The Memories of March

We all have those anniversary dates that plague us. The death of a loved one. The accident that changed our lives. The day we got fired. Something.

For me, the month of March holds most of mine. My children were kidnapped on March 13th, 1994. We reunited on March 27, 1996 in Greece. But it’s March 5th every year that is the most sobering.

In March of 1990, when I was 25, I got up off the floor after being strangled by then-husband, gathered my daughters, and left. But mid-strangle, I knew that life would never be the same. If life continued, I would stop tolerating abusive behavior as though I’d earned it. From everyone. My mother. My husband. Whoever.

I didn’t know then what leaving an abusive partner would entail, or the unintended consequences that would occur.

Now, 28 years later, I’m creating happier anniversary dates this March.

Like yesterday, an essay I wrote got published in the fabulous Sunlight PressMy e-book has climbed to #4 in it’s category on Amazon. And I get to hear and share stories at Arctic Entries on Wednesday, a truly terrifying and wonderful opportunity I’m pushing myself to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But most of all, I have two amazing grown daughters who have created their own lives. Beautiful friends who have sustained me. And a wonderful family I’ve been able to find and enjoy for decades now.

 

I’ll never forget the importance of March. And, it turns out, I don’t really want to.

Thank you for stopping by.

 

Five Easy Ways to Help Launch My Book/Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters

Spotted by my friend Ruth at Cabin Fever
Spotted by my friend Ruth at Cabin Fever

I’m thrilled to announce that Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters was released a little early!

In fact, today some of the pre-orders were filled, and I was so touched to see the Facebook posts about it. It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying.

Below is a revised letter my terrific team at Sparkpoint Studio gave me. If you’re a writer, feel free to keep it on file to use it as a template for your own use later.

I hope after reading Pieces of Me, readers will better understand domestic violence dynamics, glimpse the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and experience the incredible difference a caring community that spanned the globe made to me and my daughters.

Thank you always.

Dear Friends and Family,index

You’ve all been so supportive of me during this journey. This is my first memoir, and I am thrilled by the positive reviews and reception it has already received. Now that Pieces of Me is available in both print and eBook, I hope you will support me by buying a copy for yourself, a friend or family member, or to donate a copy to a local library.

Below, I have listed the 5 easiest ways you can help me spread the word about Pieces of Me. If you’ve already done any, or all, of these, I can’t thank you enough. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, now’s your chance to celebrate with me on this very special occasion.

How you can help support Pieces of Me:

1. SOCIAL MEDIA: LIKE my author page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lizbethmeredithfan/), follow me on Twitter (@LizbethMeredith), and share news about the book via social media (tag me when you do, so I can thank you, and please be patient while I catch up with thank you’s!)  Also, feel free to join the conversation by using the hashtag #PiecesOfMe when posting.

2. BUY THE BOOK: Please consider buying the book! The first few days it’s on sale are VERY important for a new book release. You can order it through your local bookstore, at Barnes and Noble or online, and through Amazon. Amazon sells it in the U.K. and Australia as well.

3. REVIEW: After you’ve read the book, post a review/rating of the book on Amazon. Reviews like yours will help potential readers decide whether or not to buy the book, and the more reviews, the better. If we’re friends or family and/or Facebook friends, please acknowledge that or Amazon may erase your review. Full disclosure is the best policy.

4. GOODREADS: Add Pieces of Me to your shelf on Goodreads and rate it honestly.

5. FOLLOW ME FOR INFO ON READINGS & EVENTS, OR SET AN EVENT UP YOURSELF: Join me at one of my upcoming events, and keep an eye on my website for more updates at http://lameredith.com/upcoming-events/.  Or feel free to schedule your own event. From civic groups to fundraisers, book groups, faith communities, the possibilities to connect in person or via Skype are endless.

Whatever you decide to you, how big or small, it helps and it means so much. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, and please let me know how I can pay it forward.

Thank you so much,
Lizbeth

Eyes Wide Open:Seeing My Father in a Balanced Light Twenty Years After His Death

1985-meeting my dad and just some of my siblings.
1985-meeting my dad and just some of my siblings.

