Help Yourself start over
My journey thru Dave Pelzer's book
I received my degree in social work for many reasons.
*Witnessing family abuse. *Witnessing the white boy making fun of those from different ethnicities and those with disabilities *Experiencing emotional abuse. *Lack of communication skills with my, now, ex-husband, as well as the family that I was born in *Self esteem issues. *Gender inequality. *Animal abuse.
I enjoyed Dave Pelzer's book in getting started in changing my life. He stated in, "Help Yourself" that a great number of those who work in law enforcement, social services, and foster care fields do so because of their unfortunate environment. (My volunteer work as a Guardian Ad Litem was in the foster care sector. I was sworn in by a judge.) Due to the environment that I grew up, I have always been interested in self-help books since I was a teenager. I always wanted to improve myself. Nothing is perfect, after all.
The divorce was finalized in July 2011. I graduated with my BSW in May 2012. I tried to find work in Jacksonville, NC and could not find work, which was very frustrating after all the volunteer work that I did at the County Schools, Guardian Ad Litem and County Animal Shelter. Employment was always given to retired military, or military members working a 2nd job, who were already getting paid by our government. No one would ever give a second glance to a single mom of 3, who shouldn't have been living under stress with her seizure disorder, but did anyway, with no other family in the area. I got my oldest child into a North Carolina College in the Fall of 2012, without the assistance of his father. Then went through a cervical cancer scare, in which I had to have my father help me pay $400 for health insurance, until I had surgery in April 2013. In May 2013, I discontinued my health insurance, and moved in with my brother in June 2013. I didn't want to leave North Carolina. This is not the kind of mother that I wanted to be. It was forced upon me. So, I left, knowing that I probably won't be seeing my children again.
I would have stayed in North Carolina because my oldest daughter was offered a position, as an underclassmen, as the team captain of Odyssey of the Mind. (That does NOT happen as a 10th grader. Only as an 11th or 12th grader, but she did so well at competition that the Teacher that headed up Odyssey of the Mind singled my daughter out.) But, I should have just left in March of 2013, instead of trying to stay in North Carolina. Then, I wouldn't have needed to have some of my oldest daughter's friends to help us move into a townhouse, which caused issues. I would also have more of my stuff, instead of leaving North Carolina with my dog, and personal necessities. But, my oldest daughter decided to leave her friends, leave after her first year in high school, to start over in a different state, where there was no room for her mother. So, I left them with their father to try to start over by myself.
I tried to believe in the new "modern" definition of family. I tried to be able to take care of myself and my three children before the divorce was finalized. There is no such thing as a perfect life, as Dave Pelzer says in his book, "Help Yourself." (A book that I actually paid half price for, and worth every penny.) I have gone through many of the emotions that Dave Pelzer listed in his book. I let life take control of my attitude. I was no longer cheerful. I was angry, frustrated and pissed off at the world, and frankly, I felt I had every right to be I had always been the primary parent, as my now ex-husband was deployed much of the time. This was something that I had to get used to. Something my parents and brothers also had to get used to, as not many people have ever been divorced in my family. (Especially the Canadian side.) We never see the kids. I cannot afford to, (I have learned that it is better to have no expectations at all than have them raised too high.) My family tells me to just move on without them.
Dave Pelzer stated: "A lot of folks harbor portions of their past in their hearts until it hardens and develops as a "reflex" type of response, until the behavior and/or attitude becomes normal for them." I lived this. I was a constant venter, and did not take control of my attitude, and was not my usual cheerful self. Who could be cheerful about my life? The only thing I was happy about was the fact that I got the dog. I drove myself through the state of North Carolina, with my dog riding shot gun, and crying while I drove. I, now, had a new place in life. God gave me this purpose for a reason, and took it away for his own reasons. I just keep walking through what he places in front of me. That's what life is.
I am not afraid of confrontation, which I use now that I am employed; advocating for my clients. The issues between me and my ex husband could have been resolved before feelings of animosity took root, but it wasn't. Because it was not what my, now, ex-husband wanted. Instead, we had many years of festering. A couple years of negativity. Like I said, it was time to advocate for myself, as during the divorce, the courts were, conveniently, told what my ex husband wanted them to know. It was time to open that wound one last time, to write the letters to the courthouse, and let that wound heal. I did what I had to do. I feel much better about myself. It took me two long years to get where I am today. BUT I DID IT, ALL BY MYSELF.
