Sunday, July 15, 2018

SINGLE PARENTING - from the beginning - and the complications of woo-hoo.



What’s it like being a single parent?




 This is a question NOONE asks me, even though I’ve been a single parent and a sole-income for as long as I’ve been writing professionally, but you’re going to be seeing a lot on this subject, because becoming a single parent (and/or sole income) is really easy and almost always completely unexpected, but it is probably the #1 MOST DIFFICULT LIFELONG HARDSHIP that neither happens by choice or can be fixed by choice, because you can’t MAKE someone pay half your bills. Believe me, I’ve tried, and it’s guaranteed to not get you a second date. … Ever.



And worse … you’re going to be judged very, very harshly. You know, that whole, “Well, she shouldn’t have had kids if she couldn’t afford them.” (That’s the women). “She probably got pregnant on purpose so she could be lazy and live off of child support.” (That’s the guys).



HOW I BECAME A SINGLE PARENT



Raised with a strict Christian background, I was raised with the belief of no woo-hoo pre-marriage. (For the intent of keeping this blog PG, I will be using the word woo-hoo in place of all the you-know-what words). But I also grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, raised by a generation that alternated between preaching what they were taught, and rebelling against it out of being discouraged by their parents’ own relationship where females had been taught to obey there man and follow them to the ends of the earth, thereby creating an environment for the male of there being no checks and balances, and him being able to do as he pleased without consequence, like cheat, be abusive to the woman and/or children, or just be an a-hole in general. (I speak of the outliers, not how it was for everyone).



Me at 13 - Had never had a boyfriend
Wished I was prettier.
Thought that if I was prettier, more people would love me.
...And less people would bully me.
My best friend was God.
I thought that everyone should be best friends with God.
May or may not be related to said bullying.
So how it worked out for my Mom was, amidst a broken heart from the man she loved and had wanted to spend her life with, she committed the woo-hoo in an impaired state (which is why I’m a strong-believer in all girls wearing chastity belts on any and every occasion where impairment is a possibility), and I came to be, but she was so ashamed, due to her religious upbringing, that she found herself a boyfriend that was willing to call me his, for the purpose of not shaming her parents. (She did go on to marrying him, and spent 28 years with him before he died). But financial and insurance hardships of having a 3-month premature child with medical issues eventually led to the truth coming out and the involvement of my biological father when I was 7.


Growing up, I found very quickly that guys were far less interested in holding your hand and talking about your lives and future than they were at wanting to kiss you. So my
My first unreserved and uninhibited kiss at 15.
heartbreaks started early on when every boy I was interested in – rather, head-over-heels in love with – would leave me or get with someone else more inclined to kissing, so by 15, my beliefs were already being whittled away to compromising. Compromising meant I’d allow a quick peck on the lips, and if a guy tried doing anything more than that, I’d break up with him. I’d grieve. I’d feel such confusion. (I broke up with some pretty amazing, respectable, decent guys back then that were as inexperienced as I was, but I didn't know then that my beliefs were a surface cover-up to keep suppressing hidden truths and fears.)



By 17, I was an anomaly. A stereotyped prude. The target of every male scoundrel that saw me as a conquest and the target of every female scoundrel to out me as ‘not being the saint I pretended to be’, so rumors would have me be a person who woo-hooed all the time and me just pretending to be a prude without me yet having experienced what the woo-hooing was all about.



The peer pressure, the judgments, the bullcrap, the not-knowing-if-a-guy-actually-liked-me-or-not did me in. I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. Especially considering that I’d left home and was working towards emancipating myself and was living on the streets (in my car), and though I needed food and shelter and warmth from the winter, I was too paranoid of what I would have to give in return.



So I scheduled my first woo-hoo. Yes, you heard me. I scheduled it. I went through a list of potential candidates (my friends), weighed the pros and cons, and chose the person who had helped me out the most and had provided me a place to stay, after a female (who had signed my guardianship papers until I could get emancipated) had vandalized and destroyed my car, once learning that her ex was interested in me, even though I was so not interested in him at that time. (I know. The Drama!)



My first woo-hoo was basically an act of charity to show my appreciation for giving me a bed to sleep in and a stove and pot to cook my ramen in. (Back then, you could get 10 for a buck). It was so far from being magical. More like checking off a to-do list. Not saying I didn’t care about the person, and it was special in the sense that I did choose him. There were even times I thought I loved him, but there was definitely no future of ‘Until death do us part’. 


