The Customer Service Perspective

Since I was 16 years old, I have worked on and off in the customer service industry – specifically referring to call centers. Some larger than others. I didn’t really like it, but it’s where I fell into. And interestingly enough, it’s hard to get taken seriously when you apply into a different industry with no prior experience or educational experience. So, from this, I will leave you with an idea of what it is like to be a customer service representative. Again, call center based.

I used to like people, to some degree. Granted, my social anxiety has always been a big factor in why I didn’t approach people. I mean, hell, why do we even call people shy anymore? Can’t we just relate to those individuals (including myself) as socially awkward fucktards? Sure, it’s not “pc”. I get it. But it’s a funny in your head kinda thing, isn’t it?

I guess customer service experiences vary. From the tadpole to the big ass fucking toad. If you are unfortunate enough to be a tadpole, then watch it. Not only are you going to be paid a slim unlivable wage, but if make too much for medical assistance and you have to pay insurance – you might as well get a part time gig as a panhandler. There’s plenty of dirt. Dig in!

No matter how I word things, it will most definitely be picked apart by anyone who experiences life differently. Sure, there are the people who find great success in that field. And I tip my invisible hat to you sir or ma’am (or ms if you prefer). I just found myself not enjoying my experiences.

I know that everyone has THAT boss. You know, the one that never seems to get in trouble. He always has his favorites – and you’re not on that list of favorites. Tho, it’s interesting how he never seems to be working! Imagine that…. Or the woman that can’t seem to keep her nose out of her superior’s ass long enough to see the irony of how downsizing has worked in the past. And she could be part of that outplacement program. I’ve heard of someone who even had to train her own replacement because of outsourcing! It’s sick!

I won’t go into socioeconomic or political agenda here. Not worth my time, not an argument I’m willing to endulge someone of.

Like I said before. I used to like people. I’ve always been a little weird though. I’ve always been chatty. As you can tell from my prior blogs. If I know someone well enough to be comfortable with them socially, I will talk. And probably talk a lot. And sure, sometimes my pleasantness becomes a distraction. So then call times can be longer. So the stats don’t add up to where the upper management want them to be. I’m on “the watch” list, so to speak. I get talked to about ways to curb this “habit” of mine. Hell, maybe even throw in some shadowing.

At a prior employer, I was working a lot of mandatory overtime. And I don’t deal well with pressure. It was just too hard. Especially juggling school, work, and family. The company I worked for had an Employee Assistance Program. And I had utilized their website, their materials, and even called them from time to time. There was one night where my manager was out for the night. And there were no other available managers around to ask if I could use the phone to call out to the employee assistance program during my shift. I just needed to talk to someone and vent. That’s it. So I asked a lady that sat next to me – she had the same job title I did. Hindsight being 20/20, I probably shouldn’t have listened to the bitch.
I went into a private room where employees would have our monthly one on one type sessions with the employees bosses. The rooms were all just glass. Well, except for the door. So, I wasn’t hiding anything. I wasn’t calling an anarchy help line or trying to stir up gossip with a friend or something. I still ended up doing the mandatory overtime and I was talked to about it the next day. And not in a good way either.

The customers that I’ve dealt with, although many were pleasant – there were many that were not. I’ve dealt with sexual harassment both on and off the floor. The majority were calls that were placed in. I worked with an outsourcing company that was paid to do customer service for a phone company that doesn’t exist anymore. A caller kept calling my department and using lingo that one would use when calling our department. Except in a crude sexualized manner. And then he would start masturbating. The swearing, berating that we don’t know our jobs, or even just trying imply that they a class above us all. Again, most callers were good. There are always those calls that make you want to jump right out of your skin.

I still can’t get over the call that I got working for the outsourcing company – emphasis on the program for travel. The man who threatened to not feed a group of under privilaged boys until I moved them into a more satisfactory hotel than the one they were currently staying in. He had the young boys say hi to me over the phone – moving the receiver close to their mouths so it was clear. Not knowing that there were problems at home. A neighbor was murdered right through the wall from us. He wasn’t even dead before the emergency responders wheeled him out of his apartment. But he had been bludgeoned with hammers and baseball bats by numerous assailants. And he also didn’t know that the woman he spoke to on the phone had to work while her good for nothing husband (at the time) was sleeping while their toddler child run amok in their apartment. Locked into her room while he avoided her. When he would wake up, he’d open her door and throw a few ketchup packets in to satisfy her hunger. Sure, I don’t need to inform my callers about this to try to make myself more human to him. I shouldn’t have to. I know that there are very cruel people in this world that will do or say worse than what he did to me on that night. But every time I talk to a professional about it, I end up in tears.

We all bring shit into the workplace. Whether it’s a past or present issue from home or somewhere else. The movie Tammy illustrated it fairly well when she arrived late to work after hitting a deer and having no one that could pick her up to bring her in on time. I’m not saying she was right in her approach once she got there… but we can’t all just sluff off our lives at the door. That we somehow go into “work mode”.

I guess for me, I am cynical. I will be the first to admit it. I also know this. But every person that walks into their job as a customer service representative or beyond is a person. I think that one call was the straw that broke the camels’ back. Some might argue that I’m giving that caller power over my life. That could be true. I do accept that idea. I also accept that I am working on things. That I might not be the ideal self, but I am who I am. Right or wrong.

I wish people could just see for a minute that working in customer service should not be so terrible. That we shouldn’t use social standing to hold over on someone you are presently seeking help from. That we all have our training. If you sign something digitally or otherwise, you are bound to the terms you signed to. So your need to feel superior by berating someone who makes $8.50 an hour who might have a family at home to support doesn’t deserve that crap. Hell, no one does. But does it matter when that person is in the moment? Might be pmsing or had an argument with someone they care about or love. Or lost someone they cared about or loved. Does it make anything any easier? Well, maybe someone will just throw a pacifist hand your way just to throw the numbers down a bit and satisfy upstairs. Or maybe they just don’t want to deal with your bullshit and have the clearance to say something the other guy/gal couldn’t. Who knows. Either way, there isn’t really an excuse. If you’re hungry, eat first before you call. Do what you need to do to satisfy your immediate needs and when you’re more rational… come back. Call. It’s not always that easy, I get it. But if your tv is broken or your flight is overbooked and they can’t get you on an alternate flight ANYWHERE or really hardly seem to want to try …. that isn’t necessarily a situation that can’t be worked around. I assure you, being called a piece of shit… a lowlife, a waste of space, or whatever else thrown at me will help you wind up in any different of circumstances. FYI.

I write this because in less than 8 hours, I go into the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to try to swallow my pride to get a part time job to help support Darrian’s need for braces. I am absolutely terrified of what I’ll see when I walk in the door to the building. Or rather who I will see or what they will say. Or what my responses will be to what they say to me. I can’t tell you enough how terrified this makes me. I may not be sitting in a wheel chair. My disabilities aren’t necessarily visual. They are real. And so, here I go to try to face my demons again. To pave the way to not be the piece of shit layabout that costs you your tax paying dollars… I guess. (Sorry, just real tired of seeing and hearing about how these people on foodshare are wasting resources, or that people are getting away with having disabilities that are fictional. I can assure you, I have paperwork. I am not broken physically. But I sure as hell feel like it.

Just as a disclaimer at the end. I guess the main reason for posting – not just pure venting is because I have this incredible need to feel like I need to explain myself to people. Like I have to prove myself. And I haven’t done anything wrong, so I shouldn’t have to. See, this is where therapy comes in! When the head and the heart can’t come to an agreement. Come, have a seat. Now, let’s talk about you.

Take care…. Oh, and thanks for reading. I know I don’t say it often, but it really means a lot to me anytime someone reads my posts. Just a nice feeling.
So, thank you again.

Learning to Understand

I may be under the influence of some sort of short lived epiphany. I’m not certain. What I can tell you right now is that I’m not overly stressed. This is nothing short of a minor miracle. After a flip out on Ashleigh last week, I think I let go some of the anxiety that was involved with everything surrounding her and her well being. I have to let things be. I can laugh, I can get angry, and I can want to get involved – but I have to maintain my ground. And as far as Darrian is concerned, I have to keep my momentum with her too. I’m monitoring her grades online and I gave her her first driving lesson last night. (FYI, she did pretty well)

I don’t exactly have it all together. I’m far from a picture perfect specimen. I am seriously STILL trying to accept who I am. It might sound utterly ridiculous, but when you have so many people mocking you for so long – it’s understandable that conforming is the way to go. Well, for me. It extended into the current trends (especially music)

So, I guess for the moment, I have to figure out me. Which is continuing to be an arduous journey.

