Rescue Me

Will you stay, or will you walk away…

So years ago a therapist told me I had “Rescue Me” issues and that I wanted to fix everyone! Looks like I’ve just moved on from humans to include hounds!

I admit when I started fostering puppies about a year and a half ago, I pretty much let my life go to the dogs. My own pack of pooches grew from 3 to 8 over the space of a year, and before long I was eating, sleeping and talking DOG.

My Dogs (babies at that time) had chewed through ALL my furniture, they slept on the bed, and destroyed everything in sight. My house and life were falling apart. So I put up some fences, a gate, made them a great outside space to sleep. Built up my foster puppy area, with a garden and playground (still work in progress). And have managed to gain Some control again.

My life now (as you would have read in previous posts) consists of a lot of dog shit, copious amounts of newspaper full of pee, rows and rows of bowls of dog food, dog hair on every chair, muddy paws and permanently dirty floors, washing lines full of dog blankets, hours at the vet and a sad… sad bank balance!

But even though my life is chaos now, it certainly wasn’t all roses before I got involved in the world of animal rescue!

For the first time in years I feel like I have a purpose. My heart is full and I am doing something not for recognition or reward, but simply for love and passion. The continuous sense of sadness, loss and emptiness I once felt has gone, and suddenly I have hopes and dreams again.

Have my four legged friends helped me find the way out of my darkness, has saving their lives, helped save mine?  

Maybe if people knew me … really knew me … they wouldn’t judge me so harshly for my world of chaos as they would see that it actually is a world of good. I am stronger today because of it.


But yes, I am learning every day that I need to have a balance between the chaos, the people I love, and the emotional toll rescue takes on you. 

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Selfies… Never Again!

I took a selfie a few days ago, probably the second one I’ve taken that was “ok enough” to post! I’ve taken dozens that have made me want to vomit. Shit do I really look that awful when people look at me.

After I took a few pics to get “the one” I realised just how old and tired I was looking. Just a few years ago I did a fun photoshoot, and damn I was looking good. Far from being a skinny super model but for ‘almost 40’ at the time, I didn’t look half bad. Now a week away from being 43 it’s like I’ve aged 10 years!

My close friends (and my gran) will tell you it’s because I’ve taken on too much with all my dogs. My puppy fostering is exhausting yes, and some days I can’t catch my breath. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. Not a fuck!

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This is NOT my selfie!

There was a time in my life where the only thing that mattered was the number of times I had been to gym that week. Now I get a better work out cleaning up after a litter of 9 rescue pups and my own 6 dogs on a daily basis than any gym contract could ever offer me.

Tired, Yes! Older, definitely! But not from dogs… just from life. And at some point I’ve had to just embrace the fact that life, and it’s challenges have caught up to me. The lines around my eyes are my journey, and just like my stories they are a part of me now.

I have to wonder what has happened in 3 years though to make the wheels fall off! Perhaps it’s all the battles I’m fighting; they are draining me. And sadly some of them I will fight the rest of my life.  Mental, Financial, Family, Death, Arsehole Ex… Battles that challenge me. Some make me stronger, many I have survived, and some destroy my soul daily.

But it’s not ok to let them get the better of me, so I have to get my shit together, go to the spa for a facial, dye my hair, get some botox and buy some new clothes.

REALITY CHECK! I am a single mom, a puppy foster mom, my overdraft needs an overdraft, my cupboards are bare (but the dogs all have food so don’t worry), and selling my body is no longer an option.

Lets start with a smile on my face, my holey leggings, my dirty shoes and a great big heart!

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Selfie – so rare it’s worth millions

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FEARLESS… I AM NOT!

 

Nothing scares me except Locusts and Grasshoppers!

Watching your every move with those beady eyes, just so that they can launch at you when you least expect it. Those green and brown scaly bodies and skinny legs, and wings that go clickity clackity when they fly through the air.

Give me snakes and spiders any day.

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Throw a grasshopper and I’ll run for the hills. Anything else and I’ll stand and face it head on. People, life, work, love, values, beliefs.

