Taking It To The Streets- Timelines, Deadlines, Desperation & Difficult Family Members Who Don’t Care…
Update: On 12-06-2018 at 10AM I had decided to again head over and check the box. I knew rain was coming and planned to buy a tarp as the box would collapse and Stephaney wouldn’t return to it again.
While driving to the box and talking to my TDCJ Hughes Unit Client about her wedding next week, I sent a quick text at the red light to let my twin sister know that I was searching for Stephaney on Camp Bowie and Hwy 80 on route to the box AKA Stephaney’s last known address.
The box is key to locating Stephaney. Officer Davis found her in it Sunday evening at 4:41PM.
Arriving at the box today, I noticed a Big Gulp styrofoam cup that wasn’t there yesterday as well as an empty pack of Camel Turkish Blend cigarettes. The cigarettes were of importance as the last time I found Stephaney, she had asked me to buy them some 48 hours ago. I had begged her to let me get her a hotel room or take her to JPS/LCA but, she had refused and insisted on returning to the box. I’ve been unable to locate her since then.
I was hopeful about finding her in the box but, today it wasn’t my niece, instead it was a man.
Leaving my Bluetooth on with Cindy, I had walked into the deep ravine where the box was located. Always apprehensive, I slowly lifted the box and found a pair of jean clad legs.
For a brief moment, I thought I had finally found my niece but, I was wrong again. It’s day 8 of looking for Stephaney now and I’m exhausted. I think I see her everywhere I go and, I’m wrong. This man was a clue. There isn’t any way to see Stephaney’s box from Hwy 80 where many of the homeless walk and panhandle.
It’s hidden between buildings and houses five feet from street level. I knew he had seen Stephaney as he got up and asked “aren’t you afraid?” Angrily, I advised him “I’m not afraid of anything other than finding my nieces dead body. I know you’ve seen her. You had to have seen her to find this box.”
He climbed out of the box and began walking away. I climbed into my SUV and grabbed my phone to get photos of him and then, followed him.
I wasn’t going to let him get away. He knew something. I was willing to bribe him to find out what.
He walked across a field and into the 7-11. He realized I was following him and attempted to hide in the restroom. I waited. I’m patient now. I have nothing to lose.
After about 14 minutes, he came out from the restroom and asked “why do you keep following me? I haven’t seen her. I don’t know anything. I found the box while walking.” I could see he was lying.
I decided to make a bargain in front of four other shoppers wondering what the Hell was going on. I told him “you are homeless and hungry. I’m looking for my niece. I have money. I barter all of the time. I’m willing to make a deal with you. In exchange for the truth, I will buy you whatever you want. I have a flyer. You say you haven’t seen her but, you haven’t seen what she looks like. I’m not going anywhere. I will follow you all day if I have to. You are now my only lead and my only hope of finding Stephaney.”
Angry or agitated, he realized I was serious. He thought of my proposal for a moment and said “I want an entire pizza. Not just a slice and a pack of cigarettes. I also want $5 so I can go to the Drummers Inn. For $5, all of us who are homeless chip in on a hotel room together.”
I was already aware of this and in fact, had checked that seedy hotel over and over for days now. Bribing homeless people, passing out flyers, packs of cigarettes and five dollar bills.
I considered his proposal and then added, “I want the information first. If I give you what you want, you have no reason to help me. I’ve given many people hundreds of dollars the last 8 days and I now require the information first. If you are lying, I will know it.”
Other people checked out, we moved aside. He looked at me and realized it was my way or the highway. I planned to “test” him by asking what she was wearing and the length of her hair because the flyer was still in my pocket and he had no idea what she looked like.
He turned finally and said “okay. Okay. I saw her across the street yesterday at CVS. She was wearing her hair in a bun. She looked dirty. She talked to herself. I asked her for help. I told her I had nowhere to go. She walked me to the box. She had long, very long, strawberry hair and was wearing black boots, blue jeans that were too big and layered black sweaters. The boots were nice and leather. Her purse had LV on it. It was weird. I haven’t seen a bag like that with a long strap. She threw me a pack of cigarettes with one cigarette left in it. She told me I can borrow the box but, it’s her box and when she comes back, I have to leave.”
