No More Nomad

This is a Really Real Life Post.

I’ve been in this apartment for 5 years today.

Five years.

That might not seem like much to most people, but for most of my adult life I’ve moved every 6 to 9 months.

That means in the time I’ve lived here, we probably would have lived in 6 to 10 places.

How did I live like that?

I’m in a tiny little two bedroom apartment in a shit smelling, shitty neighborhood and honestly, I fucking love it here because the one thing this apartment has given me is stability in the middle of chaos.  I honestly feel like this place is home and I have no interest in giving that up.

I don’t have to constantly wonder how long I need to save these boxes because when is the next time I’m going to pack it all up and go.

Part of it was me, I always wanted something different, I couldn’t settle down.  Mostly though, it was that we couldn’t pay our bills and breaking our lease was better then being evicted.

Five years.

That seems like forever.

Five years ago I was a wife to a woman who is now dead.

Five years ago my kid still looked like a kid instead of the grown man he is now.

Five years ago I was sick and hopeless but also proud of ourselves for finally getting back into our own place after being homeless for so long.

Five years ago I had finally gotten approved for disability after fighting for almost 5 years.

I remember, after Parker died, when I went through my short period of just wanting out of this apartment, Kidlet asked that we stay here and not move again.  He was right.  I’m glad we stayed.

Five years of housing stability is a really big deal to someone who was never able to stay put.

I love my tiny two bedroom.  I’m glad it’s still home.  I’m glad Wonder Woman moved in here instead of us going somewhere else.  I’m glad we’ve made it our home together.

It fits.

Five years is a whole lot of memories in one apartment.

 

 

Gone Too Soon

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post
but it’s one of those that is
also a Really Real Widow Post.

TW:  Mention of death by suicide.  Mention of suicidal thoughts

I check my Facebook memories every day.

I’m looking for old conversations, or pictures.  Those hidden gems from Parker or Kidlet.  Memories of Wonder Woman and I first meeting.  Signs of my growth.  Patterns of my various labels, mental and physical.

Today there was a note that a friend had sent to me 5 years ago, saying wonderful things about Parker and I, and how we were raising the Kidlet, and how amazing he was.  Parker and I met this friend while we were living in the homeless shelter.  She was a younger girl, sweet as could be, with a bright light in her eyes.

She was going to change the world.

I remember the day, it was only 5 months after she posted the note on my page, I saw people start posting on her page that she was gone too soon, and that they couldn’t believe she decided to go out that way.  I remember how hopeless I felt that she had died, and that it had been so long since we had seen each other.  She lived so far away and transportation was such an issue for us.

Gone too soon.

I thought of her after Parker died.  Wondered if they ran into each other up there.

Parker had just started a college semester.  Just that day her last book had been bought.  She had picked a new major and was excited about becoming an X-ray tech.  We were finally starting to see some light at the end of a very very long tunnel we had been in.

Gone too soon.

When I’m in the depths of my suicidal thoughts, I can’t hold on to the feeling that Parker and our friend left this world before their time.  All I can think of is getting out.

Right now that seems so foreign.  I can’t imagine wanting to walk away.  There’s so much left to live for, so much left to do.  I have degrees left to get, I have words left to type, lives left to change, words left to be heard.

There are sunrises and sunsets that still need to be seen.

But then the clouds obscure my view, and all I can see is the pitch black nothingness.  I just want to escape, just want to make the pain stop, I just want to free myself, and everyone around me, from the burden that is my life.

I have so much love left to give.  There’s so much love left to receive.  I don’t want to walk away.  It’s not my time, it’s not the end.  I won’t let myself be

Gone too soon.

Fire!

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Five years ago today I woke up to the sound of fire alarms going off in the house we were staying in.

Parker and I grabbed our, “Coats and shoes, coats and shoes, coats and shoes” like had been barked at as over and over again while we went through the monthly fire drills at the shelter.  We were still living a very condensed life at that point, we were lucky enough that a guy let us stay with him.  Parker and I had most of our stuff in our room in the basement.  Kidlet had a room upstairs because it was easier for him to get to when he was still healing from the accident 6 months earlier.

“Fire, Fire, Fire!”  I figured someone was cooking, but for some reason, we grabbed our coats and shoes from the back of our door.

No one was on the first floor.

Kidlet met us on the stairs heading upstairs asking why he smelled smoke.  We sent him outside and went looking for Kevin.

We tried to put the fire out and instead watched it spread.  Everything we’d spent 6 months regaining, after spending months in the homeless shelter, we lost again.  Most of Kidlet’s stuff that had been saved while we were homeless, was lost due to smoke damage.

We were so lucky to have friends and family who came to our aid.  Kidlet’s electronics were replaced by friends, for Christmas.  The place we went for therapy, gave gifts of clothes and gave Kidlet a handheld game system and some games.  One friend spent hours washing all of Kidlet’s clothes repeatedly to try and get the smoke smell out.

We were even luckier that it was a relatively small fire that only consumed one room (with loads of smoke and water damage to the rest of the house) and that all of the humans walked out alive.  We were devastated to lose Kidlet’s pet cat, Shadow.

Five years later I’m sitting outside with a fire in my fire pit.  Smoke alarms only freak me out for a few minutes now.  I no longer grab my “Coats and shoes, coats and shoes, coats and shoes” as soon as I hear one.

