Addict · Autism · Bloggess · Childhood · Family · Life · Life story · Mother · Recovery

The Box Folder….

It has been some time since I have written with the presence of chickens in my life; it has been some time since I have really written. It is not for the words failing to be there, however a lack of time. Life has a way of catching up and taking hold. Maybe it is the change of the season, maybe it is the change of moving in with him, maybe it is the kids growing up, and maybe it is me growing up too. Time and change is the one thing that is consistent no matter what happens in our lives though. So with the addition of chickens once again into my life, our lives now, I find myself slowing and taking a look around at what is important- the balance.

This past holiday week has been one of a serious change; I did not cook for my family. I went to Michael’s parents and took my youngest daughter Irene who is seventeen in tow with us. My older children survived and did let me know it will not be tolerated again next year. They had to endure a side of the family they have not before, my daughter in-laws. No one was on time, the food was two hours late, there were no left-overs to be delved out into the various store-bought to go containers for everyone to take home never returning and the deserts were so different. Mom where were you? At least they knew where I was. I am not lost in my addiction and for that we are thankful. I digress.

The Thanksgiving feast with his parents was a bit different too. The food, the company, the conversation, the kids table. I have not had a kids table since I was a kid myself. I have always had the longest Charlie Brown table ever strewn together pushing back the television and coffee table to make way from one end of the kitchen to the other end of the living room. Those who came were always welcomed, even the family I never invited that found their way to the table from my mother’s invite.  Irene sat with me and the adults. I am not sure if she wanted to sit with them, the answer was no thank you when they offered- she was fine. She is always “fine.” The “them” was the kids and Irene may have been the youngest of them all still in high school.  The just graduated and off to college kids who were all very chatty with smiles and talk of the latest adventures from college to work, along with several of the very older kids with scandalous adventures of their own. I am sure the conversation was fun and exciting, it sounded that way from where I sat at least and at one point I even longed for the kids table.

Irene sat alone on the couch prior to dinner with her headphones, laptop, phone and her game just in case one died and she had no choice but to use the other. Now at the first mention I would be attending dinner with his family mine said what about Irene, I knew she would survive. No matter if she were with me or them she would be ok and the truth is with less younger toddlers running rampant around the house I knew the better option for her was with me. Why? Autism.

That one word seems to sum up so much of our lives, of hers. Of course for the added bonus we get Depression, ADHD and Anxiety because why not. Someone has to do it right? Not everyone understands this and that’s quite alright. Usually most grasp the subtle nuances Irene delivers, some do not. The way she does not look you in the eye, she does not even look your way while you may be talking to her or vice versa. There are still those that just don’t get it and “it” is the idea that she can just go jump into a conversation and start asking questions. That is not Irene. That more than likely will never be Irene either. The subject at the adult table had led to this and Michael’s brother in law insisting Irene go talk to his children at the kids table immediately because they knew everything she needed to know about math and college. Now this may be true. Once again this is not something that would be happening. Instead Michael’s sister jumped into the conversation saving Irene from embarrassment, not that anyone was aware that was happening. I was.

I had noticed Irene excused herself to the restroom. Her escape. Her refuge away from people, from loud people from nosy people from pushy people from people. Not that the adults were any of that, however I am aware of how my daughter perceives the world; how she perceives me. Her refuge. A quiet place; and this place in this house was the bathroom that I would have to check on her momentarily as to not draw attention to her disappearance. When she reappeared her face was bleeding on her forehead below the hairline and on her nose. Irene had taken away her thoughts and embarrassment by picking at herself and I am thankful it did not go too far this time. That she had the ability to stop and return to the table. I think the only person to notice other than myself was Michael’s sister Leslie; she never said a word but I could tell with a look she was aware.

