I’m not sure what love is.
I tried to write what I knew about love and I didn’t come up with a very long list.
So, I’m going to tell you what I do know.
I know what love isn’t and what love doesn’t.
Love is not the flush you get from your head to your toes when you meet someone who sparks your pheromones. Walk away or get burned. That’s lust.
Love is not the tingle you get between your legs when you see Sam Elliott in white briefs. Again, lust.
Love is not orgasm after orgasm. You could get that from a stranger who triggered your pheromones. Lust, again.
Love doesn’t manipulate, control and lie.
Love doesn’t run away emotionally and physically when times are hard.
Love doesn’t throw family or friends away if they screw up.
Love doesn’t hold you down by convincing you that you can’t do anything right, so you might as well give up before you even start.
Love doesn’t bind you in barbed wire because it’s afraid of losing you.
Love doesn’t lock you in because it’s afraid to let you out, afraid that somebody else might tempt you.
Love doesn’t control you by controlling your access to money.
Love doesn’t hit you or slap you.
Love isn’t cruel or verbally abusive.
Love doesn’t make you feel dead inside.
Love doesn’t care if you are pretty or if you have big boobs, gorgeous hair and a tiny waist.
Love doesn’t make you less…
Love doesn’t stand you up.
Love doesn’t break you into a million pieces.
Love isn’t a game of tug and war.
Love doesn’t capture your heart just to break it.
Love isn’t the presents you buy her after you made her cry.
Love doesn’t always last forever.
My first question was, why not everyday? Several women (angrily) asked me that same question when I posted or re-blogged articles related to domestic violence, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse. Well, I told them that I wondered that too, and that I didn’t name the dedication, I was just trying to honor the victims and the survivors because I come from that country and I am fluent in that language.
The question I have asked myself repeatedly this month is this: What does national awareness do for the victims? Does it change the abuser’s mind? Does he (or she) say, “Damn it! I’m not going to swear and scream at you until National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, you lucky bitch!”
Does he pay the bills, buy some food, keep his hands off his daughter because it’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Will the family have a month of peace? Will her neighbor buy ice for her black eye?
The abusers and the victims are all too aware of what domestic violence is and the people who don’t acknowledge it all year long because it’s easier to look away, well they don’t give a flying fig that this month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month either.
The women who go to shelters expecting to find a way out, expecting someone to teach them how to stand on their own two feet, hoping for training so that they can get a job that will support them and their kids in the future, what do they think about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
How about asking the ones who returned home because the shelter was lacking in anything but a whole new set of rules, a bed and some used clothes.
The shelters where women in my family have gone provided a time out, nothing more. If you run a shelter that provides therapy, job training, education, legal representation and daycare, I apologize and I’d also like your hot line phone number.
I will post articles about abuse in October anyway, hoping that even one woman might find the courage to grab her babies and run for safety.
I have read the survivor’s stories and I have read the “he killed her” stories.
I have a “he killed her” story. I had a cousin who was murdered in front of her young son, while living in a shelter.
I cry and I hold every victim’s and every survivor’s story that I have ever read or witnessed in my heart. Including my own.
Victims and abusers, survivors and inflictors, well, to them every month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. They just don’t talk about it.
So as this official National Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins, I feel helpless. I have no answers, no help for the millions who will go to bed hungry, crying and/or bruised tonight. For those who will sleep in their cars because it is safer than their home or because they have no home and friends and family are sick of helping them only to see them go back to the abuser.
I have tears, but Lord knows, they already have enough tears of their own.
Maybe we could make everyday Domestic Violence Awareness Day.
Cry until you laugh…Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie
A No Help At All Handbook
Many of you read my article about my daughter, Jodie Lynne, getting out of prison, The Big Picture, last week.
I said, “I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not return to prison.”
You responded with encouragement, support and promises of prayers…thank you so much.
I am thrilled to report that we got our miracle. One of many in Jodie’s Journey.
