The Winds of Change
Welp: it’s official: I’m a grandma!
Actually, I’ve been a grandma for some time. I have a rocking grandson, Roman, whom I’ll probably never meet, unfortunately. Long story. I’ll try to explain: Be patient, dear reader. I’m about to tell you a story that is incomprehensible. Indescribable. So hard to believe that you may think I’m making it up. I assure you. It’s all true. Read on…
The Scoop: I was framed by an evil (former) mother-in-law, Sandy, who set up myself and my family to blatantly steal my kids. She framed my Dad for heinous crimes he did not commit (against them), and when that didn’t work, the government (the hellish CPS) switched tracks and went directly after me instead. What ensued was a decade of the most hellish experiences I’ve ever endured. Having your children ripped away from you and then brainwashed to believe you’re a monster, well…all I can say is karma is REAL, (Sandy and) Davey. It’s a real deal and your cup is gonna runneth over, honey.
So, to make a long story even longer, my brilliant daughter, Moriah PEACE- who I’ve heard is my virtual twin in every way (and I believe it), pretends I’m dead and I pretty much do the same with her. Sad situation, but I did fight the good fight for 10-12 long years.
I never told her this, but Davey remembers. (Davey is the former foster mother who continued my former mother-in-law’s vicious course by plotting to sever my parental rights so she could adopt Moriah. The attack on my entire family was so vicious, so hideous…we all endured a decade of trauma- all so a greedy woman could steal a baby. TRUTH.)
I can’t go into the details too much- out of respect for everyone involved, but what started this entire evil ball rolling is something that nobody knows- even to this day. (Except for my children. I shared it with them.) Nobody, except them, myself, and Sandy know. One day, I was at Sandy’s house. She wasn’t the paternal grandma. My x-husband (James) had cheated on me while in the Navy, so I repaid him the deed and ended up getting pregnant with my Italian lover’s baby at the time. I explained to her that my child was not her son’s baby. She explained that she didn’t care and that she’d love her just the same. I was so naive! We bonded during that time, and I ended up confiding in her with a secret that ultimately destroyed almost anyone whose ears it touched.
I shared with her that I had been molested as a child. Sigh. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. I was confused. I was pregnant, hormonal, scared, and appreciated her motherly bonding at the time and it sort of just came rolling out. Had I known the damage that that one act would have caused, I’d never had uttered a breath of a word! Alas, I did, and it was too late. (Unfortunately, by the time my girls landed at the last foster home, Davey’s, she continued what Sandy had initially begun, because you see, she too used to work for the system and she too knew that the quickest way to adopt a foster child is to accuse the mother, father, or family member of molesting the child. She took that ball and RAN with it. And that’s how Davey ended up with those claims. After learning about that info. from the case, she began rehearsing my girls to accuse several of my family members of “molesting them”. They gave my innocent children “anatomically correct” NAKED dolls to “play with” to see what they would do. if that isn’t perverted I don’t know what is.)
Back to Sandy. I trusted her. I believed her when she said, “You can tell me, Birg!” So I shared with her the awful thing that happened to me as a child. She ended up taking that information months later and using it to build a case with CPS by accusing a certain family member of molesting my child. It wasn’t true: nobody molested my child. I took my child straight to the hospital and had tests run, etc. and took the report straight to CPS, showing them that my daughter indeed had not been molested. It mattered not. Sandy used to work for the system so she knew exactly what to do to gain access to my child while suspending ours. She knew all the tricks in the book.
The level of betrayal I experienced was indescribable. She knew that I was the one who was molested, yet she used the information to gain access to my child, while simultaneously ceasing access for myself and my entire family. They stated that since they had to open an investigation, our rights were “temporarily” suspended. All of us. And so began the longest court battle of my life.
The whole case was like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. As my kids were shuffled around from foster home to foster home, the case grew larger and larger. The harder I fought, the worse it got- for everyone. It was like this crazy ball rolling down a hill at high speed- collecting every stone or blade of grass in its path. The case was comprised of and built upon trumped-up lies. Just total garbage.
After 10+ years of a hell I cannot describe, one day, I asked a police officer where the foster parents lived. My Mom was with me. I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere around them, but only by what I can describe as a miracle, the police officer told me right away where they lived. He gave me their address. (He totally wasn’t allowed to do that.)
My Mom and I drove right up to the foster parents’ house. I knew she wanted to adopt Moriah, and frankly, I was ready for it all to just go away by that point; I had two other children that needed protecting from these monsters. I knew that as long as I continued to fight to bring my children home, the foster mother (Davey) would continue to poison them against me, so, I did what any loving mother would do: I sacrificed myself.
