TDCJ Beto Unit To Ashton Depot- Travels Of The Texas Twins…
Loading up my SUV at daybreak, my copilot today was my twin sister, Cindy. As usual, our drive back to Tennessee Colony was filled with laughs.
Hitting the highway, the backup on 30 East didn’t bother me. After all, we were leaving an hour earlier than necessary. Unlike traffic in California, Texas traffic thins out normally within a few miles.
Cindy is so quick whitted that NO ONE and I mean no one can keep up with her comedic one liners. Driving through Mansfield, Cindy told me that yesterday while my niece, Leigh Ann was picking up a pizza, “the clerk was pretty short and a tad bit rude.”
Ironically, a sign posted over the clerk read “hiring happy, smiling faces.” Cindy who is never at a loss for words said, “you should have asked if they were planning to replace her?” Yep. Cindy has something to say about everything. She’s sharp as a tack!
Cindy also has something to say about the number of folks contacting me regarding sending them clients or other requests that have nothing to do with getting paid. I might have a soft heart but, my sister doesn’t really “care about your story.” Why? Because there isn’t anything in it for us that’s why.
I have felt sorry for folks over and over and again while volunteering my team so many times that Cindy has no problem reminding me that “helping these folks won’t pay our bills. Let them figure it out. We did.”
These days, if I feel compelled to help someone, it’s not easy to convince my team that the person wanting help has nothing to offer. After all, isn’t that why I branched out to include the barter option with The Pawning Planners? My team has a point and my sister isn’t being unkind as she’s a realist.
“If we are volunteers, our time is tied up working for free when we could be getting paid. Make these folks put some skin in the game.”
Cindy also wrote Mansions, Moochers and Morons a few years ago to better explain why we have the barter option. Experience.
A few years ago after reviewing a trade that even the Salvation Army wouldn’t pick up, we uploaded this video– Wendy Wortham And Cindy Daniel- The Pawning Planners. Trying to explain why we wouldn’t take a trade wasn’t easy but, that’s why we offer options. If your trade won’t work for us, you can book through Texas Twins Events.
By the time we were cruising through Corsicana, my beautiful Beto Bride, Eva checked in to let us know she was already in Tennessee Colony from San Antonio.
I gave Eva our ETA as a flock of buzzards on the highway flew up and away from a deer who had been apparently hit by a passing vehicle.
One of the buzzards flew right into my windshield and I barely missed hitting another deer sitting partially on the highway.
Replacing windshields is such a regular occurrence for me these days that finding time to get someone to my house from my last “windshield incident” has been put off.
It’s crazy how driving to prisons can damage my SUV as much as it does. I “factor in” car repairs, gasoline and oil changes because I have to.
Speaking of crazy, the number of times that Cindy and I have been tagged on an Elective GoFundMe Campaign have become one daily surprise after the next on FB.
Serial posting doesn’t sit well with social media audiences. Meanwhile, Julie Erwin still hesitates to start her own campaign after becoming paralyzed following back surgery. Julie didn’t choose to disabled.
Everyone wants me to share or promote their GoFundMe Campaign on my social media pages but, there are far more donors for urgent medical needs as opposed to those who choose to elect for surgery.
Julie really needs help with medical expenses because she cannot work or drive. I even paid Julie to watch Makenna’s hamster while we were in California because 1. Julie can’t work and 2. She is responsible and reliable. If you need someone to work from home for you or handle your social media, contact me about hiring Julie. You will be glad you did.
I’m going to continue suggesting starting a GoFundMe Campaign to Julie because I know my connections can relate to her struggle. Julie prefers to work so, if you have work, keep her in mind.
The continued posts regarding the Elective GoFundMe Campaign on FB were also accompanied by a FB messages and texts as we headed to Tennessee Colony.
Volunteering to help a former client out has become surprising for me. Why? Complaints about lack of donations and sharing the campaign. I can’t control what people share or contribute to. No one can.
I often give direction and insight numerous times during my day to complete strangers who decided to call.
Often, the person contacting me could easily Google the information they are asking me to provide but, it hasn’t happened yet.
Time consuming? You bet. Between fielding calls from my dad or my niece and folks who just want me to press an easy button along with actual clients calling me, my phone NEVER stops ringing. I’d love to say I have leisure time on my hands but, I don’t.
I’m always doing something and trying to find solutions to others problems can be trying to say the least. Nonetheless and anyhow, I gave some pointers to the caller.
If I had a nickel for every time someone contacted me needing me to do something for them not related to my work, I would be rich by now. “Where can I find unicorn balloons? I know, I will call Wendy.”
Here’s a shocker. “I need a free photographer to promote my business or new clients, I’m going to call Wendy for help and insight because she has three photographers and a strong social media presence and client base.”
Months ago, this same vendor wanted to trade an antique stove for a wedding cake. I don’t give away bartered items, I sell them. The antique stove sold for $3850 a few days after the “preposterous proposal.”
My client needed an outlet to sell the stove which was worth more than the services she needed. Since I have a well established ebay storefront, Texas Twins Treasures, I listed it for a commission fee and it sold quickly.
Trading an expensive antique stove for a cake? WOW. I’m an experienced appraiser and product knowledge is essential to flipping items.
My sister and I both knew this item was a “find” that the right person would want. Let’s face it, you can get a wedding cake anywhere even at Walmart or Albertsons.