I bought him a pack of cigarettes of his choice, an entire pizza and gave him $5. His description was accurate and he had seen her. He lied most likely when I found him out of fear. I’m certain I surprised him as he had surprised me. I continued to drive the streets now knowing my niece was alive yesterday at 4PM and most likely still in the area.
This morning at 8AM, I had a request for more photos of Stephaney for the mental warrant officers. Finding photos of my niece is in her current condition for the Mental Warrant officers who were going off mugshots the past fifteen months wasn’t easy.
Stephaney can clean up and look normal. Stephaney hasn’t been seen since I found her walking between Cherry Lane and Las Vegas Trail two days ago. She hasn’t bathed or eaten in over a week, her appearance in now most likely “blending in” with the homeless. I have no idea what she looks like now.
The last time I saw her, I had stopped in the middle of the street trying to decide if it was Stephaney or not because I didn’t recognize the jacket. I hadn’t bought it.
Her mother hadn’t bought it and she wasn’t wearing it when she went missing 11-28-2018 at 2PM from MHMR on Campus Dr.
Perhaps my sister and I look crazy when slowing down to get a closer look at every person walking the last 48 hours of trying to relocate Stephaney after I had found her at 3PM on Tuesday. I had begged her to go into treatment when I found her and asked if I could feed her.
Stephaney wasn’t nearly as “out if it” as when Officer Davis had found her in the box on Sunday. Sadly, I drove Stephaney to a convenience store and let her buy whatever she wanted before she asked me to take her back to the box. I feel as if I’m dying from a broken heart.
But, don’t try telling most of your family how you feel. My son doesn’t care. His wife doesn’t care. They are upset you’ve spent so much time “trying to help Stephaney.”
Today’s blog is full of twists and turns that no one could have anticipated or expected. Don’t get me wrong- I’m upset with Stephaney refusing to call her mother or I. I’m upset about the amount of time I’ve spent searching for her and her choices. But, I cannot force myself to give up and walk away.
Today’s blog is also compromised of family “secrets” that I have never discussed on blogs or social media before. I’m different for reasons that no one can understand without knowing the full story.
These secrets are why I’m different. Why I struggled with stuttering. Secrets that have haunted my entire life. I hate secrets. I’ve lived with secrets and protected the people who should have protected me. Who were they? My family.
Surviving my childhood, my losses and my pain have made me far more compassionate. My perseverance is from personal experience. I am determined to find resolution. My resilience is based entirely on my own life.
I am not a quitter. I am perhaps the most driven person you will ever meet. I hate liars. But, for years I became one myself regarding my childhood in order to pretend I had a normal life. I never shared my pain. There wasn’t anything I was proud of about my childhood but, plenty that I was ashamed of. Ironically, no one who could have saved me felt any shame.
My twin and I are the Five Percentile. Victims of childhood sexual abuse and physical violence didn’t put us in the Ninety Five Percentile of suicides, drug addiction or other vices to cope. We are different because when the abuse began, we were young enough to compartmentalize the trauma. Young enough to pretend it didn’t happen to us but, it did.
This is the actual key to understanding why we are different. What set us apart from others like us who had endured similar fates but, who took their past and destroyed their future. Survivors survive and, we have.
Have you ever noticed that people who come from privilege have little or no compassion? It’s true. The people with the least are often the people who will give the most. For a number of years, I was the person with the least. I had lost everything because I trusted the wrong people, my own family.
It’s well known that my mother was a heroin addict. It’s not well known that my grandfather was a child molester. I couldn’t control my mother and I couldn’t save myself or my sisters from my grandfather as a child. No one was willing to save us.
Perhaps because many people have told me to leave Stephaney and let her die on the streets, my history will educate them to my reasons for not giving up on Stephaney.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye. It’s easy to stop caring. No one cared that our mother forgot us in locked cars or closets. No one cared that my grandfather took every opportunity to hurt us.
There’s a reason I care. The reason is no one cared about me. There’s a reason Cindy cares. We survived a difficult childhood and became homeless ourselves to escape the reality of our lives. But, we survived because we had each other.
My son is angry at Cindy and I because we continue to look for Stephaney. My son is planning to move to Las Vegas.