On Tuesday morning, I meet with someone from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation about getting a job part time. I’m scared, but I am pretty sure I can muster through. Gawd only knows what they will match me up with!

Pray, wish me luck, cross fingers… whatever positive energies or what have you that you could send would be greatly appreciated. in the interim, I’m going to look for some music to jam to! =)

Why Can’t I Let Go?

This is probably going to be one of the hardest posts for me to type. I have long gone through this concept in my head. Over and over again. I found a hard rock song by the artist Korn called “Let the Guilt Go”
These words speak to me. To my situation. And I will highlight them here.

“Let The Guilt Go”

All the lying and cheating will surely bite you
Dishonesty tears you apart and will eat you
All the anger and pain and the suffering and the shame
And the voices in your brain will surely haunt you

Let the guilt go, let the guilt go, let the guilt go, let the guilt go

I tell you one thing which leads to another thing
Then I backtrack which leads to hurt feelings
Then my brain spins off of fucking everything
When this happens I can’t break through

All the anger, the pain and the suffering, and the shame
And the voices in your brain will really haunt you

Let the guilt go, let the guilt go, let the guilt go, let the guilt go

I tell you one thing which leads to another thing
Then I backtrack which leads to hurt feelings
Then my brain spins off of fucking everything
When this happens I can’t break through

Now we waste our lives away
Letting guilt lead the way

I’m such a stupid fuck
Listening to my head and not my gut
Constantly thinking and thinking and thinking
And thinking and thinking and thinking

Now we waste our lives away
Letting guilt lead the way

I tell you one thing which leads to another thing
Then I backtrack which leads to hurt feelings
Then my brain spins off of fucking everything
When this happens I can’t break through

I tell you one thing which leads to another thing
Then I backtrack which leads to hurt feelings
Then my brain spins off of fucking everything
When this happens I can’t break through

I know that the lyrics are a bit vulgar. However, everything in that song captures my thought processes in many things. Not just Ashleigh. Not at all just Ashleigh. I have anxiety and depression and live a very complicated life. My mind is clouded with so many degrees of emotions, it’s hard to capture. The vulgarity goes hand in hand with it sometimes. The vulgarity can be necessary! The vulgarity is just a different way of expressing the gravity of the feeling and the need for expression. But, I will leave off on that piece.

Ashleigh has been wrestling with the manager of the apartment building. Initially they were talking eviction starting in August. Then, that got pushed back. Ashleigh asked for another chance. That got screwed up because she couldn’t behave or follow the rules of daily living and was set for eviction September 30th. Ashleigh had threatened to kill herself and was placed inpatient at a psychiatric facility from August 30th to Sept 3rd. When Ashleigh got back, her manager was still set to come in because of an issue with her ceiling fan in her living room. The day after Ashleigh got back from the psych unit, she started having an anxiety attack. When I talked to her that Thursday, she couldn’t seem to keep any sort of consistent regular breathing patterns. I asked her to call for help. She agreed to get in touch with the non emergency 911 line for transportation to the hospital. Part of me wanted her to get placed back inpatient. That didn’t happen, fortunate for her. She went back to her place after we went through quite the debacle over her medications and where they were sent. And I dropped her off.

I can’t accurately tell you how long after that that she called me. It probably was roughly an hour or so afterwards. The representative from the apartments came by to look at the damage and at some point pushed through the eviction on the spot. Not that they didn’t have apt reason. They did. Ashleigh lived in filth. Darrian described being in her apartment (just to help her bring her groceries up) as “almost always breathing in fruit flies”. This isn’t how I taught her to clean. This wasn’t my parentage at all! That’s another topic entirely. But moving forward. So she asked if she could come here. I was stuck in a moment of confusion. I can’t just reject her, but I can’t exactly let her in. I looked at Eric and leaned on him for a decision. He said no, that she needs to figure out what she was going to do at this point. Where she’s going to live. And he was right. As much as I hated (yet loved) hearing him saying “No” about this subject, I knew he was right. What was going to happen? Were we going to transform into the loving family I’ve always kinda hoped for, yet with enough dysfunction and humor to keep it real? No doubt it would lead to nothing good. So, I told her my position and she hung up. I tried to relax. Trying is hard in this predicament. Truly. Later that night she told me that she was going to Milwaukee. She got a ticket bought for her by a friend of hers. They were going to meet up there. So, as much as I know as I reveled a little in the thought of her being out of Green Bay (albeit temporarily), I didn’t like it. What if she stayed there? She has her payee, her social worker, her whole social and professional world here. I had to leave that for another day.

Friday around 11 a.m. comes and she calls me to tell me that the ass hat who was supposed to meet her never did. (Well, maybe that is for the best. Ass hat is just my initial response… cuz she’s still my kid. How dare you stand up my kid! Now, if you’re nutzo and looking for someone to off…. thank you for standing her up!) So now she’s sitting and/or standing in Milwaukee with no money and no food. Her phone was dying too, so we had precious little time. I asked her where she was at that moment. She mentioned something like on 19th street. So I tried to give her an address for a homeless shelter in what I thought might be located nearest to her. Me not being a local hindered that certainty. But I left her with that. Shortly thereafter she and I disconnected our call. It was about 11 a.m. early Friday afternoon. Given Ashleigh’s reputation for consistent phone calls and not hearing anything from her for hours led me to feel very heightened in my anxiety. I was taking more anti anxiety pills than I usually would. Hours upon hours went by. There wasn’t anything I could do except slowly fall apart. I had been in Milwaukee in my past. When I was 18 years old. The times I was in Milwaukee though have me reeling with anxiety. I know Ashleigh’s experiences won’t be the same, but I’m still falling apart. So, here comes a rough night. Talking, bawling, anxious, scared, etc…. I couldn’t wait for the hours to go by that were necessary to take another anti anxiety pill. It just couldn’t come fast enough.

That night was rough for me. I can’t begin to explain exactly how, it just was. I’m sure this analogy has never been used. Imagine for me, they are setting up for bingo night. Of course, the most important pieces are the ball cage, the marked balls, and the person to turn/pick/call for the event. The cage would be my head and the balls would be my thoughts. I was so out of sorts. I know I’m an odd duck, but this one made me feel absolutely off my regular rocker. And that’s never good. I always have something on my mind. And I know the fact that I was at that point completely off my Lamictal (as requested by me – but still taking another mood stabilizer) helped me. In addition to the situation. I love Ashleigh. And I love my family too. I hate limitations, but I know they’re necessary. And I especially hate not being able to fix this. Or not being able to push some sort of “reset” button. So here I am…. sitting with my head on my hands and crying hysterically. First of all, I see Ashleigh with a pretty clear picture. Who she has become makes me so frustrated and even angry. I try not to let situations from years past make the distinction of who she is to me. Or even what I understand her to be. There were things that happened in her life that I wish I could undo. I TRIED! So very hard to be her advocate. To involve myself. To be her everything. And fortunately enough I had my now husband to help me along the way to keep my momentum. The results of those things that happened that helped frame her in part…. I become angry at myself. Why didn’t I see past the lies and manipulation? How could I be so dumb? When she got lost in Florida as a two year old, I felt (and still feel) guilty. During the waiting game – waiting to hear if her biological dad and the police had found her – I would try to nap. I could imagine any mother and/or parent would be like I was. I couldn’t nap. I couldn’t sleep while there was not a one person with my child! Where was she? Why was there this looming question as to her local? Alas, I tried. I closed my eyes and all I saw was my then two year old daughter sitting in only her diaper. Looking down at her little chubby legs and weeping. Weeping because she wished that I were there. She was two years old. Now, 16 years later, I still have the same picture vividly in my mind. Nothing has changed. And because it’s always the same and situations with Ashleigh have been so difficult in many ways, nothing is simple. Stupid right? Because it’s difficult it means it’s not simple or cannot be.

