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, 1982...my 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.

1 comment:

Judy said...

Julie, while this is so well written and so eloquent, it is heartbreaking to read…..especially since I remember most of it back when it all happened. I can't imagine the pain you go through with your sons, yet I can't help but marvel at how much you have grown and how you have turned your horror story into inspiration to so many others. I am hopeful that there might be a resolution, but I'm realistic enough to know that your adversary has enough money and enough power (and can instill enough fear in them) to keep your sons believing him forever. It would be a miracle if your future daughter-in-law had enough of a heart to question your son and really make him explain the TRUTH, although he has long ago forgotten the truth. Somewhere, buried deep in his heart, he DOES have wonderful memories of you, his mother whom he loved and cherished. It would take a miracle to get him to uncover those memories and face the truth that his father is the one responsible for buying him and threatening him if he didn't give you up. I don't believe your son is strong enough for that, no matter how abusive and bullying his emails and phone calls have been. He's just a shell and a puppet for his father. Very sad, but true. YOU have become the strong one and your adversary can't stand that, so he keeps on doing what he has always done: threatening, bullying, and buying his sons' loyalty, confusing them into thinking it's love.

YOU are a miracle. Keep writing.
I love you-