Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Simply Complicated ME... a story
the short version ;)
Putting my random thoughts and feelings down always proves to be very therapeutic and thought provoking. I have started putting a lot more thought into what I hope to set forth in my blog, as well as what I might like to look back on a long time from now. I never had a real complicated plan for doing this. As I read through blog after blog today I can see the vast array of blogging conceptions.
I guess my blog was sort of an unplanned for development, as are a lot of things in my life. I realize now that if I do not fill in with some of my everyday life and background, it might be easy to assume I am much more deep and dark than I am light and happy. Most of my deep and dark comes from my past, but surprisingly enough it isn't my present state of being. Although, get me going after a few drinks and an emotional movie or a deep conversation and I am guilty of being emotionally overbearing.
All of that being said, let me introduce you to my background...
My upbringing was anything but traditional. My mother was an only child and she had me at 18. In the late seventies that was a huge shame to a family. She chose a life of drugs, men, and stripping- stringing me along for an occasional wild ride to her work or a bar on our visits.
In her constant absence, I lived with her mother and stepfather, my grandparents. My grandpa had raised her since she was a baby and so he was my real grandfather as far as I knew. He was of Navajo Indian and Spanish decent and my grandma was German and Irish, so I had many cultural influences despite my lack of parental influences. They were also practicing Catholics, and so I was schooled at a strict Catholic school until 8th grade.
This all could have been quite an acceptable upbringing except my mother lost her battle with drugs and depression to suicide in 1986. I was 7. She hung herself, so it was particularly painful for me to understand. This horrible time of sadness intensified when my Grandmother died suddenly of a stroke a very short 34 days after my mother had passed away. Since I was an only child, I was always that very adult socialized child that knew too much and experiencing those deaths with too much adult perception was really hard.
Where did that leave me? With my (step) Grandpa. To me that was the only logical place for me to be. They had owned their house since I was born so it was the only "home" that I knew. What I didn't know is that everyone else but me knew my Grandpa was not my blood. There were immediate fears of it being inappropriate for an older man (he was 68) and a young girl to live alone.
Thank GOD a judge cared enough to ask me where I wanted to go and of course the only place in the world I wanted to be was with my Grandpa. We had just gone through the most devastating loss imaginable and I knew he couldn't read or write so we needed each other. I of course had too much responsibility for a child of (now) 8 years old. My grandpa could not afford to retire because the Race Track had let him go a year short of getting his retirement, so he still had to work. I took on most of what a woman would do. I helped with cooking and cleaning and I wrote out all the checks for our bills and balanced his checkbook. I also was 100% responsible for my school work and papers that came home. He was afraid if people knew he couldn't read or write they would take me away.
My adolescence was really anything but that. I lacked the love and attention of a normal family. My grandpa was afraid to show affection for fear it would be misinterpreted as sexual. he remarried to a family friend that was recently divorced- but it was for my benefit. He thought a woman in the house would solve my problems. It was too late. It didn't take long before I was looking for sexual attention. As you might have read, I was pregnant at 14 and lost the baby late in the pregnancy. It was really hard because everyone was happy for me, but me and the father wanted that baby. We had moved in together. He worked full time (he was 16) and I worked part time and went to beauty school in addition to high school. We had furnished the nursery and had everything we needed by ourselves long before she was born. In retrospect I can see now how hard it would have been, but I was used to taking responsibility so I am sure I could have made it.
We stayed together for 3 years after that. I had gone on to a Lutheran Highschool and they had made me leave while pregnant. I came back after I lost the baby, but me and my boyfriend had gotten out own apartment by the time I was 15. The school found out and demanded I get married as soon as I was legal age. I was still naive enough to think he was the one. So on my 16th birthday, I went and took my driving test and got my license... I drove us to the Justice of the Peace and we got married, I dropped him off at work, and I was back in school by 3rd period.
After I got my license from beauty school, I was instantly offered a job. I started out making around $25 /hr including tips. At 17 this seemed like it was all I would ever need and I thought I could only go up from there. I dropped out of high school with 3 lousy credits left.
We moved to a nicer 2 bedroom apt closer to my work. We had saved a lot of money so I was enjoying furniture shopping and decorating the new place and also loving my new independence from my job and all of the wonderful clients I was meeting. It all ended when I came home early and couldn't find my husband, and moments later he came down form the woman's apartment upstairs high on cocaine and smelling of sex. I wanted to die.
I moved out the next day while he was at work. I never even looked back. My grandparents house was over an hour away from my job and my lack of motivation was compounded by the depression of what had happened. Four years gone.
My next four year relationship started about a year later. His name was Thomas. We were common law married within a year and filed taxes as married- we just couldn't afford a wedding. We had two children. I was on bedrest from 22 weeks on with my son and from 12 weeks on with my daughter. I sat around eating and keeping my babies safe inside. I wasn't going to lose another one. I ballooned up to 316 lbs. I am 6' tall (and no I don't play basketball!).
