When someone hits rock bottom…

…I mean really hits rock bottom, they are appreciative of every thing you do for them. It’s easy to say you’ve hit bottom, but to behave as if you have is not so easy to fake. We experienced this when S contacted us Thursday. Actually, he contacted me. I forwarded everything that was said, by S and myself, to Jay. We called a family meeting and let J and T know what was going on. Jay was convinced that S was really at rock bottom, and that if we help him, the only direction S could go was up. Based on this information, J and T agreed that it would be ok for S to come home and we would support him in getting back on his feet, with certain stipulations: he was to get a job; fix his status with the national guard; send support to M and E; pay rent; apply for Medicaid; absolutely no drinking, drugs, smoking, or chemicals of any kind allowed on the property or in his system; and he was to be respectful and help out around the house. 

Jay and I went to pick him up Friday morning from a shelter an hour away. When I saw him, immediately my anxiety level went up. Thoughts of “oh no, here we go again” went through my mind. I hoped that things would be different this time around. I trusted Jay, and I wanted to trust S, but I had my reservations. 

From Friday to Monday our home had a dark cloud over it. It felt different just walking up to it. Clothes and dishes were left out and I was sounding like a nag because everywhere I went S had left a mess. No progress had been made to gather his missing documents to be able to find a job, he had made no effort to apply for Medicaid or contact the national guard. He grabbed T and threw him to the side when T was trying to play by blocking the walkway and asking everyone for a password. He made unnecessary comments in conversations that did not involve him. By Monday evening I’d had enough. I pulled Jay aside into the kitchen and started to fill him in on everything that had been happening. S came in, already agitated, and tried to join the conversation. He tried to say that he didn’t have time to get anything done because it was the weekend. I called him out on it because he spent his days sleeping and his nights keeping me awake, and he could’ve applied for Medicaid online, and I was able to reach his unit in a matter of minutes, which tells me he put zero effort into doing either. 

He started to play the victim and once again denied that E was his. She is 14 months old, and he still calls her “it!” I was furious. I got in his face and told him that he had sex, with my friend, in my house, and that whether or not he believed she was his, he was going to accept responsibility for her as long as I had anything to do with it. Whether or not E is his (and I fully believe she is, she looked just like him when she was born, and everyone else has accepted her), he broke the rules and the consequences are that he is now a father, and he must accept responsibility. He started yelling excuses at me, and raised his fist up to swing at me. My instincts must have been stronger than I knew, because before he could hit me, I reached up and grabbed him by his throat. The swings were coming, but I wasn’t going to let go until I was safe from the blows. Jay jumped up and grabbed him and told him to leave. S turned around and kicked a hole in our kitchen door. Everything happened so fast. He went outside, undressed down to his underwear, and started screaming for the “Mormons” to come help him, he was trying to wave down passing cars, and yelling obscenities. The police were called to remove him from our property. The police came to talk to me, and I told them what happened and Jay confirmed it. Which is totally different from what S told them, but I fully admitted that I grabbed him before he touched me. The police asked us to gather all of his things and bring them outside. We did, and the officers told us to go back inside and they would take care of everything.

Lesson learned, he’s out of chances. I know S blames me for growing up the way he did, although I was the one who pushed Jay to fight for custody of him and K. Their mom made sure that I was always the bad guy, and the kids always tried to play both sides. The children are now adults, and they have to decide for themselves what the truth is about their parents, all of their parents. I’ve read many articles and blogs about the importance of parents being accepting and supportive of the step parents in their children’s lives. I refuse to talk badly about other parents around the children. It’s not fair to the other parents, or the kids. I’ve seen the damage that can come from sharing negative feelings about others around the kids…the parents are a big part of each child, and who they will grow up to be.

I wish that we could trust all of our children, but 2 of them have already burned the bridges beyond repair, at least in my mind. We hope that they are able to learn the importance of good decision making and find success for themselves. I believe that S is not mentally capable of making decisions for himself, but we do not have the means to have him declared incompetent, and with R coming in only 3 more days, we can’t have the violence and disrespect in the home. There are certain things that can no longer be tolerated. We are R’s last chance at a family life. If we fail him, he will spend the rest if his life in residential facilities. He is still young (almost 13). He needs a family environment where he can thrive and use the skills he’s learned from the residential facilities he’s been in. 

I have been struggling…

…to find reasons to continue fighting for my happiness, my family, my children, and even myself. Stress has been high, and it feels like I’m slowly drowning in an ocean of everyone else’s problems and issues. I want to be stress free, feel pure joy, and be completely at peace with myself. I would love to feel it forever. I would be satisfied to feel it for a moment.

