Wisdom is Expensive

I find myself wondering why myself and my children are still living in a shelter, why this process is taking so long, and will it ever end? I’m sure that this path was meant for us, so I don’t questions God’s intentions by saying, “Why me?” or “Why us?” I just wonder if and/or when we will have gained enough wisdom from these circumstances to move on?

This morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed it struck me that I have never typed Amen as directed to do on all of those statuses and photos obviously created by God! I’m positive that God is checking His notifications to see when I do and only then will He release us from this hell that we are calling life.

Well, the above paragraph is not really what I’m thinking, it just occurred to me that I am still doing the best that I can with the tools I have available to me at this moment. Maybe I should be angry for being in this life right now, but I’m not, becaause I know that some good comes from all situations.

Through all of this some seem to be calling into question my love for my soon to be ex-husband. To them I say, “Love is not a switch, which gets flicked on and off for your own desires.” His choices, his consequences of those choices have forced me to make decisions that I wish never occured. One day, the entire story will be known, but it is not my story to tell. Do I love him? Yes, but my love for my children is far greater than my love for him.

Okay, so I’m rambling, but I’m feeling a lot of weight today and no one will ever understand the extent of that. I don’t expect anyone to, but know this, I have enough love and respect for my children and myself to listen to God and/or the universe to make the best of the lives given to my family.

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When Prayers Work

Life has been dealing us one curveball about every 1.2 seconds lately and I’m kind of tired of dodging things, but prayers seem to be working and here’s how:

Yesterday I received a phone call that my family is at the top of the “Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.” This means, upon approval of the apartments we have been praying for, we will only be there for a month or two before moving to permanent housing.

Due to our circumstances we have been approved for a different grant that will help us with a deposit and up to 18 months of rental assistance. During this time we will still be considered homeless, because 100% of our rent will be paid by a grant. All we need is an approval from the apartment complex that we applied for, which we should know one way or the other on Monday. If we are approved, we should be able to be moved in by the end of the week. (Yes, prayers for this are much appreciated.) This would get us out of the shelter and closer to the community that my children call home; about 50 miles closer!

If the above happens it will cut out about two to four hours of my daily running, and greatly reduce our stress levels. My children will have time to focus on homework in a home, rather than trying to do it as I drive from school to the shelter. I will be able to assist them with their assignments rather than focusing on safe driving. Plus, we will have a place to call home.

However, our main goal is stability, a home that will be ours forever if we so choose. The Section 8 voucher will help with that considerably. This would allow us to not only focus on school work, but also on my daughter’s health and recovery from severe depression. Her healing means less doctors appointments, and even less running. This would afford us the opportunity for me to get a job and become self-sufficient.

I am fully aware that many people have preconceived notions about individuals on Section 8. Drug users/abusers, skanky people that just don’t care, criminals, and many other stereotypes. Please, don’t confuse our circumstances with these sorts of generalizations. My children and I are still us, we still have hearts and souls that will do what is necessary to get completely on our own to afford others in our situation the opportunity to get their own vouchers.

Although the potential for life long housing assistance seems like a dream, in reality it is just a temporary stop in this crazy thing called life. As we transcend from the abused to the survivors we bring with us the wisdom to complete things in our own time, including the healing portion of all of this; housing assistance will afford us time to heal medically and physically.

Why Women Return to a Life of Hell

For over a month now, the girls and I have had no income. Sleepless nights of worrying about how I’m going to survive tomorrow are getting to me. Waking up to face each day and the inevitable tears that follow are leaving me feeling dehydrated physically and emotionally. Some how, each day brings some sort of a blessing to make the day bearable. Then darkness covers the sun and the sleepless cycle begins again.

Let’s start with receiving public assistance … there’s no pride in this path that we are on, but we didn’t make the decision to be put here either. I called my case worker on Tuesday to find out when my benefits would be approved or denied, only to find out that some things were missing. I spent the day running across three counties to gather the paperwork and get it in.

On Thursday I called again … still, a missing paper, again I bust my ass to get the paperwork to her. That’s it, we’re all set and I should know by today if I’m approved to receive benefits that I’ve paid taxes for so others can get them.

This morning (Friday) I got online to see if my benefits were approved. NOPE, now I have yet another hoop to jump through. I have to attend a Job Readiness workshop to prepare my family for self-sufficiency. This is wonderful, considering that my appointment isn’t until March 28th, and approval is hinged on whether or not I show up. This also happens to be the day that my daughter has THREE appointments at Mary Free Bed, a hundred miles from Job Readiness, but hey, things aren’t all that bad, the medical appointments are back to back, to back, and the Job Readiness appointment is smack dab in the middle of appointment two. Cloning myself is beginning to appear to be a wonderful option.

