Me and The Littles down on the Nisqually River right after they came home to me.
So, it suddenly dawned on me this morning that I disappeared for an entire year from the Blogosphere without any warning and with no real explanation. Then, I come back to the cyber-world and my amazing friends here have welcomed me back with open arms almost as if I never left. It blows my mind how much love a community like this can project to a veritable stranger even though we have never met in person. I have never been to Blog-her. I haven’t been to any of Adam’s amazing Halloween parties. I haven’t been to ________Con 200__. Shit, I’ve barely even been HERE.
When I first popped my head back in I got damned near a hundred personal emails asking me where the hell I was and why I hadn’t been around. Judging by the kind words and inquiries, I assumed that most of you assumed that I had been dealing with some sort of something and I most certainly had been although it was just way too much to go into and so… I didn’t really answer any of these emails. This makes me quite a huge asshole and I apologize. My only explanation for that is that I would have spent countless hours trying to explain to each person individually and so I became overwhelmed and said “fuck it.” altogether.
Now, I would like to explain. It’s not pretty, really, and it may induce a lot of judgement but I’ve handled a lot of that in my years of blogging so I figure I can handle this one, too. Besides, if I just come out with it then maybe I won’t feel the need to ignore it here anymore and I’ll be able to make mention of certain things without seeming too mysterious and it will just be a more comfortable place for me. Besides, the worst is over and I’m in a place emotionally now where I can discuss this stuff and not freak out.
To be blunt, the past year was every single person’s nightmare. Every parent or spouse’s nightmare at the very least. However, it has also been the best time of my life because I grew and learned and healed tremendously. So, it has been bittersweet. Now, I wonder if the story is sort of ending and so it seems as good a time as any to just get it out there.
The last time I was a consistent blogger I had the Kyra Sutra and was married to Dean, Mom of four and was somewhat enjoying, so I thought, the military life. Everything was pretty much handed to us…. home paid for, etc. I got to be a stay at home mom which I hated. My marriage was shit and I was in a position where there was a lot of domestic violence and I had no idea. I spent years crumbling away in this relationship all the while trying to be brave and stay strong and all that nonsense.
My old blog was spotted with stories of turmoil. Every day a new bomb was dropping out of the sky onto us. Dean was arrested a few times and lost his rank and our pay and there was an eviction scandle and a fued with the Army and just all kinds of craziness. I had been pregnant with my youngest daughter, Emi when the doctors discovered a tumor on my ovary and surgery had to be done. Add bedrest and fear of cancer, fear of my baby dying and Dean’s constant run in’s with the law and I was a building asking to be burned to the ground.
Emi was born two months early after the surgery when she just wouldn’t stay in. Suddenly, I had a premature baby in the NICU and a husband who once again got arrested. This was the time when all the legal/eviction junk happened and I was running out of steam. We ended up taking the Army to court as I was terrified of being homeless with my kids and knew that if he got thrown out we’d be screwed. We won in court and celebrated. Three weeks later, Dean left me for a woman he met in a sex chat room online.
That was it. I got really sick and ended up in a psychiatric wing of the hospital unable to keep food down. My nerves were shot. The straw had finally broken the camel’s back and I couldn’t eat or speak. I dropped nineteen pounds in a week and began fainting and then stayed in the hospital for two weeks while they got me eating again. While I was in the hospital, Dean stayed with the kids. He introduced them to his girlfriend on webcam and they destroyed the house. When I returned home he warned me that it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was so bad that it took me three lawn sized trashbags to clear the living room floor.
I got really depressed. I also started getting reports from the kids school and from the neighbors that they didn’t show up at school and that they ran the streets in the cold with no jackets or shoes for all hours of the day while I was gone. The kids informed me that while they did this Daddy sat on the internet with his girlfriend. Nervous breakdown number 2 was fast approaching.
The doctors put me on medication. On Mother’s Day my children asked me to go to the movies with them and Dean as a family. We saw Iron Man and I silently cried through the entire thing because all I could think about was that this was the last thing we would ever do as a family again. Dean kept leaning over to ask me what he could do to make it better and I would just shake my head. The last time he asked that I replied with, “it’s Mother’s Day. Since you moved out I haven’t slept. Emi has been up every night. I’d like to go home and take a nap. Do you think you could keep the kids?”
“Of course,” he said. “I have some errands to run so I’ll drop you off at the house and take the kids with me. You go sleep.”
