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Posts tagged ‘court’

My Life: Then & Now, Journey With Me

I have debated sharing my story with everyone. Those close to me know where I have come from, what has happened. I read someone else’s story today and it broke my heart. Reading what she went through and overcame just left me awestruck. If she can share her tale, why shouldn’t I be able to share mine? I am no longer ashamed of my past and no longer feel like a victim. Maybe perhaps by sharing this, you will get to know me in a different light and if it helps even one person who might be struggling with any of what I have, then it will be worth it. That is why I am here, to share, to inspire, and to be inspired.

As a little kid, things seemed to be alright. My mom and I were reasonably close. My dad wasn’t around, but that didn’t really bother me till I got a little older. I had my mom, my grandparents, my uncles…one in particular that I adored and looked up to, my cousins, and so on. At the age of four, I was pretty happy.

Then my mom and I moved out of my grandparent’s home and into an apartment so we could have a home of our own. Little by little, my mom distanced herself from me. She could be in the same room and I’d still feel so alone. She’d read, watch her soap operas. do her puzzles, and not spend too much time with me. She’d also pawn me off on my grandparents or other people to watch me so she could go out and if she couldn’t find someone to watch me, she’d take me to the bar with her so she could shoot pool or to a friend’s house so she could play cards for change, drink, and smoke pot. I started seeing a few different guys with my mom throughout the years and didn’t think really know what to think.

When it really started to go downhill was when my mom met Mike, the man she began to date in the summer of 1988 or was it 1989? I am trying to piece together the exact time, but my mind gets fuzzy. So much happened around that time. Little did I know just how much that connection would change my life.

I also met my dad in March or so in 1989, just after I had turned 10. My first impression wasn’t a good one. He was in the kitchen of his house, sitting at the table. Upon that table were several empty beer cans. My mom introduced him to me and I excitedly hugged him and he reeked of stale beer, smoke, and the farm. The worst wasn’t how he appeared, I didn’t really care about that. I finally got to meet my dad and was just so happy to know who he is, to put a face with a name. What cut me was his indifference towards me. That hurt, a lot.

That summer, I met my step-mom, half brothers, and half sister. Now, I was even more excited because, “I HAVE SIBLINGS!!!!” Being alone wasn’t fun for me and so now knowing I had brothers and a sister, I was just over the moon happy. My brothers were six and seven years old, my sister….oh Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek, MY sister was four, nearly five. I HAVE A LITTLE SISTER!!!! You have no idea how happy I was to have someone to play with and someone who might just look up to me.

My step-mom was nice, but you could tell she wasn’t overly thrilled with my presence. Here I am, her husband’s child from another woman. She did at first wonder if my mom wanted him back and was using me as a means to do that. She did find out that my mom did not want him back. She had been married at 18 to someone who didn’t drink a lot, but when he did, he got mean. Once, he hit her and she left him. I am proud my mom did have the courage to walk away. Knowing my dad and his love for alcohol and his temper, she turned down his marriage proposal at the hospital right after I’d been born on his birthday. She didn’t want to chance he’d become violent, especially not with a child. She held to that resolve, but she did want me to meet my dad because by now I’d been asking about him and wanted to know him.

Well onto my siblings, my sister did adore me. She followed me everywhere, ah my little shadow. It got annoying sometimes, but for the most part, I loved it. I loved having a sister. My one brother was pretty fond of me too. He was and still is such an amiable person, so easily loved. My other brother, the one who was the oldest till I came around wasn’t necessarily so happy. He and I had some fun times, but he was more often really mean to me. He’d tell me to go home, that he wanted to be the oldest again. That hurt, tried to be understanding of the fact that I invaded what he felt was his territory, but it was hard. Didn’t he get where I was coming from? For his whole life, he has had his mom and dad in his life. I lived for 10 years without knowing who my dad was, without being able to spend time with him, without knowing him like they do. It was rough a lot of the time. Between the way he treated me and the way my dad treated me, many of my visits to their house were cut short because I was so miserable and begged to go home.

My dad would say things like, “I don’t even think you’re mine.”, “I think your mom cheated on me.”, or he’d belittle me by saying stuff like, “You’re just a city slicker, you don’t belong here.” He would have me in tears and in front of the rest of my family. All I wanted was to belong, to finally know the other side of my family. He really didn’t want me around. He was either being mean to me or ignoring me.