But… there is one thing that I keep shifting to the back of my mind and am refusing to deal with, one thing i’m not sure I am ready to face. The one and only thing I truly fear. The death of my gran.

Lily Ashford, 84 years old this December. She is my life! She has been my mother, my father, my best friend, my confidant. To this day, she is all these things and more. And now she is the same for Jorja. Her great gran, her best friend, her confidant.

Meme (her nickname since I started talking), looks after Jorja every day after school. I think most days it drives Jorja mad. But you can only imagine a 15 year old and an 84 year old trying to reach a compromise on a TV channel … most times they settle on a crime program, probably highly inappropriate for Jorja. But apparently it beats watching a movie made in 1940. Meme forces ice cream, biscuits, chocolate and cake down Jorja’s throat most days… hmmm yes. But by time I get there to rescue Jorja from the jaws of the cookie monster, Meme has packed a bag of groceries for us with a little something for dinner just to help us get through the week.

Lily is the most independent “old lady” I have ever known. She barely sits still (now I know where I get it from). She takes a 5km ride around the race course, on her mountain bike, a couple times a week, and when she gets back home she takes Tickey (her highly anxious dependent mutt) for his first walk of the day. That’s just the beginning of her average day. Movies, shopping centres, visiting friends… on the go non stop until the afternoon when Jorja arrives from school. By the end of the day, Tickey has been dragged around the neighbourhood about 3 times, just so Meme can have a walk.

She says Jorja and I keep her young, but she just refuses to get old!

We have been through so much together. When she lost a daughter, I lost a mother. When my grandfather had an affair and left her, she cried on my shoulder; when I was a new mom, she was my rock. Every time my heart broke, she helped pick up the pieces. When things were tough financially, we ate jam on bread. When I left school I went to work to pay bills while my friends went to study. No matter how tough things were, we always had each other. We have laughed together and cried together, we have shouted and hugged it out; and if you want to know where I learnt to swear, just have a conversation with my gran, she has a pretty foul mouth on her.

Lily is not your typical grey haired / blue rinse granny, who sits around sipping tea in the botanic gardens with her friends. This gran is out wearing jeans and boots in winter, and still dyes her hair black, and who sits by my pool in summer in her Itsy Bitsy bikini making sure she gets a good tan while sipping on lemonade.


So when she is gone how will I go on without her. How will I pick up the pieces. How will I be strong for Jorja when I know I will not be able to be strong for me. My heart aches at the thought of having to face the reality that at 84 she may not have forever left.

I fear for this day. And I fear I will fail Jorja as I fall apart. I am afraid.

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inked and single

I never thought I would be 42 and still waiting for the man of my dreams to come along. Where did the fucker go!

Ok yes so I don’t get out much, so unless the guy is hanging out at the Vet, or buying dog food at the Pet Shop, I’m probably not going to meet him anytime soon!

But I’m done being alone now! Over it! Frustrated (in more ways than one). And Lonely!

I’m not out there looking, I’m not desperate to meet someone, but I’m just tired of being alone. I have a lovely house. A great job. And Yes if you read my blog… I’m pretty fucked up, but hey who isn’t! At least I’m not hung up on ex boyfriends and I don’t have “baggage”.

I’m very independent, I can cook, do all my own DIY at home, clean the pool, take out the rubbish. Really, what more could a guy want.

I don’t want the perfect man. I just want someone who will love me for being a crazy foster mom for dogs, who won’t judge me when I run around the garden in my super sexy gumboots, with a shovel filled with dog shit in one hand, and a mop in the other. If he happens to love dogs too, and has tattoos and big biceps, well shit then he IS perfect.

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Don’t judge people with tattoos, they might be the nicest person that you’ll ever meet!

Maybe one day a handsome guy will come along and adopt a puppy and sweep me off my feet. A girl has got to dream. Until then, I live in hope that I won’t be alone forever. That I will get to share my life with someone and start new memories with them. And that someone will get to see the good I am doing and be proud to say I am his.

#feelingempty #needmesomeloving #wheresmyprince

 

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DON’T CALL ME, I’LL CALL YOU

“You can’t force someone to love you.”

