Passion: Rekindled

Chapter Thirty-Four: A Moment of Peace

Ahh….yes. Finally free. I can get rid of this godforsaken nasty trailer and finally get my life where I need it to be. Problem was, the only place I could go was to live with my sister again, and she didn’t have enough room for me and all three of my babies. My only choice left me in tears: I had to give my older two children back to Gypsy.

Strangely enough, he started being nice to me. My sister was being nice to me. Things were strangely peaceful for the first time in years.My sister even paid for me to obtain a security license, and I helped her husband at a restaurant every so often because I was a Waffle House server at the time. I was also working overnights at Walmart, and going to college during the day. I had my youngest daughter in a daycare so my sister wouldn’t have to worry about her, and I was visiting my mother regularly with food because she would get so caught up in her work that she would forget to eat. Life was good.

But my car started having trouble, and after 5 starters my mother just signed my name on the title and gave it to a junk service. I was extremely upset – at first.

1988 Pontiac 6000 LE

I was upset…until my mother told me why she had gotten rid of the car. She got me A DIFFERENT ONE

I have never been so in love with any vehicle as I was with this 1997 4WD Geo Tracker

January 2013 rolls around, I am now working security instead of working at walmart, I’m still on call at Waffle House, my daughter is doing well in daycare (no separation anxiety), I had lost weight and was back down to 135 lbs, and I was back in college. My family and I were getting along, I had this awesome little truck, and everything seemed perfect.

I was even talking to Grim again…

Chapter Thirty-Three: Single and Free

The kids, Curt and I later found a small trailer that was supposed to be temporary living. It was cheap, so we should’ve been able to maintain it while saving up for a better apartment – but the problem was Curt kept spending money on stupid stuff like books, cigarettes and takeout instead of taking food to work or using a library. It got to the point that he was taking money from the envelopes I was using for rent and bill money, and spent it on himself.

I made the mistake of adding him to my Regions and PayPal accounts, because later he would try to use his Regions card, and when it declined he would use the PayPal card as credit, which would later draw from my bank account whether I had money in it or not. After it went $-900 negative and my PayPal was almost $-200 negative, I closed it all out and decided to fix it later.

I was working at Waffle House and Winn-Dixie’s bakery at this point, and Curt tried Waffle House, didn’t like it, quit, and went home to read and smoke. He was getting only serving jobs instead of real job that actually paid, so the bulk of the income was from my job at Winn-Dixie. Thankfully, Winn-Dixie still gave the option to cash paychecks at the service desks, so bank accounts weren’t a problem – but he kept taking the cash from the envelopes, so money was a problem.

I got fed up. I couldn’t stand him anymore. He was bringing drugs into the house, getting me drugged up because he wanted sex, and was smoking in the house…I didn’t want my kids around that. He started asking his friend “Rob” to babysit for us, and it worked well for a while, but in all the mess and frustration I ended up having an affair with Rob. Maybe it was the exposure to drugs, maybe it was just a need for an escape. There was no chance of a relationship with Rob, our views were too different, as were our goals, but it seemed like what happened was just something we both needed at the time.

But that didn’t last long. Curt, having been sharing my laptop for the last 2 years, accessed my email and saw where I had told my sister about the affair. He got so angry, so violent, he threw things around the living room, screamed at me, slapped me, called me a backstabbing whore, destroyed a door…anything he could do to get attention, to own the stage (he did major in acting, after all). But then he took my phone, my laptop, all my electronic communications, and then my car. He went to find Rob at a mutual friend’s house, punched Rob in the face and then broke down into what was described to me as “the most fake breakdown of tears I’ve ever seen

In hindsight, when I borrowed a neighbor’s phone to call and warn Rob, I should have also called the police and reported my car as stolen.

Our friends got Curt calmed down, and when he returned back to the trailer, he demanded that we take a family photo on the couch for Facebook. I guess he was trying to force the relationship back to where he thought it used to be.

Fake smiles all around. 06.09.2012

He even demanded that I sleep with him, trying to “overwrite” everything I had done with Rob by doing those things with him, which I did not want to do – but guess what? It happened anyway, much to my disgust.

I should’ve called the police and reported rape, but again, I was young and dumb, and didn’t know what power I really had.

When all of it was over, Curt said he wanted to go back to university, and that’s when I made my plan.

I helped him get his re-application done, as well as financial aid and student loans, got him a credit card from Capital One to pay the schools a fee he owed, made sure he had a place to stay, and waited.

Curt borrowed $2,000 from a friend to pay his initial expenses for getting to the university. I was the one who picked it up, so instead of giving him the full amount, I gave his share of the living expenses to his roommate, and the rest to his college card via greendot transfers. He got SO upset with me because “he had plans for that money” but I just wanted to make sure he didn’t need to come back to Panama City, where I was.

I waited again until he got a job. Once I knew he was registered for classes, had a place to stay, and a steady income, I dropped all of his stuff off at his dad’s house and broke up with him through email.

August of 2012.

