Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dear Mother

Posted by Anonymous.

Dear Mother,

I am furious at you, and at the same time, have the urge to hold you until it's all better. Our relationship is over because of you and your mental illness. You need help. But I can't help you. None of us can anymore. It is time to help yourself. For the sake of our family, and most of all, for yourself.

I am slowly realizing that I will never be your child. Never be held close, never be comforted, never be allowed to be the weak one. Because you believe it is your right to have these things, even though you are my mother. You should have mothered me and asked for nothing in return. I am so angry that you would choose to adopt a child when you couldn't manage to care for my brother who had already been given to you by grace. To say that you feel your own son is a disappointment to you is shameful, because you created him that way. You raised him that way. And he still loves you. How? I don't know. Why adopt a child you can't care for? I would never say it to you, or perhaps to anyone face-to-face, but there are many times I have wished another family had the chance to adopt me, and not you. The lies you must have created, and the people you must have manipulated, so that you could adopt me, is a shameful part of you I just can't understand. One day you may be able to face the truth about yourself: that some things are entirely your fault, you caused them, and you deserve the outcome of your behaviour.

I am sad that now you will miss the birth of my second child. But what choice is there? You have tortured our family over the past 12 months with your pathetic attempts at seeking justice for your abusive childhood, and taking it out on your family who has, up until now, stood by you. You wonder why people have left you now? Because the truth is my father was holding it all together for you. He spent 30 years making excuses for you, covering up for you, and lying to protect you. And now that you have pushed him away, and are on your own, you can't cope. Surprise!

I have thought many times over the past few months that it would be easier if you had died than become estranged to us. It would be easier to grieve for you, and all that you never were to me, than it is to know you are just a short drive away, and dreading the next contact you might make with me.

I wanted a mother who was wise, tolerant, strong, educated, patient and could teach me how to be a great mother to my own children. But you can't do it. I have to teach myself, and learn from other strong, wonderful women in my life, how to go about it. I am determined to give my children all of myself, but unlike you, I plan to also protect them from the problems of adults around them, because they are CHILDREN. And not my counsellors, social workers, doctors or friends.

Please, please get the help you need. Even if we never see you again- just for yourself and to be healed from the pain you are suffering. I hope the people in your life who have hurt you so badly will one day say sorry to you. And mean it. But for now, please stay away from me, and contact me when you are ready to admit responsibility for what you have done. Yes, much of this is your fault. And it is time to take control.

I wish I had the courage to tell you this myself, and I wish that you were able to respond in the way that is needed. But we can't.

All my love.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Resenting The Leech

Posted by Anonymous.

My husband and I have a "leech" in our family. This person is grown up and college educated, but can not seem to live independently. My husband and I are both in our sixties and have worked hard and saved money. Now this younger family member is draining us to support her. A few months ago, she needed a new car, so she called us. We are currently contributing to the cost of her new car. We just found out that our 1998 model car is going to have to be replaced. But... can we afford it? Now she is moving to a new apartment that costs more per month than our mortgage payment, and she wants help with that. My husband has even co-signed on the lease. We were thinking of paying off our mortgage... but can we do that now? Doubtful.

We were thinking of retiring in the not too distant future. My husband has a good job, but his company recently merged with another company and they had to let some people go. He still has his job, but his assignments have been cut way back. I am worried about his job. I know he is too, but he won't admit it. Now I am wondering how we be able to retire. The recent economy has devastated our 401K accounts. On top of all that, we have this family member expecting us to help support her. We have never been extravagant spenders. The younger generation doesn't understand how we lived when we were their age. We lived in crummy apartments without all the "bells and whistles". We didn't eat out and take trips. They want it all and they want it now. And we are being asked to support their way of life. It makes me angry.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frozen With Fear

Posted by Anonymous.

I am a mother. A blissfully happy mother to an amazing, brilliant, beautiful boy.

But I am also infertile. I was lucky enough to get a diagnosis quickly—after only a year. Premature ovarian failure. My eggs were shot at age 29. At that point I had undergone a laparoscopy and a single IVF cycle with my own eggs. The reproductive endocrinologist recommended donor eggs. He listed the likelihood of success of another IVF cycle with my eggs (5%), and the chance of miscarriage if I did conceive (greater than 50%) and the risk of chromosomal abnormalities if I didn’t miscarry (greater than 50%), and the right decision was clear and, well, easy.

