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Posts tagged ‘custody’

Slow & Sometimes Steady….

 

 

In November of 2001, I met a fun, charismatic, intelligent, and very good looking guy at a club in Appleton. He came up to me and put his arm around me and said, “Jenny?”. I was puzzled. My name is not Jenny or even remotely close to that. I told him so and he pointed to his friend by the bar and said that his friend said he knows me and that my name was Jenny. I told him his friend was mistaken and then told him my name. He seemed to feel embarrassed, but I told him it wasn’t a big deal. I was too attracted to him to really care.

We chatted, danced, and had a great time that night. He gave me a piece of paper with a phone number on it that said Jay on top. I waited a couple days and then called. It was his work number. We talked a couple times over a couple of weeks.

One evening, he was coming to Milwaukee to help his brother take stuff to his apartment/dorm and called me to tell me they’d be in town. They came by and chatted for awhile. Then we all went to his brother’s place and took his stuff in. Later, Jay and I drove separately to Appleton, to the club we met at. It was a fun night. At the end, he’d clearly had too much to drink and threw up a few times. Between all of that, we chatted. For awhile, he was fidgeting with his pants straps. I asked him if he had anything better to do than that and he responded by kissing me. Yowza! I was giddy, so what if he tasted a bit like puke. I really liked this guy. I don’t know why, but I just felt so drawn to him.

A few weeks later, I saw him again. This time, we left together at the end of the night. It was a fun night. I remember wearing nothing but Mardi Gras beads around my waist at one point. I was that thin once upon a time. I remember loving how it felt to be with him. The next day, he was still sweet. I remember thinking that maybe there was some sort of future for us.

We didn’t hang out or talk much for a few weeks. I still really liked the guy though. I liked him so much that when a friend I made in Appleton offered me a room in her apartment, I took the opportunity. Jay’s main reason for not being ready to date was that we lived an hour and a half apart. Well, now I’d be in Appleton, so that would fix that, right?

We hung out a few times while I lived there, but when I mentioned dating again, he said he wasn’t ready to date at all. He said his last couple of girlfriends had cheated on him. My heart was broken. I felt like now I moved to Appleton for nothing.

There was a guy that I’d met up there that was real cool for my friends and I to hang out with. My friend, coincidentally enough, named Jenny told me she thought he and I would make a cute couple. (Jenny and Jay were later flirting. I was mad.) We both blew off that idea, until the night Jay told me he wanted to remain single. Drunk and vulnerable, when Zack told me I shouldn’t drive and just crash by him, I went willingly. He was right, I definitely shouldn’t have driven, glad I didn’t. We connected even more that night and after about a month of just being friends, things changed.

I was hurting over Jay’s rejection, yes, but Zack really was a great guy. He treated me like more than someone to hang out at the bar with or bring home for a night. We went to dinner, watched movies, and just hung out sometimes without drinking or even having sex. We went on real dates. He treated me with respect and care. Maybe I didn’t move to Appleton for nothing after all??

I left my friend’s apartment at some point and moved in with a different friend and her family. I got a job. Things were going pretty well.

It was shortlived joy though. After almost two months, he was getting distant and I was starting to feel different, physically and mentally. At some point, I realized I was late on getting my period. I had just gotten paid. My friend Wendy told me I should just get a pregnancy test. I got one and sure enough, when I took it that night, it was positive. Now what??

I went to the club where Zack (and Jay) and I had met and often went to. The dj, a friend of Zack’s, told me hadn’t seen him yet. I told him when he does to come find me, that it was important. He said he’d pass on that message. Later, Zack did show, as usual on a weekend evening. We ended up going to his place to talk. When the time came, I didn’t have words. I just handed him the pregnancy test. Zack said, “I hate it when I’m right.” Apparently he’d noticed the changes and had actually been planning on ending things, but never got the nerve to. My heart sank. He told me he wasn’t going to be there for me. We argued. He said he’d need some time to think.

