Remembering Pay It Forward

It is quickly approaching the one year anniversary of the day my children and I realized that we were living a lie. Nearly a year since we dropped everything and ran away from the devastation of the secret life of my now ex-husband. In that time we have been wronged in so many ways. It has taken over five months for the divorce settlement to actually go through, and even now, I have nothing … yet. I’ve been waiting for tomorrow since August 2, 2016 for that. We don’t have a child support order yet, although the first notice of request for our income was sent out on March 24, 2016. We haven’t had the criminal trial yet, even though he was arrested on March 30, 2016, and soon after released on bail. Everything along the way has been stalled or halted in one way or another, it all started when he had a massive heart attack in the courthouse on one of our many court dates. Then, he fled, he dropped his great job, a home, our family pets, everything and he headed for the hills of the Pacific Coast, we learned of this the day before his trial was to begin.

His parental rights were supposed to be terminated, but the delay for the criminal trial left the courts waiting too long and they were forced to dismiss the case with a warning to me: “If anyone tells you, even a judge, that he is to see the children you are to contact Children’s Protective Services immediately and defy all court orders, we will take care of you.”

In all of the we have felt lost in a legal process that seems to never end. We often see the light at the end of the tunnel, but every time it ends up being a train headed right for us! We squeeze ourselves between the wall of the tunnel and the train and pray, and every time, God gets us through, every single time!

In all of this, there is one memory that we hold near and dear to us! We had left our home in the darkness with nothing more than the clothes on our backs and any prescription medications that we had. We stayed a couple of nights at a relatives before being given a room in a shelter in Mason County, Michigan. We were about a week into what would become a six week stay when we woke up at 4:30am. Each of us showered and ate breakfast. Our day would include driving one of the children to school in Newaygo County, then the other to the doctor in Kent County. We would return to Newaygo County where my daughter and I would hunker down at the library so that she could do her online schooling and the other daughter would meet us to complete the evenings homework. The girls would then go to drama practice at the school in Newaygo County and finally we would return to Mason County to sleep and do it all over again. Our schedule was beyond demanding, and this was five days a week, but there were other obligations that left us travel weary and gasless the other two days of the week as well.

On one particular day we were eating breakfast and going over any changes in our normal routine when the girls and I decided we wanted to stop at McDonald’s for some bevarages before leaving Mason County. I emptied every pocket I had and counted out $4 in change, mostly pennies, but enough to get a coffee and two sodas. It was the last of my money for the forseeable future, but it was something that we could do that wasn’t a necessity.

We left a few minutes early and pulled into the drive thru at McDonald’s, right behind a Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy. He or she pulled up to the window to pay and it appeared the cashier and deputy were engaging in small talk, I watched the clock getting aggravated that the few minutes I had allowed for this were ticking away and we were going to be late. Finally the vehicle pulled away and I sadly took the change from my daughter and cupping it in two hands leaned out to pay the person. “Oh no!” she said.

“I’m sorry, this is all that we have,” I responded as a way of excusing the massive amount of pennies she would have to count.

“No,” she said, as I felt the embarrassment burning my cheeks, “the deputy paid for your order.”

I eyed her skeptically, “Really?” I felt the tears slipping down my reddened cheeks and my throat swelled to the point of making swallowing an amazing task.

“Yes,” she said, “it’s paid for, you can pull forward to get your order.”

By the time it sank in that the deputy had absolutely no way of knowing our story it was too late, he or she had long ago gotten their food and moved on with their day. My daughters, ages 15 and 12 at the time, joined me in an emotional display of private gratitude. We had just walked away from the man that had promised us everything, we only recently learned of the capacity of his destruction, we had been devastated, stunned, beyond sad. Yet, here was a total stranger, paying it forward, with no knowledge of our story, effectively restoring our faith in humanity in a single transaction.

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IDK What to Call This

My stress level is through the roof, I feel like my head is going to explode and it is making me want to puke.

I know, I know, I should be giving this to God, and I am, but it is coming at me quicker than I can pass it to Him. It isn’t all my stress either, I learned a long time ago that everyone has their own problems, and it seems that everyone is dumping those on me.