I have also come to terms with the fact that I don’t like what she says or does sometimes. I get so agitated because she has such an intense need for gratification, that everything else goes out the window. That it is all about Ashleigh. That if she hears anything outside of what is acceptable to her, she’s close to pouncing like a cat to the toy. Sometimes she bares her claws, sometimes she doesn’t. The complexities of all these things working together in nature makes life unbearable. And with all this said, she is her daddy’s girl. And when I say Daddy, I don’t mean Eric. I mean Dad Rich’s girl. Ashleigh may hate her dad Rich but she is identical to him in many ways. And the fact that I compare Ashleigh to the man I most detest in my world hurts me. And the guilt that I hold about that understanding…. it’s too much to comprehend. And also, wanting to make the distinction that as much as I despise Rich and have no love for him, I love her even though she reminds me of Rich. I can still love her. I can keep my heart open to her. But I will never love him again. Fool me once there.

Saturday morning Ashleigh text me again. She was on her way back to Green Bay. She indicates she met someone in Milwaukee who is now her “boyfriend” that not only bought her a bus ticket back to Green Bay, but put her up at a Hampton Inn and bought her food while she was there. I’m not exactly sure how she managed it. But she did. So now, she wants me to meet this new guy. She’s had a few boyfriends since Dennis. None of them lasted long. And all of them Ashleigh wanted us to meet. I put my foot down and said no. I don’t want to meet any boyfriend that was just a fly by night meet. So, despite the fact that I was polite about my refusal to her, here is her response back to me via text: “MOM RESPECT THE GUY THAT HAD GAVE ME A PLACE TO SLEEP AND HELPED ME GET SUM FOOD”. Honestly? I wanted to tell her to fuck off. I REALLY wanted to. She wanted me to respect a guy that took care of her for one night, and probably had sex with her to boot? Oh yea, okay. Still not meeting him. So I had to respond to her telling her essentially that she should be respectful to me, the woman who took care of her for 16+ years of her life. Food, shelter, and what have you. Once she got back to Green Bay she of course had to ask again for us to meet him. And I said no. She also wanted to come over. I wanted to have her come home, but I didn’t. If she came over, she’d try to guilt me into staying. And she couldn’t stay. We also couldn’t afford to feed her. My social security is getting siphoned because I was overpaid in my back pay. And Eric’s social security is getting siphoned because of what I’m getting. Let’s face it boys and girls, social security is not a get rich quick scheme. Nor did we think it to be. And we no longer get food stamps, so what we have in our fridge is what we have. That’s not even discussing the draw backs should she stay here for a while emotionally and physically. Independently, Eric, Darrian, and I are all suffering in our own ways. And to add Ashleigh to the mix would be devastating.

So no it is. I told Ashleigh that she needed to go to the homeless shelter, but she refused. So I let her go and since she had nowhere to go, I figured she’d have some time to stew over the matter. None of this makes me feel better. A parents job is never done, case in point. So when I got Ashleigh’s call, resigning to the fact that she will go to the shelter. So she told me where she was and I picked her up and brought her home for a while. She got to spend some quality time with the dogs, for the most part. Darrian was at a friends house during all of this, so she didn’t see her one bit. I had a few errands to run before I dropped Ashleigh off, which actually worked out in both our favors. Ashleigh and I were able to talk to each other, a little heart to heart and what not. Plus, the shelter doors opened a little before 5 for supper. And it was 4:48p.m. I cried before it was time for her to leave. Again, more guilt coming to the surface. Ashleigh kept reassuring me that it was alright. The person going to the homeless shelter seemed more at peace with what was happening than the mother. That’s normal, I hope? I couldn’t believe I was dropping my daughter, my own first born child at the homeless shelter. I felt like a failure. An absolute failure. And although I know I will not have been the first mother to do this, nothing felt right about what was happening. As much as I have tried to pull back from Ashleigh since she moved out, I couldn’t let go. I still couldn’t let go. I couldn’t separate myself to where any of this felt okay. She’s a god damn adult and I can’t let go! Why can’t I let go? I still have to heavily involve myself in her life. I have put my foot down as far as involving myself in her drama – and I’m glad I did. And I have my eyes opened more so to the games she plays. Nothing changes in a mothers love. I can hate what types of behaviors she exhibits, but I still love her. I hate the manipulations and the selfishness, but I still love her. And I know she has cognitive delays and psychiatric issues that make navigating life very difficult… And I might let go a lot more if she had fully complied with the county and got her wrap around services and they could observe her to figure out what else she needed. Complied with DVR (Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) and gotten her a job, or at least on a waiting list for one. Earned some money.

As of last night, Ashleigh called and told me that she told an employee at the shelter that she was taking a few days off from being at the shelter and that she’d be back. When Ashleigh called me last night, she was sitting at a McDonalds and had missed lunch and supper. Was hungry and still had no place to go. So I told her to go back to the shelter and suck it up. She’s unfortunately been hungry before. She cashed her $35 weekly stipend from her ssi earlier that morning. Spent her money on a pack of Newports, a pair of headphones, and some McDonalds. After that, broke. And in my eyes, she best humble herself and go back. My reaction was probably not what she expected it to be. And it really wasn’t what I had expected it to be either. She made her bed, so to speak. She now needs to figure out how to get out of it (If she doesn’t like what the current existence is in it) or lie in it (if it’s satisfactory to her). I’m not going to pull her ass out of the fire. She is going to have to try to figure out what’s what. And hopefully fast, before she winds up back in psych or landing in jail.

I wish I was still in NAMI, the family to family course that I was in. The people were great and they would probably be able to help me with my feelings and let me know that I’m doing right. I know my brother Tim says he’s behind me on it. And for that, I am grateful. It is nice to hear that I have people that back me up, because then I don’t feel like such an asshole.

This post has taken a day and a half to write. And it’s been an emotional one. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to post, but hindsight.. blah blah.

I want to let go, I want to let her take control of her life. One good thing? It’s Therapy Tuesday today! So I have an outlet today, other than here.

How Are You Doing? Loaded Question?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked in various places how I’m doing. Grocery stores, restaurants, doctors offices… WHY? Why do you ask that? You must automatically assume that I am well. That I will say it to pacify the conversational standard. No one wants to hear tale of how you’re really doing, do they? The nurse, doctor, and therapist are all good at listening. (Though the therapist is kind of a given) In my head, I want more people to listen. And a large part of me is screaming inside to just do it. I can’t. I’ve tried. I am trying. I just keep closing off. It’s safer. OR is it? I want friendships. I desire them so immensely. My one friend, whom I treasure dearly is hundreds of miles away. I’ve talked to two ladies on World of Warcraft that are amazing too. They want me to chat with them on teamspeak. (for those geeky enough to play on World of Warcraft, you’ll understand exactly what teamspeak is) And as much as I would love to talk to them, I can’t. I have a severe sense of rejection. My shame, my guilt, my depression, my anxiety… they the problems. I can say they are my problems. I can say that maybe I could push myself through it. And if you know me, you know I am.

After 4+ years of therapy, I feel very little resolve to who I am. The lamictal I am taking is causing me to have occasional temporary sleep paralysis. So, today (later, obviously) I will be calling my psychiatrists office to have them switch me. I can’t handle that. I’ve also been informed that SSI has overpaid me by $9000. That if I don’t pay them back in 30 days, they will garnish my SSI until the funds have been repaid. I haven’t cried so hard in so long after I read that. And as if one letter wasn’t bad enough, they sent two letters to clarify their point. Eric read a bit further into one of the letters. It says that if it causes a hardship, to contact Social Security office. Eric’s SSI has been cut over half, Darrian’s biological father is behind on child support by over $1000 (I know, why am I bitching about that… there are other dead beat dads that far surpass what my ex does. I am fortunate that it’s not more. Believe me.). How am I going to pay my bills? When I got SSI, I thought that I’d be able to help my family now. I could actually contribute to the home. Now, I feel as though I’m being emotionally crippled. That any “stability” that I may have had has suddenly gone out the window.