College. Now all of this conversation started because my Irene is on her way, it is that time. It is the time that all parents work for, they hope for; that their child who is so brilliant and bright, so successful, so young with the whole world at their fingertips can go away to any college in the country and have any future they want and work for. In fact all day today we have spent with college applications, taking brief diversions for Christmas tree decorations and pizza not to mention a few tears with the pressure she must have been feeling to be the perfect child with the perfect grades to get into college for her pushy mother. I left her alone to answer a question and oh my goodness if I told you what she wrote I could be arrested. Her mind all I can say has no limitations, no understanding of what she says and how she says and writes it can affect her life- she has no filter. Irene with all the academic brilliance she has holds no understanding of the real world and how it works or that what she writes could limit her entrance no matter how perfect her grades are.

Which brings me to the box folder. Throughout my navigating the world and advocating for my daughter with all her disabilities learning about resources and what I need to do to ensure she has all the opportunities anyone in this world has and that includes the best college experience at the best college she can get into and grasping the fact myself that no matter how brilliant my child is the reality lies in the actuality that I cannot send her across the country because I need to be able to get to her just in case. In case she needs me, in case she melts down- just in case. That’s it. I am quite aware of the facts and they are without a doubt no matter what; Irene will more than likely live with me for her entire life. She does not have the ability to navigate the world on her own. The world is too dangerous for her to understand and she needs protection. With all her academic achievements she does not understand the value of a dollar, how it is worked for and how it spends. How she can say no and yes that might even mean with her very own body- those are my fears for my seventeen year old child who I hope one day can go away to college to earn a degree and just experience that life. For even just a moment if that’s all she gets.

The box folder is the woman who works folding boxes. She has a master’s in English literature and she folds boxes for a living part-time with an organization that sends a shuttle bus for her that picks her up in front of her parents’ home and delivers her at the end of her day back to her parent’s home. Her sister told me her parents sent her to college to give her something to do for a few years and when she was done the fact remained that all she was capable of doing with her master’s degree was to fold boxes. I am sure she is the best box folder out there!

Am I pushing her? Irene. All I want for my child is happiness. That is all. She wants to go to college, she wants to live in a dorm, she want to do things away from her mother like other people do. I understand. I want to give her all those things too; most importantly I want her to be safe. It is my job as her parent to keep her safe. I get to do that today. What a gift that I get to be present for.

The Chicken Lady

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Addict · Addiction · Bloggess · Childhood · Family · Life · Life story · Mother · Recovery

Who Does That….

Who walks away from their life? From their children’s lives, parents, family of any kind and friends? An addict does that’s who- an addict caught in the grips of addiction. What does an addict look like? Like any of us. I know because I am an addict in recovery named Christine.

Of course I didn’t start out when I was younger thinking to myself- I think I will grow up and become an addict.  I had dreams as a young girl, I wanted to go to college, travel and be a teacher I remember.  A third grade teacher. My third grade teacher made such an impact on me; I vividly remember making nail soup where all the students were tasked to bring in a can or bag of some kind of bean or vegetable for this concoction.  What I know now is that was teamwork at its best. That was an act of all of us doing something for the common good- lunch. It also taught me that I could create something, something that tasted delicious.

By the time I was in sixth grade I was well on my way and already using something to change the way I felt.  I didn’t look like it –YET. I would be able to hide my using for years to come.  Things I could not hide were the self-inflicted scars on my hands and thighs. Gashes that I would gauge into myself with my own hands, clawing and scrapping with my finger nails until I bled or just couldn’t take the burning pain of flesh anymore. Pain was my friend for many years, pain was at least a feeling I could feel that took me away from feeling anything else long before the drugs ever did. Surprisingly enough no one ever noticed the sores on my body; I was always getting some scar from something I was doing so what’s another. No one really paid attention either- they did pay attention when the trouble began I noticed and trouble started happening young and wouldn’t stop until I stopped using. Imagine that.

This picture was taken after, after I had already had my children removed from me.  After I chose drugs and the life that came with it over everything else. Can you tell I was so hopeless? I had come up for air a bit here so I did look somewhat cleaned up. I was just trying to hold on and smile for the camera. I was happy at that moment I am sure of it- of course I was; I was with my children. I remember we were at Mom’s house, those are her couches and that’s my Dad. Mom still had guardianship of all four of my children and dad was there helping out (they divorced when I was very young) – that would change soon.  I would be arrested again and that is when the courts severed all rights to my then youngest child Anthony, not in the picture as he was in foster care; eventually he would be put up for adoption after a series of unfortunate events involving other family members who tried to keep him in the family but were addicts themselves.  My oldest Niko and youngest Cassidy in the picture would stay with my mother and due to allegations the two middle children Marina and Alex would go to my ex-husband.

