The last two years of my life have not gone well at all. The events of January 15th were the cherry on the whipped cream; a black-spoiled- rotten cherry.

It all started when we bought a new house. The house wasn't completed in time so our family of 5 was displaced and separated for about three months. When the house was completed and we finally moved in, two weeks later my husband lost his job and two days later I lost my job. I'm surprised I didn't go into labor from the stress of it all. I was 9 months along and she was going to be taken by C-section in less than two weeks since she was breach. The C-section was.an experience. It's really weird having someone cut into you and you can't feel a thing. When they were taking baby girl out, one of the doctors had to lean heavily on my rib cage and push her head as another doctor was pulling her out by her butt. If he pushed much harder, I swear my lungs would have exploded. I definitely preferred the 'natural way' which I experienced with my first natural born child. We have to other older children by adoption.

So, to recap, by May of 2002, we had four children; a newborn girl, an 18 month old boy, a 15 year old boy, and a 17 year old boy and no income. Hubby eventually sucked up his pride and applied for unemployment, since I didn't qualify. This, at least, kept us fed.

We seemed to be coming together in this moment of crisis; that is until I discovered my husband was cheating on me. It wouldn't have been so devastating if I didn't believe we were working things out. After I confronted him, he told me I should "thank" his girlfriend, because if it weren't for her, he would have left me. Still, determined to keep this family together, I stayed. We started communicated more. Actually, I started letting him know more of what I was feeling. Never wanting to cause an argument or hurt anyone's feelings I always tended to not say anything confrontational. Giving voice to my thoughts and feeling was a big step for me. Not big enough, apparently, since three months later the tell-tale signs of a burgeoning affair were surfacing. I tried to stop it in the lamest way possible; I and my husband went on a double date with his mistress and her husband. We actually hit it off; me and his mistress, and I thought since she liked me, she wouldn't do anything to hurt me. Turns out women are not the most loyal beasts either.

One night late in September of 2003, Hubby got drunk (not unusual), I tried to keep the keys from him (which was unusual), and he forcibly took the keys from me by grabbing my hand, wrenching my arm behind my back and shoving me up against the rocking chair. I kept my grasp on the keys as long as I could, but fearing my arm and hand were about to break, I let go. He held me there for about 30 second more and gave me an extra little shove for good measure before letting go and storming out. I stared at the phone and then picked it up, but couldn't will myself to dial the number to the local police department. He called about 6 a.m. asking me to come get him. His car had a flat. From the location he gave me, I could tell he had been on his way to his girlfriend's house. Asshole. I guess I wasn't much better since I was, once again, going to bail him out - so to speak. So, I put the baby monitor in my oldest son's room and asked him to take care of the little ones should they wake up. When I got there, the back windshield was smashed out, both the rear passenger and driver side doors were dented and the front passenger side tire was flat and tilted slightly in. He was passed out in the front seat with blood on his face and hands. Thankfully, he didn't run into another car and kill someone. The next evening I told him I was going to see an attorney, but I wanted to know if I should talk to him about a legal separation or divorce. He looked at me dead-pan and said, "That depends. Are you ever going to change?" I filed for divorce on September 29th.

After he moved out, he didn't help me out with making the house payments as he said he would, so the house went into foreclosure. I talked to my older boys about this extensively. Letting them know the divorce wasn't their fault and explaining to them, without laying any blame, that we were going to have to move, probably in February, but I had to find a place in one of the neighboring cities because apartments were less expensive there. The oldest boy, now 19, would be allowed to finish his senior at high school he was in even though we were moving out of the city and the 2nd oldest, now 17, would be staying with his father so he could stay in the same school for the remainder of the year. The 17 year old was, unfortunately, still a freshman. He was also on probation for a possession charge and would soon be going to court mandated boot camp. I tried everything to help him, show him I love him as well as let him know that rules applied to him just as much as they did everybody else. He flat out told me one day he didn't care about the consequences of his actions because he know that eventually those consequences will go away and he'll get to do what wants again until he gets caught. I must admit, I did not know how to respond to that statement.

In the first week of January of 2004, I gave the boys a punishment for having a party at the house when I had went to Pennsylvania to visit my mom and sister (the 17 year old couldn't go because of his probation and the 19 year old had other obligations). Really, it wasn't so much that they had a party, since I was sure they would, but that they didn't even try to get rid of the evidence. There was a keg and seven empty cases of beer in the garage and there was dried puke in the Spot-lifter that someone had attempted to clean up. To me this was a total showing of disrespect, not to mention, a slap in the face.

On the morning of the 15th, around 11 a.m., one of my neighbors came to me asking if the 17 year old could stay with him and his wife since he told them he didn't want to go live with his dad. I told this well intentioned, but obviously ignorant neighbor, no thanks and that I would talk with my son and we would work something out. That evening, around 5 p.m., when the 17 year old came home, he began to collect his things and leave and informed me his was moving in with the neighbor. I followed him out with the little one in tow and informed the neighbor, again, that I didn't agree to this and he said, "I know, but what are you going to do about it?"

He had me there, because in the Great State of Texas, a 17 year old is considered an adult and even though the local police would have taken a runaway report, they couldn't force him to come home. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. The neighbor goes on to say, "This is what they really want, Diana."
"They?" I asked with much irritation and confusion in my voice.
"Yes, Kenny and Darrell."
"Oh." Was I could manage to blurt out. It felt like a sledgehammer had slammed into my chest and I just stood there staring at Kenny for awhile. I had almost expected this from him, but not Darrell. I knew Darrell would be graduating soon and leaving for college and I was prepared for him to leave home in that way. But, not like this. This is not the way he was supposed to leave home. And he didn't even have the decency to tell me himself. I had to hear it from a neighbor.

The neighbor broke me out of my stupor by asking, "Diana, are you okay?", as if the interfering jerk really cared.

"I'm fine." was my clipped reply as I called for the 3 year old and, still holding the hand of the 18 month old, walked back to the house.

Darrell came home about an hour later and tried to act as if nothing was wrong. Then, after I corned him, he tried to say he was doing this for me because he saw I was going through a rough time. I cut him off though and told him to "just leave", but I regrouped, and when he came downstairs from getting his clothes, I gave him a hug and we said "I love you" to each other. He left and all I could do was watch him go.

Two weeks later, me and the little ones moved from that 5 bedroom house to a 3 bedroom apartment and the only time I got to talk to the older two before moving is when I happened to be taking the trash out at the same time they were.

It really sucks wearing your heart on your sleeve. Especially when the material that sleeve belongs to is white and someone just trampled all over it with muddy shoes. Because you know in order to get that stain out you're going to have to wash it in hot water and although you know it's going to be hot, nothing can quite prepare you for the searing pain. Next you have to add bleach, which stings your eyes, making them water, and burns your lungs, causing shortness of breath. After that comes the rinse and spin cycle, making you dizzy and disoriented. Eventually, the world stops spinning and even though you see that the stain is gone, you still have the feeling of being trampled on. Looking at it more closely, I see the stain is still there. You know, I think it's time I take this strait- jacket back to the novelty shop and start adding a little more color to my life.