At home with my mom, things were getting worse. Her boyfriend began to molest me. He’d been accused of doing this to someone we knew, but I blew it off at the time. Man, did I feel like a jerk later. She’d had a history of lying, like her mom, so I just figured my mom had a right to be angry. And, she herself, the girl when staying with us to escape her mother began to touch me and made me feel confused and unhappy. I didn’t like how she’d say we should play house and then start trying to touch me and kiss me. First of all, it just wasn’t wanted at all, not by anyone. I will admit after what she did, I became homophobic for a long time. And then yeah, after she was gone and back with her mom, he started in on me. I just didn’t get why people were doing this to me. He’d come into my room late at night or when my mom wasn’t around and start to touch me, to take my clothes off. When I would tell him to stop, he wouldn’t and he’d often tell me, “I know you like it, so stop complaining.” It made me so sick. I felt stuck too, do I tell my mom? Will she believe me? I too had a history of spinning tales and stealing, never knew why I did what I did back then. My mom too seemed happy, do I dare ruin her happiness? I had seen my mom be lonely and how much it hurt her, didn’t like that, hated seeing my mom in pain.

Eventually, I did speak up, I’d had enough. My soul was being twisted and I just wanted it to stop, wanted him gone. She talked to him, but he denied it and she let him stay. The abuse stopped for awhile and then he began again. He’d start sitting on me and forcing me to watch their porn collection, force me to look at my mom’s erotic books, and he’d start using her toys on me. He’d tell me that I’d one day have bigger breasts than my mom. He’d also tell me I should have sex with him first instead of some random guy on the streets. By now, I am 13 and not even thinking about sex. In fact, that is the last thing on my mind. He kept telling me I liked what he was doing to me, kept telling me that it was best too that he was the one introducing me to womanhood. I didn’t feel joy or pleasure. I felt humiliation, fear, violated. I also wondered if this was what I deserved for all the hell I’d put my mom through. She wasn’t the greatest mom, not attentive, not there for me, but I didn’t think she deserved my defiance either. I was so confused by who I was, what was going on inside my head. I often wondered if it was all my fault.

But it was getting worse, he began taking my clothes off and throwing them outside and he’d make me beg for them so that he wouldn’t make me go out naked to get them. The abuse was getting more frequent. I also got angry because one minute he was doing this to me and then if I was in trouble, he’d act like he was my father. He’d yell at me, scold me, ground me, spank me, and talk down to me. I was thinking, “Who the hell do you think you are? You’re not my dad! And, how can you discipline me one minute and then the next be running your hands all over me?” The anger was building.

The last time I told my mom about this, she said, “If he does it again, he’s out.” I remember arguing with her about foster care, said I wished I lived in a foster home, away from him and away from her. She told me to be careful what I wished for.

In the meantime, visiting my dad wasn’t getting any easier either. He began threatening me. He one night grabbed my wrist and held a shotgun in the other hand, told me he’d shoot me. He was getting crueler and crueler, as was my one brother. It was so hard to visit him, but somehow I still missed everyone.

On December 4th, 1992, I snapped. I was fighting with Mike over taking the trash out when just earlier, he’d been in my room touching me. At this point, I was taking a city bus to a school on the other side of town because I was sick of being teased so badly at my other school and after begging, my mom had let me switch schools, I just had to be up and ready in time to get on the bus. So, while on the bus, I began crying and then I took a notebook out to write out how I was feeling. A girl who was two grades older than I was, who went to a catholic high school and had befriended me during our rides together saw I was upset and asked me what was wrong. I showed it to her and she said, “You need to talk to someone.” I wasn’t sure about that. I kept writing after she got off the bus, as her stop was before mine. At school, right before first period was to start, I was crying really hard now. A girl I didn’t talk to a lot noticed and asked me if I was okay. I showed her my notebook and she said, “You’re going to talk to someone.”

