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Being Myself


“There are people in your life whom you unknowingly inspire simply by being you.” ~unknown

During my two marriages and the raising of my children, I learned to be the person I am and gained the character that has sustained me to this very day. I went from being a flight attendant that traveled the world, carefree and a bit wild, to a married woman and first time mother who went through my entire pregnancy alone. This is a part of my story that needs to be shared as it is when I developed the courage and fortitude I have today. My first weeks in my new home of Colombia, South America were exciting and full of wonderful cultural experiences, but I also had a lot of time to think, and recall past times. I also had to accept that a lot of people I knew and had always called friends did not understand my move or why I left my son with his father. My daughter’s death had dealt a blow that I knew I would not survive if I did not change my circumstances. So I moved and started over. This was not the first time I had done this, and I knew I needed to start anew to regain a healthy life. There was so much hurt being thrown my way, so much negativity, I was losing my son and granddaughter in the process. Distance can heal, and I needed to stop the fighting that surrounded me constantly. I took power into my hands and left to heal the deep wounds inside me. I started meditating daily, a luxury I did not have in the States due to the constant stress I was under. I could finally let go without that foreboding that I awoke to every morning when I was going through my divorce and the subsequent death of my daughter. I began to keep a journal with recollections of my life.

My first marriage was to an older man whom I loved dearly. He was fun, he was charming and he was someone I enjoyed spending time with.I met him at my friend’s house who was dating his business partner. He spent a lot of time in Florida with his partners in a booming timeshare business. He was handsome, dressed well, and treated me nicely. He was part owner through his business of a huge yacht. I had my 26th birthday party on that yacht and he gave me a set of exquisite pearls in front of my best friends who like me lived a life of fun times while making great memories that every young person dreams of. I will never forget that party. He was 18 years older than me but had a way about him that was as free-spirited as I was. I fell for him big time. When he was back home in Newport, Rhode Island I would receive packages of fun presents. We would go on trips with my friends skiing to Lake Tahoe, Utah, Vail and also take trips to Bermuda. However, he had another life I did not know about. He was being investigated along with his partners for using money inappropriately from the banks they borrowed from. This was the 1980’s, I never thought to do a search on him, never once did I think he was being questioned by law enforcement for a crime. We got married in South Florida and I moved to Rhode Island with him. We rented a really cool carriage house on the estate of one of the mansions along the famous Bellevue Drive, and still traveled a lot including back and forth to Florida where we purchased a condominium. I continued my work as a flight attendant and he continued his work in construction and timeshare’s. We were members of the yacht club and had a very active social life. Sounds like a dream, but there was a big cloud hanging over us. After we married he dropped a bombshell on me. He had been indicted for making false statements to a bank along with the other business partners. I will never be sure if he was guilty as he was the one who ran and built the buildings,and had nothing to do with the financial end of the business so I stuck by him believing in his innocence. He went through a trial and was convicted but it was overturned on appeal, then the next trial he lost. I was three months pregnant and had to say goodbye to my husband for 18 months when he left to go to a White Collar prison.

Those months of being pregnant and alone were hard. I was young, his family in Newport were not kind to me at all, and I was worried about finances, as a lot of people were after him for money. I had never mixed my money with his, and my parents helped me. I had a Mercedes which I sold and I drove his work truck also taking over a job he had started, which was quite a learning experience in itself. I would show up on the construction site pregnant and trying very hard to keep his business going. It just did not work out, and I had to empty my 401K as I was out on pregnancy leave and needed money to live. These were tough times. I did have support from my dearest friend and her family, and she became my birth coach and strongest support system. To this day she has always been there for me. When my daughter was born, I was surrounded by the love of many people who had watched me go through a pregnancy alone and without complaint, while I stuck by my husband. My parents came up and stayed after Misha’s birth and I still remember watching them drive away looking through a window and thinking I really was on my own with a baby now, as silent tears fell from my eyes. I was responsible for this little life and I would do anything to make her world the best it could be. She became my life, and she would always be my life to the day she died at 20 years old. I went back to work after a 6 month leave and never told a soul my husband was in prison. It was strange to live this double life, but I felt it was for the best because I wanted to protect my daughter from ever having that black cloud above her when she got older.

