Updated: Aug 11
The Foundry agreed to grant a Christmas pass for the participants. When the news delivered, we were like kids in a candy store...elated! I had not been off the grounds with my own freedom in six whole months! Without supervision from the Foundry. I barely attended the weekly store trips on Friday evenings. I felt it was more of a circus. And I disliked walking in a store with a group of girls that clearly appeared to be in "the rehab down the street." It was my own pride. Recognition is the first step. Although, I am not quite sure why it mattered. We were not shopping at a Publix! In fact, it was a different world to me because it was located in the middle of the 'hood'. In the real world, you would not find me there. The Foundry humbled me and my prideful ways. I necessarily did not think I was better than the people I encountered; it was more so of the realization that at the age of thirty, instead of living out my 'white picket fence' I was ashamed of where I was at. I was embarrassed of anyone finding out. Funny now, considering how honest I am telling my story. That is what Jesus does. He changes lives. He changed my heart. Instead of hiding my struggles, God called me to reveal them.
I was thrilled! By now, Eric and I made a commitment to each other. We decided to keep our family together and leave the past behind. I loved the new tentative Eric on the other side of the phone. He always expressed his love for me and how much they needed me back. I enjoyed the sweet words. They were like honey on my lips. I looked forward to my future. I had no clue what it entailed but I knew God did and he would not lead me astray.
I called Eric as soon as I had the opportunity to tell him the great news! There was one problem. He was in Myrtle Beach living under his mother's roof who did not support us at all. I thought his mother, of course, would not be happy about it but I strongly made it clear that my babies were not her kids. I was their mama, and I was not going anywhere. Unfortunately, Eric had to make a choice. He hated the conflict between us. She wanted the kids at her house for Santa Claus and told Eric she would take everything back if he left to have it with me. She did not think I was deserving. When I say we strongly disliked each other...think of it 10 times multiplied. I was furious that he would not stand up to his mother. He drank his feelings while there. I was not having any debate about the opportunity to see my babies who I had not physically touched in seven months. Momma's, let that sink in. It was very black and white for me. I was leaving off campus for three days. My kids should be in Alabama. Period. I do not like conflict either, but if my kids are involved...the tiger comes out. I am ready to fight.
After a heated conversion I told Eric his ultimatum: Your mom or me. In my mind, there should not have been any question of "If you are coming" more so he should have said, "when do I need to be there." I made it very clear what I would and would not allow. There would be major boundaries in place when I graduated from the program. I would not have the negativity around me under no circumstances. Eric said, "I will make it work. Do not worry about it." His mother thought she should have the kids on Christmas. The environment was toxic when my name was mentioned. But my kids were very well taken care of, and I am forever grateful for my mother-in-law stepping up and helping. No other grandparent sacrificed like she did taking care of my three kids. It was a lot to take on. The problem I had always dealt with was knowing your role. This is a well-known phenomenon---grandparents overstepping boundaries and thinking "they know best" for the kid(s). As a mother, this is your worst nightmare. When helpful advice turns into belittlement if you choose to parent differently. I encourage all to not do this! You may have a different (not better) way of parenting or the choices you "would" make. Let it go and respect boundaries. It is very important for not only your relationships but the whole family.
Eric made the right choice, or we would not be together today! ha. truth. After much anticipation, the day had arrived! I was so happy! Eric picked me up at the Foundry Women's Center office where I met him with a huge hug. He held me tight. It felt good. Then, all the presents that I received for my children were placed in the car. A local church, The Highlands, allowed the participants to pick out three to four gifts each for every child. It was so special! And these were not cheap gifts. There were bicycles, electronics, and so on. I was grateful for the presents. Most participants, including myself, did not have money to purchase presents for our kids.
After, we were on the road home to my mama's house. (I still refer to "home" as my mama's house in Clanton). I do not think it is weird because I have family and friends who contact me and ask, "when are you coming home?" Which is that small town in Alabama where everyone knows everyone. My real home is wherever MY family is. We have had many destinations so it's wherever we are together. Although, I think Myrtle Beach, SC may be where we stay. But who knows!??? Only God carries that information!
When we arrived, I walked in, and all my babies gathered around me for a big hug! Nothing else mattered in that moment. I cried. I am tearing up writing this. Even through all my heartbreak, God redeemed and restored. I am so thankful I had a second chance. I missed their smell, touch, warmth, love, personalities; literally every little thing I soaked up. God blessed me with my three angels. They are a gift from God. One of my greatest joys in life is being a mama.
My younger brother, Boo(nickname) and his wife was at my mama's house too. I was at peace until the following evening when a text appeared on Eric's phone from his most recent fling. My heart dropped. Obviously, we were still married and a couple of months before made the decision to stay that way. No one in our family believed we should stay together except for my mama (she supported my choice) and my granny. I was not offended because I understood their reasoning. I had to prove I was going to stay sober and only time can speak of that. Eric and I had to prove we were not going to be toxic.
So, there I sat, speechless on my mama's couch. Up until that point everything had been so perfect. My hands began to slightly shake as my nervous system went straight into fight-or-flight. I asked Eric to step outside to talk. My mama knew something was up. I looked at Eric, "who the f*ck is Sebrina?