Wednesday, October 5, 2011

For those who don't know my story...a little "how I got here"

I'm not sure where I want to start this...but my past experiences are a monumental part of who I am today so I wanted to let those of you who don't know me that well, or didn't know me then, into my world.

I think I was a pretty typical teenager. I made good grades (graduated 8th in my class), held down a pretty grown-up job (bookkeeper at Bi-Lo 253, how may I help you?), had a cool car (Saturn SC1, in black gold, tyvm). I wanted to go to college for psychology and become a forensic psychologist for the FBI (oy vey).

The summer after Senior year I met a boy, not just any boy...he was handsome and charismatic, he treated me like a princess, he pursued me relentlessly and showered me with gifts and attention. I fell, hard. I had been accepted to Clemson University starting in the Fall of 1997. I was not a girl who would change her life path for a boy, yet. I left for Clemson in August, it was only a short hour from home and we promised to make it work. He would come visit me at school all the time and my grades started slipping. I cared more about spending time with him and his friends than studying or even going to class. By Christmas break I wasn't going back, I dropped out of college! Me, the studious scholar, the "smart" girl, quit school. I got a job back home and kept seeing A. In March of 1998 I found out I was pregnant, at 18. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was living at home, working a menial job and now I was pregnant...and alone. A dumped me and started seeing a "friend" of mine when he found out I was pregnant. I decided I had to live on my own, I was going to be a mom for goodness sakes! I got an apartment with my best friend, her boyfriend and his brother. It didn't take long for A to beg to come back, he had realized his mistake and wanted to help me raise our baby. I took him back, much to the dismay of everyone around me...they could see what I couldn't. Unfortunately, this was short lived as leopards don't change their spots and soon enough I found myself alone again. This time I wouldn't really see A again until our daughter was 3 years old.

My precious girl was born on November 13, 1998. She is my savior, my life, my love. She is the thing that woke me up, made me get my act together. I was all she had, her dad had disappeared (to us). I brought her home to my parents house where we lived until she was about 15 months old. I honestly don't know where I would be without their love and acceptance. I am sure it was not their plan for me to be a single, teenage mother. I am sure there had to be disappointment, but they loved that little girl the moment they met her and she's had them on a leash ever since.

I got a job at the Bank of Travelers Rest where I met some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Life long friends for sure. I got my own apartment, it was me and my baby girl (and my sister until she left for college). I enrolled at Greenville Tech and went to school at night a few days a week, took some online classes and some weekend classes. When Alyssa was almost 3 years old, I decided I would have to enroll in a university somewhere to get a degree...after all I had never gotten a dime of child support and I didn't know that I ever would, I had to do something to better our life on my own. Around that time I got a summons for family court, no big deal, I got them every few months and every time I would take the time off work only to discover that A had not been served and the case was continued. I arrived at the court house and my heart dropped into my stomach. There he was. A. The father of my daughter that I had not seen in literally years was standing right in front of me. He asked the mediator for a paternity test, quickly did his, and left before Alyssa could get there. He had never met her and didn't even stick around to meet her then. Paternity was established and we started getting child support, I could breathe.

I got accepted to the College of Charleston in 2001. Right before 9/11. I moved myself and my daughter to Charleston in April of 2002 to start college in the Fall. I couldn't believe it! I was going to do this, I was going to get my degree. I moved in with my sister and her roommate to a house in downtown Charleston. Some of my best and most precious memories are from the time I shared with my sister and my daughter in Charleston.

Fast forward to February 2004. I got a call from my mom while I was leaving class. I was about to go to a career fair and then to my full time job (it was a very busy time). She asked if I was driving (odd) and then told me that my grandma had found an obituary for A. "What?" There was no way, someone would have surely told me. I sank to my knees, shock. Even though he had never had a desire to know his daughter, I had always hoped that one day he that one day was torn away from us. There was no mention of a daughter in his obituary and that stings to this day...he has a daughter, not printing it doesn't make it not true. I called the courthouse where child support was established a few days later to find out that child support had already been cancelled (didn't waste any time) and I would need to apply for social security survivor benefits. I applied, and was denied...I couldn't believe it. A had not worked enough for his daughter to get any benefits. I was on my own again. In college full time, working full time and a single mother with no financial support. I contemplated quitting, but I just couldn't do it. There had to be a way, I was only a year from my Bachelors of Science degree. I took out every dime of student loans I could so that I could pay daycare and living expenses above what my small salary would cover and kept going.

I finished my bachelors degree in May of 2005 and I gotta tell you, walking across that stage was my proudest moment behind the birth of my children and marriage to my best friend. I did it! A working single mom, I graduated from college!

There were so many bumps in the road and a lot of missing pieces to this story that I will keep to myself to show respect for the deceased. My point in posting this is to show that nothing is impossible, no problem is insurmountable and life always gets better.

My daughter saved me, my husband brought me back to life and my son makes me young again. They were all worth every misstep, every hardship, every tear. God Bless the Broken Road indeed.


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