Our relationship was pretty typical for a Hispanic man who believed a woman's place was in the home and a strong woman who had big dreams and goals. We fought a lot. He belittled me to keep me from thinking I could ever live without him and I resented him for it. Wanting 2 parents for my kids is what kept me there. My grandpa was already 78 and although still working, I knew he would not be there for long. His wife was gold digging nightmare, so i had no hope tehre either. I saw me and Thomas as all my kids had.
My will to have a "family" broke when Thomas hit me. I didn't know what I was going to be, but I knew a lot of things I wasn't going to be. A battered wife and mother was where I drew the line. It's a longer story I will get into in depth one day, but just for the sake of connecting people and events... Thomas died suddenly within a year of us separating. He was 27. Our children only 2 and 4. His death was weight related and besides the overwhelming grief and loss I felt for my children... I now feared I was headed for the same fate.
By this time I was in college full time and working part time. I pursued weight loss surgery with every ounce of my being. It was my only hope. When my grandfather died 8 short months after Thomas I was even more determined. My life was not not going to elude me like evryone else I knew and loved.
I did finally get approved for weight loss surgery. I was at an all time high of 380 lbs. I lost 200 lbs. I had reconstructive surgery (a body lift) to remove 16 POUNDS of extra skin and I also got implants to replace what were once the only sexy thing on my fat body... my boobs. I also had many complications and ended up having 6 surgeries that year. All with a 3 and 6 year old, school and a job, and only a loser boyfriend I cared very little for as support.
Once I was somewhat healthy and stable I kicked him out. I made the stupidest choice ever, and gave up all of my stability to move in with my step-grandma, who was saying she would have to sell my grandpa's house if I didn't help. She promised that if I finished school she would quitclaim the house to me so I could raise the kids there. Lie.
I was getting survivors benefits for my children, so I decided to go to school 15-18 credits at a time. I had failed almost the whole year that Thomas and my grandpa had died and I needed to catch up. My step grandma consumed my life, my time, AND my money. She paid the mortgage- an undisclosed amount, but the house had been bought 25 years earlier. I paid everything else and bought and cooked all the food. I had the kid's in daycare while I was in school and she would only babysit on rare occasion if the kids were asleep first and I came home right away if one of them woke up.
Somehow I still managed to meet Bryson. He was only 21 and not at all anything on my "must have's in a man" list. Somehow we connected right away and within a week we were together all the time. My grandma was very jealous and demanded that if I were to continue seeing him, I move out. So we did. It was kind of scary for me because I was very protective of my kids. He was very caring and helpful and I was still struggling with a lot of physical pain from all of my surgeries and complications. I wanted to jump in head first and enjoy this feeling, but my body would not cooperate and I started abusing pain pills so that I could function.
Pain pills make me sleepy and a sleeping Mom doesn't accomplish much. It wasn't long before we were abusing meth together. We just wanted to have every possible minute together and it was always just "one more time." One more time spiraled quickly down hill into a year. I was down to a disgusting weight of 155. We were living off of my survivors benefits and desperately trying to break away. What I didn't know until it was too late, was that pretty much all of Bryson's immediate family were on again off again meth users.
I blamed him and my paranoia started making me believe he actually conspired to get me to use the drug before he met me. He felt the same way about me. It had come to the point where I knew I had to leave because I could not do to my kids what my mom did. We had lost everything and were living in a hotel room and I was going to take the kids and leave the next time he left. I had asked my step grandma to give the kids a ride to school and pick them up and I was going to trick him into leaving when the kids would be getting back. I was going to plead my case to my grandma that she was all I had and that I needed treatment, and leave Bryson to find his own way.
I didn't get the chance. We were arrested and social services called and my kids taken away and placed with my grandma. It was the hardest time of my life yet. It also changed me and everything about my life. They found drugs in the room and that alone was enough to take the kids. I accepted responsibility for my drug use, but I was NOT going to lose my kids. That day was the last time I ever used meth. I was not allowed at my grandma's house and so me and Bryson came out of jail homeless with only each other. The survivor benefits were immediately transferred to my grandma for the care of the kids.
We lived in motels, then in a tent, then in a homeless shelter for a month. I was sure that without the drugs and money that Bryson would leave. Instead he petitioned the court to be a special respondent in the case and so he met all the same requirements that I had to as a parent. 6 intensive months of classes and therapy, monitored sobriety, supervised visits, and recovery and rehabilitation, I was given back full custody of my kids. I was asked to be a parent partner and help other parents who have lost their kids due to addiction.
We have both been clean since the day we were arrested. Almost 4 years.
Within a month of the kids coming home, we moved into a house and I found out I was pregnant. It was an even more complicated pregnancy than my first two and following more bedrest our daughter was born premature. Today she is a happy healthy toddler, about to turn two. My older kids are extremely caring and bright, helpful and independent. I will always have guilt about what I did. I will always envision a little social worker that believed in me, sitting on my shoulder, telling me not to let them down- ok and maybe sharing space with my grandma, my mother, and my grandpa :) I have had far too much time taken away, lives lost, and caused the most painful 6 mos of my life living without my children, to take anything for granted. Bryson has worked at the same place for 3 years (restaurant and bar industry) and I am a stay at home mom.
Wow can you believe I am done? If you are still here.... thank you... and I hope you will come back.... My adventures are just beginning :)