I have one friend that I can talk to about my struggles. Ok, I have more than one friend I can talk to, but I have only one or two who I trust to listen without judgement and be honest in their thoughts, and unbiased in their suggestions. Today I asked him for his thoughts on my recent struggles: S moving back in; Jay thinking S may have finally hit rock bottom, and realizing he hasn’t; learning that S is likely schizophrenic and suffers from delusions; learning that R will be leaving his facility and moving in with us full time in a week; feelings of confusion and hopelessness; health issues; etc. As I poured my heart out in a string of emotional texts, he read them without saying a word until I had finished saying my peace. His first reply had me in tears. He said “I’m so sorry you feel this way. But there are tons of people that love and cherish you.” I was caught off guard. I’m not sure what I expected him to say, but that last sentence was nowhere on my list of potential replies.

“…tons of people that love and cherish you.” Tons? Love? Cherish? Wow! Those words hit me hard. They got me thinking. Why do so many people “love and cherish” me? I’m not sure I know. I’m sure that people love that I fight for them, maybe they love that I fight against them (you never know, right?). I am easily taken advantage of, although much less so than I used to be. It might be that I can be extremely passionate. I don’t think I’m all that memorable, but I also have a hard time remembering other people, sometimes even the important people; it could be that my negative view of myself tells me I’m not worthy of being remembered. I am pretty hard on myself. I do have high expectations of myself. I have a serious stubborn streak that won’t let me quit. I have been able to reach some pretty big goals. I have found varied measures of success. I tend to go “all in” with people. I give them the benefit of the doubt, but when they let me down, or hurt the ones I love, I take it hard. I hold grudges. I can forgive, but don’t forget. Things qualities can’t be why people feel such strong feelings for me.

I have some people that I “love and cherish”. I know why I “love and cherish” them. I don’t think it’s the same reasons people feel that way about me, but I could be wrong. Some of the reasons I love and cherish them are because they are: genuine with me, honest, and supportive; they make me feel safe when I’m with them. They seem to care about me as much as I care about them. Feeling emotionally secure and physically safe are so important to me. I never again want to experience the abuse, neglect, and constant fear that I used to. These people that I “love and cherish” protect me, or at least make me feel protected. 

I may never know why I have so many admirers because I’m too embarrassed to ask. My friend texting those words to me had a profound impact on my stress level and emotions. I must find a way to love and cherish myself, and to let others know that I love and cherish them. Hopefully it will make a positive difference for them also. 

I can’t bring myself to go…

…to church anymore. We are in a great neighborhood, a great ward. The people there genuinely care about me and my family. I love The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe the things that are taught. I know I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and I believe that Jesus suffered and died for me. I believe in our living prophet, and I feel the Holy Spirit confirm to me every time that I hear him speak, that he is a true prophet of God. Sure, I get distracted easily at church, and the lessons and speakers can be so boring. The 3 hour block can be hard to sit through.
I want to be at church…but I don’t want to be forced to look at happy families, with their new born babies (or newly adopted little ones), and their spiritual teenagers who are preparing to go on missions, or the parents who bear their testimony about how amazing it is to watch the changes they see in their missionary children. I want to break down and cry when I see a new baby being blessed, and children being confirmed, and pregnant women glowing. I think horrible things about myself as I watch loving husbands help their wives with the kids, instead of ignoring them or egging them on. Then there’s the loving couples with no children yet who can be overheard talking about how happy they are, and their plans for the future. I think of my marriage to my eternal companion, and I get sad, because if THIS is what my eternity is going to be like; stuck with a childish man who can’t, or won’t, think before he acts; never considers the consequences of his actions; is unable to effectively communicate with me, and who neglects the emotional needs of me and our children; if this unhappy marriage is my eternal gift for doing my best…then I don’t want it! 

I always wanted lots of kids, and while I have lots of kids now, I only have one who loves me and respects me as her mom. Others have never liked me being in their lives, one is always angry with me for choices I made, ones dad likes to put a wedge between us. I wanted a happy marriage where I felt safe, emotionally supported, physically wanted, where kisses and “I love you” were a daily occurrence. It’s not that I don’t want my family; it’s that I don’t want my family to be like this. I love my husband, he is the father of our children; but I don’t love him like I used to. I have grown accustomed to pretending that I’m happy. It’s one of those bad habits that you do without realizing it. We can be in a huge fight, or can I be really mad at him, but as soon as we step out in public, the act starts and nobody suspects that we are anything but happy. 