That’s what one of my therapists once told me. It’s probably the only thing that has ever stuck with me from my many sessions over the years. At the time she was referring to my sister, and the relationship I was fighting to build.

Over the years however, I realised that the same applied to a few other relationships, and I’m talking about family here, not boyfriends!

Why should we have to fight or beg for our own flesh and blood to love us!

At the age of 17 I decided to make contact with my dad. Up to this point, he had denied I was his daughter, paid ‘pennies’ as maintenance, and had barely any contact with me. I sent him a letter with a photo from our School Dance. I remember saying in the letter “in case you wondered what I looked like now…”. Soon after that he wrote back and said he’d been waiting for the moment when I would take the first steps to get to know each other.

It was all very exciting and I soon climbed on a bus and headed off to Joburg to meet him, his wife and my 3 siblings. I will never forget my very first impression of him. Funny how the details just stick in your mind. He was packing my bags in the back of the van and asked me to hold his ‘cold drink’. It was a bottle of coke. Now … coming from a Mom who had a small drinking problem, I’m not stupid… I could smell the alcohol immediately. Brandy and Coke, and it was probably not even lunch time, AND he was fetching his daughter who he hadn’t seen in years. A great first impression. One I won’t ever forget, or forgive him for.

As always the first few years were pretty good. We chatted, stayed in touch – phone calls, letters, and the odd trip to visit. But as time went by it became hard work to stay in touch, because I was the one doing it. If I didn’t message or call, I wouldn’t hear from him. I was in JHB for a visit and heavily pregnant, I clearly remember going to the bathroom and phoning my uncle to come fetch me earlier than planned as I was feeling so uncomfortable there and just wanted to leave.

My favourite part of this story … I went to Joburg in 2006 for a wedding. I was only there for a night. Quick visit, but I had my father’s invite to MY wedding with me. I called him and asked if we could get together for a quick cup of coffee (I had about 2 hours to spare) so that I could see him and give him his invite. He said he would call me back in 10 mins because he needed to check something with work.  Two years later… I sent him a Christmas card with a photo of Jorja and under the photo I wrote a short note and said… Since the divorce (yes I had been married and divorced in 18 months) we have settled into our new home and are very happy.

I never did get my call back 10 mins later. Two years past and if I had not sent that card, who knows how long it would have been before he picked up the phone again. Its 2016 now, I haven’t spoken to him in probably 18 months again. Why… well because I stopped phoning and making the damn effort. There are plenty days I am filled with guilt and think I should just call to see how he is. But then I stop myself and say fuck it, I’ve done nothing but make an effort with him since the photo when I was 17. To this day he has never seen Jorja in the flesh, photos yes, but he’s never been to Durban. And he now only lives 2 hours away.

Every time we’ve spoken on the phone, the first thing he tells me is how he is struggling financially and battling to make ends meet. Why doesn’t he get it, I’m not after his money, just a simple friendship would have been nice.


I tried. I started to build the relationship. I did my best to keep it going, but honestly it does take two. I should not have to force a relationship with my father, I’m his daughter, his first born, his flesh and blood. He has never made me a part of his family, or made me feel wanted or loved.

I have walked away, filled with guilt for doing so. But I can’t force him to love me, so I have let go, and let go of the hope that I will ever have that special father daughter bond.

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everyone has a story

Family…

I lost my mom 19 years ago. But actually I lost her twice. First when I was 10 and then again when I was 24.

My mom fell pregnant with me at 18 years old. And, as arseholes do, my father left her to deal with it on her own. So based on what i’ve been told, my mom was into a little weed and booze, and having a baby was probably not a part of her plans at 18. Rightly so!

My grandparents looked after me and I guess my mom was pretty much like a big sister and not really a mom. She would visit and leave, until I got older when I started going to stay with her. Problem was that she still liked her beer, but her boyfriend liked it even more, and he couldn’t handle it very well. I have vivid memories of bloody noses, being kicked out of bars (them not me… I was just hiding under the table), my mom and I hitching home because he was too drunk to drive us, oh and the neighbours dragging me out the flat because he was hitting her.

Broken noses, cracked ribs, black eyes… what kid deserves to remember her mom like that. 