I went home and took my sleeping meds and drifted off. An hour later the kids were there waking me and Dean was gone. I was out of it… completely inebriated. I called him and he informed me that he was grabbbing pizza and would be right back. I told him I had taken my meds and he flipped into a rage I had never seen, accusing me of trapping him there with the kids as a trick. It was weird. Ten minutes later he was back at the house still yelling at me for taking my medication. He asked me, “I have to go get a haircut for work tomorrow… do you think you can stay coherent for twenty minutes until I get back?” and I nodded. He left and then didn’t return.
An hour later I called him and he told me to fuck off, that he wasn’t coming back, that his
girlfriend“lawyer” had told him to stay away from me. I started to cry and he started yelling at me some more until he finally said, ‘why don’t you just die? All you do is ruin people? Every one of us would be better off without you constantly hurting us!”
Of course. Of course they would be. I cried all the time now and the poor kids had to see this. He was right.
I look back on this and know without a doubt that if I hadn’t been already smacked out on pills things would have gone differently. I would have responded to that by telling him he was a dick and then hanging up on him. Instead, I proceeded to take the rest of the bottle of pills and sat down calmly to call a friend to come and get my kids. I didn’t want them to see me die and I needed them to be safe.
The friend came to the house right away and knew something was wrong. She called Dean and he told her to fuck off,too. Since she was sober she did what I should have done and told him he was a dick and hung up on him knowing she wouldn’t get anywhere.
“Take my kids to your house and keep them safe until Dean comes for them.” I told her calmly.
Red flag. Again, soberness would have lept me from being so obvious.
Instead of taking my kids she called Dean again in a panic. By this point I had stopped talking other than to urge her to get them out. I was frantic. Why was she not taking them out???
Dean called the police and they came to the house with him following hours later after they called him and told him to be there immediately. When he arrived, he was crying and trying to hold my hand. I had not admitted to anyone that I had taken pills but they knew I had. I was in bad shape. The drugs had caused my body to lock up and my muscles were in excruciating pain. I would pace and then sit down and then pace some more when it started to hurt too bad. I couldn’t open my mouth to speak and was nodding off as people spoke to me, my eyeballs rolling back into my head. Dean was panicking and begging/pleading/demanding me to wake up. I just wanted them gone.
The police asked Dean to stay with the kids and he refused. Social services were called and he cried harder as we waited for them to arrive. I am stunned that I remember any of this. I was clinging to the kids but wanted them to leave, to be safe. I was in a hurry for the social workers to take them away so they wouldn’t see me die. My body hurt so bad that as we waited I drunkenly went and started a bath. I have no idea why I did this. Dean shut the water off, I remember that. I also remember hearing the police on the phone with the social workers telling them that Dean was an asshole and that something serious was going on.
I started to cry as my babies were carried out. I sobbed into Emi’s belly as she slept in my arms. I was going to miss them so much. I whispered love into their ears as Dean ran in circles not knowing what to do. In the end, he walked them out and I climbed into the bathtub. I was in there just sitting when he came back in. He sat on the edge of the tub and took my hand and said, “we’re going to fix this. Both of us. Together!” his eyes were urgent and fearful. I pulled my hand away, got out of the tub and climbed soaking wet into my bed. “I want you to leave.” I told him.
I was getting irritated now. I needed everyone to be gone so I could fall asleep and not wake up. Dean eventually did leave and I went to sleep. I slept for three days straight and then was suddenly and angrily awake. I was alive and extremely pissed to find myself in such a state. I dozed again for another couple of days until one day Dean was standing there pulling on my arm yelling at me to get up. He had gotten his income tax check and my name was on it and so I had to go with him to cash it. He demanded I go with him and I resisted. He yanked me to my feet and pushed me out the door. I hadn’t bathed in a week, hand’t changed my clothes, brushed my hair…. nothing. He shoved me in the car and made me sign the check and show my id and then dropped me back off at home.
The next week saw a lot of changes. For some reason, Dean began trying. He started talking to me about this girl. He came to the house every day and talked to me. He told me he knew what she was and wasn’t in love with her. He explained that he was using her… that she was a fantasy. He said that he was so lost as to his identity and that he felt stifled by being a husband/father/soldier… that he really just needed a bit of time to breath.
We began dating. We went to counseling. To lunch. To the movies. Shopping. I began to demand visits with the children. We were granted visits for the following Monday. On Thursday Dean told me he was going camping with the boys for Memorial Day weekend and would be back in three days. I helped him pack, drove him back to base and he kissed me goodbye. That was the very last time I ever saw him.
