Christmas Chaos & Coming To Terms With My Family About Stephaney…

This morning, my niece arrived in the back of my home. After the fiascos my niece pulled while squatting next door, my niece isn’t allowed in our home. Knowing this, I opened the garage anyway. Stephaney looked frail and was crying. My heart ached for the adult that I remembered as a child. 

I try to see a light at the end of this tunnel but can’t find one. I try to see a future for Stephaney with promise and wonder if she will ever change. If the twins will ever have a mom in their lives aside from Cindy and I? 

My fear of my husband coming home and finding Stephaney in it was more than stressful but, she needed clothes and a bath. I didn’t want a scene. I didn’t want my husband angry and I didn’t want to turn Stephaney away. Shutting her off completely is something neither her mother or I can do. 

My husband, Matthew has never put this rule on anyone but after 15 months of wildly unpredictable behavior, did three months ago. I couldn’t turn my niece away in the freezing rain so, I did what I could to make her feel safe and welcome after a night at the Presbyterian Night Shelter. 

Stephaney needed coffee but refused breakfast and I felt incredible guilt seeing her standing in the rain. It’s difficult to feel compassion about the mess Stephaney has brought to our lives. 

But, as Stephaney walked upstairs with me crying that “she would change,” she was thanking me for letting her in my home and saying she couldn’t remember the last bath she had taken, I felt immense sorrow at my inability to change Stephaney. I felt loss at her life that once held promise. I wondered if she could ever recover from literally “bottoming out” the past year. 

Although I felt anger at the path she had taken that managed to alienate her from everyone in her family except my twin sister and I, I also wondered why my niece lacks any compassion for all of the lives she’s affected this year? I wondered why narcissistic people never worry about others? 

Although Stephaney says she loved the twins, her mother and I, I reminded her that she needs to love herself. She needs to make better choices and she needs to earn trust. Love is sacrifice. 

Making Stephaney coffee, I asked “when she was headed back to the Presbyterian Night Shelter to check back in?” Stephaney decided that she was never going back although she had nowhere left to go. Stephaney told me “you don’t know what it’s like there. It’s horrible. They lock you inside. You can’t leave.” 

All of our adult children forget Cindy and I were homeless at 15. They forget that we lived in a shelter. They forget that we had no one who either cared about us or looked for us much less brought us clothing, bus passes or anything else. 

Cindy and I learned at a very young age that we had no one. Because of this, we became workaholics. Work was the only rewarding aspect of our lives. Work put a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Work put gas in our cars and got us to work. We didn’t have a “family” to help us. We never have. When Stephaney had told me I don’t know what it’s like, I quickly reminded her that “one night in a shelter was a cake walk. Try months of a homeless shelter until you can get a GED and a job. Try not having anyone to help you at all. Try leaving with the clothes on your back knowing you have nothing. No money, no support, nothing. Your mother and I had nothing and yet, we survived. You kids have never gone without. We made sure of that. Your kids have never gone without. We made sure of that. We’ve helped you for thirty years. It’s time you accept the role and help yourself. There’s a way out of poverty and it’s called work.” 

Stephaney has burned every bridge. She’s lost her jobs, she’s lost her friends. Stephaney has also lost most of her family. 

Stephaney had lost her car and all of her possessions at the abandoned estate next door to me and Stephaney had reached rock bottom.

As Stephaney ran a bath, I gave my trusty old beagle, Foxy Wortham a treat and suited him up for a walk in freezing rain. I cried walking my dog not knowing how my life became one miserable escapade after the next with Stephaney? 

As I walk past the festive holiday decorations of my neighbors that were most likely put up by professionals, I cry behind my glasses so that happy neighbors can’t see my sorrow. They wave admiring their beautifully decorated homes. Maids say “Happy Holidays!” I nod and try to smile knowing my niece is in my home and has nowhere to go. She’s exhausted her welcome at my sisters home and my husband won’t allow her here. I’m deeply depressed about this. But, I hide my pain from my happy neighbors. 

Arriving back home, Stephaney is painting her toenails in my master bathroom. Behind her, she sees my evening clothes for tonight at Shady Oaks. She tells me “I wish I could go to a country club like we did when I was a teenager. Eating in the mixed foursome and swimming in the pool or playing tennis. I miss that.” 

Wearily, I realize that Stephaney’s behavior at the last country club event was erratic and embarrassing. It was a disastrous evening at the club because my niece was upset I didn’t want a strange friend at a family event that I was paying for. She was also sneaking drinks which didn’t help matters. 