My physical health has been declining. My right foot hurts, I have a numbing on the lower left side of my back, my arthritis is flaring up – big time. And when I stand up sometimes, I feel an immense pain that leads me to want to cry. And that’s not covering any other family issues. Which, by the way? I had to call the non emergency police line on Ashleigh. Her 2nd boyfriend since she moved out, he broke up with her. So instead of trying to rationally cope (which she doesn’t think rationally. she thinks emotionally on a heightened scale!), she reacts by saying she’s going to kill herself and that she shouldn’t live. I needed the police department to do a welfare check on her. Make sure she was safe and was not going to actually do anything to harm herself. If the past says anything, she may NOT have the problems she does. Who knows? As a mother, I don’t want to take the chance. The one time she actually means it… where I could lose her forever. And I can’t handle that. Not one iota.

I plan on going to the social security office near me to figure all of this out. I do have to say, I am terrified. Absolutely and utterly terrified.

Oh, and FYI, I have gotten three text messages saying “God is Not Dead”. All I can say is Fuck you. Don’t send me this random message relating to your religion of choice. I find it offensive that any person would follow this advice from some movie that they believe is the truth. I could be athiest, but I don’t send you a text message about how believing in God or the Devil is crap. I am not Wiccan and telling you that it’s not a God. It’s the goddess. I’m not going to tell you things that COULD be against your belief systems. And regardless of what I have professed before of my religious front, who are you to automatically assume that I will appreciate the gesture or accept it without question? So, fuck you. I know people mean well … I do. And I still love and care for the people who have sent it. I just think it’s a terrible that anyone would force feed that bull shit. Just be happy if you’re my friend. And understand that I am happy for you that you have watched this movie. That it touched your heart. That you want to share it with others. But I don’t want it. So, send your messages elsewhere about this topic. In the end, it just offends me.

Anyway, off I go to bed land. I hear it calling!

Even After You Leave My Home, I Am NO Less Stressed!

Yesterday my daughter sends me a text message. “I had sex with dennis tonight and way b4 too! Like 6days ago i was tryin 4 a baby.” Her tagline on her text message reads: (As most youth these days do, she did not add the capitalization where it is necessary. Has the internet generation gotten lazy?)

So, all of last night I sat and thought about it. What this will mean. Not just that I would become a young grandmother. The implications for her and her child. She cannot take care of herself. The proof is in her eviction notification from her landlord. And her eviction is based on her not being able to clean and letting it go to the point of disgusting! The county has told her that any baby she would have at this point would be removed from her custody. And the fact that all this has happened since the last CST (Community Service Team) meeting happened, just adds to the proof that she is incapable of raising a child.

I know this was inevitable. I hate even thinking about her having sex, or for that matter trying to conceive! She’s telling me over text that her friend Kayla is going to be having a baby December 6th and she wants to go over there. I have no doubt that on the other end of my phone, she’s excited. There are no emoticons to show the excitement, but I bet that is exactly how she felt. She wants to know everything about it. She’s curious and what not. Although she has already had things printed off showing signs, symptoms, what to expect, etc…. apparently she lost them.

I’ve taken 3 anti anxiety pills today. Two Clonazapam, one Lorazepam. None of them seem to be touching the anxiety I feel right now. I love this girl and I would give my heart to protect her. I would die for her. Without a doubt. All my pain and fear is just becoming more intensified. I dread for the day (If that day comes. And I strongly hope that IT doesn’t happen until she is way older and more stable) that she becomes a mother. The fact that she the child will be the gift that will give her all the love and acceptance that she’s always desired…. It is truly a misgiving.

I accept the fact that children are a blessing. There are many nights where I have looked at my baby, toddler, child, tween.. etc… and just thought: “Wow. My life would be so much more meaningless if they were not here today.” And it’s all true. Granted, I took the hard route. And not only did that hard route include me, it includes my entire family. That part I truly regret. If there is nothing else that I regret, that is definitely one thing. I wish that I had a degree in the subject that I find fascinating! I wish I had a wonderful career that stimulated me and kept me moving. And I wish I could provide for my family as we all deserve.

Now, this part isn’t Ashleigh related and the title doesn’t reflect this part.

Eric (my husband), has had migraines for years. Related to barometric pressure/sinus and Chiari Malformation (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chiari-malformation/basics/definition/con-20031115) There, research it! He has been burdened so heavily over his migraines and his increasing medical diagnosis. The medication the doctors give him doesn’t help. And for the bipolar type I (for which he also suffers) he’s untreated. The medication doesn’t work, allergic to meds, or some of the medication put him into renal failure. Hell, he can’t even have any medication that are considered NSAIDS. (i.e. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Motrin IB, Nuprin) Aspirin (Anacin, Ascriptin, Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin, Excedrin) Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox). Seeing him in as much pain as he is on a regular basis is absolutely awful. Unfortunately, marijuana seems to help him with his pain. And of course it’s illegal in Wisconsin. And most likely will be for many years to come. And at least when he’s smoked marijuana, he seems like the man I fell in love with.

I still oppose him using it. Only for the legal factor. And honestly, I have changed my opinion on marijuana in a HUGE way. In the past, I became really angry and would yell at him. There were times where it was warranted. Using it in the home and finding out from other people instead of him being honest with me. Of course, at certain points during this process, I still probably would have become angry with him.  It’s the deception that is the biggest deal.  I just hope that some day Scott Walker can get his head out of his ass and finalize the legalization of medicinal marijuana.  Hell, who knows if that will ever happen.

I also feel agitated.  I am so tired of feeling like I’m a bug that’s being stepped on.  Darrian’s friend Randi Jo’s mom can bring Darrian from whatever place they went to meet up at but can never bring her home.  She can never pick her up from our house.  I always have to do the transportation from home and back.  And no matter what, there are always 2 if not 3 vehicles in their driveway.  Darrian also expects (as I think most teenagers do) that summer vacation is meant for them to sit around and do whatever the hell they want.  It has nothing to do with what needs to be done.  I mean, after all, parents are stupid.  Darrian and I got into an argument because I didn’t like her tone with me.  And she said something that I became very upset about.  A sarcastic remark that went too far.  After it was over, somewhat, Darrian tells me that I need to speak to her in a different way.  I need to say “please” more often.  That instead of “you need to do……”, that I ask her politely.  If I thought this would help one iota, maybe I would consider it.  It doesn’t.  When I tell her what needs to be done, she forgets.  We can remind her (and in a nice way) that it needs to be done.  Well, after 10-20 minutes we’re still waiting.  When we get on her case about it then we’re unreasonable and claims “it’s no wonder why I want to be out of this house!”  I am not going to tip toe around my child.  And life will chew you up and spit you out.  They don’t address you in a way that is more appropriate to how one feels.  So … this doesn’t exactly make sense.  And I told her as much.

She keeps saying that … I parent her the same way I did Ashleigh.  That we compare her to Ashleigh, and when I walked into the room one night… (she was recently put on birth control pills.  She recently had a cyst on her ovary that was 3×3 cm.  Our hope is that the birth control can help alleviate that issue, as well as period regulation) and she exlaims “I am not a slut!”  I didn’t even have a chance to say anything.  I don’t exactly understand why she said it.  I do trust Darrian and she’s always said that she cares about not having sex.  Her intentions are to stay a virgin.  And although it is particularly strange that she was gone from 2 p.m. ish to 11 p.m. with some guy Morgan, I feel like I should at least give her a shot to either fall flat on her face or trust her.  I love her, I do.   I’m tired of her spending every moment of every waking hour (minus bathroom breaks and eating… maybe a little social time with Eric and/or I.) on the internet.  Skyping, taking selfies and posting them on facebook, and using my phone to text her friends or call them.

She and I butt heads frequently.  I can’t ever seem to get things right between her and I.  When we do get upset with each other, we both become agitated very very quickly.  We shout at each other.  I feel like both of us are 15 years old and I’m fighting with her about things… whether she wants agitate me more… I hope not.  I really do hope she figures things out.  Because of the situation she puts herself in, I have to be a mother to her.  Not just  because of my obligation.  It’s because I love her.  I just wish she could compose herself in a manner that would  show her intent to clean.  Of course, that’s all order.

 

I will finish off now.  I do have to sleep.

Thank you for hearing and reading.  It is a blessing that I have people who follow along with my journey.  Bless you all!

What Was the Point?

