an illusionist's trick. No, it's not easy, he said, but try it and see for yourself. No matter how old the trash pile, if you forgive, love, send flowers... :)

And the more flowers you give the more flowers will root in your yard and they will multiply and there will be more and more for you to give away! The supply is absolutely endless! You will not feel drained by the outstretched hands. It doesn't matter if someone gives you plastic flowers...because that is what will grow in their own yard, not yours. Plastic flowers fade away just like the trash.

It doesn't matter if people dump garbage in your yard...because that is what will grown in their own yards, not yours. Don't give fake flowers. Don't give garbage. Because it is what you give. It is only what you give that effects your yard.

The barren dirt yards? People can hide inside and try not to participate--give nothing at all. Free will and all that. (Sounded tempting to me!) But their fear creates garbage you can't see from the street. (Dang mind-reader!)

All the houses are from the same blueprint. Some people try to hide away their trash by hauling it into the back yard, or to the cellar, or the attic--he giggled. Makes no difference. You may be able to hide some things from passers by on the street, fill your yard with plastic flowers, but in the end--you are the only one responsible for the state of your own house.

Remember, only real flowers can root and grow and multiply. Only real flowers can make garbage fade away and disappear. There is love and there is fear. There are sides. You do have a choice. You just felt the invincible strength and power of love. Why would you be afraid?

And he was gone.


I have been milling on this concept and practicing when I was able (not easy, but so worth it!) for almost 30 years. I am still afraid. But less and less so. I try not to hide my trash. Admittedly, I may have a little tucked away in the basement, but the vast majority is out front for the world to see. I have my own little flower garden that I give freely from! (But I really do need to work on my house.) The rare times I was feeling I was going to run out of flowers, I always recognized I had more garbage in my yard--and I knew how to go about fixing that. Some very old, very large trash piles are quite small now. I have long forgiven (well, maybe 98%) the two husbands, for example--LOL!

Flowers and Garbage is a simple idea for me to picture--like the red rubber ball thing. GA knows what will work best with me.

Flowers and Garbage-Part One

I'm not sure how long I waited...every single night...mulling...ruminating...and, honestly, more than a little annoyed with God. How could we be left to flounder like this? How do we recognize and deal with evil? If I was always on guard and needed to be prepared to protect myself, how could I ever again be a loving and open person? How could I live being suspicious of every person I meet? Am I supposed to do battle? Or are we supposed to go forward like lambs to the slaughter and just take it? Are we not supposed to protect ourselves? How can we all be children of God when we are capable of such unspeakable things? And often in God's name? I ask for help, I get silence. Nothing. I'll figure this out on my own then--thank you very much!

Weeks went by and--surprise--I hadn't figured anything out. My anger had waned, my resolve to do this on my own come hell or high water had eroded, my heart withered at the prospect of toe to toe battle...I felt weak and small and defeated before I began. But...the beauty of this world could reduce me to tears! I truly believed I did love my son more than my own life! There were acts of love everywhere...both fierce and tender...that blasted light to the heavens and beyond...that could drop me to my knees! If I was a fool for love...of people, the earth, living be it. I knew that swelling of the heart that words cannot express...that lifts your soul and fills you with unspeakable joy. I pick that! If it is the last thing I do on this earth, I--pick--that!!

I knew I couldn't do it alone for very long. But what choice did I have? I knew my very soul couldn't survive...refused to that empty darkness of the last year. There was no choice for me. I'd rather be dead than give up on! I tried living without it--it sucked!!! But I was soul-exhausted and beaten down. World weary to my bones. Didn't even know where or how to start...too tired to start if I did know.


Well, I've never known how to actually put into words what happened next. The closest I can come is that it almost felt like I was being Jesus? Angel? God? It honestly doesn't matter to me who or what it was. I suddenly felt my entire body physically enveloped, cocooned, by this peaceful, lifting calm of pure, pure, unconditional love...that was intense, strong, powerful! Unassailable truth! Lightly vibrating waves of energy kind of washed right through me.

Then it lifted away and was gone.

Me. I was speechless.

But GA sure wasn't. He (obviously not the hugger and greatly disturbing my state of bliss) couldn't stop giggling!

So--he chortled--little old you were going to take on the very devil himself all by your lonesome small self?

Having just had a personal glimpse of the true power of goodness and love that can conquer all...and knowing my own flawed self as I do...I started to laugh at the audacious silliness of it all. My body, my soul, welcomed it like a long lost friend. It made me realize that I hadn't genuinely laughed in a very long time--always a bad sign. GA can always find a way to get me to laugh at myself--not take myself so seriously. What absolute foolish arrogance!!! Oh, I had missed the joy of laughter so very much.