She left him… eventually. I was 10 and was finally going to live with my mom. My gran lived in this block of flats and there was an empty flat upstairs, so my mom and I were going to move in there. Perfect! The day we were supposed to be collecting my mom’s furniture and moving it to the new flat, plans fell through and we ended up going for a drive with a friend of hers (a new boyfriend from work). We were out for the day, and on the way home, the friend had a blackout behind the wheel, causing us to go directly into oncoming traffic on the freeway. A head on collision – a brain damaged mom. 1983

2 mins before it happened – my mom was singing along to the radio – I told her I was tired so she said I should lay down on the back seat and sleep. I had been leaning between the two chairs. I only spoke to my mom once again in the ambulance, she asked if I was ok and I said yes, we never spoke again.

That night my mom went into a coma, fluid on the brain from hitting the dashboard. When she woke up 10 weeks later, she was brain damaged.

The friend … he broke his ankle.

I was black and blue from the impact. And emotionally scarred for the rest of my life. And I’m sure he lives with a serious amount of guilt too. But how would I know because he disappeared.

My mom was 2 months pregnant at the time of the accident. At the age of 11 my sister was born, and put up for adoption.

The hardest part was seeing a beautiful young woman trapped in a body that doesn’t work, with a mind that functions perfectly. I remember how she would shed a tear if we read her a sad story, or she would give a little laugh (more like a snort) if we told her something funny. She loved being kept up to date with all the gossip and latest dramas. A regular treat was an outing to the park just up the road, my gran and I would push the wheelchair there and sit and feed the ducks, just to get mom out the home for half an hour. So strange, I haven’t thought about these things for so long.

8th May 1997. I got home from work, my gran said she had a call from the home and my mom was sick with flu. They were a little worried as she wasn’t doing well. My gran went to the home and phoned me a couple hours later saying that my mom would be ok, that she was resting and that my gran would be home in the morning. I put the phone down and walked away. It rang again, I picked it up and it was a sister from the home. My mom has just died… I told her she was wrong because my gran just said she was ok. She died while my gran and I were talking… Pneumonia.

By the time my mom finally left this world, she had faded away to just skin and bones. She was nothing but a skeleton. This time I lost her for good.

I never got to know my mom, what little I do know of her is what family have told me. All I have is a few photos, and even less memories. Most of which are sadly not very good ones.

Terry Ashford – Gone but never forgotten

 

 

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That Happy Place

Growing up all I ever wanted was a house with a big garden so I could have lots of DOGS! And boy oh boy am I living my dream.

I was on Facebook one day checking out all the animal rescue pages, and one post caught my eye. A dog had been found in the bush with her 5 one week old pups. The rescue shelter was looking for a Foster Home for them until the pups were old enough to be homed. I had a room outside, standing empty, the perfect spot for a mommy dog and her pups to be kept safe and warm while she fed them.

A few days later, she arrived with her babies, gosh how tiny and vulnerable these precious little souls were. And poor Mom, so skinny yet so much love to give and so trusting.

Her eyes told a thousand tales of sorrow and hardship. But what a beautiful girl. It was love at first sight for Jorja and I and we instantly took to becoming foster moms. Willow and her babies, Khaleesi, Shadow, Luna, Leiah and Jasper stayed with us until the pups were 6 weeks old. They found wonderful homes of their own (including Willow) and that for us… was just the beginning…

We have been fostering puppies ever since! I really should sit down and work it out, but I think we’ve had about 12 or so litters since July 2015.

Gosh we’ve been through it all… Mange, Ringworm, Coccidia, TickBite Fever, and sadly Parvo (the nastiest of them all). Some days I wonder what the hell I’ve got myself into as it’s hard work. With SIX dogs of my own plus generally a litter of at least 4 – 6 puppies, we seldom have less than 10 dogs at home.

But I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Now instead of rushing off to gym, I go home to my dogs. All Jorja’s school projects and orals are about dogs and animal rescue. I think we both piss everyone off… our lives just revolve around DOGS… fostering, rescuing, and helping where we can. Just for the record, we’ve taken in a few kittens too, but both my cats moved out for 3 weeks, so we decided to stick to puppies instead. Mia and Rosie were NOT happy with us at all. 