I find myself at a loss the last few days. Ashleigh will officially be evicted from her apartment. The one she’s had since June 1st, 2014. And the one she didn’t move into until a week later. Her neighbors have been complaining about the smell coming from her apartment. My youngest daughter, Darrian tried to help. And what Darrian tells me is that she became sick just getting into Ashleigh’s apartment. The smell was overpowering. The dishes hadn’t been done. The garbage hadn’t been taken out. And many many other things I’m certain. Neither here nor there, it was enough to warrant an eviction. So, my feelings on the matter? Wait for it………

I honestly don’t see what the point in getting Ashleigh the apartment was in the first place. I tried very hard to demand a competency review. I’m not saying that this wasn’t Ashleigh’s choice. And I’m not trying to excuse her behavior. And maybe it’s just because I’m her mom and I don’t want her going into the system because she has no where to go. Everyone involved in her case has seen how her hygiene issues have been. And between her foster mom and our family, we’ve seen the deplorable state that Ashleigh leaves her living area. Let alone her own self care. And now this. Why? The social worker says they’ve exhausted all their resources getting Ashleigh into this apartment. And that the landlord is the most lenient in the area. Now, with an eviction on her record (given the length of time she was in the apartment and condition of why she was evicted), it will be next to impossible for her to find another apartment on her own. She can’t come back here and she doesn’t know that many people. And even if she does know people, as she does – she will alienate their friendship. Especially if she lives with them for any amount of time. She will go back to her ways and it will drive people away from her. No matter how kind they are.

I’ve already been to the crisis center once. A few days ago. That was before I knew that Ashleigh was officially going to be evicted. I almost went down there last night. Being completely preoccupied with the situation and already (and being so completely emotional) will do that to a mother.

So now what? Last night, Ashleigh text me asking for me to buy her hair dye. She wants to have her hair purple or something. (Priorities, I’m telling ya) She seems to want to blame the landlord for what is presently happening. (Because, she cannot be blamed…. right?) That is what it always comes down to. Ashleigh isn’t to blame. It’s always someone else that becomes the scape goat. I have advocated and tried to help Ashleigh as much as I thought I could do. Hell, even more than I probably should have done. (Only because it emotionally and physically exhausted me) I wanted so badly to do right by her that I went through every possible step. And unless you are a parent of a kid like this, it’s hard to grasp.

I would have tried to help her clean up. However, I know Ashleigh. Since Ashleigh had from Friday to Monday and barely accomplished anything in the way of keeping her apartment – I would have been setting a precedence. That when Ashleigh is on the brink (even because of her own negative choices), that mom is going to pull her out of the deep end, so to speak. I knew going in that I had to separate myself from the situation. Ashleigh has been desperately wanting her independence so badly for years. She has wanted to get exactly what she wants. Well, last month she got it. And this month, she’s essentially losing all that she’s been fighting for. To some degree anyway. In no time, she’ll be living in a homeless shelter if she can’t find another place to live. Ashleigh is going to be on her own this time to find her own apartment. And I highly doubt that she’ll care enough to do the work to get a place.

As much as I don’t want to excuse Ashleigh’s behavior, I don’t understand why she didn’t go to a group home. I feel like she belonged there from day one. At least she’d have someone to walk her through her daily stuff so she didn’t lose her place to live. She’s had people walking behind her for so long reminding her what to do. Keeping her behaviors in check. And now that she is responsible to do it all on her own, she’s failing. Don’t get me wrong. She needed the push to get to graduate. She still needs the push though. And no one but her will do it. And her bad choices eliminate that from even happening.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope she’ll learn from this experience and MAYBE she’ll have an epiphany. Maybe she’ll come around to realizing that she fucked up and not to do it again. Who knows. It’s not like anyone moved out for the first time and did all the responsible things. That no one ever had to fall flat on their face when they started that process to independence. I know I messed up something fierce and had to learn from my mistakes. As a mother, this process is going to hurt so badly inside. I love this kid so much and want to help her. I have to let her help herself. I have to let the county figure out what is next with her. And I don’t see what they can do either, given my last conversation with her social worker. Hell, it seems pointless to have a social worker if they can’t help a person who could soon be homeless! Again, I could be wrong there. She could serve many other purposes and it’s my agitation coming out. (Well, I know it is)

It’s hard not to feel completely overwhelmed with all of this. It seems to be on my mind from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep now. I need to find a way to not let it get to this point. I have to not let it get to this point. I have to continue to try to let her figure out that life is more difficult than she anticipated it would be. That it’s not all about having fun. And I hope she gets her shit together. As a mother, if she doesn’t…. it’ll hurt that much more. I know it’s not my fault. I do. I can’t help but wishing that it wouldn’t be this way.

Hell Isn’t Meant For Children (You’re Wrong Pat Benetar)

The last few days have been absolute hell. It all started two days ago, almost. (I say almost because we didn’t leave the apartment until late morning.) Ashleigh accompanied us to my in laws, as she was bored and pretty well driving Eric and I nuts. Ashleigh managed to alienate her sister by trying to drive a wedge between Darrian and her friend Miranda’s friendship. (Ashleigh was texting Miranda, completely back talking and being rude about Darrian. Ashleigh’s defense though, when confronted by me: “I was trying to protect Miranda”) While Darrian was at another friends house for a sleepover, we didn’t need to worry about her.

So, I believe I was at my in laws with Ashleigh until about 4 p.m. At 4:15p.m. Ashleigh gets ahold of me telling me that apparently while she was gone, her toilet flooded. And obviously, this would have created an emergency for the landlord to get in and fix it. After all, she was gone for a number of hours. While they were in there, they noticed the state of her apartment and gave her a 48 hour “clean up or get evicted” notice. Of course Ashleigh pretty well gave her fiance’ her key to her apartment (which he lost), so she couldn’t get in. So, instead of calling the management to get in, she slept over at her fiance’s aunt’s house.

I had fully intended to bring her to the pantry the following morning (7/11/14). Ashleigh started texting me around 6:15 a.m. She asked if she could come over about 7 a.m. To which, I said no. I was going to pick her up at 9 a.m. It was then that she informed me that she wasn’t even at her own apartment! I was furious! She spent the night, not doing anything to help her cause at all! And of course, by going to the pantry, she will have foods that are non perishable and perishable. So where is she going to put it if she has no apartment to store them? I made the executive decision to postpone our trip to the pantry since there was no place she could put them in the interim. Ashleigh was upset because within a 2-3 day span, she ran through all but $.91 of her food stamp monthly allowance. So, again… she fucked up.

I told her to contact her social worker. I was quite blunt about it. I told her that she needed to in order to see if anything could be done. She is in dire straights here! And of course, Ashleigh never did call. I found that out around 2 p.m. yesterday. But, let me not get too ahead of myself. Throughout the day, Ashleigh found herself avoiding the inevitable by going to visit friends and such. I became incredibly angry with her. She has wanted to be on her own for as long as I can remember. She wanted to do the things that she hadn’t been able to for the last two years. And now that she is, look at where she is now. Avoiding being that person. I get it. No one WANTS to clean. Hell, there are some chores that I avoid like the plague. (Mine in particular is dusting. I HATE dusting) She avoids them altogether. And cleaning isn’t just the only thing she avoids. She doesn’t take showers regularly! She is still running around with hickeys on her neck and being greasy and smelly worse than before. The only difference now is that she doesn’t have anyone running around after her making sure that she does what she’s supposed to. And in addition, I’m reminding her that her fiance’ (since he’s been spending a lot of time at the apartment with Ashleigh) needs to step up and help Ashleigh with her “trash pit” (As Ashleigh referred to it) He no doubt contributed. And I text Ashleigh that if he doesn’t want to, to tell him to call me. And if he does, he will not like what I say. If they so badly want to be together, he will help her get out of the world of hurt she will be in.

Continuing through the day, she ended up staying out of her apartment until at least 5 or 6 p.m. The management was able to let her in to her apartment. And of course, she knows this girl who is also having problems and needs help. So Ashleigh is nice enough to let her stay for a few nights. The girl is willing to help Ashleigh clean up. Ashleigh text me asking me to pick her friend up and bring her to her apartment so they can get together and she can help her out. I’m sorry, but I’m not rent a mom. I am not going to run across town for you to have your friends come over. If I did, I would be setting a precedence for Ashleigh to have me run for her. And I need the gas for my appointments.

