This morning at 5AM, I was as usual up and at it. My day would have me driving across Texas meeting clients and someone who had contacted me regarding giving up her unborn child to Burt and Deanna who lost their baby girl to Trisomy a year ago.
Getting my husband breakfast while he watched the weather (as usual) hoping rain would miss his Saginaw development, we had a few minutes to catch up with each other since the past five days have been spent tagging in and out to visit my grandniece at Cook’s Children’s Hospital.
My husband has been a builder and developer for 50 years. Nothing sets back a development like rain. Saturday’s downpour was yet another setback to Matthew. He’s bracing for yet another one late today. Bless his heart.
After walking Foxy Wortham, I ran to bathe and chose a Donna Karan suit to wear today while fielding texts, phone calls and emails. Last night while following the ambulance from Cook’s to Mesa Springs with Cindy riding shotgun, I took a call from my Coffield Unit client who was having trouble getting a certified copy of her marriage license from Tarrant County.
This morning, I drove to the Tarrant County Clerks Office and picked it up for her while leaving Fort Worth. For those unaware of why you need a certified copy of your marriage license or what it is, I will elaborate. A certified copy doesn’t look like your original license. It’s a copy used for legal purposes. Once your license is signed and returned to the clerk, it’s recorded. After being recorded, its returned to you or if you’ve chosen to pick it up, waits for you. Most Units REQUIRE a certified copy be sent to inmate records to update an inmates status. The certified copy is relatively inexpensive from $4-12 based on the county. You will send it to inmate records with the inmates name and number. Please include this information because it you don’t, inmate records can have difficulty if the name of the inmate happens to be common such as John Smith, Michael Moore, Etc.
Driving through Waxahachie, I was planning to stop for gas on my way to meet the pregnant lady who had contacted me in Corsicana at the Collin Street Bakery while on my way to meet Elizabeth at Beto Unit before dropping off the certified marriage license from Tarrant County to Coffield Unit before heading to Hodge Unit to meet Jenny before going back to Dallas County North Tower to meet two clients and then rushing back to Fort Worth for visitation at Mesa Springs. As usual, my day was busy. Staying busy occupies my mind.
Arriving in Corsicana, I sent a text to Barbara to make sure she was at the bakery. She was. I rolled into the parking lot to find her wearing a heavy cable knit sweater that covered her wrists. I checked my car for the temperature. Eighty nine degrees. This wasn’t looking good. She was frail. Her eyes were dialated. I knew she was using. This will shock my readers so, I will elaborate. My mother was an intravenous heroin user. At five years old, I found her in the bathroom overdosing with the needle still sticking out from between her toes. To this day, the sight of blood makes me nauseous.
Leaving my SUV. I ask Barbara to lift her sleeves. She becomes defensive. “Roll up your sleeves. Take off your shoes and open your mouth.” Barbara has dirty hair and clothing that doesn’t fit along with an attitude. I don’t care. Burt and Deanna are good people. I will not let their loss of baby DeLilah be taken advantage of by an addict. Addiction makes me angry. A pregnant addict is even worse. Barbara needs to get help. I plan to discuss this. There’s a program in Tarrant County at JPS that will help her. Convincing her to get help will be difficult and most likely, confrontational. I jump in anyway and decide that if I don’t use this opportunity, I will regret it. I’m tired. My bones hurt. This past week has left me heartsick. Barbara being an addict only compounds my sadness.
There are old track marks on Barbara’s arms and new ones between her toes. She’s pregnant enough to be showing. Her mouth is full of rotten teeth most likely from meth use. Barbara underestimated me. “You tell them I want $10k for my baby.” When I posted that Burt and Deanna were willing to take on the expense of raising a child, paying for one had never been mentioned. Where did Barbara come up with this idea?
I look at her deeply sadenned that the child she carries has no say in her lifestyle. Any idiot can get pregnant. My mom did four times. My mom also put a price tag on all four of her children’s heads. How much? Fifty dollars each. I will never get over the amount. None of her children will. The “sale” was recorded by my grandfather. He wrote the check. He also spent our entire childhood reminding us that “no one wants you not even your own mother.” Yes, there was a reason he recorded my mother getting $200 to go get high. The reason was to hurt us over and over again about it. Cindy found the tape years ago and played it until it broke. I listened to it once. It was enough for me. Enough to find her in my 20’s and ask her why myself. The answer would haunt me. The amount still does.