I got tested again and yep, another positive test. We did talk a few days later. He said we should get together to chat. When we met, he told me he didn’t have a lot of money saved up, but could afford an abortion. Then we really fought. There was no way I was considering that. Another day, he asked me why I was against it and I told him I’m pro-life, that to me, abortion is murder. He told me not to apologize for my feelings on that. Then, we talked again and he gave me an ultimatum, said that if I didn’t get an abortion, not only would we not date anymore, we’d no longer be friends either. I was a wreck. The weather was bad and I spun my car on ice. I didn’t hit anything, but I got pulled over and got a ticket. That was a bad night.

I started calling WIC and other state services. They needed to test me again to verify my pregnancy. At first, I was given a due date of November 20th. But then, with the OBGYN, it was changed to November 9th. With the math done, I realized it might be Jay’s baby. Oh boy.

I told Jay. His response was that he wouldn’t push abortion, but what about adoption??? He told me he was also not ready to be a dad. He was 21, in college, working a couple jobs, etc. He said if I kept the baby that I’d be on my own. I felt like things were just getting worse.

I went through my pregnancy feeling so very alone. Once Jay realized I wasn’t lying, months later, he stopped talking to me period. Zack was also quiet. At about month eight, Zack and I talked. He apologized about the abortion stuff. He said since it might not be his, he had no right to suggest it. He then firmly told me he still didn’t want anything to do with my baby if it was his. He said he’s just not ready to be a dad and maybe he never would be. I left in tears.

With three weeks until my due date, I got sick, but originally mistook it for early labor. I went in and found out I had a UTI. (That was my third during my pregnancy.) Contractions stopped, but they kept me overnight and gave me antibiotics. The 9th arrived. Really early that morning, I saw I’d lost my mucus plug. I just knew my baby would be coming soon. Labor started at about 9pm that night, was feeling off starting at about 8pm. My mom, old foster mom and then friend of my mom’s, one of her girls, and I went to the hospital at about 9:30pm or so. It was going to be a long night.

I was made to walk to further labor, but I ended up crawling after awhile due to the pain. They eventually gave me an epidural, broke my water, etc. I went from 4cm to 7cm pretty quickly after my water was broken. I hovered at 9cm for a long while. Every time they had me push, my child’s heartbeat raced and my blood pressure dropped. Eventually, they stopped making me push and just let the epidural stay kicked in. After 14 hours of labor, my son was born at 11am on the dot, on the 10th.

After I had him, I got very sick. They also had to give me blood because I lost a lot. They had to use forceps to get my son out. He was 8lbs, 14ozs and 22 inches. He was not tiny!!! They didn’t catch what was wrong with me until after they’d released us. As I was at my son’s first pediatrician appointment, the doctor noticed I didn’t look well. After checking Zach out, basic vitals were done on me and then said I needed to go back to the hospital. Ugh. They called and informed the hospital I would be back.

While there at the hospital, they discovered I had an infection in my uterus. Oh joy. Post partum depression was already kicking in. They insisted that I make an appointment with a psychiatrist before they’d release me. I was a wreck physically and mentally. When I was released, my son and I went to my mom’s. I stayed for a few days and then she sent me to my former foster mom’s. During that time, I was really falling apart. What was I going to do??

I’m single. I was recently diagnosed with bi-polar. I didn’t know anything about being a good parent. Neither my mom or dad had shown me the way and I just didn’t know if I could do it. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced I was going to fail. Maybe I’m just not meant to be a mom. I considered giving Zach to my old foster parents. Then, I thought, maybe I could do it. Looking at Zach filled me with such joy. Then I was unsure again. I was all over the place. In the end, my mom decided she’d take him until I was ready.

I left for Milwaukee and went to stay with my grandma, again. She took me in a few times from 17 through 28. That woman did so much for me, more than anyone. I was trying to stabilize my moods, myself. I made some efforts to see Zach, but my mom was definitely the primary caregiver for my boy. It broke my heart. More and more, I felt like a failure. Maybe I really wasn’t cut out to be a mom….