I was told that I was controlling and to stop. I was told WTF on a number of occasions and “Ik mom” too. Wait… you’re avoiding cleaning your apartment for 24 hours. You are willing to let your friend stay for a few days when you may not have an apartment to go to within a few days. Which means you’ll be homeless. And on top of that, when I called Ashleigh’s social worker, she said that there isn’t really anything they can do. The landlord that Ashleigh has is the most lenient in the area. With an eviction on her record so quickly after she got in here, and for the reason she got evicted – she will find it very difficult to find another apartment. That we all have tried to help push Ashleigh in the right direction. She just keeps pushing people back because of her intense desire to not do what she needs to do. They can walk her through trying to find an apartment on her own. The county exhausted their resources to get her to where she is now, so she is wholly on her own on her next apartment. That she can go to the homeless shelter in the interim.

Ashleigh can’t come back here to find a comfy place to escape. I know as a mother, this is probably harsh. These are her choices. She has made it clear her intent to have the fun she was never able to have before. That her independence didn’t include responsibility. Despite the fact that Ashleigh has a payee to pay her bills with her social security, so even that part is removed for her. And while Ashleigh has been texting me all of yesterday talking about her avoidance and me getting on her back about what she needs to do and her pushing me back – I’ve been going mad trying to think about what to do for her. And wishing that I could put a bandaid over it all. And meanwhile being absolutely livid over it all. She has been given a get out of jail free card and she’s just fucking around. It seems so hard for me to imagine that she doesn’t see the consequences coming.

All of yesterday I have been consumed with the whole situation. And as the day wore on it just became worse. I became obsessive and angry. I couldn’t contain my grief over the fact that Ashleigh may possibly become homeless after all the attempts to get her in the right direction. That no matter if I stepped in and helped her, that I would just be enabling her. That her manipulative nature and wanting to get things to her own end will remember my helping and expect it when she gets in a jam later. I know Ashleigh. I know Ashleigh well enough to know what she’s like and how she’s behaved. And before you judge me for my expectations and stepping away from helping (which I hope you don’t) – I know this child. I lived with her for a majority of her life. I have seen, time and time again how she operates. And the concept of her using people to her own end is something that I haven’t invented. She does this on a regular basis. And normally people don’t see it. They just see this person who needs help. She may be cognitively delayed, but she’s not stupid. Hell, when she was 4 years old, her early childhood teacher saw that she was being manipulative! She’s only been honing her skills since then. That was 14 years ago now. You do the math.

By about 8 p.m. last night, I was completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t get what was happening out of my head. I just kept seeing Ashleigh being stuck in the homeless shelter and not having any other options. That she’d be scared and hurting. Much like she was when she was 2 years old and her biological father wasn’t paying attention to her and she walked out of his “girlfriend’s” trailer in Florida. Granted, Ashleigh wound up at the park and was having fun… but I didn’t know that. When I thought she was missing I kept envisioning that she was alone, crying, and wanting her mommy. I have so much guilt over everything that happened with her biological father. I have wanted to make up for all of it over the years. So for the fact that she was calling me controlling, the fact that she was accusing me of not being supportive, and her refusal to do what she needed to do drove me to feel out of control and I could not cope.

I ended up at the crisis center last night. Thankfully my husband came with. I was just so beside myself that I couldn’t handle things. I couldn’t move along with my day. I couldn’t be normal because everything that I was fearing was coming true. (Well, maybe not everything. She’s not pregnant yet) And no matter what, I have been struggling to know in my heart and mind that I have done the best I could. She has been through foster care, school (where they had an apartment for Ashleigh to practice independent living skills. Laundry, cooking, etc), us, and an independent living program through the county – in addition to other programs. I have struggled with my guilt over what her biological father put her through. And my own necessity to let go to a certain degree. So she can evaluate what being an adult means.

I have needed my clonazepam regularly now, given the circumstances. I will still take Ashleigh to the pantry this morning since she’s in. I know she needs food. And I will bring her back and help her up with all her groceries. Beyond that, I have to move on. I have to live my life for me. And she’ll need to take care of business for herself.
I wish that there was a way to fix it all, but we all need to fall flat on our face. And as a mother, it kills me inside. She doesn’t see it, but it does. I can’t help but feel like she’s gotten somewhat a raw end of the deal, but I know better to keep that as a reality. She hasn’t. She’s had more role models in this process than anyone I know. She has had more everything than even I was given. And now, well… now the clock ticks. Now, I have to figure out how to keep myself healthy. Instead of completely losing my mind.

How does one do that? Does anyone have any experience with that? I love her, I do. I love her with all my heart. And I will always be her mother. I just have to let her learn her inevitable lessons from her actions. And albeit not pleasant, that life isn’t exactly everything she wants it to be. There will be ugly consequences. And she needs to atone for them. Or at the very least, correct them so the ugly consequences don’t come to pass. And no matter how scary it is, I have to take a step back and watch. And there is a sadness and despair in my heart that I can’t explain. But in the interim, it is what it is. What can I do otherwise?

Thank you for reading…

The Movie High

Ashleigh’s been out of foster care and in her own apartment since approximately June 8th.  Darrian’s had sleepovers for the last 4 nights.  Things have been relatively quiet around here.  It’s been okay.  

Around here, despite whether the kids have been around or not, things follow the same beat.  Everything stays the same.  Everything has been the same for ages.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes change is a bad thing.  And not everything that has stayed the same has been bad.  The one thing that needed to change is Eric and I spending time together.  

I can’t exactly say I’m innocent.  I’ve spent way too much on facebook or World of Warcraft lately.  If it weren’t for the two of those sites, I would have to suffer NOT so silently on my every day affairs.  I would have figure out again how unpleasant life can be.

It started with the return of the modem to the cable company.  We still have their service, just not their “rented” equipment.  I plunk in my name after I enter the building and sit waiting for the names before me to be called off.  Someone name “Beverly” before me couldn’t figure out how to operate the system, so she put her name in 3 times.  By the time the representative realized the mistake, they erased all the other Beverly’s and me in the process!  So I was pissed when they called the guy that came in behind us first!  Of course, not as pissed off as Eric was.  I am so glad I had him with me this morning.  He set them straight in letting them know how I was missed and that he demanded service.  And so our equipment was returned.  YAY!

Then we were figuring out what to have for lunch and nothing seemed appealing on the grocery store flyer.  So we went and had lunch together.  And amazingly enough, at the time we went – it was super quiet!  So … we actually got to engage like a couple that could hear each other talk.  And I think what made this more significant to me was that Eric had been in what could be considered MORE than an atrocious mood the entire weekend.  It was almost a godsend that we were spending time together and laughing.    

It didn’t stop there.  We took an unexpected trip to Big Lots.  Big deal, right?  Again, look at us.  We’re not prone to go outside unless it’s for medical purposes, or to go get something to drink/smoke/eat… etc.  We are pretty well established home bodies. So, we went to Big Lots and got a few things.

By about 7 p.m. we’re discussing the idea of going to see the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2.  We’ve both been wanting to see that movie since we heard it was going to be made!  And Eric & I have both been wanting to see it since the day it came into theaters, but didn’t want to have all the mass amount of people (and more to the point – kids) around.  So we waited through the normal and early release dates to get less traffic.  (And more to the point – kids).

I bought the tickets online.  It was easy.  We checked in and found where we were going to go.  We laughed at the statement prior to the preview that said that the movie could contain “some peril”.  WTF?  Some peril??? How does a cartoon contain peril?  Okay, whatever… but it was hilarious!  The movie starts, Hiccup eventually enters with Toothless.  Astrid… and all the other amazing characters that blend so well together.  The picture, the quality, the colors!  It was as if I was watching dancing lights at some times.  I was so happy to be at the movie.  I guess I hadn’t anticipated quite how happy I had become.  (Oh, and did I mention that including Eric & I, there were two other people in room watching this with us! Can I get a Hallelujah?)  As all things do, the movie came to a close.  And after we left the building, I gave Eric a hug and started crying.  Of course, happy crying.  I was so excited by the idea that we could be people.  That our lives at that very moment were not surrounded by bullshit and drama.  That we could be two people.  And that felt great.  And I never thought I would feel “happy” again.  I thought I would always be mom.  I would always be needed.  That I would be so involved in championing, being domestic, and just loathing who I had become – what life had thought I become… And again, not to say that all aspects of my life are shit.  If you have read through my previous blogs, you have known through that how much tension and responsibilities have been thrown my way.  It’s incomprehensible to say the least.  