I went into the counselor’s office and not long after, the girl went back to class. I showed him my notebook. The pace for the day was set. By law, he had to step in. The cops were called and I was in and out of class all day. Later, I went to the police station to give my official statement. They were really kind to me. I know that sometimes cops get a bad reputation because there are some really jerk cops out there, but there are also some very kind and compassionate ones too. I will never forget their kindness that day. I was also to meet with a social worker. I begged him not to put me in a foster home, at least not right away. We stopped at my home to grab some things, Mike had already been arrested. My mom was upset and clearly as out of it as I was. She wasn’t mean to me, but wasn’t there to support me either. I left in tears. It had been arranged that I would stay at a friend’s for a few days. So, we went to Mc Donald’s and he treated me to dinner and then took me to my friend Angela’s house. They were so supportive. Angela had then told me she’d been so creeped out by him and that was why she never wanted to have a sleepover at my place, why they were almost always at hers. They tried to lift my spirits, telling jokes, being goofy, and just being there. I stayed there for five days, going to school like normal all but the day after the big ordeal. I even went to my choir concert.

On December 9th, 1992, I was placed in a foster home in Mt. Horeb. They were an older couple and it became clear very quickly that it wasn’t going to work out. I was too stubborn and outspoken for them and they were too strict and hard for me. The compassion I needed from them just wasn’t there and so I was brought to a home in Waunakee on December 14th, just four days before my 14th birthday.

That experience was something. My foster dad was AMAZING! I began to call him dad pretty quickly. Everyone did the best they could to make my birthday special, given the circumstances. They took me out to dinner, bought me an outfit since I didn’t have much, and just tried to make it a happy evening. My foster mom and I were alright in the beginning. I was also thrilled to have a sister who was my age, well five months younger. She was in many ways older than me though. I looked up to her because she seemed to have a lot of friends and guys interested in her. There was also four other kids, much younger than us, but pretty cool little kids. It was a family and that was what I’d always wanted.

Court began on the 22nd of that month and that was how I got my Christmas presents from my mom and it felt so formal. My heart was breaking during pre-trial, not having my mom’s support. The trial was in April of 1993, one of the hardest things I ever went through, especially because my mom didn’t say one word to me. I’d also found out in early March that my grandpa had died. I didn’t know till after his funeral because no one knew where I was due to safety reasons with Mike out on bail. I didn’t know my dad’s dad that well, but the few times I’d seen him, he’d been a very kind and compassionate man. My heart broke, mostly for my dad. He was the only boy, out of 10 kids that were raised. There were 11, but one of my aunts died as a baby. Back to it then…..

My foster mom was starting to try on my nerves. My foster sister was stealing from me and getting away with it. They’d ask, “Well, did you spend it and forget?” Excuse me? I don’t think so, I’d remember it and what would I spend it on? I am not out and about that often. She was constantly siding with Shelby, buying her things, letting her do what she wanted, and ignoring me. I was mostly enraged because I was the one going to school, getting good grades, and keeping out of trouble. Yeah, I could be defiant when it came to doing chores and I know I shouldn’t have been, but I was comparing us and mad because she was skipping school, stealing, lying, drinking, doing drugs, having sex, etc and I for the most part was a good kid. So, the fighting with my foster mom got worse. In the end, I started expressing my concerns and my unhappiness. I wasn’t fond of the town at all, hated the school, had very few friends, and was miserable at home. So, my social worker began working on finding me a new placement.

I went to one in February of 1994, but that only lasted days. I eventually ran away because my foster brother was hitting on me and it just felt wrong to me. The atmosphere in the home wasn’t all that friendly, felt like everything I said and did was wrong, so I ran away, twice. The second time, I ended up in Milwaukee. Mind you, at this time, I lived in Madison and the surrounding areas. I lied to someone at the bus station so that I could get a free ticket. I found our old apartment, the most recent place we’d lived in in West Allis, found a neighbor who still lived there. I was able to then call my grandma at work and she came to get me. When my grandparents contacted my mom, I was forced to go about six blocks north to my aunt and uncle’s house because of what my grandpa (my mom’s dad) had asked me to do when I was 11. Sure, now she believed me on that, but then again, he’d sexually abused her. It’s all been so messed up. To backtrack, when I was 11, my grandpa asked me to touch him, told me he hurt down there, and that if I just rubbed it a little that it would feel better. I felt uncomfortable, kept telling him no, and got away from him. He never again said anything like that, but still thinking about it, that was really really wrong. How could a man do that to his daughter, to his granddaughter? I didn’t know about what he’d done to her till later, but once I knew, it made sense, a lot of her life made sense really.

