I feel like when I was pregnant with Arwen I was ambushed with more advice than I ever wanted. I was told stories that I never wanted to hear (this means strangers, like people in the store, not friends that I was actually having conversations with). I received warnings and I can’t even express how many awful stories I was told about going into labor. I don’t know if people don’t realize this, but when you are a about to deliver, you have no choice! You can’t choose to not deliver, I mean you can, but it will be super awkward when you have a 16 year old living in your uterus. Being pregnant is just like you are on a roller coaster, once that coaster starts you can only get off when it’s over. Well unless the ride operator is really mean and keeps making you go around and around, but let’s hope that is never that case, or you will learn about changing soiled pants quickly as well, if we want to use this same metaphor for babies, but I stray. So telling all the awful stories is just making the coaster a bit more scary. I am not exactly sure why people felt I needed to really hear about the most awful things possible. I was of course aware of the things that could happen, in fact I have my own scary story that I can ambush random strangers with.
With all this to say. I thought I had heard every single thing that I should be prepared for whether I wanted to know it or not, until she was 14. BUT in all the advice and stories I received, I had never heard of the “threenage” year, or that that the terrible twos was nothing compared to your child hitting three, or in our case almost three.
I was relieved when I would share my stress, and people would ask if she was almost 3, and finally they let me in on this secret that this is a stage, and I don’t need to call an exorcist. My sweet girl became a bully…to me, hitting me, threatening to stab me, leaving me in tears, where I would “tattle” on her to my husband and let him know she was mean to me, and hurt my feelings, while pointing and stomping my foot, you know, like 32 year old women do. Not my best parenting moment, but I was so confused as to why the devil was coming out of my child. In fact, I only had relief when I was told, this was a thing, and each stranger just covered every other age, but three, as of this point, the most scary. We are still in the “threenage” year, but I am so relieved that I don’t have to worry just yet about getting her into therapy because she is so mean…there still may be that moment, but let’s hope not.
So, I guess to be a hypocrite, I am going to give a warning that wasn’t asked for, be prepared for year three…be very prepared, hard hats, tissues, whatever you need, but the good news is, you will come out of it with just a couple of scratches.
In the midst of Arwen’s plans of making sure I stay humble, she decided I also needed to be destroyed, whittled down to nothing and then picked up and slammed down again.
My sweet Arwen became the baby hulk again, but full time, for two weeks straight. Only to me, not to my husband and sadly to a couple of innocent kids. Sadly she had a small Bible that someone gave her and she whacked our sweet friend in the face. I was driving and had to yell “the Bible is NOT a weapon.” Not in that sense anyways. Action was taken, but I was so horrified that she would do that.
People are just now telling me it is because she will be three and to watch my back. I could have used that advice before I realized I need to wear a full time helmet around her. Ok I am being a bit dramatic, but really from how she usually is, it was bad. She woke up one day and was so angry, she started to hit (me really) and scream at the top of her lungs where I thought “wow the police may be stopping by.” It was all her and there was nothing I could do to calm her. She was angry because I wouldn’t let her play with sharp knives (we locked those up and away quickly) and that I didn’t want her staying in pee soaked clothes. She would run to the couch and bounce off with anger. She started wailing on me and those little fists can really hurt. We did time outs and tried to get creative on punishments and she didn’t care. I may or may not have locked myself in my hallway where I could still hear her, but cry for a bit. I may or may not have tattled on her when my husband walked in and I said how mean she was…in that moment, I seriously became five years old. My poor husband. And when Arwen yelled at me that she was NOT my best friend, I may or may not have yelled back “Good!” Wow. Mature. Really Mature. My husband on the worst day gave me a break, because obviously it was getting really bad and I had just explained how she would threaten to stab me in Target. Excuse me??? Where did she even get that? We don’t talk like that. Luckily I talked to my father-in-law and he explained he was teaching her to “stab” her chicken at dinner when they were watching her. I am not a chicken!
While I was in my own personal time out, Arwen came out to say sorry for hitting me. She ran out, whispered “sorry for hitting you,” HIT ME, and then ran back to Chris. It was lovely.
I was wondering if this was it. This was my life and maybe we need to look into some counseling for her. But all of a sudden this past weekend she woke up and was no longer baby hulk, but Arwen. We are now reading up on strong wheeled children and how to discipline.
That was crazy, but I am glad, at least for now…it’s over.
We have been potty training and I think I got a bit too cocky about how we were done with diapers and how great Arwen was at not peeing the bed or having accidents. I am assuming this was a rookie mistake, but I am pretty sure Arwen looked at me and thought “nope, you are too confident about that, let me change this for you.”