Besides, at that age, it's quite easy to feel love and think love for a number of people, since the  mediatized 'butterflies in the stomach', 'inability to sleep or eat', and 'thinking of the person all the time' is typically equated with true love versus all the number of other things it could be. I get indigestion and have difficulty sleeping and eating when I'm thinking about bills all the time, but it sure as heck doesn't mean I'm in love with financial woes. 



From there, I moved to Syracuse and got my first apartment with a friend whom had claimed to love me for a couple years, (my ex-guardian’s ex) and I had developed feelings for him as well. It’s hard not to do when you’re living together. But in order for me to be emancipated, I had to show residency and that I was financially supporting myself, and that is how I was able to accomplish it. Though at the time, I had serious moral regrets about the whole woo-hooing before marriage, I stopped having regrets four-months later when I tragically experienced the realization that a person can be forced into woo-hoo without consenting to it. An experience that destroyed me for a long time, because it complicated the ‘No’.



Age 17 in my first official apartment by myself.
Loneliness led me to bringing in a stray cat off the street.
Awareness led me to realizing she was pregnant.
Kind-heartedness and a no pets-restrictions resulted in 
1 Mommy cat, 5 kittens, and a daily dead-bird or half-dead-mouse
sacrifice in my attic apartment from the grateful Mommy cat.
Previously, saying No was easy and, for the most part, it was generally respected. Having to come to terms with the fact that not everyone respected the no made me petrified of saying No. And the world became a very scary place to be in, because I was a 17-year-old that was well sought-after amongst guys who, let’s face it, will look for any opportunity to woo-hoo. At this point in my life, I was living alone. I’d moved to Vernon because a landlord was willing to rent me an apartment even though I wasn’t yet 18. So there I was, working three jobs and going to highschool (my 7th one), while still suffering from post-traumatic stress, panic attacks, and social phobia.



And then … I met my soulmate! 

Not my soulmate, but very similar appeal!
Just a random picture I got off www.memecenter.com
when google searching 'hot guy'.


 He was the only guy in my group of friends that didn’t want me. It made him a safe person to be around. I didn’t have to feel afraid. So I did everything I could to keep him around. Even if it meant learning he liked parties and me throwing parties just to invite him. I’d stay right by his side, showing no interest in anyone else. I’d curl up to him when he was drunk in order to keep the other guys off of me, and he wouldn’t even put his arms around me. I’d sleep soundly. The only times I’d sleep back then. But it was inevitable that after time, I would become frustrated with him not wanting me, and it drove his friends crazy. From the girl who wouldn’t even kiss a boy to a girl begging for the boy to kiss her. To the point of tears and whining. “Why Won’t You Kiss Me? Is There Something Wrong With Me?” He’d tell me it was something wrong with him, and that I should just move on.



So I moved on to peer pressure and parlor tricks, and there were only so many tears and so much nagging and whining he could handle before he finally gave in. “Fine. One Kiss, but it won’t change anything.”



On the contraire, I was hoping it would change EVERYTHING. And to this day, I can 100 percent say it was
Like this, except we were hungover,
and sitting in his rumbling truck b/c
I'd made him give me a ride to the store
and then refused to get out of the vehicle
until he kissed me. And he really
just wanted to get home.
my absolute best and most favored and most magical kiss that I’ve ever experienced. That slow-motion, heart flip-flopping, belly-twittering, licking-of-the-lips-and-having-prepared-myself-with-a-breath mint, time-suspending moment. That stuff’s for real, people.




For me, that moment cemented into my heart the knowing that he was my true love and the person I wanted to spend my life with.



For him … it changed nothing. Just like he forewarned.



And I was completely crushed, because he was the only guy I actually wanted to make woo-hoo with after having the woo hoo stolen from me and tainted.



So, like mother, like daughter, at the very same age, I walked away from my love with my heart shattered, and tried to move on … with the first guy that showed interest in wanting me.



And then when I found him to be cheating on me, I handled it in a very mature way – by storming his house, crashing his party, punching him in the face, dragging him down the road with my car because he forgot that the door handle didn’t work, driving to my Mom’s house, crawling unexpectedly into bed with her, telling her I punched a guy in front of all his friends because he was cheating, got out of her bed, and then stayed at my true love’s house and binge-drank for three days while bein reminded he didn’t want me before returning home and finding out that some a-hole had moved in downstairs from me and had taken my parking spot when I’d specifically gone out of my way for 8 MONTHS to ensure no one would want to live there by stomping on the floors, playing music loud, and flushing my toilet over and over again when people came to check out the downstairs apartment. 