FREEDOM

Chapter Thirty-Two: Surgical Adventures

Living with my aunt was both nice…and not. On one hand, I got to get to know her and her step-daughter. On the other…I got to know her and her step-daughter.

My aunt was a very nice lady in terms of being willing to help people who need it, and very resourceful in how she got things done, but she was a bit of a rough-cut personality with the mouth of a sailor. You could expect to hear the cold, unfiltered truth from her, but not who she was dating at the time. Her “boyfriend” was lacking in basic common sense, was a drunk who never wore shirts and got chest hair in anything he cooked. They fought all the time and, given their ages were in the 50’s range, vented some of their frustrations out towards the then-5 year old girl. They were very sweet to her, and loved her dearly, but just could not match the energy needed to be active with her, and because they got tired so easily, they mostly had her play alone in her bedroom. If they had to get on to her for something, it was usually containing harsh phrases or swear words. All of this, while not being technically abusive, later led to the girl being very mature emotionally, and very sweet to anyone around her, but not very good at thinking things through on a moral basis.

And this was what I was around 24/7 with my children.

Curt and I were already having problems because he wanted to find ways to be intimate and I just couldn’t stomach the thought of it. I hated where I was, I hated the fact that everyone fought all the time, hated that Curt wouldn’t step up and get a job, hated that I couldn’t get a job…I love my family, but I was completely miserable. I wanted freedom.

Finally, after spending so much school and tax money trying to help my aunt catch up on bills that were thousands of dollars behind, I gave up because I realized we were too far away from society to be able to maintain any form of financial stability. Any job worth the pay would be too far to drive, we didn’t have a vehicle that was reliable enough to get there, and the cost of gas would invalidate the pay rate we would receive. Add that to the general cost of the home, maintenance, bills, animal care… It just wasn’t doable. And my aunt’s boyfriend was constantly being arrested for back due child support. This lifestyle was not worth it.

I got a sum of income from tax returns – which upset Gypsy as he had intended to claim the children that year, even though I had them at this point – and I got a Uhaul so I could get us out of there . The most awkward part about it was my aunt didn’t know until I couldn’t get the uhaul truck in the yard backwards, and she had to help as she used to drive semis for a living. *awkward*

She later blew me up on Facebook, insulting me in every way she could, wondering “why I would leave because of a child” – she was under the impression we didn’t like her stepdaughter, or at least, she refused to believe that her behavior was the reason. Regardless, I let the post remain up there, as her prospective employers might see it if they happened to look her up on social media. I ended up deleting it a few years later.

We put everything we owned into storage because Gypsy was accusing us of having bedbugs. We didn’t have any symptoms or anything that would’ve supported his theory, and genuinely looked when he claimed they’d come from us, but we found nothing. Still, to be safe, we fogged our stuff.

After everything was done, we met up with my former roommate/distant cousin to buy from him the 1988 Pontiac 6000 LE that used to belong to my grandmother. I was attached to it because it was the last vehicle my grandfather and I worked on together. I was very careful to only put the car into my name. By this point, we were staying in a hotel where a friend worked.

In March of 2012, I finally got the tubal ligation I had been asking for. They were going to do the surgery the day after my youngest was born, but I had woken up with a breathing problem, only to learn there was water on my heart and I had had a minor heart attack because of it. They had postponed my surgery for 3 months after that, and when I went, I left Curt a detailed map as to my location – a surgery center – so he could have a friend drive him out there to come get me.

Like an idiot, he drove all over the place to every hospital, ignoring my note, and did not pick me up. I had to have the surgery center call my mother instead, who drove me back home. I then caught the bus to the daycare to get my daughter, and the bus driver offered to drive us home for free afterwards because it was very obvious that I had just had surgery. Instead, the daycare center drove us home. When we got there, Curt and his friend were inside, and Curt JOLTED towards me, frantic, “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE HERE! I WAS SO WORRIED!” *queue dramatic scene here* After this, he didn’t even really bother trying to help me regardless of the fact that I was in so much pain.

Please don’t touch me, Curt, I’m in pain

I decided instead to allow Curt to spend about an hour or so alone with the baby, since she was asleep already anyway, and I paid his friend some fuel money to bring me back to the surgery center to get my car. Once in it, I realized it was the first time I’d had a moment to myself in so long I couldn’t even remember. I was on percocets, so I had to drive carefully and on back roads to avoid high speeds and populated traffic…but I didn’t want to go back home just yet.

My only real reprieve – the one place I always felt safe, where no harm had ever come to me – was the college. And it was close enough to where we were staying that it didn’t take much time for me to go there and back. I figured I could check out the library or visit the tech building for a while and calm my mind a bit.

I would walk through the halls, look at all of the displays in the main entrance, sit at the couches near the elevator and read, listen to music…but today, sitting hurt because of the surgery. I could – but not for long – so I decided to walk around instead.

Professor was here today. Seemed like a nice moment for a talk. He knew that I was…not quite myself today, so I told him the truth: I had had surgery that morning and was on pain meds. He asked if I was driving and I said I was, but not much and not on main roads. He advised me to go back home and rest, but not before we had a decent chat about a few tech ideas I had. I also accidentally let slip a few details about what was going on at home, and he advised me to get away from it.