I knocked on the door. Davey came out and her eyes were as big as saucers. She couldn’t believe I was standing on her doorstep. I asked her if we could speak- off the record- just the two of us. She complied and we sat on her steps and smoked a cigarette together. (I still smoked back then.)
I explained that I in no way wanted to let her adopt Moriah, but I wanted Moriah to be able to be happy (and to live in a home which wasn’t toxic, and being told what to say for “the agenda”.) Being told her mother was a monster. Being told terrible things were done to her that absolutely were not. Davey pulled some very evil crap. We both knew it. I used to think that Davey was actually pure evil, I really did. Who could do that to a child? THAT is child abuse.
But now I realize that she had simply fallen in love with Moriah and wanted her at all costs. She was ok to condition my child if it meant getting her in the end. She had conditioned herself to believe the very stuff she was slinging, because it eased her conscience. She could sleep at night if she believed in her “crusade”; if she told herself that she was “protecting Moriah from a terrible person”- it was much easier for her to follow through with it all.
So, considering all of those things, I hated her a tad bit less. I don’t blame her for wanting Moriah. Moriah was a special baby. Her name “Moriah” actually translates as “The place of skulls”, AKA “Golgotha”, it’s Biblical. Mount Moriah (in the Bible) was the mountain that Abraham took his son, Isaac, up on, to be tested. God instructed Abraham to slaughter Isaac, so he tied him up on an altar, drew out his scythe, and just as he was getting ready to strike, an angel of the Lord stopped his hand. God was pleased for He knew that Abraham would choose to follow Him (God) anywhere, even if it meant sacrificing his only son.
This is why I named her Moriah Peace. Because while Abraham was traveling up one side of the mountain, distraught, God had already sent two rams up the other side- at the same time- so that when he (Abraham) passed the test, he looked over and saw a ram caught in the thicket. God had prepared a proper sacrifice all along! The fear and terror melted away and Abraham was filled with an incredible new peace he’d never known.
Hence her name, Moriah Peace. Who knows, maybe someday she’ll see this and understand that her name was indeed prophetic, and I too had to lay her on the altar and give her back to God. It was not easy.
When talking with Davey that day, I told her that I needed to protect my two other children I had had since the long ordeal had begun, ten years before. It’s true that I hated Davey vehemently for what she did to Moriah (and my other daughter, who was taken from me as well), but at that point, it was about doing what I could to protect Moriah from any more vicious foster parent-adoption games. All foster parents know and understand that if you want to sever the birth mother’s or father’s parental rights, you simply accuse somebody in the family of molesting the child. Everybody knows that.
Her husband was running for Sheriff every year on TV and rubbing elbows with all the judges and I was a poor Mom, with little money, fighting every year for my children’s return the only way I knew how- with my sheer grit and determination. You do the math: the odds were not in my favour. I had no less than 4 breakdowns in the process. It absolutely destroyed me- for years. I literally begged God for cancer and death. I know. Not cool. But I can’t describe the level of pain and trauma that I lived in- year in, year out. People have absolutely no idea the hell I’ve lived through. Not a clue.
After recovering from each breakdown, I got right back in the ring. Moriah will never know the sacrifices I made for her, or how I suffered to simply try and bring her home. We had only shared 8 months together before she was taken, but we had bonded so strongly! We used to play a very sweet game. I’d put her in her car seat parallel from me, in the back, so that I could turn around quickly and randomly (while driving) with a surprised face- eyes and mouth wide open- smiling. She would bust out laughing hysterically every time. It was the cutest thing ever. She was such a sweet baby. And that kid loved to ride in that car! If I had to guess, I’d bet she loves to just get in her car and drive- radio on- wind blowing her hair so she can feel free for a while. How do I know that? Right…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
So back to that day, in the driveway.
I told Davey that all I cared about was Moriah’s happiness. After all, all she knew was that she was in a “good home” with good food, clean clothes, etc. and had her needs met. That’s it. She didn’t know or understand the political sharks who fed upon her monetarily- including the foster parents. Everybody made a lot of money off of her! Thousands per month.
I explained to Davey that if I could speak to Moriah personally, I would ask her what she wanted. I already knew what the answer would be, but I needed to hear it for myself. I respect every person’s autonomy and right to decide for themselves what they want- regardless of their age. The heart knows what the heart wants! Besides, I could’ve been the Easter bunny at that point. She really didn’t know me. And, we had all suffered enough.