Painfully, I recall that Stephaney had argued about bringing her “friend” Anthony. I remember saying “no friends that will embarrass me at the club and adding that if you can’t come alone, don’t come.” Stephaney’s “friends” are always questionable. I’m uncomfortable with them in my home. I’m uncomfortable with them in public. I’m uncomfortable about being embarrassed. 

Stephaney’s “friends” are not people I am accustomed to being around. Stephaney’s “friends” go outside my home and smoke pot. Stephaney’s “friends” lack respect, manners or boundaries. 

Stephaney’s work friends are welcome but, my niece makes terrible choices with men. I wonder if she had ever had anyone decent in her life if thing would’ve been different? I wonder if her self esteem is so low that she doesn’t believe she deserves better? I wonder if I can change that? 

Stephaney’s “friend” Anthony would take up nearly five years of Stephaney’s life. I never liked Anthony. He put down Stephaney regularly in front of others. Was it jealousy? Stephaney is beautiful and often with someone who has jealousy issues. 

Anthony would one day beat her so badly before calling to tell me “she needed medical attention or an ambulance”  late one night after he had permanently blinded her in one eye. I would spend months at surgeons trying to get her vision back. It was an injury that she would live with the rest of her life. No amount of money could repair her eye. I spent thousands. 

Anthony was only one of Stephaney’s “friends” that would hurt her. For another ten years, she chose three more imbeciles that weren’t welcome in my home. I had forced Stephaney to file assault charges on Anthony before he hurt anyone else. Before he pulled a gun on 6 police officers and was finally arrested. 

The assault charge from Stephaney’s beating “enhanced” the police incident. Anthony belongs in prison. You won’t hear me say this often so understand that when I do I’m serious. 

This morning while trying to rush Stephaney out of my home and feed her, my sadness about having to sneak her in bothered me. She can’t remember why she isn’t allowed at WorthamWorld anymore as Foxy jumps for a hug or a treat. 

My niece has destroyed her welcome in our home after going nuts in my neighborhood and jumping in front of my husband’s SUV calling him Satan. She was completely out of it to such an extent that my husband called me terrified to pull into the driveway. He had no idea what would happen if he had. 

My husband is the kindest person I’ve ever known aside from my brother in law, Steve but, my husband fears my safety with Stephaney alone in the house as she’s often wildly unpredictable.

Stephaney’s sister, Leigh Ann was angry that once again today, I was helping Stephaney. I’m tired of family members who refuse to help always bother to give me their opinions. I’m doing the best I can. 

While trying to help Stephaney infuriates my other family members, what they fail to realize is that they aren’t going through the motions, Cindy and I are doing all the work and, we are doing it all alone. 

I called Cindy because I have 3 weddings at Estes and Stephaney doesn’t want to ride with me to the Prison. Cindy takes Stephaney to Walmart until I can get back to buy more winter clothing. We’ve both bought clothes over and over again for Stephaney. We’ve both spent thousands of dollars on Stephaney the past 14 months for rehab and we are both emotionally bankrupt. 

I leave Estes to meet Cindy at Bank Of America with Stephaney depositing her husband’s check. I put everyone in my SUV and head to Starbucks knowing I’ve got a long night ahead of me smiling at Shady Oaks and pretending I don’t have a care in the world. 

Surrounded by amazing Christmas decorations, festive guests and a wide array of holiday dishes and cocktails, the truth is that I’m dreading dragging out my happy face tonight. I’m already exhausted after hearing Stephaney plans to ride the buses all weekend rather than returning to the night shelter. My stress makes me yawn. 

Pulling into the drive through at Starbucks, a homeless guy walks up to my SUV. Amazingly, I know him. I remember giving him money two weeks ago while searching for my niece. I remember begging him to help me find her and I remember seeing him one day after giving him money to help me seeing him wearing my Ugg aviator hat and gloves that I had given to Stephaney at the box. Cindy remembers him too. I wait a beat before letting him have it about lying to me. I also advise him my niece who I had been searching for is sitting right in my SUV. I also tell him that over the nine days I searched for her with her mother, I gave him money over and over to contact us if he had seen her and rather than calling us, he had stolen her winter clothing while she was washing up at 7-11 and had the audacity to lie to me when I confronted about it. I then wish him good luck and God speed as I never forget a face and I would always remember his while pulling up. He cursed me. I didn’t care. I was lit I had wasted two weeks asking him over and over again for help and giving him enough money for a hotel on three occasions. 