She started realizing that every time she had an accident, which at this time, was NOT often she would get a bath right then and there, instead of at the end of the day. This girl loves baths and so she started to pee herself on purpose and I caught on quickly and would just wipe her down and wait until the end of the day, or else at the rate she was going she would be in the bath all day. Then she started to go to the toilet and instead of going in the toilet she would just pee, right there on the floor.
I was losing my mind, because I had no idea what was going on. I really thought I caught on to her and learned my lesson from her mastermind plan of “bath all day every day and make sure mom doesn’t get to cocky,” but no, no, there was more to this lesson. Now it is still not perfect, but at 12 am on June, 25th we discovered what was going on. I was nervous because she was going to be staying at my in-laws so my husband and I could have a night away for our 10 year anniversary, but it all came together. I had her go to the bathroom, but her stool wasn’t there, so I came in and she was standing facing the potty and asking for her stool so she could go standing up. I then realized she wasn’t not making it to the potty because of the bath (well, at least not that day), instead, she was trying to stand up so that if I left the bathroom and wasn’t watching her, she could go like a boy.
I can’t tell you the relief I felt, but then came another talk that I wasn’t totally ready to have with my two year old. I thought it would happen a bit later in life. I asked “have you been having accidents because you want to stand?” She explained how that was what was happening and she wanted to be able to stand and not sit. I then had to explain about boy and girl parts and I didn’t even laugh while doing it! I was very proud. After explaining the boy parts, she was very upset because she wanted a boy part so she could pee standing up, I didn’t say this, but I was thinking, me too sister, me too. She then said Ok, I want one then when I am older. I just left that there, it was midnight.
Although her masterminded plan is still a bit in force, it is better and I can at least say we got to have a nice conversation at midnight about “parts”. Every mother’s dream.
I have re-written this so many times. I feel like I can’t get it right. I lost someone who I loved so much, all because of the senseless act of domestic violence. This has been a hard time: to know we lost someone so special because someone couldn’t control themselves. This is something that I have always had a hard time with because of what I witnessed growing up, but to hear someone lost their lives is heart wrenching. I was going to share a bit more about that, knowing that I wanted to raise awareness of domestic violence, and felt called to do so, but the direction has changed a bit. My hope if anything, is to offer love to those who are in place where they feel they are stuck, or feel they can’t find anyone better, or think for some reason they deserve this. I want to just say, those are all lies. You deserve better than what is happening. Instead of sharing this sweet girl’s story, which I know her mom will be doing to help people who are struggling and give them encouragement. I have instead decided to share my story, which is from the perspective of a child who had to witness her parent in an extremely toxic relationship.
I am writing this because, although I love to share funny stories of Arwen, the fact is, this is real life and I want to be real.
Growing up I can’t remember my mom being in a single relationship where she wasn’t abused. Sometimes mentally, but every time physically, and I had to stand by and witness so many things. It came to a point where with each new boyfriend my mom would laugh and say to me, “OK, Randie, go ahead and ask them your question.” My question was always, “Will you beat up my mom?” They would always say things like “of course not,” and “I would never,” and they were all liars. I never understood why my mom would laugh. It actually bugged me because as much as I like to find the humor in things (I got that from my mom, which I am thankful for), this wasn’t funny. It wasn’t until this last year that I realized I don’t think she found it funny, I think she was scared as well, but having me ask what I am sure she so badly wanted to, helped her.
Because of the things I had to witness I am on high alert if I hear someone scream a certain way. Movies and TV shows can be tiring to watch with me. I do my homework before hand to see if it seems like things will set me off, or my husband has his hand on the remote to mute things if it looks like a scene might be taking a bad turn. Usually I stick to watching funny and lighthearted things. When I hear a scream I get so angry that I yell, and it is literally so involuntary, but it’s like I feel like I have to fight back, or I have flashbacks. The flashback that I get the most is with my mom and her boyfriend who I considered a dad. He went the longest without hitting my mom: two years, actually. He one time hit her so hard she lost her sight for a half a day. But one night I woke up to them yelling, and I went down to try to calm the situation. He had gotten so drunk he was screaming. He started to hit my mom so hard that she tried to run and he would follow her and lay on her while pounding her. Her screams mixed with my screams of, “Stop!” to this day haunt me. He finally got up and proceeded to rip out all of the phone cords–and of course this was way before cell phones. My mom had enough energy to stand up, beaten and bloody to say, “Go get help,” and she fell at my feet, passed out. I was in my sports shirt-looking nightgown with Garfield on it, and I went running for the door, screaming. I couldn’t open the door because we had a lock at the top of the door that I couldn’t reach. He started walking towards me and I covered myself thinking I was next, but he opened the door for me. I ran screaming for help and no one came out to help. All of a sudden I heard my mom yelling for me to come and ran in and we locked ourselves in her room. He had passed out drunk and the next morning he didn’t even remember what had happened. My mom finally left him…for a time, but later went back for awhile.
