Cindy doesn’t cook unless she has to. Quite frankly, when she does cook it’s on the highest setting possible. If the smoke alarms going off, Cindy is in the kitchen.
My niece, Leigh Ann also only eats at restaurants with waiters. Whether Cindy “burns something up at home” or not, Leigh Ann won’t eat it. I don’t understand this because Leigh rarely eats home cooked meals at my house either.
Perhaps because Cindy and I grew up poor, we are far less “picky” about what we are going to eat and more importantly, where.
Since, I’m currently in California and flying back again on October 15th for a week, Leigh Ann has decided to tag along. I don’t have an issue with Leigh Ann and the baby going but, I am renting a large minivan to accommodate everyone and limiting luggage.
Leigh Ann packs as if we are leaving for a month. Carrying a car seat and other essentials for baby Maddie last year through DFW and LAX was a bit of a hurdle with my own luggage I’m not going to lie.
My niece loves the Ritz Carlton at Dana Point and The Beverly Hills Hotel. Leigh Ann loves designer clothing and the “luxe life” but, her husband is a Navy Officer on a tight budget.
Parking a car at a hotel in California alone can easily run $40-60. Our lunch last year at Chateau Marmont was over $200 with tip and I left hungry as did Cindy. Traveling is expensive. P.S. the bread and fruit with cheese tray isn’t worth it. Order something else at the Chateau. You will thank me later.
Discussing spending and expenses with Leigh Ann is always an ongoing issue. The problem? Budgeting. My niece is a shopaholic. Going into any store with her is an expensive endeavor to such an extent that Cindy now asks “are YOU buying that?”
Our production company has Airfare and Hotel Expenses covered but, entertainment and food aren’t free and my niece is highly particular.
Quite frankly, Cindy and I are concerned about covering ALL of the expenses for Leigh Ann and her expensive expectations out of pocket.
The last year has been a very expensive and unexpected array of expenses from my emergency surgery to losing Ann and subsequent funeral expenses to paying for Stephaney’s car being towed over and over again while also covering Stephaney’s fines and outstanding warrants and now, to our roof caving in. Quite literally, I don’t know what else to expect next around here.
This afternoon, I had a “discussion” regarding Leigh Ann bringing her own money for entertainment expenses and dining since Leigh Ann with be staying in our hotel rooms with the twins. Me: “have you set aside money for the upcoming trip?” Leigh Ann: “I am overdrawn and need you or mom to cover me.” Me: “I told you a month ago when we bought your airline ticket that I needed you to stop shopping and spending money to set aside for this trip.” Leigh Ann: “You and mom always pay for everything and I need to buy clothes for this trip.” My husband: “If Leigh Ann and Maddie are going, you need to talk to her about saddling you with her expenses.” Cindy’s husband: “Leigh Ann doesn’t pay rent. Why is she always broke?” Cindy: “I wish I had some help around here washing clothes, cleaning house and paying for everything. I’m never going to have an empty nest.”
My son: “Leigh Ann is so spoiled. She has the latest electronics. She doesn’t pay rent and she drives a new car and is always tagging along with you and Cindy for filming. Last year, Leigh Ann was upset that she didn’t get to tag along to Ohio AFTER going to California in September with you and October too. You and Aunt Cindy spoil Leigh Ann.”
Obviously, my son is leaving out the part that he travels quite frequently himself and…I pay the hotel expenses. Not infrequently, I also listen to complaints about the quality of the hotel that I am paying for from my son or daughter in law. All three of our adult children compare each other and bicker.
Filming is work! If you’ve never done it, you think it’s fun. It isn’t. Wearing a Mike for hours on end and reshooting something over and over again is work. Finding time to even eat while filming is practically impossible. “Don’t mess up your makeup. Don’t stain your clothes. We don’t have a lot of time.” Meanwhile, the production crew is enjoying a leisure lunch while you are working to set up or doing other things that actually PREVENT you from enjoying lunch.