First, let’s look at that stove that immediately after listing on my Twitter account had three people interested in buying it.Second, let’s look at the Walmart cake that cost less than $100. Yep. My clients were thrilled with a simple cake. No need to impress anyone with an extravagant cake.
My client was moving and no longer needed her stove. Downsizing, she had bought items from me before and knew my outlet to list the item would be effective.
What she didn’t want and wouldn’t even consider was trading her item for a cake. Who would?
Know what you are flipping if you plan to barter. If you don’t, you will go broke and fast.
When Cindy and I “walk a trade” we are specifically looking for items that we don’t see everyday. Checking the condition, we make an “on the spot” Appraisal.
We know what we are looking at and usually, have a pretty good idea of the value or the investment needed to refurbish and successfully flip an item. Cindy and I can sell anything and, we have. From brand promotions to flipping items to selling services, my twin sister and I are good at what we do. We aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty either. We deliver for a fee.
Ironically, the same vendor once told me at a wedding we were both working that “your clients can’t afford to hire me.” Really? We were working the same event.
People assume that all of our clients are poor because we also own The Pawning Planners. Here’s a wake up call- they aren’t. Destination event services ARE EXPENSIVE.
My TDCJ clients as well as Texas Twins Events clients are educated professionals AND I’m also on staff at numerous venues that are far from inexpensive. IE: We don’t ONLY help poor people. If you think that we do, you are more than wrong regarding your assumption.
Eight years after starting Texas Twins Events, I’ve rebranded and expanded twice. First by adding the barter option with The Pawning Planners four years ago and two years ago by expanding Texas Twins Events to include Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham. Four generations of my family work with me and they aren’t volunteers either.
The Vendor that thought his client base was too “couture” was also pretty narrow minded. Intelligence listens while arrogance speaks without any forethought. We were at the same event and yet “my clients couldn’t afford to book him?” What the?
I’ve met some really interesting people in the Events business and learned that while other vendors may have their head in the clouds, what they aren’t doing is lowering their prices to attract more clients.
If you want more clients, try making your services affordable and exceeding your clients expectations.
A few weeks ago, yet another vendor and also one of my competitors wanted me to send my photographers to his business for free. Shocking right? Stay tuned.
The same vendor then wanted me to post on my social media pages promoting his services to direct traffic to HIS CLIENTS? I cannot make this up. I wish I could but, I can’t.
I had to wonder what he might have been thinking. “I will just call Wendy to have her volunteer her staff photographers to handle my client for free AND then tag her in post updates about my business to generate new clients at the SAME TIME?”
Competition needs a wake up call. How about lowering your prices to generate new business and buying your own cameras to handle your own photography?
Come on ya all. I’m busy enough juggling my family and clients. I’d love to tell you how to promote your business but, I don’t have the time.
I’m pretty busy handling my own clients. So busy in fact that continued calls from solicitors to “generate new clients” get a laugh from me.
I don’t need or even want more clients. In fact, I’m pretty selective about taking on new inquiries because we are already spread fairly thin.
I also don’t have anyone on my staff willing to volunteer to come to your business to do your photography for your business or of YOUR CLIENTS.
If you’d like a photographer, be prepared to pay them if they are a available. Leigh Ann, Robert and Stephanie aren’t volunteers unless of course, you happen to be a Pawning Planners or TDCJ Client of OURS.
Complimentary photography is offered as a courtesy to Pawning Planners Clients as well as Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham clients. It isn’t available to anyone simply because they’ve asked. Sorry. Try asking someone else.
I’ve had to start charging consultant fees due to the problem of others contacting me to promote THEIR business. Why? Because my time is valuable and I earned my knowledge the hard way by experience.
When I started Texas Twins Events, I wasn’t calling other vendors for insight. I’ve been a paid consultant of Gershman Leighman for years. No one from Gershman calls me for “free advice.” If they want insight, they pay me for my time and my experience.
Due to the amount of other vendors who continue to ask me to generate clients for them or how to write blogs to promote their business or even to direct my clients to their services, I now charge an hourly fee if you need more than ten minutes of direction or insight. My clients chose me or my staff.
Telling me that you “don’t know how to write a blog and it would be easier if I just wrote it for you?” Priceless and hilarious. Learn how to fish ya all. I cannot imagine how other vendors would react to phone calls like this.
“But you wrote a blog for a comedian and a transport business as well as a hotel. Why can’t you write a blog for me?”
When I write a referral blog, I know the business owner personally. Such blogs are a courtesy to fellow vendors who I’ve actually worked with and know quite well.
Writing blogs is time consuming and how I continue to stay on top of google due to my creative content. Blogging isn’t pouring a cup of coffee. It takes an hour or two to compose my thoughts into words. My blogs are a mix of work and family.
I have a strong social media presence because I work to promote connections daily. I don’t just post “whatever” and hope someone will share them.
My connections promote my posts because I promote theirs. This isn’t rocket science kids it’s common sense. Put some effort into your social media. I guarantee you will see results. Guarantee it.
Spend some time promoting others. In turn, they will promote you. That’s how social media works.
Most social media connections could care less about promoting you. Why? Because you AREN’T PROMOTING THEM.
You earn retweets, likes and shares by taking the time to promote others. It IS TIME CONSUMING to promote others. Ask me. I’ve been doing it for years. If you want others to promote, retweet, share or like YOUR POSTS, try PROMOTING THEIRS.
