The Battle

I woke up this morning with a mixed feeling of defeat and hope. I had hope that maybe today would be the day things got better, however after the last two weeks why would today be any different?

I get very little sleep these days. I spend my nights searching Google for some sort of answers and understanding. Trying to implement new “tips” that are casually numbered 1-10 in a bold black font.

I have been down this road before. Sixteen years ago, my Google searches would be all about gastroschisis. There was never too much I could read. I wanted to read it all, armed with knowledge so I could fight for my daughter before she was even born.

A few years later, my Google searches would change to autism. Same routine, just a different topic. I would read all that I could, hoping I could be armed with the knowledge to fight for my daughter when she could not fight for herself.

Again, a few years after that it would be “epilepsy” that consumed my searches. I had to know everything, possible prevention, and hopeful for a cure so I could be prepared if and when the next seizure hit.

I know how to fight, I know how to advocate. The last 16 years have taught me that. And, if I may say, I am pretty damn good at it. Or I was, until now,

Looking back, I can see this has been going on for a very long time. It would come in waves. Once the wave passed, I would ride the current until the next one hit. Sometimes it would be a few months, other times maybe a year? It’s hard to understand some things as you are living it. It’s only now, the last week or so that I have a better understanding of my next battle. A battle that we have unknowingly fought for a very long time. A battle that I very much feel I am fighting for someone else, or maybe it is all of us?

There’s lots of stigma attached to it, which is maybe why it took me so long to realize what was in front of me? Or maybe just denial? Or maybe because I am such a fixer, I figured “any day now” everything would be fine.

It’s scary. It’s an evil monster who can take your life and the life of those around you. I can see how some people would not see Him until it is too late. He brings on feelings of worthlessness, and defeat. He shines an invisible mirror into your soul, and the only reflection looking back is emptiness. He makes you question everything you ever knew, and He will continue to do so until you get help. And, let’s not even talk about what can happen if one chooses to not get help.

Depression.

The silent killer.

 

Seizures.

As many of you know, Gracie, my 15-year-old daughter has both epilepsy and autism. She has been on meds since March, after a very long stressful day of multiple seizures. The current goal, is for Gracie to be one-year seizure-free, without adjusting the meds, before we can start weaning her off of them.

Early this morning, like 4 am early, both girls come to get me. “Mom, Gracie thinks she is going to have a seizure!” This is typical for Gracie. Thankfully, many times she knows when one is coming. She takes the necessary precautions to make sure she is in a safe place if and when the seizure hits. So, at 4am, Gracie and I found ourselves watching old episodes of “Roseanne” on my big comfy sofa.

I was watching her but pretending not to watch her because she hates being watched. I am also a crazy paranoid mother who sucks under pressure so I do not know how to not watch her. I am waiting. I already texted Joe, who at this time is already at work. He wants to be updated as well.

I keep asking her “How do you feel?” “Do you feel any better?” “Do you still think you are going to have a seizure?” Gracie usually has a rapid heartbeat and feels dizzy right before a seizure, so I try to do what I can to assess the situation.

Everything seems fine. There is no seizure, which is exactly what we want. No seizure, but something is not adding up to me. I need to delve a little bit deeper.

“Gracie, can you tell me what you were doing before you felt like you were going to have a seizure?”

“Sure!”

“Like, now. Can you tell me now what you were doing before you felt like you were going to have a seizure?”

“Yes. I was watching videos of people having seizures.”

“Ummm, what?”

At this point I am confused, yet everything is making sense.

So basically, Gracie wanted to see videos of people having seizures. Since she is the one always having the seizure, she never sees what she looks like. She was curious, did a quick youtube search, found some videos of people (and I believe one dog) having a seizure. It freaked her out. It freaked her out because it’s a freakin seizure and no matter how you try to make it sound pretty, it just isn’t. Because she is no so freaked out her heart starts to beat fast- Boom, she thinks she is going to have a seizure when in reality she just needs to NOT watch videos of seizures and 4 freakin a.m in the morning.