Domestic Violence is so common and so stupid. I get there are levels and why people act the way the do, but it is just so awful and no matter what it is not ok! It is not ok to lay your hands on anyone to hurt them, because you can’t control yourself. It is selfish and awful. The damage that it can do to the person, and God forbid if there is a child who can see, are so hurtful, that some damage cannot be undone or acts unseen. These acts of violence can help shape people into people they wouldn’t otherwise be, and speaking from experience it is so very hard to try to forget what you saw, and the healing process is hard. So hard. I didn’t do anything, but yet I saw so much that it has now affected me and, at times when I am having a flashback, that affects my family. The effects dwindle down for generations.
Because of the choices that were made by others, I have memories that will always be there. The effects may get less extreme, but I have to navigate through them to be a better mom for my daughter and wife for my husband, and to give her a better life, and try my absolute hardest to protect her. The work it takes to reverse so much damage is hard, but I know I want to be a healthier person for my family, and it is already getting better, but it will never be perfect. The work will never be done.
Please. If you are in a relationship that is harmful, please get out. Get out as fast as you can for yourself, and if you have kids, for their sakes. You all deserve better.
If you need resources and support you can call the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
Once upon a time, 10 years ago, today to be exact, I married my best friend, and as I like to say, a spell was lifted from me. I woke that morning excited and nervous like most brides, but I had a looming fear that Chris wouldn’t show up for the wedding like other brides that have the same fear cross their minds as well.
I want to explain my story, how I feel a spell was lifted, and how I am now 10 years in with the love of my life. Trust me, this isn’t super sappy, actually probably more depressing, but, spoiler alert, I promise it ends well.
I was someone, through the time we were dating, that expected him to leave at any moment, and I felt like I was so unlovable, and everyone else in my life seemed to disappear. What would make him any different? Chris, through our dating life for about 3 and half years, loved me… despite me. I was insecure, and couldn’t see my worth, but he did. Let’s just get real, I was a mess, a mess I tell you!
Because of all the stuff that happened in my life, and all the people that didn’t stick around, one could only look at the common factor of why everyone left, and that common factor was me. I was too young to realize it wasn’t me but even with that insecurity, my life was an emotional mess of trying to make people love me, but wanting to push them away at the same time. This is super cliché of course, but the truth none the less, and my Chris got the brunt of that.
I felt angry a lot, and looked for any reason for why this wouldn’t work. I can’t express the feelings, and how much trying to push someone away, or constantly thinking someone is leaving you takes a toll on you, but it does. In the same breath, I was co-dependent and only wanted to be with Chris. I was sad when he wanted to do other things, and thought he just wanted to get away with me. To be honest the way I was acting I wanted to be away from me.
This man took the time to have patience with me, and although some people laughed, he wanted to get in couples counseling before we were engaged (we were headed in that direction). He said he wanted to know how he could help me as well, especially with my fears. When I had to go to counseling after being taken from my mom, my counselor said “Randie, when you get into a serious relationship things will come up that you have never felt before and you should get back in counseling.” She was not kidding. She was very kind in what she said, but I wish there was a more blunt warning, like “hey, you may be a crazy person for a bit.” Oh geez. So I did go back, with Chris along with me.
Our dating life was great, but when I look back I see this shell of a person that was so unhappy with life, yet this wonderful man saw through that. My best friend Michelle (of almost 10 years in November) had seen me before we were friends, and then we met again 6 months after I was married and I was a different person. By no means am I saying that I think marriage in itself made me better, actually I think it is usually the opposite. This is just proof of the spell releasing me. If we had mentors when we were dating, in my opinion someone should have told Chris to run. Not because I am being hard on myself, but at times I was manipulate, clingy, and there was just a lot of crazy on my end. Obviously I was pretty cool too, and had good qualities, but when you’re about to get married, you have to be willing to accept bad qualities, and at that time, I feel there were more bad then good. Don’t worry I am pretty awesome now, and obviously very humble. For someone reason, again, Chris saw through that. That was risky.
During this time, leading up to me getting married my birth family (not my mom), who was kept away from me, found me. My cousin Karen told me how proud of me she was and explained where they have been and why they weren’t around. Not their doing and a story for another time, but they tried to get to me. Believe it or not this is supposed to be a happy story, don’t worry it will get there. I was starting to see people weren’t leaving me, in fact they were coming back, and my cousin said she was paying for the wedding. With my cousin Karen acting as wedding planner and doing so much for my wedding, really all of it, along with my Great Aunt Barbara, My Uncle and Aunt, and my Grandpa, the stage was being set for a magical day, which a lot of brides dream of. I never really dreamt of the day, or if I would even want to get married, but here we were.
