It’s Time to Tell My Story

Today is Mother’s Day, basically, my favorite day of the year. It’s not for the gifts, nor the appreciation that mother’s across the nation receive; although I do love to hear my children and their friends wishing me well and telling me how much they love me … but that’s not all.

Many don’t know this, but I almost didn’t get to be a mom. In a fit of confusion, impulsiveness, sadness and despair I attempted to end my life in 1992. Days later I learned that I was pregnant with my oldest child and chances were that the medication that I attempted to overdose on was in my system as my helpless child was beginning to grow.

The following is MY perception of what happened, others that were present may have a different perception and that’s fine, but that’s your story, this is mine.

I was 18 years old, in 3 weeks time I would be a wife to someone that I had committed to spend the rest of my life with. In a strange twist I began to see things as they were, I stopped looking at him through a lens of perfection and I noticed that everything that attracted me to him was built on lies that I excused when I found out the truth. Reality was that he probably didn’t have the motivation to do much with his life and everything that my mom warned me about was seeming to be accurate.

I was raised that your word is your word and you can’t back down. You stay loyal, you make a commitment and you follow through. Being a teenager I also had this hatred of proving my mom right … I couldn’t go to her and say, “You were right. Can I come back home?” After all, I had left when I was 17 and given up my car in order prove to my parents that I was an adult and could survive.

Now, 26 years later, I don’t even remember what our argument was about, but at that time it was obviously a life or death discussion to me. Quietly, I opened up my cedar chest (a graduation gift from my parents) where the medication was stored. I dug through the contents until I found a box of over the counter sleep aid, not melatonin, the real stuff, the stuff that takes you out in a … dream.

When he realized what I had done he went to tell him mother, whom we were living with. To this day I remember her words, “Get her out of here, I don’t want her dying here.” In that moment I realized that her words were a reflection of my worth; it wasn’t about keeping me alive, or getting me help, it was about her not having to deal with authorities coming into her home to remove my body.

I was taken to the hospital, I remember being to angry about being saved to talk to anyone … I just wanted to be left alone to die. A hose was shoved up my nose and fished into my stomach to pump out the contents of my wishful death. That hose cut off my ability to talk and I couldn’t have been more pleased, it was the closest that I could get to being isolated from the world.

Hospital staff were questioning my fiancé about the events of the evening, but he kept repeating the lie that he had told me to say on our way to the hospital. She has severe back pain from a car accident last year. She must have gotten her medications mixed up and in her tired state took more than necessary.

The nurse came to my bedside and told me that they would remove the hose leading to my stomach if I could promise to drink a glass of “charcoal” I agreed, not realizing that yes, they do serve charcoal in the emergency room.

I took a strong hard sip on the straw before I realized that I was drinking the real deal and charcoal is not a code word for a medicinal cocktail. I wanted to beg to have the hose put back in, that’s how nasty this experience was, but the nurse was too busy grilling me (pun intended) about what had happened to lead me to the emergency room half heartedly fighting for my life.

This poor nurse, she wanted to help me so bad. She asked me nicely, she asked me with compassion, and finally she tried anger, but I wouldn’t budge, I stuck to the story I was told to tell. If only the medical staff would have put a 72 hour psych evaluation on me, if only I had spoke up, if only, if only …. maybe I wouldn’t have spent years hating myself, and suffering in emotional turmoil.

When I left the hospital that night I still had a strong wish to die, I even said a bedtime prayer, “Dear God, please take me in my sleep tonight so that no one will ever have to tolerate me again.” When God didn’t fulfill my wish I spent days trying to find a way to escape this miserable world, but I had to plan better, I had to be sure that I wasn’t found until it was too late.

Before I was able to figure out a plan I found out that I was pregnant. Life became a gift, I was responsible for another human and the only way to take care of that life was to take care of me. This didn’t end my suicidal ideation, it only made them easier to fight back. Some days, even 26 years later, I wonder why I’m here or how worthy am I to have oxygen to breathe. I go on because I know that my experiences in life can help others to go on.

My Mother’s Day wish is for anyone that feels like I did, or sometimes do, to seek help, because you have a purpose. If you are reading this and know or fear that someone you know might be feeling these things, ask! Don’t be afraid to discuss suicide, you don’t have to understand the thoughts and you don’t have to get angry, just being there and breaking down the wall of fear regarding the word “suicide” can help someone get the strength to get help in surviving and overcoming their feeling of being unworthy.

; Sequitur Historia Mea;

;My Story Goes On;

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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!

Emotions Make YOU Weak

Yesterday morning I woke up with an amazing feeling of worthlessness. I held myself in check as long as I could, but the minute I ran out of things to keep my mind busy I got drop kicked by memories of marriages past.