(And that is what they call a run-on sentence, my friends, which is a big no-no in the writing world, because it confuses the reader, which is why you're most likely going to have to re-read it. That's my point. It's a lot to take in, but that was exactly my experience of it all. Everything happened so quickly, and in so short a span a time, that I didn't feel I could even catch my breath. Let alone process it all. But it was this not-taking-a-moment-to-catch-a-breath, and not-giving-myself-time-to-process-things that would directly influence all the things that would happen next.



Being cheated on and feeling those mixtures of emotions. Going on a three-day-three-night bender (outside of work) with the person I knew I loved the moment I laid eyes on him and having to re-experience the reality of his not feeling the same. Working graveshift full-time at the Casino, and full-time day-shift at McDonalds, and waitressing late nights on weekends. Then to come home heartbroken, hungover, completely exhausted, having not yet been able to shed a single tear, to find that somebody had moved in to the downstairs apartment and had stolen my parking spot in the midst of winter.


Again, I handled it very maturely. By pounding on his door in the middle of the night in order to tell him to leave. But while I happened to be extremely frustrated with a shredded heart, he happened to be extremely cute.

Again, just a random pic from google-searching 'Cute guy' found at favim.com

And his response was, “Hey, listen, my girlfriend’s sleeping. She gets really bad headaches. How about we talk about this over laundry?”



“Now? You want to do laundry NOW? Yeah, okay.”



Ah, those 24-hour-a-day laundromats. (Why do they call it a laundromat? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be called a laundrymat, since you do your laundry? What the heck is a laundro?) And we talked the entire rest of the night to the background noise of spinning clothing. He broke up with his girlfriend the next day and trekked up the 14 stairs to knock on my hatch door (my apartment was in the attic), and invited me over to watch a movie. He confidently told me that by the end of the movie, I would kiss him.



‘Far and Away’ is one of my favorite movies to this day with
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, and how could you NOT want to kiss someone after seeing Tom Cruise almost die, and Kidman showering him with tearful kisses once seeing him alive?



The day thereafter, we started practically moving in together, being as how we already lived in the same house, and his apartment was better than my attic. That’s when my cheating-ex showed up full of apologies until he saw that standing beside me was his arch enemy that he hated more than anyone else on the planet for stealing the girl he loved in highschool.



“I’ve moved on,” I said.



KARMA.



He knew how important the no woo-hoo-out-of-wedlock was to me, and how sensitive of a matter it still was due to my continued panic attacks and flashbacks, while I'd yet had the time alone to process any of my recent experiences and actually be able to think clearly, so three weeks later, I had a ring on my finger. We packed up our things. Moved to a neutral place not tainted by history. Scheduled our wedding date and began planning our wedding.



Remember. I was 18 at this point. I’d left home and been on my own for two years. I’d experienced the hardships of being out on the streets, the loneliness of not having support or the love of my family, because they didn’t exactly agree with my decisions to leave. When other kids in highschool’s worst issues were homework, mine was working three jobs and trying to keep up on highschool while being too terrified to sleep at night. The only thing I wanted at that time was family and love, safety, and security, while also being young enough to still believe in fairy tales and happy endings, while still being religious enough to be grateful for any blessing or gift that God sent my way. Highly intelligent I was, but level-headed and capable of making smart choices based on rational thought versus dreams and faith and emotions, not so much.



So with that ring on my finger, a wedding date planned, and sharing a new home together, I was free to woo-hoo all I wanted. Both of us wanting to get started on making our family right away. (A.K.A he didn’t want to wear protection and I couldn’t take birth control due to a heart condition).



Too fast. Too soon. I know. And that’s exactly how he felt when I woke up one morning to find him standing at the door, his bags packed, only a few weeks before our wedding, missing his home and missing his family. I’d been out on my own for a couple years, and there’d been several times where the homesickness would strike and I’d try to return, thinking things would be different, just to find they weren’t and run again. This was his first experience being on his own and being far from home and the homesickness had struck. He wanted to go home. Leaving me with a beautiful apartment that I couldn’t afford on my own.



So he moved back in with his Mom, and I picked up a cheap, scumhole apartment that smelled and leaked and had long-ago retired from ever meeting codes, but it was all I could afford, being as how I left all three of my jobs when we’d moved, and I’d been spending my time babysitting and writing my first novel in the interim of finding a good job. He wanted to continue trying the relationship living apart, but he’d betrayed me. Left me stranded. And let’s face it – he’d gotten plenty of free woo-hoo under conditions and stipulations that he’d broken AFTER THE FACT. I felt used. Disgusted. Ashamed.