My rescues (well four of them)

We all have that one thing that gives meaning to our lives, yes of course Jorja is that one thing, but becoming a foster mom and taking care of so many little babies that have nowhere to go, or have been abused and abandoned, is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have ever done.

No longer is gym my happy place! I’ve traded it for puppy breath and slobber, and whimpers and wagging tails, and missing shoes, panties with holes in, cables chewed in two, destroyed furniture and big wet kisses and cuddles and unconditional love that nothing or no-one could ever compete with. 

It’s an escape from my dark world, from my thoughts and my worries. It keeps me going and gives me something to believe in. And by helping these babies I am slowly helping myself.

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That Black Hole

I’m lost and alone in this big black hole. Actually it feels more like a whirlpool, going round and round and being sucked down into a pit of self destruction. I keep trying to reach for the top to pull myself out; to find the motivation to get out of this hell I’m in. It’s like i’m being weighed down.

Most of the time you wouldn’t even know that I am Bipolar, and suffer from Depression. Only those very close to me know what I go through, and even then, I keep most of it hidden. I just keep smiling. The Survivor, The Warrior!

Fuck if only they knew! Inside… my mind is in turmoil, my stomach is a hollow pit, I am consumed by exhaustion and the desire to just give up.

Things are getting worse this year, and I’m still trying to figure out was has triggered it. I am finding it harder to socialise and would rather hide away from people than hang out with them. My one and only happy place … The Gym … has become the hardest place for me to get to. This is the scariest thing for me. I would train 3 or 4 times a week and any less and I would fall apart, now I can’t get there even once a week. And no matter how hard I try, there is just nothing motivating me. Is this even me anymore???

I’m asleep so early and wake up feeling shattered, my dreams are totally erratic. Not erotic… just erratic (trust me). Once it was insomnia that kept me awake all night, now it’s  pure exhaustion that knocks me out.

Every breath feels like hard work.

Through this and loads more, I try my hardest to remain in control and a good mother to my daughter. I would die if she knew half of what I went through. Although my relationship with my mom was very different, sadly I tend to only remember the bad things and her “issues”. I don’t want Jorja to ever say the same about me.

Tomorrow is another day, I will surround myself with lots of distractions so I don’t have to face my demons.

 

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Fatherly Love VS Inappropriate behaviour!

Jorja has been seeing her father every second weekend for the last few years. It’s a long story, for another day, but she only started spending time with him from the age of 10. And although the first couple years were good, as she got older and became a teenager, the visits became a little more challenging. For both her, and him and his family.

She was … a teenage girl … with hormones, moods, periods, body changes and LOTS of questions about the past. He was a dad with two young boys, he had no idea how to deal with all the above, so treated her like one of his boys instead. He ignored the reality that she was a teenager who was becoming a young woman; and that she was now feeling the strain of him not being there for the first 10 years of her life.

As weekends came and went both her dad and his wife started to lecture to her a little more, they gave her a hard time, told her she was selfish, sent her to bed really early, made her into a full time babysitter, treated her like all the small children that came over. Of course this was what Jorja told me when she came home. And knowing him as I do, I had and have no reason to doubt anything she said.

One thing I can say about my relationship with Jorja is that it’s a very open one. We talk about everything, and anything. From drugs, to boyfriends, bad relationships with friends, sex, life, family, the list goes on. And everything we talk about is just honest open real conversation. I don’t even hide dramas from her, past or present. And because of this, we have a great bond and relationship… and we can talk about anything.


A few months back, Jorja came home from another weekend at her dad. She seemed distracted and I noticed immediately that something was up by the way she said goodbye to him as he drove off.

Our favourite place to catch up is in the bath, so that night I asked her (as I always did) how the weekend went. I have to say I was pretty taken aback by what she told me…

She said that on Saturday they had a “Pizza Day” which started around 12 noon, there were about 14 kids there (all young) and lots of adults. She was pretty much running around looking after the kids all day, making pizza, putting on movies… you know … babysitting.

