AGE: 73

"Even before AletaLyle was born way back in 1928, she had the urge to challenge the system for unfairness, especially for women who were then considered second-class, invisible, or chattel. All through her life she was presented with challenges to right this wrong for herself and
others. It was her mission and song to sing. Many times during her life, a windmill was set before her to conquer. Step by little step, she recognized the challenge and even though at times, she felt unable to continue, she with the help of many was able to overcome the barriers and rise up victorious to face and overcome the next challenge.
These "monsters" continue to invade her life, and she plans step-by small-step to meet the foe head-on and overcome the challenger."

"She takes with her the true spirit of a champion as someone who challenges the system, any system, not for personal gain but for the benefit of others -- whether it be an individual or a group."

No email address at present.



Standing up
When I took the courage to disagree and stand up to my now-ex-husband Charlie, it was a biggy. It was scary for me because he used to send me to my room if I disagreed with him, and I would go! But I disagreed with him, and it surprised him (and me too). I just stood there and said, "You're wrong." It was a very small step, but it was my first step toward healing and getting out of a toxic marriage.
I knew there was something that needed to change. It was not just being abused sexually, physically and emotionally by my husband. The healing didn't start until I realized that things had to change, and it might not be the way that Charlie told me I'd better change. I had my own journey to take, and even though it was scary, I needed to do it.

Many years later, when I felt that the marriage was going under, I went back to school to finish my degree. I was determined little by little to get my degree. My four boys encouraged me, and said, "Mom, even if you don’t make straight As, we’ll still love you. Most of the time, their grades were straight As." A joke? -- or a reflection of having grown up with a chauvinist father? At the end of the first semester, the grades started coming in. All four sons got straight As. I was on pins and needles until mine came in -- All As! Now I have proven to myself and to them that yes, a woman and a mother is intelligent and can achieve high goals.

Something drastic
I went into a really heavy depression. I was alone, Charlie had gone, and all four sons had left, my mother was in a nursing home in Colorado, calling me to tell me she was dying. I'd had breast surgery, and I had a new job. It was too much.
The weekends were awful. It was difficult getting up in the morning. David had finished at Syracuse and was home for a couple of days before moving to California. I realized that I had to do something drastic, and after consulting with the doctor on call who said he would meet me at the hospital, David drove me there and sat with me until I was admitted. Then with my admonition to go to California, that I would take care of myself, he left. I had admitted myself to the Psychiatric ward. I was scared to death. But I knew that’s what I had to do.

Making Connection
There were a bunch of us who really bonded in those two weeks. I realized that being with people who cared was necessary for me to heal. Unless I was with someone, I felt invisible, unloved. I had to have a deep connection somehow. After two weeks when I was released from the hospital I drove myself directly to an OA meeting. I knew I had to lose weight. I ate when I felt bad. Dr. Bash had put me on so many different medications, one of which made me gain about 30 pounds in two months. When I told him that gaining weight was worse than the depression, he didn't listen.

Healing is acting
Another part of my healing is acting. When I read of acting classes on a Saturday when I needed something to do, I signed up. My acting teacher is very aware of people’s emotions -- I could call him a drama therapist. He picks pertinent parts for me to do, humorous, angry, brave, etc. There'd be some Saturdays in the beginning where I really couldn't respond. He'd just let me sit there and he'd observe. And he gives me funny parts. He sees my sense of humor. He sees me and teaches me -- and so it's a therapy for me.

Healing is humor
I can't pray for Charlie yet. Except to keep him as far away from me as possible. If something would happen to him, I would weep. I would cry. He's my children's father. We were together for thirty-four years. And we made our mistakes together. He was my sons’ role model. One time after Charlie had moved out, I heard one of my son’s friend say, "Let's go over to your dad’s house and get some macho lessons." Humor, all the way through, has been really healing.

Our rightful place
More healing too, is working with past life regression. I'm doing this healing now with a dear friend. I think even before I was born I knew I had a mission to help women find their place -- help us find our rightful place.