Cindy and I are both upset at Stephaney for dragging us through all of this. We are angry about wasting 31 years trying to fix Stephaney. But, our family is angry at us for caring what happens to Stephaney. Ironic isn’t it?
My son and his wife are upset that Cindy and I refuse to stop trying to save Stephaney. I’m angry that my son is upset that I’m trying to save my niece from homelessness. I’m angry that my son is missing the compassion I’ve taught him regarding the less fortunate.
This morning my son called and told me “I’m so tired of you and aunt Cindy searching for Stephaney.” He’s tired? I’m exhausted! My son hasn’t once looked. His wife hadn’t looked. But they are angry we are looking? What the? My son told me “I’m your kid and I’m going through a crisis but, every time I try to tell you my problems, you are helping Cindy or the twins or looking for Stephaney. I should be a priority.” Hmm, my niece could be dead but, my son wants me to solve the problems he and his wife have from moving everyone into their home that didn’t have a job. Okay. He can be angry. He’s an adult. But, I’m not going to move my son, his wife, her cousin and her cousins kid into my home. This isn’t a flop house. It’s MY sanctuary.
Nine months ago, my son and his wife lost their home. For nine months now, my adult son has complained about my priorities regarding my twin sister who is struggling with her twin granddaughters psychological issues of their mothers behavior. My sister is overwhelmed.
I’ve helped my son over and over again. I begged him not to marry his wife. I warned him that she would drag him down and, I was right.
But, my son resents my focus on trying to help my sister or find my niece. My son blames me for his problems since marrying his wife. My son is a narcissist. He could care less what happens to Stephaney. My son and his wife think that their issues should be my primary priority.
Two years ago, my son and his wife moved in with us after a house fire. For two months, living with my daughter in law was so emotionally exhausting that after two months, my husband advised me “it’s them or me. I can’t live like this anymore.” I advised my husband that I would talk to my son about the insurance and getting an apartment.
My daughter in law is a binge drinker. My daughter in law is difficult to deal with. My daughter in law thinks I never do enough. My daughter in law has been spoiled by her grandmother.
My son who used to be so kind and compassionate has become cold about everyone except himself and of course, his wife.
My daughter in law moved her deadbeat relatives into their home a year ago and my son let his wife rent a house they couldn’t afford. I was against this rental. I told my son it was a mistake. I’m old and I’m wise but, no one listens. My son didn’t listen. His wife decided that roommates would help cover the expenses.
The deadbeat relatives? One of them, Jordan, Stephanie Hafele’s cousin still lives with them at my son’s father in law’s home.
Let me tell you about Jordan and my sons choices since marrying. Jordan left Oklahoma because he has warrants. Jordan doesn’t have a job. Jordan hasn’t looked for a job. Jordan has a ten year old child.
My son took on taking care of Stephaney’s cousins and my son lost his home after quitting a lucrative job with his father. But, my alarm over this fell of deaf ears.
My son is nearly thirty years old. My son isn’t a child and my son has been helped over and over again by me. I’ve spent thousands of dollars again and again to help my son.
Because my son didn’t listen and let Stephanie rent a house based on paying the rent with roommates (her family members) that didn’t have jobs, my son and his wife along with Jordan and his son now live in Stephanie’s father’s living room. They cannot live here. My husband will not go through that again.
My son is angry about this and my focus being on either my twin sister, twin grandnieces or my niece, Stephaney. My son made choices that put him where he is now. I didn’t.
But, my son and his wife claim they are homeless. They aren’t. My ex husband had offered to rent a house but without Jordan and his son moving in. I don’t blame him. My son shouldn’t have quit his job! My son never listens to me. My son thinks I never do enough for him. My son is wrong.
I’ve done so much and sacrificed so much to save everyone else while putting my own needs last for so many years that I’m sick of being told I don’t do enough. I’m angry about it. I’m now voicing my own feelings about no one caring about me. I’ve been in the hospital three times this year but, my son was unaware of that. Why? Because he only thinks of himself these days.
Jordan has no drivers license, a drinking problem and a criminal history. Jordan is a smart Alec and know it all who knows nothing. The best decision my son has made while married? Not having any children. I’m being serious.
My son’s wife and I have had so many arguments over what I’m not doing while ignoring what I have done that even being civil is difficult for me.