Late in the afternoon (5ish) she excused herself to go and study for exams. A short while later her dad came into the room and said he would help her study. Jorja said, he was so drunk that he was slurring and when he drew her a picture for geography it was scribbles all over the page. While they were sitting there, he slipped his hand up the back of her shirt, which she said made her feel instantly uncomfortable. She said then he turned her over and slid his hand up her top, but not touching anything ‘private’.  I asked her if she told him to stop or take his hand away but she said she was too scared, because he’d been drinking, and also because she is just scared of him. She squirmed herself away and he soon left the room like nothing happened.

Jorja is not by any means an affectionate child, a very sensitive one YES, but cuddly and touchy feely… NO!  I mean as her mother I don’t even do that kind of stuff to her. She won’t even walk around the house unless she is fully covered up.

We chatted about this in depth and detail and when I had all the facts I sent him and his wife a mail saying that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and that Jorja wouldn’t be going back there until it was resolved. The Babysitting, constant drinking and partying every week and now this. What the Hell!

So all these months later… we don’t talk anymore because according to them (he actually wrote this in an sms)… Jorja accused her father of being a “Drunk, Child Molesterer” and HE will never get over that. His wife said Jorja was known for blowing things out of proportion and basically called her a liar. She said if it truly happened then why didn’t Jorja tell her straight away.

WHY… Well perhaps because when it happened you were passed out drunk in bed.

Then … my favourite… the wife said that Jorja didn’t know the difference between ‘fatherly affections’ and inappropriate touching. This from a woman who kept Jorja from seeing her father for 10 years to start with. So Jorja never ever had a chance to experience fucking fatherly affections!

My argument on this situation is simple. IF his intentions were pure, and innocent, and he honestly did not mean anything by them, THEN surely he would have picked up the phone immediately and said sorry to Jorja for making her feel uncomfortable. If it were me, I would apologise to the person straight away for making them feel like that if it was a mistake. Instead he has left Jorja for 7 months thinking she was in the wrong and is a liar! She goes to regular therapy sessions to find the tools to cope with this person who is supposed to be her DAD.

#Arsehole But it’s his loss not ours. Once again he has pushed his only daughter away. And sadly this time I don’t think there is ever any going back for her. He has shattered every bit of trust she ever had in him, and his wife.

I look at her every day and wonder what struggle goes on in her head. All I do know for sure is that she has me, even though i’m pretty messed up and far from perfect, I will protect her and fight for her for as long as I live and breathe. 

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Done for my Jorja years ago…

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the dark side…

And once you are there… it’s hard to find your way back.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 in January 2015. I promised myself I would not let it affect me or get me down, that I would not let it change me. Truth is, it has.

I’ve suffered from Depression for as long as I can remember. And in 2014 when my life felt like it was spiralling out of control, I knew it was more than just the big D. In just one session my shrink diagnosed me with BP2 and PTSD. Hell who knew it was that obvious!

A car accident when I was 9 set years of unresolved issues, guilt, sadness, hurt, anger, questions, etc in motion, and resulted in too much stress for a young girl to carry. I guess years of this and no therapy, a constant smile on my face and being strong for everyone around me eventually took it’s toll. 

That day I lost my mom! She didn’t die, but she had a severe head injury and went into a coma for 10 weeks. When she finally came out of it, she was brain damaged and would never talk, walk or be herself again. A beautiful woman at 28 years old, now a skeleton in a wheelchair. 

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Terry Ashford – A beautiful Soul

The last year has been the hardest, I’ve withdrawn from life. I use my new house as an excuse to stay home. I never go out, find it hard to socialise, and struggle to get motivated to do anything. All of which is so unlike me.

The meds make me numb! I can’t and don’t feel too happy or too sad. I float between the two, and most days just feel lost.

But when you have a daughter and are a single mom, you have to keep your head up high and be strong. I don’t let her see me when I’m at my lowest, those are the moments when the thoughts are the darkest and I’m the weakest. She doesn’t deserve to see me like that. The only thing I hope is that she will never have to experience what I have gone through and that she will be a happy, content teenager and adult.

 

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