SECOND (edited) ROUGH DRAFT

Kaiven's Song of Life 

~ A Journey from Pain to Bliss ~

 

Chapter 1    Lynn, MA 1968

Separation & College  

 

Was my husband, Joe nodding out on drugs? A month before our third baby's birth? Over the next several days, my suspicions slowly became confirmed and his behavior seemed to match. He stayed out until one or two in the morning, explaining he was fishing, then came home and crashed on the daybed in the den. I became convinced he'd returned to using again, after having been clean for three years. The bottom began falling out of my life.

When we were dating, Joe mentioned how his dad bought a toy for a neighbor boy, but nothing for him and he felt so rejected. His dad left him and his family when he was only six. When he next saw his dad, it was in a factory where they both worked and Joe described the experience to me saying, 

"My father walked by my desk one day as I was sitting there. He didn't even notice me. I was amazed at how much I looked like him, though." 

That was as close as we ever got to sharing feelings from the past other than in the many letters we wrote each other before I'd returned from California and met him. We were both emotionally traumatized as children, but we weren't aware of that.

During my last month of pregnancy, I sank steadily into despair and hopelessness. I knew I couldn’t survive very well alone after having the needed cesarean section, plus care for my two other babies, two-year-old Pam and three-year-old Sherry. 

It was impossible for me to discuss feelings and emotions with Joe. I was always so afraid to even mention feelings, let alone orally express them. Joe didn’t seem to be able to either. We never discussed his return to drug-taking. 

After Katie was born, I stayed in the hospital for ten more days because of the C-section. I’m so thankful his mom cared for Sherry and Pam while I was gone. At home again still recovering, but instead of resting, I dove right in with housework, meals, and laundry. 

One evening on the second day home, I was putting wet clothes in the dryer and I couldn't stop crying. Joe was nodding out on drugs and wasn't helping at all. I felt like a total victim when he came into the kitchen asking, 

"Why are you crying?" 

"I'm exhausted and a big clot of blood just came out of me." I continued crying as he returned to the daybed. 

I became convinced my husband could not handle the responsibility of a family, especially with a wife like me who didn’t know much about love or nurturance and was stressed out and angry most of the time.

When Katie was five months old, Joe was still using. After much internal conflict, deliberation and struggle, I came to the extra sad conclusion that it would not be prudent to raise my daughters in an environment where their dad nods out on drugs every day. I convinced myself I could find them another daddy. 

~~~~

On November 11th, 1968, at one o’clock in the morning, Joe came home and crashed on the daybed. It took me a few minutes to gather every ounce of courage I had in my body to get out of bed and walk into the den. In great pain, agony and desperation I picked up a glass planter dish from the mantle and yelled angrily,

“I’d love to throw this at you, but I’d get in trouble.” 

In a violent angry rage, I smashed the planter on the floor in front of me, breaking down and screaming at my drugged-up husband to leave, which he promptly did; right out the back door.

As he was leaving, I composed my angry self for a moment and asked, 

“What about your clothes?”

“I’ll come back for them later.”

He drove back out into the night in our Vista Cruiser wagon, leaving me alone and terrified, but momentarily relieved.

The next day, I felt relieved that 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 broke down in tears. I could hardly stand the thought that I kicked their daddy out. 

As much as I wanted to end watching Joe on drugs, I was 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 loved him still and greatly missed the life that “could" have been. I loved being married and having children. Now I was 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, without 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 Manny's car pulled in with the same familiar sound, coming home from his job. Each time he drove in and parked, my hopes rose a bit, then turned to despair as I heard him come in the back entryway and head upstairs.

One evening at dinner and 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 adored her daddy, that he wasn’t  going to be with us anymore. It was the most painful thing I've ever had to do. 

Joe kept our car for several months that winter, leaving me “carless” with three little ones in cold snowy weather. Depression hit me big time for several days, on two different occasions. 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. 

~~~~~

My friend and neighbor Linda's husband left her and two children the same week Joe left, 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 was envious of people who had 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 on, I began to attend Al-Anon which supports wives 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 had separated. I stopped going. 

