I did the right thing for Katie, but I struggled with finances and keeping even a waitress job. My emotional state became more and more deteriorated and even now to this day my ex-husband barely lets me see Katie because he wants me to have supervised visits. He thought I was an emotional liability for our daughter. I was, at first, but he has been without that excuse for well over a year now. Many people who know the situation think he is keeping her from me still because he has massive control issues and wants to continue punishing me for the wrongs I committed while he and I were together.
John and I started dating about a year after Dan was discharged. It’s now been two years, and John and I got engaged last March. We knew a wedding wouldn’t be happening for at least five years. We weren’t perfect, but we tried and did the best with what we had. I still struggled with holding down a job, but John was kind about it and never complained. He worked and we had my car, and we were living rent-free with my best friend from high school, so we were ok.
Then I started getting severe stomach pain and was told I was carrying an ectopic pregnancy (the egg which carried my son David was partially inside one of my fallopian tubes. If allowed to grow, the egg can become too large in size and rupture your tubes, causing internal bleeding and a high likelihood of death in the mother). Somehow, the fetus had made it four months without me noticing pregnancy signs or miscarrying in the way most ectopic pregnancies end. Doctors kept telling me to abort for my own safety, but I couldn’t do it. I was put on strict bed rest, and somehow my son moved into my uterus and eventually was born two weeks late, a happy healthy little boy.
Right before David was born, though, disaster struck us and our car was completely totalled with the insurance company not paying out even though we weren’t at fault. John worked with my roommate so getting rides to work was ok, but it put a huge strain on us, not having the independence that a car brings. But even as bad as that was, it’s nowhere close to the end or as bad as things would get.
A month ago, two weeks after David was born, we found out my daughter has cancer. Relatively little is still known about it, and, while I was ok at first, being the strong parent and making sure she didn’t see me freak out, eventually stress broke me down. Without a car, I had to find rides to the hospital 1.5 hours away. And you can’t bring a two-week-old into a hospital like that where there are so many super germs. So barely being able to see her, worrying about her, and dealing with my ex-husband and his obnoxious and disrespectful girlfriend who was CONSTANTLY there, as well as John becoming more and more impatient with his job situation, finally led to a break down. I started being so cruel to everyone that I cared about, taking my anger out on people who didn’t deserve it.
John is now in jail for aggravated assault against me. I got so upset with him for “not spending time with his family ever” and not caring that the fireworks he was setting off on NYE were scaring our son that I broke up with him in a rage and said the meanest things. I wasn’t even actually mad at him; I was in so much pain because it was a tradition to set off fireworks with my daughter who couldn’t be there with me this year to do so. John started to drink and didn’t stop. After coming outside for the seventh time to tell him to stop setting off the large, loud fireworks (the ones that shoot 80 ft in the air) in our back yard, I told him that I guess he didn’t care about his son and how scared he was and that he was an awful dad. He yelled that he was done anyways and I made more mean comments about me being done with him in response. He then threw the fireworks launcher at the truck that I was next to in an attempt to get it into the bed of the truck. It bounced off the plastic coating that lines the bed of the truck and hit me so hard in the head that I blacked out and woke up with no memory of how I’d even gotten outside; I was also bleeding profusely.
I’ve never seen John that drunk and I honestly do believe, while he isn’t innocent of wrong doing, he didn’t mean to hurt me at all. I regained my memory the next day, but it was too late. My roommate had called 911 because of my injury and the cops took John. They then met me at the hospital. I suffered severe injuries including 15 stitches, my nose broken in two places, a concussion, and a swollen-shut eye that has a scratched cornea. I kept repeating to the cops that I didn’t know what had happened and, since I knew he didn’t intentionally hurt me, I demanded no charges be pressed, but they already had taken him. No one witnessed it but us; however, the roommate told the cops John had thrown it at my head and I had no memory. The cops kept telling me I’d have to come to terms with the fact that I was the victim of abuse. It was bullshit. I kept telling them over and over that he didn’t hurt me and that, if they took him, our son and I would soon be homeless. They didn’t care.
So now to the advice part . . .
I still love John so much and have realized how bad my actions had gotten and have since been working on that rage. I take responsibility for what I did. But people keep telling me to dump John for good for this. He didn’t mean to do what he did and has already sworn he will not drink again. He keeps his word always, so I know I can trust this. However, I’m now without a car, without a job, and without computer Internet access (the only access is on my phone), and my family can’t help or take us in. I can’t afford Jphn’s bail. And the roommate is telling me that my son and I need to move out as soon as we can because he can’t support us. Not that he would have to anyways — I just think he doesn’t like the stress that this has caused and he can’t deal with it, so he’s being selfish and not thinking.