“Barbara, Burt and Deanna are looking for a child that needs a loving family. They aren’t planning to buy a baby. I’m protective of them. I’m here today to screen you. I’m here today to protect them from being disappointed. I’m sorry but you need to get your head on and put your child’s needs before your desires. I won’t give you money but I will feed you. I will also help you get help when you are ready to find it. Here’s my card. Call me when you decide to change your life.” I took her inside and bought her food she didn’t eat. Addicts rarely do. I packed it up for her and drove away wondering if she would call me?
Back on the road passing Russell Stover, I thought of the many times Cindy and I had stopped in for a caramel apple. Happy times after meeting happy clients at Tennessee Colony Units for their wedding. I will have to call Deanna and advise her of Barbara and the issues that I had hoped weren’t what I feared. It would be a let down to someone who will never get over losing DeLilah. Reality would be another thorn in Deanna’s heart. The world is often an unhappy place. Many people lose their faith because their path is so painful. I’ve been one of those people. Cindy has too. It’s difficult to understand why God gave us such a hard life now and then. Incomprehensible at times even but, God will find a way to help a mother while gifting Deanna and Burt with a child to love. I have faith. My faith was restored years ago. I lost it in my childhood and again in my first marriage. It’s difficult to “pin down” the many times I’ve wondered why life must be so hard? I’m certain others feel the same way. Barbara came from a good home. She had even gone to college and yet, she chose to become an addict. I don’t get it. Even as a child, I questioned why drugs were so important to my mother.
My former Beto Bride Client is facing 20-25 years for bank fraud. She has a one year old son and no family. She’s also a good person who has no history of drug abuse. She contacted me two weeks ago fearful for her son’s future in foster care. She also is doing the right thing by giving up the son she loves so much to a family that will love him equally. While Burt and Deanna were more than willing to take on two children, the child carried by Barbara is a drug baby who will almost certainly have health issues do to the abuse of Barbara during her pregnancy. I offered to leave a bus ticket for Barbara on Will Call in Corsicana. I doubt she will use it. But maybe she will put her child’s needs first? I can only plant a seed. I can’t force Barbara to change. No one can. I’m certain her family gave up years ago and fear she may be prostituting herself in exchange for drugs. I had asked. Her face answered.
I don’t “look like someone” aware of the underworld of drugs. I had to learn it from my mother who was a prostitute in exchange for heroin. I wish I didn’t know the seedy underworld of drug abuse or crack houses but, my niece was also a meth addict. The things people don’t know about me are that I never expected to live this long. Because of this, I’m also unafraid.
I’ve been in places that would shock you. I’ve marched into dangerous areas to drag my niece out. My sister has too. Our anger prevented us from being afraid. We were determined to “straighten Stephaney up” and the people “pulling her back in” didn’t scare either of us. Instead, they infuriated us both. Twins marching in to crack houses to save Stephaney surprised the dealers but, when you are trying to save a family member, your own safety is set aside in your mission. Ours was.
Luckily, our anger at my niece’s consistent relapses is (most likely) why we were never shot, stabbed or robbed. A Fort Worth Police officer once told me “she chooses to be here. You are going to get yourselves killed and I’m going to have to write up the paperwork. Get out of this area.” I told him “we know this area because we’ve been coming here for YEARS to save my niece and the dealers are far more afraid of us than we are of them. If we die trying to get her help, we died trying to do everything within our power to prevent my niece from becoming my mom.” He drove off.
Heading to Tennessee Colony, I returned calls to Luther, Wynn, Hodge and Allred Units. I also cried about people like my mom and Barbara. I don’t understand it. I can’t. I check in with Cindy and Leigh Ann on Makenna. I make a note to pick up shampoo and conditioner for Makenna to take to visitation at Mesa Springs. It’s a very expensive facility. We don’t care. Mesa Springs is also the best facility in Fort Worth. Treatment for mentally ill patients AND addicts is expensive.
For sixteen and nearly seventeen years, Cindy and I took turns paying for Stephaney’s treatment for drug abuse. Tens of thousands of dollars later, telling her “we were out. We were cutting her loose and we would never help her again” was actually what worked. Cindy and I were enablers. FOR YEARS. We were also, unaware of being enablers.
