Support Systems

I am very thankful in life to have the support system that I have been blessed with. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have my friends and family. A good support system does take time to build and continue to strengthen as personal relationships grow. My support system gives me advice, helps me through hard times, and motivates me to want to improve myself. My support system is made up of two groups: Family and Friends. I want to thank everyone who is in my support system: Tyler, Dad, Lisa, Josh, Julie, Destiney, Leah, Jenn, Kalynn and Jack. I love that I get to talk with friends and family every day. Even when I am having the worst day, if I talk to my dad, I feel like the world has been lifted from my shoulders. I had a panic attack one morning a couple weeks ago. I think what brought it on was when I started to think about my mom using again and wishing that she was still sober. I wake up most days questioning if she is using again, and my mind typically imagines the worst. This is not a healthy way to live and I know this. I don’t know how to keep my mind from constantly racing with thoughts about my mom. If she goes to jail, I do not know how I am to going to deal with that. In a way I feel like it would be best if she did go to jail because then Josh and I would know that she wasn’t out running the streets. I feel content that my nieces and nephew do not have to worry about this with their parents as they grow older.

So why Josh and I? Why do we have to go on this way as adults? It is such a miserable way to live. I was hospitalized a few weeks ago. I was admitted because of a Crohn’s flare up, which was most likely caused from all the stress around Covid-19, and my mother. I am in a constant state of worry with her. This just isn’t fair. Children shouldn’t have to be worried about their parents; it should be the other way around. About a month ago I started to have increased symptoms with my Crohn’s disease. I was using the bathroom 7-10 times daily and also waking up during the night with diarrhea. I started to feel like the nausea was never going away. I ended up going to the doctor’s and I was placed on prednisone (steroids). If you have ever taken prednisone you know that it will ruin your mood, ability to not sweat, and increases your appetite like I just smoked a J!  I was due for my Stelara injection on 08/18, however because of my health insurance denying the medication, I was 2 weeks late administering it. Again, my health insurance was the problem. Health insurance is a major problem in America! I have been taking Stelara since 2017 and my health insurance just denied it for really a no-good reason. My physician’s office called to appeal and the insurance company said that they were going to need records faxed to them. Records that they already would have had. I mean come on… denying a medication that I have been on for 3 years is just down right ridiculous! The most frustrating part is feeling helpless. What can we do to improve the way Americans receive healthcare? In my opinion, if a doctor prescribes you a medication or suggest surgery, then he/she has made the decision that the good out-weighs the possible bad. I just wish that I could help or do more to make life easier on people like me with incurable illnesses. We shouldn’t have the worry of whether our health insurance is going to approve or cover a service/medication. We should be able to sit back and be as relaxed as Bebe’s is.

Life Isn’t Fair

As I was saying earlier, I was in the hospital a couple weeks ago and I have been recovering at home since then. My mind has been racing a lot lately with thoughts of my mother. I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I am a child of an addict. I have been troubled with this issue for almost 31 years. Why is life so unfair? Every so often I wonder what I was in my past life. I feel like I must have been some sort of low-life jerk in my past life, and I now must face the consequences. Don’t get me wrong the past 31 years have not all been unpleasant. I had the best father and brother any kid could ask for growing up. They are what made me, me. We may not have had a lot of money, but we sure did have love. My dad made sure that we were happy, even if it meant sacrificing his own happiness. I never thought about or maybe I never knew how much he had given up in life to raise Josh and I. He didn’t really date much after Dee left him. I think at that point he just figured he needed to focus on raising Josh and I because no one else was going to do it (not that he didn’t want to do it.) He hardly ever had help with raising us, but never regretted it. When my mom and step dad lived in Clearfield, my dad would work all day in Philipsburg and drive into Clearfield to get Josh and I. He would do this on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. My dad lives in Spring Valley, which is between Clearfield and Philipsburg.  That means he would drive from Spring Valley to Philipsburg in the morning to go to work. After work he drove from Philipsburg to Clearfield to pick Josh and I up at our mom’s. He then would drive from Clearfield back to Spring Valley after picking us up to take back to his place. After we ate dinner and played for a little bit, he would then drive from Spring Valley to Clearfield to drop us back off at our mom’s place. Lastly, he would drive from Clearfield back to Spring Valley to finally get home for him to rest. That’s a lot of driving to do after working an 8-hour shift welding in a hot tank. We would also spend the weekends with my dad.