We laughed and laughed and laughed. I could tell GA was glad to have me back.

And when I was quietly blissed out by giggles...

GA gave me the vision of Flower and Garbage. :):)

Flowers and Garbage-Prologue Part Three

Evil was everywhere! Selfishness ruled no matter where I looked--cruelty, fighting, deceit, greed, condemnation, aggrandizing, indifference, thievery, murder, abuse...even everywhere I looked in me.

I questioned my own motivation for anything supposedly good or nice I had ever said or done. Helping people had made me feel good. Did I stay up all night with the people on the bummers because, deep down, it made me feel better about myself? Because it felt good to be needed by strangers and known to be useful in situations other people ran from? Ego! It could be traced back to ego!

My dear son. Did I think I loved him so much just because of that big hole I had in my chest ever since I can remember and I was just trying to fill it up? Had I been worrying about his body and soul, going without sleep, holding vigil over him--was that actually just fulfilling some ego need of mine? To focus on someone else instead of looking into my own dark soul? Yes. That could be true! Did I really, truly love him if I couldn't teach him about this selfish, evil world so he could protect himself and claw out his own corner of it? Or did I just selfishly want to see someone else hang on to ideals and fantasies that I was having a hard time letting go of? Was love just selfish, too? I was nothing but a dark, tattered ego...out for myself...just like everybody else fighting for survival down here. God this was a horrible place! And where was God, anyways? Was there even something beyond us? Was there anything truly good and pure out there?

I remembered hearing about people who gave away their food in the concentration camps. Was that somehow selfish, too? I started reading every personal account I could find on the holocaust--devoured them--searching in true darkness to find an act of unconditional love. Something that was pure goodness. Something where I couldn't uncover a subconscious selfish motivation. Just me. Nothing scientific. Just a personal quest for my own selfish soul's benefit, my own selfish opinion.

I'd read and read. Individuals would recount how a total stranger in the camp would give them food or clothing...or advice on how to survive. They didn't know the person--sometimes never saw them again after the one act of supposed kindness. But, did the person act because others may be watching (motivation for many) who might think better of them? Not really. Most of the inmates thought anything you did to not selfishly survive was crazy foolish! And if it was a soldier trying to whisper to you on arrival--they could be killed for that. Hummm....

I could see a subconscious selfish family line survival thing with giving food to relatives and lovers...but what would be the gain with an absolute stranger, no one watching you, and you are expecting to die? If we are bottom-line truly selfish and evil--what possible gain could there be? What advantage could there possibly be for you to give up something precious to your own selfish survival for a total stranger's?

Love? A spark of unconditional love...of something beyond the horror of this life? Why did it make me cry?

The more I examined it and rolled it over and looked at it from all sides...the brighter it was in the darkness. I believed it was as close to unconditional love as a human can probably get.

And I kept reading and reading...about the people who risked their own lives to hide and save the lives of others...and, most amazing, the ones who forgave their torturers...the murderers of their loved ones. Shining lights in the darkness! I would read and I am crying now writing this...

...and no matter what is real or isn't about our nature...just knowing these things exist makes my heart swell and my soul lift...I can physically feel it! Goodness! Love! That is as real as evil.

Suddenly I could see little bits of light--like stars in a black sky--everywhere I looked! It really is and ye shall find. You will find what you are looking for.

The last year had been bleak and hopeless. Had felt dead inside. I didn't want to live like that. It was a miserable existence. My soul had been shriveling away to something hard and dry. Yes, my eyes had been opened to evil, but...I also truly believed in good and love...

So, now what? I had never been good at seeing evil intentions, telling when people were lying to me...or just being able to protect myself, in general. But--I had absolutely had it with the darkness! If you believe in God, you had to believe in the Devil. If I believed in Good and Love--and I believed in Evil and Hate--well, then--enough fence sitting. Now that I knew--down to my core--I had to pick a side.

How could I teach Dagan how to survive and pick goodness and love if I was clueless how to run the nasty maze, myself?

Okay--I picked God/Good/Love and I was ready for battle. Felt tremendously overmatched and under-skilled, but I don't do things half-assed--was fully prepared to die trying. I knew how close I had been to losing my soul. I wasn't giving it up without a fight. And I announced all this to the heavens--to GA (my guardian angel)--to God.