So, anyway…I am at my aunt and uncle’s for roughly five or six days. Then my mom comes to get me. I tell her, my social worker, and everyone else that I will run away again if they put me back there. So, I go to a group home. I am there for three weeks before they find another home for me. Those three weeks were stressful, but some good memories were made too. I had learned how to make earrings, got to go rollerskating, etc.

So, then in mid March of 1994, I meet Shirley, the wonderful Shirley. Crystal takes me on a walk through part of Cottage Grove and later she tells me I should move in, that she really likes me and it would be nice to have another sister. In the end, I decide to give it a try. So, on St. Patrick’s Day, I start my new school. I had a few kids who didn’t take to me, but most either ignored me or were pretty cool. I made friends fast and fell in love with it there. Shirley was the greatest foster mom, EVER! She’s my grandma’s age, but she was so cool. She made me laugh, rewarded us for doing well in school, took the time to really talk to me and get to know me, encouraged me, believed in me. She was the mother I’d always wanted. Crystal and I had become friends. Jenny was pretty cool too, but her being a few years older and popular kept her busy. Not long into it, Colleen moved in. I met her briefly at the one home I ran away from. She was there on respite. When I was gone, she stole a bunch of my stuff. Karma perhaps? Even so, I was less than thrilled when I saw who Shirley was meeting to possibly bring into our home. I told her confidentially and didn’t cause a scene. She thanked me for how I handled it and spoke to Colleen later. I got some things back, some ruined, and some not at all.

Things got interesting when she moved in. At one point, Crystal and Colleen convinced me to go meet some guys with them, promised we’d be back in time for dinner. I was hesitant, but agreed in the end. Within a half hour, I wanted to go home, but they refused to let me. I had to listen to them have sex, be surrounded by drinking and smoking, and was being hit on relentlessly by one of the guys. I kept pushing him away. The next morning, I convinced them to let me go to school. They collected enough change for the bus and then made me take my glasses off so I couldn’t see their address till I was at the bus stop. I did squint though and saw the street sign. I took the bus to the Capital and called Shirley from a payphone. I wandered around Wal-Greens until she showed up. Shirley tried to get the girls to come home, but it didn’t work right away. I was grounded for going with them, but she did let me off early because I was basically kidnapped and tried to come home. We later ended up with lice, from the people in that nasty apartment. I’d planned my 16th birthday party already, but due to what happened, my mom’s punishment was I had to cut my guest list in half. Needless to say, some of my friends were unhappy that I dis-invited them and as it turned out, of the half I left on, half of them didn’t show…..but it was still a fun party. I spent the weekend with my mom and had the party there, also went rollerskating.

In time, my mom and I had made a lot of progress, as long as we don’t talk about Mike, we’re fine, even now. She still clams up. Anyway. Things at Shirley’s are mostly cool and I am happy at school and at church. I was starting to grow up, to change for the better. My mom and I agreed to try living together in the summer of 1995. The courts allowed it, felt we would be alright. So, in August that year, I had a surprise going away party at Shirley’s and then I went HOME.

I started school and things seemed to be going alright. But, I had second thoughts and went back to Shirley’s briefly, then back home. My mom was rarely home, usually off at her boyfriend’s. I changed schools a couple of times and then just quit going. I was bored and just didn’t feel like I was learning much. So, I stayed home, cooked, cleaned, and watched t.v., outside of church and such anyway. I still went to therapy too, that helped a bit. Well, my mom decides it’s not working and sends me to my dad’s in late October, I believe.

My cousin and his wife are living in part of the upstairs with the kids and I had really begun to get to know them. Cindy seemed alright with me being there and my sister was excited. My brothers dealt with it, Matt more accepting than Mike. Yes, my brother’s name is Mike too. Matt and Brenda often wanted to borrow things from me, ah siblings. Going to school there wasn’t too bad. For the most part, dad ignored me, so maybe it might work?