It had been thirty years to the day since I met my father, a fact I mused only when I boarded the plane to see our shared kin in early June.

I got to see my dad less than a handful of times before he died in 1995 after we were separated by a parental abduction in the late sixties. And in all that time, I’m pretty sure he’d said less than 400 words total to me. Then he was gone.

From our first meeting, I could tell my questions about him would remain unanswered.  My father was old. Worn. Tired.  Mostly silent.

Who are you? Who were your parents? Why so many marriages, so many kids, so much chaos? And why didn’t you look for me?

Dad, then on the verge of his seventieth birthday, was content to sit in the corner of the room, slumped in his chair, mouth slack, intermittently lost in thought or slumber. He filled in some gaps for me, like why he hit my mother so long ago, how sorry he was for it, and how no one has the right to hurt another person. He injected humor to conversations around him  whenever possible. There was a time after my father died that I gave in to a sense of hopelessness. Now I’ll never get to know him sort of thing. And then I got caught up in the chaos of my own making and lost track of my new family altogether.

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Ten years ago, I committed to make the journey from Alaska to Kentucky to visit family on my dad’s side every other year, and I’ve held to it. And with each trip, I’ve had the chance to get to know my dad just a little bit more each time through his family’s eyes.  Conversations with his siblings. His first wife. With my siblings. And now, many trips later, I feel like I’m coming to know him.

I learned that my father was a different person between his first marriage and the second, and different still when he created a third family, so although I have six siblings by my dad, we all had different fathers.

And there are some interesting facts I’ve learned that helped shape him.

My dad was born almost 100 years ago in a small home in rural Kentucky to a teen mom and her husband. The oldest of the eleven children who survived toddler-hood,  he lived through some rough times, including the Depression, and likely absorbed a lot of the violence and unrest in the home as older children do.  I’ve learned that he married young the first time, and that fidelity in a marriage came to him later.

I’ve learned that despite being forced to quit school in the fifth grade, my father was whip-smart and hard-working, which helped him survive the rough terrain of marriage and remarriages, accepting his wives brood in to his life while subsequently losing track of the children from the just-ended union. I learned that my father served in World War II, and became a machinist for the government and a business owner.

ride with the aunties
My aunts in the front seat, story-telling during the hour-plus trip to Bee Spring from Louisville.

I’ve learned that my father’s father was no prince. On a visit to my grandfather’s grave, a complete stranger approached me at the cemetery and told me that he still remembers when my grandfather got mad at his farm pig and sewed his eyes shut to punish him.

If a man sewed the eyes of a pig shut for disobedience, what do you think he’d do to his oldest son?

I learned that my father was a respected brother and loyal son to his mother. I learned that he was committed to evolving over his life time, and became a faithful husband to his final wife, an involved church member, and a gentler version of his former self to his younger children.

We didn’t have much time together, but my dad left me a lot. I inherited his brown eyes and the ability to get a suntan in nanoseconds compared to my friends. I inherited a host of cousins and siblings and aunts and uncles. I’ve inherited dad’s quick temper, his dislike for holidays, and his belief in redemption.

I’ve got a few friends with missing loved ones who tell me they can’t relate to my need to connect with missing family. “Too much trouble. I’ve heard bad things about my missing family,” or “What good with knowing my missing family do me now that I’m grown?”

And while I can’t say it’s a good thing for every person to find their missing family members, I can say this; every time I return back to my small life in Alaska from visiting my dad’s side, I carry a little less baggage and bank a few more cherished memories with family.

My goal over the next couple of years is to connect with some of my mom’s extended family.

Who’s missing from your life? What’s stopping you from finding them? Leave a comment below.

Thanks always for dropping by.

Zen-ing My Monster/How I Calmed My Nerves and Enjoyed a Date

Am I the only person who becomes a monster when it comes to matters of love and dating?

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you: I like people. I love their stories and quirks and cultures. I may not be consistently outgoing, but I always love me a new friend. I really do.

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Until it comes to dating. The planning of it, the executing it, the whole nine yards.  Then my judgements are never-ending.