Ask me, I know and Cindy knows too. Filming is following directions and no matter how exhausted you might be, trudging on. Our children, grandchildren and husbands don’t realize this though because “it looks like you’re having a lot of fun.” Don’t listen to music if you have cameras in your SUV pointing at both you and your sister. Don’t eat. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink anything. “Hey Wendy, we need you to talk more to Cindy like you normally would.” A walkie talkie in my cup holder gives direction while I’m driving and a van with a camera guy hanging in a net beside me films us driving down HWY 20 West Bound and Hammered Down. Sure…filming is fun! If you have never done it. It’s work baby. Believe me when I tell you that anything you say can be cut and edited there aren’t any “personal conversations.” Filming is WORK. It looks like a lot of fun if you aren’t being filmed but, being in front of a camera isn’t watching TV and relaxing. It’s being “on” all day and getting up the next day to do it all over again.
Since everyone keeps asking about my dad, I can’t say things have improved. In fact, today while visiting dad, he had an umbrella stuck over the table because the invisible intruders are “pumping poison in the air vents again. Can’t you smell it? They are trying to kill me over here.”
Rolling my eyes about how my dad has continued to believe that people are poisoning him baffles me. I’m highly concerned that my dad is becoming senile.
No matter what I do, my dad refuses to believe that there’s no need to continue sleeping in his car in the driveway.
I’ve had a year of this “invisible intruder” stuff with my dad.
His house is now a disaster zone of covered vents and other items no one would expect and, it’s a year too much.
My brother refuses to listen to anything I tell him about my high concerns about dad. Why? My brother isn’t in Texas. Our brother hasn’t seen dad’s house either. Cindy and I have. I live 3 minutes from my dad.
For those who missed my July blog of family issues AND craziness, here’s the link– What About Dad? Caring For Seniors Requires Patience & Humor.
Over the past year I’ve visited three family members in 7 different Psych Wards. I’m sick and tired of putting on a happy face in an unhappy situation. My niece has now moved in with my father. I lost my stepdaughter, was diagnosed with tumors on my ovary, and my sister and I have struggled to look normal when the things we’ve dealt with this past year are far from normal.
Sharing the joy of hearing that Deanna was pregnant only to lose the baby months later and help bury her daughter was one of the hardest things that I have ever done since burying Gretta and loss continues to follow my days as of late. I cannot believe that Ann is gone either. It was a year of dominos falling out of place with unexpected loss for me. I can’t wait for this year to move on quite frankly.
My brother, sister in law, aunt and cousins have their “usual opinions and bad advice” while sitting on the sidelines. None of them have ever been to a Psych Ward or first hand dealt with watching my niece, Stephaney involuntarily committed much less, my father.
Since everyone keeps asking why Cindy and I “turned down Dr Phil Helping Stephaney,” here’s the skinny on how trying to get help for my niece went bad and fast with Dr Phil’s Production Company– Is Dr Phil Helping Or Hurting Families? What You Didn’t Know About This Show.
After being contacted by the Production Company regarding finding Stephaney help, I had thought (who wouldn’t) we had an answer to the past year of arrests, involuntary Psych Ward “Stints” and craziness but, Dr Phil didn’t really want to help Steph. Dr Phil wanted drama. Dr Phil wanted dirt and, Dr Phil dug deep enough to find that Leigh Ann was the child of rape. Yep. The “interview” wasn’t solely about Steph. The interview dug back to my heroin addicted mother. Our horrific battle of survival and two bad marriages of violence and infidelity. Cindy and I have been through the ringer and overcome hardship but, Dr Phil wanted to get something on everyone that no one wanted to discuss on TV.
Thanks Dr Phil, our family was now completely broken as if it wasn’t broken enough already. Now, my sister has to relive that night and my niece “feels dirty” because your production company loves to stir up ratings.
For seventeen years, my sister and I have tried to save Stephaney. Leigh Ann is a germiphob and this “who is your father” line of questions threw another dagger into my sister simply because we were trying to help Stephaney.
Leigh Ann told Cindy “I feel like a trash can now. My life is ruined.” As usual, Cindy’s feelings regarding being violated were overlooked. Who felt worse about this dark secret? My sister. I sent a text to Leigh Ann telling her “you are the child of a rape victim. You were not the rape victim. Your behavior is further victimizing my sister. Stop it. We raised you together without ever considering how you got here. You are loved and you are punishing my sister. Stop it. She’s suffered enough in this life. I mean it.”