Yes, I grieved the loss of a genetic child. I still do, sometimes. I’m sad that my son will not be able to go to my family’s ancestral home and recognize his nose the in the portraits on the wall. I’m angry that having a baby was such an emotionally difficult, lengthy, and frightfully expensive process for me, when it is free—and often accidental!—for most people. But the very fact of my son eases those pains. Now that he is here, I cannot imagine having had any other baby, and the pain, the anger, of infertility, has faded. Sometimes I think about how miserable I was during my first year of trying to conceive, and how I was consumed with jealousy of pregnant women and new mothers during the two years that followed, years that I had to wait in order to save enough money to try donor egg IVF. Years that one friend after another got—surprise!—pregnant. But now that’s in the past, and I am someone to be envied. I am a mother. I was pregnant. Those experiences are no longer out of my reach.

But the pregnancy! Infertility laid the groundwork of fear before I got pregnant, and my pregnancy built that fear into a monolithic tower. From the beginning, I qualified every statement about my pregnancy with an “if.” IF this pregnancy continues. IF I actually have a baby. IF my baby survives. I didn’t call to schedule a childbirth class until after they were all booked up, because I was so uncertain that I would actually need one. I didn’t plan for the baby the way other women do, because the last thing I wanted was to come home to a house full of baby stuff after losing the pregnancy. I couldn’t believe that he would actually be born, full term (barely) and healthy.

I started bleeding at 5 weeks. From 5 weeks through 15 weeks, I had regular episodes of heavy bleeding. Really heavy bleeding; heavier than any period I’ve ever had. Then, after a few weeks of blessed relief from the bleeding, I started having contractions. Regular ones, 7 minutes apart, that sent me to L&D first at 22 weeks, then again at 24 weeks. “Yes, those are real contractions,” they told me at the hospital. “You should lie down and drink lots of water.” “If they get closer together, 5 minutes apart or less, we’ll think about putting you on terbutaline.” Cervical ultrasounds, fetal fibronectin tests, contraction and fetal heartrate monitors. Intermittent bedrest. The first time I went to L&D, the security guard asked if I was in labor. “I certainly hope not,” I said. Did I really look like I was ready to deliver? I was barely showing!

So for the second half of my pregnancy, I listened to my contractions. Even walking for a few minutes could set them off. Here comes a contraction . . . here’s another one, 6 minutes later . . . and 6 minutes again. Every day. Lie down, drink water, time the contractions. Do I need to go to the hospital? Are these contractions causing cervical change? Am I in labor? What are the chances, at 24 weeks 3 days, that my baby will survive if he is delivered today? That he’ll be disabled? At 26 weeks 6 days?

I spent a lot of time working from home, lying on the couch. I breathed huge sighs of relief as I hit the milestones. 28 weeks. 30 weeks. 32 weeks. 34 weeks. By 36 weeks I was convinced that all the worry was for naught and that I would go overdue. So I was ridiculously surprised by his birth at 37 weeks exactly. It was fine. He was fine. I was (mostly) fine. Normal labor experience, just a few annoying complications for me afterward. All fine.

And he was here. And I was happy. And everything was OK.

And it was, for a while.

Now he’s 15 months old. People are asking when I’m going to have another. I wonder that, too. How could I not want another? The first is so delicious! Sometimes I convince myself that I don’t want another, that my family is complete, that I am happy with things just as they are. But the fact that I get viscerally upset when my husband expresses reservations about having a second tells me otherwise. I do want another baby. I want another baby.

But I don’t want another pregnancy. Well, I kind of want a “do-over,” a normal pregnancy experience, but I don’t think it’s really possible for me to have pregnancy without fear. A couple of months ago I had a moment where I thought the impossible had happened and I was pregnant, naturally. I wasn’t happy. Instead, I had an honest-to-god panic attack. Racing heart, nausea, panting, sweating, shaking, the works. My husband: “wow, you really don’t want to be pregnant right now!” Me: “Duh.”

I feel melodramatic even saying this, but my therapist says I have pregnancy PTSD. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Even though everything turned out fine. The very fact of my fear has traumatized me. And that is why I still find pregnancy announcements upsetting. Even from my very good friends. Those reactions made me feel guilty enough when I was waiting to become a mother, but now it’s even worse. How can I begrudge people the experiences that I’ve already had? How come I can’t just be happy for my friends? Why do I react physically to pregnancy announcements, shaking and feeling sick? Why do they leave me feeling unsettled for days afterward? I am just so sick of pregnancy being such a thing for me. I want to just not care anymore. Been there, done that.

Adoption isn’t an option for me for a number of reasons. So that leaves another pregnancy, if I really want another child. I can even face the idea of another donor egg IVF cycle. I’m not thrilled about it; not looking forward to finding a donor, to making all those appointments, to injecting myself in the ass every day for 10 weeks if I’m lucky enough to get pregnant again. But I can do it. I’m not even—may the gods forgive me—that worried about getting pregnant. I think I probably can get pregnant again, with enough perseverance.