"I am going to do this--with or without your help! I don't know what to do--how to protect myself. I am scared to death. I'm not a really good person, but I will not give up trying to be! If you are really out there--if you even care at all that someone like me is on your side--if you want to help me out--or even just give me a sign--I will wait for you every night before I fall asleep."

And every night I laid in bed and waited...and milled over questions in my mind. How do you know who to trust? How am I supposed to react when people are mean to me? Or I find out they have been lying to me? What about the people who seem to emotionally suck you dry? Should I still be suspicious of everyone? What should I say to Dagan? How to I teach him if I don't know yet? How do I deal with my anger with the people who do bad things? Should I stay away from people as much as possible? How do I protect myself? Do I need a big wall around my heart?.........

I milled and milled...and waited and waited...

Until one night. I was answered!! :):)

Flowers and Garbage-Prologue Part Two

First of all--before I forget:
The Red Rubber Ball.

I was in the kind of relationships where the "loved one" would constantly find fault with me. They'd know just which buttons to push to get me all wrapped up in defending myself against false accusations, insults, lies, and blame.

After the kids went to bed one night, one of these arguments ensued...for several hours. He finally went off to bed...feeling the victor in this endless battle. I felt drained and baffled. How could he not know who I really am? How could he say those things to me? How did I end up, in just a matter of months, in another marriage where I am defending myself all the time and I feel totally misunderstood and alone?
I was feeling pretty darn sorry for myself as I curled up on the pantry floor. As he snored, I silently as I could. With the first marriage, he was so seldom home and we so seldom had conversations that the insults and disgust was spread out infrequently compared to this endless barrage. This was not the man I fell in love with. This was not the man I thought I married. How could I be so foolish and, obviously, not even capable of seeing who they really were?
Crying in a ball on the pantry floor I got one of those "instant information" things from GA. I've had them enough times in my life that I know to pay attention. ;)
I watched this picture of my husband and I fighting. He threw a hard, little, red, rubber ball directly at my chest--hit me, knife sharp, right in the heart--and, when I went to defend myself, I was actually tossing the ball right back into his hands--and he would slam it into my chest again. This was the game.
And I wasn't supposed to defend myself anymore. I was supposed to just stand up straight--calmly--with my arms held wide open and let him hit my heart with that red rubber ball...and let it just slide off of me and roll to the floor. Don't play. No matter how much it hurts. Don't play. You know it is not true.
So, after that night, that is what I tried to do. I got sucked back in a few times, but the more I refused to play the less effective the game was for him and the easier it became for me to leave my arms wide open. No fun to play alone, I guess. And the clearer it became to me that, by attacking me, that kept the focus off of himself. I didn't have to attack him, in kind. He just felt me withdraw from the game--from him. And soon came the confessions.
So that is The Red Rubber Ball concept.
Has come in very handy many times in all sorts of relationships since then--even at work. ;)
Back to the Prologue...
It was a dark, dark year...

I still laughed, but I think I must have sounded more like one of those tough, hardened bar maids in the old west. Distant, joyless, sarcastic, defeated by life.

Once again, it was Dagan who changed my perspective. I noticed that I just couldn't teach my young boy the truth. That it was a dog eat dog world, that's it's a horrible place where you can't trust a word anybody says, that everyone is ultimately out for themselves, that we are all selfishly motivated...etc, etc. I couldn't get the words to come out of my mouth and into his ears...

Why? (I can never leave one of my whys alone--LOL!)

Did that mean I didn't really believe it? I loved my son, didn't I? I wanted to protect him. Why couldn't I teach him how to protect himself in this bleak and evil world? Teach him the way it really is out there? What was my selfish motive? It had to be selfish, right?

In the meantime, while these questions were going round in my head, a couple of people who were close to me were so very concerned about me that they finally convinced me to go in for counseling. I sat in her office and told her the facts of my life story (took many visits, as you can imagine--LOL!). But when she was up to speed, I had filled her in on what I had learned from the different experiences, and I wanted to talk about God and good and evil and how do you live down here...religion of any kind was off limits. She decided that I had such an emotionally traumatic life that I had become detached from my emotions and needed to go to a women's counseling group. I disagreed. Told her that when I cry, I cry alone. That I had felt these things and I had already cried about them, examined them, turned them inside out. She did say she'd never had a client who did the self-analyzing and probing that I did (see--not normal), but said there was nothing more she could do for me and sent me off to this woman's group for 12 weeks.

