Rough Draft




Chapter 9      1968 - 1978


The next day, I realized I didn’t have to experience the pain of seeing Joe nodding out anymore. Then, just as suddenly came an excruciating pain as I thought of my babies. How on earth can I tell them Daddy’s gone and won’t be eating dinner with us anymore. I didn’t want to cry when I told them, but every time I imagined telling them, I break down in tears. I can hardly stand the thought that I   kicked their Daddy out. 


As much as I wanted to end seeing Joe on drugs, I'm devastated by the situation. It was extremely painful to live without the husband I loved, to the best of my ability; the one not using drugs. It was many, many weeks before I could even walk into our living room alone in the evening, because we had spent every evening there together watching the color TV he was so happy to have purchased. 


I love him still and greatly miss the life that, “could" have been. I loved being married and having children. Now I’m alone, feeling lost and terribly sad, devastated actually, even though I was the one who sent him away. I wanted the impossible; the family life we could have had, if it weren’t for the drugs.


For many nights I listened hopefully for the sound of our car pulling in the driveway, which never happened. Instead, the second floor tenant's car pulled in the driveway with the same familiar sound as Joe coming home from work. Each time he drove in and parked, my hopes rise a bit, then turn to despair as he comes in the back entryway and heads upstairs. 


Joe kept our car several months that winter, leaving me car-less with three little ones in cold snowy weather. Depression hit me big time and on two different occasions, for several days, I wanted so badly to end my life to end the pain. Mixed into that, I'd realized how implausible that would be. I finally knew I just couldn't cause such great suffering for my innocent babies, because of my selfish desire to end my own suffering. 


One evening at dinner, with every ounce of courage I could muster, I gathered enough of myself together to announce to almost four year old Sherry, and almost three year old Pam, who simply adores her Daddy, that he isn’t going to be with us anymore. It was the most painful thing I have ever had to do. 



My friend and neighbor Linda's husband left her and two children the same week Joe left us, so we shared a common heartache. We each became desperate for counseling help. But we admitted we were actually afraid to make the phone call for an appointment. 


Eventually we each got up enough emotional courage to make one. It turned out we were both assigned to the same counselor. Linda adored her. But after a few months, I didn’t feel helped by her at all, even though she ended up coming to my house each week, so I didn’t have to bring my three little ones to her office. 


I'm envious of people who have anonymous groups to go to, for help and support. Without having an addiction of some kind myself, there was no anonymous group for me; no place I could fit in and feel a part of. 


Later I began to attend Al-Anon which supports wives mostly, who lived with their addicted husbands. I felt ashamed of myself, I could hardly bring myself to speak in front of everyone. My face flushed when I spoke only a few words about myself. Everyone there was learning how to continue living with their addicted spouse, whereas I have separated. I stop going. 


Finally, I learn of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and was told I could fit in there because my grandfather was an alcoholic. Sure enough I had the same emotions growing up that others did. We felt odd, unloved, fearful, never fitting in and felt somehow flawed and defective.




I continued being angry at Joe for choosing drugs over his family. I blamed his Mother, believing she solved all his problems growing up, so he never learned how to be a responsible adult. I was always lonely, frustrated and depressed, taking it all out on my innocent children. I used fear as punishment, screaming and whacking a yardstick against the wall to scare them into obedience. 


Reporting all my problems to my counselor wasn't helping me. My life remained the same; desperate. However, just as I was feeling there was absolutely no way she could help me, she invited me to join a support group of divorced and separated mothers which she facilitated at her office. 


It was there that I learned of Dr. Adam Baker. He had asked for and received Federal funding for a three year program to teach mothers how to become Home Day Care providers. He predicted that since more mothers were working outside the home, Day Care would become the next enterprise. I immediately apply, because I enjoyed being with and teaching children and I desperately needed to become able to support my family.




After several months, I received the news I was one of twenty mothers accepted into the Day Care Program, out of three hundred that had applied. I was elated and my self esteem began to rise. We started classes in the Fall of 1970 and our children, who were not old enough for first grade were enrolled in a day care program, paid for by the funding. There was no public kindergarten.