One night, not long after Dad kicked my cousins out for using the dryer when they were told not to unless it was too cold or there was bad weather, my friend and her friend were there. She told me what happened and how it had been bad weather…”but, you know your dad, he was drunk.” is what she told me. We were upstairs in the now empty room, just hanging out. Mike came up to ask me if he could borrow my crayons. I said he had his own, I’d given them what amounted to three sets when Cindy bought me a new one. He said that Brenda had them and he didn’t know where they were. I told him to ask her, I didn’t want him to ruin or lose them, kept that part to myself though. He went downstairs and told Dad and maybe a couple of minutes later, he was stomping up the steps. Dad called me selfish and started calling me a lazy city bitch. He told me to jump out the second story window and if I didn’t, he’d throw me out of it. He had me by the neck, left marks. My friend Aimee and her friend Tracy got him to release me after arguing with him. She told me she’d have Frank come get me at lunch the next day, so I had packed up my locker, but they never showed because that’s just how Frank can be. So, I went back to school. Right after Thanksgiving, Dad asks us to go get wood from the basement for the wood stove. I was moving “too slow” and he started fighting with me. He kicked me out, told me to walk into town and to go by my cousin’s. I walked however many miles into town and right past their house, was determined to walk from Markesan to Ripon, 18 miles and in the cold, but I wanted away from all of them. My cousins are my mom’s cousins, but still didn’t want to be with them. The weather was bad, snowing and so cold and so dark. Eventually a car stops by and asked if I needed help. I told her and her daughters what happened, when she found out who my dad was, she wasn’t surprised. He’s known to all in that small town as a drunk. I stayed the night with them and they went to get some of my things the next day and took me to Madison.

My mom cried and told me she loved me, but that she wasn’t in a position to be a good mom. So, they took me to a place that helps people with various things like emergency foster care placement, a hotline for those who need help, tutoring, etc. I stayed there during the day for a few days and with a nice couple during the evenings. I spent my 17th birthday there, alone. I was broken inside, not one word from my mom or anyone. The couple was very kind. I sat making Christmas cards for my youth group with construction paper, wrapping paper scraps, glitter, sequins, glue, etc. and they brought me a bowl of ice cream with a candle in it. It wasn’t much, but it meant a great deal to me that someone acknowledged me.

I, as a favor to my mom, lived with my old foster parents in Waunakee, not a ward of the state. That didn’t fare better the second time, just stopped going to school and wasn’t getting along with my foster mom any better than I had before. So, I went to my grandma’s for three weeks. By this time, Grandpa is in the hospital because he’d had a stroke a month prior. I spent Christmas with her and her friend’s family, visited Grandpa, and tried to reconnect a little with Milwaukee.

I went back home to my mom’s and that went alright. I went to Adult High School at M.A.T.C., went to church, and just tried to get along with my mom. She wasn’t around much though. Later, she was given the opportunity to live with her boyfriend, so she chose that and because of before, she shipped me off to live with Grandma, just months before my 18th birthday.

Once actually living in the Milwaukee area for the first time since February 28th, 1990, I found a church to go to and started to make friends here. I’d visit Madison sometimes, but I did find I was pretty happy here. I have moved a lot since early childhood though, so I don’t know if that’s why I’d become restless, so I did move a lot in my early adult life. I’d live here for six months to a little over a year and then move to spend time with friends. I got into a lot of trouble, associated with the wrong crowd because I wanted friends and they seemed to accept me. When I was 19, I started smoking pot, drinking a little, having sex because I thought if I gave a guy I liked what he wanted that we’d be together and be happy.

When I was 21, my stupidity nearly got myself and three other people killed. I let someone who was nearly 16 and drunk drive my car. I bought the alcohol and let three people under 21 drink. Danny crashed my car, more like flipped it into the air and it flung me out of the windshield. Lisa was hurt pretty badly, broke her right collar bone, was limping for awhile, and looked like someone beat the crap out of her with two black and blue eyes and scratches on her face. Aaron was the least hurt, but acted like he was the worst…well maybe next to me, he’d say. We all rolled our eyes. Danny broke four toes on one foot, was pretty scratched and bruised too. My mom came to my rescue, but not without lighting into me. I deserved that, I was an idiot. She lit into Danny too and he took it, but later called my mom a bitch to me. But hey, if that were my kid you nearly killed and you were telling the cops she was driving to save your ass….yeah, I’d be pretty nasty to you too. Drinking and driving, word to the wise….not cool. I didn’t learn that lesson then, should have, but it took more stupidity for it to sink in. At least, there weren’t any other accidents or casualties then, luckily.