I was discussing the number of people tagging me in posts with Cindy while she was checking my email when someone else trying to find a loved one emailed me.
My sister doesn’t understand how all of these folks are finding me. They are seeking information on the Tenth Floor of JPS and tags regarding my niece on blogs are popping up.
My niece, Stephaney has been to JPS ten times this year for Involuntary Committments. I have no idea how many times a blog contained yet another Tenth Floor tag but, there are a few.
Cindy read me a new email sent through The Pawning Planners titled “seeking missing loved one.” I’ve had numerous people contacting me to find someone they think may be at JPS. This person was trying to locate his daughter and the other person trying to locate his fiancée at JPS Tenth Floor.
They’ve both continued to email me about finding the fiancé or the daughter in the Fort Worth Mental Institute Merry Go Round aka JPS Tenth Floor. It’s tragic.
I am really sorry if you are going through trying to locate a loved one as I know how emotionally debilitating it can be from personal experience but, while I would love to help because I try to help anyone, I cannot take photos of your loved ones into a Psych Ward.
All personal property of visitors to Psych Ward patients is required to be left in a locker. The only possessions allowed by visitors are the key key to the locker.
Please go file a missing persons report. Chances are the police transported your loved one to JPS. I cannot find them for you. I would if I could but I can’t.
The number of people calling and emailing me because I’ve written blogs about the Tenth Floor is actually alarming.
I’m shocked and saddened that so many others are unable to locate their family members. Mental illness treatment in the United States has become a literal circus.
I was actually telling Cindy how hopeless some of the emails to me were when a buzzard flew right into my cracked windshield.
The buzzard that didn’t get airborne fast enough from the flock hit my windshield hard making yet another crack across my limited vision and actually extended my initial crack from two weeks ago across most of my windshield warranting me to find time to replace it again. Heavy sigh.
I’m always worried about hitting a deer driving to a Texas Prison because there are so many in the small towns and country roads around Texas.
A few months ago at O.L. Luther Unit, a goat ran out in front of my SUV. From goats to deer to skunks and armadillos, it’s never boring driving hours to a Texas Prison for me.
Most prisons are located in really remote areas. There aren’t any Walmart’s or big box stores. In fact there is rarely a store at all in many cases. Tennessee Colony like Huntsville has numerous Units and a few small gas stations.
I drive to Tennessee Colony at least once a month and often 2-3 times a month for Prison Weddings at various TDCJ Units.
Passing our usual pit stop, a skunk came running across the road leaving us with a pretty foul smell for the rest of our trip.
Thank goodness we had opted for Starbucks in Waxahachie and got our usual spinach feta wraps for breakfast with non fat lattes BEFORE running over a skunk.
Spilling my coffee after hitting a skunk, my handy towel from home saved my slacks from becoming stained.
Cindy thinks it’s hilarious that I put a towel across my lap to keep from spilling coffee or breakfast on my suit but, I’m practical.
My bride had arrived early and was already waiting on us, so we skipped stopping for caramel apples at Russell Stover because we weren’t hungry anyway and pressed for time and decided to drop back in our way back to town.
The twins, Maryssa and Makenna love it when Cindy surprises them with Russell Stover candy apples.
Eva was beautiful and excited to finally marry her love. We had talked and texted over the past month several times waiting on a date.
Although I usually never meet my TDCJ Clients until wedding day, we communicate frequently right up to the day I meet them in person.
Because of this, we have an established relationship and feel comfortable with each other. I’ve talked to my TDCJ Clients numerous times before actually meeting them either at a Prison or somewhere near the Unit.
My other clients from Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners always meet us in person long before their Event.
Cindy and I actually spend far more time with Pawning Planners Clients because Cindy and I meet them at their homes for Appraisal Appointments.
Texas Twins Events Clients are generally met on location or at my home office. I have variety with clients that I enjoy but, my business has shifted significantly the past two years due to Texas Prison Weddings taking up my weekdays Monday through Friday. Traditional events take place evenings and weekends.
Rolling up to the gas station to find my client waiting on us, I left Cindy in my SUV and rode with Eva to Beto Unit and left Cindy in my SUV at the station.
The guard who is now handling Prison Weddings at Beto is hilarious and fun. You can tell how much this TDCJ employee enjoys handling the weddings at Beto. Posing everyone for photos and telling them to smile, I always enjoy working with her at Beto Unit. Chaplain White has stepped aside and let her take the reins on prison weddings at Beto.
Smiles and tears abounded in the visitation area as my Bride, Eva recited her hand written vows.
It’s well known that I LOVE IT when my clients take the time to personalize their ceremony with creative vows. The groom was thrilled and wanted one of our photos left for him at the Unit.
As Eva and I waited for the rest of our Unit photos to be printed in the Watdens Office, I made plans to make use of a church near the gas station for bridal photos.
We chose the one to leave with her new Husband and thanked everyone in the Wardens Office for their help.
Walking out together, Eva told me she had planned to drive to Tyler and visit family.
Leaving the Unit, I loved the idea of using a different church in Tennessee Colony from my usual white church in town.
Finding a great area for photos isn’t always easy but, I “scope out” unique locations when traveling to or from Units on a regular basis.
Our impromptu photo shoots are always a hit with clients who have a chance to celebrate and enjoy their wedding day.
Cindy handled the photography today for me and we were both thankful that the rain finally let up for some fun outdoor shots.