I was extremely pleased and grateful to say the least, for this grand opportunity. There was hope for a brighter future for our family. I wanted to work with little children because I was aware of their sponge like learning capabilities and I loved helping them learn the basics.


During the next few years, I went to several more counselors. I still seriously wanted to learn how to fix what was wrong with me. The second counselor I saw really helped me out by naming a feeling I kept having. It was called "disappointment." Until then I had no clue as to what that feeling was. 


My third counselor asked me on a first visit, “What would you like help with?”


I shared my experience of seeing singers on TV for the first time when I was seventeen and how they looked into each others eyes and seemed somehow emotionally connecting as they sang. I explained that I would like to be able to connect with other people like that. “Do you understand what I mean?” I ask him.


“Yes, I do,” he responds.


“Can you to help me learn how to do that?” 


I don’t get a direct answer, he only continued listening to my tales of woe. I soon stop seeing him also.




When my Day Care Program ended in 1972, most of us students were “melded” into Salem State Teachers College. We wanted to work towards a bachelors degree in "Early Childhood Education," which we were able to do thanks to our director, Dr. Baker. 


I justified my leaving the girls with sitters and going to evening classes, by telling them I was going to become a teacher and have the summers off to be with them. They were as excited as I was about the idea, especially sensitive Pam. 


During my course of studies at Salem State, one of our requirements for our degree was to tutor three individual children. One of mine was a teenage boy who did carving for a hobby. He was also suffering emotionally at home and I was happy to lend a listening ear. One day during our session, he gave me a beautiful gift he had carved. I was so unbelievably delighted and overjoyed. We gazed into each others eyes with love as I thanked him profusely. 


Walking to the parking lot that day, joy exploded throughout my body. I said to myself, “This is what living is all about.” For the first time, I had experienced what I had been wanting in therapy sessions for years; that deep connection with another, like what I had observed between the singers on TV.


After receiving a BS degree in Early Childhood Education in 1976, I felt a tremendous fear of becoming a teacher. My lack of confidence, low self-esteem along with fear, kept me from even applying for a job. My mind convinced me I could not be a professional teacher. So I put an ad in the paper and got several house cleaning jobs. I liked the exercise.


My next to the last counselor I sought out, worked for the County and on my third visit, he fell asleep for a minute, while I was talking.


On my first visit to my last potential counselor, I didn't say a word at first. We just sat together for several moments in silence. Soon tears began oozing from my eyes. I felt overwhelmed by her silent acceptance of me and I wanted to continue seeing her, but she didn't take my insurance.


In an effort to move forward positively, but with counselors and groups unable to help me, I began reading a self help book called, "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankyl. I wanted to find meaning for my life and how next to proceed, with no job and living in a place I didn't like.


That book gave me my first real insight into living. I realized I could not change society, or the people who hurt me, like I thought I could, in order to feel whole. I realized I could only change the way I saw everything in my life. This is what Victor did in the concentration camp he was in. He shared he had survived the holocaust by changing his thoughts about how he perceived his life there. That was quite a relief for me. It gave me some personal power I'd not had before. So begins the first part of my journey not taken, destination unknown.




I began to read many self help books like, "Love is letting go of Fear." I suddenly recognized my terrible fear of people. Also that I don’t know what love actually feels like. I’d not experienced being loved ever. I also re-read a book my Mom had, "How to win friends and influence people," by Dale Carnegie.


I read more and more self help books. I finally concluded that I needed to find out what it is I actually enjoy doing. Then figure out how to earn money from doing it. So with that in mind I followed my Spirit, which seemed easy to do at that point. 


I was unhappy living in MA. I loved California where I'd spent a year before getting married. The weather there was beautiful year round, however I was afraid to drive 3000 miles alone with my children, to live there. But I did set firm sights on finding a place for all of us live happily as my next challenge.


I took a deep inventory of my life, recognizing I'm not happy living in apartments. I wanted to be in a place where I felt totally comfortable, raise my daughters and be happy with the school they attend. Maybe I could get a teaching job if I was happy. I read somewhere that a mother needs to be happy with herself first, in order to raise happy children. In other words an unhappy, angry, depressed mother cannot raise happy children. I wanted to become a happy mother because I was definitely not happy.