I am in a cycle today, take some medicine to get rid of my headache, lie down, wake up to a ringing phone with someone else’s problems. It’s not that I don’t care either, maybe that’s the problem, I care too much.

My current priorities are:

  • Grocery Money
  • Gas Money
  • Laundry Money
  • Money to get my car legal
  • Money to get my daughter’s medicine
  • Prayers for all of this and a friend that  I really care about going through some things.

The priorities aren’t necessarily in that order, that’s just the order that I thought of them in.

I just need to get through today, I’ll face tomorrow then, but just get me through today.

I’m Losing my Grip on Life

Making decisions that you think will better your life is probably the most difficult task of free will. Lately I’ve been trying to align my life’s goals and ambitions with my priorities, but it seems like I’m making bad choices.

These choices are not devastating, but they are overwhelming just the same. Some of them are simply me grasping at what I think is best and really setting myself up to fail. When I do fail I feel like I’ve let my children and God down.

I have this thing with my children, I raised them with this: “Do your personal best, not everyone else’s.” To me this consists of being true to yourself … being honest with yourself. Yet, I don’t feel like I’m heeding those words. I’m just grasping for the baton, running without looking, and dropping the ball all at once.

I’ve come to some truly insightful conclusions about my life, the path I’m on, and the places I’m going. I know that I deserve a lot of things in life; love, respect, honesty, and encouragement. I’m getting this from some people, but I struggle to pay back that which has been gifted to me. Of course, I can offer as much as humanly possible, but in the end it seems like few people are in my life as true friends. Most people want to know what I can do for them. The answer right now is nothing. I am so burnt out with exhaustion and failure that I no longer have energy to give others the precious gifts that I’ve been given.

Lately I’ve been seeing God’s hand in much of my life, just a day and a half ago I felt true peace at the way things were going. I was astonished as I watched things fall into place, it was as if someone put in a special request to Heaven to watch over my family and me. Now, I feel like Satan is working really hard to destroy the very decisions that have the potential to help me keep my grip on life.

Things will be changing for me over the next few months, and I’m half tempted to strip myself clean of those that will suddenly have time for me when things are going well. Some think I’m just in this life to “drag others down to my level.” The truth is that I’m human, some days, hidden behind my smiling face is pain and turmoil. When I reach out for some sort of support or encouragement I’m not reaching out to drag anyone down, I’m just grasping for some sort of logic to my situation, an unbiased third party viewpoint of what I’m doing and where I’m going.

The reality is that I can’t always be strong … some days I need to cry, I need to vent, and I need to feel like someone cares enough to give me constructive critisism. Sometimes that might mean some more pain will be headed my way, but without that pain I don’t see how I can find the positives in others.

Destined for Greatness

What if I told you that each of us is born destined for some sort of greatness? That God created YOU to be an amazing individual, but from the moment that you were born your environment has catapulted trauma onto you, thus resulting in your lack of luster?

I’m asking you to consider the above, I’m not trying to shove my beliefs on you, I’m just asking you to consider it as you read this post.

In my last post I briefly discussed the death of my brother over eight years before my birth. I also discussed how my siblings often consider me lucky, because I didn’t have to try to survive during the horrific time in the lives of my parents and family. Or, did I? Did I in some way endure the consequences poured upon their souls by society?

Some will have an easier time imagining this than others, but for a moment … imagine that you have had to bury a child, specifically an infant; imagine the torture, pain, and questioning your faith in God.

Now, you find out that you are going to have another child. What if this one passes away? What if there is another investigation? Or if the children are removed out of fear that I’m not a good parent? What if … a million other things run through your mind?

In the midst of all of the chaos your father says, “You’re pregnant.”

You respond with, “Oh, Dad, I am not.”

“Don’t tell me, I know when one of my girls is expecting!”

With in a couple of weeks of this conversation your dad, your hero, passes away. You grieve, you deny, you hide and five months in you find out that Dad was right, you are pregnant. Three months later the baby is born a full month early.

Every stressor that you endure during this time is flooding your infant with cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland during times of stress. Stress, upon stress, and yup, more stress, and your baby is fighting this intense hormone that is being directed right to him or her.