Relationships after 18 year marriage
The first relationship after the divorce ended in my miscarrying, his cheating and knocking up the woman he cheated on me with. (They had a baby girl named Kaylee on May 18, 2013.)
When I moved in with my parents in December 2013, I had started a relationship in November. We hit it off because our relationship history was very similar. The relationship ended 14 months later, because he couldn't get passed his two divorces either. Can't exactly always fix what's broken, just have to use duct tape on the cracks, and trudge on. Now, when things happen, I tell myself, "it's just a speed bump, keep going. Focus on you. YOUR needs, YOUR wants, YOUR desires!"
However, I still hope to fall in love again. In today's society, there has to be hope for love.
My long road continued
I went through a lot of stuff to where I ended up hating myself for a very long time. I had dealt with nasty comments from my NOW ex-husband's mother, such as; "That her son and I would have ugly children." "That the nationality and culture that I grew up knowing was wrong, and she's right." I had to deal with her telling me how she was cheating on my ex husband's father, while she lived in another state. She enjoyed making everything in our household HER business. I did not tell my ex-husband's father that she's been telling me that she was cheating on him. (I was not sure it was even true.) She played in my household business, and I stayed out of hers.
Despite all this, when my ex husband's parents needed someone to help them move, who do you think got people to help them move? I DID!! Why? Because my NOW ex-husband asked me to ask MY parents and brothers to help them.
During my first marriage, I was a part of a CreatACard and ShareACard group (All of us on the emailing list made cards for terminally ill people) online, who sponsored my ex husband's mother on the ShareACard group list after she had surgery and they paid for someone to come to clean her house during the holidays and helped her decorate her home?? I DID!! (Yea, I know, I was pretty gullible then.) (Later, the moderator of those emailing lists died of Ovarian Cancer. Let's face it, bad things happen to good people, EVERY DAY! While the bad people continue to take advantage of the good people.)
When my mother and ex husband's mother had issues during one of our visits home and my mother wanted to knock my ex-husband's mother out at my, then, 3 year olds birthday party, who prevented the fight? Me and my youngest brother.
I did my service for that family. Most of these things I did NOT have to do. However, it is time to stand up and advocate for myself. And advocate I did.
When I first moved back to my parents home in 2013, my first thought was, "Great, moving back to the state where my ex husband's parents live. If I see my ex husband's mother again, I will punch her lights out!" Guess what? I did run into my ex husband's mother, and her male friend at the movie theater. (I was by myself.) She knows I saw her, and I know she saw me. I did not speak to her. She did not speak to me. Limiting my exposure to a person that I no longer have to put up with feels good. If I run into her again, I will continue to treat her like a stranger. Because that is what she is.
For many years, I have felt wronged by that family. I always tried my best to be the best role model, volunteer, student, person, mother, wife, that I could be. I never stepped out of my marriage. I took my children to playgroups when they were little. Soccer practices and games. Girl Scout meetings and camping trips. Choir and Band performances. Drama Club performances. I did volunteer work with my youngest daughter. I dropped my son off for his own volunteering experiences. I did everything I could have to open up so many opportunities for my children. I also went back to school when my ex-husband and I decided that we had nothing left to save.
Later, we find out that my ex husband, was raised by an undiagnosed Bipolar/ADHD parent in the 70s, 80s and 90s, I have seen the issues my ex husband has had with integrity (problems with his military command, problems with stealing, problems with lying/or simply just not saying anything, which is just as bad as lying). My hope is that does not become an issue for the two underage children that have had to live with their father. Hopefully, the fact that they are female and not male will have some effect. Of course, nothing is certain, and thankfully, I feel pretty confident that my son, who lives on his own now, will have no issues of integrity. He has told the truth in situations that I KNOW his father NEVER would have. This father can learn lots from the son.
