Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life


How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

WHAT WAS I THINKING?  Truth is I wasn’t thinking – I was blinded by rage!  You clueless sonofabitch! How could you threaten your own babies?  I was more than terrified that one day he might lose it and act on his threats! My theory regarding verbal threats, if you say it, you can do it!   The following week I wandered around in a daze.  When I was a child I learned to “numb myself out” in order to escape the threats of violence.   It was really easy for me to not feel anything!   Of course I blamed myself for getting angry – if I hadn’t confronted him, life would be a dream wouldn’t it?  I began to take stock of my situation and things looked pretty bleak.   Told him I wanted a divorce.  “You are so stupid – you have three children – no man will want you!”  The last thing I wanted was another man!

Here I was – 30 years old, three babies three years of age and under.  I really had no way to make a steady living.  Due to his new car habit, I was never taught to drive lest I harm the car!  Back in my old Polish neighborhood, only “liberated” women drove a car!  I did not know how to drive!!!   

Ernie didn’t have any idea what was going on in our house.  He and my husband were best buddies.  With some sculptures which had not sold at the Arts & Crafts Fair, he planned a weekend trip to El Paso to consign that work to Cita Platt’s 222 Gallery and invited my husband to go along.  The respite from the tension was a gift – I could have some peace and quiet to think things through.  I didn’t have a clue, but I knew I needed to “man up” – put my big girl pants on and put a plan in place to take care of my children.  They deserved better!

That Sunday morning, standing in the middle of the living room,  it was obvious nothing in my marriage would ever get better.. It was an act of futility to keep wishing and hoping he would change.  I was the one who needed to change and take responsibility for my little family!   I knew what I needed to do. Going through the house I gathered up all his belongings- every damned tie, all the expensive pipes and the tweedy sport coats with leather patches at the elbows!.  Much of his guns and expensive fishing gear went into a corner in the garage. I packed everything else in suitcases and put them on the front porch.  When he came home, I told him he was no longer welcome in the house. He needed to leave or I would call the police.  Turning pale, he was too stunned to react.  Picking up his suitcases he quietly drove off with Ernie! 

OMG! What a smart ass! What do I do now?  Once he was gone I felt nine years of “not being good enough” leave my body.  If I got a job and painted to supplement my income…..I had no idea of the path ahead – where to start.  I was really scared!  The next day I put some laundry in the washer, made a pot of soup, put blankets down on the floor in the family room – sat my kidlets in the middle of all their toys and I painted! I still had that $1000 dollars and three beautiful babies!!!  How hard could it be?  I always was a dreamer!