In that time, I had Zack tested, as I knew how to reach him, first. Zack was not the dad. Oh nuts. I really had loved him and wanted my son conceived in something more real. Well, that’s not how it turned out. I called the only number I knew where I may reach Jay, his work. After a couple of failed attempts, Jay and I connected. We chatted online and the phone for awhile. In early conversations, he was making lame excuses about not being around. As angry as I was with him, I was angry with myself too. Neither of Zach’s parents were there for him. I broke every promise I’d made before becoming a mom. I am a failure.

Little by little, both Jay and I were becoming more involved in Zach’s life. Jay was definitely on track faster than I was, but I was getting there. When our son was almost two, my mom’s role was becoming more of a grandparent one, though she still helped us quite a bit with things like transportation, as one or both of us were dealing with car issues. We were trying though and getting there more everyday. We didn’t have many issues with working together, yet.

When our son was about three, Jay brought me court papers. Court papers!?#?!#;&! I didn’t know he had a lawyer. He was asking me for temporary primary placement, just until I was more stable. He assured me I could see Zach often. He also said he’d not ask for child support at this point because he knew I wasn’t in a great position financially. After looking at the papers over and over, I decided to sign them. I should have said that I’d think about it. I should have consulted a lawyer. I should have waited. I naively trusted Jay. Zach paid for that and so did I.

At first, we worked together okay. I saw Zach a decent amount. It didn’t take long before he started breaking our verbal agreements. He’d keep our son from me for days and then weeks longer than discussed. At one point, I was tired of waiting weeks and called the cops to make sure Zach was okay. Jay called the next day. I was often met with either lame excuses, no excuse at all, or attitude. It was getting old quick.

When Zach was three and a half, we verbally agreed that Jay would have Zach primarily for six months and we see how he does and then I would do the same. After, we’d review and decide where Zach would go to school. It was my idea and I should have had a lawyer and also put something in writing, but once again, I believed Jay would honor our agreement. I was an ignorant fool.

After his six months, Zach was four. Jay told me he’d already enrolled Zach in school. He didn’t consult me, just did it. I was furious. In that time, Jay did ask for some help, so we agreed that instead of formal child support, I would drive to Appleton to pick Zach up and also to drop him off. That was draining, but I had no problem doing it, except when I’d find he wasn’t home or had fallen asleep and wouldn’t wake. I waited in the parking lot with a four year old for a couple of hours a few times. During these times, I took Zach back home with me. His dad got mad. Yeah, well, then be home and be awake. I was getting so angry. He could keep Zach from me when he pleased and yet often showed me zero respect.

In late March of 2007, I had enough. A friend of mine told me that Jay wasn’t likely to change and that if I wanted more rights and time, I’d need to get a lawyer and fight. I did just that, got a lawyer and got the ball rolling. In April, the only way Jay would let me see Zach is if I came up to visit/stay at his place in Appleton. At first I was mad, but I caved because I hadn’t seen my son in weeks.

Those two visits were awkward. His dad could get drunk, have loud sex with his girlfriend, take off to see friends, and come home late while I was pretty much treated like a glorified babysitter. I hated being judged and treated poorly and yet he could do as he pleased.

I finally got to bring my son to Milwaukee for Easter weekend so Zach could spend time with my family. That was nice. A couple of weeks later, I moved into a townhouse in Waukesha. Then, I got to take Zach to see my new place. He got to see me regularly for about a month and a half or so. That changed at the end of June. More issues ensued.