Is it that I don’t like men? I don’t think so. Is it that I prefer being alone? Not always.

“Why are you so mad at men?” a friend asked me recently when I groused about a man asking me out.  It stopped me in my tracks.

I don’t like to be mad, and certainly at a whole gender, but she was right. Even when I joined Match, I’d look at rows of pleasant faces online and make snarky comments. This guy’s nowhere near this stated age or Good luck with that, Buddy.

After much deliberation, I’ve come up with my top three reasons to avoid first dates.

unnamed*Dating messes with my sense of control, and though I enjoy other types of adventure in life, I could live without first dates.

*Dating forces me to answer everyday questions about myself in which the answers are anything but normal, i.e. Are you close to your parents?  Do your kids see their father much?  If you knew my weird life, complete with a parental child abduction as a toddler, and my daughters’ international abduction later, you’d understand how this could kill early dating pleasantries.

* Dating requires a certain vulnerability to be authentic. I don’t do that well. Instead, I cover my nervousness with humor and hold my date hostage by asking all the questions. I get to be like a stand-up comedian.  Take my children, please!   At the end of the date, I’m worn out, and my date has turned into a raisin.

This past Sunday, as I made the mad dash for the coffee shop I arranged to meet an gentleman at, I was a hot mess. My curls even got nervous and I looked like Albert Einstein. I tried to dust my shiny (sweaty) nose with loose powder in my car and spilled it all over me.

I immediately lapsed into negative thinking. This will never work. I’ll bet this guy’s another jerk. He probably won’t even show.

Then I stopped myself and pictured a better outcome for my Two -Hour Date. That he would be there in the coffee shop. That he would be fun to talk to, and that I would be glad we met.

This week, Leo Babauta wrote in Zen Habits :

2012-07-21 21.30.43You worry about how you look, about how you’re perceived, about how you’ll do, about whether you’ll fail, about what you don’t have, about what you’re missing out on, about how you compare to others.

He goes on to say that if you start to build confidence, you can let go of the worries and feel good rather than anxious.

You will walk down the street, relaxed with a smile on your face.

And so I did. I walked in to the cafe with a smile on my face, and was greeted by a handsome and very kind man. I enjoyed a killer cup of coffee and lively conversation. The time was well spent, and I added a new friend into my life. And I never saw the monster-me the whole time.

Finding Your Other Half/ Cheryl Strayed and Other Lost-and Found Sisters

I would like more sisters, that the taking out of one might not leave such stillness– Emily Dickinson


Today, I got a Facebook message from a friend sharing the story of  Wild author Cheryl Strayed finding her long lost half-sister as reported to the National Public Radio.

I’m a sucker for stories about reuniting with long lost family members.


For those of you who haven’t had the chance, I encourage you to read Wild, an adventure-filled and unforgettable memoir. One reader of the book recognized that she and Strayed share a father, and sent her a message online. While the sisters have continued communication online for the past couple of months, they haven’t made plans to speak by phone or meet.
Shortly after reading the story, I got a text from my adult daughter who had just been found by her 12 year-old half-sister from Greece on Facebook. She was thrilled, and they communicated online back and forth, exchanging email addresses, favorite colors, hobbies, and hopes.

Both of my girls lived in Greece for two years in 1994, when their non-custodial father abducted them on a visitation and disappeared.  
Did you know about me was one of the first questions my daughter was asked by her sister today.

I asked the same question of my newly-found younger sister in 1985. She and I were also separated by a parental kidnapping, and I found her and my brothers with the help of a lawyer when I was 20. Did you know about me?

My younger sister and I /2013


In other words, is it okay if I intrude on your life?  Can you please put aside why we didn’t grow up together and move forward? Would you be willing to create some space for me in your future?

It’s a vulnerable position to be in when you’re reaching out to a newly located loved one, no matter what the reason was for the initial separation. But it can be the start of a wonderful new beginning.  It was for me. I  sure hope it will be for them.

Do you have family members you’ve considered re-connecting with? What’s prevented you from doing it?

Thanks always for your commenting and sharing.

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