Also, she put in a request for eyeliner, because apparently having the right kind of eyeliner will make any seizure better. That is what I call “Gracie Logic” and many times, I just have to go with it.

 

~Jennifer

Day 10: The Video

I finally saw the video of my son, AJ, reuniting with his “dad” after 19 years. It’s only a 37-second video, but I have probably watched it at least 37 times. You see my son walking down a long empty corridor. (From what he told me, airports are so empty now) Because I know my son, I knew his long stride confident walk was also filled with nervousness. A tall, much older, much heavier person emerges from the sideline. Immediately I knew it was The Ex. I knew this because who the hell else would be walking up to my son, right? As soon as AJ saw him, he settled his one suitcase on the ground, and then they embraced. A long, silent embrace. It was both bittersweet and slightly weird to see.

Together, they walked out of view of the camera to the other family members waiting in the corner. That was it.

My son looked happy, and strangely at peace. All these years my son was very vocal about not wanting to see his dad. I thought I was doing the right thing by respecting his wishes. Maybe I should have forced it? I have no idea. Most likely not. Maybe in some strange way, his dad is what has been missing in him all these years? Maybe my son had an emptiness to him that I had no idea went back to his dad? All I know is in that 37-second video clip. AJ looked happy and at peace.

This new chapter of our book is only a few pages in. Who’s to say how this chapter or the next will end? All I know for certain is everything has played out just the way it was supposed to play out. And no matter what, I will offer unconditional love to my son. Whether he needs me from afar or close by.

~Jennifer

Day 8: “Dreams”

Ever since my son left for Virginia, I have been having very weird, scary dreams. I have always had kind of off-putting unusual dreams, so in a way, this is nothing new. Except it is. These dreams are at the next level. I would wake up shaking, confused, not knowing where I was. These dreams always involved some sort of cheating, usually by me. And for reasons that I am unclear of, always involved my husband, ex-husband, and an assortment of other random guys. Like, WTH?!

I am sure there is some psychotherapist out there who would have a field day analyzing my dreams from the last week, I, however, do not have it in me. I almost felt like the leading lady on “Nightmare on Elm Street” who was afraid to close her eyes because Freddy Kruger would make an appearance.

Now if you remember, thankfully, my son called me yesterday. It was what I needed just at the right time. I needed to hear his voice to make sure he was okay.

Do you want to know what I dreamed about last night? Jeremy and Audrey Roloff from “Little People Big World.” We were celebrating Christmas, and Jeremey and Audrey were having a slight disagreement. I had to be the peacemaker.

You guys, I do not even watch that show so I have NO IDEA where this is coming from!

If I do not dream about kittens and puppies, or Brad Pitt and Adam Levine tonight, I just may need to throw in the towel…or have another shot of vodka.

~Jennifer

Day 7

He finally called! It has been one week since he left under some not too good circumstances. I honestly had no idea if or when I would hear from him again, If you have been reading these posts, you guys already know that. But, he called, and I am so thankful.

Now, during the conversation, there seem to be a couple discrepancies over the last twenty-six years. I believe those will work its self out in time. No need to go down that road just yet. He said he has been gaining weight, I told him “That’s because your stepmom knows how to cook and I do not.” We got a good laugh out of that. He enjoys the country life, although it has been an adjustment for him, and there is a dog. A dog is cool because he has always wanted a dog.

He wants me to resolve things with my sister because “If it weren’t for her, none of this would have happened” and that is exactly why I need more time. I need for her to admit where she went wrong, and she was wrong by not giving me the “heads up” that she put AJ and his Dad in contact. I am not asking for much, but I need her to see that. I did not expect her to ask permission, I feel as her sister at the very least I was due a “heads up.” I explained that to AJ, and for the record, he understands my side.

Thank you guys, all of you who gave me hope and told me to hang in there. Thank you for allowing me to vent. Like I told my son, the story is not over, we are just on to the next chapter. There’s plenty more to be written.

Now if you are still here tomorrow, I can tell you about how I may have had something to do with my daughter slicing her finger (almost) off.