Ten to fourteen women showed up each week to sit in a big circle in our folding chairs. Every week we went around the circle and the women would each tell their stories and crumble into pieces. And if they were close and didn't crumble, the counselor prodded them until they did. Other women would pat them on the back and give them tissues. Judging from the woman in charge, the goal seemed to be to actually re-experience the traumatic event with great emotion and tears. Now, don't get me wrong. This is an excellent and necessary thing for people who have not ever dealt with those events. Some of these women had obviously never had anyone to talk to, had never thought about the whys, had never revisited the events, never pondered, never grappled with their life, you know? My heart went out to them. But I thought we should be focusing much more on the whys and the what to do about it in the future?

It took three weeks to get around the circle to me. My turn. By this time I understood why my original counselor thought I needed to go to this group--thought I wasn't in touch with my emotions. If this is what was "normal"--she was absolutely correct. I was not normal. I do not need or want pity or sympathy. Crying, for myself, is a very personal thing...and being there in this group made me realize that when I do cry (especially for myself) it is soul level crying. Much easier for me to cry for someone else. That is, why I seldom cry over my life and, if I do, it's between me and God, you know? Comes from my "safe place" and that is private. Up to me to choose who to share that with, if anybody.

Needless to say, I was a great disappointment to the tissue ladies and visibly frustrating to the prodding counselor. I have no problem telling anything about my life--and no problem not even being tempted to cry about it as I tell you. They have already settled into my core. Once I have deeply experienced, wallowed, searched, examined, shredded, wailed, evaluated, absorbed, and gleaned everything I can learn from whatever it was--then it is part of my past. Available to me at any time for even deeper knowledge and guidance, but--been there, done that. If I could have talked about what was actually bothering me right then--good and evil and god and life--I may have easily cried. That was present--unresolved--raw. But I discovered, just as in the individual counseling sessions, we were not allowed to talk about anything remotely spiritual or religious.

The group counselor called the individual counselor who called me--to tell me I could come back to her after the group sessions were over. I thought I was going to cry out of frustration!! LOL!

I lasted five weeks in group. Watched and listened as they went around the circle again...nothing new, nothing learned, just reliving the pain--over and over. Discovered during the coffee and cookie sessions afterwards that a lot of these women went from group to group to group and had been going for years!

I thanked both of the counselors. Told them that I learned that my issues were not just about what happened and how I felt. They were all about much deeper whys and were absolutely between me and God.

I decided that if I was going to teach Dagan the truth, to the best of my ability, then I needed a better idea what it was. I had to closely examine evil--hatred--selfishness...which led me on a hunt for unconditional love...

To be continued...

Flowers and Garbage-Prologue Part One

I woke up thinking about Flowers and Garbage so I figured I would just dedicate myself today to trying to put this into words again. Not an easy task, as it is a concept that spreads out in all directions like a drop of water on a still pond. That's why I was curious to see what I had written down almost 30 years ago because, since then, flowers and garbage has never left me and has actually grown over the years to cover light and darkness. (The above sunrise this morning seemed quite appropriate--LOL!) Don't worry. I promise I won't overdo, so this could end up being told in parts for all I know. I won't know until my timer and I really get into this. ;)

Okay, I need to start by telling you the backstory of how my arrogant, self-pitying, demanding, stubborn self was given this whole concept in the first place. ;)


I had already had my heart broken more than once, been raped, robbed, lied to, cheated on, back-stabbed, homeless, seen miracles, cheated death with Dagan, and always managed to survive and land on my feet without my spirit being broken. I still loved life, had faith in people, and had managed to retain my optimism and my belief in goodness and in love conquering all...kind of by the skin of my teeth through sheer determination, despite evidence to the contrary--ROFL! My tattered flower child soul had managed to survive.

My relationship with Dagan's father was oddly sterile, unhealthy, one-sided, and heart-breaking. We were together and apart, together and apart--before we were married, during the marriage, and after the marriage. He'd want me, tell me everything I wanted to hear, get me back, lose interest, and discard me--and later Dagan, too. (Dagan was expected to die, after all, so he didn't want to get attached to a son he was going to lose.)

It was Dagan who changed my perspective. Freezing me out and insulting me was one thing, but hurting my baby boy was another thing altogether. I left Dagan's dad whenDagan was two and didn't go back to him.

A few years go by and lots of things happen. I am more and more confused by people--and how to remain a good, open, honest person when some people seemed to take that as an open invitation to attack. But most people were nice, life went on, and I assumed I would figure it out one day if I just tried hard enough and didn't give up.