My daughter in law alienated my son from his cousins and my daughter in law is the sole reason that they now live in her father’s living room but, I don’t do enough. My son told me “your priorities are always on your twin.”
Whatever. In four years, I’ve spent over $40k helping my family. That’s right. Forty thousand dollars. But, I don’t do enough. Bullshit.
Perhaps my son and his wife would prefer that I was homeless and just gave he and his wife my house, my car and my credit cards? Maybe then I would be doing enough?
I’m angry at the people angry at me for the choices they have made that have put them where they are now. I’m angry that I’m expected to be the “fixer.”
I’m angry that no matter what I do, it’s never enough. I’m angry that my daughter in law thinks I should move her, my son and her hobo cousin, Jordan and his son into my home.
I’m angry that my daughter in law doesn’t understand why no one else will move her in? There’s a reason people are homeless. The reason is their family gets sick of helping them. Sick of it!
Over the past year, I’ve been through surgeries, a breast cancer scare and while struggling with health issues, I’ve also helped my son with a checking account issue. What was it? His wife had overdrawn their account. I covered it. He needed help with his car to trade for a truck, I covered it. But, I never do enough.
My parents didn’t do anything for me. I left home with Cindy at 15 and we had only the clothes on our backs. We had no money, we had no car. Also, I was pregnant. The reason we were running away was my refusal to get an abortion.
My grandfather was a child molester. His twin brother was as well. No one protected us from grandpa. No one. Not my father, not my grandmother. No one.
My grandfathers twin brother, Joe shot himself after it was discovered he had raped all of his daughters. Grandpas twin brother, Joe did his daughters a favor by committing suicide. Too bad he didn’t kill himself before destroying his daughters lives.
Sadly, his twin brother, my grandfather, wasn’t suicidal. He was a horrible person and he was also a child molester who threatened to kill us if we ever told anyone about his secret. I wished him dead everyday.
It would be years before my grandfather finally died. Years of never leaving Cindy’s daughters of mine alone with him. His death was the greatest gift in this lifetime that I have ever been given. Thank God he would never have an opportunity to rape another child in this family. Thank God he was finally dead. I spit on my grandfathers grave. I jumped on it. I hated him and what he had done.
Leaving home with nothing and no one to help you changes you. You become the parent you never had. You do more than anyone else for your children.
Maybe you spoil them. Maybe they expect too much. Maybe you never do enough. Maybe you realize that in your old age the only time you will see them is when you are doing something for them.
Maybe at 54, you finally accept that you did too much? I became angry right back on the phone call today with my son. That’s right. I’m tired and I’m not eating. I’m fed up with “being the bank.”
I’m sick of everyone else expecting me to fix their problems. I’m tired of being told I don’t do enough. I’m sick of no one caring what my sister and I have survived while being the mothers we never had to our children and grandchildren with no help or support whatsoever from “our family.”
The only time I have any pleasure in life the past year and a half is when I’m with my three grandnieces or working. When I’m with people who are thankful for my help. When I’m with people who love me like my twin or my grandnieces. Clients unlike many of my family members, also appreciate me. I enjoy my time with Clients more than anyone will ever know. They take me away from my thoughts, concerns and worries about my niece.
The family members who did nothing to help Stephaney resent me trying to get my niece help. The family members jealous of my relationship with my twin sister who think we always put each other first are right but, they forget that without each other all those years ago, Cindy and I would have starved.
Cindy and I lived in a homeless shelter until we could finally afford an apartment. I lost my baby after finally getting a good job and decent place to live. No one helped us. Cindy and I helped ourselves. We worked our asses off with the fear of poverty chasing us through life. We became overachievers because we had to.
There wasn’t anyone in our lives to help us and we knew it. Losing Anna would be the most painful thing that ever happened to me. It was something I would forever live with. Young and dumb, I had no idea that the threats from my family forcing me to give her up for adoption could be squashed by testimony of the day care worker who had let her fall face first from a high chair. Today, things would be different. Today, CPS would get involved.
My daughter didn’t die but, due to the accident at day care, a “window” would be opened for me to lose my baby to someone who wanted a baby, my baby, to come in and take her from me.
