By most accounts myself and my children should have been added to the list of statistics. I came from an abusive background, on all levels. I didn’t get help and as I got older I immersed myself in extremely destructive lifestyle choices. I was a teen run away, involved in the juvenile court system, I drank, did drugs and by the time I was 17, I was a mother.
I thought this beautiful baby would be what saved me, I tried my best, but in time the broken pieces of me destroyed what mothering instincts I had. By the time I was 21, I had 3 sons. By the time I was 24, all three of them were placed in the custody of my mother. I maintained a relationship with my sons, there was never a question of my love for them. I knew it was better for them to not see the way I was every day.
I wrestled mental health demons and nightmares of my past, all the while making choices that only furthered my pain. I was with men who abused me, I never felt I was deserving of more. It was what I knew.
Still, I tried. By the time I was 28, I had 3 additional children. I worked and tried to handle responsibilities but the jagged pieces of me seemed to poke holes in everything. I still believed the lie that told me, “Hey, you work so hard, you need a drink, or to go out and have some fun.”
Eventually things got so bad we lost our place to live. I put the majority of our belongings into storage, and I subsequently lost all of it due to non-payment. I was in yet another abusive relationship and it had become more than I could bear. Right as I was gathering my courage to escape my abuser, my youngest son started getting violently ill. The episodes lasted a day or two, he would run an extremely high fever and lose control of his body. It terrified me. I started to lose my nerve about leaving. I had secretly been in contact with a women’s shelter and I was waiting for available space for them to accept the four of us.
When I finally got the call I knew it was time to make a break for it. All we had was packed in one storage tote and a diaper bag. The shelter was about 40 miles away from everyone I knew. I didn’t know anything about that place, where a grocery store was, where the hospital was, nothing.
It was made clear upon my admission that it was time to get real. No drugs, no guys, no nothing. My caseworker helped me set goals and it was up to me to make them happen. I had no car and no money. I was so afraid. I thought I was so alone, looking back though I can see that God was leading me, every step of the way.
During our time at the shelter my little boy continued to have episodes of illness. A number of times we went to the hospital. I was dismissed with “He has a fever, he’ll be fine.” Or another antibiotic prescription for whatever they thought was ailing him. One day an episode started very strong, the women at the shelter realized the gravity of what I had been trying to tell them about his condition. They got out their first-aid kit and were shocked to see that his fever rose from 98.6 to 104.6 within about an hour. The lady who ran the shelter made an exception to the rule of anyone driving the shelter guests anywhere and she allowed another young mom who had a car to rush my son and I to the Emergency Room, we picked up my two daughters from school on the way. By the time we reached the hospital his fever was nearing 106. It was painful to hold him.