But what I can’t face, can’t even really think about without starting to panic, is actually being pregnant. The day-to-day worry about whether I will lose the pregnancy, whether my water will break early, whether I will go into preterm labor. It lasts a long time, pregnancy. Or at least one hopes it will. It stretched out before me like an eternity, even when I felt like I must have already completed 24 months of gestation. And I don’t know if I can face that eternity again.

But I want another baby.

So here I am. Lucky. Unlucky. And frozen with fear.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Last Year

Posted by Anonymous.

December 10 2008 was the date grandma was transferred from the hospital to home hospice care. Friday December 12 I didn't go into work because at 3:00 in the morning I received a phone call from my mother that things didn't look good. I had to be there. I HAD to be there. My grandmother was always there for me no matter what. She was the one person who no matter what loved me. She was my refuge when I needed to escape. She was there to listen to me struggle through the new music I was learning on piano. She was always there for me. So I was there for her.

I stayed all night, I called into work and told them I wouldn't be in that morning because I was at my mothers all night. I went home and showered and made sure the kids and my fiance were ok. Then I would go back. I was there. I was there to administer her morphine and other medications to ease her breathing as much as possible. I was there. I was there to talk to her or listen to her talk. I was there when she was talking to people who weren't there. I was there the entire weekend. With daily shower breaks.

My brother never dealt with things as well as I do. He showed up but wasn't sure he could be in the same room as grandma. I went outside with him to have a smoke. I talked to him. We hugged, I got him to go into the same room as her, that was on Sunday. He also was good enough to come back Monday night as well. I know it was hard on him but he was there too.

Monday morning around 4 am, she told us it was her last night. She told us the running guy told her it was her last night. (and me being the folklore/mythology drenched person I am immediately thought of Hermes, the messenger, the god who guided people into death) I asked who the running man was, because she had spent the last few days talking to relatives or people we recognized by name. She responded, a god. This was one of the most odd moments of her last few days with us. However she was right.

She passed away on Monday night December 15 around 10:00. It was her last night. The running man, whoever he was, he was right.

I did everything I had to do. I did everything I could do. Yet to this very day I still feel like I didn't do enough. I still get upset when my mother or anyone says how much I did. Or how they couldn't have done what I did for her. It makes me angry. What do you mean you couldn't do what I did? I did what had to be done. I did it out of love. They couldn't do what I did? What? They couldn't do what she needed? I loved her, and now she's gone. I made her as comfortable as I could. I did everything I could.

So, this was my second Christmas without her. Last year I was still numb, but I can't hear O Holy Night, because it was her favorite Christmas Carol, and it makes me cry. Tonight I will go shopping with my daughter and hope like hell the noise of the stores drowns out any music. I don't want to hear it.

I miss her, I love her, I'm not sure what else can be said. I know eventually I'll feel better about it. But for now I'm still hurting. But I'll do what I have to do, and make sure the kids and everyone have a good holiday. I know that my nights, when I want to let loose and cry, my fiance is there to hold me.

I'm thankful that people see me as a strong person, I just wish that they would stop telling me I'm strong, because inside I feel weak.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Upside Of Anger

Posted By Anonymous.

You're selfish.

It's what I've been dying to tell you since July 2008, when what you did came out: how you lied to investors and your family and your friends, lost millions of dollars but kept on collecting your fees, behaving like you were making a fortune for them. The first thing I thought of was the $500 check that arrived with a letter the week before my wedding, the letter that made me cry. It was the first thing I thought of when I found out, that check: he stole that money.

You're my cousin, but you've been more like my brother. I'm named after your mother and you were just a kid when she died, eight or nine maybe? You were the youngest of three brothers. Your oldest brother was a golden boy who never touched anything that didn't immediately turn to gold. Middle brother was so sweet; everyone loved him. It broke everyone's heart when he died at 18.

You moved to Hawaii and married your high school sweetheart and started having babies with her and I don't think anybody thought you'd come back to Michigan, but you did, determined to be a success right here in front of your family, be the success story that you always thought you should be. You started a hedge fund and you really hustled, you wanted to make it fly worse than anyone, more than the people who were giving you their money to invest. It was 1999 and it seemed like a sure thing.