“I’m working on it” I told him

“Rule number 3” He replied.

Rule number 3: Don’t screw up‘, I thought to myself

“I won’t” I smiled.

He walked me out because of my condition, and wouldn’t let me take the stairs. He insisted I use the elevator and that I stay home and rest for a few days. I agreed.

I went back home, fed the baby, and passed out.

Chapter Thirty-One: Damage Control Home and Student 2012

At some point, Gypsy must have realized that he could not do anything about my keeping the children. Had he called the police, they would have told him to go back to court to sort it out. Of course, the courthouse had been telling him for about 2 years at this point to re-submit a lot of paperwork. Had I known at the time, I likely would have filed a Motion for Default and gotten custody of my children since he refused to act in the case and had been lawfully served with papers – but nobody told me and it never occurred to me to ask. Everyone kept telling me that they could not progress the case until Gypsy did his part, which was a huge lie that cost me later.

I had my son registered in the school nearest to my aunt’s house, and my girls stayed home with me. My son attended school with my aunt’s stepdaughter, who thoroughly enjoyed having someone around with whom to play. But I did not realize at the time just how much work I had placed upon myself until I went to get my son (then aged 4, pre-K) onto the school bus.

My son had ridden public transportation with me before, so I didn’t think much on it when he went to get on the bus. But then it hit me: He’s never traveled without someone in his family before, and I couldn’t ride the bus with him.

The moment my son realized this, he started WAILING and tried to get back off the bus, telling me “I-DON’T-WANT-TO GO TO-S-S-S-SCHOOL!!!” with tears welling up in his eyes. I had to tell him, “They’ll bring you right back home when school is over, this is a bus for big boys and girls who go to school! Mommies can’t get on this bus with you unless you’re on a special trip.”

I asked the bus driver if there was a seat with a seat belt, to which he replied, “Yes” and pointed to a seat in the front by the door. I walked onto the bus with my son, sat him in the seat, buckled him up, told him I loved him, kissed him on the forehead – and walked off the bus. I informed the driver on my way off that my son was autistic and was not used to change, and that it would stop once he realized that it was safe and would happen every day. Everything later occurred exactly as I said it would

The next issue I had was that my son – and my then 3 year old daughter – were still not potty trained, nor did they know how to drink from a straw or a real cup. They had never been given solid foods, either. I had to send my son to school with pull ups and a change of clothes in his backpack, and my older daughter was still in DIAPERS of all things. She had never even been introduced to a toilet.

Curt worked at Dick’s Last Resort in Panama City Beach (Sooooo befitting), and usually slept til early afternoon. So, every day, I would get up at 0530, get my cousin and son on the bus, feed the girls, clean the house, and do college work on the computer (trying college again)

At two o’clock I would go to get the kids off the bus and make lunch. – but in between all of this was a series of random girl care.

  • Feed the toddler some cereal and milk. Take to bathroom immediately.
  • Feed the infant a bottle. Change diaper 5 minutes later
  • Toddler wet herself. Place toddler on toilet. Give quick shower. Toddler poops in bathtub. Remove toddler. Wash tub. Put toddler back in tub. Step in pee outside of the tub. Step into the tub, wash feet. Step out, avoiding puddle. Wash toddler. Put toddler in pull up (NO DIAPERS). Carry toddler to play area, avoiding puddle.
  • Baby is crying. Pick up baby. Change diaper – EXPLOSION INSIDE THE CLOTHES. Bring baby to shower, forgetting about the puddle. Step in puddle. Swear. Wipe down foot with baby wipe. Grab the baby monitor from the bedroom, move to play area, clip receiver on hip, baby still in arms. Bring baby back to bathroom, set on baby bath, turn on warm water. Begin to wash baby. Monitor screams, “MAH-MEEEEEEEEEEE!”. Rush baby out of shower, wrap in towel. Run in to check on toddler, wet baby in arms. Toddler is okay. Go back to bedroom to dress infant.
  • Infant has pooped in the towel. back to the bath. Wash baby again. Return to bedroom quickly, diaper and dress the baby, place in crib. Clean puddle FINALLY.
  • Monitor sounds are…odd. Check on toddler.
  • Toddler has pooped in her pull up. Return to bathroom. Clean toddler. Put toddler in panties *trying to make it uncomfortable for toddler to mess herself*
  • Feed toddler lunch.
  • Return to baby in bedroom. She’s rooting. Breastfeed baby til she falls asleep. Place back in crib.
  • Send toddler to bathroom to use toilet. SUCCESS!
  • Make toddler a warm sippy of milk. NO BOTTLES. Toddler falls asleep on bed. Do homework until aunt comes home.

Two o’clock, get kids off bus. Check folders, help with homework, put son on toilet (facing the wall/backwards) SUCCESS! Son says “Bye, pee-pee!” as he flushes. Wash hands. Time to wake up my daughter. Aunt goes in.