My niece, Stephaney called while we were doing Eva’s photo shoot to make sure Cindy and I were bringing clothing and toiletries to her at John Petersmith Local Commitment Alternative aka LCA.
We told Steph we would be there in a few hours on our way back to Cindy’s car at my home aka WorthamWorld.
Finishing up photos, I found a picnic table and helped my bride climb up for a cute photo since I loved her boots and wanted them in the shot.
We had a great time with her today and look forward to visiting her in San Antonio while handling a Christmas wedding this year. My clients become friends for life and Eva is no exception.
Getting through the process to get approved for a Texas Prison Wedding for my clients can be trying.
I’ve had clients who waited up to six months to finally get their wedding approved.
Headed back to Corsicana, my niece, Leigh Ann texted a few photos from our California trip she’s still editing.
Cindy and I laughed remembering what a magical time we had in our home state meeting new friends and enjoying more adventures. We can’t wait to go back to California ya all!
Cindy and I always love our trips to destination events but California is our all time favorite location. It’s exhausting to work Destination Events though and I always try to schedule at least a few days off returning to Texas but, not this time.
I simply have too many clients which is why once we arrived back in Texas, we were back to work again. Rolling into Russell Stover still laughing about great memories and a wonderful day with Eva. Cindy and I meet amazing people and love spending time with clients.
I’ve booked nineteen events over the next two weeks which is a heavy schedule but, December is already booked solid so, we are looking forward to a little break after Christmas to catch our breath and get decorations out and shopping finished.
Walking into the happy and sweet smelling candy shop, Cindy and I both wondered why Stephaney hadn’t called back as we had told her to at least an hour ago while handling Eva’s photos? Also, we hadn’t heard from dad all day either. Not hearing from dad raises alarm.
Both of our husbands had checked in to see how our day was going while we fielded calls from my son and grandnieces as well as additional client calls but, the two people we worry about on a daily basis weren’t calling?
Since Cindy had told her daughter we were with a client taking photos in Tennessee Colony earlier and to call back, we both wondered why she hadn’t?
Although my sister and I are mentally exhausted regarding Stephaney, my niece continues to demand to “talk to the twins.” Her twin daughters are tired of the past year of Stephaney’s choices. We all are. Cindy and I especially because we’ve had to go back and forth dropping off clothes or visiting Psych Wards.
Cindy told me “the only thing Stephaney hasn’t done in the last year is kill somebody and yet, she doesn’t care that she’s killing us. She’s killing our family. She’s robbing us of any joy.” Cindy’s right from burning bible verses in a parking lot in Willow Park and getting arrested for arson, my niece has been so far out of control that her mother and I have expected her to kill herself in this wild year of craziness.
The arson charge was why Parker County Jail sent Stephaney to North Texas Hospital in Wichita Falls for “acting crazy.” They dropped the charges and once she was released, the crazy started all over again!
It was after the release from Wichita Falls that Stephaney started squatting next door in an abandoned estate and finally found the best job she has ever had.
Within months, she was off the rails again. Rather than saving money from her job, she was buying drugs again. As usual, Cindy and I were devastated.
My niece wandered my upscale neighborhood screaming at no one in particular, dancing in the streets and acting crazy. It was only a matter of time before someone located the homeowner. If only she had stabilized, kept working and saved her money, she would have an apartment by now and stable employment but, Stephaney is self destructive. Stephaney “doesn’t accept responsibility for the last year” and yet somehow, Stephaney has managed to escape being sentenced to prison.
My niece has been a literal cross to bear for my sister and I. She was a difficult child and by fourteen, already in trouble with the law for marijuana. Cindy couldn’t control her. I couldn’t control her. Stephaney has put us through HELL.
Stephaney also thinks she’s been resurrected and that rocks are diamonds. Her car, the abandoned estate next door and even dad’s house where she was staying before the latest involuntary commitments were all filled with rocks. Her purses had rocks in them as well.
We refuse to force Maryssa or Makenna to talk to Stephaney. It’s a problem because Stephaney thinks she’s entitled and that the twins should respect her? After all of these years, the twins don’t. We cannot change this.
Even our husbands will no longer talk to Stephaney. In fact, Cindy’s Husband has threatened to leave if Cindy moves Stephaney back into their home.
My husband has put his foot down that Stephaney is no longer welcome in our home too. It’s sad but true that our family is sick and tired of Stephaney and “the train wreck of trouble” she’s brought to our family.
I can’t begin to describe how upsetting phone calls from my niece are because there are no words. Her sister won’t talk to her. My son won’t talk to her. Our husbands and her own children won’t talk to her.
Stephaney has burned every bridge that she had and, she fails to realize why. I’ve walked into Prisons wondering if my niece will one day wind up in jail or prison?
Off her meds and running wild, Stephaney has spent seventeen years of our lives getting into trouble over and over again.
Cindy and I have cried over and over wondering what will happen to her in November but, we can’t control the destiny Stephaney’s path has been leading her towards.
I suggested “no news is good news” to Cindy but, the unexpected disruptions were bound to come and I knew we were just buying time waiting on our phones to ring. I’m as exhausted as my sister is about Stephaney, Maryssa and our dad.
Cindy’s granddaughter, Maryssa has had a full year of acting out and blaming it on her mother which only adds to the chaos this past year has brought to us.
