The older I become, the more I realize I am so much of THAT girl still.
The girl from a small town, the girl who comes from money (though it was not always that way), the girl that dresses like an alien and who just can not fit in, the girl who has had what everyone else has dreamed of (at least it looked that way on the outside), that girl who wears her heart on her sleeve but can ruin you with words, THAT girl (woman, whatever) that lost custody of her child. Yes, I am THAT woman…and I am becoming okay with it.
I have a son. He will be 15 in January. When he was born, was one of the most beautiful days of my life; even with the chaos going on around me. He was perfect in every way, even though the birth almost killed us both. He was my star, my dreams, my hopes… all bundled in this one little person. I was young, 19. With this little person depending on me. ME.
I had not ever been really taught how and why to manage finances. How a woman should be treated by a man wasn’t taught either (other than a good Christian boy and I did not have a damn clue what that meant). I wasn’t ever really taught what the world held, what DHR even was.
At 17, I really started dating the man who would eventually be my son’s father (we will call him A.) (A) was everything a young girl could dream of. Sweet. Considerate. Loving. Flowers. Hugs. He was the nerdy smart kid. The young male witch (I had been into the craft since 12.) I had no clue he would eventually destroy my entire life in just a few years.
When I got pregnant with my son, the first trimester was hell. I was constantly sick (morning sickness? Hahaha, all day sickness is more like it.) (A) was still in high school at 17, I was 19 with odd jobs. My family went on vacation and I stayed with (A) and his family for a week because I was so sick. I thought…this might be nice. A breather, I can sleep in the bed with my baby’s father. Nope. His mother stuck me on the couch. Really? Did she think I could get pregnant again while newly pregnant? So I abide. He would get up in the morning to fix him something to eat…he was on school break and his parents worked. I couldn’t stand him and to this day I do not know why. I couldn’t stand the smell of the food he made, I didn’t want him breathing the same air as me, I wanted to run. I tried to work thru it. It didn’t work. By the time I was four months pregnant, I had packed all my stuff and moved in with the girl (we will call her H), that I left (A) for. I would end up meeting my now ex-husband while living with her.
Fast forward to being six months pregnant. Small towns talk. That’s what they do in the south. There isn’t anything else to do down there but gossip, eat, drink, and hunt. (A) had told a ton of people that he didn’t believe my son (we can call him J now lol), was his. This went on for months to the point where I had to inform people that I didn’t want to know.
My pregnancy was hard, to say the least. Hopping from home to home with my now ex-husband (we will call him JW). The day I had (J), (JW) would not leave work to be there, even though we were living together. Someone called (A)…and I did not know it. He showed up, (A) did. With all the shit he had been talking…he showed up with a girl that hated me. In the midst of contractions, I had to have them escorted out of the hospital. I didn’t know that was just the beginning.
(JW) loved (J) like he was his own, and I honestly named (J) after my ex-husband and my brother. I have no shame in it either. When (J) was one, (A) wanted a paternity test. I agreed to it, and (JW) had insisted that (A) deserved to see his son. DHR became involved for the test. Then child support. Then visitation. My mind was reeling. (A) no longer made me nauseated. He no longer bothered me. As a matter of fact, he chased me while I was married to (JW), and I refused to give in.
The first time I can remember losing custody of (J) was when he wasn’t even two yet and I was helping raise (JW)’s niece. (JW) had become abusive. Pushing. Yelling. Screaming. He had a gambling habit and was six years older than me. (JW) left me…with the house, his niece, with my son, and the car. I had no clue what to do. Who to call. How I was going to have money. Of course, I went on for like two days and didn’t tell anyone anything. I can’t even remember how my parents found out but, they called me and said I could either give (J) to them or they would get a court order and take him. Not knowing any better, I called (A) and told him to get emergency custody of (J) because I did not trust my parents.
DHR came, took my niece in law, and reamed me. Told me I had been irresponsible for them to even come to get her. It was true…she had been bounced from home to home, and I adored her. They screamed at me. I tried to tell them I was having to divorce her uncle because he was abusive. They did not want to hear it.
My parents would call and jump all over me about all of it. DHR still being cruel. I didn’t have time to breathe. To even gather my brain and figure out what the fuck to do. (JW)’s friends found out what they wanted to hear… that he left because I had been basically a crap person. Screaming. Fighting. People showing up to my home and taking over. It is such an insane blur. Almost 21 and I had no clue what I was facing.
I lost my home, my car, my husband (at the time), my kid, my sanity. All my hopes and dreams crashing around me. I met a guy (we will call him L). L was insanity, vibrancy, technicolor. He was life on speed. He was insanity, a party, a partner. He was also hell, abuse, cheating, drugs, and pain. I was introduced to cocaine by him. This new drug I had never seen (I thought I had seen a lot.) This drug all the famous beautiful people did, and it took me to Hell in just a few months.
I didn’t know I needed a lawyer. I didn’t know shit about DHR, for the most part. I lost four months I can not remember. I got a call from (A) telling me I had not seen (J) in two months, I thought it had been two weeks.