Dean didn’t go camping. He went to Texas to live with the girl from online. She believed and still does to this day, every lie he has told her. I feel bad for her and hate her at the same time. He hasn’t spoken to us or spoken one word to his kids since he put them in the police cars. He never saw them again.
Dean went AWOL. After thirty days he was listed as a deserter. While he stayed in Texas with his girlfriend, the shit hit the fan here at home. I began working towards getting better and started visiting the kids as often as they’d let me. After about a month, the Army cut off everything they had provided us. I lost our car, money and our home. Suddenly, I was homeless and had to abandon all of our stuff. One of my best friends stored some of the special things in her garage. Everything else was lost.
I stayed for a time with a couple of friends, sleeping on their couch, going to classes, appointments and REALLY started trying to step it up and live for my kids. I fought HARD. Really hard. They suddenly emerged from my fog right to the forefront and the second I committed to being alive they were my number one priority. I began therapy with a domestic violence and trauma specialist who I adore and she has given me a lot of insight. It has been an eye opener as I had never seen myself as a victim of such. It was disorienting to discover the truths.
I ended up in a homeless shelter for about a month and then moved on so that I could get a job. I had four children coming home to me and I needed a way to provide for them. I started working and then began to build. I admit that I did not do this alone. I prayed. That was my biggest part. I prayed, prayed, prayed and God answered every single one.
I need a job….
I need a home….
I need money….
I need a car….
I need furniture….
I need food….
Bam. It was all there. I worked, worked worked. My days would begin at six as I got up and rode the bus for two hours to get to work. I would go another two hours from work to a visit with the kids and then more busses to therapy and classes and meetings with social workers. I had court and lawyers and suddenly dozens of people who all needed my time. I literally did this every day from six in the morning until eleven at night on busses, on foot…. work, visit, lawyer, court, hearing, meeting, class, Olivia’s appointment, Matt’s talent show, work, doctor’s, meeting…. on and on. Every day.
I did not give up. Not when it was impossible. Not when my children would cry and beg me to come home. Not when birthdays came and went over a two hour visit. Not when Holidays came and I spent Thanksgiving with the girls in their foster home. Not when Owen broke his arm and collar bone at his foster home. Not when they would cry for their daddy. I didn’t give up or stop fighting. No way. The time when I thought they were better off without me was gone and in it’s place was the burning desire to fullfill the task granted me by a God who created me to excell at it. I was a mom. I was THEIR mom.
There is nothing like having to say goodbye to your kids as they cling to you. There is nothing like having to hold them as they cry and grieve the loss of someone they love so much. There is nothing like that first night after months of being unable to where you get to bathe them and tuck them into bed. There is nothing like being able to bring them to a house they have never been to and look at them and say, “this is yours…” and seeing their faces explode in smiles. There is nothing like knowing that you have done it. That you have taken something so irrevocably destroyed and created something bigger and stronger out of it’s ashes.
And above all else, there is nothing like that final goodbye… the one where as they cry into your shoulder once again, you get to whisper to them, “this is it…. after today you will never say goodbye to me again…. the next time you see me it will be for good… you are coming home…” and they pull back and stare at you and scan your face for some tiny spot that tells them that you are telling them the truth. The minute they find it dimples pop out all over their cheeks as they take it in. The security. The love. The safety. Knowing that Mama never gave up, never ran away… they saw just how valuable they are that they had an Army standing rigidly behind them through the darkest time and that the war had been won.
We gave them cookies… two weeks worth in plastic baggies. “Every morning when you wake up I want you to eat a cookie. These are magic cookies that will make your days go by fast. When you wake up and see just one cookie left I want you to eat it, then go and hug your foster parents tightly. Tell them you love them and then really, really enjoy them all day long. Because THAT day, you leave them and come home to me.”
The kids were taken away on Mother’s Day.
They came home to me on Mother’s Day.
I went to court to make that happen, to get the date pushed up so they would return then. The hearing was surreal, the courtroom full of lawyers and social workers and everyone you could imagine. They all spoke and testified about me. In the end, the Judge gave me a standing ovation, literally stood up on her feet and began to clap before she grinned and told me “Enjoy your children, they are coming home.”. I was stunned. My chin dropped to my chest and I cried. My babies were coming home. For good.