And then. And then September 11th. And then the economy. And then your dad started to get sick and moved in with you. And then your wife had an affair. And then, and then, and then.
You ran for city commission, and it was a close race but you lost. You and your wife split up and you fought her for custody of your kids. We all wished you'd won. She let you have the older two boys and she took the twins and that wasn't okay with anybody, least of all you, but it was what it was and you did the best you could do. You met a woman and started dating her; it got serious fast because you'd never been alone but we all liked her. Stephanie was bright and independent and had a gift for drawing people out.

You and your middle son came out to Washington D.C. and we had a great time with you. We went to the zoo and to Georgetown and when your flight was cancelled that night, I came to Reagan in the middle of the night to rescue you and brought you back to my apartment.
A couple years later and your hedge fund was floundering and Stephanie broke it off with you. She said she couldn't see an up side to marrying you, and I know that reinforced all of your worst feelings about yourself. It was an awful thing to say and we were all furious when you told us what she'd said. She kept stringing you along though, kept seeing you. You did things like back out of obligations you'd made to your kids to spend time with her and as someone whose father abandoned her, I was pretty disgusted with you then, but I swallowed it. You convinced your elderly, nursing-home-ridden father to buy you a house, said that you'd pay the mortgage on it and eventually put it in your name. You picked that house because Stephanie loved it and you thought if you had that house she'd see an up side.
The day the house closed, you were indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud and securities fraud.

You told my mother, your aunt, and she kept it quiet from the whole family. She didn't tell me until the day you were sentenced to 19 months in minium security federal prison, and then she called me at work. "I have some bad news," she said. She was crying. It was such a burden to her to have kept it quiet--she'd been going to court with you, quietly persuading people to write letters on your behalf, trying to minimize the impact of what was crashing into you.

You pled guilty and were taking responsibility for what you'd done, she said. The sentence was less than half of the 40 months that the federal prosecuters asked for and everyone was grateful for that. You'd be out in time to see your oldest son graduate from high school in 2010. That was what passed for an up side in this sorry-ass case.

I was devastated, for you, for your kids, for me. When my parents drove you down to West Virginia to begin your prison term, I almost drove the two hours to West Virginia, but couldn't do it. It was too sad. It was too hard to imagine. I didn't want to see you like that, in that place. But I was disappointed in you when my mother told me that you'd spent the weekend before you left in some bed and breakfast on the beach with Stephanie instead of with your kids--an interesting turn of affairs since you were, apparently, too destitute to pay child support.

I got your emails, and I watched you turning into a selfish, self-centered person. The person who was accountable, who took responsibility for what he did was gone. You blamed other people. You shrugged off responsibility. When I told you that we'd decided to move back to Michigan after the baby was born last summer, you were the only person who was negative about it. Don't you want to live somewhere warm? you asked. Well, no, and I never did, but it's not really about that, I said, we want our kids to know their family. It was a mistake, you announced, it was what you'd done when you came back and look what had happened.
I'm not you. I would never steal from people who trusted me. And what we were doing was hard enough without your vote of no confidence. The economy in Michigan stinks, and my husband's a teacher. We knew it was a calculated risk to come back. Everything you said just made it scarier and harder.

We came back, and my husband got a job in your youngest kids' school. We rented a house a few blocks away from where you grew up. We were thrilled; our kids would grow up knowing your kids. We could be there for them. My husband, who isn't their teacher, keeps tabs. When they were writing about not having enough food in the house, their English teacher came to him, knowing they were family, wanting to know what was going on. When your daughter was having anger management issues, he came back. We've gone to their swim meets, invited them over for dinner and game night. We've stretched ourselves thin to be there for them.
Your father died on Monday, five weeks before you were scheduled to be released. And now, it's all about you and a 48 hour furlough and who's going to drive from Michigan to West Virginia in a snowstorm to pick you up and who's going to take you back after the funeral. The federal bureau of corrections is funny about letting people out on furloughs, they want to know where you'll be and what you'll be doing and where you'll be staying.

You want to stay in your house with your kids. Well, first and foremost, it's not your house. It belongs to the estate. And at the moment it happens to be occupied by your ex-wife and your children, where she moved so that they could stay in their school. She's been paying rent to your father for the last year and a half, even though she has a house of her own. I'm no big fan of hers and I never have been, I think she's a flake and a lousy parent. But she's got a good reputation in the community and she's doing her best, which is more than anyone could say about you.

Don't come barreling into their lives for 48 hours and turning it upside down again, just to have to turn around and go back to prison. Don't you know what it would mean to have you in their house again? They're finally getting used to you not being there. Your brother generously offered to wait to hold a memorial service until next month, when you come home, but you insisted on the expense and inconvenience of being flown home now.
You're like a spoiled child, and everyone in this family bends to your will and I am sick to death of it. I'm sick of watching my mother torn to pieces by what's happening to you. I'm sick of watching her endlessly playing referee between you and your brother. I'm sick of watching your kids break into a thousand pieces at the thought of how much they miss their father. And I'm sick of how disappointed I am in you and what you've become, because you were my hero growing up.