I had been in PWP (Parents Without Partners) for a couple of years when this guy I had seen around for a long time kind of zeroed in on me. He seemed too good to be true. (Red flag, people!) Was divorced and had custody of his two boys--so must have been a great guy to have custody, right? (I had no idea you could frighten an ex-wife into handing over a child.) Long story short--he told me toward the end of our brief one-year marriage that he had been watching me and listening to me for over a year at PWP functions and knew exactly what to tell me--what I wanted to hear. He cut way back on his drinking and even quit to "get me". After we were married he went back to steady drinking, secretly. Confessing all this, he honestly believed that I would forgive him and stay.

Stay with a man who (within six months of our marriage) was like Jekyll and Hyde, who beat his oldest son, who screamed in my face, smashed things when he was angry, who threatened to shoot me, who refused to get help for his confessed perpetual drinking, whose devoted 9-yr old attack dog put his muscular doberman body between us and growled at his master when he threatened me? I don't think so. It's one thing to leave me shaking and trembling while the kids slept, but nobody messes with my Dagan. This was escalating quickly. I saw the blood and bruises on his own son when he slumped back into the house after his dad "taught him a lesson". I knew eventually it would be would be Dagan (he was just seven years old).

Nobody hits me. Nobody messes with my son.

I secretly borrowed the money, found an apartment, had Dagan staying elsewhere, and broke the news that I wanted a divorce and was moving out. He kicked and beat the dog out of the house, spittle sprayed on my face, furniture flew, but I didn't flinch or back down. (GA gave me the "red rubber ball" vision that helped me so much--explain later.) He threatened to shoot tears, to shoot himself. I learned that when it comes to my soul...I'd rather be dead than give it away.

The divorce was volatile, to say the least. He'd go from begging me to come back, to threatening and stalking me. I was moving things in a Pacer (had just learned to drive that year at 30) and needed him to help me move the bigger furniture. He'd bring over one thing at a time to drag it out. Give me things. Ask for them back (including the used Pacer). I'd never argue--bring whatever back the next day while he was at work (including the car) and then he'd call and tell me to take whatever again. (Even yarn plant hangers!?)

Guess who started coming around telling me how much he'd changed in the past five years and wanting to be a shoulder for me to cry on? Yup! And guess who was gullible enough to believe him? Yup! Frying pan into the fire.

Several months later I was over at Dagan's dad's house washing clothes, running a bit later than usual, and the phone rang. When I answered this young girl was really upset and demanded to know who the hell I was. His ex-wife. Click. Suddenly memories of other young girls (waitresses from work) and other odd things kind of fell into place...and I decided to hell with trust and scruples...and went thru his house. I found love letters from this girl...who dotted her "i"s with hearts. Took them with me and left.

That night I left Dagan with my sister and drove to his house to confront him...threw the letters in his face! And you know what he was upset about? He absolutely could not believe that I had gone through his things--was shocked! He knew me that well. Had been so confident I would never break my own moral code that he let me come over and wash clothes by myself at his house for months. He informed me that he was bored with me, anyways. I was no challenge because I believed anything anybody told me. "You have sucker written right across your forehead." He laughed. I cried.

I broke.

My soul cracked.

I had always told myself that if people really knew they were hurting other people they probably wouldn't do or say what they did. They are just self-involved or misguided or damaged, as we all are to some degree. I'd make excuses. I'd forgive. Sometimes with gritted teeth, but I'd forgive, right? But he had known me better than anyone. Knew the hell I had just endured with my second marriage. He had hurt me deliberately. With malice and cruelty--and for sport, apparently.

I had looked evil in the smiling face. Could find no forgiveness.

I was destroyed. Stricken to the core. Devastated. I laid in bed and couldn't move for two days. Overwhelmed with the bleakness. Immobilized by fear. How do I live in this world? How do I function? How can I protect myself? How can I protect Dagan? I have just been a human target with a big neon arrow over my head...with "sucker" on my forehead...and big sign on my chest shouting "foolish flower child soul--strike here".

I saw evil everywhere I looked--in some form, on some level or another--including my own dark side I had been battling all my life.

I gave up.

I became bitter. Hard. Sarcastic. I didn't trust anybody. It was a dog eat dog world. I had just been too naive and blind to see it.

People who were close to me were very worried about me. Please! This isn't you! You're not like this!

How the hell do you know?

People had told me over the years--you have your head in the clouds--you're just weird--you think too much--you're not being realistic--normal people aren't like that--you're not like other people...

Well, maybe I wasn't!

But you get your heart ripped out and your teeth kicked in enough times and you finally wise up to how things really are in this world.

It was a dark, dark year.

To be continued......