If you would have told me three years ago, that I would be living here in this motel today, I wouldn’t have believed you. The irony is that I spent last Christmas eve in a hotel as well, except last year it was the Century Plaza in Beverly Hills. Admitting my present state of living is embarrassing yet for the humility I’m gaining through this experience I will keep on writing.
Three years ago I spent Christmas with my husband and two young children (my son from a previous relationship) in our four bedroom home. My husband and I argued over putting up a plastic tree versus a live one. He wanted to use the small tree he had used every holiday the previous five years in his apartment. I however, a fan of the smell of fresh pine, wanted a large live tree to make the most out of our vaulted ceilings. In an attempt to keep peace, when it was clear I wouldn’t be getting my way anyhow, I gave in and we set up his tiny plastic pine.
I didn’t know it then but our spats would soon turn into violent physical attacks. When I finally came to terms with the fact that the abuse would never end and only get worse, in fear that he would kill me, and wanting to spare my children from type of childhood I had endured, I finally left him.
I found safety with my grandparents. I left Las Vegas and moved into the California home I had lived in the majority of my childhood (after being removed from my abusive parents house hold) and a good part of my early adulthood.
Within days, my ex husband had formed an alliance with my mother and together they filed child abuse claims against me sending out a social worker to investigate me and my home. Once I was declared a fit parent by the state, I then suffered through an insane court battle with my (sociopath) ex who convinced a judge that I had not only been abusive to him but kidnapped my own child and fled the state in an attempt to “seek revenge.”
Afraid that I would lose full custody of my daughter (unable to afford an attorney) I gave in and settled for a 50/50 arrangement. Meaning I would keep her for two weeks and he would keep her for two with a mutually agreed upon drop off point halfway, between the two states.
The arrangement carried on for two years. While it was in effect, I found a great job and began saving up for my own place. Just as my bank account was growing, the economy tanked and my full time position became an “on-call.” With 15 years experience in my industry, professional references and being a master at my trade I immediately went on a job search. I went on interviews with 9 different companies, some of them 2nd, 3rd and even 4th rounds of interviews. For the first time in my life I was denied every single one.
As the jobs failed to come, the health of my grandparents deteriorated. My grandmother’s brain stopped functioning as it always had and the once loving and generous woman she had been became angry, confused and verbally abusive on a daily basis.
The stress from home life had an impact on all involved. My daughter, already having a hard time dealing with the back and forth between my home and her fathers became angry and unmanageable. My son, watching me being talked down to started mimicking the watched behavior and also began having fits of rage. Bed time became an almost impossible task to complete, taking literally hours every night.
Trying to make the most out of the situation, I went for runs when my children finally slept and I also started writing. The first venture was this blog followed by the publication of my first book.
Eventually I was out of work completely and unemployed(exempt from unemployment compensation), still going on as many job interviews as possible.
Last February, before I could release my book, my grandfather suddenly passed. My mother, after not speaking to any of the family (with the exception of my ex husband) for over two years, came down to stay with my grandmother and I, Immediately moving into my sons room without consulting he nor I first.
The day my grandfather died (from heart disease), once again I was met by social workers. This time not only were they investigating my parenting abilities, they were investigating me for elder abuse.
My mother had sent them.
We buried my grandfather, and the day after the funeral, my mother took my grandmother to the court and had her file a restraining order against me for causing “emotional distress.” I didn’t answer the mandatory call she had to make from the court, but I kept the voice mail.
“Wendi, this is Nanny. I’m at the court and I’m….I’m filing a temporary restraining order on you. For… for…”
(I could hear my mom in the background coaching her on what to say.)
“For, emotional distress?”
This left me one hour to move out.
I sent my daughter to my ex husbands for a few weeks and packed what I could fit into my car before checking into a hotel room. I picked my son up from school that day and he didn’t understand why we couldn’t go home. Not only did we not have time to grieve my grandfathers death but we were now homeless and I was STILL unemployed.
We bounced around from cheap hotel room to cheap hotel room, until we eventually found one that took long term renters. They money I had saved up ran out in just a month. With no income and no cash for a deposit I was unable to get a real apartment. I stopped paying my bills and my credit took a dive. Because of my situation, my ex husband stopped allowing me visitation of my daughter (except under his terms). I have only seen her three times in almost a year. This is illegal, but I lack the income to fight him in court as well as a home for her to live in.
I have tried to seek assistance, applied for welfare, housing, day care assistance, food stamps, medical etc only to be turned away several times. I continue to look for work. Twice I have been hired, but as a commission employee. The economy is not any better and without any paying customers there isn’t any money to be earned and I was unable to keep the jobs, losing money on purchasing supplies and daycare expenses.
How the hell have we survived so long this way? How is there still a roof over our heads?
The kindness we have received from people we barely knew has been overwhelming.
Through this I have met the most amazing man who lets me work for him and pays me just enough to cover my rent even though he is suffering his own hardships from the economy.
I don’t get to run as much as I used to but when I do I’m out by the water and I cross under bridges. I pass by others who have been hit by hard times. They are worse off,than my son and I, living in tents and some just on make-shift mattresses near the ocean rocks. When I see them I offer the only thing I can, a warm smile and I count my blessings. I may be in a motel for Christmas but I’m only $600 away from being on the streets myself, living without heat and running water.
Some days I try to block out my situation by having hope. Others I fall into a mental decline and suffer from anxiety attacks.
I’m not where I am because I’m a drug addict. I’m not here because I lack a proper education to get a good job. I simply was born to the wrong mother, made some bad choices, married the wrong man and like the rest of the country was hit hard in the economic down fall.
I feel that this post tonight was important, not to whine about my current situation, but to be thankful for the lessons I have learned and the things I do have.
Hopefully next year I’ll have a picture of a tree I can be proud of and both my children will be here to decorate it.
I’m currently in the process of completing my next novel and it will be the full story of what I have shared with you tonight. I logged everything that happened as it occurred and when I’m strong enough to read through it, I’ll pull pieces from those files and use them in the book. If anyone wants to donate a little editing help, please let me know!
Until then, stay tuned and I wish you all a merry Christmas!
*Wanna help out a hobo (okay, an “almost” hobo)? Purchase your copy of “It’s not my fault” on amazon today! Make sure to buy from ME: Electrikkiss if you purchase the paperback (unauthorized dealers are selling used copies of my book, labeled as “new.” on Amazon. Yes, I have tried to fight it.).