When my mom moved to Virginia, she took my brother and I with her and my step dad. Court systems aren’t fair either, and for some reason they pick the mother for the children to go with. You would think that they would/should ask the child where they want to live, but they don’t do that until the child is a little older. I think it took about 8-9 hours to get from my dad’s house to where we lived in Virginia. To make the trip a bit less depressing my dad would come up with games for us to play. Our favorite, even to this day, is the “abc” game. This is where you have to find each letter of the alphabet by using the first letter of words only until you’ve completed the alphabet. Another game we would play to pass the time was the license plate game. This game is where you each pick up to 3 states and then check people’s license plates when they would pass us. If the license plate matched one of the one’s you chose, then you would get a point. The last game we would play was to pick a color of a vehicle and see how many vehicles of that color you can see. Our favorite game was the “abc” game, and we actually still play it when we go on road trips together. We typically would meet my mom or whoever was picking us up at what we called the “apple place”. It was just a local farmers market in Winchester, Va. I didn’t realize it then, but now I know how lonely and sad of a trip the return drive home was for my dad. He would have to not only drive home alone, but he would have to drive home knowing he wasn’t going to see us for weeks/months.

Happier Times and Breaking the Cycle

Let’s switch the mood up a little here to a more positive one. When Josh and I were with dad we had so much fun. Dad took us to Sea World one time; however, I don’t really remember the trip. We have a good bit of pictures to look back on to help jog my memories. We went to Niagara Falls a lot too. My dad lived in Niagara Falls for some of his childhood years, and he still has some family that live there. We would visit the family he had left in Niagara Falls and then dad would take us to see the waterfalls. I remember going on the maid of the mist with him and Josh. I believe that is the first time that I had actually experienced the thought of “oh shit, I’m about to die”. When we were young, we went camping a lot with my stepsister Tara, Uncle and cousins. We would spend most of our camping days riding bikes or swimming. Our family is pretty small and only got smaller after my Dad and separated. After their relationship ended, we went down to it just being the 3 of us. It was always just dad, Josh and I. Growing up I remember that I felt some sort of sadness that we didn’t have a mother helping raise us with dad. My dad made sure when we would go school shopping that we had some name brand clothing/shoes to wear to school. My dad never wanted Josh or I to worry about anything. Even to this day he makes sure that Josh and I are at peace. He has always put Josh and I first no matter what the situation was. I will forever be thankful to the universe for him. Although life hasn’t always been easy or fair, Josh and I were beyond blessed to have our father, as a father.

I am happy to say that I believe the cycle of growing up without both parents is going to be broken. Tyler and I do not have any children, and having kids of our own is not in our plans. I would love to give my dad the gift of a grandchild and I am thankful that Josh and Julie were able to do that. Anyways, back to breaking the cycle. My dad also grew up without a mother. My grandmother (his biological mother) left my grandpa when my dad was young. Not only did she leave my grandpa, but she left him with their 4 children! After a few years my grandpa did get re-married to a woman named Eleanor, however she did pass away from cancer shortly after they were married. My dad was pretty close with Eleanor, his stepmother, so when she passed away it was very hard on him. Now my grandpa is yet again left to raise 3 sons and a daughter by himself. My grandfather was very strict with his children, except maybe on my Aunt. My grandpa found it important to make sure that he attended church every Sunday and would live his life through the bible. Good thing there weren’t rules on how to raise your children back then because when my dad would get in trouble, he was beat with the closet tree limb my pap could find. My Uncle Roy was a troubled teen and got into drugs, which is why he left home at a young age. My dads’ side of the family searched for my Uncle Roy for years. Roy left home without a trace or hint of where he may have been going. I remember my dad finally got a location that my Uncle Roy may be at, so one day Dad and I took a road trip. It was so weird when we got there, it looked like he lived in a cabin. Roy was married and lived with his wife near Lancaster. No one ever really found out why he left the way he did, and why he never called or came back to visit. Unfortunately, my Pap passed away before we were able to locate Roy. Although finding my Uncle Roy was ill timing, we were grateful to have finally found him and my dad stays in contact with him. I can’t imagine my brother leaving and not calling or returning for many years. My Aunt moved out after she found out she was pregnant at a young age. Now that my Aunt and Uncle Roy have both left home, my grandpa was left raising my Uncle Dave and my Dad.