He called me two hours before I was to drive to Appleton and told me he was going on a work trip out of town and that his mom had our son. He didn’t give me a time frame. I mentioned the Fourth of July and he said his mom had plans with Zach. I then mentioned that my mom was due for time with him. He told me his mom would call. She didn’t call. I waited until the fifth. I called and left a message. I called again on the seventh, twice. They answered the second time. Jay’s mom was talking about Jay being in Japan. Japan?!?! She thought I knew. He didn’t say he was leaving the country!! (Around that time, I also found out online through his girlfriend, now wife, before he blocked me on MySpace, that he was going to be gone for two weeks.) His mom did let me talk to Zach and told me she after that she felt bad for me, as a mom. Then though, she told me, as Jay’s mom, that she wasn’t butting in and she wouldn’t let me have Zach. I should have said I’m coming to get Zach and as his other custodial parent, she can’t do anything to stop me, but I didn’t. There’s so much I should have done and didn’t….

He took his sweet time calling me once he got back. By the time he called me and I saw Zach again, it had been a month. Yet, he acted like everything was just fine. Obviously, I simply don’t have a right to be upset. My lawyer found out about that. It was the end of July or so. I kept Zach a few days longer than agreed, not that Jay was unable to pick him up, but I wasn’t driving to Appleton until car stuff was dealt with. Jay chose to wait.

We had a Child Caught in the Middle class to attend in August. After, I was to get Zach, but Jay didn’t let me get him. He punished me for keeping Zach a few extra days. Hmm. He punished Zach with that too though. He kept Zach from me until I took him to court and mediation was ordered. By the time I saw Zach again, it had been two months.

We had mediation and I reluctantly ended up agreeing to every other weekend at our last session. I did make sure that I’m to be given the first right of refusal if Jay were to leave on a work trip. That went okay for awhile, but I was still going forward with our fight for placement. Zach had asked his dad outright that year if he could live primarily in Waukesha with me. That wasn’t dealt with and with as unhappy as Zach was, I knew I had to fight.

A Guardian ad Litem was appointed. I met the GAL the day I found out my grandpa died, August 29th, 2008. Despite the grief I was trying to process, I decided to keep the appointment. I thought it went alright.

In October, we had our court date. The GAL recommended he stay with his dad primarily as he’s in school now and didn’t want to disrupt things, plus Jay was more stable. Oh joy. Now what? The judge told me I could fight it. I talked with my lawyer and decided to do so. My lawyer dropped me though and said he fully understood why I was fighting, but couldn’t represent me anymore. I found a lawyer in the Appleton area this time. Zach was begging me to bring him home. I was getting ready to fight.

In early January of 2009, I asked Jay if I could claim Zach on my taxes, as I had only claimed him once and really needed the money to fix my car. My Mazda needed a new transmission, again, and was going to cost roughly $2,000 since we were going to use a more reputable shop this time. As my form of support, I was still driving to Appleton to pick up and drop off Zach. I needed my car to work to get Zach, to work, pay bills, etc. I told him I’m living paycheck to paycheck and really needed the help. Jay’s response to my request was to take me to court for child support, just a few months before our April court date. He’s known money has been something I struggle with and tightened the screws to help his case.

We had a case study that was ordered through all of that. I thought that was going well. I didn’t know how it was going for Jay.

April 20th came. I was the only one to speak for myself. Jay had his ex, his mom, his now wife, etc testify for him. Even my mom seemed to be against me when she wrote a letter to the GAL. (My mom wasn’t against me. She was and still is pro Zach and at that time, she’d felt I still needed time to get on my feet more.) At the end of it, the GAL, case worker, etc recommended still that Zach stay primarily with his dad, didn’t want to disrupt things. Zach was struggling in school and at his dad’s, but that didn’t matter.

The judge did say though that we have joint custody and should be working together and that we should make all major decisions as a team. The case worker did at least recognize that Jay wasn’t keeping me informed or allowing me to help make decisions. The judge wanted to see that change. He did also state that if I moved to Appleton within 18 months, that we’d have what amounts to a 51/49 split. Jay didn’t contest it, but then I’m sure he didn’t think I would move to Appleton.