Maryssa is now not allowed to go to a friends house because we can’t trust her choices.
Unlike Makenna, Maryssa has continually made bad choices herself this year which certainly hasn’t eased the mental anguish my sister and I share of dealing with Stephaney.
Cindy and I have no idea what will happen with Stephaney. Jail, Prison or Long Term Commitment at North Texas State Hospital?
My Michael Unit Bride had asked me about my niece after reading one of my blogs. Sadly, Stephaney’s history of arrests may very well be used to enhance the current charges.
While waiting at Michael Unit, my bride told me “the Criminal Courts look at the history and your niece may be sentenced to Skyview due to her history at Mental Institutes.”
It scares me that trying to save my niece has now come to this but, nothing her mother and I could have done would have stopped it. We can’t control Stephaney. We’ve never been able to.
Having my niece sent to prison will devastate my sister but, again I’m hopeless to change things.
I thought saving Stephaney from prison in Oklahoma after she was convicted of stealing an eighteen wheeler would straighten her up after paying for her to go to court ordered rehab.
But, even while on probation for the Oklahoma charge, Stephaney has been running wild in Texas.
Long term commitment or jail time regarding the DWI for Stephaney lurks heavy in our minds. It’s a shadow of gloom and doom that my niece has brought into our lives.
The backlash of dad and Stephaney has affected my marriage and Cindy’s too. Our husbands want their wives back. The wives that continually deal with drama from our family members and the chaos these family members bring nothing to the table.
Cindy and I must now step away from dad and Stephaney to focus on our husbands and family members who don’t require all of our attention due their negative behavior.
Maryssa is getting plenty of our attention due to her grades and her behavior this past year.
Sadly, there have been many holidays without my niece, Stephaney. Her choices in life are the reason for this. Stephaney has always preferred her friends over her family.
Running off with her Christmas gifts in tow from my home three years ago, Stephaney was in an accident and left her car. The wrecked car sat in Cindy’s backyard for years before Cindy ran an ad and gave it away after years of hearing her husband complain about it.
The number of cars Stephaney has wrecked is shocking. She went without a car after being released from Oklahoma on probation for 4 years before going off the rails after buying yet another car that she wrecked.
Stephaney actually does better without a car. Why? She can’t drive to bad areas and make bad choices. Walking limits her. She was actually walking when picked up at El Fenix last Saturday while Cindy and I were putting my grandnieces on a plane at LAX. Even walking, Stephaney manages to find trouble.
My FB Memories came up again with photos of Steph and the twins ten years ago. Why couldn’t I get Stephaney to straighten up and be a part of our family? I tried hard enough.
Every disappointment found me dusting myself off to run back in and try again. I refused to give up on Stephaney long after everyone else had. Even my sister did everything humanly possible to get her daughter back on track. But, we both failed.
Happy photos of Stephaney and the twins sadden me now. I think of all of the times that Cindy or I picked Stephaney up somewhere to spend time with her daughters and our family. I wonder if she will ever get it together before the twins are too old to care about her anymore?
When I look back on all of the things that have happened since the twins were born and all of the opportunities to be part of their lives that Stephaney has thrown away, my heart breaks over and over again.
I don’t understand it. My own mother made the same choices. I don’t understand that either. I may never understand it.
Working occupies our minds. Driving away from Fort Worth is actually a joy for Cindy and I because we are leaving problems with dad and Stephaney in my rear view mirror if only for 6, 8 or 10 hours.
Prisons have the structure and predictability that Psych Wards lack. There isn’t anything unexpected happening when I’m inside a Unit officiating a wedding. I hate surprises. I thrive on structure.
I’m a planner but no amount of planning prepares you to be a visitor at a Psych Ward.
My professional life is structured and well organized. It’s predictable and pleasant.
My personal life the last year has been chaotic and a circus mainly due to my niece but, dad certainly has had a part in it.
Years of Stephaney calling from jail or losing her car again have made answering strange calls cause for yet another panic attack. I have no idea what to expect. Cindy doesn’t either.
Stephaney has kept us on pins and needles for years but, this last year has had enough drama for ten years. Her behavior this past year actually “spiked.” Was it because we had her stable for nearly four years? I have no idea but, this year has been the worst with my niece yet.
Dad now refuses to get the surgery to remove the 100% blockage in his thigh that Cindy and I have come to believe are causing his imagination to run wild with paranoid fears of people living in his attic.
I read up on vascular dementia and it appears to be why my dad has been convinced that someone or something are making living at his house three blocks from me unbearable.
But, I can’t force a 75 year old to get surgery. No, that would be too easy. I can’t force my niece to take her Seroquil or Lithium either. I’m helpless at “fixing” dad or Stephaney.
It’s deeply disturbing to Cindy and I that the twins are now fourteen and have had less than four years of Stephaney being stable. Four years of having their mother in their lives only to be shocked and saddened by another arrest or commitment?
We don’t take the twins to visit Stephaney at jails or Psych Wards. Protecting them from further contact with her at this point is necessary.
Everything was always more important to Stephaney than spending time with the twins. Whenever she’s in jail or committed though, “she wants to talk to her daughters!” At fourteen, they no longer want to talk to her.
The embarrassment of Stephaney running wild in Weatherford is why we now home school the twins. A small town saw Stephaney screaming bible verses and accusing construction workers of planting bombs. A small town also knew that the twins mom was out of control.