Her ex-husband, currently sober, has used his recovery connections to help her get into a recovery house for women. A very structured program designed to teach women to take responsibility for their own lives, while giving them a safe place to live. This is a big deal, definitely in the miracle category, because I have called recovery programs in the area and Jodie has already burned so many bridges that most of them wouldn’t even call me back.
When she is released, she will be taking a daylong bus ride back to Tulsa and as soon as she arrives, she will be going to the house for her interview. They have two openings and all she has to do is show up sober and say she is willing to follow the program’s rules. She will be accepted into the house that very night. She will not spend even one day or one night wandering the streets, looking for shelter.
She started crying when I told her. She had planned to leave prison with a list of shelters for the homeless and now she has a bed waiting for her.
If she wants to stay straight and stay out of jail, God has given her the opportunity. It won’t be easy, but it will be possible.
She has been calling me the last few weeks full of anxiety and nearly hysterical. I kept telling her that God had a place for her, we just didn’t know where it was yet and I believed that with all my heart, but nothing I could say calmed her down. I understood her fear, but this precious girl has helped me learn to trust God, so when I could tell her that I knew where her place was, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I told her that I believed for her when she couldn’t and I reminded her that she has done the same for me.
Again, thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers,
Hi! I haven’t been around my blog very much lately because I am in the middle of packing up my house in Florida and moving to New Hampshire.
Crazy as it sounds, I would rather be cold than hot and I am from New England.
I do have other reasons for moving. Still, I’m either insane or very brave considering the snow they had there last year.
So, the day that I close on my house in Florida is the same day that my daughter, Jodie Lynne, walks out of prison in Oklahoma.
I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not go back to prison.
I can’t go to Oklahoma on that day and I think God wants me to let her sort this one out because the timing means that I have to be here in Florida and not there with her.
Her dad and I have set aside some money so she can get an apartment, but not many landlords decide to rent to a felon, a felon without a job.
In spite of that, I am praying that God already has a safe place picked out for her. He can do that…I can’t.
Jodie and I are writing a book about how hard it is to make it and stay clean when you walk out of prison.
It’s almost impossible to start over when you have been stripped of everything but your life. Your children, dignity, self-worth, confidence and possessions, gone, and now you owe thousands and thousands of dollars in fines.
It used to be that you’d go to prison and work off your fines but now they not only add them on to your bill, they charge you for the services you require to stay free.
She has to pay to see her parole officer and she has to pay for frequent urine tests.
She owes $50,000 in child support and as soon as she gets a job they garnish her wages.
I will never defend the choices that landed my daughter in jail, but I will say this, people do horrendous things and walk away every day. All you need to walk away is money for a good lawyer.
She has no crimes against people, no violent offenses, just a bunch of petty crimes that added up to doing time as a habitual criminal.
Plus, Oklahoma has more women in prison than any other state and it’s not because they have the highest crime rate.
I make no excuses for my daughter, but as we have traveled the prison system together over the last eight years, I have realized that the women and girls who come out of prison are setup to fail.
I don’t know how anyone could come out owing about $70,000 and make it, excepting for a big miracle or a few medium size miracles.
My daughter is a beautiful woman, inside and out and when she is straight, she is my best friend in the world. When she is not straight, she is my biggest heartache.
I would like you to pray with me that she finds the strength and the courage to walk out of prison and stay sober, that she will find a job allowing her to pay her child support and fines, at least enough to stay out of jail. She doesn’t have a driver’s license because she owes child support, so her job options are very limited, confined to the area where she finds an apartment.
I never did understand how losing your license because you didn’t pay child support would help get child support from you. How do you get to work without a license?
And as for me, please pray that I stay strong as I pack about a hundred boxes, while trying to get rid of everything that I don’t care about because it costs too much to move it all and even some things I do care about.
I have to remember that in the big picture, possessions really don’t mean anything, people do.
I am moving for many complicated reasons, reasons that are far more important than fine china or knickknacks.