My husband came back when Misha was 10 months old, I waited for him with great hope that we could become a family and start over. He was intent on starting another company and being his own boss, while I just wanted him to find a job with a large construction company and run jobs. He had plenty of offers as he was very good at what he did. I made a decision to leave him and Newport when I saw he would not give up on trying to start a company and was no help financially to me or our daughter. I figured I might as well be on my own if that was the way it would be, so I moved back to the Florida condominium and my wonderful parents were there to help me get on my feet again. I now realized I could go through anything and survive, and I started life anew as a single mother. My husband gave me a divorce without problems along with the condo, but I never got any support from him for our daughter Misha for years until the courts ordered him to, and by then I was re-married. I look back and wish I had forged a relationship between him and Misha even though he did not help me financially for such a long time. Misha only saw him a few times after I moved. He died unexpectedly when Misha was nine. I believe my daughter always felt abandoned by him, and wondered why he did not want her. She never got the chance to meet him and get to know him. I regret this and would offer the advice to anyone who has a child with someone, no matter how much you are unhappy with them yourself, let the child love and know them. They are part of that being, and a very important part of a child’s self- esteem.

As I wrote in my journal about this time, I realized my current ex-husband was doing to me what I did to my daughter. He was doing everything to erase me from my son’s life. It started the day I left him, and to this day he has not stopped. The difference is I really never spoke to Misha about her father except to say he was not a responsible person. However, I did not ever ask her if she wanted to see him. After I got re-married when she was four years old, I thought that another father could fix any problems she might have felt about her real biological Dad. Later in life when Misha started acting out, I am sure that this abandonment had a part in her actions.

Now I face the same situation with my son. He really has no reason to not want a relationship with me, but he has been told I am a bad person. It started during the divorce and continued after my daughter’s death. I got him counseling during the start of the divorce and it was working, but then Misha was killed and he had too many burdens for such a young kid. I can only hope with time, and my continued love for him, he will come back to me. He will realize he has a mother who loves him so much she left to stop the abhorrent actions of his father and his family, which he witnessed almost daily. It became a fight to just get him to stay with me on my visitation days. He was living at his grandfather’s house, would not come to stay with me, and this was encouraged by his father, grandfather and the new wife of my ex. I wanted him to love his father and me, I wanted him to have healthy relationships with all of the people in his life. I wanted him to see that even though I divorced his father we were different people, but we both loved him unconditionally. I wanted him to become a responsible young man. When I suggested these things to my ex-husband he would do the exact opposite, to the point of enabling my son to where he lost the ability to become an independent young man. I bought my son a car to give him when he turned 16 with conditions; he must maintain good grades, stay out of trouble and get a job to help his father pay the insurance premiums. I did this before I moved. My son did get the grades needed, but did not get a job or stay out of trouble. I found his friends to be questionable and brought this up to my ex who knew this but did nothing. Then my son’s grades went down and he did not honor my requests so I did not give him the car. He was asked to leave the Magnet school I had worked so hard to get him in and is still struggling to get a diploma from high school. All of this happened under the care of my ex-husband, who had done everything to get sole custody. I would make many trips to the USA and try to influence my son to get counseling and strive to achieve his goals. It just did not work because I did not have the united front of my ex-husband who still held such hatred for me in his heart. I am sure I am still blamed for any problems my son has, even though I gave my ex complete control in decisions and upbringing to alleviate the fighting that surrounded my son and played havoc on his psyche. I pray to this day my son will change. I know from my own experiences in life we can only change ourselves, and no matter how hard we try, other people have control over their own free will, even our own children.

So now I am living in a new country and improving myself by learning a new language, culture and lifestyle. I have evolved from my daughter’s death, and the estrangement of my son. I do not need much to make me happy. I just need to love myself, and have a few true friends who stand by me and my decisions. I wish I had gained this knowledge without the heartache I have been through, but maybe, just maybe I can help someone else as I share my stories. I know I will try my best to always be non-judgmental and forgiving. Colombia is showing me new ways to gain strength. I am still learning and growing, and everything is not perfect. I work on trying to become more independent every single day I wake up in my new adopted country. I know I will get there. I know I will someday get my son back when he has more life experiences and children of his own. I have a wonderful relationship with my granddaughter that evolved through forgiveness on my part and that of her father. I try very hard to live with a heart filled with peace now. I can only hope that my son will read this blog as I go forward and find out more about me and what I have accomplished in my life. I hope he will come to his own conclusions about the person I am without outside influences, and how I tried my very best to be a good mother to him and his sister. I want him to be himself, just like I have always been. No one is perfect, mistakes are part of life which help us learn and gain wisdom. We need to use that wisdom to improve ourselves, and that is what I strive for now.

