My son and my daughter were victims-by-proxy of James’ abuse. Domestic violence mars every surface it touches. You cannot wipe it away. The shell of the mom that James’ abuse created was devastating for them. The con he presented to me, the trickery he has mastered? It’s evil. I don’t really even know what else to say about that.
A big part of my freedom from James has been rebuilding what was lost with my children as a result of his abuse. Charlie and Claire are my raison d’etre. I would move any mountain for them. Especially the trash mountain that was James. We cannot get back the time he took from us but we have rebuilt our lives.
This month has been bursting with so many first-lasts for Charlie. He’s a senior, first in his class, a National Merit Scholar and gearing up to apply to some really amazing schools to study nuclear engineering. My daughter, a junior, is taking nine classes. Every period of her day, including an hour before school starts, are a mix of rigorous academic subjects, music and art. She even skips lunch to make room for an extra class.
Last week was Homecoming Week at their school. A variety show is part of their school’s Homecoming tradition. Claire auditioned for the variety show, was selected and performed the Cake version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to a packed crowd.
Hearing her strong, beautiful voice echo throughout the auditorium was like nothing I have ever experienced as her mom. She was so poised and confident. It was jaw-dropping, quite frankly. If literally bursting from pride was possible, I absolutely would be in a million happy little pieces.
Even though I’m quite familiar with that song, hearing Claire as its conduit was like listening to it for the very first time. “As long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive.” Preach! That one little sentence sums it all up.
What’s the difference between a sociopath and the rest of us? No, this is not a party joke! The difference is having empathy and being able to love. I’ve taken that for granted nearly my whole life. Never again.
Because sometimes it’s just easier to borrow from the wise writers who have already done the hard work, to follow is a passage I’ve quoted before from James Joyce’s Ulysses:
– “Force, hatred, history, all that. That’s not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it’s the very opposite of that that is really life.”
– “What?” says Alf.
– “Love,” says Bloom.
It really does boil down to just that. Life is love. Grateful to know it and live it, even if it took me half of my life to figure out.