Perhaps because I’ve had so many visits to family members at Psych Wards, I’m now scared that I will lose my mind next? Cindy isn’t too far off either. Actually Cindy told me something truthful at Wellbridge while visiting our dad everyday and hating it. “They get themselves committed and then have the luxury of telling us what to bring them. They are the ones that got themselves into all this and here we are, running around taking their calls, going to visits everyday. Juggling our schedules and dealing with their drama. I am sick of visiting Psych Wards.” She was actually saying what I was thinking!
Having a family member in a Psych Ward at one location, another at a different location and running around bringing them clothes, toiletries, cigarettes and everything else they want WHILE crazy people are touching your hair in the visitation area and you are trying to act normal is the WORST EXPERIENCE in the world. My sister and I have had to do this Psych Ward visit stuff over and over for not only Stephaney but also our dad while working, taking Client calls and trying to return home to our husbands and my grandnieces feeling mentally exhausted AND helpless.
Last week, I had asked Cindy to stay at my house to let the workers in and out while I literally ran to the courthouse to pull the latest lawsuit on dad. My dad keeps throwing important letters away. So, I keep going to the courthouse to get a copy. My dad and Stephaney consistently send Cindy or I lunatic text messages or, they call.
Seeing a call from my dad coming in on either Cindy’s phone or mine is similar to having all the wind sucked out of your body. It’s exhausting. You don’t know what to expect and you never will.
If you missed the blog about mental illness being hereditary, unpredictable and horrifying, here it is–On The Outside Looking In. Mental Illness, Addiction & My Family.
I went to Corsicana on my way back from Hodge Unit and Tennessee Colony Wednesday to speak with Gina. Cindy and I were actually there on our way back from TDCJ Weddings to Appraise a tractor for an upcoming going away party for her grandson joining the military.
Many of you remember Brody Nolan joining the Army and the going away block party and we why it was so important to his mom that he have a proper send off.
Gina was in a similar situation to Angie Nolan but, the tractor was worth far more than the services she was asking of us and, Gina needed the tractor as she lived on a farm.
Cindy had just taken a call from dad and like me, was trying hard to control her anxiety in front of Gina. Telling a Client “my dad sees invisible people and shoots his ceiling or has started spraying brake cleaner in the air vents and lighting them on fire” would sound so insane that people might assume that Cindy or I were crazy although nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m so tired of these crazy phone calls, texts and occasionally, my family (except Cindy of course). Cindy and I have aged at least ten years in the past year. We have lost our joy in life.
We cry silently while cleaning the house or cooking dinner because we no longer have no idea what to expect anymore. We decline calls from other family members who think this is all hilarious. There is nothing hilarious about watching dad or Stephaney handcuffed and committed. It’s not funny. It’s sad and the heartbreaking reality of my life.
Walking outside to take a call from my husband because I can’t hear anything in our home with electricians, plumbers, and everyone else coming and going into home, uk beginning to think my husband wishes he had somewhere else to go other than our home that is currently a wreck over a week after the roof fell in. It may be the one last thing that has pushed him over the edge.
Matthew obviously needs a few martinis to unwind. Why? Over a week of “we will be there between 8AM and 5PM” contractors, painters, and everyone else coming and going to repair the damage to our home has me tag teaming with Matthew so that Cindy and I can get a break from Fort Worth and hit the road to go meet Clients. Even my grandnieces join us on road trips since they are homeschooled.
When I’m away working, Matthew has to drop everything and run home. We are both exhausted from the roof collapse and tired of not being able to find ANYTHING around here.
I love leaving Fort Worth to head to a Unit or Client Meeting. LOVE IT because it takes me away from the reality of my life in Fort Worth. My tattered home, my unpredictable family, my grieving husband and my inability to fix everyone.
Too much has happened in the past few months for Matthew and I. Our marriage is suffering because of it. We are strangers in a strange land. We have both lost too much this year to not only death but also mental illness. We both failed to fix Ann, Stephaney or my dad and we have both tried to act like the loss, the drama and the unpredictability haven’t affected our marriage but, we are acting.
My husband and I no longer laugh or enjoy the things we once did. The night our roof fell in, we had planned to go to our anniversary dinner. Long forgotten now is our Anniversary. I don’t know if my husband and I will be able to weather the loss of Ann or repair the sadness of watching my niece arrested and subsequently, committed behind our home. My family is at odds with Cindy and I trying to Save Stephaney or dad. My husband is sick of my families drama and the ripple effect it has on me. Since losing Ann, even a commercial makes my husband cry. I have no idea how to fix my husband or my family.
