Now, here’s the story…
Earlier this year I asked for your help. I asked you to donate so that my family could pay off our last month of rent in Seattle, and get to Florida in order to stay with my husband’s parents. If you follow my blog, you probably know my relationship with my in-laws has a…history. One that, looking back through the lens of the past few months, very much resembles the abuse cycle typically associated with intimate partner violence. There would be periods of unexpected, unwarranted gifts, intense generosity, and inclusion in family dinners and outings. Always followed by the inevitable gutpunch. Demands that I leave their home. Below-the-belt insults that prey on the vulnerabilities I was naive enough to express during times of peace. Shouting fits that ignored my children crying in the same room. Cruel gossip tearing me down to every other member of the family, ensuring that if my in-laws don’t like me, no one else will either. It was because of this that I wrote shortly after arriving, “I don’t know what the future will hold, but for now I’m going swimming.”
I want to say thank you, again, to everyone who helped with our fundraiser at the beginning of the year. It took everything I had and then some to care for a man in debilitating psychosis while also caring for two toddlers full-time while also caring for myself while also trying to work enough to pay all of our bills. Your help means that I don’t have an eviction on my record. It means that I was able to meet the goal of going to Florida in an attempt to support my husband’s recovery and to get my writing career back on track so we could get back to the West Coast by our own means.
I want to thank you, and I also want to apologize. You spent your money and energy helping us, and things did not go as planned. When I left, I’d feared the worst but hoped for the best–unfortunately my hopes were useless and my fears weren’t robust enough to predict what would actually happen.
Because I am taking the matter to trial, which is set for next week, I don’t want to write out the details here yet. The basic facts are that my husband and I decided to separate, and work together as co-parents instead of lovers. No longer bound to him romantically, I guess I no longer had a place in the family–something I always feared, and saw signs of any time my husband and I argued. My in-laws made a false allegation against me to child services, using the stigma associated with substance use disorders to bias them against me from the start. In an act of blatant discrimination–the judge even said they have no proof I’m using drugs now, but was making her judgment because of my addiction and treatment history–they gave temporary custody of my daughters to my in-laws. I was ordered to leave the home. Keep in mind that I know nobody else in Florida. This means I was ordered to become homeless, which I am right now, temporarily crashing on the couch of someone I met out here.
My in-laws are only allowing me to see my daughters once a week for an hour or two. This is harming them as much as it is me. They tell me they miss me; they beg me to “visit them at grandma and grandpa’s house.” Several times, my elder daughter has ended the visit by insisting that she wants to stay with mama–me. It is a painful, haunting experience. I am oscillating between numbness and deep, traumatic depression. I know that when this is over I’ll have to spend a lot of time and energy working through the familial abuse inflicted against me and my children by my in-laws and Broward County.
I have physical evidence in my favor that decimates their case. In a fair courtroom; in a state that isn’t trying to make up for killing hundreds of children; in a proceeding that relies on evidence and reasonable doubt; in a location where I would have an abundance of character witnesses; up against a family with scruples–I would surely win. But I am afraid, because my addiction history means I am considered guilty until I prove my innocence–and possibly still guilty then anyway. Because I have no doubt my in-laws will team together to say whatever nasty fiction they so choose, and I won’t have anyone on my side out here in Florida to tell the truth about me. Because these proceedings are up to a judge, who is a fallible human and prone to personal preferences that probably include disbelieving anyone who has ever had a substance use disorder. Even if I have been open about my past from the start.
But I am now enrolled in an amazing housing opportunity in Seattle. One that will allow me to get a good apartment for low rent. One that will mean I can support my family on my own with my writing. My plan is to go home after this week. I hope it’s with my girls, but if I lose the trial, then I will have to go and create a satisfactory home for them to return to. I can’t do that on my own here in Florida. It would break my heart to leave them, but if the judge makes the wrong decision, then I will have to fight from my homeground.
I left everything I owned, besides clothes and a few sentimental items, when I came to Florida to support my husband. I sacrificed so much more than I will be able to replace on my own. So I’m asking for your help again. But not for your money. Just for a few moments of your time, and a vote.
I entered two contests on a website called Whizolosophy. I wrote a poem about loss, and an essay about identity. Whizolosophy gives away Amazon credit (in Canadian dollars). I won third place in a contest last month, and though I’d initially planned to save my winnings to buy a new bed for my daughters, when I learned I’d have to take the case to trial, I ended up using it to buy clothing for court. Appearances matter in these proceedings. I hope to have a chance to win so that I can buy furniture for my place in Seattle–so I can replace the cooking equipment, furniture, clothes, toys, and books that I lost in the move. All you need to vote is a Facebook or Google account, a finger to click with, and a few moments of your time. You can vote for each 10 times per day. Which means you can go and click vote 10 times on each right now and help me move up! If you remember, you can come back and do the same until the 7th. Will you help me? I need to become one of the top-voted entries in order to get to the final round of judging–the poem especially needs votes; at I’m lagging just behind. I need a few dedicated 10 per day people to get me up into the final round!
Please take a moment to vote for these pieces, and please ask your friends and family to vote as well. It’s a small gesture that will help a lot as I rebuild my life from the rubble that abuse has created of it. Voting closes on June 7th–the same day as my trial–so please vote and share as soon as possible!