I live less than a block from the house where the fire happened.  I pass the house pretty much every day.  New tenants live there now, but there is still a little buckle in the roof line from the heat.

So much has changed in 5 years.  At the time, it was one of the worst things I’d been through.  At this point I know better than to test my luck by even trying to rate things because there’s always something worse out there.

But life gets better.  And I’ve always had some pretty amazing friends and family around to help out after the tough times.

Quit Smoking.

Really real post about the flying motorcycle with insight into my brain and my world if you want it.

Five years ago today I wanted a cigarette and was having a hard time leaving the porch.

It was 5 days after Parker and I got out of the homeless shelter. My anxiety was in full swing. I finally had a safe space again and was having a hard time leaving it.

Kidlet had come to stay with us. Our first time having him for more than a few hours in 6 months. It was like his 3rd day with us.

Parker finally agreed to go to the corner store to get me smokes after I drove her nuts. She didn’t want to go but you know… telling me no typically ended in melt downs and being out of smokes didn’t make it any better. Kidlet went with her.

They were walking down the sidewalk. How much more freak can an accident be?

Motorcycle gets hit by car, goes airborne, hits Parker in the head, lands on Kidlet. Kidlet caught a flying motorcycle cause he’s badass like that.

I still hear his screams in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I still remember the driver telling me “as bad as the screams are, it’s worse when they are silent.” And how much that both comforted me and chilled me to the bone.

Kidlet got through that like a champ and started showing his nature of resilience and grit and smiles in the face of bullshit challenges that are totally unfair.

Parker had a “moderate” concussion that I don’t think any of the doctors took seriously enough. It’s one of many things that I kept fighting and advocating and “what the fuck-ing” in the midst of all of her head problems but…. yet another “overweight emotional woman” situation and I won’t get on that soap box right now.

All cause I wanted a cigarette.

And yeah yeah . . . Not my fault, could have happened to anyone. But if I would have gotten my own damn shit, or not have smoked in the first place.

And you wonder why sometimes it’s so so hard for me to ask for help or accept help….

Or tell people no. Or not offer help to others when they are having a hard time asking or blah blah blah.

So so many layers and I know why I do a lot of what I do. And knowing so many of the whys make it harder to untangle.

2/3rds

Ericka was one of the women Parker and I met in the shelter. She was young, maybe 20 or 21. Such a sweet kid and adored Parker and I.

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Look at this Facebook post. She’s talking about a Mother’s Day potluck, in a homeless shelter. Waking up to make breakfast for 80 people, in a homeless shelter.

We took buses to the light rail to go to a church in the city and then came back and hung out at a crappy little pond that was pretty damn gross but it killed time and gave us something to do. And bread was cheap. Broken wing (Gregory House) was a mean little cuss but he kept going and the other ducks knew to follow him because the humans felt sorry for him and always threw the food to him. Also, there were more geese than ducks, but it was still the duck pond to everyone in the shelter.

Look how normal it all seems in this post. It all became almost normal to us. Wake up, fold up your mats if you are on the floor in the hallways, put away your bins, do your chores.

Ericka died about a year or so later. My heart broke. She fought so hard to overcome her mental health shit, but she lost. Two out of the three people in this post are gone…..

Light

Going through things tonight I found a baggie of papers I had never looked at closely.

Parker and I handwrote lots of letters during my multiple psych inpatient stays.

While I never saved cards and don’t have many of them, she apparently saved a bag of folded letters that remind me of stuff from school days, folded in little shapes.

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This little note was written on the back of a list of phone numbers of people that we were in the shelter with at the time. So it was the first of my series of breakdowns and inpatient stays, when she was holding both of us together.

Welp, that punched Draven and I both in the feels.

Of course, as I’m typing this… Draven walks out of the bedroom holding the box that Parker currently resides in and turns it back and forth looking at it (Her) and says “Mom, you used to be so heavy”

And, there’s the humor and the light. This is how we survive!

Other Side

Here’s why ‘work’ felt amazing today.

When I was relying on food pantries and social service agencies and spending half the week finding whatever resource I could to pay bills and keep fed and still make it to doctors appointments …..

I’d show up at a food pantry and they wouldn’t be open during those hours anymore, or at all. Or, they’d hand me yet another box of cans to go with the 3 boxes of cans in the basement when what we really needed was some fresh food, meat, something that wasn’t loaded with salt and might make me feel human for a day or two. That meant I took time away from something else productive to get to something that wasn’t needed in that moment, or in the case of the closed pantry, that was completely useless.

Sometimes that meant spending money on transportation or using up a favor.

I said that we needed a wiki based program, something that could be updated by those of us using the services. Nothing is up to date by the time large agencies pass out lists or post them online and most of the small agencies don’t have the resources to man phone lines. And I started looking into what it would take to make it happen, at least locally. But it ended up slipping by the wayside.

United Way updates their database yearly on a rotating basis, I just started training to make the calls to the providers. She was emphasizing how important it is to get detailed information so the clients know up front what each provider is able to help with, to avoid wasting their time/energy. Fresh food vs canned, how much towards a bill, what are the income or paperwork requirements, etc.

And, they are working towards a searchable online system that would allow notes to be left by users. It’s a long way away but they know it’s needed because they can’t keep up either.

I don’t know if I’ll end up working here in a paid capacity, but it feels so good to be on the other side of this.