The child’s environment is already changing the child before birth, the infant is ultimately fighting a war in utero. The destiny for greatness suffers, the child is born not knowing who s/he is, just a baby, already tainted by society.

I hope that you were born to achieve greatness, but the truth is … I was not. If you were, you have a fighting chance to find you, your true destiny, yourself. However, there are many just like me, born lost and fighting a war that no one knows about, we can reach greatness, we just have to put up a bigger fight.

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Unblaming My Parents

October 16, 1965, a day that forever altered the progression and growth of my life.

How can that be when I wasn’t born until December 8, 1973?

I always thought that I was spared the pain of my brother’s passing, by being born many years after his death in infancy, but was I!?

Trauma has followed me through out my life, and when I told my parents in a desperate attempt to get help I was told things like, “Well, if you wouldn’t dress like that …” “Don’t tell anyone.” Or even just the silent treatment. One thing was clear, police and investigators had no place in our lives.

I learned to sit down, shut up, and take the blame. For a short time I was very angry that my parents were unable to be more supportive and less blaming in these matters, but today I had an epiphany.

When my infant brother passed away the media found them guilty almost before they were even questioned, and the inquest must have been horrific to endure. Everyone was pointing fingers, all but one detective that took the time to not only hear my parents, but to fight for them. One person out of all of those that were involved in the case, the odds were clearly stacked against my parents. God willing, they survived the tension of that chaos and moved forward to not only raise three older children, but to have two more.

Now there’s me … repeatedly raped … but the odds are stacked against my family, so I go to no one, it’s a risk too great to endure.

I acted out in ways that made me pure hell to raise, when life got to be too much I even tried overdosing … having your stomach pumped is not for the weak. I ran from my problems, leaping from a cliff with no parachute into a valley of lava.

I tried everything I could to be the better person, to be stronger and more resilient than I was raised to be. With each passing trauma I realized a tiny bit more that my reaction is my choice, not that of my parents.

My parents must have been really scared during the loss and investigation into their son’s death … sort of like me … deep in the brush of the old race track during the state fair. No one to turn to, no one to help, no one to guide me … No one, but God, and I missed it. I was so busy blaming my parents that I forgot about the faith I’d been raised in, besides, God didn’t want a dirty hoe like me in His house!

Today was different though, today I was driving past a location where I had once been severely beaten by an ex-husband, and I experienced a flash back. I had one of my children in the car with me … and I realized I had to keep myself together, or risk freaking her out. I can’t blame my parents anymore, they are both deceased and can’t fight back, I can’t blame my ex, because if I got that close I can’t be responsible for my reaction. The only person to blame for how I handle this situation is me, and this time I turned to the faith I’d been raised in and somehow I just knew, it’s not what happens to me, but how I react … I own that, so I am unblaming my parents for lifes traumas.

Applying God’s Word to Abuse

When I decided to move from Pennsylvania to Michigan, a single mother with three small children, I remember my mom’s tearful, parting words, “You are breaking up the family that you created. God doesn’t look kindly on that.”

In that very moment I not only questioned God’s love for me, I also accepted that any and all bad things that were about to happen were God’s punishment for my sins. I had felt this way for a very long time, to be honest, I had been attoning for my sins since I was about eight years old. I never knew what the sins were, just that the world was about me and all bad was caused by my failure to follow God.

The idea that an eight year old has so many sins to atone for may seem unjust to you, but at that developmental stage a child is unable to see the world beyond themselves, thereby accepting all grief and pain as their fault.

Many years prior to my move to Michigan I had pulled away from church, I was ignoring everything that God put before me. I only saw the bad, because I was looking for it, and when you look for something, not only are you bound to find it, chances are that you will find it in the last place that you look. So, here I am; almost eighteen years later, trying once again to figure out what I did wrong in life to deserve all of this.

Recently my daughter has been attending church, and placing loving pressure on me to attend as well. I can think of a million excuses not to go, but I have one reason to go; God really does have my back, He always has, and He always will.