Mostly I'm sick of your completely deluded spin about what your life will be like when you come home. Stephanie hasn't written, called, or visited you. You haven't heard from her once. And why should she? She's not like your ex-wife: she's educated and ambitious, doesn't need anyone to take care of her (and if she did, God knows you wouldn't be capable of it), and if there was no up side before, I guarantee you there's less than no up side now. She's just not that into you. Your kids are pissed, and rightfully so. You didn't get drafted into miltary service, you went to prison, and rightfully so. Don't think they didn't notice that, or that you didn't pay any attention to them for the three months before you went.

You need a job, a real one, not some "lead-generating" half-assed thing that one of your friends has made up for you, one that will allow you to take some responsibility for your obligations--like the $700,000 you owe in restitution, like the child support you need to sack up and pay. I'm sorry you're not the success story you thought you would be, but you've lost my respect in trying to steal someone else's success and you're verging on ridiculous. You're selfish, and for the first time in my life, I can say that I'm disappointed in you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Posted by Anonymous.

I wonder if my entire relationship with my son has been based on my saying yes to everything.

He's 17, a high school senior, successful student and generally a good guy, except I learned he's not so nice and we're not so close when I say no. When he was 9, he was diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's, but was "highly functioning" which meant that he was intelligent, oppositional, argumentative, sweet, loving and exhausting to raise. We sought all kinds of social and occupational therapy for him in order to help him develop the social skills he did not intuitively have. We indulged him when he found an interest in the video arcade game, Dance Dance Revolution, and we drove him to tournaments up and down the East Coast just like other parents drive their kids all over the place when they are on travelling soccer teams. He formed friendships, built confidence, and figured out how to deal with his quirks. He became popular. His dad and I indulged him by taking him on these trips to visit his friends and to participate in DDR tournaments. We permitted him to sleep over at friends' houses in the city where the tournament was held. We hung out in the town and got a hotel room, so we could be close by.

This started when he was 13. As he got older, he told us there was drinking sometimes but he did not participate. Then last New Year's we let him go to North Carolina with a friend, without us, to visit friends. Yes, there was drinking and yes, he drank. He concluded that because we allowed him to go, we approved of his drinking. Then over the summer while his father and I were on vacation, he begged us to stay home and we let him. His response was to have his friends over for a party, with alcohol, purchased with the spending money we left for him.

Since then we have had many conversations about drinking. He tells us that we're punishing him for being honest. We tell him that we worry about him making bad choices. Now, he asked to go away with friends to a New Year's party this year out of state, and we said no. He's angry and is acting out. He says that he's much more honest with us than his friends are, and that we need to trust him to make good decisions, since he is going to college next year and will be on his own. We tell him that there are so many bad things that could happen, like getting into a car accident or having a run in with the police and getting charged with underage drinking. We won't be anywhere nearby to help him if there is a problem. He said he's not handling his anger better because we have modeled bad behavior when we're angry. He says we're being inconsistent and arbitrary. He's saying whatever comes to mind.

He's being so unkind and so impolite that I don't recognize this rude person. Or rather, I see him clearly for the first time. I've been far too worried about being his friend and not being his parent. I did not think that is what I was doing but now I see it all more clearly. And it's too late to change it. He's leaving home in less than a year. He's 17 -- a know it all and barely listens to me. He's grown up thinking that we'll always say yes and he's hardly ever heard us say no. I thought I was teaching him and I see that by indulging him, I failed him. It feels like our relationship is a sham. We are not close because he loves me; we're close because I always said yes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Even Shady Pasts Can Lead to Bright Futures

Posted by Erin W.

This post has been a long time in the making. The story is hard for me to look back on and harder to tell, so please bare with me and be gentle in judgment.

In a lot of ways I'm like a first time mom with Kairi. There are a lot of very public ways, like that I breastfeed Kairi and I didn't with Gracie, I babywear, I co-sleep... There are a lot of very different mothering techniques (I guess) that I am using this time round. But there is also one very big, very private way that I am a first time mom...

When I was in high school I liked to party. I skipped school to go smoke pot until the principal threatened to suspend me for skipping one more time. Even then I still left campus to get high at lunch. Just after I got out of school Jason and I got together. I was 17 at the time and still smoking. He smoked then too. It wasn't a huge part of our relationship, but it was there. We moved in together after 8 months with no savings and crap jobs.