The family, my family wanted the child, my child the child no one wanted me to have. That’s right. My family took my baby. I’ve never forgiven them for what they allowed to happen to my sisters and I at the hands of my grandfather. I’ve never forgiven them for taking my child.
When you understand how my family took my child you will understand my anger. My pain and my life. By the time the accident at a day care occurred, I had a good job. Cindy and I had an apartment. Anna Marie fell out of a high chair after I had left her at the day care.
Rather than call me, the day care called my father who brought Anna to his home and called my grandfather. My grandfather took Anna to the backyard and used a Polaroid camera to take photos. My grandfather wanted to stop questions about Anna. My grandfather was an evil manipulator.
Arriving at the day care to find Anna gone, I was told my father had picked her up. Confused, I drove to my father’s house to find Anna bloody. Rather than taking her to a hospital, my “family” took pictures. Stay tuned.
I was confused, angry and unaware of what was about to how it would come to pass that I lost the daughter I had left home to keep.
My grandfather told me he would call the police and say I had hurt Anna. My grandfather told me that my aunt Shirley was going to take Anna.
My father, stepmother, grandmother and terrified sister were all witnesses to how my family took my daughter. No one stopped my grandfather. Not my grandmother, nor my father and certainly not my stepmother. No one cared what they were doing to me. They never had.
I was told I could visit Anna or go to jail for hurting her although I’ve never hurt anyone in my life. My “family” planned and plotted and stole my child. The child that calls me now or comes to visit and the adult who now knows everything she was told about me was a lie. Time doesn’t heal all wounds.
Anna was the secret my family wanted no one to know about. Yes, I’m angry. Yes, my family has hurt me over and over again and lied about me to Anna. Lied about me hurting her and kept those photos in the event that I ever tried to get her back. Threatening to testify that they would SAY THEY HAD SEEN ME HURT MY BABY? The baby I had left home with nothing to keep? The baby I had refused to abort? The baby my sister and I had raised as our own? The baby who would love us forever. The child I wanted desperately enough to leave home to save.
My grandmother drove me to sign the papers. I hated her. I hated my family. I hated everyone except my sister. The secret of Anna was so devastating to me that I’ve never really recovered from what my own family had done to me.
One day I had a happy toddler and the next, I was childless. I grieved her loss for years. It was as if she had died. I wasn’t allowed to see her or hold her ever again.
Not long after being told I could visit my daughter, I was turned away by my aunt. “We don’t want you to visit. We want her to forget you.” My sorrow over this still haunts me today. It would be years before Anna knew that I was her mother. YEARS.
Ironically, my sister was raped again after years of abuse at the hands of our grandfather.
This time, it was a stranger. This time, it was Cindy. This time, I told my sister that we would raise the child together as a Team. Leigh Ann replaced Anna the child I had lost to my “family.”
When Cindy married Larry, things changed. We had been living together raising Leigh Ann but, I didn’t like Larry. I needed my own family I was told.
Solely because I wanted my own baby, I married Robert. It took me years to successfully carry a child. My first husband was violent. I didn’t realize was unusual coming from my childhood as I believed everyone hit or hurt you. It was all I had known.
Cindy’s first husband hit her too. We thought violence was normal and part of being married because violence and pain were the memories our childhood.
By the time Larry left Cindy, I had miscarried six times. I believed God was punishing me. Why would God keep taking the baby I wanted so badly? Why did my husband keep hitting or punching me? Why couldn’t I just have someone to love me? My faith waned for years. Why did God let all of those horrific things happen to me?
I brought Cindy and her daughters to California after Larry left her. I had my family back and within a year, I was pregnant with my son. He was my greatest gift.
My son was something no one would ever take away from me I had assumed but, after years of violence, I filed for divorce. My ex husband would fight me for custody for five years. I refused to give up.
My ex husband knew that due to a physical altercation and subsequent emergency surgery, I could never have children again.
My ex husband didn’t know how hard I was willing to fight to keep my child. I won custody but, it was a bloody battle.
My grandfathers actions were brought up. I was victimized for being a victim of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of my grandfather. My sister was too. We were told “we liked it” by my ex husband’s attorney. My sister and I both suffer Post Traumatic Stress. From my grandfather and from our first husband’s beating us over and over again. My sister and I carry scars. Scabs that will never heal.