To add to the melee of “life is hell” is the fact that our family doctor feels that my daughter’s medical needs are to the point that I must be with her 24/7. Her main diagnosis is depression, which is causing havoc on her physically and demands appointments in Grand Rapids near daily. Psh, depression? People survive that crap every day! Then there are those that don’t; as a former cutter, my daughter is at risk of not surviving. Add to her history the fact that we are still living in a shelter, we are reeling from the blow that my children and I have been dealt, and her grades are suffering because of the chaos our lives have become. If she’s not at risk of losing her battle for life, then I don’t know who is.

Yet, the state has decided that everything is fine, I can work 40 hours, find a home, get my daughter to all of her appointments, go to court, do laundry, drive at least four hours a day to those appointments; and everything will be okay. Oh, eating, almost forgot, that takes time too, but who needs food!?

Here are my priorities, in order, find a place to live, for stability; help my daughter heal to a point that a 15 year old can be self-sufficient; THEN, find a job and get out of the system.

Having worked for Michigan Works, and DHHS, I know how the game is played, I’m just a number … my family’s needs are not considered, just do it there way and everyone will be happy. Everyone but our family that is still trying to heal from devastation.

As far as the state is concerned, medical shmedical, who gives a flying *drop eff-bomb here*! We are left to wonder where we will be next week, next month, or even tomorrow. Will we survive? Is it even possible to survive? If it is, I’m damn sure that we are the family to do it, but if it isn’t? Well, I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Just Drifting through this life

Well, we left him and his sorry ass behind one month and two days ago. We have been in a shelter for exactly one month today. Still, we have no money for things like gas. In the month since we have left he sent us one $75 deposit to my debit card, and yesterday he sent $25 with the stipulation that it is for gas only, and he wants a receipt!

One hundred dollars in 30 days!? I don’t know anyone that can raise two children on that. Especially when I’m putting an average of 300 miles a day on my car to transport children to school, doctors, and extracurricular activities. He must think that I’m a financial wizard of sorts!

As part of Medicaid, in some instances, they will reimburse for mileage to doctors appointments, but not in our case, because we have primary insurance and it is up to them. So, I call them and explain what I need, no problem, they are going to send me  the forms to fill out. “Great, but I need to change my address first,” I told the representative.

“Oh, we can’t do that, he has to do that through his employer!”

“Okay, that isn’t going to work, there is a restraining order and he isn’t allowed to have my address.”

“Oh,” the lady said with a long pause, “I’m sorry, we can’t help you then.”

“So, you’re saying that you have no sort of deviation for a situation like mine?” I questioned.

“Well, I can change the address here, but once a week we get a file upload from the employer that will undo any changes that I make.”

“Wait,” now I’m angry, “so you’re telling me that I can receive the forms, fill them out, mail them in, and the address will automatically revert to his, so he will receive the check?”

“Yes.”

So, here we are, AGAIN, I’m taking care of the children and he’s getting all of the money. Right now, I owe more money than Trump pays for his toupee! Well he is crying about how poor he is he only paid $100 in 30 days to raise two children … but no surprise, he had enough money to bond out when he got arrested … while his children wonder if they will ever again live in a permanent home.

He knew this was going to happen, knew that the doctor does not want me working until our daughter has overcome some medical struggles, and he did little to contribute to our children’s care. My guess is that he is real proud that he predicted my struggles and is seeing it happen before his eyes. A real parent, a loving parent, would be concerned with their children’s well-being, not in proving himself right in an effort to screw the other parent over.

Silent Aspirations

As I hear the stories of my dad aspirating as he eats and being downgraded to pureed food I am beyond saddened.

Dad was born into the Great Depression, where food was scarce, but his family didn’t know it, as food was scarce for them long before that. Later Dad joined the army during World War II, boot camp was set around chow, and the importance of food was further ingrained into Dad.

Now, it may not surprise you (if you have really imagined his life to now) that Dad has been known to lick his plate at the end of a good meal. Some may find this gross, but in his own way, it is the highest of compliments.

He has survived 89 years eating this way, but now his body is defying him as he aspirates while eating. You may think of a horrific choking spell, but these are silent aspirations, food slipping directly into his lungs with no indication of the damage it is causing.