I “line up my family for visits everyday” for Makenna while juggling client calls after calling Deanna about Barbara. I also take a call from New York regarding a “show idea.” I end the call by saying “call back after wedding season.” I mean it. I’m overwhelmed. I’m on auto pilot. Frankly, I’m like a horse with blinders the past week. I focus solely on getting everything I need to do done. I’m driven. But, I cannot take on anything outside clients and family right now. I know my limitations. A few months ago while trying to get Stephaney into a “luxury rehab facility in Valdosta,” a producer would waste over a week of my time in his efforts to obtain my clients contact information. He would lie. He would blow smoke and he would also have no idea what was going on in my life and why his “song and dance of empty promises infuriated the shit out of Cindy and I.” From a fake contract to wanting us to secure talent FOR him at our expense, Chris had no idea of what our work and personal lives actually entail. He also had no idea that I would expose his tactics. Don’t call me blowing smoke. I don’t have the time or the energy for bullshit.
On that “luxury rehab” situation, it was an abandoned trailer with no running water, electricity or food. Cindy and I wouldn’t know this UNTIL we had sent Stephaney there. UNTIL we had send money and until Stephaney told us what was going on. I involved the DA, Attorney General, County Sheriff and more to “get Stephaney back” while saving three children also starving in that abandoned trailer WHILE dealing with clients and the dipshit producer who wanted me to screen my clients FOR HIM. Now you know why I was so pissed off. If you are a producer or casting agent, know your job description and don’t call me to do your job for you. Don’t lie to me to get me to do your job for you either. I have a very low tolerance for liars.
Driving to Corsicana, I practice deep breaths and being on today. I practice putting my sorrow away to celebrate joy with my clients. I prepare to dance without music. I’m good at it. I always have been. I no longer fabricate the family to others that I didn’t have in order to protect THEM. I stopped doing this at fifty years old. Why lie to PROTECT the people who FAILED to PROTECT my siblings and I? I’m raw. I’m real. I’m honest. This shocks others but, I’m also a survivor. A survivor of a violent childhood and sexual abuse that began at 6 years old and didn’t end until my twin sister and I ran away. We were 15.
On my fiftieth birthday, I decided to stop pretending I came from a wonderful family. I also decided to stop wishing I had one. This was joint decision by Cindy and I. When we had our children we vowed to treat them the same way we had hoped to have been treated as children ourselves. We kept our promises.
Maybe a few people found us to be overprotective but neither our children or our grandchildren have ever been beaten or sexually abused because Cindy and I were cautious and extremely careful about who they were allowed to have over to our homes and sleepovers at friends houses were so rare that we can count on one hand the number of times we allowed our children AND grandchildren to stay over at a friends house in 35 years.
My niece, Stephaney has been in near death situations by her choices over the years. We couldn’t change this. We tried. Over and over and over again. Stephaney’s choices weren’t due to a violent childhood. She had two mothers. Both Cindy and I raised all of our children and grandchildren together but, addiction runs in our family. Cindy and I hate addiction. HATE IT. We pray Stephaney never relapses again. I’m not sure we could handle another setback with Stephaney. We’ve had far too many.
Elizabeth calls me an hour prior to her scheduled ceremony at Beto Unit. Elizabeth has also asked that I don’t post photos. I agree not to. Client privacy is a courtesy to all of our clients. She looks beautiful in a royal blue dress with her hair down and the Unit photos of her and her husband are the best I’ve ever seen in Texas. Elizabeth is thrilled with her photos.
We had passed a barbecue place on the way to a Unit and I decided to use it for her bridal photos. I liked the “country backdrop” and it was on my way back to Tennessee Colony to head on towards Hodge Unit. I enjoyed finally meeting Elizabeth and look forward to editing her photos.
I’m back on the highway and in a hurry to get to Hodge then back to Fort Worth. Due to the delay at Beto, I’m moving my Dallas North Tower Unit to after visitation at Mesa Springs tonight. My clients understand. They are completely unlike traditional clients. Many have asked why I prefer county and prison services? The answer? The people. They are real. They care about my family they have the compassion that many folks lack. They know sorrow and hardship. They too are survivors….