~Jennifer

Day 5

A family member gave me an update on my son today. “He is doing good, waking up every morning and helping out on the campground. His Dad is going to fix the motorcycle so AJ can find a job.”

It was a weird day today. Just all over the place with my emotions. I had a great conversation with my sister. Not the one I am not speaking to at the moment, but the funny supportive sister. I was giving her the above update on AJ, her nephew.  “It’s been four fucking days, of course, everything is good!” Told ya, she is pretty funny!

My sister and son have a pretty close bond.  Back in the early years, my son and I would go over to their apartment everyday to hang out while my ex was at work….or the strip clubs. My sister and her husband would let us all come over when there was never any money for food or diapers. My son and my sister’s daughter were the closest of friends. They played together, ate lunch together, and pretty much drove us crazy tag-teaming us with their antics. They are only 5 months apart, so you can imagine all the fun chaos those two brought on. From day one there was a close bond between my sister and son. She truly loves him, and although she is so supportive with me, and lets me vent to her, nothing will ever take away the bond she feels toward her nephew. Nor should it.

I also got word that my son’s stepmother reads this blog. I told ya, my family is nuts! I do not mind her reading the blog, it’s a public blog. Anything I write here I would say to anyone in person. Four days ago I was told that the stepmother wanted to reach out to me. I was hesitant. I mean what is there to talk about? Pretty much nothing unless she has a good pot roast recipe she can send my way. I am sure she has already heard I am a horrible cook. And I am, I can own it! Anyway, after some convincing from a family member “Jennifer, let me give her your number. She will reach out. She will put your mind at ease. What do you have to lose?” I am all like “Okay, Cool!”

I have yet to hear from her. So, I am going to put it out here. “To The Mrs., if you do in fact read this blog, please feel you can reach out. Whether it is through message or text. I do not want anything from you other than the assurance that my son is okay. As a mother yourself, I hope you would understand that.”

Moving on.

My youngest son, Vinnie (19) told my husband and me “Ya know, I think AJ did not know how to say good-bye, that’s why he left the way he did.”

He makes a good point. My two boys are not on the best of terms right now, so for Vinnie to come at it objectively, it makes sense. I have no idea if that is the reason or not, but it does make sense.

We are going over to my sister-in-law’s house tomorrow. They have no idea what is going on with AJ so obviously, that will come up. I am a little nervous, a little hesitant. I know I will cry. I am still emotional. And, just talking about it brings on the tears, but we can’t avoid it. Thankfully, I have plenty of vodka.

Anyway, as always, thanks for listening. I hope all of you are doing better than I am…and if you are not doing good, I am here to listen too.

~Jennifer

 

 

Blah.

I still have not heard from my son. Not that I expected to. I know he needs his time, so I am going to try as hard as I can to respect his wishes.

As I mentioned before, my family and my ex’s family are so closely intertwined. A few of my family members have said to me, and rightly so “I do not want to get in the middle. I do not want to pick sides” Absolutely! I would not want it any other way.

The thing is at this stage of my life, I do not need anyone to be on my side when it comes to my child. Know what I mean? This is my child, my firstborn. In many ways, he and I grew up together. I do not need nor want my family to feel they have to pick sides.  I was the one who raised him, I was the one who experienced all of his “firsts” with him. I know his favorite bands, I know the size of his pants, I know his taste in girls. 19 years. So, in my mind, there is no side other than mine.

I was pretty hard on myself today. I can see this becoming a daily thing, but it’s good. I will be okay. I have been looking back on the last 19 years and questioning everything I have done. I could have done more, I should have been better. I worked too much, I did not work enough. I don’t know. You guys know how it is, especially if you are a parent. Right or wrong I think it is human nature to look back and have guilt and many unanswered questions.

At the end of the day, if he chooses to never talk to me again, as long as he is alive and happy. That is all I want for him. That is all that matters.

Again, thank you guys for listening and offering advice. I know we are all going through our own demons. My story is not the only one out there, so for you to take the time out and let me vent, thank you.