In my dreams I have trees. I was born in Colorado, the tall pine trees, the quaking aspen. The first time that my housemate took me back to a past life, I was in a forest. I dream of dead trees. Trees in my dreams tell me things of what I'm doing or what I need to do.
When I was at the ARK I took a picture of a tree not realizing what I was doing. One of the last days I was there I was listening to this guy who was talking just like my ex-husband used to talk. I couldn't right then express my anger. There was snow on the ground and I went outside. I was so furious I couldn't talk to him. I threw probably fifty snowballs at that tree. Just whack, whack. And pretty soon, I got to say, "Hey, Aleta, you still have your throwing arm!" And so that was healing for me too, remembering that. The whack -- it was a physical thing for me.

Taking root
In the first few years, when I was first learning how to say no, the tree was almost rootless. I think the tree was just beginning to put down those roots that are always there, those root that would hold me firm. Still lifting up, growing up above, but still having just the life in this tree and the roots going deeper and deeper. I could picture that.
My father lived with the Indians for two years and I felt very close to the southwestern Indians. I know their thoughts are that we are all one, we are all part of the earth and that we're all part of the trees, and we get our nurture from the ground. It flows up through the trees and we're all part of the universe, all the holistic part. And that is exciting for me, to think we've been here forever, and we're all part of the same. Isn't that exciting? And I'm a part of you. We're part of everything. And when I hear that no man is an island - well women, too, damn it!

My 70th birthday
At my 70th birthday my four sons arranged a party for me, a Dinner Theater for Celebrating Mom. I think so much had healed at that point. They remembered the good times and put them in the skit. They could see me, that I was healed and I had so many friends. And they could see how my friends love me. My four sons did that for me.

As I look back at my healing process I think of layers of things. Things just happened as the time came up and then the strength within me came. So it would build up, almost to a crisis, and then I'd make a turning point. And then, I'd make one step, and another step, realizing I could make one step and build on the next. And having people around who cared about me. And the humor. I couldn't have done it alone.

Stronger and stronger
My beliefs that had been challenged were that I was going to be that way forever, that I could not change, that I did not have the strength. That has changed. Even though I feel down I know there is something I can do and that I am stronger and stronger. I need encouragement, but I can keep on. I'm not going to sink that way again. My belief now is that I'm stronger than I think; that women are just dandy; and that I can help my sons appreciate themselves and me; that it's all right to talk about some things with them.

You know how I would define true healing? My acting teacher would put some music on and we'd do abstract poses with each other. I would say, "It's a celebration! and a little bit back; and a celebration! and a little bit back; and then roll all over with humor!
I think the healing process is daily, with knowing my housemate is going to be here and can say, "Was it a good sleep? Did you dream?" And a bonk on the head. We're members of that odd bonking cult!

Take that first little step
For someone going through an especially challenging part of their healing process, I would say to them, "even though you think you can't do it, if you take that first little, little step, it's the first one, and it gives you the confidence in yourself. It did for me. It gave me the confidence in myself that I could take a little step and the next and the next and the next. And that this isn't going to last forever. But don't try to do it alone. There's help out there in all places." Amen.

Oh, daughter, never-to-be-born,
would you have moved beyond my
struggles to unfold a natural woman?
You would have run and climbed trees.
I imagine you a gymnast, strong and supple,
a wise woman, a warrior.
Chasing dragons over quiet forest floors,
we would have laughed together against fear.
I would have taught you bravery and poetry,
how to stare right at the moon,
how to make good soup.
As my mothering years have drawn to a close,
I dream of who might have been and
celebrate my four sons.

Image copyrights – "Serpentina" Otto Poertzel, circa 1920, ivory and polychromed bronze, published in 'In Praise of Women' edited by Jonathan Meader, Celestial Arts, 1993. "Goddess Durga", Nepal 19th Century, gilt-copper, semi-precious stones, published in 'In Praise of Women'





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