Those times in life when you don’t heed others’ warnings, because you’re friggin’ a teenager, and the very adults trying to give you advice seem a hundred years older than you, holding onto ancient beliefs, while being completely unhappy and miserable themselves and having given up on magic and miracles and meant-to-be’s a long time ago. There is not a single teenager on the face of this planet that wants to end up like the adults they see. At 35-years-old, I’m supposed to be an adult, but I STILL don’t want to be one.



I picked up a job at Pizza Hut, just a couple-mile walk from my apartment, and signed up for the AirForce (the least likely place in the military for a female to get forcefully woo-hooed – yes, that was the basis of my decision) to teach me discipline, and provide free college. I just wanted to put the past and my fantasy-life mistakes behind me and move on. Start fresh. And I wanted to jump out of planes. Having a brand-new job and apartment and a future planned out was a good start.



… Until I couldn’t walk into my job without having to run to
the restroom and throw up. And after a week of spending my shifts in the bathroom, it could no longer be considered a bug, which meant it could only mean one other thing – Pregnancy.


Surprise! 18 and Pregnant!


 As usual, I tried to handle the situation as maturely as possible. My ex-fiance came to the house. I’d purchased the test. I’d read all the instructions three times while sitting on the toilet. Now-a-days, women can pee in a cup or bowl and then insert the stick like a PH strip. Then, you had to pee directly on this 2 cm width stick for three whole seconds. Three seconds doesn’t seem like a long time. Trying to aim a stick in the direct flow of pee when female bodies aren’t meant to aim, hence us having to sit on the toilet, while trying not to pee on the hand holding the stick – Three seconds is a REALLY long time.



Three minutes is even longer. Which is exactly how long you have to wait for the results.



So I locked myself in my room, and him out of it, and flopped down on my bed. Suddenly, he was a time expert, counting down the minutes, which annoyed me to a ridiculous degree, because I was trying to be mature while fearing my worst nightmare. The one Mom had raised me with about how getting pregnant at 18 years old ruined her life and how she’d never wanted kids, because she had dreams and goals and all these things that she’d wanted to do with her life, and her getting pregnant was the worst possible thing that could have happened, and so she had to watch her dreams die while being the Mom that had never wanted to be one. (I tried to listen objectively at those times, being as how I was the 18-year-old unexpected pregnancy that destroyed her life).



“It’s been three minutes,” the time expert anxiously boasted.



“I don’t care. Leave me alone.”



“Don’t you want to know?” he called through the door.



“No!”



“Well I do. I’m going to check it.”



Fire ignited under my feet, and I moved, and unlocked that door so fast, “Don’t you dare! This is your fault, so you’re going to sit there and you’re going to wait until I’m ready.”



And then I locked the door again and returned to the bed.



“If you’re pregnant, then it’s my child too, and I have just as much right to know as you, so I’m going in there.”



I practically tore the door off its hinges and gave him a scathing look worthy of killing a person with eyes alone, ran into the bathroom, and locked the door.



“What’s it say?” he continued to bother me.



I gave him the silent treatment. Because what he didn’t know was that I already knew, and I’d only taken the test for semantics-purposes. Proof. Everyone always wanted proof. Sitting late nights, alone, with nothing but silence, after those non-stop puking workshifts threatening my financial security, I’d write. Journal entries. Poems. Music. “I know you’re there. Inside of me. I feel your soul. I feel your heat.” I already knew without a doubt, so me seeing the two lines didn’t change what I already knew. What I knew was I already loved what I felt growing inside me. And it was far too precious for me to want to share it with one whom had already proven how easily it was for him to walk. I wanted to keep it secret from the world, and not have to share what was so innocent and beautiful, and the last person I wanted to know was the father.



But because he was the father, I had no right to keep it from him.



So I unlocked the bathroom door and miserably admitted that I was pregnant.



And he acted like I was lying, so I threw the pee stick as hard as I could and nailed him in the forehead.



It was his reaction though, that made it truly hit home that I was going to be a single mother, even though I’d tried so hard to do everything the right way. While life circumstances may have set me off course here and there, I’d still never risked bringing a child into the world without the commitment of marriage. Some people would say that I should have waited until actual marriage before carelessly jumping on the bed with another person (another name for woo-hoo). Would it have made a difference in his walking out on me?