My dad joined the air force after he graduated from high school. He said that he asked my grandpa if he should call him once he arrived at Langley in Virginia and my pap told him no. He said “if something happens to you, they will find a way to contact me to let me know.” I feel so sad when I think about my dad’s childhood/early adulthood. He is such a sweetheart and would help anyone out. He would have every reason to be an asshole, but he is the complete opposite. You would never imagine that he had such a damaging upbringing.  While my dad was stationed at Langley in Virginia, he met my mother in a mall. She was living with some friends in Colorado, but she was in Virginia visiting her mom/family. My dad fell in love with her almost immediately and they got married shortly after. My dad was stationed in South Korea, which is where my brother was conceived on one of my mom’s visitations. After my dad completed his time in South Korea, they stationed him in North/South Dakota (I can’t remember which one.) My mom lived on base with my dad this time. Shortly after my brother was born my dad would be honorably discharged from the air force and moved back home to PA. My mom suffered through a miscarriage in between Josh and I. I imagine this was a difficult time on both her and my dad, but they pulled through and shortly after my mom found out she was pregnant with me.

 I believe I was about 3 years old when my parents got a divorce, but I don’t really have many memories from that time. My heart aches when I think about all the hardships my dad had to go through in life. I know we all go through some kind of struggle at some point, but I feel like he has been handed a shitty hand. Growing up if my dad hurt himself, he was not allowed to express pain, my grandpa wouldn’t allow it. My grandpa would tell him to suck it up and continue with what he was doing. This is where having a mother would have been beneficial. Mother’s are supposed to be there to pick you up, ask if you are ok, and kiss your boo boo’s. One of the stories I remember my dad telling me was about one time when he got caught riding his bike on their street. My pap had told my dad that he was not allowed to go anywhere until my pap got back home. My dad, being young and rebellious, rode his bike to the end of their road and was on his way back home when he saw my pap coming down the road. He paddled as fast as his little legs would go, but he was not fast enough. When my pap got home, he immediately went to the closest tree and broke off a limb. This limb was then used to beat over my dad’s back multiple times for not listening to my pap. There are many stories like this. I just feel horrible and sad that my dad went through this when he was young.

               In a way I can be thankful that my grandpa was so strict, almost like a dictator, to my father. I am angry and saddened by the way my dad was brought up, but the way he was raised may be the reason Josh and I had such a good upbringing with him. My dad was always supportive with Josh and I with anything we wanted to pursue. I loved playing soccer when I was little and my dad joined the team as a coach so we could spend more time together. This was before I was able to be with my dad full time because the courts always choose the mother for children of divorce to live with. I honestly do not think that my mother ever attended any of my soccer games. In middle school I wanted to join chorus and my dad encouraged me to do so. I was not the best singer, but I enjoyed the friends I got to be around and I loved singing to my dad. We had a handful of concerts for the families of the students to enjoy, however I do not recall my mom ever coming to one of my chorus concerts. I decided I wanted to play the trumpet in middle school, and you guessed it, my dad yet again supported this decision and bought me a trumpet. We performed a handful of concerts, however I don’t recall my mother attending any of these concerts either. My brother and I could sit and reminisce about all the extra-curricular activities we were in and how my dad was involved in all of them. My dad sacrificed a lot in his life, especially after Josh and I were born. He never once even had a thought of giving up on us or our little family. The three of us grew up poor, but we were rich with love. One of the things I appreciate about my dad is how he never tried to pin us against our mom. Not once have I ever heard my dad trash talk my mom or try to put negative thoughts in our heads about her. We were all each other had in life and it was perfect. Looking back, I remember always wishing my parents would get back together, but now I am grateful for the life I have.

So how am I breaking the cycle of separation? I spend every day working on bettering myself. I make sure that Tyler and I have a good communication line and always work towards progressing our relationship. Tyler and I will never give up on each other. That is how I am going to break the cycle. As far as breaking the cycle of mother’s leaving their families, Josh and Julie work towards growing their relationship for each other, so they can have a relationship for Elva and Lionel to admire. They respect one another and I think this is perfect for Elva and Lionel to grow up watching. This will show them how they should treat their significant others. Elva and Lionel won’t have to feel the pain of divorce and they will get to feel the love from a mother and a father. Julie is a brilliant mother. She is always telling Elva and Lionel that they are kind, smart, important, etc. I could not have been more blessed with a sister in law. I am sure that Josh and Julie have their arguments at times, but what couple doesn’t? It would almost be unnatural if they didn’t have a little argument every now and then. I am beyond grateful that my niece and nephew get to grow up with such good people around them.