As I live my life now, I look back on my parents and what they gave me. They gave me the self-confidence to always be me even during the most terrible of times, and to never give up no matter how much I wanted to. I hope there is a part of that quality in my son, and he discovers it as he gets older. I know I did, and I am sure my parents were very disappointed in me many times as I grew into the woman I am now. However, I like to think of them looking down at me from Heaven and seeing the strength of character they instilled inside me. I like who I am these days, and I know my past brought me to this point in my life where I can endure extreme sadness but still love myself.

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Author:

I am an American who moved to Colombia to find peace after the devastating loss of my daughter. I bought and renovated a Villa, am learning Spanish, and writing as catharsis. This blog will be like my book with chapters. Each blog will be about my life and adventures. I hope you will enjoy the many new discoveries I am making every day about myself and another culture.

16 thoughts on “Being Myself

  1. Michelle, thank you for sharing. Your life story is going to help other women , that I am sure of! You are in my prayers and in my heart! I have shared this with a friend . Thank you again! and by the way, I am the one that thought of Hummings from Paradise for your blog!! I am happy you chose my suggestion, and I love it!! God bless you always!

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  2. Rita, I love the title and am happy you gave me the name! I hope I can help others by sharing this true story…the funny thing is, I would have let my daughter see her biological father if he had tried, but he never did. I still hurt inside when I think she carried that pain around inside of her. As a parent we do the best we can. I always was home with my children, at all their events, and making sure their friends loved coming to our home, along with participating and volunteering at their schools. I will never understand what has happened with my son. It is like I have lost both of my children. I have heartbreak that is so devastating sometimes I find myself unable to breathe. I do the best I can with the sadness I carry inside. Writing about it is helping me. Love, Michele

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    1. Thank you for sharing your candid and poignant story. You are helping other women by showing your vulnerability, and how you led your life from love and passion. Your life, like many of us, like me, shows the errors, decisions and experiences you had that were made from a place of truth and love as naive as they may have been in retrospect. You have had a very hard past. The hardest in losing a child. However, the lesson you give to us all is how one is capable of surviving. You have survived and have not grown bitter or have a heart filled with hatred. “You may be broken but you do not see things as broken” by M Nepo. You have a ray of light within you and a connection to a higher energy that creates the blade of grass, the hummingbirds and your beautiful grandaughter.

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  3. Michelle,
    I haven’t seen you in many years, but remember the trips we did together. I never knew your whole story until now. I admire your strength and courage in beginning a new life in another country. You seem to have simplified and created a balanced life for yourself. I wish you the best and continued joy in your life. Lisa Smith

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  4. It did not let me continue my reply: I will do it in smaller paragraphs.

    I am an only daughter. My Mother married several times an left her men when she fell out of love. I in turn do exactly the same. My life was not stable in that sense but I was so loved and protected by my wonderful mother that I never felt the estrangement of a father. I lived happily with my mother and had a great youth. My father was not interested in me at all. I saw him once or twice and there was nothing there. I had both a father and mother in my mother. My life was stable and I truly believe that it is very possible to give a child a good life though not perfect in our society. I am sure your daughter did not need or felt the abandonment as much as you think. You gave her stability and love. How many children grow up in a house where there is a mother and father without love, without respect. That is worse.

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  5. As to your son: I will give you a true example. I have a friend that was kept or separated from her children by a bitter divorce, a death and many family disputes. Her children refused to have anything to do with her and they had this situation on going for years and years. They became young men and women. Today, they are together again and with love and mutual respect. However, it took all those years of my friend writing letters, leaving their presents for birthdays, xmas and so on at the door of their homes. It took years of writing cards and traveling bringing home presents as though her children were waiting at home. She did all that and when her heart would be breaking she would call to a once in a while answer of the phone and a five minute conversation. It took years but they saw the light when they became adults. They saw that their mother loved them and that they had been poisoned by family. They knew because she never gave up. So, my advice is that you must keep reminding your son that you are there for him. Car or no car. That he knows that you are strong and love him deeply. You must keep sending him your letters and phone calls because if not he will think you did or do not care. Then it will be just as the story of your daughter with her father. A parent that did not fight for the love of her child.