The backlash of Stephaney’s behavior resulted in Cindy pulling the twins out of school to homeschool them in order to protect them from the whispers and catcalls their mothers actions dropped on them. They are both innocent but, seventh and eighth graders are cruel.
Cindy and I have done whatever we could to protect the twins and it hasn’t been easy. It’s been painful. A transition of acting normal in front of them while waiting for Stephaney to do something else shocking again.
At Stephaney’s last court hearing, she was laughing and smirking to such an extent that the judge threatened to cite her for contempt of court. Thank God Cindy and I waited outside in the hall. We have no idea how she will act or what she will say. No one does.
Seventeen years of unexpected sorrow later, we had hoped when the twins were born that Stephaney would take an interest in the twins but, we were wrong.
The only time my niece “wants to talk to her kids” is when she’s in jail or involuntarily committed. They are an afterthought to her. What she wants to have as a possession like a sofa or a car.
My sister and I decided fourteen years ago to save the twins by hiring an attorney.
Why? Because our mother was a lunatic and addict and her choices destroyed our childhood. We weren’t going to stand by and let Stephaney destroy her children too.
At forty years old, Cindy and I took on the responsibility of raising the twins with husband’s fifteen years older than us. No, it wasn’t easy. Saving children never is. It’s expensive and it’s stressful and while you watch other folks your age go on vacation and buy new houses, you put the children’s needs first. You put your own needs last.
Raising children is sacrifice.
The past fourteen years of Stephaney’s behavior and/or choices have left Cindy and I both crying rivers hoping to get my niece stable but, it’s a choice that only Stephaney can make. We’ve tried to make it for her for years and failed. Saving her children was a necessity. Saving Stephaney was impossible.
Walking through the candy store, I thought of all the things my niece would love.
Stephaney loves candy. It’s sad that you have a family member in your life that doesn’t spend time with you anymore because they are committed over and over or in jail or missing and you have no idea where they are. I hate it. Cindy hates it.
We wear our “normal masks” in front of others. We pretend we don’t have a lot full of problems but, we do. My dad, my niece and my grandniece, Maryssa have brought stress and anxiety into our lives.
Cindy and I left Russell Stover to hit our favorite thrift store in Corsicana and buy “Psych Friendly Clothes” to drop off at JPS/LCA to Stephaney.
Shopping for a Psych Friendly Clothing has become an ongoing past time for Cindy and I when we aren’t working. Yes, we hate it. “Will she like this or wear that?” Why do we care anymore? I don’t voice this question to spare my twin the question running through my mind.
It’s depressing. You buy clothes, Stephaney gets released, she loses the clothes you just bought or gives them away or who knows what then starts yelling at cars and shadow boxing trees and comes up missing again and then you find your niece has been involuntarily committed again. She now needs more “Psych friendly clothes” AGAIN.
Yes, it’s a vicious cycle of wishing Stephaney would take her meds and get a job or get it together only to be disappointed over and over again.
It’s tragic. It’s devastating and, it’s a part of my life and my sisters life we wish we hadn’t been drug through but, we have. Trying to “Save Stephaney” has been our biggest failure.
I worry daily that Stephaney getting sent to prison will give my sister a heart attack.
Back on the highway, I decided to check in with our dad. I wish I hadn’t. Asking if he was okay or needed a ride to the doctor, my dad said “I’m still fighting these intruders.” Oh brother.
Listening to him, I butt in and asked if he was lonely with Stephaney committed again and he answered “No. She needs help and she wasn’t helping me over here.”
Now dad doesn’t want Stephaney moving back in with him? This upset Cindy because after everything that’s happened, we certainly can’t move her in with us.
We’ve both been through the stolen credit cards and wrecked cars and bad choices Stephaney and her friends have brought into our homes. We can’t. We won’t. She will have to go to a shelter.
Stephaney needs help? Like my dad doesn’t? Getting off the phone, I was relieved that Cindy and I didn’t have time to go visit dad today and hear more wild theories about the invisible intruders.
I can’t help my dad either. I’ve tried. Cindy’s tried. We’ve failed at saving Stephaney AND dad.
Our husbands, children and grandchildren are sick of watching Cindy and I try to save the day with dad or Stephaney.
Cindy and I are the only two people who feel guilty at our failure to straighten dad and Stephaney out. It’s a gaping black hole of hurt that will never heal.
Our families want “happy go lucky Wendy and Cindy back.”
The twins that never hated taking calls from dad but were always apprehensive about calls from Stephaney or worried that another late night call was from jail or a Psych Ward.
Late night phone calls are always bad news you don’t want to hear. We’ve had years of them from Stephaney. YEARS.
We were actually in Houston handling an event but, try telling someone who has nothing better to do than guilt trip you about missing one day of visiting them at a Psych Ward while they have nothing to do all day that YOU have commitments other than visiting them at a Psych Ward.
Having dad and Stephaney committed at the same time was a juggling act of running from one Nut House to the next.
It was HORRIBLE. We cried leaving Wellbridge headed to Sundance over our helplessness and felt like puppets on a string. “Bring me this. Do that. Where are you?”
While dad WAS COMMITTED at Wellbridge and Stephaney WAS COMMITTED at Sundance, Wendy and Cindy were “losing it.” The luxury of acting crazy because our dad and my niece were killing us wasn’t something we could entertain. It never has been. Cindy and I bounced back and forth for weeks to visit dad and Stephaney but did they appreciate our efforts? No.