I will never understand how a mother or father could leave their children. Tyler and I do not have any children, but when I think about Elva and Lionel, I could never in a million years leave them if I were there mother. I get sad when I leave after just visiting them. After my grandmother left, my dad went a while without hearing from her. I believe my grandma actually moved to a different state at one point during my dad’s adolescent years. Josh and I went almost a year one time without even hearing from our mother. Growing up my mom would send us packages with some clothes/school stuff in them, and I feel like this is how we stayed in contact. I have contemplated this next thought almost my entire life. Would it be more difficult for a girl to grow up basically without a mother, or a son to grow up without a father? Either way the children suffer the most from divorce and the suffering goes on even into adulthood. I used to think that my family was “broken”. Now that I am older, I realize that we were never broken, just bent. Families are not made because your parents stayed married, family is made in our own hearts. I guess what it all “boils down to” is family consists of who you decide to genuinely love, whether they are blood or not. I learned this about 9 years ago when my first niece (Brooke) was born. Although there is no blood relation at all between us, I will never look at her or her sisters, as anything but my nieces. Same goes for Tyler with Elva and Lionel. For a man (Tyler) who really does not care about much in this world, the love he has for his nieces and nephew is phenomenal.

I wanted to write this post to show that even though families may seem broken, they can always be repaired. Josh and I have been through hell and back with our mother, but my dad taught us to forgive and forget. I have and will continue to forgive my mom, but unfortunately, I will never forget. Life will continue to go on and will get better. Don’t get stuck in the moment when you feel like your world is crashing down on you. I was only about 3 or 4 when my parents got a divorce, and thankfully my father never gave up on Josh and I. He gave up his life to raise us the best he could. In my opinion he did a wonderful job. I owe everything to my dad, and I will forever be so happy that I was blessed to have him in my life.

To end this post I would like to share a poem my dad wrote for me back in September of 2012.  Enjoy <3

My Girl, My Girl, My Precious Little B*

I know you came from Heaven, from our Lord God above
My beautiful little girl, whom I so dearly Love.
You were so precious, right from the very start,
One look into your eyes, and you owned Daddy’s heart.
Wrapping you in your blankey, and bouncing you on my knee,
You were my whole world, and you were barely even three.
From diapers to roller-skates, you were Daddy’s little girl,
You were worth more to me, than the world’s largest pearl.
Doing your routines, and pushing you on your swing,
You were my reason for living, and it made my heart sing.
I found more Love than I thought there could ever be,
All inside my little girl, and it was all for me.
Watching you grow from little girl to teen,
Was one of the most awesome changes that I’ve ever seen.
You went from Punkin and Honeygirl, to my girl and “B”
The love you drowned my heart with, would fill the deepest sea.
The fun we had and the love we did share,
Is the kind you read about, it really was beyond compare.
You had your ups and downs, but take it from me,
You are the worlds greatest Punkin and Lil “B”.
I got to watch, I had a front row seat,
You took on the world, and never missed a beat.
The young lady you became, so unique in every way,
Grew stronger and more special each and every day.
You gave me so much joy, ,laughter and fun,
Being your Daddy is the coolest job I’ve every done.
The angels brought you to me, a gift from the stars above,
To hold, protect, and take care of, but most of all to Love.
When I see you with your smile, that can brighten up the sky,
My heart swells with happiness, and a tear gets in my eye.
I don’t know how it happened, but the years somehow went by,
And like a beautiful butterfly, you were ready to fly.
Oh how blessed I am to have you, I don’t have to be told,
Memories of you are all I need to cherish as I grow old.
You’re still my little Punkin, no matter what you say or do,
Nothing can ever change that, or the Love I have for you.
Being here beside you, every step along the way,
Is really all I need as I grow old and gray.
Being your Dad is like a fairytale, like a dream come true,,
My precious little Punkin, and it’s all because of you.

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