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The Help and how I almost didn’t.

Ug.  I swear, tomorrow, I’ll find adorable kittens or whip up some comedy for you.  But – I must share what happened yesterday and today.

It is ironic that as I sat outside reading ‘The Help’, I heard something that would lead me to an internal struggle whether or not to do exactly that.

My home sits on a lot across from another home.  Our area is so quiet, that I can hear laughter or a sneeze from neighbors in close proximity to me.

It wasn’t laughter I heard yesterday though, but an argument that quickly escalated to screaming and eventually “Stop!” and “Why do you always do this?”.  I tried to keep reading.

Who knows?  They could have had a few too many beers watching football and were just having a really, really loud argument?

Still, memories came flooding back and my stomach was in tight little knots.  The soles of my feet felt cold and tingled.

Fighting scares me.  My inner child had already assumed the fetal position – while my outer ‘grown-up’ re-read the same sentence several times before giving up.  I placed my bookmark between the pages and  hoped the argument would soon stop.

But I knew better.

Or worse.

You can tell when the screaming abates and starts up in another room along with panic sounds and thumps.

Do I call the police?

Do I stay out of it?

What about retaliation?  After all, we live so close to each other!

I have my son to think of, my dog.  What if there’s payback?

WHAT AM I THINKING?! Of course you call!

But I can’t.

I go in and think about it.

What if I’m wrong?  What if he goes to jail – and then they can’t buy the kids Christmas presents?  The kids?!  But, I hadn’t heard them …

I come back out to sit and see if it’s over.

Instead of audio, I now have a visual.  I see a lady emerge from the house with shirtless children, telling them “Because daddy won’t let us in to get dressed, because daddy tried to kill mommy”.

OK.

Now I’m calling.

Had I known the children were in there the whole time, I would have called right away.  (This was not an assumption I could have made – I hardly ever see them, they seem to be there part-time?  They never play outside. Only time I hear them is when mom is yelling at one of them).

Now, while I’m pretty sure that woman has been physically abused, I am angry with her.

I am angry because that had better be her LAST walk from that house after telling her little ones what she just told them.

If she forgives her abuser, and goes back – those children get to be in a house with the monster that ‘tried to kill mommy’.

I understand adrenaline.  I understand she probably wasn’t thinking straight – and KUDOS for taking the children with her out of the house – but you DO NOT tell your children something like that unless you never plan to put them back into the home with that someone who ‘tried to kill mommy’.

In my opinion.

When I used to argue with my ex-husband, we were as quiet as possible.  When the kids showed concern, we would always tell them ‘people disagree sometimes’ or make them feel safe in some other way.

He never hit me.

But I have been in an environment like the one I finally called the Sheriff about.

And there were nights I wished someone would have called the police.

My report was anonymous, until this morning.

The deputy called me as I’d just finished getting ready for work.  Could I meet him East on a cross street?

“You mean, just before the boat?”

“Affirmative”

(Couldn’t have just said ‘hey, meet me by the boat?’ Civilian here – and a geographically challenged one at that!)

They had found the woman yesterday, and she had confessed it was not the first time he’d done that to her. 

Now, I don’t know if she was wavering, recanting or what, because it turned out they wanted me to be a ‘victim’ of disorderly conduct.  To build a case? I don’t know.

“Did the altercation bother you?”

Of course it bothered me!!  Those poor kids!

“I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the kids” I hear myself say.

I’m then asked to write a report, in my secluded , anonymous spot in the middle of the damn street. 

Cheese and rice.

Could have just hung a sign on my house that said, ‘she’s the one that called it in’.

I am writing my statement and worried about retaliation, I am writing and I’m sad because although she was told NOT to return to the house, the Sheriff is pretty sure she did.

I am mad at that woman for keeping her children in that environment.

But … who am I to criticize?

We never know how we’re going to react in the face of such a happening.  We like to think we know what we would do, we know what we’re SUPPOSED to do.

But trust me.  As an educated, strong, woman who after a rape, took a long hot shower before going to the hospital, we do not always DO what we know we should!