I was a nomad for awhile, moved and then moved back to Grandma’s. When I was 21, as well, my dad told me why he was so mean throughout most of my life. He told me that my mom had gotten pregnant on purpose and so he lost it. He said, “Every time I look at you, I’d see her. I know that’s not an excuse though and I’m sorry.” He’s never gotten a paternity test, not even when I was born. Many have now tried to push it on him and he won’t, because we all know he knows I am his. Well, now he and I have our peace. He might grumble under his breath about me talking too much or always being hungry, but we haven’t fought since I was 21.

At the age of 23, I was living in Appleton because I’d met Jason and thought he was so cute and for some reason was just so drawn to him. I met him in early November of 2001 and moved to Appleton in early January of 2002. He made it clear when I finally asked if we’d become a couple that he wasn’t interested in dating, that he wanted to have sex and mess around. So, I started seeing a friend of mine who was great through the whole Jason thing. But in late March, I found out I was pregnant. So, in April, I moved back to Milwaukee, again. Grandma to the rescue, again.

I had my son on November 10th, 2002 at 11:00 a.m. I was a mess after. My mom started to look after him. By then, my mom and I are pretty much at peace, again, as long as we don’t talk about Mike or much of the past. I felt I could trust her with my son. I came home to Milwaukee after being by her and my old foster parents. I was trying to straighten my life out, though to be honest, not that hard. I’d work here and there and then just lose interest or get depressed. I dated a nice guy, but totally put him through the wringer. My mom went for custody and I was pissed. I started to grow up a little, not a lot, but enough to fight her for him. I started seeing my son more, working harder at the stadium, and trying to find other work.

In the summer of 2004, Jason started to finally come around and then my mom was being phased out of the parental role. Jason and I had him somewhat equally for awhile and then he started keeping him more. I was doing data entry for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission starting that fall. I loved it there, hmm I find myself missing that place often.

In May of 2005, Jason brought me papers from his lawyer asking for temporary primary placement. It stipulated that I would have Zach whenever I wanted with reasonable notice, there wouldn’t be child support because he knew I wasn’t in a place to pay it, and that this whole situation was just until I got back on my feet. I looked it over many times. I didn’t realize he’d had a lawyer, I didn’t have one. He kept urging me to sign it, that it was what was best for Zach. So, I did sign it in the end. At first, things were fine. I did get to see Zach often. I thought, maybe this will work.

Then he started keeping our son from me for days and then weeks longer than we’d agreed. I was so pissed off and hurt, never knowing when I’d see my son. So, my friends who felt for me, but were tired of me not doing anything urged me to get a lawyer and fight, because if I was just waiting for Jason to change, I’d be waiting a very long time. So, in March of 2007, I got a lawyer and began to fight back. By this time, I am working a good job and doing alright. I am done being in trouble and hanging out with the wrong crowd, tired of blaming that crowd and everyone else for MY mistakes. I knew I needed to grow up and make changes if I was ever going to be a good mom.

On a couple of occasions, he kept Zach from me for a month. I then took Jason to court for contempt in September of that year. It was worked out then that I would have him every other weekend. We later went to mediation and at least agreed on a holiday schedule as well. We went through mediation again and other stuff we didn’t want to deal with. Court for placement came on October 22nd, 2008. I didn’t like the results and decided to push for a trial on the matter, even though my lawyer urged me not to. He said he understood why and felt I was being railroaded, but that he thought I should just take what Jason’s lawyer was proposing. (side note, began paying child support as of January 2009)

So, on April 20th, 2009 was the big day. Most of the people I called to testify for me bailed for various reasons…one was sick, one couldn’t get out of work, etc. So, I brought Grandma and one of my friends. Jason has his mom, his girlfriend (now wife), ex-girlfriend, a friend, his mom, and even the principal at Zach’s school testify. The case worker and the G.A.L. testified as well, to tell the judge what they thought was best for Zach. In the end, my word was all I really had on my side and still, it measured up quite a bit. Even the case worker thought that while Zach’s stability is important and his placement should stay the same that I too am a good mom and things have been very unfair and that Jason needed to let me have more input in our son’s life. The final decision was this: Placement stays the same, but that I am to get more time in the summer and also a few added weekends throughout the school year. IF I moved to Appleton within 18 months from that day, I would be given EVERY Wednesday and Thursday and alternating weekends. I felt somewhat vindicated. Jason and his crew were upset, but I felt it was Zach who had lost if anyone, but at least we’d finally get more time together.