~Jennifer

 

Another day…

Most of you know I work in a Special Ed classroom for 3rd-5th graders. This “lockdown” and “social distancing” has been very challenging to not only my coworkers but our students as well. Today, we did a drive-by kinda thing for once of our non-verbal students whose birthday is today. The big 11! It made my heart happy watching her come out, surprised by us all. She was jumping and skipping. That’s how you know she is happy. Her mother is amazing, invited us into her beautiful home where we were welcomed with a wonderful meat and cheese platter. You guys, the driveway alone is nicer than my apartment, and probably about the size of my entire complex. You can only imagine what the inside looked like. I am standing there taking it all in, my student, my coworkers, the beautiful impeccable home where you could eat off the floor. I had that same fleeting thought, the same thought that has made an occasional appearance the last few days. “Is this where I went wrong with my son? I never had much money.”

Because my luck is the way it is, it was no surprise that my son messaged me while I was at my student’s birthday party. “Do not call me, do not write me, I will reach out when I am ready. You are a liar. You telling everyone I do drugs was wrong”

Well then. Let me give you a very quick backstory. My family is very intertwined with biodad. Trust me, you do not want the gory yet juicy details. If you remember the show “Jerry Springer” then you are pretty much caught up. My youngest sister has always been close to my ex. They are family. She lived with him and his girlfriend at one point. I get it, I really could not care any less. I am used to it. As long as boundaries are not crossed.

It is my opinion that my sister is very “Pro Ex” even more than she is “Pro Sister” Fine. I get it, this really is not anything new. Well, when my son informed me that after 19 years of no communication, he now wanted to go live with him, I called up my sister. My sister and I are close but not AS close as she seems to be with my ex. I called her because I needed to find out that the ex was on the up and up. I needed to know my son was telling me the truth. I told my sister everything that I had experienced with my son. I told her about the meth, I told her that my own son admitted that to me. I told my sister that my son had friends telling me all sorts of things. And, I told my sister “I am not telling you this to tell the ex, I am just telling you so someone has all the information.”

Naturally, my sister tells the ex.

Naturally, my ex tells my son.

This is what provoked the message from him today.

Yay me!

Oh, and my sister was the one who put my son and ex in contact. Now that’s cool and all. He is 26 and needs to make his own choices. However, the fact that I had to find out from my son and not my own sister that she was indeed the one who put them in contact, well, that stung. When I was talking to her on the phone, mad, sad, scared for my son, one would think that would have been the perfect opportunity to say “Hey Jen, just a heads up, but I was the one who told AJ how to contact him.”

So, I am mad. I am hurt, I am so damn annoyed at everything. I know she reads this blog, I have no idea how she is going to feel after reading this post. I am not at a place where I can talk to her just yet, but I sure as hell can write and vent.

Hopefully, a year from now, everything will look different. Hopefully, all of the main characters will have grown and learned from this, myself included.

But for now, I need to go through this anger and pain in order to eventually heal.

~Jennifer

 

Doing Better.

I got word that my son landed safely. Apparently, it was a very sweet reunion that brought on tears from the biological father. I am going to try very hard to not be snarky here, so just insert your own sarcastic comment.

My son’s, stepmother, upon meeting him for the very first time, asses that he is indeed not a drug addict. Cool! I feel SO MUCH better now.

This is going to be harder than I thought, trying not to be a smart ass. Just know, that many times I do use humor to deflect, and no matter what I feel, I am sincerely thankful that my son is alive and seems to be happy. That is all that matters right now, and hopefully, when the time is right for him, everything else will fall into place.

Last night my son’s ex-girlfriend reached out to me. Now, she does read this blog, so as to not embarrass her, I will use an alias for her. Mia is my favorite of all the exes. Not that there were many, but I truly enjoyed Mia. I have a few pictures of just Mia and me, and at one point she even met my family. I do not know the details of why they broke up, but I do know my son seemed very happy with her. He was at his best, at least from an outside perspective. I do not know went on behind closed doors and have nothing but respect for Mia. After all, she owes me nothing, and yet assured me that she had heard from my son and said he seems happy.