We know better and yet, stress, panic, fear, shock, will take away every single after school special lesson and public service piece of advise we’ve seen on a topic and we just won’t always do the right thing.

At least when I finally called, I knew I had.

I realize I sound pretty harsh when it comes to the woman – I just get so wound up when it comes to children.  I DO wish the mom love, and safety, strength and hope and to know she is worth more than that! 

She has a shot at changing her life, it will be hard, and it will be scary.  The unknown always is. 

But I know people who read this blog that have done it, and people in my life who have done it. 

Until she does it – those children (who are little girls by the way) are stuck in that sickness – soaking in that relationship – having it become their normal.  I pray the mom is given the strength to do the right thing.

 

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A giant is coming!

I slept until 9:30 this morning.  It was delightful.  I do vaguely remember being roused from sleep to let Butters out, but I blissfully found my way back to bed and back to sleep.

It’s my last full day off.  Tomorrow the alarm will sound and I’ll be off to my Sunday morning job.  I’m so grateful for it.  But I’d be lying if I said I’m not already looking at the clock like it’s an hour-glass. 

I do that.  I live this juxtaposition of soaking in every moment while a countdown is happening in my head.

I’m currently counting down until my son returns from picking up his friend, who is a giant.  When he’s here, in our little shoe box, the living room is impossibly dwarfed even further to the size of a matchbox.

He’s a good kid.  (I suppose he’s not a ‘kid’ really – he turned 18 and graduated from High School last year).  Nic has a knack (say that 10 times fast) of attracting ‘good kids’.  What a blessing.

But I’m sitting here typing and … tangent.  Hold on.  I heard somewhere if you use ‘but’ in a sentence, you’re not saying what you really want to say.  But I couldn’t very well just put a post up that says ‘I’m losing my living room’ could I?

Okay.

But I’m sitting here typing and the hour-glass is almost out of sand on my vacation time with my living room.  They’ll be hooking up Xboxes – my little 3 foot Christmas tree (yes, I already put it up) will be scooted off somewhere to make room for his friends laptop – or monitor or whatever it is. 

I’ll be like a jury member on a high-profile case – sequestered to my room with a hall pass to the kitchen.

And that’s okay. 

I’ll clean around them and maybe paint this afternoon.  I’ll go to the market and pick some things they’ll smile about when I unpack them from the grocery bags.

I’m so grateful.  Grateful that my son chooses to be here.  That his friends like to be here.  Grateful that the electricity bill is paid so they can plug their consoles in.  Grateful that I can go to the store and bring food back. 

UPDATE:

See what happens when I assume?  They got creative with the monitor and the little tree issue. 

And, now they’re all settled in.  Time for me to run errands 😉

The stained ceiling.

I will never forget my first night in the home I now occupy.  I lay on my bed, staring up at the water stains on the ceiling with tears running down my face into my ears.

It had been quite a road to that night.

Long story short, I went from owning a two-story home in Nevada and making amazing money at a job I loved – to renting a single wide mobile home that I could afford with my unemployment stipend.

When I was laid off due to the mortgage/banking debacle, I was married to a man who adored me – I had two step-daughters, a dog, a cat, and of course, my Nic.

I was the main bread-winner.  The home was mine before the marriage and so, when the income wasn’t just cut in half, but quartered, there wasn’t enough to sustain the household.

I lost the house. 

We moved across the river to Arizona into what we could afford to rent as a couple. 

And then I lost myself.

My drinking had increased after I found myself made redundant.  It was a trigger for the inevitable.  I already used alcohol as an escape – it was already escalating, and before losing the house, I found myself confronted by my husband and heard myself telling him I would quit. 

I did for a little while.  Then it became my secret.  Who did he think he was?  I drank when we met?  It seemed to be okay when I was supporting the family! 

I told myself that, and it seemed to make sense. 

I was lying to myself. 

Because really the black outs, the arguments, the misery that was my drinking problem, had never been okay.

In our rented home I hid my drinking.  I couldn’t buy obvious amounts of what I liked, and I’d heard that vodka didn’t have a scent – so I would buy purse sized bottles (plastic so you couldn’t hear the ‘tink’ of it against my keys as I snuck it in the house) and hide it in various spots in the house. 