Finally, I learned 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. I also still 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 frustrated, depressed and lonely, 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 I learned of Dr. Adam Baker. He had asked for and received Federal funding for a three-year program to teach single mothers how to become Home daycare providers. He predicted that since more mothers were working outside the home, Daycare would become the next big enterprise. I immediately applied, because I enjoyed being with children and I desperately needed to become able to support my family.

~~~~~

After several months, I received the news I was one of eighteen mothers accepted into the Daycare Program, out of three hundred who had applied. I was elated and my self-esteem began to rise. We began classes in the Fall of 1970 and our children, who were not old enough for first grade, were enrolled in a daycare 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.

While attending school I sought out a few more counselors because my first one hadn't helped me much emotionally. Since childhood, I felt certain I was somehow flawed and defective. I seriously wanted to find out what was wrong with me and how to fix me. 

I grew up being very shy and scared most of the time. Kids picked on me a lot it seemed and called me names, until Junior High. I didn't even feel like my mother cared about my feelings. I never felt loved and don't remember ever being hugged. I know I could never tell her how I felt. She seemed to always disapprove of whatever feelings I did show. She told me many times, "I should be ashamed of myself." My dad always said, "Children should be seen and not heard." I grew up staying quiet and scared. 

The only time I remember sharing a painful emotion was crying hard with my face buried in the couch the day after seeing a movie with my class the evening before, where I had identified strongly with the main character. My mother angrily asked my brother what I'd seen in the movie "to make me act this way." He said something to confirm it was the movie that upset me. But I couldn't and didn't know how to explain to my mother what was causing me so much pain. 

I just kept on crying hard. I was experiencing the same emotional pain in my own life as the character was. Crying excessively was my only means of expressing what I felt. Emotions and feelings were never discussed in my family. In fact, they were disapproved of and punished if they weren't acceptable to my mother.

The second counselor I'd found really helped me out by naming a feeling I told him I kept having. It was called "disappointment." Until then,t I had no clue that the feeling I was having had a name, so I felt quite relieved. I eventually stopped seeing him because I didn’t feel he helped me further.

I had an introductory visit with a third counselor and I loved her immediately. After I walked in and sat down, she didn't say a word and I didn't either. 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. When I told her I'd like to keep seeing her, she gently explained that she didn't take my insurance.

My next counselor asked me on a first visit, “What would you like help with?” I shared an experience of seeing singers on TV for the first time when I was seventeen and how they looked into each other's eyes and seemed somehow emotionally connected as they sang. I explained that I would like to be able to connect with other people that way. “Do you understand what I mean?” I ask him.

“Yes, I do,” he responds.

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

I didn't get a direct answer, he only continued listening to my tales of woe. I soon stopped seeing him too. 

~~~~~

When my Daycare Program ended in 1972, most of us students wanted to be “melded” into Salem State Teachers College and work towards a bachelor's degree. Thanks to our Director, Dr. Baker we were able to do just that. I graduated four years later in 1977 with a BS in Early Childhood Education.

I had justified leaving my daughters with sitters and going to evening classes at college, 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, one of the 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 immediately delighted and overjoyed. We gazed into each other's eyes with a deep connection of love as I thanked him profusely. 

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

After receiving my degree in 1976, I felt a tremendous fear whenever I thought of becoming a teacher. My lack of confidence and low self-esteem along with a great fear of some kind, kept me from even applying for a job. I had recognized my fear when doing my Student Teaching assignment. My mind eventually convinced me I could not become a professional teacher. 

I felt so badly letting Pam down because she was really looking forward to my being a teacher. Sensitive Pam loved me so much and showed it in so many ways. Being in survival mode as a single mom and constantly stressed, I was inadvertently insensitive to her love. My main focus stayed always on how to earn a good enough living so I could support my family and be happy. I put an ad in the paper and got several house cleaning jobs. I liked the exercise I got from cleaning houses and I made good money.

~~~~~

My fifth and final experience with a counselor was at Ventura County Mental Health Center. On my second visit, the counselor fell asleep in front of me while I was talking to him. I gave up on getting more counseling after that and focused on making money cleaning houses. I met someone who thought we could start a house cleaning business. I agreed that maybe we could, but I was thinking of moving.

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

That book gave me my first real insight into how to live. I realized I could not change society, or the people who hurt me, like I thought I could, in order to be happy. I realized I could only change myself. 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. I believed I could also change my perceptions which was quite a relief for me. It gave me some personal power I'd not had before. So begins the first part of “a journey not taken, destination unknown.”

I began reading several self-help books like, "Love is letting go of Fear." I discovered I had a big fear of people and I didn’t actually know what love felt like. I’d never experienced feeling truly loved. Out of desperation to learn more, I re-read a book my mother gave me, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie. 

I read many more self-help books. I finally concluded that what I really needed to do next was to earn a good living. I had to find out what I actually enjoyed doing and then figure out how to earn money from doing it. So with that in mind, I followed my Spirit, which seemed easier to do at that point. 

I realized I was extremely 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 move there. But I did set firm sights on finding a place for all of us to live happily as my next challenge.