Still running for the cheese (or why this blog still exists)

As my regular readers can tell, this has been a dry year for me. Just look at the number of posts this year vs. 2008! Awhile back, I had considered either shutting down the Maze, or starting a new blog that would more accurately reflect where I am in life now. Truth be told, sometimes I come here, look around, and feel distinctly hypocrytical about the things I want to write. I'm sure I'm not the only one to ever be in that kind of place.
As the time in between posts has grown longer, I came to realize something. Without the past years' material, where I am now makes very little sense. What good is the destination without the journey? As Christians, so much of the best stuff that happens to us is in the times God is molding us to His image. To throw away the evidence of that process would somehow cheapen the result, I think.
So, here we are, dear friends. I think my little mousie may just have rounded a corner finally. Some things will change around here to reflect the changes in my heart. And you know what? That's ok. As much as I typically rage against anything changed in my life, I'm learning to accept the God-given ones. My prayer is that some of you may be encouraged by what you read here. Hey, you may even be challenged. And of course, if you know me, then you know you always stand a good chance of being offended too. Not intentionally, to be sure! Just know that what you find as you wander this Maze with me may surprise you as much as it does me.

All that to say this:

Welcome to

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mice in the Hole

I thought a good place to start would be my family's story- how we came to be where we are and who we are.
I'm Mrs. P. I come from a not-so-good background, and it has most definately created difficulties in my life. Mostly with my attitudes and perceptions. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. My father was a violent alcoholic. My mom was by necessity a workoholic. How could she not be, what with Dad drinking every penny away? I have a brother who is 16 months younger than me. We have not been close since we were small children. He still lives with Mom. Fortunately, Dad died in February of last year. I say fortunately because he was my attacker all those years. For so long after living with Mr. P. I was so afraid that Dad would come back to get me, to get my sons. Now I can live in peace, knowing we are safe. Morbid huh? I was raised atheist but have been a born-again Christian since March 2006. It has not been an easy road, this road of faith. However, I will not give up. After all, Jesus never gave up on me.
I met Mr. P. when I was 18. This was in 1999. Ahh lust at first sight. LOL. It took most of the year but he finally brought me out of my shell enough to say more to him than "5 on 4." (He was working at a gas station at the time) Now before I say this, let me remind you all out there in TV land that neither of us were Christians at this time. ~blushes in embarassment~ Neither Mr. P. nor I intended our relationship to be anything more than a 1 night stand. Obviously, God had other plans! We couldn't get enough of each other, in every sense of that phrase. Within 2 weeks, I was head-over-heels completely in love. I tend to think that he felt the same. Unfortunately for me, I was "the other woman" although I did not know it at that time. Mr. P. was in another relationship that had been going sour. I found out a few weeks into our fling. Boy was I mad!! I swore I would never speak to him again. Yeah that didn't last. Mr. P. broke up with the other girl after a few months to be with me. This takes us to spring of '00. After only a month or so of dating, Mr. P. and I broke up. I was devastated. Something inside me just felt right with him. I told anyone who'd listen how I'd wait for him, however long it'd take. Lucky for me, it only took a few weeks! We just felt empty apart from each other. By August '00, we knew we were heading towards marriage, and we found out we were pregnant with our oldest son. We were only 19 and everyone thought we had lost our minds! Oh but how wonderful it was to be young and so in love. Our friend Shauna was the only supportive voice at that time and for that I am forever grateful.
MonkeyMan was born in April '01. Life seemed just about perfect. Well, except for the fact that we were dirt poor and fought quite a bit, but hey that's normal right? By August '02, we were homeless. Yes, homeless. Living in a motel room in a different town, Mr. P. had lost his job and we had almost no options to get out of this hole we'd dug. Still, we married in September '02 at city hall and within a few weeks we found out our youngest son was on his way. During all this, I was undergoing chemotherapy for cervical cancer. Doc had reassured me that pregnancy was not possible. Hmmm. Guess he didn't have his facts straight. I worked so hard to hide my illness from Mr. P. Only time in my life all this extra weight came in handy. Losing weight quickly just made me look "healthy". Incidently, it was also the only time in my life I have ever tanned. And I mean TANNED! Whew it was nice! Ahh photosensitivity!