I’m already receiving food stamps but nothing else. My friends all live super far away from me. If I have to see another credit card or car loan link or school financial aid link or website that doesn’t actually allow you to ask to have items donated to you or to ask for emergency assistance, I may just cry. Everywhere I turn to try to find at-home work and financial assistance has let me down. My questions: Do I allow John the second chance once he is released from jail? How on earth do I get help to get a car to go to find a job and how can I do that when I’m the sole provider now for our baby? I’m at such a loss as to how to take care of myself and our son. My credit score is poor due to my ex-husband screwing it up with credit cards he took out in my name when we were married. So I can’t get personal loans or car loans. Heck, I can’t even get to the benefits location we have five miles away because I have no ride. How on earth am I supposed to get my baby boy and me out of this mess? — In The Middle of a Mess
You need a lot of help — more help than I can give you in an advice column. And given your pattern of bad decision-making, avoiding responsibility, and shifting blame, I’m not sure any advice I give you will even be taken to heart. But I’ll try anyway, and I hope you’ll receive it with an open heart and an open mind.
First of all, you aren’t in a position to care for a child. Obviously, you know that. You knew that when you were still pregnant and your life was endangered and the doctors were telling you to terminate. You knew that you and your boyfriend were not in a position to care for a baby, unable to even afford a place to live, and, yet, you decided to carry your baby to term anyway, despite the physical danger in doing so, and to keep him instead of placing him with a family who would be better able to care for him and meet his needs. So, I doubt my saying the obvious now will make a difference, but I’ll try anyway: You are not in a position to mother this child. He’s still a little baby. There’s a good chance he could be placed in a loving home that could give him the kind of security and stability and comfort you aren’t able to. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to give up a child, but, if you can find the strength to give him an opportunity for a better life, doing so would be the ultimate expression of love.
As for John, let him go. Honey, you have enough going on in your life without the drama of a boyfriend in jail for busting your head open in a drunken rage. (Whether it was on purpose or not, that’s what happened).
As for your friend who has graciously allowed you and your boyfriend and your infant son to stay in his home rent-free, you owe him a huge debt of gratitude. His asking you to leave as soon as you can is not being “selfish” and it isn’t a reflection of his “not thinking.” It’s him setting some boundaries in a situation where he has offered a lot — a home to a family who can’t afford one as well as daily rides to and from work — and has, in return, gotten a lot of drama (And it sounds like maybe not a lot of appreciation). Maybe it is not too late to work out a deal with him. Ask if you can stay for up to a month and, in that month, do everything you can to get things in order and find a place to live.
How do you do that? For starters, you call organizations that help battered women (your boyfriend busted your head open, so you count as a battered woman) and ask for help. Try: Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.621.HOPE (4673). You can also Google “women’s shelters + [name of your city]” for additional resources. These are places that can offer shelter, clothing, food, and assistance getting on your feet. Take advantage of these services.
You should call every church or religious organization and financial assistance office and homeless/family shelter in your area and ask what can be done to help you. Quit making excuses and get yourself to these offices. You walk if you have to. You take a bus. You borrow money for a taxi. You ask the family who can’t take you in if they can at least drive you to a benefits office so you can get some much-needed help. You ask if your roommate can drop you off on his way to work and then you sit in that office all day if you have to until he can pick you up on his way home. No, it’s not convenient or easy. But when you are seeking help, it’s not anyone else’s job to make it easy and convenient for you. YOU have to take some responsibility and put effort into seeking and receiving whatever help is offered to you.
You also need psychological help. You can’t hold down jobs, you have a history of anger issues, and now you are dealing with an overwhelming amount of stress which means you need someone to help you through this emotional crisis and begin piecing together a plan for establishing good mental health and a plan for abetter future. Depending on where you live, there may be services for battered women and/or homeless mothers that provide counseling as well as employment help. Please, open your heart and your mind to these opportunities if you are fortunate to find them in your area, even if it means living in a shelter temporarily. When you have nowhere to live and don’t have a job or money or friends or family who will take you in and you don’t have a job, you have to live in any safe place that is offered to you.
Finally, in terms of your daughter, be grateful she has a father and extended family on her paternal side who are in a position to not only financially care for her, but physically and emotionally be there for her as well. I can’t imagine the pain you must be in as a mother knowing your daughter is sick and you can’t be by her side as much as possible. But how lucky she has family who CAN be there and who can afford good care for her. I’m sorry you don’t appreciate the presence of her father’s girlfriend, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel good that another woman is there when you can’t be, but on behalf of your daughter, be grateful that she IS surrounded by people who care about her and can be by her side when life has made it impossible for you to be there.
The world isn’t against you. Much of where you are in life is your own doing and not the fault of anyone else. But there are people who can and will help you if you seek them out and put a little effort into receiving their care. I hope for your benefit and the benefit of your children you will do that. Good luck.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.