I don't have a fancy cell phone. It's a $35 model. It makes calls, texts and takes grainy photos.
I don't have a plasma or LCD TV. I have a 15 year old 27" box.
I don't have surround sound. I have a 16 year old AIWA that I've routed through a 14 year old VCR so the television sound comes through the speakers.
The 14 year old VCR doesn't work. It sits on top of the 8 year old DVD/VCR combo.
I don't have TIVO or direct TV. To change the channel we have to get up and use the channel buttons on the non-functioning VCR.
My dining room table was a Craigs List purchase. I cut and drilled out the plywood to make new seats to the chairs, supplies purchased with birthday money sent to me from a RAD mommy. I bought foam and covered them with fabric that a reader sent me.
My van is 7 years old and on my birthday I will make the final payment on the loan. It will be the first time I own a car outright. I'll be 38 the day I make that payment.
It was a bottom of the line fleet vehicle. No bells. No whistles. I manually close the side doors and lift gate.
The laptop I'm typing on is almost five years old. My students tell me it's a dinosaur.
My washer and dryer are 16 year old Kenmores. I load the washer from the top. The dryer has three options. It's stained blue on the inside from years of the ex washing shop towels in it.
I can change my own flat tire in 15 minutes. That includes putting the jack away when I'm through.
In the past 11 years that I've lived in this house, I've put in all the ceiling fans and light fixtures.
I built my daughter a loft bed because I promised her that if she could be rage, self-harming and threatening-harm-to-others free for six months I would convert her safe room to a proper preteen bedroom.
I designed it myself.
I fix my own mower.
My house is 34 years old with the original windows. But I pay the mortgage on time. Every.Single.Month.
I don't have luxury items.
I don't have savings account.
I don't have a life insurance policy that has value.
I haven't had health insurance for 8 years because the ex got fired from his job. 8 years ago he lied and told me he was laid off. I believed him.
I was happy when I ended the month of September with $60 left in the account because I thought I would be $40 in the whole.
My divorce lawyer became a judge today and is no longer my lawyer.
A student I tutored all summer owes me tuition. His parents drive Lincoln Navigators with leather interiors and heated seats. I've given up calling to ask for the money. I know I'll never see it.
I've maintained all of it. Every last ounce. Myself. My children. The bills. The house. The cooking, shopping, cleaning, yard work, all of it. Me. I've done it. I've done it all while working, while taking my children to appointments, while picking up their meds, while never messing up their many medications, while enduring the never ending parade of therapists marching in and out of my home, while advocating for my children, while losing sleep, while taking shit from others along the way that haven't understood just how much I do. Just how much pain and sorrow I've endured. So.Much.Pain.
People keep saying my life is going to turn around, that good will come. When? It hasn't happened once in my life. Ever. It's always been me, taking care of me and everyone else. I can't rely on anyone else. No one else is trustworthy. No one else is safe. No one else knows what I do despite what's been done to me.
And I do it all with a smile, laughter, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, patience, self-control, love.
I want life to stop crapping out on me. Just stop. I don't deserve it. I don't deserve any of it. None of it. I've never been anything but what everything else needs, 100% of the time with 100% of my energy and love. I've done it without abusing drugs, alcohol or sex. I've done it all without hurting myself or others. I've done it all while taking the abuse from others. I've done it all without being loved back by the people I loved the most.
All my life I've been told to walk in someone else's shoes and imagine what things look like to them - why people respond the way they do. To empathize. It's time people returned the favor. I accept nothing less from this moment forward.
I am a single adoptive parent of a special needs sibling group in a domestic open adoption.
I'm Jennie and this is my story.