Aunt comes back. Toddler has wet my bed. DAMN IT! Round 1,324,165,743,213,574,965,432,132,410 tomorrow, I guess…

Chapter Thirty: Thinking with the Heart

By December 2011, Curt had returned to Panama City, and intended to stay. I was in too much pain at this point to really care. I knew something was wrong with the baby and couldn’t do anything for myself. It got so bad that I could no longer stand straight up or sleep lying down, so I spent almost all of my time sitting in my late grandmother’s old Lazy-Boy recliner. (RIP)

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Finally, I decided to go to the doctor, who made me lie down flat on the examination table. When my body was stretched out, I started shaking and crying. He sat me up and said “We’re going to induce tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m.” It was December 13, and the baby was not due until December 21.

The next morning, at 6:00 a.m., we arrived at the hospital to find Curt’s sister already waiting on us (I do still love that girl to pieces, despite the falling out between our families) I got set up and told the doctor I ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT WANT DRUGS FROM THE BEGINNING. (yeah, laugh it up, I went 14 hours with my son – dilated to 7cm before getting drugs, and 5 hours with my daughter. I know how this goes) And within 5 hours here, my second daughter was born. When her head popped out, the doctor told me “DON’T PUSH” and I freaked out because I am on drugs and can’t feel my lower half to know what the hell is going on down there to begin with. Thanks for that, Doc. But it turns out that the reason I could not straighten my body without severe pain, the reason I could hardly move, was the umbilical cord was wrapped around my baby’s neck – twice. Had I straightened out, or slept in the bed instead of the recliner, had I not followed my instincts, I could have very easily stretched that cord and snapped her neck in-utero. My neurotic obsession with my hunchbacked penguin waddle saved my daughter’s life. I’m lucky I had the doctor I did, though. Sam Wolf Jr was the absolute best, and he’s funny as hell.

But there was more – my baby had abnormalities. She had a large red birthmark covering half of her body, and a huge second toe on the same side. We stayed in the hospital for a few days and discovered that it was called a Port Wine Stain and a Morton’s Toe. She was otherwise very healthy and happy and beautiful. Whereas my son and older daughter were beautiful with dark hair, dark eyes and my olive complexion, my son skinny and my daughter shapely, my new baby girl was fair skinned, blue-eyed and blonde, very petite and fragile. In so many ways, I was blessed with the best of all worlds – to have both light and dark, boy and girl. Each of my children were so unique and individual, yet similar in many ways and close to each other. I was completely in love all over again…but I wasn’t exactly “stable” yet in terms of hormones.

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To put it boldly: Gypsy and I had been having issues with the custody arrangement lately, and he had been constantly denying me my visitation. The court case was still pending, and there was no custody order in place at the time – nor was there an adjudication of paternity. My aunt was insistent that we could make it work if I really wanted the kids with me, so the next time I got the kids, I kept them, and by law there was nothing Gypsy could do about it.

I loved every single moment of it…but I didn’t know what it would cost me later.

 

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Please Go Away Already

So, the new year rolls in with yet another pregnancy – it bothered me a bit that I learned of the pregnancy in April of 2011, because Angel would have been born this month, but I had to learn to let go for the sake of the new baby. Ah, hormones…and my poor doctor. To be fair, I had asked him after the last two pregnancies to tie my tubes, and he refused. Florida law requires that a woman must have at least two children and be over the age of twenty-one before they can be sterilized. I didn’t mind the idea of having another child – I LOVE being a mother – but what bothered me was the timing, and the man with whom I was going to have a child. I had literally just decided that I was going to break up with him once I got all of my ducks in a row…jeez, I can be stupid sometimes.

So how can I use this to my advantage? Everything happens for a reason, right? Need to figure this out. First off, having another baby would mean I could prove myself as a mother – putting me in a position to take care of my other two, and possibly allowing me to get them back. Second…I know for a fact that Curt would never be in a position to care for this baby, so he could never take it from me. There were a lot of benefits to this…not to mention squishy fat baby cheeks to kiss!

I did the honorable thing in spite of myself, and told Curt that I was pregnant with his child, and he was immediately distraught. He did not want a child. (honestly…works for me) He wanted to go back to school for his B.A. in acting of all things. I told him that was fine, he could still go back to college, and that I would help him get through the paperwork (please just go away as fast as you can!) And the next six months went by without much issue. We worked and came home, I would get things we needed for the baby, and THANK GOD I managed to finally get him to quit smoking in the house. I think, in this time, things were relatively peaceful. Hard to remember the times during which major events didn’t occur.

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So we get to August 2011, and I have Curt completely set up. I got him into a dorm room so he had somewhere to be, had all of his registration and financial aid set up, and got his address changes in order. He got a ride from a mutual friend (the alcohol-in-a-bag guy) out to The University of West Florida in Pensacola.

