This week has been, for the most part, a positive one. Instead of hibernating and writing as I’ve been doing, I actually ventured out some and spent time with close friends and our youngest son, Lance. Despite a couple of anxiety-ridden moments when I felt like I was losing all tracking abilities, these outings and conversations went well. (My tracking issues are due to having been stabbed in the head during the murder attempt several years ago.)
Lance and I have had a few great conversations recently. Lance is only 23 years old, but when he gives advice, he is wise beyond his years. Lance had to grow up in a very stressful environment from 8th grade through the end of high school, because during that time my husband Ronnie and I were constantly engaged in court battles with his siblings Amanda and Anthony. We dealt with some false charges that were very serious. The legal battles to clear our names cost us almost $50,000 in lawyers’ fees and other associated expenses.
During the “Hell Years,” as I call that period of our lives, Ronnie and I were constantly in court while trying to maintain employment, a happy household for Lance, and positive relationships with friends. Our friends were a huge support and, ultimately, ended up testifying on our behalf on multiple occasions. To this day, I have no idea how we made it through those five years without losing our minds and ruining our marriage. On many occasions, I was ready to just throw in the towel and surrender. Lance and his love helped get us through.
During the Hell Years, we were fortunate to be able to take Lance away from time to time. He vacationed with Ronnie and me in Hawaii four times as well as in Arizona and Chicago. When we traveled, we always made sure we had friends and/or family join us. Part of the reason we made sure to surround ourselves with friends and/or family was so we would have an alibi in the event Lance’s siblings decided to make yet another false accusation.
Being in the company of those close to us also made our travels happier and took the focus off the reality of our broken, dysfunctional family, if only temporarily. When we would depart Oregon, a weight would lift, and we could relax, have some much-needed fun, and regain our sanity, if only for a few weeks at a time.
What Amanda and Anthony seem not to realize is how much they’ve hurt Lance in their zeal to hurt Ronnie and me. Although Lance survived those difficult years and has grown into a wonderful young man, the experience caused him to have trust issues in his relationships with others.
The other day Lance and I had a very emotional conversation in which we recounted those Hell Years. Lance said something that Ronnie and I have been saying for a long time: If you don’t care for someone, why don’t you just leave that person alone?
Both Amanda and Anthony will go to any length to try and destroy someone they don’t like; it becomes an obsession.
Ronnie and I have four 3-inch binders filled with legal documents and emails that define the Hell Year. When we received Anthony’s recent death threat against me (see my Nov. 1, 2012 post, Death Threat), I pulled out those binders to show the police officer who came to our home to check on my safety. The officer just shook his head. He was shocked that all those cases involved our kids and the damage they’ve attempted to do to our lives.
Lance was very angry with his brother for the death threat. Lance now realizes how little his brother cares not only for Ronnie and me but also for Lance. He said he could not believe his brother had done that on Lance’s first day back to work after the pipe bomb robbery at the bank where he works. Then, just three weeks and one day after the pipe-bomb robbery, the bank where Lance works was robbed at gunpoint.
Recently, Lance has become very worried about me. The other day, he hugged me and said, “Mom, I don’t know what I would do without you.”
Lance expressed his concerns for my health and peace of mind as I age and after all the challenges I’ve overcome. “God has a plan for you, Mom,” he said. “You are a survivor of so much abuse.” Then, he told me how much he loved and adored me.
The holidays are always difficult for us, as all our family lives out of state. Usually, we reach out to one or both of Lance’s siblings who have betrayed our family, forgive them, embrace them, and invite them to join our holiday festivities. Those festivities always include close friends, as well. This year, we’ve decided to celebrate the holidays with just the three of us, Ronnie, Lance, and me. No one can shatter the strong bond and deep love we have for one another, perhaps due, in part, to all the trials and heartaches we have gone through together.
This Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for Lance and Ronnie and all the wonderful friends who have stood by our side under the most bizarre of situations and kept our spirit and love alive.
Wishing you a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving!