• My Journey

    The Gift of a Week Away

    So lucky to have spent the past week with Jeff in Charleston. He had some clients to see, we wanted to travel while it was warm enough to eat outside and most of all, we really wanted to get away. In years past, when we would travel, it would feel like we were both our best selves and our best couple when we were away. Surprisingly, I don’t feel that way this trip. Not sure what changed. For me, the stress and worry over my children continues unabated. And I can’t speak for Jeff’s thoughts. Our growth as a couple seems a reasonable answer. We’ve been together 5 years and…

  • My Journey

    Wedding Reminiscence

    Watched a wedding take place today, it must be the third one I’ve seen in as many days from our balcony at the hotel. Apparently we overlook the spot where they set up all their weddings. I was too far away to hear the vows, but it was beautiful watching their service and hearing the applause and happiness of their friends and family.  Always, when I see a wedding, I am filled with happiness for that couple and a sense of bittersweet loss for myself. Since meeting Jeff and becoming engaged Christmas 2015, my dearest wish was to marry surrounded by our eight children. First I had to fight for…

  • My Journey

    Clancy – Always by My Side

    As my oldest son approached his ninth birthday, he began to campaign for a dog. With three young children, a husband who travelled each week and a booming cooking business, I could not imagine adding anything else to my overflowing plate. But he was so eager and so determined, I went with it. Started researching breeds, paying particular attention to types of dogs well suited to children on the autism spectrum. I learned that poodles were used as service dogs for children with severe autism. While my boys were mild, we still struggled with a range of behavioral and developmental challenges. As a mom, my heart was always hurting, watching…

  • Emotional,  Healing,  Mental,  My Journey,  Wellness

    Compartmentalizing – How It Helps Me Cope with Hard Times that Don’t End

    Eight days pass from Thursday morning, when I drop my kids off after our overnight, to the following Friday when I pick them up again. Eight days to miss them, ache for them, worry about them. Eight days in a quiet house a few miles away. My mental health depends on my ability to cope with the abuse that characterized my first marriage and now surrounds my children. Now the trauma of my history is heightened by watching my children experience emotional violence in their relationships with their father. And knowing that no matter how hard I have tried to expose the abuse, protect them from it, keep them safe,…

  • My Journey

    Done! 30 Days of Writing!

    I did it! A month of writing every day, tackling all my thoughts and feelings. If you scroll through my posts you’ll see that the idea for this website, for gather connect and power, actually came to me years ago, back in 2017, newly sober and full of hope. What took me three years to come back to It? It was life, losing my children, the battle to get them home, the abuse, and just generally getting worn down by everything coming my way. But as always my kids are the light that shows me the path forward. I try so hard to be a parent that leads by example.…

  • My Journey

    When the Right Thing Doesn’t Happen

    For so long I was convinced the children would come home because it was right. Because they would be safe. Could heal. But now we are in our new normal and I can barely stand it. And can’t stop thinking about all the time we lost. Or looking ahead and realizing this way of life is our future. Staying in the present, I am struggling to stay in the present. I have been fighting for so many years to bring my children home. Now they’re finally here, and while I’m ecstatic to have them home, I’m struggling. I can’t believe I laid it all out there – all the abuse,…

  • My Journey

    Thursday Morning Blues

    Twice a month my Thursday mornings began with my alarm going off, and me quietly creeping from our bedroom, scooping up Clancy along the way. I savor the pleasure of waking each of my children and going back again to make sure they are up. The simple act of getting your kids up for their school day – I know for many it’s an annoying and repetitive chore, for me it’s longed for and cherished. Some people have the Sunday or Monday blues. For me they happen on Thursday mornings. Only every other Thursday, and they start right after I drop my kids back at their father’s house. And settle…

  • My Journey

    September is National Suicide Prevention Month

    My father killed himself in May 1990 at the age of 40. I was 16 at the time and a junior in high school. Writing about it now, all these years later, my memories are still blurry and feel like the belong to someone else. I struggle to let the shock and the pain in, somehow always managing to keep the emotions at arm’s length. It’s interesting trying to share a story that is 30 years old. I experience it through the lens of being a teenager, while the adult me senses so much she wants to understand. My father, “Poppy” as we called him, had been depressed through that…

  • My Journey

    Thinking About Hope – and How You Hold Onto It

    Feeling down today. My head hurts, my heart hurts and I just want to curl up into a ball. I’m sad, worried about my children, and trying hard to reconnect to hope. I came across a post I wrote this past Easter. I think it sums up how hard it is to hold onto hope when things never seem to get better. Living like this is exhausting – the grief, the worry – these feelings are my constant companions. I’m trying every day to have the strength to keep moving forward with my writing, my goal of creating a life out of helping people, of taking my experiences and serving…

  • My Journey

    Happy Birthday My Love

    Today is Jeff’s 55th birthday – the perfect time for a happy post! Five years together, wow we have been through so much. Yet for the hard times, those struggles that I write about, there has also been so much happiness, so much joy. When we first started dating, in May 2015, we used to joke that everything was “rainbows and unicorns”. We had the best time together and our relationship was so effortless, we just clicked. Yet at that time, and for the first two years of our relationship, I was still drinking. So, in addition to moments of such happiness, peace, and joy there were unpredictable drunken episodes,…