Mr. P. found a job by December '02, and by February '03 he had found us a little apartment. For quite a few months during our homelessness, we were seperated. MonkeyMan and I would stay with my friends and relatives. Mr. P. would stay with his mom. Yeah our families don't really get along. Tank was born in June '03. The day after we came home from the hospital, all hell broke loose. Our upstairs neighbor called the cops. When they came, I was home alone with the kids. Mr. P. was on his way from getting his paycheck. Now, I'll be the first to admit that our apartment was tiny (1 bedroom) and very dirty. Do I think the police went overboard just a tad in calling in an ambulance to bring the kids to the hospital? Perhaps. The boys were given a clean bill of health. Everyone involved seemed to forget that I'd had a c-section just days prior until I was begging for a feminine pad and some Tylenol for the pain. Ooops. Mr. P. was back at home, dealing with the officers and by that time, DCF. (dept. of children and families) I don't think he ever knew for sure what was happening with us until they allowed him to come to the hospital some hours later. At that point, DCF gave us the option of calling in a family member to take the boys until DCF gave us the clearance to go home or they would take them then and there to put them in foster care. Thankfully, the hospital allowed us to use their phone to start making calls. Eventually, my MIL allowed the boys and I to stay with her. Mr. P. would stay at our apartment and get it cleaned and ready for a reinspection at some point the following week. All of this occurred on a Friday.
After quite a trying week, we were allowed back in our apartment, and a case was officially opened. There was some debate over whether or not DCF was going to press charges against us and have us officially arrested for physical neglect. I am still not sure as to why they chose not to. All I can say is that even then, God was watching over us.
When we did finally meet our first (we are on our 4th) caseworker, I knew in my heart of hearts that Tank would not see out his first year in our care. Just the way she looked at him. I think that perhaps it was God's way of preparing me for the begining of this journey we have been on since that day.
All went seemingly well for about 9 months. We were assigned a parent aide. We took parenting classes. We loved each other and our children. DCF ordered me into psychotherapy. I was on a pretty heavy mix of medications at that point, including the drug Paxil. For those who don't know, Paxil can cause suicidal ideations in young people who take it, especially at higher doses.
~a side note~ We lost Mr. P.'s uncle to suicide in August '03. Knowing full well how it effects a family, I would never even consider it under any circumstances in my right mind.~
One evening, DCF #1 showed up around 8 pm. MonkeyMan was sleeping, Tank was in my arms. Mr. P. was down at the laundromat, finishing up a load for me. I will never forget how cornered I felt at that moment. See, I had made the mistake of telling my shrink about the way Paxil was making me feel. And my therapist knew my feelings about the boys' inevitible stay in foster care. Now when you have a case opened against you, you have to sign various release forms. DCF can talk to anyone in your life about almost anything they should choose, particularly if you happen to draw an unscrupulous one. DCF #1 knew everything I had spoken of in my sessions and confronted me that night. I can freely admit without shame now that I am the reason my sons were taken the next morning. When she began questioning me about why I would say "such lies" to my therapist, I lost it. I was crying and begging for Mr. P., and just spilled my guts about how I'd known from the moment she'd laid eyes on Tank that the kids would eventually be taken from my care. During all this, Mr. P. came home. He was stunned to see DCF #1 there so late. He did his best to calm me, and once DCF left, we did what we could to come to terms with what we knew was coming. DCF #1 said she would be back in the morning to reinspect our apartment. I'm not sure to this day exactly what she meant by that, seeing as she was making a big deal of my mental state, not the state of my home.
The next morning, she showed up with 4 police officers in tow. The day I'd forseen had arrived. My babies would be gone. MonkeyMan had just turned 3 years old a few days prior, and Tank was 10 months old. Mr. P. was back in the bedroom, getting the boys ready for the day. I was vaccuuming the living room. The cops assumed my vaccuum was a gun. Hmmm. Did they not hear the darn thing or simply chose to ignore that? In any event, I was grabbed by 2 cops, and held from behind, while DCF #1 took our babies from Mr. P.'s arms. I am ashamed to admit that I completely lost it. I screamed and went crazy, telling DCF #1 EXACTLY what I thought of her, and yelling at Mr. P. for trying to say that this wouldn't happen. It took all 4 cops, plus 3 EMTs to take me down and haul me into the hospital. I am still unsure of exactly why the boys were removed. DCF #1 said it was because she felt I would kill them, but that is no where on our records.
