In 2007, our family needed a program like Strengthening Families. We had been through so much that when I traveled from our North Carolina home to New York with my aunt, uncle and two cousins, my husband thought I was not going to return and leave him there with 5 children to raise alone. We were spent. So at a later time, the whole family traveled back to New York for a summer vacation and a close friends wedding. We enjoyed ourselves even though we knew that we would be met with the dismal environment that had come to be our home in North Carolina. Our savings was all but depleted, house renovations came to a halt and we had to go back to that. Heading down the turnpike seems like a distant dream now, but when the car just stopped on the highway in the southern part of New Jersey, it becomes alarmingly clear how traumatic it was to be in a car at 2am in the morning with 5 children and only enough money to get home. The memory takes my breath away … So we headed back to my mothers. Thankful that my uncle and her were able to come retrieve our broken spirits from a hotel that wanted to charge us a full nights stay for arriving there shortly after 4am in the morning. The daze set in again. At my moms with space for everything but more humans; it seemed surreal. I was comforted by the familiar surroundings but stressed, tense and scared. My husband just seemed numb.
We were pregnant and due in February of 2008, the conception was beautiful but this, not so much. Soon it became time for the kids to go back to school. Us crammed in a house with few options and void of creativity, we enrolled. I took so many deep breaths. We needed to talk, so much had happened and it needed to make sense. We were suppose to be whole and healthy; I was on the outside. I don’t even remember how I found the program, but I remember her voice. Kim sounded like water. She reminded me that I was making this happen and that she thought my determination was awesome. I was glad to hear that because that was not how I felt. It was more of a desperation, for real grasping at straws. Whose fault was this, what decision did we make, did we not make, what karma, what non-existent prayer, what pompousness and excessive sarcasm had gotten us here. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!? I breathe, I must because I carry life. The program started, it would be 14 weeks. Once a week we would gather with other families that were like ours but not. I was initially judgmental. They were there because it was suggested to them in court. We did not break a law, we were better. Quickly, it became evident that we were just as beaten, confused, diseased with cyclical righteousness in our attempt to communicate. I didn’t share as much as I could have, I didn’t share what he may have wanted, I didn’t take the blame, I didn’t say it wasn’t his fault. The tension in the house made the walls sweat. I ran out of the house, noticeably pregnant in what could have been mistaken for a nightgown. I didn’t want to hear anyone speak, I hated my surroundings, the children were so cute but to this day I don’t even remember them being there unless I see pictures. The program sessions got better, we grew to love our new community. We graduated and then we mentored, things were getting better. We needed to leave and finally we had the capital to do so. I swore I would not give birth in my mothers house, so we didn’t. We gave birth in our home in NJ surrounded by our closest friends, it was grounding. I felt connected again, I told my friend and sister that my water was about to break and it did. She was amazed, I was too. She was our biggest baby, she was healthy and I was relieved. I felt that the stress of it all would change her deeply. It still takes my breath away. She was and is beautiful, wide eyed and sensitive. Yes, if this were a tea … RESILIENCE.