Back when I was going through all those crises, I could not imagine ever being whole again. My life seemed like a mountain of troubles sitting right on top of me.
As the mountain got bigger and the weight of it more unbearable, my alternate, “Dimitri,” universe grew, too. I thought about him day and night, letting my fantasies whisk me safely away from the dangers of my world. I didn’t even realize at the time that all those fantasies were getting added to the mountain as soon as they were spawned from my lonely mind.
Chelsea Rose and I started getting into the worst fights you could imagine, calling each other vulgar names, slamming doors, and just basically acting like two wounded, wild animals. It might have been a “normal” reaction to everything we were going through, but on top of it all, it was heart rending and overwhelming. I had no wisdom to help fix either of us.
Jess joined a gang and kept getting into all kinds of stupid, scary fights in prison. After one fight, he was put in solitary confinement with his jaw wired shut. It was then that I had to make the trip to Noble County Correctional Facility to give him the news about Justyce. Since he was in the hole, I could only yell the news to him from behind a thick window. I asked the Chaplain to join us, knowing that, behind that tough guy act, there was a young man who would surely be broken by such horrendous news. Once again, after dealing such a blow, I got in my car and left my injured son to grieve alone. Shortly after that his “security level” increased and he was moved to a different facility.
Nathan’s son, Gabe, Nathan, Chelsea, and me
Patuxent Institution, Jessup, MD
In 2006 Nathan moved to Maryland with his girlfriend and a buddy to take a job as a debt consolidation specialist. The girl was only 17 years old. They told me she had been living on her own, working, going to school, etc., for a while, with help from child support paid by her biological father. Meanwhile, there were step dad problems and fights with her mother that couldn’t be reconciled. She was filing for emancipation with Nathan’s help.
No, I didn’t agree with the whole thing. He was too old for her, and, if it had been my teenaged daughter in the same situation, I would have kicked the guy’s butt. But she was all in love, and so was he, so off to Maryland they went to start a life together. I gave her my number and told her to call me collect if she needed me.
Tossing and turning all night didn’t bring any solutions about how to pay my taxes, keep insurance and repairs on my house, pay the utility bills, start a college fund for my hard working girl, get life insurance so I didn’t leave my kids in debt…so, with a heavy heart, I made the difficult decision to put my beloved house on the market. What timing, huh? At the beginning of the housing market crisis, I put my house up for sale.
The disability payments were barely enough to keep food in the house and make payments on the utilities, so I started fishing for a daycare job, house keeping, whatever I could do on my own terms. I even dabbled in Avon, but it wasn’t successful. I needed flexible accommodations, something I could do where I could miss work on my “bad” fibromyalgia days and make up for it on the good ones.
Having my own business seemed like a fun thing to consider, but I’d have to have a partner to take up the slack when I was out of whack. I’d make and sell arts and crafts items, gift baskets, and homemade greeting cards. Wind the awesome artist got interested in my big whimsical dream, and we set out to make it happen. Since I was on disability, I was eligible for grants and loans to start a business, but it was a long, tedious process of drawing up a business plan, proving that I was able to take care of my own business, going to meetings, doing research, etc. Just when we thought we had crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is, they sent us back to the drawing board.
If only writing could be lucrative, I often thought. That’s how I’d make my money. That’s where my heart is. I even went so far as to have a novel I’d written (under a pen name) published by a POD (“publish on demand”) publisher, determined to see a dream come true no matter what I had to do to accomplish it.
Me with my book as shown in the Marietta Times
My story centered on a mixed-blood woman who was tormented by the lingering effects of abuse she’d suffered as a child at the hands of two uncles, the bullying she endured at school, her funny notions about an angry God and the struggle between native spirituality and Christianity… sound familiar? While I based a lot of the book on my own experiences, the last page of the story still finds the woman stuck between belief systems, and being ok with that. But it wasn’t working for me.
The thing with Dimitri had always been sweet and sour, but now the sour was choking out the sweet. While he had asked me to be faithful to him, and I gladly complied, he was still the playboy, and proud of it. We fought, we made up, we fought… I hung up on him, he hung up on me. We yelled, I cried. We went for weeks sometimes with no contact at all. He said what I wanted to hear and kept me coming back for more. It almost made me panicky to think that he might run out of those smooth lies that kept me ensnared. I needed to be there, caught up in that fairy tale. My world would crumble without him.
How much do you suppose a person can take before enough is enough? I’m amazed at the suffering some people do with grace, still loving and believing in God, still knowing he loves them, too. Amazed, because I was surely not one of those people. It’s funny to me what finally brings the catastrophic soulish cave-in, too. From the outside, it may not seem like anything enormous enough to create such a disaster, but if you consider the mountain of troubles it lights upon, then maybe you can understand.
The fight Dimitri and I had that spring day in 2006 was no ordinary altercation. The usual arguments had left us angry, hurt, and distant, but always ready to come back for the next round. I protected my relationship with him, groomed it, admired it, and wore it like a medal around my neck. It was my lifeline, after all; clinging to Dimitri was how I stayed afloat.
This time we took a cleaver and hacked our relationship to death. With my lifeline gone, all I could see in front of me was a giant, impassible wall of grief. I went on a rampage, breaking things and overturning tables and chairs. I threw myself on the floor and cried till I choked on my own tears and my face was swollen and red.
There was no God. If there was a God, he hated me anyhow. I screamed at Him till my throat was raw; I told him I hated him, and I meant it. How could he allow such heartache and rejection all my life? Did he make me just to be a punching bag for everyone else? Everything I had tried failed. Everyone I had loved betrayed me. My life was cursed. I was going to take the cursed thing and drown it in the river.
Considering suicide had been a passing fantasy during times of severe depression, but I had never been serious about it. My kids deserved better than that. But this time I thought, my kids are better off without me! I’m the worst mother on Earth.
Not only did I want to end my own life, I thought for a moment about taking someone else along with me, one of the OTHER women. When that moment came, it shut down my fit in an instant. What are you doing? This voice inside me said. You’re ready to give up on your life, leave your kids, and do something crazy over a man? The most important thing in life is your relationship with God. And where have you put him in this whole scenario? You’ve put Dimitri at the center of your life, where God belongs. Dimitri has become your idol. Now turn your life back over to God, and let him bring some real change and healing.
So I got down on my knees and asked God to please take my broken life, do something with it if he still wanted to. I went around my house and got rid of everything I thought God would find offensive. I started praying and reading my bible every day. I stopped listening to my usual radio stations and the Cds I had around the house because that music bummed me out something awful. The more I heard about broken hearts, the heavier mine became. I switched instead to KLOVE, a contemporary Christian station that plays all encouraging, uplifting music.
Then I did something completely out of the box for me, I started going to church. Up until then I had abhorred “organized religion.” I hated religion as much as Jesus did. I knew I was supposed to concentrate on my relationship with God, not my religion, but I needed to be around people who had similar beliefs to mine. I needed the social interaction, the support system, and I needed to find a place of service to my community.
I kept thinking if I did everything right, if I could just find out what it was that God wanted from me, the pain inside me would vanish. My family would be healed. My financial situation would change. Things that were so out of whack in my life would straighten out. Maybe Dimitri would be saved, too, and come to love me. God would make everything all better. I had a lot to learn.