I waited upon the “Universe” to somehow show me where and what that might look like. My mother before me, had moved our family to a farm in Maine, when I was ten. It allowed my Dad to work at something he knew and loved; farming. Seems like I'm repeating their journey. 


While visiting my mother in Maine for the last time, I made a call to my ex-sister-in-law, Karla, in Tennessee and told her,


“I’m visiting my Mom in Maine, but I am wanting a nice place to live and to settle down. I don’t like Massachusetts.” 


“I love it here in Knoxville," Karla replies, "It feels like I’ve always lived here, it is very beautiful.”


I enjoyed hearing this, and realized it was closer than driving to California and thinking I might also like it, I ask, 


“How 'bout I drive down to visit you and see if I like it too?”


“Sure, come on down.”


I got her address and let her know when I’d be coming.


The following week we headed for Knoxville, pulling our eight sleeper camper I had recently purchased. Each night in a campsite we had to push each end of the heavy roof up until it locked into place. One end at a time and then slide out the double beds. Sherry is now old enough to help me, which is great. We have lots of room for the four of us. We arrived at a campground in Knoxville in July 1977. The next day we visited Karla and her friend, Sam for a cookout. So far I’m getting a really good feeling for Knoxville with its country roads, cherry blossoms and no sidewalks. 


It didn’t take us long to make a decision to move there. I rented a three bedroom house, for the same amount our third floor apartment in Lynn was, two hundred dollars a month. It had a large back yard, plus a garage with a door to the kitchen, which was really cool. Back we went on the very long drive to Lynn to pack up everything for the moving van. Soon a happy and excited family left our apartment for the last time and drove the long trip back to Tennessee and to our newly rented home.





After reading many self help books, I recognized my emotional trauma suffered at eighteen months when my brother was born. He took my place in Mummy's arms, nursing, feeling bonded, safe, nurtured and loved. I could only watch him daily, experience what I could no longer have. I'm certain my lifelong sense of feeling rejected, abandoned, flawed, defective and not good enough for Mummy made me feel angry, scared and too afraid to get so emotionally close to anyone again, fearing another devastating rejection.


Growing up I didn't feel good enough for Mummy to love and accept. I realized my almost lifelong fear of closeness and connection to another must be the result of my early feelings of abandonment and rejection, before I had a mind developed. I'm sure Mummy didn't understand my pain, fear and anger, or didn't know how to lovingly deal with it. She was a practical woman. I rationalized that if I didn't get emotionally close to anyone, including my husband Joe, I wouldn't be vulnerable and risk that terrifying abandonment and rejection again. However, in my third and forth relationships after I'd become somewhat vulnerable the two people I loved most were gone from my life. Each time my babyhood rejection pain was triggered. 


Joe didn't feel like he mattered to his Dad or anyone either. His Dad abandoned and rejected him when he was six. He never received a visit from him ever after that. He didn't think anyone cared about him as evidenced by his joy at receiving letters from me where I indicate I did care about him. That pleased him immensely, because he no doubt did not feel worth loving growing up. He became suseptable to drugs at seventeen when his "buddy" gave him heroin for the first time. He was hooked on drugs to relieve his pain from then on. He always claimed drugs made him feel "normal."  He really didn't want to be stoned, he only wanted to feel "normal."


I did not consume alcohol or drugs to escape my pain, as opposed to Joe. I suffered my pain but wanted to discover the source of my pain and heal somehow. I spent the rest of my life doing that after drugs took Joe away from me. I never ever stopped loving him, without the drugs. It was extremely painful to lose him to drugs. He did become aware of a Higher Power, through Narcotics Anonymous, much earlier than I, which guides us to wholeness, if we can develop the ability to listen to IT. IT is the only true guiding power to overcome and dissolve reoccurring pain in our lives.


I finally discovered that ability and share it in my Memoir, "A Journey from Pain to Bliss."
































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