My biggest reason for turning my back on my faith and religion is that much of scripture is twisted by individuals to meet their own needs.

You have heard it said, “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Matthew 5:38

This passage is used many times through out the Bible, but I choose Matthew 5:38 to demonstrate what often happens …

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

Matthew 5:38-42 discusses the topic of biblical contraversy elegantly. Often times, an abuser will stop reading at verse 38, because they have met their own needs, but continuing on we can see that it is not man’s job to bring us to repent for our own sins.

I am definitely not a theologian, but maybe that’s something I should study, because one of the reasons that I have made the decision to turn my back on religion is the mass confusion concerning this. Every swing that has ever connected with my body has touched my soul and allowed me to turn it into this is my repentence for past transgressions. My assailants have grasped onto my thought and torn me apart with words from the Bible about how women are less than man, how we are meant to be a man’s slave, how divorce is against Christianity.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:18-19

Now, it’s time to face the cold, hard truth; I’m watching some of my children suffer from control and abuse of others. Their take is that it is their penance for past transgressions, one of the “gifts” that I have given them, which I must now take back. We are not placed on this earth to repent for our sins at the hands of evil, for we are here for a greater purpose, and our sins will be judged by God, on the day of His choosing, when we are brought before Him, our shell encapsulated in a grave, and our soul standing before Him.

 

To Bipolar or Not to Bipolar

Has anyone every tried to suffocate you with a pillow? What about dangling at the ends of another’s hands by your neck, your feet just inches from the floor, and no air getting in, nothing left but the telltale signs of his fingerprints etched in bruises upon your neck? Or, has anyone ever struck you as you held your infant child in your arms, with five other young children looking on?

My answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes. These are just a few of the instances of abuse that I endured during my second marriage, and they left me spent, fearful, dare I say paranoid!?

In order to survive in a home like this everything has to be perfect … children shall be seen and not heard, the wife is in control of everything … or at least everything that causes his anger to be triggered.

The night that this beast was arrested he called me over a dozen times, from the county jail, to try to persuade me to drop the charges (the calls were collect of course). Finally, I had to call 911 to contact the jail and make him stop calling.

Within two years of this horrendous relationship I was preparing for another marriage. The stress was high, though a good stress, it triggered negative memories and behaviors within me. I became fearful of “being owned by a man.” Scared that the old one would hunt me down to be sure I never had happiness. Most of all, I was pissed off, yes, I was angry that my past could taint my future, and every little thing that I viewed as out of place was cause for screaming, and in some cases even throwing things.

My fiance sat me down, “Laura,” he said, “this isn’t normal, you need help.” He ran me to the doctor who said that I had bipolar and started me on medication.

That was in 2002, and for the past 14 years I have had endless amounts of counseling and when things weren’t perfect my husband would report it and doctors would throw more medication at me. We never decreased or altered, we only added more medication.

When I was raising five children, working full-time and attending college part-time I slept about two or three hours every night, but when college break was on, this mama bear was curled up in bed trying to catch up on lost sleep. No one said a word about my illness when I was setting the world on its ear, but when I slept for more than five hours, suddenly I was considered depressed and whoop, look out, more medication down the throat!

Through all of this I have tried to tell others that I am in control of this, that it was an enviromental reaction, not a chemical imbalance, but no one listened.

NOW, finally, after 14 years of medication I have someone that is listening to me and is considering the fact that I might have been misdiagnosed and over medicated. Now, think this through, I can’t just stop taking my meds, the withdrawals would be pure hell … bad things could happen. So, first I am weaning off the medication that causes: weight gain, high cholesterol, and diabetes … my three biggest concerns since starting this medication path so long ago.

We don’t know for sure if I’ve been misdiagnosed, the only way to know for certain is for me to be off medication, and I have a lot of weaning to get there. I can tell you, that I believe my earlier bouts of anger and throwing things was pure fear of anything less than perfection. Now I know, I’m not perfect, my children aren’t perfect, and neither is my home, but the world won’t end because of that … no one is going to kill me … because those that I surround myself with know that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Finally, I have found a doctor that listens and is in this field to help me rather than possible kickbacks. Woohoo!