My sister and I were victims but, we aren’t anymore. We stopped being victims when we started fighting back and blocking punches.
By 29 years old, I punched back as did Cindy. We stopped trying to stay conscious and grabbed whatever we could find to hit the SOB husband that was hitting us.
If someone were to attempt to hit me today, it’s quite possible that I could kill them with my bare hands. My anger at not defending myself sooner in life haunts me. No one will ever hit me again in this lifetime.
Cindy and I were put through interrogations AKA depositions during my custody battle and asked about details. I never mentioned Anna. I had lost her to my family and never told my ex about Anna. But, money changes everything.
My ex called my aunt offering money for information that he could use against me. Anna was the information. This was how a family secret and Anna being my daughter finally came up again. For money, my cousin told my ex everything. Everything except how my family had blackmailed me into signing adoption papers.
Being the mother I never had wasn’t easy. It was difficult. It was a war. I couldn’t be the happy mom at the park because I was working three jobs to pay attorneys. My son was all that I had and no one was going to take him from me and they had taken Anna. Cindy took care of my son while I worked and worked to pay attorneys. I didn’t have a “family” to help me like other people. Warriors fight wars and I fought to keep my son. No one was going to take another baby from me.
My “family” are good at keeping secrets. I’m tired of the lies. My sister is tired of the lies and the faux perfect family. My sister is the closet person I have in my life. My sister is the closest person I will ever have in my life.
I lost my son when he married. I lost him to a hillbilly family of alcoholics and angry people who think the world owes them a living. I don’t know if I can get my son back again. I don’t know how long my son will hate me for looking for Stephaney. I no longer care. If he’s angry at me for doing everything in my power to be the mother I never had or for caring about doing anything within my power to find Stephaney before she dies in the streets, it’s not my problem. I have to live with myself. I have to know that I’ve done everything humanly possible to help Stephaney as I have my son, my sister, my niece and my three grandnieces. I have to know that I’ve left no stone unturned.
Explaining this or why I am the way I am to a son who has nothing to do with Anna and resents her isn’t an easy conversation. Attempting to advise him of my reasons due to my childhood and a family that never cared about Cindy or I was brutally honest. My son was never molested. I protected him at all costs. My son was never beaten, I was the punching bag in my marriage to his father.
My son says “that’s in the past.” My son has never suffered. He had two parents that have given him everything. He’s in the situation he’s in now by his own hand. He may be angry about it but, I cannot spend the rest of my life correcting everyone else’s bad choices. It’s an expensive endeavor and I must plan for my own future.
My plan since I’ve been asked what I will do when I find Stephaney is to put her in treatment and then in jail. She will miss the December 17th hearing whether she is in JPS or on the street. This will ease my sister and I the worry of thinking we see her everywhere we go. We won’t have to look for her anymore. We won’t have to visit the box trying to find her. We can finally peace that we did everything we could.
I’ve done everything I can do for my son and a million times more than my family ever did for me….but, hindsight is 20/20 perhaps if I hadn’t coddled him his entire life he wouldn’t be as selfish as he is today?
Other children take their moms to lunch. They help them whenever they can. I have no false fantasies of my son caring for me in old age. Cindy recognizes this as I tell her “if it were up to him, I might be in a nursing home eating sardines out of a tin can.” I’m planning for my future and my future isn’t buying my son a house or moving him and the “gypsy brigade” into my home or running my husband out of it.
Children who are over 18 need to realize that at some point, parents get tired of writing checks. I have. I work seven days a week and my husband works 50 hours a week. No one “gave us” what we have. We earned it.
Cindy’s husband is on the road six days a week to “save the farm” no one gave Steve and Cindy a house.
But, explaining finances to my son isn’t ever going to be a conversation he wants to hear. He’s angry we are spending money to help Stephaney. What he doesn’t understand is the amount of money I’ve spent on him for twenty nine years. The sacrifices I’ve made for him and that love is sacrifice. Love isn’t easy. Love can be painful but, trust is love. If I can’t convince my son that he who needs the most help is a priority, it’s because I’ve spoiled him. Or, because his marriage has tarnished his once kind heart…