Day 130: Transitional Program

A much needed break. I have been working at break neck speed to gain some sort of stability since I started this program. I had three main goals I needed to achieve in order to be successful once this program ended for me. Those goals were: pay off my back child support, settle my eviction, and buy a car. These were very key elements for me to be able to have a paycheck so that I could afford a place to live, be able to obtain a place to live in a reasonable area, and the transportation it would take to get my kids to and from school/daycare and myself to and from work.

Focus and determination…OK, and my income tax return paid off my back child support that I pay for my older two children. I was almost $4,000 in debt. Couple that with current child support, meager as it is for one child (my oldest turned 18), and that is a hefty chunk of money out of an already pint size check. Four and a half months in to the program and I was able to clean the slate so that I would be able to afford rent, utilities, and car insurance. That was a huge weight off of my shoulders and a giant step forward for stability and independence. This had been one of the many threads in the rope of dependence that my abuser had spun for me. Once he was controlling the money, I was no longer allowed to pay my monthly child support. Instead, I had to wait until each tax season to “pay it off”. My return was never enough, so it kept accruing every year including interest.

Another binding thread was to allow an eviction. Our first home was a beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 bath home in an established and quiet neighborhood. He claimed I was a classy lady and deserved a nice home for myself and our kids. Curious enough I wasn’t permitted to furnish the home because we weren’t buying it. Finally, in February of 2008, he allowed the purchase of a gorgeous leather sofa…which he would eventually sell to a friend a few months later. He also decided that we should live in our home “rent free” until we moved to Las Vegas where there were more jobs available for him. When we started out in the house in 2006, we netted about 4k a month between the two of us. By the time we were ready to move I was the only one working…at Starbucks. I begged him not to allow the eviction, somehow we had the money to make rent, but he refused. The eviction went through and we moved to Vegas. With an eviction showing on our credit, even the ghetto was slim pickings.

I had been able to save money from the time I went into the Emergency Shelter to going into the rehabilitation program. No gifts at Christmas from mom or any other holiday leading into March allowed me enough to propose a settlement to my former landlord. By my birthday, at the end of March, the settlement had been accepted. Happy Birthday. I am still in the process of reporting it to the credit agencies, but the debt has been paid. One more tether of dependence broken. Now I am able to qualify for the low income housing for my little family of four.

One more major hurtle to leap over, transportation. This was daunting for many reasons, the least which being that I had very little money left after settling the eviction and I know less than nothing about cars. Never-the-less, a purchase needed to be made. Consider that the children and I were getting ready for school/daycare/work at 5am. We had to be ready for a 20min. bus ride by 6:15. When we got off the bus there was an additional 20min. walk to get my girls to the YMCA program they attend before school. From there it was another 30min. stroller ride for my son to daycare. After dropping him off it was another 20min. for me to get to the bus stop to go to work. The desert is not always hot. Sometimes it is freeze your butt off cold. These kids were troopers, bundled up like they were visiting the Arctic…and walking. When I ask the girls if they wanted me to see if I could make arrangements with their father for transportation in the mornings, they answered, “No mom, we just want to be with you on your time. We will walk.” Amazing!

I was able to save about three more paychecks when word of a sporty little four cylinder was up for sale. It was a 2002 but kept in great condition. The owner, having heard of my situation, was willing to let it go far enough below blue book that I could afford it. The miracle couldn’t have come at a better time. The first of many heat waves was starting to hit. When one lives in the desert, one learns very quickly that one either takes care of business early in the morning or very late afternoon/early evening. Being out even as late as 4pm is still a lesson in heat stroke. The fact that my children and I were looking at walking for at least an hour, unprotected in 100+ degree weather was not sitting well for any of us. We swooped up “Merna”, as we have dubbed her, and haven’t looked back. My two year old loves the car so much he will sometimes go out and just sit in it. Finally, transportation. Other than my abusers vehicles (he went through a lot of em, and randomly), I haven’t had transportation in at least two years. Another thread broken and another major step for stability and independence.

These are the major goals I have been working on for the last 130 days since I have been in “transition”. These are the some of the major goals that many abused women work towards whether they are in a program or not. Most of us have been so hobbled by our abusers that recovery seems like an exhausting distant dream for an already exhausted woman. But, it is possible to attain, even in a short period of time, with the right support. For now, my little family continues to progress forward, saving money, and preparing for our name to come up on the waiting list for housing. For the moment it is time to relax, enjoy a month off from school, and connect with my children.

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