My best friend at the time met me at the hospital and ran interference for me, and was instrumental in getting me out that day. Being strapped down in the psych wing of the emergency department is no fun, let me tell you. I had no idea what Mr. P. was up to, and was too distraught to care much at that time.
When the immediate dust had settled, we found out that the boys could be placed with an approved family member. My mother tried, but we knew she would be denied. I honestly think Mom took the whole ordeal far worse than we ever did. To this day, she still gets a bit crazy and bitter to the extreme over it all.
After about 3 weeks, the boys were placed with Mr. P.'s aunt. The theory was that with them in familial foster care, we could see them whenever we wanted. That never panned out. All told, they were in foster care for 1 year and 27 days. They were removed on April 23, 2004 and were returned to our care on May 19, 2005. Among many other things, we missed Tank's first birthday, MonkeyMan's first day of preschool, and lost their trust in so many ways.
We had many court dates. At our first one, we were advised to give up our right to a 10-day trial. What that means is the court has 10 days from the date the kids are removed in which to make a case against you and bring you to trial. Most removals are done on what is called a 72-hour hold. At your trial, you can try to prove that the state unlawfully removed your kids and that they must return them to your care. No one ever wins their 10-day trials. Most often, they end up looking like fools and worse parents than they really are. So we waived our rights. We were hooked up with Casey Family Services, a group that helps in reunifying families, among many other services such as foster care placement and adoption services. The Casey crew were so amazing! I doubt we would've had the success we have had if it hadn't been for them. Through them, we took more parenting classes, joined a support group, and began getting visitation rights with our kids. The Casey workers were our steadfast supporters, and I cannot say enough about how much they did for us.
After "working the program" at Casey for awhile, we were finally given a reunification date. They were coming home on Valentine's Day 2005. Just a few weeks prior to that, I lost my job, and the date was taken from us. DCF #1 soon informed us that if one of us did not have "an established job" by March, we would have our rights terminated. I have honestly only once experienced such terror, and the though of never seeing my kids again almost destroyed me. Mr. P. was very deep in depression then. We had moved to where we still live shortly after the kids were taken, and he had had a decent job. But the stress of court dates, appointments, and all had caused him to get fired shortly after we had moved here. I had taken over as breadwinner when it became apparent that he was emotionally incapacitated. So I began an intense search for another job, not knowing what DCF meant by "established". I was hired to do some driving work and that seemed to satisfy DCF's requirements. We had one more meeting at DCF before we were to get another reunification date. At this meeting, we were informed that our efforts simply were not enough, and the concurrent plan would be established. In other words, our rights would be terminated, and Mr. P.'s aunt would legally adopt our kids. My world crumbled. After all our hard work, all our effort, it wasn't enough?! What more could we do?! Where did we screw up?! In utter defeat, we did not know much of what to do. Just a week after that meeting, DCF #1 showed up at our home. All I could think was that she'd come to rub it in. But she had someone with her. Hmmmm what was this? She introduced us to DCF #2. She would be taking over as our new caseworker. WHAT?!?!?! I suspect that Casey Family Service stepped up for us, and fought for our new worker. They never admitted it, but we saw how they smiled when we told them. DCF #2 told us we had one more court date, and she would be asking for reunification.
We were so floored! You would think that joy would abound in our family but you'd be mistaken. At this point, Mr. P.'s family started to get kinda wonky. We got many calls and visits about how wrong we were to want our sons back, how horrible we were, and how we were stealing them away from Mr. P.'s family. DCF #2 witnessed some of this madness one day at a home visit when my MIL called. Oy, that was embarrassing.
At our next court date, the judge ruled in our favor. I'll never forget her words.
"I want those kids back within 6 weeks!"