In July of 2009, I made that other dumb mistake I was telling you about and got a Driving While Intoxicated fine. *shakes head at my own stupidity* I was looking for work in Appleton and drove without a license for awhile to check out possible jobs, pick up Zach, etc. I was doing some things right and others very wrong.

In July of 2010, I paid the price for not paying my fine. I sat in jail for 16 days. I am going to write about that experience later. I came out to find I’d lost my awesome job due to no call/no show. I also saw that my landlord was going to evict me. I was thinking, “Okay, what else?” I did manage to save my apartment and also to get my license back.

In September, I got a job offer in Appleton. I jumped on it and began preparations for the move. I started dating Jesse on the 11th, the day after our friend’s wedding we’d been paired together in for the wedding party. He said he knew I was moving, but really wanted to be with me and that we’d find a way to make it work. So, I stay for a week in a hotel and then with a co-worker till I found an apartment. I found one not far from Jason. He then decided after I moved to Appleton to contest the court order. I was pissed off to say the least. I sacrificed the life I had in Milwaukee to make things better for my son, to finally get the time we should have together and then Jason pulled that.

I went into a major depression and started to scare people. I got to see my son every other Wednesday and Thursday with that corresponding weekend. I admit it was nice to pick him up from school, to take him to swim and wrestling practice, etc. It was hard on me though that I didn’t get to see him much more than I had before and that I didn’t have a life there. The thing is though, I didn’t have the desire to try. I’d go to work, come home, and sit on the computer and/or watch t.v., and then go to bed. I didn’t want to go out. If I did go anywhere, it was to Milwaukee to see family, friends, and my boyfriend. My boyfriend had become distant right after I’d moved though and so I didn’t get to see him much. He blamed his work schedule, but something felt off.

Thanksgiving was a horrible night, we broke up and I fought with my best friend, The depression grew. Jesse and I almost got back together, but then he said something about moving to Minnesota and doing it alone. He then later fought with me and stopped talking to me. He made me cry on my birthday and my friends were ready to hurt him for his immaturity and insensitivity.

I lost my job, a job I hated anyway. I lost myself. It was a bad time for me and I kept making excuses, blaming Jason, blaming Jesse, etc. So February of 2011 came around and I find myself moving back home, to Milwaukee, not with Grandma though. I moved in with a friend, her boyfriend, her grandma, and sometimes her kids who primarily stayed by her mom, next door. It was going well at first. I even had a job within three weeks. Jesse and I began talking again and I thought we’d finally work out. In April, we got back together. Life seemed good for me, finally.

In May, Jamie and I had a massive fight and I left with what I could. I started staying with Aleta, just for two weeks because that was the amount of time I had left to wait till I could move into my apartment. Zach and I had a lot of fun staying with Aleta, Jarvis, and the kids. Aleta and I had someone to talk to, Jarvis was pretty cool and got to know him better, and the kids all had each other. That was a really nice two weeks.

In June, I moved into my place. It was the smallest I’d lived in yet, but it was enough for us. I broke up with Jesse because once again he was blowing me off for weeks at a time, but otherwise life was fine. I still had my job, was trying to fit into the warehouse life. In August, they offered me a full time job there and I took it. Life seemed to be going very well now. Jesse did finally seriously take an offer for a job promotion as store opener in Minneapolis. We fought right before and so I didn’t get to say good-bye. I just hated being ignored for weeks on end and always coming in second or even 10th to other things in his life, never being first hurt.

November rolls around and on one of his visits to Milwaukee, Jesse tells me he’s tried the dating scene there and it’s not for him. He realizes I am the one he wants and invites me to come to Minneapolis. I told him I would and would begin looking for work, but he gets hurt not too long after, loses his job, and has to return home. I am glad it didn’t work out because leaving my son and only having him for the entire summer would have been too much for me. Jesse says we’ll probably be officially together again when he’s back in town. That didn’t happen though until March of 2012. It lasted a few weeks and we mutually agreed it was best to break up. In that time, I’d met Rick, but he was as flighty as Jesse. Oh boys, would I ever get it right?