I couldn’t afford the house by myself, even as cheap as it was, so as soon as Curt was gone, I packed up the entire house in 2 days and moved in with my Aunt, her boyfriend and his daughter in Youngstown. I told her all about what I had going on and she wanted to help. I was finally out of that hellhole and away from Curt – but see, I was an idiot and didn’t want to break up with him just yet because I thought my unborn daughter deserved to know her father, and I was still four months pregnant at the time.

Living with my Aunt was not that bad – what sucked was that her boyfriend had no common sense, took people for granted, and did nothing for the benefit of his 5 year old daughter – who was developing some serious behavior problems that nobody was addressing. I tried to be as good to her as I could be, but being pregnant I had an issue with hormones in response to her trying to cry, when in reality she was just yell-whining really loudly. Add this to the fact that it was a one-acre lot full of crap my aunt’s boyfriend was constantly digging out of dumpsters, nine dachshunds who were not yet house trained, a pregnant horse and a snake? It was complete chaos at that house, and I could not seem to keep up with it well enough.

I got up at 6:00 a.m. every day, took my cousin to her bus stop, fed the horse her ration of hay, pellets, and oats, would sometimes walk her around the yard or to the bus stop and back (I couldn’t ride horses in our pregnant conditions), I would feed the dogs, clean the house, and sit on the computer pretty much for the rest of the day. We were too far into the countryside of the county for me to be within bus range, and I had no working vehicle, so staying in the house was pretty much all I could do. I hated TV and there were not really many books around – not to mention I spent a good few hours fixing my aunt’s computer because of the various viruses and the literal thousands of updates that needed to be taken care of. I also repaired and rewired her internet modem and untangled her mess of cords. I don’t think she minded my using her computer after that. I did manage to have quite a few fun times with my little cousin when she was in a decent mood, though. I learned a lot about patience with behavior issues because of her – which I didn’t know would later come in handy for my son.

Every so often, when his friend could go to Pensacola, Curt would catch a ride back to Panama City to visit, but after a few months he started talking about coming back permanently after the semester was over. I know he was thinking of being here for our daughter’s birth, but I don’t think he realized what he had just said, and I really just did not want to deal with him again.

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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Welcome to 2011

I’ve got to tell you, being able to make the amount of mistakes I’ve made in this short of time has got to be some kind of a record. The reason I did not remember the end of 2010 was because, from the time I miscarried in September of 2010 until the following Spring Break 2011, I was drinking and doing drugs, courtesy of Curt. It didn’t exactly help that Gypsy and I had begun the process of a custody battle in October…wait, did I miss my birthday?

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But it wasn’t like people told me it would be. Whereas Curt and his friends would get completely hammered to the point of throwing up and passing out, I would only take enough to calm the anxiety in my head. I learned that I was happy and affectionate while intoxicated, and that I liked to do Science experiments whether I was sober or not (Yes, I blew up a lot of things. No, it was not part of the plan). I also learned that I had the holy grail of alcoholism: I don’t hang over. I did not require much to put me in a good mood, it didn’t take long for it to cycle out of my system, and I could wake up early and in good spirits despite how late I stayed up the night before. I was a lightweight, and because of this, I was not dependent on using more and more each time, and I never had to exceed my limits in order to enjoy it. When I realized just how easy it would be for me to do this for a long time, I got scared.

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See, as a person with Bipolar Disorder, I know when I am not in my right mind. (of course, I wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2013) With most mental health patients, they don’t know when they’ve lost their mind; they’re convinced that whatever is in their heads must be the truth – but not me. I see it coming – yet, I am still powerless to stop it.

Imagine being the passenger of a car where everyone else is asleep – including the driver – and you’re headed full speed towards a brick wall. You can’t unbuckle, you can’t wake up the driver, and you can’t take the wheel. You see everything crashing around you, and you’re powerless to stop it. You are reduced to becoming just the voice in the back of your own head, screaming at yourself, “Wake up! Snap out of it!” – but you can’t. There’s no control. That is a Bipolar episode – for me, at least. I envy those who cannot recall their episodes – I don’t believe they suffer as much remorse

So understand that when I have drugs that relax me, calm the racing thoughts; silence the constant anxiety, compulsions, and impulses, my mind is finally free of every negative thought which accompanies them. I’m able to think about relaxing things. Happy things. Things that are important to me. I was able to think of all the love I had for my children, of everything in this world that I wanted to show them, give them, or see them explore. I thought of their smiles and laughs.

And I realized that, if I continue on this path with Curt, I’d likely never see them again. I knew that I no longer had use for him, that he could do nothing else for me or my kids, and that I had to leave him.

So I quit. Everything. Right then. (Spring Break was over by now, anyway)

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Fast forward to May 2011, when we were in a…more-or-less…stable position. I didn’t like living in a trailer, but neither of us had good enough credit at the time to get anything worthwhile. So we dealt. Life was otherwise uneventful, but I was able to see my children, so I didn’t mind.