I didn’t know. I didn’t have any clue or idea that I would not see Marina and Alex for so long. It was just another day like any other.  I was locked up on a 10 day hold, no bail.  I never bailed out- total waste of money and if there was money to be had I needed it to get loaded with. However I remember being shuffled in chains to the family courthouse; I was a hot mess. The judge took a look at me and struck the gavel giving my children away. That was it- they were gone.  I went back to my cell and slept. Not a care in the world.  Drugs had robbed me of the ability to feel for real by then.  I was emotionless and my only thought was counting down the days until my release.  I had to get high, I had to get away- far away where no one knew me for a while. That was my excuse all the time, I just had to get away.

No one knew me really, not even those closest to me. At this point I had secretly given two children up for adoption deep into my addiction. One from a man named Albert whose only problem is that he loved me too much and it scared me so I left him. I would tell Albert I had a miscarriage and that the pain from that was the reason I never wanted to see him again. The other from a man who killed himself- Mike. I carried a lot of guilt from that for a very long time.  Mike and I went way back, back to my runaway years- after the bust he went away for five years federal.  Some people died then, some went to prison, and many I would never see again. I often thought if I had told Mike I was pregnant would he have killed himself that night? If I had let him take me would he have killed me too? If I had never given him that first one would this had happened? I mean why not celebrate after that high risk federal parole case finally closes with mounds of dope right. I remember how he said no he can’t and I did it all myself leaving him that night. It took him just a few short days to catch up to me, pass me up and get into psychosis for me to then close the door on his face that night. When they told me what had happened I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t keep his child.  Just another excuse to give away a baby that I couldn’t deny existed and no one had a clue of anyway, it was a girl.

Today marks 9 years since I walked out of the Sacramento County Jail, April 24, 2009 after serving 8 months of a year sentence. I wanted something different.  I knew I was an addict now- I had evidence. Years and years of evidence. Years and years of incarceration, in some county, somewhere, always dragging me back to Sac County because I always had a warrant. I was actually supposed to be released on the April 23rd, but you know I caught an extra day.  I couldn’t even stay outta trouble in jail! Had I gotten out on the 23rd who knows what would have happened- there was someone there waiting for me I might have actually went with.  Instead I was released on the 24th almost missing my daughter Irene’s birthday on the 26th. I didn’t know how much extra time I was going to get- you never do. By the way that was no coincidence, that was a loving Higher Power intervening in my life one more time.

My moment of clarity happened locked up that last time for those 8 months in the county jail. I had the opportunity to see Marina and Alex again for the first time in 10 years. I was shuffled back to the family courthouse in chains.  My children were now 15 and 16 years old, they were so big. Where had the time gone? It had gone the same place my spirit and soul had gone- to my addiction. When they took me back to my cell that day I had realized one thing and one thing only; I was in that same jail on that same floor 10 years earlier when the judge made the decision to give my children away. It was then when I knew I was an addict.  That drugs had the power over me to turn Christine into someone she no longer wanted to be- I had surrendered.

Besides todays date my clean date, September 5, 2008; the day of my last arrest, September 4, 2008; the day I got my son Alex out of foster care at 15, February 10, 2010, my daughter Marina emancipated out of the system at 18 that December; the day I earned the right to have custody of my youngest girls Irene (who was born after all that under the craziest of circumstances that we just don’t have time for right now) and Cassidy, October 2, 2012 are some of the most important dates in my life.

I remember everything now- I never want to forget what I was like.

Life goes on and I have new dates that mean so much to me now too including good memories with those that I love and those that love me. I have my spirit and soul back, it’s been with me for some time. I am forever grateful for finding a new way to live and for that I give back what was freely given to me.

The Chicken Lady

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