I would then dispose of the bottles in public garbage cans.  Outside of grocery stores, fast food restaurants.  Where ever I could look nonchalant tossing a small brown bag. 

This went on for over a year, give or take. 

I couldn’t stand it anymore!

I quit drinking, got help and came clean with my husband. 

I also told him in no uncertain terms that I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. 

While this is my blog – and these are my truths, it’s also public.  I won’t go into much more detail about why I didn’t want to be married to him, that’s not fair.

(There’s so much more I want to share with you all, about many things!  One day perhaps – but find myself having to edit myself a lot more here than I had anticipated).

In quick succession – my husband left, I never saw my step-daughters again.

(On my 21st day of sobriety I had to have my sweet dog put to sleep). 

I looked for work.  I was ‘over qualified’.  They ‘couldn’t pay me what I last received’.  Or, there just plain wasn’t work in our area. 

My son and I found ourselves on food stamps and public health assistance.

Friends and family came to our aid from time to time.

I fought and fought to find a way to stay in the home we were renting at the time – and finally came to the conclusion to LET GO!  This was after selling my nice furniture, my appliances.  Anything I had of material value was sold piece meal to make it one more month.

We found something I could afford.  No washer, no dryer, no dishwasher.  But it was shelter!  It was do-able.

Came OH so close to losing this place too.  I sold my wedding ring, my engagement ring.  His wedding band.  I even sold our DVD’s to a local pawn store for gas money. 

Then I found a job. 

(That year a dog adopted us and I had to have my sweet cat put to sleep).

I haven’t had a drink in over a thousand days now.  And in less than two months, it will be two years since I started that job.

But back to that first night. 

I looked up at those ceiling stains and felt like I was in some sick motel.  I felt like I had let my son down.  I felt inadequate, scared, alone, angry. 

I realize now, it wasn’t so much the actual state of the home, but what seemed to me at the time to be a representation of my life.  I was that ceiling.

I was still sheltering my son, but I was stained.  I was in need of repair. 

I’ll glance up from my bed from time to time now and notice the stains.  But with my imagination back to its healthy overdrive,  I now see pictures in them.  They’re oddly beautiful, their shapes have become familiar. 

It has been well over two years since I that night I cried into my ears – and I have repaired myself. 

Puffy parking lot pigeons and pantries

There’s a zing in the air!  No, really – this time of year, you’re prone in this neck of the woods (or desert) to get shocked every time you touch your car, open a metal door or make contact with a shelf in a store.  But I digress.  There’s a zing in the air!!

My sons gift is on layaway!  I won’t say what it is because I still delude myself into believing he’s interested enough from time to time to read my blog.  I’m pretty sure the only time he does, is when I make him so I can hear what it sounds like from a readers point of view.

Anyway.  I left the store and noticed all the pigeons finding shelter from the wind under cars.  Adorable.  All puffed up like they were courting.  I would have taken a photo of my personal car pigeon, but I forgot to turn the alarm off  before I opened the trunk.  Needless to say my photo-op left.

Here’s one courtesy of the web – is this where I say I don’t own any rights to the pigeon photo?  Because I don’t.  (What’s the penalty for ‘borrowing’ an image?  I do it a lot).

I also came home with a pantry organizer.  It hangs over the back of the pantry door.  If the dog was capable of laughing, she’d probably already be snickering at the fact that I think I can build this thing.

ALMOST came home with a chocolate advent calendar.  It was on sale.  The picture on it was so cheery and holiday-ish, it fit my mood.  I left it at the grocery store, I figured I might be pushing that chocolate a little having it sit waiting for its little doors and windows to be opened for over a month.

As I left the store, and after I filled the car up with gas – I was fit to burst with happiness.  I figured it out.  What makes me happy.  Being able to provide the necessities for the people in my life and to spread a little joy.   I was so excited to bring the groceries in, and believe me, I KNOW how fortunate I am.  So very grateful to be able to afford food and gas. And I love that I notice the pigeons trying to stay warm.

I get you little car pigeon – I’m a nester too. 🙂