Instead of embracing me in his arms and attempting to remedy how hurt I was so that we could celebrate this beautiful creation developing in my womb that he and I made together, he called his Aunt to explain to him what two lines versus one line meant on a pregnancy test, because he wasn’t willing to read the directions, but what hurt more was he wasn’t willing to believe I wasn’t lying.



So in the same moment that I had it confirmed that I was carrying a child that I had already fallen in love with pre-confirmation, I had to sit there and watch and listen to the person, father to such child, whom I’d believed I’d loved that had made commitments to me and then walked thereafter, treat me like I was lying.



They say that you can only truly hate a person if you love them. Okay. I say that. Whomever else says that is just copying me. I felt pure hatred in that moment and true regret that I hadn’t just disappeared off the face of the planet and kept my child to myself so he would never know.



And THAT is how easy it is to become a single parent.



Did we try to make things work? Of course. For business reasons, my job couldn’t keep me around, because I couldn’t do my job with the smell of onions constantly making me run to the bathroom to throw up. I can’t exactly say what his reasons were. But the second time he packed his bags and walked, after he’d proposed to me again and the second time we’d been planning our wedding day, saying he was too young to be a father, it didn’t surprise me. It still hurt, but I’d never put my guards down after the first time he walked. So I was much more mature when he left me the second time. I helped him pack, and threw an industrial-sized box of condoms at him and told him to actually use them if he wasn’t ready to be a father … idiot.



My Beloved!
Being pregnant at 18 – as a teen or young adult in general – sets you up to not having a place to belong or people to belong with, because the friends your age are still set on partying, first-time independence, and freedom, and those who have children won’t accept you into their circle because you’re too young. My own mother was still raising a 4, 11, and 14-year-old. And my biological father was putting all his hope and commitment into his 4-year-old child that he could raise from the getgo versus meeting his child at 7 years old and having weekend visitations where he had no chance at being called Dad at that point.



I’d been given a variety of talents and skills and I COULD HAVE had a variety of promising futures. I was highly intelligent and could have graduated valedictorian. Instead, I took the college exams in 11th grade, passed in the 90-plus percentiles, and was accepted into college. So I went and got my highschool diploma without ever graduating highschool, because those options exist. You take the tests. You pass. You get your highschool diploma. Period. In a matter of six or so weeks. 

And I couldn’t have been more proud to walk the school, turning in my books, and finally getting to my 11th grade math-teacher. Throughout the school year, he had used me as an example as to all the losers in the world, because working three jobs and going to highschool, his class just happened to be the one where I would pass out, and it drove him crazy, so he would literally tell the class that I was the example of a person who was never going to go anywhere in life. All while he’d never taken a moment of his time to get to know me. That’s why it was a very proud moment to return my book and have him sign off on it and have him look to the class and say, “This is exactly what I tried to tell you. A person who will never go anywhere and now she’s dropping out of highschool.” And me clearing my throat and saying, “Actually, I’m dropping out of highschool because I got accepted into college”.

 

It’s funny how red people’s faces can actually get.



So I did have a choice of going down a different path, as I’d already been accepted and enrolled in college to start that August.



But love, family, connection. No longer being alone and afraid. That was more important to me. So I took a chance. I chose love. And when I could have been starting college, I was carrying a child instead. When I should have been preparing for college, I was making plans for my wedding instead. 



Originally, we were to be married September 15th, 2001.



First Bath
I signed up for the AirForce in August after he walked. Found out I was pregnant a few weeks later. And 9/11 happened when I was still trying to manage working my job. The first responders they sent in were AirForce and I think 16 choppers went down the very first day.



I’m pretty sure my would-be son saved my life!



First Fashion Show
In the meantime, I lost all my friends, because I could no longer party with them, being pregnant and all.


And it just really sucked that I lived upstairs from them – only a staircase away. Pregnant and alone. And not a single one of them could make the trek upstairs … but for one.



The soulmate that didn’t want me.



And the plot thickens!



My Heart




 My heart once wanted to sing



And now it sings for you dear



It will sing for no other



As long as we’re here







There was so much I desired



Before you came along



So much I wanted to do



Until you changed my song







My life is now yours, child



My heart belongs to you



And wherever you may go



My heart will be with you







I wanted to accomplish so much



But you have become my goal



To protect you, to support you



To give you my very soul







You are my blessed child



We’re inseparable, we’ll never part



Because wherever you go





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SINGLE PARENTING - from the beginning - and the complications of woo-hoo.

What’s it like being a single parent?   This is a question NOONE asks me, even though I’ve been a single parent and a sole-inc...