Running, running and running from one miserable visit to the other. Meet clients then go to events then go to the first Psych Ward, then the second, then run home and try to act normal.
Asking Cindy if you smell like urine because LCA is the dirtiest Psych Ward you’ve ever been to and pray Stephaney doesn’t get sent there again and then, she does. You begin keeping a can of Febreeze in your SUV to keep from gagging over the smell of LCA that gets in your hair and on your clothes.
When I tell you it’s awful- understand that I’ve been in several Psych Wards visiting my niece and awful is an accurate description of LCA.
It’s hard to top Sundance but, LCA does. This Psych Ward makes Trinity Springs and Wellbridge look like luxury resorts. It’s horrible at LCA. There are patient fights at every visit I’ve been to with Stephaney.
The structure at Sundance and Trinity Springs is completely missing at LCA. It’s a very dangerous Mental Institute.
After the “Dueling Psych Ward Stints of dad and Stephaney at the same time” occurring last July, Cindy and I have stopped visiting Stephaney everytime she was committed again.
We just couldn’t take it anymore. We were both overwhelmed and depressed at what our “free time” had been spent doing visiting my niece or my dad at a Mental Institute while try my to act positive.
Two Psych Wards forty five minutes apart for two crazy relatives and visits to them that sucked the life out of us? You bet. They didn’t care what “Raw Hell” they were dragging Cindy and I through.
Seriously. Neither my dad or my niece have a clue about how stressful visiting THEM was to US. After all, NO ONE ELSE WAS VISITING THEM.
Unless you’ve had to visit someone at a Psych Ward, you have no real idea what it’s like.
If the term Nut House offends you- you have never been inside one visiting a relative while a patient is spitting at you or trying by to grab you. I have.
There are no real rules for patients at Psych Wards. They wander around and sit at your table and basically do whatever they want from spitting at you to yelling at you or trying to throw a chair at you.
At LCA, the chairs are weighted so patients CANNOT lift them and throw them. It is a Nut House. I cannot believe at my age that the past thirteen months have been spent as a visitor to my niece in Psych Wards. Cindy can’t either. It’s why she has stopped visiting entirely. I go alone but not everyday.
Once a week visits are all I can handle it takes me days to shake off a visit at LCA with Stephaney.
I’m not saying my sister or I plan to stop living by my niece. Love never ends but, our enabling had to end. It’s taken us many years longer than anyone contacting us about their struggle has endured to effectively “hang in there.”
Why? Because we are fighters. We fought and fought to level my niece out and the war had left scars that will never heal. Disappointments were a regular occurrence for us. My hope and prayers are that by stepping back- Stephaney will finally step up!
Cindy quickly reminds our father frequently about his complaints of missing one day visiting him because we were working hours from Fort Worth. “You forget the thirteen days we DID visit while dropping everything and bringing you clothes and all the cigarettes you wanted but, you want to focus on the one day we DIDN’T VISIT because we were in Houston at a wedding? Stop. Just stop. I drove 60 miles round trip to go sit in a nut house with crazy people running around to listen to you complain about being locked up.
Having the JOY and STRESS of leaving Wellbridge to go to Sundance surrounded by crazy people listening to Stephaney complain. BOTH of YOU got yourselves involuntarily committed. Wendy didn’t. I didn’t. You and Stephaney got yourselves into this.”
As usual, Cindy was right. I’m glad she pointed out the facts. Scheduling Psych Ward visits into our burdened schedules over and over again was lighting me up to no end as it was my sister.
It’s exhausting to go visit someone in a Psych Ward. Mentally and physically. You try to “shake it off.” Go home, take client calls, cook dinner, act normal for your husband and your grandnieces but, the experience of being a visitor is something you will never forget.
I could write a book on adventures at Psych Wards visiting dad and Steph A BOOK of crazy people thinking they know you or wanting your shoes or trying to escape.
An entire book. The smells, the screaming. The ranting, the crying. Psych Wards make Prisons look like a hotel. There aren’t any crazy people grabbing me at a Prison or yelling at me. There isn’t anyone screaming “get me out of here!”
Rolling into Fort Worth, we stopped at Dollar General to buy toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner along with deodorant for Stephaney and pulled into JPS/LCA to wait while everything we had brought was screened. This is a lengthy process. We have had to go through this process over and over again. We hate it and there isn’t anyone else in our family willing to do it for us.
So, as usual, Wendy and Cindy stand there while everything we’ve bought to the patient at a Psych Ward is weeded through and either denied or approved.
The socks were too long. We borrowed scissors from the receptionist and cut them off to spare ourselves from going to buy more socks and coming back again.
We want to run away from the Psych Ward and never go back but, Stephaney will call me need this or that. Trust me. I’ve been through this all before. The clothes you bring are never right. She doesn’t like the shampoo. “Why didn’t you bring a razor? I can have a razor here.” Sure, but you can’t have shoelaces, hoodies, long sweaters, anything black or red, etc.
No bar soap allowed? We took it with us. Steph wants us to visit but, we are sick and tired of Psych Ward visits. Sick of it. I have to work myself up to visiting. Seriously. It’s all bad news and there is no happy ending.
My joy in life comes from my clients and my family members who aren’t always dragging me down. It doesn’t come from putting on a happy face and pretending there’s a rainbow somewhere for dad or Stephaney. I’ve learned that their dark clouds have no silver lining.
