• Cate

Steps on the Path

Updated: Mar 20

The journey continues…

When I last updated the journey, I had just begun dancing. I was just starting a business. I was filled with hope for a future that I prayed would be bright.

I loved private dancing lessons. My instructor was charismatic and an incredible lead. He didn’t make a fuss when I made a mistake. He just made me do what was next.

It was an odd feeling. I did get knocked back into my body several times as I danced with such a professional. But I had bought a special offer for dance lessons and only had 4 private lessons. I began going to group lessons.

Most of the people there were at least a decade older than me. The format was to switch partners every set of practice steps. You’d generally make it around the circle and then learn a new step. I enjoyed learning the dances, but going to class was getting more and more difficult.

It was being touched by strange men that made me uncomfortable. I got nervous. I got awkward. I could learn the steps, but I was afraid to let someone lead me. One man asked if I wanted to get closer and I said “NO!” I wasn’t looking for attention. I was trying to find my way back inside my body. I was learning to be vulnerable.

I started a jewelry business. I designed repeatable designs, I took photos. I did my best to manage social media. I decided to give up dancing for awhile and concentrate on the business. But I found that I had more than my journey to talk about. I kept running up against people who didn’t understand abuse.

So I started blogging about abuse from my perspective: One who had been severely abused. I paid some money to have to articles “boosted” or advertised to more than my small following. The thing about Facebook algorithms is that your post doesn’t necessarily get seen by your followers. It may reach 4 of them, a few more for each like.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the followers I’d gathered to see my posts. My closest friends bought a couple jewelry pieces and shared my posts and liked all the ones they could see, but they were the only ones seeing the posts.

I couldn’t get my jewelry out there. I could only get people to read some of my articles about abuse, to mixed reception, but only if I paid for it. But no one bought any jewelry. I was overwhelmed with the kids beginning a new school. My healing process had changed.

My counselor and I were trying something called “brain spotting”. I have yet to read that book, so I’m no expert. But I did read up a little on the process. The idea is that you feel differently about something depending on where you are looking.

She would hold up a wand with a ball on the end and I would think about something that was troubling me. Wherever it felt the worst, that’s where we stayed. It was a way of releasing trauma without reliving it. It helped a lot.

It wasn’t long before I figured out the right spot on the fence outside the window by my desk. I started brain spotting myself and writing it down. For every article I share, there is probably 30 other writings in between. I write a lot.

I worked my way through plenty of trauma. But at the launch of my business, I lost the unemployment benefits from the pandemic aid. My job wasn’t back yet, but the money was gone. My business was a flop. I became very depressed.

I turned my focus to the blog. I took all of the items down that I’d had for sale. The only way I could get people to read was to pay Facebook to share my posts. I am digging myself a financial hole for seemingly no reason. I just wanted people to understand how hard it was to function in the world under so much duress and past trauma.

My husband never signed the papers I served him with, so I had to wait to file them. But I did file them at the end of August, when the time for him to respond was elapsed. It was very bad timing, because I was denied help with paying for my divorce based on my unemployment benefits that expired a week later. Now I had no divorce and no income.

My husband doubled down on his contempt of me. He was upset that now HE was paying all of the bills on his own. What did I even do all day? I only had the child tax credit money coming in now and I had to spend it on winter coats and socks and hoodies for the kids. I got a great bargain, but buying for 3 kids is expensive.

There is no transportation to the kids school, so I drive them there and back every day. The gas is expensive. It takes a lot of time to drive them, about 45 minutes round trip each morning and afternoon. I am trying to get my son acclimated to middle school and that is not going well.

My youngest child is still on the waiting list for all of the preschool programs. She never got in and I couldn’t afford to pay private tuition with no income. I can’t afford daycare either.

I have tried to find housing, but rent is too expensive for me. I have 3 kids, how am I going to afford a 3 bedroom apartment for them? It’s a minimum of $1600 a month. $2400 is more the standard price for a 3 bedroom in the Twin Cities. At my best offer for a job, that is more than half my income.

House prices are through the roof and there is a shortage of housing in the Twin Cities, as in other major cities across the nation. Even though I could buy a house with my credit and the job I could qualify for, there is no way I can come close to affording the minimum house cost right now.

I tried to get temporary housing through many channels. I have been unceremoniously turned down by every single one. The abuse I’m subjected to is minimized because there is “no physical danger present”. So even though I can’t get my children in hand because they are frightened of my husband, it’s not bad enough to warrant help from an outside agency.

My only choice is to go to a shelter and lose my chance at running this business, which by the way is still not going anywhere. Not only that, the kids lose access to what little privacy they have and our cat, who is their source of comfort. If I go to a shelter, I will be deferred to a hotel room that I will have to live in with my 3 kids, thereby losing access to the ability to cook for my family.

My only income is the child tax credit. I don’t qualify for any assistance beyond medical assistance from the county, and even that is hampered by my husband’s ability to offer insurance to us. This is because there is a lifetime maximum of years you can get assistance and I maxed that out when I left my first husband. I would like to point out that the maximum cash benefit I could receive is $70 per person, which is only $280 a month. That doesn’t do much to help.

Things have gotten much worse between my husband and myself. I’m at a loss of what I can do. As things stand right now, I have no future or path to escape. I don’t know how I’m going to solve this mess.

I can refile to get my divorce fees waived now, but to what end? Where will I go? How can I afford a life away from my husband now that real estate is such an investors dream? I’m completely shut out of the housing market. I asked him to move out temporarily until I could find a solution, but he refused. He wants it court ordered.

I have a great job offer on the line, but it’s not available until 2022. Even if I take that job, I still have to find childcare. Will it be available? Will it be affordable? How will I drive the kids to and from school? There is no aftercare due to staffing shortages.

My support network has dwindled to a few friends, my stepdad, and my aunt. That is all that is left. I have been losing more people every week. But it is good to know that those that are left are the ones who truly care.

I have made many steps forward on my path of healing. I don’t cry as much anymore. I did what I could to report what happened to me as a child. There is no retribution for me now that so much time has passed. But I did what I could for the children who could be victims. My conscience is clear.

I have exhausted a number of possibilities and am left with the Unknown once again. I redid some jewelry, made some new pieces and relaunched that side of my website. I can only hope that something comes through. But it is good to know what isn’t going to work so that I can turn my focus to something else.

I haven’t given up. I will never give up on my children. I am stronger today than I was 3 months ago. I have healed so much more. I have some amazing spiritual teachers. I am blessed to have their wisdom.

Though I am not where I want to be, I try to take joy in what I do have. I remain happy, not because my suffering has ended, but because being unhappy makes it worse. I am glad to have words to put to a page. I am enjoying designing and making jewelry. I am building stronger relationships with my children and trying to meet everyone’s needs, including my own.

I’m not perfect. I get down sometimes and want to give up. Sometimes I’m crabby for the simple reason that I can’t move forward, even though I am trying so hard. What can I do? I just do what comes next. I hope for the best and plan for the worst. I can only hope that the steps I’m taking will lead me to the end I’m searching for. Beyond that, they are steps in the dark. But I’m still here. I won’t stop trying. This is only the beginning.

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