It's really no coincidence to me that a new worker brought our boys home. We did later find out that DCF #1 was telling Mr. P.'s aunt I had molested the kids, and that she would make sure they were never in my care again. Mom keeps harping on how we should sue them, but what's done is done, in my opinion.
We were reunited in May '05. What a day! Casey Family Services brought by a cake and balloons. We had family and friends to help us celebrate. DCF #2 was there too, as we felt she was a driving force in bringing them home safely.
That first year was hard. In many ways, it's like the first year with a new baby. The boys had to adjust to new routines, new people, a new life. That is when our marriage started to crumble.
Mr. P. was still deep in his funk. I was exhausted from working, maintaining the home, taking care of the kids, and helping them adjust to our new life. Is it any wonder I was fired in August '05? Mr. P. did step up then and got a job. I confess that I did not expect it to be for very long.
There was so much resentment in my heart then, from so many things. I ended up cheating on Mr. P. that fall. We had gotten cell phones and discovered how very easy it was to strike up new "relationships" through text and mobile web sites. We tried an "open marriage" and that is when I cheated. Some may say it wasn't cheating but I now know it was. Our marriage continued to deteriorate over the course of the next year. By August '06, I filed for divorce.
If you've been paying attention, you'll notice I was a professing Christian when I filed for divorce. Not a very Christian thing to do huh? I had developed a ridiculous long distance love affair with a man I'd met through the internet. That was what in my heart drove me to divorce, not all the other excuses I tried to convince myself to believe.
Our divorce was set to be final on Valentine's Day '07. Mr. P. and I pretty much hated each other long before then. During the holiday season '06, I continually saught out God, basically hoping to get a divine OK to seek out marriage with this other man. And across the board, the Lord's answer was NO! Everything I found, read, saw, heard pointed to not divorcing. Oh but I really didn't want to hear that. But Lord, I don't love Mr. P. He doesn't "do it for me" any more. Blah blah blah. Any excuse that the world could give me, I gave to God. And still He said, "NO!"
Just before New Years, I came to the conclusion that I had to at least ask Mr. P. to stay and work out our marriage. If he said no, then I was free to let him leave as the bible says, but not to remarry, as God had shown me. I worried and prayed and finally approached Mr. P. with what God had shown me. Now, Mr. P. was not a believer. I doubt that he was happy to hear what I had to say. But God worked on Mr. P.'s heart, just as He's shown me. We cancelled the divorce just a week prior to it being finalized. Even though we decided to stick out our marriage, we certainly weren't loving, or even happy. That breakthrough didn't happen for a few months. I began praying for him, really praying. We tried to straighten out our lives. Ultimately, we chose to eliminate internet access for a time and it took the biggest fight of our lives to put our love in perspective.
Love is not a feeling. Oh yes, it can make you feel wonderful things, but it is not first and foremost a feeling. Love is action. Love is choice. You choose to love your spouse every day. You choose how to show your love by your words and actions. Love needs to be constantly renewed by conscious choice. Do you choose to howl when your man leaves the bread open? Or do you just smile and close it for him? Do you choose to make love to your wife when you are tired from work, or put her off for another day? Love is putting others ahead of oneself. Ah but I digress.
Since then, we have grown stronger in our marriage. I have grown stronger in my faith. Our boys have adjusted quite well to home life. Mr. P. accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior just this past Christmas. We have many reasons to be thankful to God. The Lord has brought us so far since that day I first saw our kids torn from our home. Now we are back to where we should have been all along. God gets the glory for this one folks! He shows us more of who He wants us to be and where He wants us to go every day.
Proverbs 16:9- In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.

3 Squeaks from the Maze:

Anonymous said...

To the woman that always has and will hold a place in my heart, you are an inspiration. As you know, being so far apart for over 2 years now, I hadn't a clue things had turned this way for you. I sit in tears of joy for you! ((((((((hugs)))))))))

Anonymous said...

DAMN...have we really been through that much...Man Glad i met ya though and love ya too!

Mr Pzs

Mrs. P. said...

LOL babe. Yeah it didn't really hit me until I went to type it out. Crazy how we got through. Oh but for the grace of God!

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