I think most girls grow up with unrealistic expectations of family life. I know my expectations were far higher than what I have. Maybe that is my problem. I don’t want to lower my expectations partly because deep down I still want to believe they are achievable. I wanted to give birth to at least 5 children, be happily married to a man that always puts the kids and I first, an income we can live comfortably on (even if we were barely scraping by). I wanted to be the stay at home mom who had meals on the table and always had time, and energy, for the kids. We never had children together like I thought we wanted to. He brought children and so did I, but none together. I loved being pregnant. And I loved the way my husband cared for me when I was pregnant, even though he reverted back to his childish ways after every miscarriage. I feel like I always had to cope with the miscarriages on my own because he never shows emotions unless he’s watching something emotional on tv or in a movie. I don’t think he’s ever cried for our family. 
That’s why I struggle every Sunday. I want to be at church, but when I go my emotions take over and I can’t focus. I see all the happiness everywhere. Maybe they’re all faking it too, but I doubt it. The happy women, doting husbands, children everywhere…it’s all so overwhelming. I’ve had to fight for every tiny bit of happiness, and when I go to church and see that everyone else has so much of it, well…I don’t want to fight for it anymore. I’m too tired from fighting for it. I’m worn out and don’t have the strength. I’m tired of pretending to be excited about everyone else’s happiness, when I’m actually jealous of it. It’s just easier to avoid everyone than it is to hold back the jealousy and fake the excitement. I can only imagine how ridiculous and selfish this all sounds. I hope and pray that some day I can come to terms with the shortcomings of my life, and that all these feeling fade away into true happiness. I haven’t given up. I can’t give up. 

Having your priorities in order is…

…helpful in finding success. At work, at home, at the gym, in sports. If your priorities are out of order, then success, while still possible, is much more difficult to obtain. My priorities have not always been in order. Sometimes they’ve even been completely out of whack. But I’m working on it. 

Priority #1 for me, right now, is to provide an environment of safety, love, and peace for my family. Now in order for me to take care of my family I must first take care of myself. This has always been something I’ve struggled with. When I put myself first I feel guilty and I have a hard time finding joy in anything I do to better myself. 

My children are a big priority for me. It is my job to help them become well-rounded, contributing members of society. This is a job that I am proud of, both as mom and auntie. I willingly accepted this position and, even when I struggle with the hardships of parenting, I find that most of the joy in my life comes from it. 

I have health issues that are forcing me to take care of myself first. Taking care of me will help me to live longer and to be there for more of the milestones my children are facing, and will face in the future. After a very rough week of not being able to get out of bed much, and a trip to the ER, I am seeing how hard I have to work to care for myself. I’ve had to rely too heavily on my kids to care for each other. I waited until I was practically bed ridden to seek the help I need. Knowing how stubborn I am, I’m sure this will not be the last time I do this. It’s hard to start the road to medical care when you know it’s a long, slow process. 

Divorce is difficult…

…and affects more than just the divorcing couple. Ending my first marriage affected me, my daughter, and my family. It also affected my ex and his family. My daughter was only 5 months old when I packed what I could carry for her, and very few essentials for me, and got on a bus. It took us almost a week to get across the country and finally arrive at mom’s. I regretted leaving almost immediately, which seems silly to me now when I think back. The relationship was abusive, and he made it clear that he never loved me; I meant nothing to him. I was now a single mother, living with my mother and her new husband, no job, no car. I was a failure. I think I was hoping that taking our daughter and leaving the state would be a reality check for him, it wasn’t. Like I said, he never loved me and he was burdened by being a father. His problems were more solved than not, by us leaving. 

My relationship with my ex was unhealthy. And I had never really been on my own before. I had lived with family and friends, but never really on my own until I married my ex. Even then I had the support of a navy paycheck and benefits, and I knew I was in a good place. Once he was out of the navy though, we had nothing to fall back on except his family. 

How do you know it’s time to file for divorce? I’m going to say that when you constantly and consistently finding you are unhappy for a long time with no sign of happiness in sight, then maybe it’s time to consider divorce. I’m not talking arguments or disagreements, I’m talking about unhealthy explosions of emotions, and zero communication, and no intimacy (not just physical, but emotional as well) for years, and feeling the emotional distance between you getting bigger and bigger until you are no longer acknowledging each other as a form of keeping the peace, and when you have no trust in the other person. And, of course, there is abuse. I stayed in an abusive too long for many reasons, so I get it, but abuse is bad. And infidelity…that’s another reason. 

When is it ok to file for divorce? You don’t need anyone’s permission. You are your own person, with feelings and needs that matter. You don’t need permission from family or friends. Yes, it would be great if you had their support, but you don’t need it. Don’t worry about what others will think. Someone in your life will see you as a stronger person. 