I would have done my best to resolve the issues as soon as possible, between myself and my ex husband's mother, if my ex husband hadn't stood in my way. I should have tried anyway. No matter how mentally ill she was. Because for quite sometime, those feelings consumed me and caused further problems in my life. I walked around with an open wound. I would have felt better dealing with the issues, as they came along, than dealing with what I had to deal with by myself (seizure disorder, cancer scare, leaving the children, bankruptcy, unemployment and continuing health issues).
Now, my health issues are my only concern.
The start of taking care of ME
I had to go through the process to get through it all. It was the only way! NOW, it is time to try and get rid of the infection that my ex-husband gave me, infecting me in how he would NOT deal with the issues at hand, and how it infected my life. Dealing with all the unresolved issues that he would not let me deal with as they were taking place. Again, I needed to go through the process. My goal NOW is to stop blaming myself. I shouldn't have been blaming myself in the first place. It's his fault that he couldn't grow up and deal with the issues at hand. Not mine! Now that I am divorced, I am dealing with issues my way and discovering an increase in my self esteem and confidence.
I deal with many disabled individuals employment issues. Yes, I have conversations with people that I really do not want to have. However, I do it. I do so in my profession, and I do so on a personal level. With this under my belt, it really isn't wise to think of me as a pushover.
At the end of 2014, I decided the best way to start 2015 was to deal with the papers from my ex-husband's attorney, MY way. I wrote a letter to the courthouse and caught them up on some hard facts that were never in the court papers. Yes, I lost some of my alimony/military retirement towards child support, which I was expecting. (Unfair when the parent who has custody won't let you see the kids.) But I really gained so much more than that by telling the truth. Finally advocating for myself, I now sleep better than I have in a VERY long time, and with a seizure disorder, THAT'S A PLUS!! Once I took control of the life that my ex-husband tried to deny me, things started falling into place for me.
Like I said, I had a seizure in August 2013, while living in my parents' home state. Legally, I could not drive for six months. (Therefore, I couldn't drive until February/March of 2014) Kind of hard to look for work when you cannot drive. I continued looking for work, with the help of my parents. I had a few interviews, but no job offers. What I was doing, FOR MY LIFE, previously wasn't working, it just made me more angry. My environment became part of my psychological make up. I had to start some sort of process to help me let go. MY OWN PROCESS!!! So I decided to write the letters to the courthouse and felt cleansed. It worked!! A couple months after sending the letters to the courthouse I found the perfect social work related job, and really seem to be good at it. I, FINALLY, feel like my luck is changing, after two years. About time! 2015, so far, has really turned out to be MY year!!!!
Advice to my ex husband
The only advice I have for my ex husband now is: "Things should have been dealt with as things came along. It might not have been resolved quickly, but at least we would have been doing something. We would have been dealing with the issues as best we could, and the children would have seen that. When you stifled me, how did you expect me to live a productive, divorced, single life? Unresolved issues, bad situations, and feelings of animosity over time can become a habitual lifestyle. (I think I am living proof of that.) What do you think our children learned from watching us deal with our problems YOUR WAY, and what effect do you think it will have on their life? Sure hope they don't make people suffer as you did. I raised them to be better than that. Our son's preschool teacher told us that he showed empathy at the age of 4. I'm sure he did not get that from you, as you spent much of his foundation years being deployed.
Frankly, it would NOT surprise me in the least if none of our children get married and have children. No grandchildren for us. It is what you and I deserve. Knowing that you will now be watched with children under the age of 12 is satisfaction to me. No infants on your shoulders bumping their heads on door overhangs. No lack of attention span in watching our daughter crossing a street to get a soccer ball or watching our youngest daughter, while I entertained the two oldest children when we had no power, after a hurricane. No more disciplining your child by choking him, and no negligence of watching our dog at the bus stop, where he bit a child. This negligent behavior should prevent you from ever getting custody of a grandchild, or your nephew. I can't prevent you from hurting our children now that you have custody, and I have no means of support, but I can prevent you from getting custody of any other child under the age of 12. AND BELIEVE ME, I WILL!!!
To my better future
When I find my mind wandering down that same road to self pity, I now, tell myself, FOCUS!!! Focus on what I NEED to focus on. Be more responsible and rely more on myself. Because I am the only one that has been with me FOREVER. Your relationship with you should be more important than your relationship with anyone else in life. Lower your defenses and invest some quality time in yourself. Don't take setbacks personally. Don't be too hard on yourself. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Because you can lose what you got from your overnight success just as fast.