I did apply to some jobs in Appleton and even had a few interviews. I didn’t get any of those jobs. I did at least keep working in Milwaukee. In late July of 2009, I drove drunk and paid the price by getting an OWI. I stupidly didn’t pay my fine. I got caught a year later and paid that price too. I sat in jail. Talk about humiliation. After I got out, I went to the classes, got my license back, and have since stayed out of trouble. I didn’t ever want to risk being the cause of someone else losing their life because I was drunk and had no business being behind the wheel.

I also had more job interviews in Appleton. I finally landed a job on September 7th. I commuted for awhile. Then I stayed with a co-worker and new friend until I found an apartment. Just days before the 18 months was up, I signed a lease and got keys. I went to Jay. I tried to work out our schedule. He contested it then.

I sunk into a deep depression. I left behind my friends, family, boyfriend at the time, and life that I had for more time with Zach, to have a pretty much equal split and then it got ripped away from us. Zach was looking forward to it and when it didn’t happen, he struggled more. I felt like a failure again.  I spent a lot of my free time either in Milwaukee or crying at home. Friends and family were calling often, even people that really aren’t phone people and messaging me because they were genuinely afraid I might hurt myself. It got bad.

In mid February of 2011,  I started the process to move back home. I stayed with a friend for a few months and got a job. I stayed with another friend for the final two weeks before I got keys to my place in Waukesha in the spring of 11. I worked at my job until the summer of 2012.

In the summer of 2012, my grandma wasn’t doing well. My mom and I dealt with the Department of Aging. Grandma was hospitalized. During that time, we had the city out to inspect the house to get it locked up, as it wasn’t safe for her to return there and we couldn’t stop her any other way. I lost my job during all of that.

My grandma briefly stayed at an assisted living place and then with my uncle in MN while my mom, myself, and now and then others worked on making my grandma’s house livable again. My uncle and aunt took her in to save her money. My job became working on her house and then taking care of her once the city gave us the green light to move in.

It was three months to the day since grandma was taken from her home that she returned. On October 23rd, 2012, I started taking care of my grandma. Zach helped some when he was home. In that time, I also started dating my now husband. A lot changed so quickly.

My grandma had a stroke on November 27th, turned out it was her third, but no one knew about the other two, including her. I continued to take care of her. It got really hard. We did try to get some in home help. Grandma was very resistant to that. I worked hard to keep her at home.

In March of 2013 or so, my boyfriend was looking at houses and I started looking with him. My mom told me to have my uncle in Milwaukee move back in and to focus on my son and boyfriend. I hoped my uncle had grown and would be able to take care of her and keep up with everything, including cleaning the house. Between them, they’d destroyed the house before. That’s why I insisted he not come back when the house was deemed livable again. I said I’d take care of her on my own and so I did. Even when my hubby and I moved into our house in West Allis on May 23rd, 2013, I still went by my grandma daily. My uncle didn’t move in for months, kept making excuses. So, I made sure she had easy foods like sandwiches, made her take her meds, cleaned her house, ran her errands, scheduled and took her to appointments, paid her bills, did her laundry, etc, just as I had before. I did this until mid August. I started an office manager job later that month.

My boss was a tool. I left in late January of 2014. I started a new job in April. At this point, my son was really struggling at his dad’s and still begging me to bring him home. I tried to talk to Jay, more than once. We all gathered together at one point even. His dad wouldn’t budge, even though he claimed not to have an issue with the idea. Things were spiraling out of control.

Zach was nearly expelled from elementary school at one point and still, Jay wouldn’t give the idea a try. It didn’t help that Zach was being pulled off his meds every weekend, causing withdrawals every time. Yet, it was my fault if Zach was extra difficult on Monday, even on his weekends at his dad’s. I called my lawyer more than once. In the end, I kept trying to work with Jay.

On June 21st, 2014, Doug proposed. On May 16th, 2015, we got married. It was an incredible day! Now that we were officially a family, Zach was hoping even more for the switch. I worked on getting proof that Zach being on and off his meds is a bad thing. Right after I called his doctor for an updated letter, Zach was suddenly on his meds everyday. Well, at least that did something. Zach still was unhappy though. Will things ever change?