They all said they weren’t used to people like me. I have a high IQ and jumped through hoops. They gave me as much time with my kids as they were allowed and I fought for more. When the kids were unhappy I unleashed my lawyers on whoever was responsible. I demanded I be involved with schools and doctor’s appointments and everything in between. It was to the point where the social workers asked me to call off my lawyers. I was ordered to contact them once every two weeks. I called every day and we joked about them needing a restraining order against me. They looked at me incredulously most of the time and when I would puzzle over this they would explain that most people don’t fight so hard. I responded with my own incredulouslness…. they were parents? How could they not?
In the course of this year I got a job. I got a car. My first one all by myself! I got a house…. not just some little apartment but a big, two story house with a yard and a garage. The children have bedrooms with toys and dressers and curtains and posters on the wall and matching sheets. They each have bathrooms decorated. They have friends in the neghborhood. They have each other and I have them.
I work full time, take Matt to Scouts, go to campfires and spend every hour with my babies making up for lost time. I cook them dinner every single night. I tuck them in. I wake them up. It’s magical.
One week after I got my babies home Dean was arrested in Texas. He was brought back up here to stand trial and did a whopping 18 days in jail before being less-than-honorably discharged by the Army. He ran back off to Texas and immediately proposed to his girlfriend without seeing or speaking to his kids. He has her believing that he has tried desperately to see his children and was denied by the state which is not true. As always Dean gets to be the victim. Fine. Let him. I don’t care.
My children are healing. To them, the loss of the father was no different than as if he had died. One minute he was there and the next minute he was gone. My younger two daughters don’t know or remember him although Olivia remembers that she had a Daddy and she misses having one very much. She prays for God to bring her a new one. The boys… hate him. Especially Matthew who was very close to him and who is very smart. He’s ten…. not stupid. He knows what Dean did and is disgusted by him. They all go to therapy with my dom. violence therapist and she is helping them grieve and mourn and heal.
We are surviving and we are doing so quite happily. I am amazed by what God has done for us in one year. He took a dead woman and brought her back to life. Our year in numbers is staggering and indicative of just what each one of us went through:
Number of foster homes Emi was in: 2
Number of foster homes Olivia was in: 2
Number of foster homes Owen was in: 3
Number of foster homes Matt was in: 5
Number of times Owen changed schools: 3
Number of times Matt changed schools: 5 (in ONE school year.)
Number of nightmares had by Owen and Olivia: 365 (none since returning home!)
Consecutive weeks of parenting classes for me: 16
Trips to court: 5
Christmases without the kids: 0 (I got to have an extended visit over Christmas)
Holidays without the kids: 0… although it was broken. I got them for Halloween and did Thanksgiving with the girls.
Broken bones sufered by children while in foster care: 2
Daycares Olivia was thrown out of for violent behavior: 3 (none since returning home!)
Prayers prayed by loved ones and members of our Army: Thousands!
Number of prayers answered and then some: Thousands!
My biggest fears during this time mostly revolved around my little Emi who was only ten months old when she was taken. I worried I’d miss her fist birthday, her first steps, her first words…. but God knew these fears and took care of business. I spent her birthday with her. Her first steps were taken with me there to witness (I sobbed from joy) and her first word (Mama!), first sentence (Owen bit me!). I’ve gotten to watch her grow from a baby to a child over two years old now, go from taking staggered steps to running and climbing, listened to her broken words become songs and melodies. Her hair has grown and so have her smiles.
I don’t cry anymore. I don’t stress out or panic. I don’t worry. I’m a single mother of four children ten and under. Life is hard. Duh. But, guess what? I was made strong and full of love and nothing is going to stop me. Never again. Money is tight. I’m exhausted. However, I am grinning from ear to ear.
In just days I lost EVERYTHING. Like Job, I was tested. My family, my home, my health…. it was all gone. But in it I loved God tremendously. I have praised him and trusted in him and, like Job, he has given back to us tenfold. This story is my testimony to Him. Dean and I ruined it all but God and I rebuilt it.
Let the judgements be unleashed. Nothing can crumble me. If this past year didn’t do it then nothing can. For a time I saw concern on people’s faces. I saw shadows of doubt. Nervousness. Now, when they see me or speak to me all of that is gone. I can see it in their eyes… my mother and family and friends. The “How?’s” are gone and have been replaced with faith. Instead of “how?’s” I see, “Yeah. She’s got this. They’re going to be fine.”
Dean’s girlfriend posted on her Myspace last week that Dean’s heart is broken for his children and that he is going to try again when they are older and “when she is stronger”.
Let me tell you something.
I have never been stronger than I am now. I am motherfucking Hercules, bitches.
Nothing can stop me.