As Dave Pelzer lists in his "Help Yourself Reminders" in his book: "Take the time and energy to invest in your most important asset: YOURSELF!!" We give our best away. We quit. We have wants, needs, we try to make a go of it, or do enough just to get by. We allow time, situations, or whatever else to erode our dreams. We quit on ourselves. We carry regret, regret turns into frustration, frustration into anger, anger into sorrow. We give up the desire to do something to better ourselves."
Now, I like the person that I am becoming and I feel older and wiser to create my own inner environment. (I use to hear that living in your own head is a bad thing.) I have had enough of being raised in one negative environment only to marry into another, and returning to the same environment of my youth is not easy. Despite my father's history with mental abuse, we are actually closer than we were when I was younger.The difference now is, I am much older than when I left my parents household at 21. I have a better understanding of right and wrong. I have lived by the majority of the National Association of Social Workers code of ethics, before I even obtained my bachelors in social work. I feel much better about myself now, since I have stood up for myself.
The world will not bend to your will. I have learned family does not either. That's a hard lesson to learn, but people will have to learn it to. I have.
Resolve whatever problems you have, as soon as possible. "Part of the thrill of success is the journey of the struggle."
As a social worker, it is about that necessary conversation. It's not nothing. IT'S NECESSARY!! My ex husband is ruining relationships by NOT having these conversations. It's about the process. However, the father of my children will realize this when it is too late. That's his doing, not mine.
No matter what happens from now on, I am going to give everything in life my best shot. I will address EVERY situation, take some responsibility, some action, and give it my best shot.
Dave Pelzer's book suggests ways to "let things go." "I revealed my feelings of anxiety, elements of my past, and anything that would alleviate my tension." Carrying around all that stress was not healthy.
I HAVEN'T BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL, DUE TO A SEIZURE, SINCE AUGUST 30, 2013. That doesn't mean I haven't had a seizure since then. I have had two seizures over the holidays of 2015, and I was even on seizure medication. I feel it is my minds way of rebooting my brain. BUT I HAVE KEPT MY JOB NOW FOR ALMOST 2 YEARS VS A MONTH AT WALMART, DUE TO HAVING A SEIZURE WITH NO HEALTH INSURANCE AND NOT BEING ABLE TO RETURN TO WORK WITHOUT GETTING ON SEIZURE MEDICATION. (Seizure medication is pretty expensive without health insurance.)
I had to find a way to get through the stress, so I tell myself what I need to, to keep myself out of the hospital. Just like turning up the music and singing while stuck in traffic for 10 hours, due to no salt trucks.I need to feel prepared for any possibility. I know that I am not the only parent that's ever lived that has been banned from their children's lives, and I will not be the last. However, I gave deadbeat #2 the chance to mend some fences with his father, by telling his father where he works. Deadbeat #2 did not accept the opportunity. He just continues to burn all bridges. Which is so obviously not healthy to his life.
I don't have to work so hard at keeping everyone else satisfied and forget that I have wants and needs. I no longer have to deal with my ex-husband's financial abuse. (Yes, I hear that that's a thing. He used to say I could not buy myself any new underwear) Believe me, I still have to deal with financial abuse from my father. He HATES paying for stuff. He's stated before, I don't pay for something, I can get out. However, I pay my way, and my youngest brother is back to paying his way to, which is surprising this time of year.
I can also now live with the fact that I am certain that my ex-husband has a learning disorder like his mother. His brother grew up with dyslexia. Two out of two of his blood cousins have Autism. His mother was diagnosed with ADHD/Bipolar disorder. The fact that my ex-husband had no attention span to pay attention to our daughters or our dog, and had bad behavior of inviting himself over to a friend's house when they had other plans is definitely proof enough for me. However, learning disorder or not, the courts needed to know that he has issues with taking care of children under the age of 12, so a child never becomes seriously hurt under his care. He probably should also NOT be the sole owner of a dog, because he does not pay attention to them either.
LIVE AND LET LEARN!!