After a few months of living together, things were getting rough financially. The job Jason had been working for the past 6 years (on and off, mostly on though) refused to give him a raise. When the state raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85 his boss told him to consider that his raise. One day, Jason found an easy fix to our money situation. He had bought an ounce of pot off a friend for $80 and had another friend who wanted to buy half of it from him for $50. This friend had another friend who wanted to buy the other half for $50 as well. Jason made $20 out of the deal and went back for another. And that's how it started.

At first Jason and I both kept our jobs. Over time I traded up jobs and was making more money, and over time he was making bigger deals - eventually quitting his job and becoming a full time pot dealer. For a time it was fun. We constantly had friends coming over, we always had money, and we were always partying. But over time I began to develop an allergy to THC, so smoking was no longer fun for me. And the constant flow of people coming over was no longer close friends, but distant strangers who didn't want to visit and have fun - they wanted what they came for and then wanted to leave. Not only that, but they had no respect for any kind of house rules. Looking back, I don't know how I expected them to, but at the time I was pretty worked up over it. But we still always had money and I still enjoyed spending it. After a while Jason was making enough selling that I was able to quit my job and never look back. This went on for 3 years.

When I was 20 I got pregnant with Gracie. During my pregnancy I tried to talk Jason into quitting and getting a job. He kept saying that he was trying to save up enough money that we could make due on it for a while before having to go back to work, but the money kept getting stolen, or a deal would go bad and we'd be out $500 for it. It was always 1 step forward and 2 back where the saving was concerned.

Gracie was born in the end of January '05. While I was in the hospital my family asked me how we were going to make due. They didn't come right out and say it, but the urged me to try to get Jason to find a job, and for me to do the same once I was able to. I talked to Jason until I was blue in the face about it, but he had just lost a big chunk of the savings in a bad deal and thought he could for sure get it back within a couple of months.

I know what everyone must be thinking. I know what I am thinking in hindsight: Why didn't I just leave? Take Gracie and flee? It's not that I didn't love her enough - I just kept believing that Jason would quit after "this next deal." Finally one night in April I made a decision: if he doesn't get a job within 2 weeks, I'm gone. That's it.

10:00 am, April 12, 2005 - The next morning....


The loud, hard knocks at the door shot my out of my bed like a bullet from a gun. I had had it up to here with all these inconsiderate druggies waking me up! I didn't even put on my glasses. I looked out the window in the door and saw several people standing on the porch. As I went to unlock the deadbolt the banging on the door started again, this time shaking the house. I stepped back just in time to see the door fly open sending splinters from the door frame across my living room, one slicing my hand open as it flew through the air.

"Get on the ground! Get on the ground NOW!," screamed the 6'5" 300 lb policeman in the front. Immediately I was on my stomach with his knee hard in my back as he was putting handcuffs on me. I had just barely missed the swing where Gracie, then 2 months, was sleeping when I hurled myself to the ground. Within seconds there were 8 men in black in my house rummaging through my things. One policeman went to the bedroom and gently and politely asked Jason to roll over onto his belly on the bed so he could cuff him.

Almost right off the bat they took Jason to the police station. I stayed behind to stay with Gracie until a Child Protection agent could come get her. I begged the officer in charge to remove my cuffs so I could feed her and change her diaper. He said he was already doing more than he should by letting me do those things in cuffs, so it was definitely a no-go on taking them off.

You know those movies where there is an explosion and everything goes in slow motion? The ones where you see everything slightly blurred, debris flying everywhere, blinding light bending your perception on things? That's what those moments felt like to me. The only completely clear thing I remember from that whole morning was sitting in my rocking chair, holding my daughter who through the whole thing did nothing but smile at me. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole time, even as I handed her off to the social worker. The memory of that beautiful, bright, toothless grin will always be tainted by the hazy memories of that morning.

Immediately my mother made arrangements to move back to town so that she could become the guardian of her granddaughter. I thank my lucky stars every single day that my mother dropped everything in her life and spent her entire retirement to get here so Gracie wouldn't have to be in a foster home with strangers.

Gracie lived with my mom, her Mimi, for 10 months while Jason and I worked hard to complete the treatment plan laid out by the social worker assigned to our case. Jason had to go to rehab for a month, we both had to go to group counseling for drug addicts and abusers, I had to go to counseling to work through my enabling issues, we went to parenting classes and additionally attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings every night we were able. We worked hard to turn our lives around.