We head black to Walmart. One of the twins wants a Christmas dress. Shopping for clothes for Maryssa and Makenna now while Stephaney asks “if I straighten up can I come home?” I look at Cindy. My twin sister angrily answers “you can never come home again. I’ve given you chance after chance after chance. I’m raising your twin daughters and have been for fourteen years now. They are both home schooled and in counseling because you chose to get back on drugs. You are now out of chances to ever come home again. Trust is love. You cry now but for years I was the one crying. Helpless to change you while raising your kids, I was a “whipping post” of unexpected surprises over and over by you. The twins are a priority. You aren’t my priority anymore. You haven’t been since you took this latest dive into the gutter. I will buy you clothes so you don’t freeze but, I’m not renting a hotel and going further in debt for you anymore. It’s Christmas and Wendy and I have both spent money trying to find you. Trying to get you help. Money we should have been spending on your kids. This morning my husband’s check was high and I called him about it. He told me he skipped his vacation to have extra money for the twins. He told me we could wait on his dentures. Christmas is a special time. He told me that although he might not “be nice to look at,” he would always find a way to take care of me and the twins. I cried and cried knowing how badly he wanted a vacation away from sleeping in a semi truck driving down the interstate. I cried because I knew how badly he wanted those dentures. I cried because everyone has made sacrifices for the twins except you. I cried because I can’t help you anymore and I’ve grieved your loss as if you were already gone. I cried because of the desperation you’ve put my heart through. The sadness and the despair. All Wendy and I feel anymore is a void. We’ve given and given and we have nothing left to give anymore.”

The truth is that Steve and Cindy as well as my husband and I have all sacrificed for the twins. We have put our own needs last and the twins first. 

Cindy had a client meeting in Parker County so I took Stephaney to a friends house. I didn’t meet the friend. Stephaney took her rolling suitcase I had bought and said goodbye. 

Hours later, Stephaney was on a bus. I can’t control my niece. She’s out and on the street again and at least she has warm clothes. I must accept this. It’s difficult but, the twins and my clients need my attention far more.

Back at home again after fielding calls from clients and Units, a call from my daughter in law comes in. I haven’t even gotten out of my SUV. My daughter in law has run out of gas. My son is in Oklahoma working and yet again, I’m off to buy a gas can, fill it up and go help her get back to work. At least my daughter in law thanked me for saving her day. I don’t understand why people run out of gas? I never have. I hate surprises.

Being the fixer sucks. I’m now running late to pack my SUV, change clothes and run to the country club. 

My dog needs to be walked and fed and I’m about to put on my happy face again before facing a long weekend of thrilled clients marrying while surrounded by their exuberant families. 

Everywhere I look, happy families are relishing the joy of Christmas. It saddens me deeply. Will I ever have a worry free holiday in my life? Will Cindy? Will the twins? 

Cindy and I find lines on our faces that weren’t there a year ago. The stress of Stephaney has aged us. We consider getting fillers for Christmas and even make a few calls but, helping Stephaney and looking after our clients and families prevents us from finding the time. 

I don’t know what will happen with my niece. I do know this, she has no idea how much she’s forced us to suffer. She says she is sorry but, she’s shown no signs of making the changes necessary to get back on track. 

Apologies are always what people do when they shouldn’t have done things that require an apology. Often, the apology is empty words. Cindy and I are hoping next months hearing for Stephaney forces her to get it together.

I’m thinking next year I skip Christmas altogether and travel. The stress of my family has consistently disrupted every Christmas but, Stephaney has managed to completely destroy any holiday cheer I might have had left. My twin sister feels the same way.

Although Cindy loved my Christmas light jacket, it didn’t fit tonight’s formal party so, I opted for bling to brighten my mood instead. 

“WE may NOT be the SET of DIAMONDS you HOPED for, BUT like a COUPLE of CUBIC zirconias, WE will SHINE on, because YOU don’t HAVE to BE high MAINTENANCE, to SPARKLE.” 

Happy face on and ready for a long night, I hope all of my Clients, Connections and Twin Friends find happy times this holiday season. 

I hope you have an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and I hope you have a have a wonderful holiday as I bid you goodbye to enjoy the evening as much as I can from Fort Worth, Texas.I’m really looking forward to putting family issues behind and keeping my mind busy with Clients all weekend and for everyone contacting me about the struggles they face with a family member similar to my own, my heart breaks with yours. You are in my thoughts. 

If you ever need a shoulder or an ear, don’t hesitate to call or email me. The holidays are a stressful time with everyone else “appearing be happy.” It can be a lonely time but, please do something for yourself. 

Please find something you enjoy and go do it whether it’s the movies, a good book, a manicure or lunch with a friend. Find time for yourself. You’re worth it…