A Light In A Dark Place

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Misunderstood

I write as an outlet and while that’s a good thing for me mentally, it forms a tone within my writing that sounds annoyingly irritated and even irrationally swayed. That is not how I feel at all, but it does surface a little in the moments when if a pen doesn’t hit paper, my head may hit a wall. My circumstances have forced a portion of my life to be put on display, it’s a very small piece of our picture but even a piece that small makes me feel like I’m center stage, with a burning spotlight, and I’ve forgotten my lines. Ross is better at being in the limelight – even when it’s not the best shade and I have relied on him too much in that aspect. When the time comes for me to be the face of our family, I’m pretty awkward. As my mom says, “put me on a podium in front of a conference center and I can command the room, but put me into a setting of a small get together with friends and you’ll find me hiding in the bathroom.” I’m not ashamed of our story nor do I think there is a single thing wrong with it but I am definitely not arrogant or unappreciative of the help that has been selflessly given. I’m just submerged in doing the work it takes to be a family to not be ignorant to all the ways we can be better as a family even when no one is deciding we’re bad. Within an office – you can feel accomplished in learning/completing a task. At home, I can never stop learning how to be a better mom and wife – and those who know my personality should understand how deeply I dig into learning how to do things the very best way they can be done.

A Necessary Burden

As far as my frustration to the situation with DCFS, I voluntarily signed up for their services. The court hasn’t ordered it and my boys have surpassed and amazed every individual they’ve met in and out of their services. I volunteered because I remember how hard this time “waiting” was for them last time Ross was incarcerated. Being older now, having just got their dad back, and because they didn’t get societal services before – I wanted to be preemptive in guiding their emotions healthily and correctly. They are aware that their dad is missing this time and they are even more aware that he still hasn’t come back – that in itself is enough to need help within counseling and parenting services to ensure I am doing what is the absolute best I can be in every way for them. I thought “the system” was more educated and experienced in this reality than I am and they would be my best resource to pull from during times when I experienced firsts from my boys brought on by the stress of all of this. I do my absolute best, but I know I can’t shield them from the stress and I definitely cannot blind them to the pain.

My frustration comes from the lack of concern that those services have with my parenting plans already worked. I’m aware how inclined everyone is to believe the opposite, but my husband wasn’t being abusive to my boys and I. He thought he was protecting us – the threat we needed protecting from just wasn’t real and he couldn’t rationalize that with how strongly he believed it was.

But there is a past there that I don’t want ignored either.

In that though, treating my family as though the scars from the past are freshly inflicted wounds, is opening Pandora’s box within our minds that I don’t believe need to be reopened. We dealt with the hand we were dealt, we learned how to live with the scars, we built a good life on top of them. To have everything we built for the past two years be taken with such disregard is not only confusing but by prodding at scars that we forgot were even there is overwhelming.

We don’t know how to protect ourselves after triggered memories cause emotions to resurface because we forgot what feeling was associated with the cause of that scar in the first place.. Until the scar was scratched enough by people asking us if we’re sure it doesn’t still hurt, we didn’t remember that it actually did hurt. But isn’t that what healing is? Scars can turn back into wounds if you’re not careful.

I sought out DCFS because I wanted help in getting through the future and it feels like they’re not only delaying that future, but complicating the present, and digging up a past that will take more time to fill and garden back into the flower bed that we had already made from it.

However, I have noticed that my family is the outlier and even I have wanted to jump in and mediate a situation I see going on between other families at the facilities these services take place. I’m not naive to the need of DCFS but I also have a perspective that those who’ve never “needed” state involvement don’t understand. What I have been through has not made me a less competent mother, wife, or member of society but the regulations, limitations, obligations and overpopulation issues I’ve been subjected to by being sucked into this side of the system has made me feel like I am. I volunteered so I can’t place blame nor do I want to. Everyone is doing their best with the knowledge and resources they have. But I feel that that’s the case on both sides of it, I am choosing to use my situation to help bridge the gap between those who give services and those who need to receive them.

The Reason

This desire has come from, by far, the best thing that has come from all of this. And that is our testimony within the church.

The day that everything exploded, when Ross thought ISIS was outside of our home ready to finally make their move; it was a knock on the door that distracted us both enough to give me the ability to call for help.

As I called and asked for police assistance; my husband had went to the door, opened it to no one being there, went to the top of the stairs to look around, came back into the house setting a bag on the counter, and walked around the house checking windows again. It wasn’t until after everyone had left that I remembered the bag; it was from the church, I wasn’t active, there were Christmas cookies inside (it was February 7th,) and there was a little note with the numbers of two women. I got the over whelming urge to text and express my gratitude to them, they had interrupted a potentially life threatening situation as both of our fears were growing more irrational by the minute. (My husband’s fear of what was outside and my trauma induced fear of my husband.) Both of these woman who are my visiting teachers, were in my living room in their pajamas, within 10 minutes.

After about a week they asked me, “: “Why did you text us, of all people?”
I was surprised and plainly told them “Because of the cookies.”

