Expert Author Julie H Levine
" remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all..."
--Elie Weisel
I've been a Soldiers' Angel for many years now. Unfortunately my volunteer services have been needed for over eight years. Wish they weren't anymore. I wish we had peace.
The women and men serving our country have taught me so much over the last decade. With boxes of saved letters they have sent me, photos, their units' coins, and more...there are messages and lessons of life in each communication. Many times, I will write - with no response. That is okay. I never expect to hear back. When I do, it is a treat. One which I so very much appreciate - for out in the desert, the jungle, amidst bombing and decay - someone thought of me to write. And what I read is life altering.
There are many stories in the letters I received over the years. Much knowledge, sentiment, and also much fear. One of the most moving of all was from a 21 year old "boy" from Texas. I keep thinking about him a lot lately. Especially since last week - when I wrote to my own sons. My sons, residing in Westchester County, New York, are not struggling to survive, not fighting for freedoms, but rather trying to erase mine. They wish to silence me. Their father said he would make me suffer - "end up dead on the street" to be exact. That is okay with my boys.
This 21 year old soldier appreciated some packages I sent him...and my cards and letters. I usually write of my passions, my dog(s), favorite music, and what I'm doing that particular day. This young man, in Afghanistan, did not know about my own fears here in the United States. Nor did he have any knowledge that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When I write, I like to keep it light - no problems, no difficulties are mentioned.
He wrote to me of his fears, as I so often hear in the words conveyed to me. Within each space between the words, between the letters, lie fears. He told me something I will never forget.
Things can happen to you, things can happen that make it impossible for you to ever be the person you were only moments ago. In a split second, you can loose who you were - and turn into another version of yourself. It may or may not be for the better.
He told me that the first time he looked at his "enemy" in the eyes, he did not know the person he was to shoot and kill. All he saw was the face of a stranger. But he knew it was a momentous choice he had to make - a split second that changed him forever. He asked me in his letter, "Do you know what it felt like to have to kill someone I didn't even know - just a stranger?"
Of course I do not know. He said that the minuscule moment, at the young age of 21 years old, when he had to look into the face of a stranger, pull a trigger and survive - he was no longer the person that got off that plane in Afghanistan. And he would never be the same again. He took the life of another. And had a tremendous struggle with his own mortality.
I think about him...don't know where he is now. Many times, most times, when one of my soldiers returns home, they do not keep in contact. It is difficult to be reminded of where you once were - and I am a reminder of that. I had a friend, a Navy officer, explain that to me years ago. But I am also grateful for the soldiers that continue to call me "friend" and have stayed in my life - God bless the Internet for that!
I know about instances that change you - not to the degree of my soldier in Afghanistan - oh, never to that degree. But there are times when you are changed and know that it will be a forever forward kind of transformation.
My sons would like me to be silent. You see, I used to be. When I was married to Robert Levine, living in Bedford, NY, I had no voice and was a total victim. Things changed. I got a taste of life without abuse. And one step at a time, with the help of many people along the way, I decided I don't want to be silent anymore.
The first time I told people about the horrors that Mr. Levine bestowed on me, it was a release. I can never be silent again. And you know what? I don't think I should be. It took me years to "squeek"...some day, I may shout! So although my sons are never going to get used to me not being silent, as much as I never wish to hurt them...and I have protected them by not sharing many delicate stories of my past....
Much like my soldier, I know that there was an instant in time where my heart as well as my head knew - life changed for me, forever. The second I decided to have a voice against domestic violence....I knew I was taking a chance. Robert Levine continues to harass me and try to kill me in our court system. He has taken away all that meant most to me, my children - and continues to fill them with lies, as he psychologically controls them.
Me...? I learned that the second I said "no more"...I was not the same woman that lived in that house in Bedford. I am not the same mother whose son brought her ice packs after beatings by his father. Not the same woman whose son saw me unconscious on a bathroom floor - and when I awoke, he was told by his father to not help me. No, I'm not the same woman whose son hid her left over food in a kitchen cabinet when his father would not let me eat.
I can never be that woman again. It doesn't mean I can't be a mother to my sons. Just not that one. Unfortunately, the woman I am now is a stranger to my sons. My ex husband, Mr. Levine himself, is seeing that it stays that way. All I know for sure is that silence is a sin. And my faith means too much to me - I must continue to move forward, not revert to the victim I was. No, I don't want to go backwards.
In fact, I just can't.


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