Husband #1 wanted to fix me, to mold me into a better person. Husband #2, well, I was never good enough, no matter what I did. Husband #3 was once asked what did he think would be worth his efforts in raising children that ended up being a worthless waste of time. His answer: “Their mother.”

These thoughts, scrambling through my mind, seemed to kick the hamster that powers my brain off the wheel. I found me, the strong one, folded into the fetal position on the couch, sobs wretching from my deepest core.

Family and real friends will ask, “Why?” They will make you think, make you accept what you are feeling and give a couple of words to help you feel and move on. That’s all I really needed, I had a million things to do, I didn’t have time for this emotional crap. I certainly couldn’t venture out into society like this, that would show I’m not only weak, but vulnerable as well.

A niece asked me to send her a private message on Facebook, and we talked, she almost got me through it, but I was feeling in need of more. Dear friends posted that I’m not worthless, and though it helped, still I needed more. Then, I got a text asking “Why?” I explained the feelings, and the response was, “Oh well, you’re not worthless. Don’t let them best you again.”

“Don’t let them best you again!” that’s it, the fire that I needed. I felt like it’s okay to feel like crap every so often, but I can’t let them continue to win, by doing so I’m giving my power up. This … this is what good friends are made of, they make you think, they challenge you to become a better version of yourself.

I was still feeling pretty low, but I no longer felt weak, I just felt like I had to feel this, acknowledge it and move on. I now had the energy and power to start my day.

As I went through the day my negative emotions were still there, still dragging me down, but God has a way of putting things where we need them to be. As my daughter and I sat in front of a desk I happened to look at a dry erase board and I saw a quote by Mandy Hale:

The only keeper of your happiness is you. Stop giving people power to control your smile, your worth and your attitude. ~Mandy Hale

And the only thought on my mind was, God’s got my back.

Though I had spent a good bit of the morning in utter emotional chaos, I was able to pull through thanks to God, family and friends. This helped to prepare me for the emotional sucker punch I was about to be given in the late afternoon.

Just as things were coming together there was a knock on my door, allowing entry to the visitor I was handed a document detailing law enforcement interviews of the criminal investigation that tore my marriage and family to shreds. Taking the papers I didn’t know if I was holding fire or ice, but I could feel a burning sensation in my soul.

Since I had already felt so low in the morning and was able to stand up to it I was curious if I would have the energy it would take to read through snippets and quotes from the forensic interviews. Once the visitor left I took a folded arm across my chest in a way trying to protect my heart from what I was certain would be nothing but devastation. With my spare hand I held the pages close enough for me to read, but not for the children to see … and I cried again. The shame, guilt and pain that were entwined in those papers showed a lack of compassion on the part of some, maybe even a bit of psychosis. Yet, my earlier experiences had shown me that God had my back, and good always prevails. The aches that I felt no longer seemed insurmountable, instead, I knew who I could talk to about this, and I knew that He would protect me from further devastation as I explored the negative emotions that must occur so that we can know what true euphoria really is.

Friends, family, and above all God, are here, traveling this crazy path with me and I couldn’t be more grateful for those still in my life.

Blaming the Top Tier

A few people have had the nerve to ask me questions about the disintegration of my marital vows. Some have asked, “What happened?” or “When did you realize things were going bad?” or “What were the signs?”

As far as what happened, in all honesty, that is not my story to tell, so I will leave you hanging on that question. (Sorry, but I must respect the privacy of others.)

When did I realize things were going bad? Oh, about four or five years ago our relationship dynamics changed, and it was all downhill from there. I always hoped that tomorrow would be a better day, but tomorrow never came.

What were the signs? I could list some of the signs that I saw, but I don’t want others looking for those signs and assuming that their nuptial vows are on the fritz. So, instead I will share a long lost memory that struck me this morning. You may say it is superstition, or an old wives tale, take it as you will, but here’s the story.

As per marital tradition, the top tier of our wedding cake was boxed up and frozen, to be thawed and enjoyed on our first anniversary.

As our anniversary approached we found ourselves with a new addition to our home, she was just a newborn, and cute as hell. I was registering for college, so things were rather hectic, and let’s not forget the other four children that he welcomed into his arms when he married me.

All seven of us were eager to relax and enjoy the memories of our wedding day as we served the thawed cake, but it wasn’t to be so.

Opening the box that contained the top tier we discovered a spider that had frozen to death in the middle of our cake. Now, it wasn’t anything spectacular, like a black widow or tarantula, but it may have been the first sign of doom just the same.

As I share this, I am well aware that we had a long, happy relationship prior to the discemination of vows, but even so, for some reason, the spider story hit me hard today.

It’s the simple memories … both happy and later sad, that make me realize that there has got to be something left for me in this world … some sort of peace within that allows me to move beyond the past.

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.

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.