We were left without words as they told me they didn’t deliver any cookies and I explained the importance of the knock.

I showed them the card and we discovered that the sister tasked with delivering them had been ill or busy since Christmas. She was driving past my complex, and even though hurried on a Monday afternoon, felt an urge to finally drop mine off to me.

“She didn’t have time to stay, she was in a rush, and dropped them off with a quick knock.”

I have not had to feel alone for one moment throughout this journey, I continue to feel the presence of the spirit of the Holy Ghost as strongly as I know my boys are standing next to me. I know there is a reason I am in the position I am.

My visiting teachers ended up being the Relief Society president and the Bishops wife. At the very beginning of all of this, I met with the bishop and he told me that another bishop had called him in September (unknown to most, even me at the time, this is when Ross started to show signs of his mental health declining) This man told him to be patient with me, but to not give up. He told me his name but we still have no idea and have not been able to find who it was.

My relief society president’s father is in the Quorum of the 12 and he’s visited since.
He voiced “God is aware of me.”  Unknown to me then, when I moved to PA the first time around, a member of the Quorum of the 70 arrived at my mom’s door. They were visiting the area and had prayed as to which homes they needed to visit and they got the urge to come to ours.

I was blessed by my home teachers, who requested to be so, by being the former stake president Craig Burton and his wife, Lynda Burton; who was called by President Thomas S. Monson and was just released as General President of the Relief Society. I love them and they come by the apartment regularly, text me daily, and my boys have latched onto them like grandparents. Well, the boys have done that and won the hearts of the entire church I think.

The missionaries who are teaching us are pretty much my best friends. Even if they don’t know it. They are always out “patrolling” my apartment complex and beyond our lessons twice a week they’ve helped me beyond their understanding. From working on my car, grabbing me a gallon of milk at 9:00 p.m. because I noticed I was out during a lesson, to the break from the reality I’m currently in and especially, quietly, how much they do for me stubborn ego by their “patrols” reminding me of just how safe my boys and I really are.

Pay It Forward

In a time when I have every reason to feel trapped, isolated, and alone – I am none of those things in a way that I’ll never be able to repay anyone for; from the church, to my family, and friends. But I can try to by doing everything I can, through wisdom within me, and guidance and support by those around me, to help make others not feel so alone when they aren’t as evidently blessed.

Ross is an amazing soul that’s plagued with demons he’s been adamant and even successful in fighting; but his Demons stand taller and have more power, even without him submitting to them, now that his record has written them into his stone. It makes me all the more grateful my demons haven’t been subjected to public scrutiny. Regardless of the past, no one should be forced to walk through life with their worst deeds tattooed on their forehead (unless they so choose, in which case I feel even God smirks a little.) It wasn’t my boys’ actions and it’s unfair they have to walk with the weight of them in how our family is allowed to move forward. God is just and I know he is there to stand behind each and every one of us. But he will not take away the agency of others. Good intentions and the will to do good is enough but without knowledge it’s not always what’s best.

Just as negative outcomes come from “criminals” who do the wrong thing while trying to do what they think is right for their situation, the best they believe they can do, or they simply don’t know that there is a better way. The same can be said for all other people on the spectrum.
We are all subjected to viewing the world from one perspective – our own – unknowingly it seems too many though, just how limited that perspective is. Even if you’ve been in many different scenarios, there is never a time a person is done learning and I feel our system has forgotten this. Whether that be by believing that a judge can remain unbiased after being subjected to the most negativity society has to offer every day or by our system of punishing those unknowledgeable by placing them in a box where they are deprived of even the basic abilities to learn.

Our society is so busy making sure we’re all okay that we forget none of us are. We need to continue to grow and all our current system is doing is keeping lower and middle class in a cycle of poverty financially but spiritually you won’t find a stronger group of beliefs. The upper class has the opposite problem from what I can see. Emotionally I feel we’re all searching for something. But we can all learn from each other – even if we don’t understand what we’re learning yet.

To Your Children, Leave Nothing But Repentance
Kids need their parents, I need my husband, and my husband needs to ability to be a father and a husband. I’m not advocating for his innocence – I’m advocating for an environment in which he can be those things while also learning how to be more and in a way that’s supportive of more being an option. A debt is owed from actions done but that debt shouldn’t be collected until the knowledge in how to do more than the action performed is obtained and even then only after they’ve been given opportunity in learning how to apply that knowledge appropriately to their lives. Only when a person knows what’s wrong, is still hurting others, and has no desire to be better, should you lock them away. ( For now, I haven’t met a person unwilling to change so I don’t know how to feel about someone like that.) That’s how I would want to be treated and how I will fight for my boys to be treated each and every time they make a mistake.

I am not a perfect parent – but I want to be. My husband isn’t viewed as the most contributing member of society – but he wants to be. We have programs in place already pushing for these two things to be so. Why are we limiting their effectiveness by placing priority on punishment and fear? The will to do and be better is enough for me. It’s enough for God. Why isn’t it enough for our world?

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