Walking back into Gina’s ranch style home, I heard Cindy and Gina talking about her teacup collection. Cindy loves working as much as I do because it takes our minds off our own problems back home.
I told Gina that the tractor by far outweighed the expense and we were happy to sponsor her at our expense. Gina started crying. I’ve had so many Pawning Planners Clients over the years begin crying that I can’t even begin to list them all.
My husband is at his whits end with our home, losing Ann, and my illnesses. Convincing my dad and my niece, Stephaney to take their medication is like arguing with a brick wall.
The roof caving in only added to a stressful home life for us both and my dog, Foxy Wortham. It’s also been really stressful that we buried Ann. I can’t believe it. Funerals this year have literally sucked the joy from my life. Loss is permanent.
Many of you knew Ann and my husband is still and may forever be grieving about the shocking loss of his daughter to our family. For those who missed the blog about Ann, here’s the link– The Daughter I Gained And Lost, Ann Alexander.
Today, I asked my website designer, Michael to go ahead and remove Ann from my sites. It was sad but, necessary. The continued requests for her to Officiate continue to pour in. Ann had taken over my County Jail Weddings. I cannot believe she’s gone. One minute planning her birthday party and the next, she was gone. We miss you Ann.
My pathology report finally came back from my emergency surgery last month. I don’t use the word because I’ve had far too many run ins with the “C” Word. Thyroid, breast and ovarian. I’ve now had 12 emergency surgeries in the past 20 years. Occasionally, the fact that I’m waiting on another shoe to drop isn’t lost on me. If I have a sinus infection, I fear it’s the “C” word.
I’m thankful that I’m out of the woods this time with yet another unexpected surgery but, leery of what lies ahead. I never know until sitting in the Dr’s Office waiting for the next “serious discussion.”
I’ve missed the bake sale at the Mingus/Gordon Bake Sale for the Food Pantry for 4 months now and send money instead to donate and buy paper products. I can’t bring myself to go to Gordon. Neither can my sister. My aunt and my cousins will ask about my dad or my niece and I simply can’t stand more questions when the truth is so devastating.
Rather than improving, things are becoming far more unstable for my dad. Stephaney living with him has also put her in a difficult situation of “going along with him.” I’ve taken that tact myself. So has Cindy. Arguing or attempting to convince him otherwise creates a volatile situation.
I noticed fire extinguishers everywhere at dad’s house and the air vents my dad had covered up a month ago, are now singed from fire since my dad is planning to “smoke them out. They are shooting poison through there can’t you smell it?” I cannot stand it. My dad will not listen to me and reason about no one being in his house. I will never understand this. Any of it.
I’d love to tell you that dad’s improving but, he isn’t. We speak to his social worker again next week and I’m highly concerned my dad is going to burn his own house down but, unable to convince him of this.
I worry my niece, Stephaney will die in the fire on the second floor so, I’ve bought her an escape ladder. My dad is more and more unpredictable!
My cousins and aunt find all of this “paranoid behavior” of dad or Stephaney amusing. It isn’t. Dealing with mental illness most of my life among my relatives including my mother, grandfather, and now my dad and niece isn’t funny.
It’s sad, it’s raw and mental illness took Ann from all of us. I couldn’t save her and I fear that I cannot save dad or Stephaney either.
Stephaney doesn’t want to leave dad’s house. She’s accustomed to his fears and theories. I wish my dad would listen to me but, I cannot force him to do so. Cindy can’t either. We are in a whirlwind of chaos with the only “break” being with our Clients.
Tragically, the baby didn’t survive and a few days later, I officiated the Memorial. Deanna was asking about starting a GoFundMeAccount and I will be sharing the campaign on my social pages in order to help this family. I never expected the family to lose the baby.
For some reason, I was certain that the baby Deanna wanted so badly would live but, God needed that little girl in Heaven.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Gina again in November when the Fall weather will make an outdoor event comfortable and glad we can help her.
I have no idea what will happen next. But, worrying about my family hasn’t changed anything…