All you'll ever be..


This story is out of order...and leave a lot of stuff behind that I will be going back to...

 Ever since I reached an appropriate age to 'hold up the counter at the range, I worked for RedJacket. That company really was “my baby”. I had been told it was mine since that day mom and I moved back to Louisiana and dad started trying to be a real dad. He has told me a lot of things since then. The most predominant one being,

"This is all we got, this is our shot at something real."

To my father, there were no other options, not for him and certainly not for me. I felt a bit differently however. I was growing up, at least I thought I was, and quite frankly just wanted more money. I start working for other companies and RedJacket turned into a part time thing at one point in my young life. Anyone who knows the industry will tell you there's no money in guns unless you're some kinda illegal arms dealer. I'm sure those guys make bank but I never could get past that whole "good morals" thing to do something like that. If your shop got big enough, which was the dream, you could probably end up with a decent living, that was the hope we lived on. During this particular time in my life, I had just graduated from High School. Fresh mind set, but still pretty dumb looking back, I mean, if we are being honest here.

By the time I got out of Lee High I had actually gotten settled enough in a home without having to move every 6 months, I was able to have friends and even had a few boyfriends over the last few years. The one I was with at this particular time did not like my father at all and my father shared his sentiment. I can't really blame him though, I mean “John”(Name changed) was one of those real bad news types. "If I knew then what I know now" kinda guy, you know the type. They come into your life all fun and butterflies, young, dumb, no job, just "love". The type you look back on and just ask yourself, "Why was I so into him?" Nevertheless, judgment lacking against good looks and a crooked smile, I had gotten pregnant with my first child.

I worked as a billing clerk at the old Hi-Neighbor when I found out. I stole the pregnancy test. Probably the first sign that I was in no position to raise a child. I took the test in the employee bathroom, when I read the results I remember thinking of all the people who would be mad at me for it. That plus sign wasn't changing though. I called John but waited until he was there to tell him.

“ Got a lighter?” was his response.

I laugh about it now, but things were not getting easier by any means for us.

My money maker turned out to be Cracker Barrel Country Restaurant. I was a server, a hostess, a retail worker, and a prep cook etcetera etcetera. Still wasn't enough to keep diapers and food in the house at the same time. Back in those days medical insurance was a pipe dream, thank God the state covers pregnant women. Thank goodness for my moms ( I have 2, think on it and you’ll get it) and my boyfriends mom andddd my sister, can't leave her out, she helped me with both my kids while I worked for a long time. They helped as much as they could with keeping me supplied and watching my son once he was born while I worked, but all I really needed was more income, I needed something bigger.

My mom used to call me the Jack in the Box queen because we were so broke that I lived on the dollar burgers. I also worked so much that the house didn't get cleaned the way it needed to so the bags started to pile up. There was a time when my mother got sick of seeing it and came over to clean it for me. I don't think she will ever know how much it meant to me, or how much it stabbed me in the stomach that she felt she had to. Worse that it was true, I really did need the help. I wasn't lazy by any means, but three jobs and a newborn and you just don't even see the mess anymore when you drag your butt into the bed at midnight.

I know what you are thinking, what about the father of the child? Well. Remember the "If I knew now" thing? He seemed to find it more important to smoke a lot of weed and play video games than to help me. He always "Had a job coming" Or "Was looking" but I never saw any real help. To be really real with you, I still don't. His mother and father, thank God, have helped me quite a bit however.

As you can imagine things fell apart in our relationship quickly after my son was born. I had my child in January and seeing how little he bonded or tried to participate in his life, gave little hope that we would start really being a family. I wanted it to work for our child and truthfully for me. I did love him and like so many young girls in love I saw “the potential” he had; but deep inside I knew our relationship was built on the fun loving adventurous girl I was before. Now I had a child to consider. As it seems to do, my life erupted all at once.

My relationship with my sons father ended pretty violently, we both had a temper and no filter on our mouths so the fighting got worse with every truth we spoke. One night the fighting reached its peak. I held my child in my arms as he wrecked our home with a crowbar, screaming his pain for effect and beating on the bathroom door with a kitchen knife in his hand. I’ll never really know if he had planned to hurt me, or himself.

As you can guess I was a bit of a mess at this point in my life. Things were falling apart everywhere. All I could think was that I was going to end up just like I had always been told;

“Poor white trash”,

As my father called it, with “nothing to look forward to in life”.

I had been well acquainted with the bathroom floor before, and as I sat there crying I thought over my next moves. I had no formal education that was going to help me suddenly move into a better paying job, and no help was coming either. Not for the lack of desire to help on the part of a few , just the inability. Lets face it, everyone I knew was poor like me.

I was terrified. I wanted so much more for my kid than a drug dealer, mostly absent, dad and a shitty apartment. Once the storm he was creating calmed down a bit and he left our apartment, or what was left of it, we were able to emerge.

My mother came to pull me out of a hell she recognized all too well.

Afterwards, I did what I had always done. I got up the next day and went to work. I had a double shift and needed to make the rent. I didn't have time to plan for a new future, or to be angry or even sad. Looking into my child’s eyes, calming him, that was the strength I gathered to keep going.

There are thousands of women in the exact same place I was in those weeks. They are just pushing through, crying into pillows at night. They dream of what they want life to be. They may not be living in the same conditions as I was, they may look like they are financially secure but the truth is, the man of the house holds the key to the bank.

They have probably been in the position for years. Just floating through life, trying to tell themselves that "This is fine, I'm taken care of, I'm good". On the inside they are unfulfilled, held down by the chores of home and kids. The social expectations from peers. The man of the house has his late night meetings and booming career. She has him. They call it "Financial Abuse". That's not to say that all stay at home moms are abused. Some prefer and enjoy being at home and actually are happy and fulfilled, but some are not. Some feel very stuck. I know we focus on those who are physically abused, and I had my fair share of that but financial abuse goes hand in hand with physical abuse very often, so I feel it's important to differentiate the two.

So how does that relate to me? I was a money maker in the family, I was the one with the late nights and multiple jobs. Turns out I was also the perfect storm waiting to happen. I was still struggling with depression and also struggling financially, and when that happens what do young girls do? They talk to their parents, they beg for help.

My father listened, and as he always did, he developed a plan. At the time, I thanked God for him and his wisdom. In the beginning, I don't think he ever really planned to hurt me again, I don't think I really fit into the master plan for the end at all outside of a worker who would just do what I was told. Maybe I did though. There's a place in my heart that hopes he is just sick, a mental illness that caused him to hurt all of us, that place still wants to believe he loved me as his friend at the least, even though I know logically its likely not true. Their minds don't really work that way from what I've read. My memories make me question that still.

I will never forget the day my life changed forever. It's a question asked a lot, "How did it all start?".

 I actually know the exact question that set my crossroads. Takes a lot of looking back to find that and it's the most useless information I know. I can't go back and change anything, so I'm left knowing that this was the moment...

To be continued...