Problem was…I wasn’t right. Everything was hurting, my hormones were off balance. I thought….again? No, I thought. It must be in my head because I’m finally sober enough to process the miscarriage. I don’t remember what jobs we were working at the time – I think Curt was working for Little Caesars and I was at Waffle House. We lived near enough to stores and bus stops that we had no real transportation issues. Curt worked on the West side of the bridge, and we lived at the East edge of it. He wasn’t home, so it was the perfect time to double check – if nothing else, just to ease my racing mind. So I went to Dollar General, bought and took a pregnancy test, and waited.

Another positive. I passed out.

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Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Professor

September 2010, after the miscarriage, I had changed over to a job at Waffle House. I didn’t mind it. It kept me busy enough to not think about what all was going on. I had gotten tired enough of my cousin’s crap that I moved out & got another place from the same landlord for myself. It cost a little more because it was more restored, but it was still crap. But I enjoyed the freedom, regardless of its side effects.

Back to the peaceful grind, I was more often than not headed out of the house when I was not at work. I loved areas with lots of people, fresh air, the option of temperature control, food and facilities. Perhaps I had found myself stranded too often recently, and found security in certain surroundings. Regardless, it was a peaceful escape from my recent chaotic norm.

My primary preference was Borders Bookstore at Pier Park (which, like the Barnes & Nobel in the Mall, is now a clothing store *sniff*)

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I would often visit the Science and Physics sections, with a nice French Vanilla Coffee (My mother got me addicted, she herself preferred it as a Cappuccino, however) Curt preferred a hyped up, multi-espresso shot of the nastiest, highest-caffeinated cup of mud he could think up, and a crappy Science Fiction Novel Series. He claimed to be a speed reader with a 165 IQ and sought to mention it frequently (hint: if you have to tell people, or brag about it, it’s not true, and we won’t believe you)

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I would also often bring with me my laptop. I thoroughly enjoyed electronics and my mother can attest to my taking them apart constantly as a child….mostly house phones (even the clear ones) and not always being able to put them back together. All the computers I had ever had were built by me from scrap parts. I built my first one as a teenager, with little to no knowledge of how they worked. I based it on the machines and devices I had taken apart before. By 15, I was learning coding and hacking, and my mother had banned me from using her computer after receiving a letter from the CIA inviting me to their high school intern program.

Anyway, flash forward, It’s towards the end of the year in 2010 and I’m at Borders in Pier Park, and my laptop was somewhat precious to me because I was actually able to afford it new – and Curt frikkin spilled coffee on it.

I had disassembled, repaired, and reassembled the entire laptop on a coffee shop dining table, fighting the urge to smack Curt over the head with it for breaking it in the first place, and all I needed to do was test the computer’s repair. Curt was no help at all, and I moved to a different table by a foundation beam, trying to find an outlet and get away from Curt. I was trying to focus. I had not found an outlet, and was getting ready to pack up my things when I heard a man’s voice.

“You can sit here and use this outlet if you want.” He said, pointing to the beam behind him, “I see what you’re trying to do.”

I awkwardly thanked him and accepted his invitation. My laptop tested well, seemed to have no issues, and Curt was busy reading his book across the room by the window. Always cautious around new people, I struck up casual conversation with the man, and tried to gather as much information as possible about him without him noticing before talking about myself. I had been through a bit too much lately to be so careless anymore.

He told me that he was an adjunct professor at the local college for the Technology Division, and he was attending online college simultaneously for an M.S. degree – or that he had recently attended, I don’t recall exactly at this point. It was strange to me that he claimed to teach in the Technology division, because I had just recently changed my major again to Computer Engineering. (I started with English, then Business Administration and Management, then Criminology, and had only attended school in 2008 & 2009 at that point. I had taken a break after having left Gypsy so I could focus on getting my kids back)

I mentioned my recent change, and he encouraged it greatly, inviting me into what he claimed to be a pretty big thing he had planned for the Technology Division. Even then, he had his sights set high, and his voice was very calm, yet completely in control. You could easily tell that this man was dedicated and organized – not to be messed with. He kept a coffee – large – some file folders, a laptop bag. He was a relatively attractive man. He had a very piercing glance with a mix of brown/green eyes that seemed to see right through you. He wore a large class ring, indicating that he was very proud of his achievements. He cared about his appearance, his hair was cut short and proper and his face clean-shaven, and he dressed respectfully, suggesting to me that he needed a particular opinion of himself among others. That’s good, I thought, it means he doesn’t think that he is perfect, and won’t put others down. Something about him suggested to me that he, too, was enlisted at one point. He sat facing the window, near a doorway, with a foundation beam at his back (to prevent people from sneaking up on him, I thought), and the coffee shop to his left. He was in the center of the coffee shop area, but not the center of the store itself; far enough from every counter to not be noticed. When I inquired about his demeanor, he laughed and admitted to me that he was a military officer a long time ago. He cut the conversation short, claiming that he had to study some things from his file folders, and kindly gave me his contact information should I decide to return to school. When he stood, he was almost a whole head taller than myself. Tall, dark hair, dark eyes, smooth voice. More of the pattern – NO, nope, not this time. Not again. I pushed the thought away, and snuck a glance at his hands from the corner of my eye, pretending to look at my laptop. A ring. Good, I thought. Don’t screw up

But with just a few minutes of talking to this Professor, and I realized that I saw everything in a completely different way. I saw opportunities and choices and chances that I could take now that I hadn’t realized before. I saw and thought of everything in a new way, and my plans for my life took a massive turn. I believe influences such as these would change my life for the better, regardless of whether or not they intended it – or even noticed. It was then that I decided I needed to change the people in my life.