I moved back in with (JW) after I had been raped at gunpoint, and he was right there to pick me up. I sobered up, I fought through my shit, and we made a plan. We moved in with my parents and decided to find him a decent job, I applied for disability (I had multiple issues), and we would fight DHR…together.
We couldn’t do it. We could not get along. I found weed on the floor of my mom’s bathroom. All I could think about was it is illegal and he refused to quit smoking it (I didn’t know back then, but I believe he had PTSD and it helped him.) We kept fighting. One day I heard him on the phone with his best friend (We will call him N.) (N) hated me, with a passion. I had my son that day for visitation, and (N) pulled up. (JW) left us. Three days later…I got ahold of (A) and told him that (JW) and I had split for good. That we were not working it out, there was no getting back with him. (A) asked me to come over and being a complete fool, I did. He kissed me and that was it.
(A) had me at his beck and call from then. He left the girl he was seeing. We were together. My little family. Nope.
By now you can blatantly see the push-pull thing with (A) and I. With DHR and me. This went on for the first 11 years of that tiny person’s life. The little person I was supposed to be responsible for. (A) would pull me in, then just pull the ground right from under me. My parents pulled (J) from me more times than I care to count when DHR was not doing it on their own accord.
I was clean. I had been off hard drugs for years. I still could not win for losing. (A) would try to bargain with me just so I could see (J). I would do ANYTHING to see (J). It didn’t matter. I slept with (A) multiple times, I broke up with people so (A) would leave me alone about whoever I was dating, I would run back to him just for him to kick me again. Every time (J) was pulled out from under me, it was one more hit to my psyche. I had been deemed mentally disabled. A whole myriad of diagnoses. Put on a ton of pills. One to make me sleep, one to keep my temper under control, one to wake me up…you get the point. All 11 years I fought for (J), I had been stuck on pills that were slowly killing me.
At the end of 2015, I could not take it anymore. I had dated a ton of guys, mostly all abusive. I had dated a few women. I was living with a guy (we will call him M), I grew up with. On the outside, he seemed to get his shit together. Inside our home, however, for five years…he told me how he would make me disappear if I ever tried to leave; describing in detail. He would tell me about how he wants to kill people but he knows he can’t because well, prison. I had swallowed 130 pills trying to die. He did not call anyone. No 911. No family (who were living RIGHT in front of us). No. One. Three days later, I knew something had to change.
I was tired of the pain, I was tired of being miserable, I was tired of not dying (to be honest), I was tired of my son being bounced around, I was tired of fighting with (A) and being scared of him and (M) both. I made a plan. Dec. 2015, I decided I belonged in Colorado. An escape. At this point, I knew it was…do or die. Either let go of it all, let my son stay with his dad permanently, and me leave or let him find me dead on the floor from some other suicide attempt. I made the decision. Early 2016, I left the south for good. I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving, where I was heading, nothing. I ghosted everyone. What was I suppose to tell (A) and (J)? What the hell do you tell an 11-year-old as to why you have to leave?
It was hard, planned, insane, terrifying, and emotionally brutal. It was also exciting, amazing, and awe-inspiring. I had to fight my own emotions to do what I knew I had to do. I had to become distant in order to save (J) and myself.
I am now happily married to a man that accepts all of it with grace and never hesitates to let me know he loves me. He doesn’t care if my hair is a mess or I am cranky. He promises to never leave me, every day. He is patient, kind, gentle, and has taught me self-love. I have a home, a car, a career, a service dog, a life.
The pain is still there and it hits hard occasionally. I talk to my parents now, so I always know how (J) is doing. I know he is healthy, insanely smart, and hurt. He has started asking if I care about him and why I left. He is almost 15, and maybe it is time for me to tell him the truth. He is no longer being tossed around like a rag doll from home to home, person to person.
I am THAT mother. The one who left my kid. I did what I had to do for him to be okay and stable. The mother that now has a life and thinks of her child often. The mother that gave up the fight against DHR because she lost all will. The mother who smoked pot when it was illegal, and had her son pulled for it. I am the mother that recovered from hard drug abuse (now 14 years sober.) I am the mother that tried to die multiple times to stop the pain. I am the mother that had my kid pulled over my religion (by my parents no less, I was pagan). I am the mother that was laughed out of court for claiming to be a witch in 2005. I am also the mother that still loves her kid. I am the mother who still beats herself up for it occasionally.
I am the woman whose story you would only know if you saw all the scars on my body. I am the woman who was misdiagnosed for over 10 years, given pills that almost killed me and took them anyway because DHR said I had to. I am the woman who lost everything over and over again and kept it moving. I am the woman who saved herself. I am the woman who can not even go visit her son if I was allowed because my medication is still illegal there.
I am the mom who is not mentally ill, and apparently never had been. I have PTSD from all the things that have happened to me from a young age on. I am the person who was sick from my surroundings for decades. I am the woman that is healing.
I am THAT mother, and I am becoming okay with it. I am THAT woman. THINK before you judge someone.