But our social worker was new - we were her first case. Prior to becoming a social worker she was a foster parent. She got the kids who were in the worst conditions and as such was out for blood on her first run. She needed to make an example out of someone, and we were that someone. Now, I'm not trying to play the victim here. We wouldn't have had to deal with her like we did had we not gotten ourselves in the position in the first place, and I will be the first one to admit that. That being said, the woman really was out for blood. She kept our case open for 2 years. After the initial 10 months of work we had to do to get Gracie back home with us, we were subjected to another 14 months of hoop jumping. She even removed Gracie from our house for a month again because we had it sprayed for bugs.

One night we were at a friend's house eating dinner when I got a call on my cell phone. It was Carol, our worker. She called to tell me that a woman within CPS, but not in her department had audited her cases and told her that our case was to be closed effective the following week. When we went to court to close the case Carol was not there, but her supervisor was there in her place. She apologized on behalf of CPS for keeping our case open so long (it is customary to keep cases open once the child returns home for 6 months. Some have to stay open longer, but only those who aren't cooperating.)

Since then we've been working hard to keep turning our lives in the right direction. We got a foot up in the process of getting Gracie back, but that was only the beginning. Since then Jason has stayed at the same job for 4 years, a job that gives him raises as deserved (for the most part). I got the first job I could get my hands on while we were trying to get Gracie back. I worked for over a year and a half at McDonald's, working to become a manager. Then I went to work at Chili's where I stayed for 2 years until I started school and found out I was pregnant with Kairi.

It's been a long, hard road and we missed a lot of the parenting experience with Gracie as a baby. She lived with my mom from the time she was 2 months old until the week after her first birthday and then for a month the following summer. A friend of mine is constantly laughing at me on Facebook because I'm always making comments about what new things Kairi is doing. "You sound like such a new mom!" she tells me.

And in a lot of ways I am. But I am loving the experiences I am going through with my kids. I have learned from my mistakes and because of them I know that I will never take my children for granted like so many parents do. I am cherishing every single moment I have with them because I know what it's like to go without. A friend of mine told me throughout the whole ordeal, "I don't know how you do it. If that happened to me, if I was separated from my daughter, I'd go crazy. I'd either be in a mental facility or I'd kill myself." At the time all I could tell her was that I knew I had to be strong for my daughter so I could get her back. Recently someone sent me an email with a picture in it. The picture said, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."

In my life I have few regrets. In a way I don't regret what happened because the change made us better parents and better partners to one another. I think that we are amazing now. (Not to be cocky or anything, but I really do.) But the most heartbreaking regret I have is how the change came about.

I realize that my story will turn some people away. Some people just can't get past what we did to get where we are or how we've lived our lives. I would love to say that it's fine with me, that I don't care. But I do. In a lot of ways it makes it feel like all the work we've done to better ourselves for our family has been in vain, that we're still nothing but a couple of pot-peddling druggies. But in the same respect I can understand. A lot of people have not walked in the same neighborhood as what I've gone through, let alone the same path or shoes and it is hard for them to see what motivated me at the time. I'm in no way defending my actions at the time or trying to say that I had the right motivations, but I have always ALWAYS loved my daughters and so has Jason. We have lived through one of the most heartbreaking, life-altering experiences we will probably ever go through (fingers crossed) and we are better parents for it.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my story. I've tried writing this out time and time again and just have never found the right words. Even now I'm hesitant. But I over the past few years I have met families that have been in the same type of situation and sharing my story has seemed to help, to give hope or if nothing else to give a sense that they're not alone in the battle. I hope that maybe someone in need of help will see this and see that it can be done, it's not a never ending battle (even when your social worker has a personal vendetta against you) and in the end there is hope for change and strength.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Living With The Hurt

Posted by Anonymous.

You hurt me and the hurt has not gone away. I can't seem to push it down or pull it out of my mind. You, my "mother" for more years than my real mother was able to spend with me, lied about me. It was several years ago that you sent out a vicious email in response to an innocent question from me. The saying "ripped me a new one" came alive for me as I read your diatribe. I felt physically ill. I felt a deep rage. I go for months without thinking of it and then it pops up in my head. It still can make me sick to my stomach.

You, you go on later as though you are the kindly Christian woman you'd like all of us to believe you are... no apology because you are right no matter how horribly you act. You think you deserve an apology. I won't give it. I go along with your stupid game only for the sake of my siblings and my poor Alzheimer's father. Without them you would have been the recipient of a hard slap and then I would be gone. Forever, never to be hurt by you again.
I don't know where your anger came from exactly but I can be fairly certain it has something to do with the fact I won't kowtow to you. I won't leap to the rescue with every crisis. You don't seem to be able to live without a crisis. You make everything all about you. Someone's mother-in-law dies and you talk endlessly about the guilt you feel for not praying a specific prayer over her. WTF? I am pretty sure that God would have heard your prayer regardless of where you said it. What in the world does that poor woman's death have to do with you?
Everything revolves around your little bank book of pluses and minuses - You did X for me, so I need to let you treat me like shit and be at your beck and call. It took me a long time to realize that no matter what I did it would not be enough. I would never be good enough. Never. And then to wonder why, why would I care? All I wanted after my mother's death was someone to love me and encourage me. Instead I got you. Lucky f**king me.
I try not to hate you because that hate will just hurt me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Out From Under The Table

Posted by Anonymous.