Davey blew my mind and actually went in and retrieved Moriah. She brought her out and Moriah was sooooo excited. She was smiling and bouncing and SO happy to see me. Also, she showed off her new tooth she had just lost. I reminded myself that I couldn’t go into deep topics or try to explain what was really going on. I needed to remember that she was clueless about everything- all the political garbage and evil doings of others. She had no idea and I wanted it to be kept that way.
So, I asked her, “Moriah, do you like living here?” And she said, “Yes!” And I said, ‘Do you want to live here forever?” And she again said, “Yes!” As I knew she would. And I asked her the final question, “Do you want to have the last name Harrod like everybody else?” And she again shouted, “Yes!” And it was a done deal.
I told Davey that I would move forward immediately with the adoption process with her. I’d work with her and sign off on any paperwork necessary so she could be adopted. Only then could she live in a truly healthy environment with no games or selfish agendas attached. Davey looked at me and said, “You’ll never know what a gift this is, Birgitta. You are blessing me so much.” And we both cried together.
I told Davey to take good care of Moriah and gave her (Davey) a hug, despite our history. I looked at Moriah and said, “Be good for your Mommy, ok?” To this day, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life- calling another woman “Mommy” for my daughter’s sake. That absolutely crushed me. Whew…..no words. That was my final gift to her.
I got back in the car with my Mom and as soon as I was out of sight, I slid down into the floorboard and just bawled my head off….for hours. I was definitely not ok for a long time after that.
So yeah. Some time back Moriah had a son, Roman. Naturally, I’m not even a memory in anyone’s mind in that loop- not at all. But isn’t that the way the cookie crumbles? Some women would’ve clawed their way in that direction to try and see their only grandson, but I’ve always respected Moriah’s privacy. I’ve never sought her out or tried to explain anything. As a matter of fact, this is the first post that I’ve posted about that situation at all. I’ve exercised incredible restraint to not blast anybody or air out dirty laundry about all of that, etc.
That said, I do reserve the right to be able to tell my own story. And any parent’s story involves their child or children. That doesn’t mean they don’t get to tell their own story though. Everybody has their own truth and their own version of the truth. And everybody has the right to express their own truth. Including me.
So, despite having a grandson, I’ve been like the Virgin Queen- ha. (Or should I say, the Virgin Grandma?) Having a child that you can’t be with is hell. Having a grandchild that you can’t be with or will never know is its own hell too. This is why I’m so excited to share the news that I am now a grandma (again) and will be going to see my new grandson tomorrow for the first time. 🙂 My son, Brian, just had a baby and his name is Matthias Isaac. I’m so proud of him! He’s going to be such a good Dad because he’s a great person. Loving, kind, sensitive, thoughtful, merciful, and freaking brilliant. He is an incredible person, and I’m proud to be his Mom. 🙂
I had no intention of writing all of that. It just sort of spilled out. Perhaps it was just time.
I am Gam Gam and Josh is Pee Paw. 🙂 I’m over the moon with love and joy!
I’ll make another post somewhat soon (ish) and post a few pics of my beautiful grandbaby, who looks so much like his father. Life is so strange and beautiful and dark and scary and bold and bright- all of it. No matter who the story is about or how it’s told, it always comes full circle. That’s the law of Love and Life. ❤
My circle is complete. I used to long for the day when I could cross the river to the other side and simply exhale. The grass certainly isn’t greener on this side. But it sure as hell is a lot prettier. 🙂
To purchase print, click here:
Title: “Crossing Over”
Location: Perrin Park, 10.28.19. Taken early on a cold, foggy, October morning.
Lens: Carl Zeiss jena Flektogon- vintage film lens- imported from Bulgaria
Let’s Talk about Sexual Abuse and “Mental Illness”
There are two words that bother me greatly when I see, hear, or read them. They are: “Mental Illness”. Why does this wildly popular and acceptable term bother me so much? I’ll elaborate.
Quite a few of my friends are “mentally ill” at their own admittance, and those that aren’t, continue to use the phrase easily and without conviction. It’s just what people are known to be that have “mental problems”, right?
But who doesn’t have “mental problems”? Who hasn’t at some point broken down and cried? Who hasn’t felt afflicted spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, financially, health-wise or otherwise? How did it affect you as person? Did you feel defeated? Did you feel like giving up? Did you fret? Worry? Call people? Overeat? Not leave your house for the day? The week? Pace your floors? Cuss? Scream? Throw something? Drink? Drink more? (See where this is going?)
How do we differentiate between a person who is exhibiting (fatigue, duress, insomnia, depression and other) physiological manifestations -very natural responses to his or her sexual abuse or other traumas- combined with their chaotic environments, and a person who is exhibiting these signs when everything is hunky-dory?