One conversation with the right person completely stole my mind from the constraints given by others having made my decisions for me in the past. One conversation put me in complete control over my own life.

One single conversation, and I was free.

…But that didn’t exactly stop me from screwing up.

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Chapter Twenty-Six: Losing Angel

For once, I was happy and hopeful towards a better future. I was confident that I could work everything out. I was away from all negative influences, I visited my children as regularly as I was able, I had gotten a job at the Winn-Dixie within walking distance to my house, Curt pretty much left me alone, which I liked. I had so much time to myself because he was always off at the college or doing a play or some other nonsense. The only downside was that the trailer in which we lived was not exactly up to code, and we did not yet have furniture to replace what we had sacrificed in the move.

That, and my then-idiot cousin kept trying to rescue homeless people by bringing strangers into the house. There have been various groups of people – and he even allowed our drunk and druggie neighbors to use his car, sometimes for so long that we’d actually believed they’d stolen it. The homeless people began to do drugs and other things in the house, take off and do criminal things, and always returning as though they lived with us. I didn’t like it, but there was a woman involved, and I pitied her. Eventually there was a huge fight, and I got into the man’s face around the same time my idiot cousin started to fight him with a bat. I left the room to protect my unborn child, and casually sat in the rocker in the livingroom with my knife, waiting on the rear bedroom door to open. Finally, it did, and the homeless people were gone for good. As an added bonus, our drunk neighbor was arrested and his girlfriend left with another man while he was in jail.

Everything was calm again, but on the morning of September 19, 2010, I awoke to the sensation that I was wetting the bed. I carefully got out of bed and went into the bathroom to discover that I had not, in fact, peed on myself – I was covered in blood. My first instinct was to sit in the bathtub, and the moment I sat down, I felt the painful pressure of menstrual cramps as a large burst of blood rushed out of me – along with my baby. I held it in my hands – only 12 weeks along, no determined gender – and yelled for Curt. He sat on the toilet, and I closed the curtains so he wouldn’t have to watch this happening. I thought it would be over after a short while, but I continued to bleed out. The placenta, and the uterine lining came next, and still more blood. There was nothing left in me to expel, and yet still I bled. I began to get tired, but did not want to let go of my lost child. My child with no gender, no name – no, wait. I can at least give him that. A name befitting both genders, a name to show that I love you even though you’re gone. A name to describe just what you are, who you are: My Angel. Yes, Angel, my little lost love. As with all my babies, even knowing he/she could not hear me, the first words I whispered to them were “I love you” and I held them against my chest, and cried. I was also so out of my mind, I did not know if a miscarriage was worthy of a call for an ambulance, so I called my mother instead, who told me to go to the hospital.

I had to throw away my bathrobe, I placed all of the parts from the miscarriage into a bag, intending to bring it with me to the hospital, but Curt (believing that the child was his) instead put it into the trash can outside – I had not even noticed because I was in so much pain, I did not see him. I was struggling just to get to the car. I wish more than anything that my unborn child, my sweet Angel, and Grim’s child, had not been so discarded, and to this day I still get highly emotional over it.

my cousin had driven Curt and me to the ER, where I’d walked in wearing loose-fitting clothes with a red towel between my legs. They saw that I was covered in blood, and immediately brought me a wheelchair with a birthing pad on it to wheel me in. I don’t even recall filling out any paperwork, but I was brought back and they examined me, confirmed that I had miscarried, and painfully pulled a clot from my skin before bringing me back for an emergency D&C. They said I had lost a lot of blood, and they were shocked to see that I was still conscious. The cause of the miscarriage was determined to be clots. My womb had filled with clots, and one of them attached to the baby, killing it. The clots were clogging my body, which is why it continued trying to flush the system – the clots were foreign and my body could not expel them. They were attached to my womb and had to be directly removed.

I sat in the surgery preparation room on a hospital bed, quiet, and Curt decided to return back to the trailer to rest (I have no frikkin idea, but I was glad to be rid of him) and all I could do at that point was breathe through the pain and think of my loss. I thought of Grim. I said nothing, but a nurse noticed that I was literally trembling all over with pain, without complaint, and offered me some pain medication. I told her that I would be okay – that I’d been through worse pain than this (physically, anyway) – but that I would consent to the medication anyway if it made things go by more smoothly. She was very kind, and returned with some morphine. The moment my body was no longer in pain, I fainted.