I care deeply about my writing, my books and my computers and even most of the books I own could go.
I’ve already gotten rid of hundreds of books and I pray for the strength and the stamina to make this move.
I am praying for the courage to allow my daughter to walk out of prison and stand on her own two feet.
My daughter and I are also writing about how going to prison damages the families of the prisoners, the parents and the grandparents, siblings and family members, anyone who loves them, moms who like me, never give up hoping and believing because they love their child.
Please pray that God and the angels cover our backs as we each struggle to do what needs to be done to change our lives for the better and please pray that we continue to move forward in faith despite the enormous odds that we have against us.
Amen and XO, Jeanne Marie
I AM SHE
There was a time when my mother was middle-aged and me?
I was young and naïve, not a care in the world
the arrogance of youth was on my side.
I was a footloose hippie girl and I thought love was free.
Her skin was firm and tanned, black waves of hair fell to her shoulders
softly surrounding her fair face, bosom quite generous,
legs as fine as any model, she was my mother,
but with flower child simplicity, I used to call her Grace.
She was spirited back then, although she seemed quite old to me,
and how did I become imprisoned while she has learned to fly–a butterfly set free?
Tonight, as I glance into the mirror, my middle-aged face stares back.
Have I become her, and she, the child I used to be?
At seventy-three she’s still a beauty, but time’s fire has burned its’ trail
and when she had a stroke last year,
I realized how deeply she had aged; yet, become so childlike, so frail.
My firm skin, my shapely legs, will soon bow down to time,
much as my bell-bottoms and tie-up tops gave way
to blue jeans and then on to stretch pants and a baggy tee.
I will lose this interval named youth and as I look into her face,
I see my future and
I am she.
by Jeanne Marie
My mom went to play with the angels in 2009.
I decided the best way for me to celebrate today is to share some of my mum’s writing. I used to write a newsletter and my mum contributed poems and articles on a regular basis. I love you, Mum, and I know that even though you are playing with the angels, you still watch over me. Love, Jeanne Marie
A NOTE FROM GRACE
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!” Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be. I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books and old TV movies. My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.
RANDOM THOUGHTS from Grace Christine
Life has taught me an important lesson. “Put your money where your mouth is.” I brag to everyone about my clever daughter and her newsletter. Her beautiful public letters to me fill me with pride. Sometimes they make me cry to see the love flowing between us, and it makes me feel so undeserving because I only did what any mother would do…I loved my daughter. I remember how I tried to convince my jealous husband (jealous even of his own children) that “Love shared is never divided, it is multiplied.” My love was multiplied by him, and my four beautiful children, not divided amongst them. The years have shown me the strength in my children, and while I may not like everything they do, I love them and respect their right to be themselves. They have taken some of what I taught them and rejected what they found didn’t fit into each of their life styles; but, the base of our relationships have always been that I love them…unconditionally. So, Jeanne Marie, enclosed is my donation for stamps, and although I love my gift subscription, I want to contribute to WWTTM. Love, Mom
Thanks Mom, and by the way, I’ve met far too many mothers who don’t love their children unconditionally, so take credit for the gifts you have given me. You do deserve it! Love, JM
MY MUM WAS A TOUGH OLD BIRD BY Grace Christine
My mother had a quick wit and she always had a snappy come back. One day at the doctor’s office she complained about an ingrown toenail. The doctor had started to perform the minor surgery when the nurse asked, “Aren’t you going to freeze her toe before you cut?” “No,” said the doctor, with a grin on his face, “she’s a TOB.” Turning to Mum, he asked, “Do you know what that means?” Mum snapped back, “A tough old bird.” Then, she added, “You’re a DOLL. Do you know what that means?” The doctor reluctantly admitted that he didn’t know, so Mum gave him the answer. “A Stuffed Dummy.” Behind the doctor’s back, the nurse gave Mum a thumbs-up for putting the doctor in his place.