I got pregnant with my daughter in July of 2015 and found out on August 27th. Now we would need to find a bigger home. Also, if we’re going to try to bring Zach home, we need to live in a better area. During my pregnancy, I got really sick and left my job. We decided I’d stay home with our baby.

In January of 2016, we put our house up for sale. On April 19th, my baby girl was born!!!! She was born at 5:34am and was 7lbs, 2.5ozs. Her birth story is for another day. In May, we got an accepted offer and then we stepped up our own search. We found a home in West Bend and closed on July 8th. (Jay’s birthday!) We moved the bulk of our stuff on the 9th. There were so many changes and we weren’t done yet.

In August, on the 27th, I did my first photo shoot and started my photography business. It was a cash only and not a serious thing at first. I wanted to see if I had a future in this. By May of 2017, I turned it into an official business. It became an LLC on May 8th. During this, Zach was still pushing heavily to move by us primarily.

In the fall of 2017, right after Zach turned 14, I told my lawyer I wanted to push forward and so, we did. We were supposed to have court in January of 2018. A week before court, Jay’s lawyer asked to reschedule. In that time, Zach tried to run away, even though Jay claims otherwise. Zach developed a history of lying and stealing over the years and Jay claimed Zach was trying to avoid going to his dad’s and was mad about stupid stuff. We did find out Zach was really trying to run away. Still, Jay wouldn’t listen.

We had court in February. A GAL was appointed. We each met her within a week or so. When I met her, she told me she’d meet with my son within two weeks. We met on March 8th. She didn’t meet him until late June. She wasn’t returning my calls or my lawyer’s calls even. In May, my son ended up staying two weeks at a mental/behavioral place. He had an incident with his step-mom. Things were getting bad, but the GAL couldn’t be bothered to listen.

Court was to reconvene on July 3rd. Due to Jay’s lawyer asking to reschedule, again, a week before court and the GAL meeting with Zach so late, it got pushed to July 31st. When we met, the commissioner tentatively went with the GAL’s recommendation to leave things as is for next school year and then give me primary placement over the summer. (The GAL still had one of Zach’s doctors to talk to. She’d had months to do this!) I definitely was challenging that. Court was scheduled for November 27th.

The judge said she’d go with the GAL’s recommendation, but also stated that if things go well, that when we meet in August, primary placement could stay with us. That sounded good. I figured Zach should finish the school year in Appleton by that point anyway.

In January of 2019, Zach really struggled with some mental health stuff and on February 7th, he and his step-mom had another incident involving the cops. I think that was at least the fourth, but the second where it got this bad. Zach felt threatened and went overboard. Apparently he’d been getting abused and it had been going on for years. He’d finally fully snapped. He was taken to shelter care. I picked him up instead of leaving him there, after clearing it with them, as it was my weekend with Zach starting that next day anyway. He’s been here ever since.

I was told on the 9th that he’d remain here at least for a bit. I then decided to take Zach to school in Appleton so he’d still get an education. We’ve been getting up really early to get him there in time. Dealing with a toddler that wasn’t napping much due to that has made it harder. Since though, he’s been working on getting caught up with a lot he’d blown off before. We played the waiting game until the 26th. Then, answers arrived.

Our lawyers spoke and decided to flip the placement schedule now instead of waiting for the school year to end. Jay and his wife don’t want him back at this point and Zach doesn’t wish to return either. So, that being said, I confirmed it with Jay. I got the go ahead to start Zach in school here next week. After many years of headaches, heartaches, and fighting, here we are.

Along the way, I’ve grown. I’ve struggled, made progress, made dumb decisions, learned, kept growing, and this is where I am today: A wife to Doug of almost four years, a mom to two beautiful kids, a business owner, home owner, and one who continues to learn and grow. It’s been a slow and sometimes steady process for me. I’m proud of who I’ve become though and of who I am becoming.

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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!

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