My dad, the lover of all foods, never turning down a single one, now it could be the very thing that ends his life. Putting him at risk of pneumonia and all sorts of other complications. As if being diabetic isn’t enough.

Couple all of this with his advanced age and confusion and I feel like I have lost him already. Maybe this is how it is meant to be, to allow us to grieve with him rather than for him, but really!?

I want Dad to fight, to take back his life, etc., but the realistic side of me knows it’s too late … It is too late to turn back now … Soon the day will come that this is all a memory.

Saying Goodbye

As I look at life in general I realize that the past few weeks have been full of sacrifice, hardship, and general chaos, but the worst is yet to come. As I prepare myself and my children to say goodbye to the greatest man we have ever know, my father.

Dad’s health has been in significant decline in the past few weeks, it is all happening so fast that I haven’t even told him of my circumstances. He is confused, sick, and generally not okay. The part of me that remembers him pushing me on the swings, and playing Rummy 500 in the confines of a motorhome at some backwoods campground wants to rush out to be by his side during his time of need. Yet, the part of me that knows he would do anything for his family realizes that he would want me right here, in Michigan, dealing with business for myself and my children until the time comes.

This has not been an easy decision; to sit idly and wait for God to take him home, but God knows where I’m at and what I need to do. I’m sure that Dad will understand when his time comes and I am standing at his final resting place that he has always been the greatest man in my life. Dad and I are at peace with each other, we took the time several years ago to say our final goodbyes, and though I don’t have access to those written words I am well aware that when the time comes I will be in the right place, looking back over our time together … the many years of sacrifices that he made for my siblings and I. The camping trips, the Dad and me time. I may never know why he has to go so soon in my life, but I do know that at 89 years old, his life has been full of love, experience, and wisdom.

The strongest, most stable man in my life is about to leave me behind, and I ache for him to push me on the swings just one more time. Yet I know his purpose in my life … and that I will carry on to my own children and eventually my grandchildren.

As he enters hospice care for a smooth transition of his final days I know one thing … he is the only man that has ever taught me and loved me beyond a shadow of a doubt. I long to hear his words of wisdom in my time of need, but I know that he has given me everything that he can.

Dad, I will love you to the end of time.

Surviving Chaos

It seems that the girls and I are reverting to simpler times, and I’m learning that there is huge cost in the convience of our lives as we once knew it.

Although we greatly appreciate all of the assistance that we have and are getting from people both near and far, there is something to be said about surviving on your “own accord.” For the first time since we retreated to a safe place on February 15th, we have our own money for food. We actually got to go grocery shopping and pick out what would most satisfy our hungry souls. Homemade waffles, yum, a staple in our lives, a $10 waffle iron and a few ingredients and we are in waffle heaven.

I allowed the girls to pick out much of the food; pork chops and green bean casserole, spaghetti, soups for those crazy days, and of course, Ramen Noodles, because what teen can survive without those!? If I had to guess on February 14th, I never would have seen us here, where meeting the most basic of needs would make us feel so empowered.

In all of this shopping and glory to the way things are I forgot one thing: to shop for food for my diabetes. When I checked my blood sugar yesterday morning it was 268. Yikes! With renewed confidence I set out to the store again, this time to meet my own needs while still pleasing all of us. Sugar free this, sugar free that, and all should be right in the diabetic world that I call home.

It seems so simple, you earn money, you pay bills, you go grocery shopping. Yet, in our world, where illness restricts us from things like work, these things are such a blessing.

A lot of people are very bitter toward those that receive state assistance, but, when in a situation like ours, I couldn’t be more thankful for the years that I’ve paid into taxes, as well as the taxes that you are paying to help us get through this rough time.

Aside from our basic needs, everyone needs time to relax and entertain themselves. Much of society relies on television or other electronic devices to get them through. We don’t have a television in our unit, so we play games instead, family games like the dice game “Forget It.” There is something to be said for sitting around the table rolling dice and hoping for the best, or worst, depending on whose turn it is. There is something amazing to be said about spending time with my children, laughing, crying, sharing, and just relaxing.

In this crazy world we often forget what it’s like to have to do things like cook from scratch, or oh, the horrors of spending time with family … without your phone in hand. However, we seem to be finding great joy in these stolen moments.

For you, on the outside looking in, it may seem that our lives suck right now, and there are moments that you are right. Yet, all things considered, our familial bonds are strengthing and we are finding the simple things to be most enjoyable.