Last night was a hard one for me. Today is better. I worry about the quiet hours at night when my kids and husband are asleep. Insomnia kicks in and my mind goes to places of guilt. I believe that is just part of the process though. In my opinion, I am going through a form of grief. Grief has many different stages to it, and right now I am at the guilt stage. That’s okay though. It will eventually pass.

This is a public blog and I have no idea if this will get back to the biological dad, stepmother, or even my son. I have no idea if people will feel a certain kind of victory, or empathy. It does not matter.

I am going to breakdown, I will cry all sorts of tears, I will question everything and then I will rise, filled with even more strength than I had before. Because it is right after the Breakdown, that we will soon see the Breakthrough.

Stay tuned, and as always, thank you for listening and allowing me to “talk” this out.

~Jennifer

 

Goodbye?

I do not know where to begin. I do not know much of anything these days other than it is time for me to come back to where it all began, here on the blog.

As I write this, my 26-year-old son, just landed in Richmond, Virginia.

Nineteen years ago, my son and I decided to make WA State our home. I was a young mother who had a young son. It was time for new beginnings while leaving the past in the past. Although life was never easy for us, we made it work. We always had a place to live, food on the table, and the bills were paid. There was never much left for extras, but it worked.

Over the years my son was pretty vocal about not wanting to communicate with his biological dad. I understood and never really pushed the issue. My son knew that if he were to ever change his mind “Just let me know and I will find out how to get you in touch with him.”

Somewhere over the last 19 years, my son lost himself, and drugs entered the picture. I still have no answers. According to my son, everything is, was, and will always be my fault. I try to tell myself “It’s just the drugs talking” but at this point, I do not know, maybe he is right?

Sadly my son saw things he never should have seen. I got wrapped up in a pretty abusive relationship. Maybe that had something to do with it? Over the years, after three failed serious girlfriends and more drug abuse, things just got worse. He was unable to keep a job (my perspective, he will tell you differently) and just latched on to the drugs even more. (again, my perspective. He does not believe he has a drug problem)

The last time he had a job was August of 2019. My husband and I were supporting him (enabling?) and always hoped for the best. We knew he had it in him, I just do not believe my son thought the same.

It got to the point where we had to ask him to leave. He went to go stay with his childhood friend, and then because (as it was told to me) of the drugs, they had to kick him out.

Somewhere in between my son decided to reach out and connect with his biological father. The same guy who abandoned him nineteen years ago. There was never any phone calls, birthday cards, Christmas gifts, nothing, and now, in the span of a week, my son left us and went to go live with bio-dad.

I am at a loss. I am hurt. It feels like a slap in the face. There was no goodbye other than “I am out.”

I have no idea what will happen. Best case scenario, VA will work out, and he will get his life on track. Naturally, I have my doubts. In the end, I need him to be okay. I need him to be alive, and I need him to make things right with his siblings. I hope and pray he will find himself in Virginia, but who knows? Drugs and the addiction that comes with it is an evil thing. And, unless someone realizes there is, in fact, a problem, then the cycle will just keep repeating.

The saddest thing for me is knowing he is gone. Knowing that when I go outside to run errands I am not going to see him walking up. Knowing that when my front door opens it will not be him. Knowing that late at night when I hear someone rummaging through the kitchen cabinets, it will not be him, and knowing that maybe in some small way he is right and everything is my fault.

Last night on Facebook, he posted a selfie of him and one of his long time friends. He had wonderful things to say about her, and to be honest it was a very sweet “goodbye” post. However, the two things that struck me, even gave me chills, was how happy he looked, and how much he looked like me. I do not believe I have ever seen either.

His eyes sparkled and his smile was as if I was looking at my own. I do not know. I do not know much of anything these days other than I need to go back to where it all began, with my oldest son. I need that person back. I need that smile and the sparkling eyes, and as hard as it is, if that means Virginia is the answer, then I just have to ride the current.

~Jennifer

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