I’ve also had time to re evaluate my happy tears.  Not that I really needed to find a deeper seeded meaning.  Eric and I started dating when Ashleigh was 1 year old.  Ashleigh’s bio dad was in the picture, Ashleigh had pronounced speech delays, kid getting abused by her bio dad without my knowledge, previous history for me and my family/tragedy… etc…. By the time Eric came into my life things were a fucked up mess.  Granted, the abuse to Ashleigh hadn’t occured yet (that I knew of).  So that wasn’t established.  We walked into this relationship as a couple and as parents.  And Eric knew nothing about being a father to anyone.  And I can’t say that I blame him or would have blamed him.  And obviously, all of this was heavy.  We went through many storms.  And life waged so many.  And still does.  So what I came to realize… 

While I was buying the tickets online

While I was deciding what to wear

While I was doing my hair

While I was fussing over running late

I was going on a date.  I was going on a date with my own husband.  

And the even more odd part was?

That it felt only like our second date.  

That all this stuff happened so early on in our relationship that we never got the opportunity to date.  That we skipped all of that. Because we did.  With me, I brought a premade family.  Which he accepted even after I badgered him whether he was really ready for this over the course of time.  (Probably a good 5-6 + years of being asked before bedtime – You’d think I would have guessed after a long enough time… ) So maybe it was my second date.  Regardless.  On the way home we chatted, and it felt effortless.  I felt relaxed, and like I was okay.  And that things were for that moment, okay.  We listened to music on 104.3 fm and laughed about me liking early Bobby Brown (pre Whitney).  And when I walked into the apartment, I felt like I was floating.  And not literal floating.  I know that shit isn’t possible.  It was as if I was on this “high” if you will.  My mood was so incredible!  I couldn’t have been happier.

I know that Darrian is a moody 15 year old girl.  And I know that despite the fact that I do not understand why my 18 year old daughter is living on her own… I am okay with that too.  And I am ready to start to learn to understand who Eric and I are to each other. (Don’t get weird and pervy on me either by that last statement either.  Eww.)  I have dreaded being one on one with Eric and not knowing how to be around each other without the kids.  Last night I realized, that was okay.

I have been with my husband for 17 years now.  And I can honestly say, I am still in love with him as if it was the first time we met.  I just hope that we can still love each other for many more years to come.  He is my best friend and probably the best part of me.  So before I think up some more sappy stuff to make me cry, I’m going to log off for now.  I will write more stuff later.  

Thank you for reading!  

Welcome to the World Baby Girl

If you’ve ever read Fannie Flagg, you’ll know I stole the title of my blog from her.  Fannie Flagg is most famously (and recognizably) known for writing the book (and eventual movie based on the book) Fried Green Tomatoes.  The books actual title is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  Oh well, so there you go for the first part.  Here comes the rest.  And when I say the rest, I mean… holy shit… get your reading eyes ready for this shit!

I think I’ve dreaded this day for a while now.  It is bad enough that I have to acknowledge that Ashleigh is 18 years old and technically able to legally make her own decisions.  Now I have to accept that she is living on her own and refusing to take any form of birth control.  And possibly not go to therapy anymore (although she needs it, very much!).

If you are just now starting to read my blog, there are things you need to know to understand the dynamic.  Ashleigh has cognitive and behavioral delays.  Her scholastic abilities are that of a 4th-5th grader.  She has ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), Borderline Personality traits, Intermittent explosive disorder, and mood disorder NOS. She had been abused as a little girl by her biological father and was initially diagnose as having RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  Though they haven’t continued with this diagnosis over the years, I believe this type of disorder may still be applicable.  Ashleigh has a very hard time making eye contact with anyone and feels very uncomfortable with getting close to anyone.  There are a couple of differences: If it’s involving herself in a sexual relationship.  And when it comes to that, she is so impulsive If you look at the definition for all of these things.  She is willing to overlook a lot of things just to benefit her need for closeness in that sense.  I think a lot of us have been there.  She blindly walks in thinking that – if you say the right thing, that you actually mean it.  Again, we’ve probably all had that guy/girl who says the right things just to get in your pants.  Then toss you away like old food in the fridge. Ashleigh is willing to sacrifice her own safety to obtain what she wants and/or needs.  So for example: She wants Wifi, so she is willing to go to someone’s house that she doesn’t know to obtain it.  Or if she doesn’t have a ride home, she solicits rides from strangers wherever she is instead of taking public transit or walking.  If you read about the disorders, you will begin to understand just what we’re looking at.  Let alone the cognitive delays that she has as well as her naive thoughts about who she can trust and what lengths she goes to get what she wants. Everything is that much more difficult.

When you look at Ashleigh’s history, Ashleigh has always had someone to turn herself around or help her through with coping strategies.  Between the social workers, school, etc etc.  Keep in mind that Ashleigh still has her social workers.  However, being on her own she doesn’t have help figuring out how to cope with being by herself.  And when they got her into her apartment, she had no phone.  Landline or cell phone.  I honestly was concerned about that.  I figured in the event she needed someone as an emergency, she could call and ask for help.  She didn’t have that.  And that bothered me.  I think my concerns were quite rational in that.

Ashleigh had wanted to get out of foster care for as long as I could remember.  I know she hated the whole vegan lifestyle.  That and the whole going to church thing.  Of course, everywhere Ashleigh has been, she has wanted an escape.  When she was here she wanted to be in the psych unit or foster care.  When she was there, she wanted back home.  Then she ended up at Shelter Care (a county service) and wanted to stay there.  She wound up there for a few months per her request and then wanted back home.  She came home and then begged to go to foster care because she hated it at home.  Then she got her wish and ended up in foster care and eventually (quickly really), she wanted to come back home.  The idea of what all of this means to her is different than the reality.  She wants an escape from what reality actually brings.  Like this:  Ashleigh has wanted to get pregnant for a long time.  When she had the “relationship” with “Stanley” when she was 16 and he was 26, they had sex without protection.  Apparently he was willing to forgo protection so Ashleigh could get pregnant.  Thankfully she didn’t.  And despite us trying, he was not prosecuted for statutory rape.  (That pissed me off like no one’s business!)  The pregnancy thing is very unrealistic.  Ashleigh believes that a baby will fill her with all the gaps of love and care that she has missed out in her life.  Anyone who has had a baby knows that having a baby is NOTHING like that.  Sure, a parent can look at a baby as a blessed event in their lives.  And sure, a parent can love having babies. The reality is that having babies is a huge commitment.  And it is hard.  Having babies means that you have to sacrifice a lot of what one is used to.  Sleep, self care, and sometimes even relationships!  A parent has to give a lot of themselves just to make sure that the baby is taken care of.  Diaper changes, feedings, comforting,  as well as many other elements.  And on top of everything else, babies don’t stay babies!  They grow up.  They teethe, start talking, potty training, and even continue to grow up from there!  She doesn’t realize what raising a child actually means.  And at this point (and other points in her existence), her reality is so skewed from what reality actually means.  And just like any kid, you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face, but until they experience things on their own (and regrettably) fall flat on their faces…. there is absolutely nothing you can do.