Many years ago I used to build forts under the kitchen table. It was my safe spot in a home life that was hell. My mother was in an abusive relationship. He was an angry mean drunk. He started abusing me when I was 10. At first the abuse was just physical and then it turned worse. I was dragged from under the table one night and raped. I would be raped again and again for some time until my mother finally got the courage to leave him when I was 13.

This past week my mom went back to that street, that house where her daughter was raped to see it. When I asked why she would want to do that I was met with don't you remember the good memories and from my sister you should concentrate on the good times we had growing up.

My memories of childhood are of a fleeting number of good times but most lets just say I could write a best selling horror novel based on my tween years. After leaving the drunk my mom got involved with men who ran drugs and my mom was a mule into the prison system, what is worse she took me and my sister with her. She never got caught. I have few good memories and those I do have are not of times with her or that house but when my father would come and take us away from it all for a fleeting moment.

I don't think I am crazy when I say why in the hell would you want to visit a place where you almost died and where your child had their childhood stolen from them! I think visiting that place brings back nothing but bad memories at least for me even hearing of her visit I was brought back to that moment when I was dragged from under the table and raped.

Then when I blogged about being a childhood rape survivor my mother and sister got after me and said some things should remain private. Some things should not be talked about. My mother dared to say to me, "What kind of mother will people think I was?" You see, even at her old age she is in a new relationship unfettered by past choices. She doesn't want to acknowledge the hell we lived through and survived. My sister wanted to just bury it.

Me --the survivor-- needs to talk about it and share because maybe just maybe I can help someone else. I did survive and there is life out from the under the table and it needs to be shared and cherished but with that said the past needs to be remembered or it will be repeated and I will not let that happen as long as I have a voice.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Keep Away, Revisited

Posted by Anonymous: an update to Keep Away.

An update to the post that I published here earlier this year: I've ended the relationship with this man. It was honestly the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and it didn't come without a lot of heartache, tears and pain from both of us. I now know that it was not only the right decision for me, it was the right one for him and his family. I realize that he and his kids deserve better than me, and I also deserve better and a situation that I am comfortable with. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on my post, whether I wanted to hear it or not at the time, it's what I needed to hear. Since the time this post was published, I went back and read your comments time and time again, and believe it or not, your words gave me the strength I needed to end this. Sometimes, the words of strangers who don't care about you, are not invested in your life and are just being brutally honest is just what you need to thrust you into reality.

I really miss my old boyfriend, but I'm also really excited about finding a new relationship where I can start from scratch with someone and plan our lives the way that both of us want to. I realize that in my previous post I sounded selfish, immature and self-centered. I don't apologize for these things. You have to be selfish when trying to come to terms with what YOU want. So, again, thank you for your honesty, you never know when your words (no matter how hurtful they may seem at the time) will help someone. And thank you to HerBadMother for giving us this forum!

Monday, January 04, 2010

What She Said

Posted by Anonymous.

“That’s great, but you are going to have to pay for cheerleading camp on your own” was her response when I told her I made the cheerleading team.

“Why can’t you be like your sister?” was what she said when she came home from a parent teacher conference and was told that I was a “social butterfly”.

“You deserve all of the pain you are going through” was what she said when I cried after giving my daughter up for adoption when I was 16 years old.

“I guess you can't go to church tonight” was her response when I had my stomach pumped.

“Are you on drugs? What is wrong with you” was what she said to me when my ex-husband and I went through a devastating divorce.

“Your children will never experience true blessings unless you have them baptized” was how she replied when I told her my son was being bullied at school.

Why can’t I ever find the words? Why can’t I say… “Isn’t a mom supposed to love her child unconditionally? Aren’t Mom’s here to celebrate with us when we have a moment of joy, and cry with us in times of sorrow?”

How do I move on from this? How do I forgive and let go when it continues? How do I fill the awkward silences, after her words have hurt me and I can’t find the strength to respond?

I would give anything to feel her arms around me and her voice telling me that I am good enough, to hear her say that I am a good mom and a good wife.

And that she is sorry.