I lost my job in July, just wasn’t a good fit. They needed someone more warehouse minded and I am an office gal. So, I updated my resume and got right on the search, that very day. I am still looking, but I have been on so many interviews the last month…so am hoping this is a sign of better things! I had one last Wednesday, one yesterday, and one tomorrow. God is good and He rewards those who believe in Him and those that don’t just sit idly by and actually work hard. It’s taken me years to really get to a stable place and because of Him, the situation with now taking care of my grandma and her house, and having a very stable and awesome boyfriend…well, that growing up has really begun to happen and a sense of responsibility and confidence have finally been instilled.

I have made a lot of mistakes, so so so many. I have done some terrible things, things in some cases I have never been able to make up for. I have also been naive and trusted a lot of the wrong people. But through the trials, I have made it through. God is not done with me yet. I have a purpose. Courtney led me to this site to share my stories with you all, to maybe encourage and inspire others and wow, now I have found that I have been inspired so much by so many of you.

God led me to growth in July when my grandma had to be put into the hospital to get her blood pressure under control and the house locked up by the city until we could fix it. After all the hard times my my mom, uncle, a couple friends of mine, and I went through, the house was deemed livable again and my grandma came home. I now care for her like she has done for me since I was 17. I am more active in my son’s life and seeing him grow and his talents being nurtured is an amazing experience. Watching my son wrestle this past Sunday was amazing. He got another pin and was just so on fire on the mat. He came in third, was disappointed, but we all let him know how proud we were. Third isn’t bad and he has come a long way since he started in January of 2010. He really likes it now and baseball too. I am so proud of my son. He’s in fourth grade and reads at a high school level. They’re talking about skipping him a grade this fall. His dad is undecided yet. I did give him my input though.

God is good, He’s been so good to me, more than I deserve. In August, he brought Doug and I together as friends, actual friends. We’d known each other since January of 2012, but circumstances weren’t right for us until this past summer to start talking on our own. In late September, the romantic feelings got acknowledged, but he held back because of Zach and our age gap. But, October 4th he decided to give it a try and kissed me when we were watching movies. Since then, we have been inseparable. He’s become my best friend and has been amazing with Zach. Zach likes him a lot. He hangs out with him every weekend he’s home with me so that they can get to know one another. Sometimes we sit and watch movies, other times we go to Admirals games, out to eat, to the movies, play games, hang out with friends and their kids, and then of course supporting Zach and his activities. We all enjoyed watching Zach wrestle, GO TERRORS, GO ZACH! My life is the most uplifting and positive that it ever has been and for the longest it’s ever been.

Coming back to God is the first reason for that. It has helped my relationships with a lot of people too because it’s given me the right perspective, taught me the right way to do things, handle situations. God and I talk more than we ever did before and I am so happy I returned to His embrace. The path he has me on now is solid and good. I feel that good things are coming my way for a job, soon. I am thankful now instead of whining about what I don’t have. Looking at things as a 34 year old woman who came from where she did, well much different than when I was 21, 25, or even 30.

Doug is amazing, he’s frighteningly stable and that is what I need. God knew that. I love not only being with my best friend, but being with someone who has the same faith that I do and of course, this is huge…that gets along with my son, that my son respects. I am finally having the family I dreamed I’d one day have, not just watching everyone around me settle down and be happy, it’s my reality now too. It helps when you have that support. Some don’t get it, but I am grateful I have it.

And of course, my family like my mom and my friends too….again that support is huge for me. They know my mood swings can be nasty and they stick by me and help me through all of them, not just around when I am all sunshine and kittens. Thank you to those online and off for standing by me and believing in me! My gratitude will never be enough to thank you for all you have done.

WordPress and Wiffledust, the writing sites where I share my talents and share in the talents of awesome people like you. Thank you again for the wonderful stories, poems, pictures, jokes, recipes, videos, etc. Thank you for letting me into your lives and thank you for being a part of mine. Well, this has gotten long enough. Don’t feel pity for me, it’s not what I want. What I want is that you see where I was and where I am now, see that I overcame everything, that I am a survivor and not a victim. See that I am a soul who was worth saving and a friend worth having. God Bless!

Author Joanne Reed

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