Last Wednesday as I prepared to leave for TDCJ Allred Unit from Fort Worth, my grandniece was attempting suicide as my twin sister dressed to take her twin granddaughters to school.
For the past week of my life, I’ve worried about my grandson in NICU, I’ve juggled my clients and my commitments and I’ve tried to act normal under extraordinary circumstances.
My sorrow regarding Makenna is profound. A stellar student determined to be the best in every class, Makenna was overwhelmed with schoolwork and yet unwilling to voice her stress to me, my sister or the school counselor.
Moving from Units to two hospitals and answering emails, texts and phone calls from clients while trying to hold it together for Makenna, Maryssa, my son and his wife as well as my twin sister and husband hasn’t been easy for me.
We live in a world of easily offended and or outspoken people who have no idea that words hurt or worse they simply don’t care. Bullying backed Makenna into a corner.
Cindy and I were unaware of this because Makenna chose to internalize her struggles at school.
I’m outspoken and unfiltered as my dedicated readers are well aware. Also, I don’t care about opinions of others who aren’t bound to me by blood, business or friendship.
This morning while answering someone who had apparently “found me on Facebook,” I was once again alarmed at the arrogance of others who assume my clients and their loved ones cared about his views.
Happy Sunday stalker and oh by the way, I’m going to enlighten you as to why your opinions and views have no impact on me or my clients.
Ignorance may be bliss but education and enlightenment can be informative.
The most liberating thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life is not caring about what others who aren’t important to me think about me. It’s a fact.
Nathan believes that everyone in prison belongs there. Nathan is unaware that the majority of people in prison never went to trial. They took a plea deal. There are people in prison who are guilty but there are also people that aren’t.
There are also people who aren’t in prison that should be. How do I know? I will explain.
As a child I had no voice. As a child my sisters and I were not only sexually abused by a family member but also physically abused by other family members. Our abusers were never prosecuted. Hence my knowledge of people who belong in prison that have never been held accountable for their crimes.
My sisters and I all went into our first marriages believing violence was normal. Why? Our childhood was filled with violence that’s why. It was during my divorce and subsequent custody battle over my son that I literally decided no one would ever hurt me physically or emotionally again.
It took years to realize I was capable of standing up for myself. In fact, I was 34 years old before recognizing this.
Spending days at Cook’s under the watchful eye of an observer in Makenna’s room who wrote down our conversations and masking our grief over why we were there, I realized that every parent or guardian on our floor wore the same defeated look. The exhaustion, the worry, the concern was a heavy cloud hanging over all of our heads. Being positive and putting on your happy and hopeful face walking into a visit is a must. You hide your fear until you leave the room to take a call or go to the food court to pick up Chick Fil A for Makenna. You walk out of that room slump shouldered.
You go to your car to cry and you soldier on. You have to. Your twin sister and you are the matriarchs of your family.
You don’t have a mother or father in your life to lean on. You never had a mother or father, an aunt or uncle or even grandparents in your life to lean on.
Cindy and I grew up fast. Runaways at 15 years old and homeless, the police took us to a shelter. We left the shelter found work as waitresses and never looked back.
Last night we followed the ambulance from Cook’s to Mesa Springs.
Treatment for depression and suicidal ideation at Mesa Springs can run tens of thousands of dollars.
You know the drill. You’ve done this before. Over and over again you’ve walked into a visit. Put your purse in a locker. Held your hands out to get “wanded.” Signed in. Showed your license. Given the patients ID code. Signed in. Waited with other worried family members. Shoulders hung waiting in the lobby.
Called to line up, you put your happy face on. Your hopeful face. Breathe through your nose. Control your anxiety. Walk in and hug your loved one.
The remarkable similarities of visiting a relative in a Psych Ward or Prison are many. The vending machines are a focal point. The visiting loved ones are stressed and anxious.
The screening process is nearly identical for a Prison or a Psych Ward.
Cindy and I have become experts at walking into Prisons AND Psych Wards. During the week we officiate State, Federal and County Jail Weddings.
For nearly four years now we’ve been visitors at Sundance, JPS, Wellbridge and Mesa Springs.
Our “Psych Ward Cycle” began when my niece, Stephaney relapsed and began using 3.5 years ago. Stephaney would be the first family member involuntarily committed for drug induced psychosis.
Cindy and I had no idea what to expect on our first visit to JPS to visit Stephaney. We didn’t know about patient ID numbers. We didn’t know about “psych ward friendly clothing and accessories.” We had to learn.
Walking into that first visit with other patients yelling at their loved ones and throwing chairs around at JPS was an eye opener.
Stephaney talked to her “invisible friend” while we were at our first visit.
Acting normal and staying calm was very difficult. On site security was there for a reason. JPS was the worst inpatient facility we have ever visited.
We would visit Stephaney 18 times on 18 involuntary commitments over the past three years. It never got easier.
About two years ago while Stephaney was yet again involuntarily committed, our father believed people were living in his attic and shot at the ceiling. He was also involuntarily committed.
My grandniece Maryssa played the choking game and was also committed.
THREE family members at THREE Psych Wards at the same time?! Yes. Visitation is 7 days a week. Cindy and I missed ONE day of visiting my father and never heard the end of it. Never mind we were working and running to three mental hospitals for three family members everyday.
We became experts at Psych Ward Friendly clothing. We cried in our cars. We screamed. We yelled. We prayed. We endured.
For two years during that window when Stephaney wasn’t involuntarily committed, she was on the streets again. We spent so much time looking for her when she wasn’t committed that we were relieved when she was. True story.
Stephaney is now in treatment and doing better than she ever had in three years. But, Stephaney relapsing was a rock in the pond.
Maryssa and Makenna were devastated by Stephaney’s choice. We all were. For sixteen years now Cindy and I have tried everything humanly possible to save Stephaney. We were forced to learn that Stephaney had to choose to save herself.
Children need stability. Cindy gave up her career to give the twins the stability we knew that Stephaney couldn’t. Protecting them from the childhood we ran from at 15 years old, Cindy and I have and will always put the children’s needs as our priorities.
Had I not been a frequent visitor to a Prison on that first visit to see Stephaney, the screening process would have shocked me.
After leaving Johnson County Jail today and addressing Nathan publicly on my FB Page Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham, I drove to Walmart to buy Psych Friendly shoes for my grandniece. I cried in my car away from my client at Johnson County Jail. She would never know the stress I was facing. I hide my pain. I’m a professional. When I’m on, I’m on.
Last Wednesday after hearing Makenna attempted suicide, I drove to not one but two prisons to meet and marry my clients. Neither of them knew I was under extreme stress. I’m a great actress. Only when I’m alone or with my sister does our pain and fear manifest itself.
No shoelaces. No buckles. I find the shoes. I buy them. I drive to Mesa Springs. I park. I cry. I walk in. I hold it together. I stay positive. Strong. Resilient. Determined.
Makenna sits with me and tells me she wants to come home. This breaks my heart. I need her to get counseling. I need her to realize the gravity of attempting suicide. I need her to know how devastated our family would be without her in it.
The counselor comes by to schedule a family visit Thursday. I’m at Coffield Unit Tuesday and Prairieland Detention Center Wednesday. I’m filing licenses and buying books for Makenna tomorrow. I’m going to see my grandson who was released today tomorrow. I’m helping Cindy remodel Makenna’s room next weekend.
I’m trying to remain strong for my grandniece and her sister as well as my sister.
What I’m not going to do is listen to arrogant and one sided views about my clients or their loved ones from people like Nathan…