My life was coming together, all my loved ones, MY LOVED ones, my real honest to goodness blood loved ones were there, and showed me unconditional love, while I was about to marry the man of dreams.
Luckily, I didn’t share my crazy too much with them, and I didn’t want to let them know, I just didn’t think Chris was going to show. Not because he ever said anything like that, in fact he never did, it was always me just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It was 10am on June 23rd, 2006 and I was about to get my hair and makeup done, and my beautiful besties Kristin and Jennifer were with me. I was told not to contact Chris, you know tradition and blah blah blah, but I don’t think they even knew what was happening in my head. Today was the day, the day that I wanted to be Mrs. De Vesta, but was afraid I would not only lose the name, but my best friend because why would he commit his life to this hot mess? Please note I do see the crazy in this, and how I was, but that is kind of the whole point of where I will eventually bring it all together.
I snuck to my car because “I needed a minute,” and “forgot something in my car.” But I snuck out and called Chris. I have a ton of hair, so sitting there to get my hair done would take forever. I called and said “really if you aren’t going to be there, please tell me now, I don’t want to sit there for hours.” Oh my gosh, crazy person! Of course he said, “I love you, and I will see you soon.” Love him.
I sat, got my hair done, got my dress on, got in the coolest car ever with my grandpa and we drove to the sweet little chapel in the Knott’s Berry Farm parking lot. I sat there nervous, and just as I was about to get out of the car to go in the bridal suite, one of the groomsmen was running towards me at full speed. I started to tear up, this was it, Chris ran away. He got to our seriously amazing car, and said “Randie….” and I interrupted with “did Chris leave?” He looked at me with a funny smile and chuckled and said “no, we are in the suite so just drive around a bit so he doesn’t see you.” I almost died.
We lined up, everything was going perfect, except I walked in at the wrong time. Long story (not that this isn’t now), but to all those who know me, yes, I am still bitter about that and it has been 10 years! I need more help. I walked down to a very smiling Chris and we said “I do.” He didn’t leave, he was there, he didn’t run away when, in my opinion, he really should have. And that is when the spell was broken.
First, I am kidding about the spell. But I am not kidding about how it felt like on that day my life changed and this looming fear that hung over me was lifted. I calmed down, I realized that he wasn’t going anywhere. I then realized, hey, I get to come home to him ever night, it is ok for us to have friends and do things separately ( I am not talking about all the time, but remember I was crazy before, so even once felt like a lot). I started to become myself, who I think I was always meant to be. I started getting into serving at church, in places that Chris wasn’t, and building friendships. My personality was better.. really. I wasn’t always looking so sad and depressed.
I am so thankful for Chris. He stuck by me and showed me that I was worth all the crazy, and that I was worthy of love. God used him as a tool to show me His love, and that I am way more special then all the hurt I have encountered.
Now here we are 10 years later.
Chris my love. We have been through so much, so much. I want to thank you that you stood alongside me and helped me to see who I am, that God loves me, and that I am worthy of being loved. Thank you for helping me become a stronger person. We have had so many great times, and some really hard times. In those hard times, I want to thank you for again choosing me. Thank you for showing me this is not one sided, that I don’t just need you, but you need me. I am so very proud of you. We were two young kids, and you have been an unbelievable husband and an amazing dad to our sweet silly little baby. You realized things needed to change in certain areas and you have been amazing at making those changes happen, and for making those steps to change them, and for allowing me to take my time getting adjusted to our “new normal” (thank you Amanda for that). I love you so much, and I love where we are, I love that we are proud parents of a very sassy, independent, smart, caring, loving daughter. I am so thankful that you kept me, and I kept you, and we are where we are now. I now know who I am, and am ready to keep growing as I know you are as well. I feel like we can say “we lived happily ever after.” This to me is a fairytale. There is nothing really fancy, no singing birds, and we didn’t ride off into the sunset. Instead there are real disagreements, frustrations, cleaning up poop and pee (Arwen’s if anyone is wondering), exhaustion. There is also laughter, love, so much love, prayer, fun and silliness all the time. Chris this is real, and I wouldn’t want anyone else, and I wouldn’t want any Disney “fairytale.” I love that ours is quirky and weird, but it’s ours and it is so very real. I am so proud to be who I am today, and not be the same as 10 years ago, and I am so thankful that I am Mrs. De Vesta. I love you, and can’t wait to spend even more years together.