Who should be involved in the decision to divorce? Definitely NOT the kids! A divorce can leave kids feeling like they are to blame. They will wonder if they could’ve saved your marriage if they had behaved better, helped around the house more…the list goes on and on. An amicable divorce is possible if both of you agree and are able to compromise and be reasonable. There is little room for selfishness. Taking too much in order to force the other person to suffer or remain responsible for you is asking for a nasty divorce. Be reasonable and realize it’s hard for everyone.

Get legal advice. 

Divorce is difficult. Don’t let it define you. 

To My Aunt…

…and Mother of My Child,

Just over 20 years ago, I gave you a gift. My daughter. I asked you to adopt her and give her a loving family, and a life far better than I could have offered her. You took time to consider it, and then you gladly accepted my gift. From the day she left my arms at 1 month, 1 week, and 1 day old, she was your daughter. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t selfishly wish I had kept her. My decision to give her to you was probably the only truly selfless choice I made in my life, and yet, from the moment she was gone I regretted it. 

You have done a truly amazing job at raising her, just as you have done with her 3 older brothers. You have taught her the importance of being a lady, family, being yourself, and accepting yourself. You have protected her. I understand the need for a mother to protect her children. This is why I am writing this. 

I have always wanted a strong relationship with her. And J has always wanted a close relationship with her sister, but we kept our distance for fear of disrupting her life and the family dynamics that you and Uncle had worked so hard to create. A trip to visit when she was 8, bringing her out to stay with on 2 separate occasions. Her last trip out here was not the best. I couldn’t understand why she so forcefully pushed J away after the first couple days. She said things that broke my heart as I drove her to the airport to fly her home to you, and I didn’t know why. J could not have been much worse than nieces or nephews who might vie for her attention back home. So why the negativity and harsh words about J? I didn’t understand, but to protect J, I had to leave it alone and create distance between B and us. To this day, J still doesn’t know the hurtful things that were said about her.

A while back you and I spoke on the phone. I felt attacked by you, and again, I didn’t understand where the hurt and anger, that was now coming from you towards me, was coming from. I understand your need to protect your daughter, but I did not understand where you got your information, or why I was the target of your rage. My husband and I have felt a hole in our family since we married, and we considered many options to fill that hole. Fast forward through many years of using donors in an effort to get pregnant, multiple miscarriages, and failed attempts. We considered adoption multiple times, as well as fostering. I talked to you about some of this and you strongly encouraged me to what we needed to do for our family, but to keep our efforts from B until we had a child in our hands. I respected your wishes and said nothing to her, even though I wanted her to be a part of the process, I kept it from her. You told me during this phone call that you “knew” I had told her about this stuff, and chastised me for doing so. I tried to tell you that I didn’t say anything to her, but you wouldn’t listen. I cried for days, and I still get highly emotional when I think about that conversation and how little you must think of me. 

We have a little boy in our custody now, and another boy that is older who we get when we can, and will hopefully be coming to stay with us full time as well. The older one has issues that require us to limit his exposure to violent themed items such as video games and weaponry. The younger one is aware of these issues, and on multiple occasions has taken it upon himself to tell the older one “you can’t play with my nerf guns, because you get violent.” The younger one knows he is not to say things like this, and as soon as he does he knows he’s in big trouble. The last time this happened, I told the younger one that he lost his favorite privilege forever because he does not have self control. He had a full blown come-apart before I could ask him how that made him feel. I was finally able to drive the point home, and let him know he didn’t really lose his privilege but helped him to become more aware of the hurt that words like that can cause. This string of incidents got me thinking and I realized something…

…you were probably told that I was the one who talked to B about trying to increase our family, but in all reality, it was probably J trying to confide in her sister the frustrations she felt during these processes. I thought about it more than I should have. I finally asked J about it recently. I asked her if she ever talked to B about us trying with donors, adoption, and fostering. You know what? She said she had talked to B about it during her last visit. And do you know what else? B pushing J away and all the hurtful things said to me finally made sense. It finally clicked. I don’t know why B would throw me under the bus, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t just ask for my side of the story. I do wish you wouldn’t have attacked me so harshly without hearing both sides. I don’t think you realize that, had I known, I would’ve fought to protect B…after all, she was my child too. 

I’m sad that everything happened the way it did, and that B didn’t come to me. But why should she have come to me when you told her to keep everything to herself and not tell me how she really felt? She was miserable for most of the trip, and you told her to smile through it and not tell anyone. I lost so much respect for you, and I created distance in the relationship between her and J and myself. I gave my child to you almost 20 years, and you have taken her away from me again. I hope that you never have to experience the hurt that comes from someone you love accusing you of hurting your own child. Oh, don’t you see? Everything I have done for her was done to protect her. Why would that stop now? 

Sincerely,

Her Birth Mother