I woke up apparently after the surgery – having come in at five in the morning – to discover that it was 1 in the afternoon. My mother was here, as well as my cousin – but not Curt, and not Grim. I faintly recall telling my mother “Please tell [Grim], it’s his baby.” but I don’t recall who told him later, or in what words. I recall my cousin trying to tell me, “It’s okay, I’m here” in an attempt to comfort me, but I knew that his intentions revolved around the fact that we were not truly family – and I said the first thing that came to my mind, “Where’s Curt?” He was still sleeping, apparently. I missed Grim.

I don’t remember who brought me home. I don’t remember who signed me out. I don’t remember anything except that I had fallen asleep the moment I got home at two in the afternoon, and slept for the next 12 hours. I was on an all-liquid diet for the next 7 days, which I did not mind (I LOVE soup) and I still had to work the following business day – so I did. (with medical release)

I presented my medical information to my manager the next day, and told them I was not allowed to lift certain boxes or perform certain actions, and asked to be placed in at the cash registers since there were 2 people at the bakery that day. The misogynistic bastard told me, “You will NEVER work at the registers, I don’t think you can handle it.” (he was unaware that I had awards from anther Winn-Dixie store for being a top cashier, and a cashier trainer) and insisted that if I could not perform my job duties – regardless of the reasons – that he would relieve me of my position.

So I told him off and quit.

Chapter Twenty-Five: My Happy Secret

I’m going to back things up just a bit here, because honestly, recalling all of this in proper order is difficult a decade later. So I want to do a *flashback* so-to-speak, to July 9, 2010 – the day after Grim’s birthday.

Grim had come to visit me at my frienemy’s apartment, and Curt was not there at the time. Grim was supposed to go to his mother’s house on the far end of town to watch her animals while she was away. As I could not visit his house, and the apartment in which I lived had literally no privacy, I went with him. I missed him.

I don’t know what possessed us when we arrived, we began talking and just escaping within each other, away from all the problems of the world. We had not been alone together like this following my leave of Gypsy, and the last time we were together without fear was before I had ever even met Gypsy. At this moment, we had reclaimed all we had lost for a single night, and we were both completely lost in it.

I remember getting a tour of the house, sitting on a couch with him, sitting on his lap eventually as he poured out his heart to me, tears streaming down his cheeks. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him in any more pain because of me – but what could we do? We had no choice. I couldn’t get rid of Curt (no matter how many times I told him that I did not want to be with him) and I was not allowed to live with Grim, where I most desired to be.

I only wanted to be away from my evil, manipulative roommates, and I would not be able to do that if Curt moved out and Grim moved in. I did NOT want Grim in that situation – he would be the only financially stable person in the house, and they would use him terribly. No, not my love. I can take this, and Curt was at the time my scapegoat. I was using Curt, and could not do that to Grim. I could not switch their positions and put Grim into such a predicament.

I know that I had explained this to him, and we had agreed to try and play things out to our favor….but it was Grim’s tears which got to me the most, making me want to throw away everything and just start anew with him. I couldn’t do that, my children are far more important to me, and I can never imagine a life without them. (or Grim, but I know he can be okay, whereas my children might suffer in my absence)

His tears led to my kissing him, both of us crying and silently wishing things were different, casually playing with each other’s hands – that lovely marriage finger we never got to claim…we remembered our secret engagement of 2006, how all our plans were destroyed in part because of me, Gypsy, and even Grim’s own brother. I lowered my head in shame, myself beginning to cry for the loss of such a future.

Grim took my hand and led me to a small room, with a small bed, where eventually we entangled with one another for I don’t even know how long. The dogs in the house began to bark at us, scratching at the door, upsetting all the other animals in the house I could not name at the time. We didn’t care about anything at all in that moment – no one’s opinions or controls were between us, no one knew we were together. No parents or schools or outside influences could touch us now, we were completely free, and I was his, and he was mine, and it was beautiful.

Fast forward to July 19-21, when my son was in the ICU, I began to get carsick.

Then fast forward to August 20 (actually Gypsy’s birthday), and the day I realized I was getting snappy at Grim for no reason at all. The day I found myself wrapping Oreo cookies in American slices of cheese and eating them whole. The day I took the next pregnancy test – at the health department.

It was positive. It was Grim’s baby, without a doubt. I was not going to let Gypsy try to take this away from me, but I was also not going to bring it to Grim without confirmation and proof.

So I set up a doctor’s appointment, with my health department confirmation of pregnancy, and had an ultrasound. I was definitely pregnant – and the heartbeat was strong. I was about 7 weeks along at the time of the appointment, and they gave me a copy of the ultrasound to present to Grim. For me, it was a sign of good things to come. Grim reacted with a hint of fear and worry – but I assured him that I would do everything right and that this could be the key to bringing us back to where we’d always belonged. I told him, for the first time in a long time, that I loved him, and we parted ways in accordance with the plan.

Although I had managed a child with Gypsy, I fully believe deep in my heart that my son is Grim’s child, and I had only ever wanted to have a family with Grim. To have a child who is his, without question, meant the absolute world to me, and I did every single thing the doctor told me. I always had issues remembering, of course, and with having the energy to do it, so I had to set alarms.

But there were other issues at hand which I did not take into account.

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