I would love to tell you that I have hope left for dad or Stephaney but, after this year, I don’t I can’t. It’s lost in the abyss. Dad won’t stop believing that invisible intruders are in his house and Stephaney won’t take her medication and they are both adults that I cannot control. Cindy can’t control them either.
Cindy and I are nearly fifty four years old and have dedicated our entire lives to taking care of our family members. I’m frightened that the stress my dad and niece have brought into our lives is going to affect our health. We have to step away and let the chips fall where they may here.
It’s time for Cindy and I to take care of our needs and stop being “sucked back in to dad or Stephaney’s dark holes where no joy exists.”
I’ve told Cindy that by stepping away, we will force them to accept that their problems aren’t ours. It’s a work in progress but, necessary. We can’t keep dealing with the craziness. I have no idea how anyone does.
We have told Steph “We will drop off clothes and toiletries but the stress of visiting you in a place we are uncomfortable coming to. We’ve been to eleven Psych Wards this year and we are sick of it. After all, your choices put you here and it’s “not our luggage and it ain’t our trip.”
Stephaney has a court date in November and she may very well be unable to attend it. We finally got ahold of her court appointed attorney yestetday who will waive her appearance but, isn’t sure that mental illness will affect her judgment. We aren’t either.
Dad doesn’t want Stephaney to move back in with him and we aren’t moving her back in with us. Stephaney for the first time in her life had actually “bottomed out.” She lost her car left at the abandoned estate next door along with all of her clothes and photos of the twins she had taken from Cindy’s home as well as mine that we can never replace and the owner had a 40 foot dumpster that everything was put into and hauled off while we were in California. He also had her car towed.
Yes, Stephaney has lost everything and any respect she had earned with the twins during her four year period of being stable. We can’t move her home and deal with her unpredictability. Our husbands are sick of it and the twins don’t deserve it and neither do Cindy or I.
Dad and Stephaney have both exhausted our patience and our kindness. Dad and Stephaney have also chose the path they are on and as adults, will have to “figure it out.” We are busy working and taking care of our husbands and grandchildren. We no longer plan to “make time” for Psych Ward visits to anyone.
Dad only remembers the day we missed visiting. He forgets that we have lives outside of visiting Psych Wards.
If I visit Stephaney without Cindy, she complains Cindy isn’t there. They appreciate vodits when we put ourselves through the misery of visiting and, I’ve got to say that listening to your relatives complain about “getting out” or that “you brought the wrong shirt or the wrong brand of cigarettes” instead of thanking you for dropping everything else in your life to drag yourself to the Psych Ward to visit while stopping to buy “whatever the patient wants” is a thankless task.
The ONE GOOD THING about Stephaney being in a Psych Ward is that the phone calls are FREE.
When Steph is in jail, it’s $8 to even add money to phone calls. Jail phone calls are a literal racket. The monopoly on phone calls from Units to their families should be stopped but, no one cares how much families spend just to talk to their loved ones.
Leaving JPS/LCA, Leigh Ann called to tell us the twins have finished their homework. Cindy and Leigh Ann take turns going with me during the week to help with photography. One of them stays home to help the twins with schoolwork and look after Maddy. It takes a village but, our village is finished with visiting people who get themselves committed for acting crazy.
Tomorrow I’m back at the beautiful Ashton Depot while my nice handles photography for a baptism in the TCU Area and my son and his wife work a Dallas Event.
Sunday, our good friend Myrick is handling photography at Willow Lake Event Center because we didn’t have anyone available on our staff to handle a short notice request.
It’s another busy weekend for my Texas Twins Events Team but, I may just run by JPS/LCA to see Steph Sunday on my way to Bell Tower Chapel.
Cindy just can’t take it anymore and I need to let my niece know that we can’t save her this time because we can’t.
We are no longer going to pay Stephaney’s attorneys, probation fees or fines that she has run up over the past year of her escapades. We are out.
Raising her twin daughters is a responsibility but, raising her isn’t. It’s high time that my niece realizes once and for all that we are no longer the bank. We are no longer hoping that throwing money at her or dad will fix anything. It won’t. We’ve learned this and although we’ve failed at saving either dad or Stephaney, Cindy and I have accepted the things we cannot change and are focused on the things we can.
Our time and our peace of mind to address our clients and existing families is our priority.
Many readers have emailed me regarding locate my their missing loved ones at JPS. I’m going to quickly explain why that’s not possible.
First- in order to call your loved one, you need a patient code. Second- only patients with visitors are allowed in the visitation area. Third- I have no way of making contact with your loved one even though you’ve sent me their name and a photo.
The number of patients housed at JPS Mental Health Clinics is staggering. It’s best for you to wait on a loved one to call and GET THAT PATIENT CODE. You will need it to call or visit or even bring clothing and toiletries. Please get that number and write it down.
I cannot express how important the patient ID code is to family members and loved ones of patients committed to a Psych Ward.
My heart aches for everyone trying to find a missing person because I’ve been there. Cindy’s been there. We have lost my niece over and over and over again. Luckily, she has a history of being transported to JPS and wound up there again last Saturday.
You are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong. Having a relative with mental illness isn’t easy. It’s disappointing and painful.
Hoping all of our twins, friends and followers have a great weekend and looking forward to seeing all of our new clients soon…