One would be classified as appropriate behaviors given the circumstances, and the other would be classified as exhibiting psychological disorders. Both examples describe the same behaviors! But the environmental norms surrounding them separate the two.
If a person has been sexually abused and placed in a normal environment with siblings and other happy folks who have a swell life, there is no way the sexually abused person is going to behave in an expected manner. Who would behave at optimal performance in school, church, family gatherings, etc. after being sexually abused and having to “guard it” like Fort Knox gold? A person who tries to keep it together year after year will eventually break down while trying to process massive amounts of: guilt, anxiety, shame, anger, rage, confusion, blame, self-loathing, envy- the list is very long.
Given the circumstances, it’s actually very normal behavior to exhibit signs of distress, anxiety, anger, OCD-like tendencies, insomnia, night terrors, and other maladaptive behaviors that are associated with trauma. People who have not suffered these traumas do not understand and it is extremely unsettling for them that they do not have answers that they can file away, shelve, and dress up with a tidy bow so that it’s sorted out in their heads.
But there needs to be an understanding in this area that these odd behaviors are very normal for sexual abuse survivors. What wouldn’t be normal is having suffered sexual abuse (especially as a child) and then sailing through life with little or no behavioral quirks. I dislike the word disorder because I challenge anybody to say that surviving sexual abuse is a disorder.
It is a triumph. Sexual abuse is a violation like no other and people give medals to those in wars who have been violated less and call them heroes. Sexual abuse survivors fight in the battlefields of life, and there’s no hero’s welcome. There’s no parade. No medals. We have to be our own heroes and rescue ourselves from the collective trenches of societal stigma and hate bombs that others throw at us and that we throw at ourselves.
Being a sexual abuse survivor is like being locked in a dark, dirty cell and given 5,000 keys: Only one will unlock the door, and you have one hour to find the right one, or you could die! Doom. Doom doom doom! And lots of crying, worry, and fears that you will never find the right key in time.
But again, I reiterate that these horrible feelings are absolutely normal given the circumstances. We need to carefully select the words and labels we assign to people who have suffered such traumas. What if they believe you?!
God forbid I ever believe any labels that have been placed upon me in life. I would be the biggest mess in the world. But I have assigned healthier labels for myself: loving, compassionate, real, honest, valuable, happy. After all, I am the one who has to live with myself and why would I want to live with a pessimist?
The term mental illness came about in the 1800’s after various psychological perspectives disagreed on what actually defined a person to be mentally ill. Some believed that it was evil spirits. Some believed it was “psychogenic”, or psychologically induced, and others believed that it was somatogenic, or “of a biophysiological nature” (that’s a fancy way of saying “relating to your body” rather than your mental processes).
They locked “mentally ill” people up on psych wards and in chains where they were beaten and starved, or placed in a metal contraption that rendered them motionless for hours and days at a time. When the patients in these asylums exhibited paranoia, fear, depression, sleeplessness, excessive anxiety and other abuse-related behaviors (as a direct result of the abuse), their friends and families sadly accepted what the doctors had prescribed them all: mental illness.
Many of these patients were exhibiting very normal responses to being held against their wills and physically and psychologically abused. People were quick to swallow the ideology of “mental illness” because it satisfied their need to classify and understand what was happening to their family member.
In other words, people created the term “mental illness” to be able to better control individuals, societies, groups, and religious wars were often the fuel that kept these controversial fires burning. With the classification of mental illness, the acts of physical and emotional abuse on those who broke society’s norms were not only unpunishable; but sanctioned, approved, and rewarded!
Just as toxic as any sexual abuse is the belief by the victim that he or she is mentally ill, because somebody said so. This is such a powerful weapon of self-destruction, and only the act of sexual abuse itself is stronger.
We need to start tossing out terms like “mental illness”: those two words alone are TOXIC. I will never accept terms like “mental illness” and “psychological disorder”. Those are conceptual words made up by people who do not understand what it is like to live in a world with wild, technicolor vision. How about that?
How about, “I have a family member or friend who has really been through it, but they have still been able to [insert accomplishments here] despite their setbacks.”
It’s all about perception and presentation, and I think we owe one another a sum of decency as to how we present each other.
I wrote this post so that other sexual abuse survivors might gather strength and comfort. Know that there are others who have suffered the same things in life, but refuse to be labeled! You are who and what you believe you are.
You have to believe yourself into something positive, constructive, hopeful– and be fearless in your conquests! Be bold in who you are, and acknowledge that you are a survivor rather than a victim. And when you learn that, teach others that too. Choose positivity rather than negativity.
Those 5,000 keys?
They all open the door.