    Continued

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  6. Finally, I want you to know that I think you are a very brave and wonderful woman. Your heart is broken, I know. So deep is the despair you have in your being that it has to be hard to breathe sometimes. I cannot relate to the depth of your pain but I have a mentally handicap child who is now 30 years old and I will not have grandchildren or a normal life. I have a child in an adult’s body. So I am broken too. I can understand you a little. You are broken open though and in your pain arises the eyes that see the beauty in everything. You offer all of us who follow you joy and we live your adventures, your details, your animals, your joys and your sorrows. You are broken open to be a better grandmother that can tell her grandaughter stories of her mother and show her the beauty of nature. Your are broken open so that you can NOT give up on your son. That you are a constant presence in his life. He may awaken one day and see how much you do love him.

    With healing love,
    Marlene

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  7. Marlene, Thank you for your wonderful comments. My mother always told me parents who have a handicapped child are chosen by God because they have the strength and love inside their souls to sacrifice for that beloved being of God. I admire you more than words can say. About my son, I have continued to try with him. He knows how much I care. However, I can not encourage the behavior that his father allows. My son needs to get a job, an education which is paid for through a college fund and most of all help himself. I have continued to emphasize this to him when we speak, ALONG WITH MY UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. I encourage him to get himself counseling which my ex blocked from his house when I was still going through the divorce. I have a big huge wall that I have banged my head against over and over. My son is in my heart always. I send him letters, texts and love often. It is up to him now that he is a man and adult at 18 to do what he needs to do to help himself. He has free will. I only have my values and unrelenting spirit of kindness and love to pass to him at this point. When I see him help himself and he reaches out to me he knows I am there. I have written over and over to him he has the truth in his heart and memories. I pray that they come back to him in time. Thank you for your encouragement, it makes me feel very good. I am trying to help myself by writing the truth.

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  8. Lisa,
    Many people never realized what I went through with my first husband as I wanted to protect my daughter. I have not even touched on what the years with my second husband were like. I will. I seem to have a knack for choosing men that disappoint and are not good partners. I am trying to make a new life now, and to show strength of spirit to others. I appreciate your comment. I remember your idea that I send CJ a postcard from every city I traveled to when I flew. He saved those postcards for years. I pray those and more memories will come to him at some point and return to have a relationship with me. He knows where I am and how much I love him. God Bless, Michele

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  9. Many blessings to you and I am glad that you are doing exactly what you are doing with your son. The parent that has a strong hand but a kind heart is the parent that is right. You are right. I will pray that your son sees the light soon. It is never too late. I know a young man that was like that and now he is a Mathematics Professor at Berkeley. He was lost and then he found himself.

    As to my daughter and I. I can tell you that I am blessed. If I had not received her perhaps I would not have the kindness that fills my heart for animals, our earth and human beings that cannot defend themselves. I will never see her get married, have grandchildren or enjoy conversations over lunch with her about her life, but she teaches me so much more. She does not have any of the negative qualities of humans. She does not know how to lie, cheat, have hatred, envy or jealousy. She loves children, animals and is so gentle and kind. So, I am her protector. However, my fear is what will happen when I am gone. I have no other children to look after her. My heart is broken too.

    Must tell you that I too have chosen the wrong men in my life. At least, I would learn a lesson from each one. However, I still maintained the wonder and longing for true love and that is why I would get lost in that and choose the wrong one again. I did not listen to my mother’s advice. My heart guided me. Wrong. Later, I would realize my mistakes and the loss of admiration for the person I was with. I must and will have a man of integrity next to me. If not, then I can be alone. I like being alone.

    Thank you for your open hearted posts. It is cathartic for you and very much for me and others.

    Happy weekend,
    Marlene

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  10. Marlene, wooowowow You have no idea how blessed you are with your daughter. She is an angel and you are her protector and even on the hardest days you are so blessed. I dont have words to tell you how I feel about your daughter and you. I just want you to know you are blessed with God’s love, because it takes a very special person to do what you are doing with your daughter I really want you to come here and bring your daughter too. Oh she would be happy I feel blessed every day I live in this land. As for my many problems with my son and life, I work through them and keep going and I KNOW yo understand this as your life is lo mismo en uno differente via, pero este es lo mismo..god bless

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  11. Michele, I love your story on “Being Myself”. That is all any of us can be, and of course, that is all a melding of our personal experiences, friends, family, etc. CJ will one day see the good person you are. Most of all, you are “real”. You are not a phony, but a good friend, a loving mom, and a beloved grandma. The distance may be the best thing as you have the opportunity to rebuild your life, heal, nurture, and feel free. Stay strong, dear Friend. You are loved and you are a very special woman. ❤

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    1. Lynn, You are always so positive with me and I appreciate that. Thank you for your continued support through the years, you are and always will be one of my dearest friends. .Much love, Michele

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