Watching her grow up like this makes all these maternal things pop up.  When she was a kid, if she scuffed herself up when she hurt herself… I could clean the wound and put a band aid over it to help it heal.  With life as it stands now, I can’t do that anymore.  I can’t rush in to rescue her, and I have to let her walk her own path.  If I don’t, I will be an enabler.  I will not have her learn for herself what she desperately needs to learn for herself.  And this part kills me inside.  Example:  A person she had a relationship also when she was 16 named Dennis… he has cognitive delays as well.  They both lied to me and told me he was 15 at the time.  When in reality, I found out later that he was 19.  Ashleigh had told me previously that she had contacted Dennis when she got her own place (or a little before) and he told Ashleigh that if he couldn’t have her that he would kill himself.  This raised a HUGE red flag for me! It could be a desperate imperative to control her and her decision making, or it could be that he just cares about her so much that he can’t think straight.  Either way, it freaked me out!  She told me yesterday that he spent the night.  Which honestly, I’m not surprised about.  She had hickies all over her neck!  (Gawd that made me feel incredibly awkward and irritated) And although Ashleigh told me that she and Dennis did not have sex while he spent the night, I don’t want to know.  I don’t want to know about anything relating to someone spending the night.  I don’t want to know about any of that.  If I do, I’m terrified that she’ll get pregnant.  I know Ashleigh’s history and how she’s been abusive to us and other people.  I remember how Ashleigh is incredibly impatient with anyone.  I feel like if Ashleigh has a baby that it would be the worst thing.  And Ashleigh had been informed by a representative from the county that if she were to have a baby now (given her current state) that the county would remove the child from her custody.  And honestly, as hard as that might be for her, it would be the best thing for that child.  Again, if you knew her, you might understand.  It may seem cruel to want your child’s baby to be removed from their care.  I’ve seen her at her best and her worst and I know what she is capable of.  And when she finds out that a baby doesn’t give her what she wants and dreamed of, what then?

After a lot of effort on my part though, Ashleigh now has a landline phone.  Time Warner Cable has a deal right now for landline phones…  that it’s $10 a month for 12 months.  It was perfect for what she needs!  So I paid for the initial set up.  It took a while to have it active… since there were complications.. but yesterday the company fixed it and now it’s active!  Now she has some way to help herself.  She can call all her friends that she hasn’t been able to contact since she’s been in and out of care and hospitalizations.

I also worry about Ashleigh hooking up with just about anyone and having them move in and losing her benefits that she has through the county or any drop in SSI benefits or food stamps.  (She applied for food stamps, she hasn’t gotten them yet)  She has a payee, wrap around support, a social worker, eligibility for medical transportation , etc… She needs all of this support and more. And if she has some idiot move in, she could lose all of that.  And that also scares me.  I don’t think that she could handle all the responsibilities on her own.  Paying her bills, grocery shopping, appointments, etc… And her dependence on a relationship of this magnitude could screw things up for her in huge ways!

I do have to say that her living on her own has had some benefits in my opinion.  She won’t have to live a vegan lifestyle anymore.  She doesn’t have to go to church (and hate it).  She doesn’t have anyone to argue with or to get angry at other than herself.  And she is forced to learn how to cope with her own anger and such.  She can’t have her hand held by anyone to walk her through when she’s alone.  It is absolutely necessary that she finds a way to figure things out.  And again, there is this part of me that wants to just make sure that everything is copasetic.  That she will still be able to have that hand holding.  And honestly, in my existing mental state – even if I tried… I couldn’t handle it all.  I have to let go.  And I have to let her do what she needs to do.  Despite my very real fears for her and what her life could become.

As it is, I don’t have an easy life (not that anyone really does).  I just recently found out that I have mild arthritis in my knees, I’ve had a cardiac arrest and an ICD (internal cardiac defibrillator) placed in my chest without cause of how it happened or why, I’m overweight (which I know that I have a certain element of control over, I have serious back problems, I also have mental illness issues (dysthymia, major depression, anxiety, and ptsd), plus I am diabetic type II.  My husband has bipolar type I and is unmedicated due to necessity, he has migraines that are “regular” if you will and due to a condition called chiari malformation.  He is not able to take NSAIDS because over time, he will suffer kidney failure as a result. Eric also has nerve deadness in his right arm.  He had surgery a number of years ago because of an ulnar nerve pinch.  (the damage was more severe than the surgeon initially diagnosed, so nerve damage was more severe than anticipated).  My husband becomes very frustrated because he drops things all the time.  And it doesn’t help that it’s his dominant hand. And as an additional complication: my youngest daughter is having an incredibly hard time and I have no idea what to do about that.  And it doesn’t help that both of us have the issues that we do.  She has ADHD and I’m thinking due to the long term abuse and things she witnessed with her sister, that she most likely has undiagnosed ptsd.  Right now, the state of Wisconsin has an absurd law.  Once a person is 14 years of age or older, the child can elect whether or not to get therapy.  The parent has no say in it whatsoever.  The only exception to that would be in the event of serious issues including police contact or court intervention.  And finally, Darrian (my youngest daughter) is saying that she is willing to go to therapy.  However, there is a waiting list for the therapists we’ve looked into.  She’s on the waiting list, but in the interim, nothing.  She was even denied for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and despite our request from the county – they did nothing to try to find her a mentor.  They were more concerned with Ashleigh than the well being of her sister – given everything that was going on.  So she was basically left in the dust. Like she didn’t matter at all.  And that makes me mad.  In ways you can’t even imagine.

For now, I have to make due.  Darrian is now out of school for the summer and I anticipate that the beginning will be exceptionally rough.  Eric is undergoing a lot of mouth pain and the ER refused to give him any pain medication.  They just gave him antibiotics.  Because apparently they couldn’t give him pain meds.  Despite the fact that I know that the ER has given pain medication for dental pain in the past.  He has been in absolute misery and there is not a damn thing I can do for him.

I could use a little bit of a reprieve from all that is going on.  I love my family and will be here despite all odds.  I am just tired of having this feeling like I’m Atlas.  The weight of the world on my shoulders.

Life can truly be a bitch

Congrats & Oh for the Love of……

As of June 4th, 2014, Ashleigh became a graduate of Pulaski High School.  I can’t believe that it actually happened!  I was so terrified that she was going to quit.  She kept threatening to quit!  I was so thankful that my dad, our family therapist Jackie, our good friends Mike & Shannon, and Eric, Darrian, and I were all there to celebrate.  Afterwards we went to Perkins as a little celebration.  It was wonderful to see her walk up the stage and get her diploma.  And before that even happened, waiting for the graduation to start – the school had presentation of pictures.  Pictures of baby or young pictures of each graduate and their graduation pictures.  I saw Ashleigh’s pictures there and I started crying.  The music, I started crying, and when she actually got up there… I was dry eyed.  I just was stuck in the moment.  And of course, look at me without any tissues.  WTF Janet?

On June 5th Ashleigh signed a 12 month lease for an apartment a few miles from where we live.  As of June 9th, 2014 she was moving in her apartment and staying in it for the first time by herself.  Without a phone.  Honestly, that scared the crap out of me.  Of course everyone else seemed to think that it was okay.  Despite boredom being the first step for her to start engaging in negative behaviors, etc.  I’m worried about the apartment that she lives in.  Not that it’s bad, but even though she will get SSDI and will have that as her sole income (for now – if she doesn’t pursue a job), she will be paying $425 p/month and electricity.  On top of that, there was a leak in her sink after 1 day of her staying there and doing dishes for her to get set up and organized. To me, that doesn’t bode well.  I mean, I could be looking into this way too far.  And during our visit yesterday, Ashleigh informed Eric and I that she has a neighbor friend that invited her for supper the night before.  His name is Nick.  She didn’t indicate his age… and I have to move past that.  He even knocked at her door as we were there and she didn’t introduce us to him.  And I have to move past that too.  She’s 18 years old.  She is legally able to make decisions as to who she lets in and out of her apartment.  That and I have to let her make her phone calls or get herself to the grocery store, pharmacy, dr appointments, hell… plan all of it.  Not that I’ve had to do it for years anyway.  Her foster family has done that for over a year anyway.  I’m trying to let go a bit at a time.  I’m still talking to her social workers and got a phone call from her payee yesterday to ask about where her SSI payment for this month was distributed.  (They have to prorate it for Ashleigh so she can pay her bills, etc).  Everything is getting figured out.  Her social workers are helping her get food stamps set up, got her set up with a place to live, setting up a mentor/wrap around worker to be there with her and help her with various elements of her independence.  This will be tailored to her needs.  And if for some reason Ashleigh can’t keep it together, maybe the county will be able to place her in a group home.  However, in the interim I have to let her fall flat on her face.  In the meantime, I worry about becoming a grandmother before I turn 40.  Ashleigh insists that she won’t take birth control and she still wants a baby to take care of or for the baby to take care of her.  More the latter of the two (in her “reality” anyway).  I want to help, but I can’t.  I know I have to move on to some degree.  I’m her mom, not an enabler.  I have more, but I want to relax by playing WoW for a bit.  I haven’t been able to unwind much at all.