21 January 2009

You can change your stars

A favorite movie of mine is "A Night's Tale". It's a good movie with a good message. No matter who you are, what your circumstances are, if you choose, you can change your path, your stars or the direction your life is going.

Tonight As I sat in the living room with everyone around me I took time to look around. I find peace in the view. My four year old grand-daughter is playfully rattling large papers with crayons. Earlier she pretended they were fall leaves in big piles to rolls in. She is safe.

I tell people the most important thing you can do for anyone is help them feel safe. Four years old. By the time I was four I had witnessed the beating of my mother more times than anyone at four should. I witnessed my brother, just a few months older than myself beaten as well as myself.

I vowed at five, yes five, I would never allow anyone to ever make me cry. I became rigid and strong from within. You could beat me, but I would not cry for you or anyone else. Through the next few years I was never safe. No one in my family was. I tell people stories from my childhood and they have one of two reactions. 1. I am really good at exaggeration. 2. I should write a book. Choice two was taken when Glass Castle was published. I read it without putting it down almost two years ago. Finally I learned there were people in the world who lived like I did.

Growing up in the late fifties and early sixties was an interesting time. As people look back they are referred to as the good old days. In a way they were. In my home it was a dream or idea I wished for often. We moved so often, there was no "home" and I knew if we would just move to one of those streets - you know the ones - the tree streets, Elm, Maple, or Oak street our life would be perfect. It was in the Dick and Jane readers. It was the life I wished for. However, it was not to be.

I told myself at twelve I would never hit my children. I kept that vow, except for the first daughter. Yes, she was spanked a few times, but she had as strong a will as I, and easily reminded me of my oath. We turned to a different method of parenting and improved life for all. I vowed violence would not be a part of my life when I became an adult. Not mine or any children I had. I also vowed I would not marry, unless, it was a choice made with commitment. A commitment that come hell or high water (which both has) we would not divorce. There was no way I would put a child in that situation. It was just not safe for a child to be raised in that world.

I will celebrate 34 years of marriage this year. 34 violent free years. 34 years of keeping my daughters safe. And myself. As I watched my four year old granddaughter this evening play, carefree and happy, I breathed a sigh of relief. I have changed my stars. I have chosen a new path. My legacy is to those who follow me, safety. Safe in a home where love abides and violence is only something you see on the news (if it's ever on at all).

Those of you who think you don't have control or you can't change where you are. You can. It's easy and hard at the same time. But it is certainly worth the work, and there's a nice return on the investment you make in the change.