Bothersome Dreams

Last night I had an awful dream! I woke up with a start and couldn’t stop crying. Even when I got up and walked to the kitchen to get a drink of water to shake the sleep, I started crying again when my son asked me what the dream was about.

My husband and I were in the truck in the front yard like we had just gotten home from somewhere. Suddenly several cars came up the driveway and stopped in front of the house, people started getting out, rushing to the house looking around. When we got out of the truck, a woman turned to me and asked who I was. I answered and she gave a look. It was a bounty hunter, like you see on tv shows, with the police. She wanted to ask me a few questions and I asked them all in so the boys wouldn’t be worried about what was happening and come out of the house.

I sat across our dinner table answering questions. My husband and our sons were in the living room with the police. I was worried that they were scared. I knew my husband would be very anxious. I couldn’t believe this was happening again. I wanted to not answer any of their questions. I knew I shouldn’t. I knew I should ask if they were detaining me, if I was under arrest, but I was terrified to my bones of going to jail and I kept thinking I could possibly clear this up by talking to them.

They asked me if I knew what this (an old video tape cassette) was, what my favorite food was, and where I had just come from. Every time I answered she would look at the others as if to say, “See! This is totally the person we are looking for!” I knew I should stop talking and let them arrest me if they wanted to. It was obviously what they were there for. But I couldn’t figure out how to say it without looking more guilty. That’s when I woke up crying sobbing.

I can’t believe this still bothers me so much. Writing my story is what is bringing it to the front of my mind. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing it. Why not just leave it buried and forgotten? But then I think about how many people this could happen to, how many people it has happened to, and how many people are sitting in jail right now for crimes they did not commit but didn’t have the lawyer I had to get out of the box they put me in. And I think of all the people that believe they are innocent of any wrong doing, so it can’t happen to them. The blade of “justice” hangs over all of us, whether we know it or not. Maybe if more of us knew what could happen, we’d be more careful about giving up our rights. That’s what my dream was about. I know my rights. I know what I should do. But will I have the strength to exercise them, to do what I should do, if the time ever comes again? Will my children? My husband?

And then I think there are probably so few people that will believe me, or take me seriously. I doubt that most of my family and friends, those who know me best, even take my warning experience to heart. What is the point of reliving this in my mind and sharing it?

My 24-year-old Self

“What would I tell my 24-year-old self?” That is the question I found close to the end of my “Entrusted” online bible study with Beth Moore. She said she’d tell herself nothing, not because she wouldn’t listen anyway (which was my thought) but because the journey was worth not knowing. Does the journey make the destination that much sweeter?

Would I be the 44-year-old person I am today if I had not lived and learned through the 24-year-old self I was? I don’t think so. I think if I hadn’t lived the way I did, learned from it, changed through it, and moved on, I would be an entirely different person now. I like who I am now. The only thing I would wish for myself is that it hadn’t taken so long, that I hadn’t hurt so many people through the process.

My journals stopped in late 1992, the year I turned 20. I have pictures from that time but they start to be less and less frequent until 1998. Six years. From the year my Mom moved to another state and I was left here, living with a boyfriend until the year I met my husband, and my friends helped me move to my own place. Wow. Such a dark time. I vaguely remembered it until I paged through some pictures and wrote down the events on a time line.

I had met someone, whose name will not be mentioned. He is the only person I actually got rid of any pictures of. I have had loads of boyfriends and they are still friends. I have pictures of them in my albums. I still talk to most of them on Facebook. There is one (maybe two) that I really hurt back then and they have disappeared, but this one had such an ugly effect on my life during those years that I still don’t want to be reminded of it. He took up four years of my life. For four years I must have been one of the most miserable people on earth. I sometimes wonder if anyone around me really knew what was happening. I know a couple did and tried to help, but we were all so young and wrapped up in our own dramas, there was little anyone could do if I wasn’t willing to help myself. I can’t relive those times and write about it, even now, but I wanted to give you the feeling of it in the context of those times as I think of what I would tell my 24-year-old self.

“You are worth so much more than this. Here’s a book about Jesus, a journal, $200 to get started on a journey, and my phone number if you want to talk. You are not trapped or held by anything but your own mind.”

Two things changed my life in 1998. The first was getting the job I had dreamed of for six years. I had a decent income and new friends. The second was that I saw my future husband from the back of a pickup truck at that job. He was standing outside the lunch room, we locked eyes when we saw each other again, just like in the movies. It had been six years since we had seen each other and I had disappeared without a trace. Something began to happen at that moment. That’s when I began to have confidence in myself as a human being.

It didn’t happen all at once. It took years to recover. Only now do I see how far I’ve come. And then that question, “What would you tell your 24-year-old self?” I think I agree with Beth Moore. I wouldn’t tell her a thing. I’d just love her right where she was, knowing she would survive and what she’d become.

Knock at the Door

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

A knock on the door? How long have I been asleep? I look at the clock. It’s nearly 7 am. The dog is barking like crazy. She hates it when people are on the front porch, even if it’s just us; a knock on the door and she goes bonkers. She’s a small dog, only about two feet tall at her shoulders. She looks like a miniature German Shepherd. The knocking gets louder and more insistent. I put my pillow over my head. Irritating people. I hear my husband’s heavy, deliberate step toward the door and the lock unbolting.

Male voices. I can’t hear exactly what they are saying but they are serious. “Hold the dog, sir.” My husband, “Ok. I’ve got her. She doesn’t bite.” Seconds of talking and big, hurried footsteps on the stairs. Now I’m curious. I sit up in bed to watch two men with guns drawn walk into my room. The guns are pointed at me. “Don’t move.” I don’t see uniforms, only yellow writing on black bullet proof vests. I can see the velcro straps sticking out. There is enough light to see clearly by, but the room is still shadowed by the big avocado tree outside. I hear “Don’t move.” again. “Ok.”

I’m sitting up in bed confused but not scared. The first man to enter the room holds his gun on me, while the second walks past him. He swiftly walks through my room and into the small dormer room at the front of the house, my step-daughter’s bedroom, gun drawn. A second passes. “Clear.” He comes out. There is a third man on the landing. “Single female. Second story clear.” I hear the radio cackle, two or three other voices say “clear”, and then one minute later an “all clear.” The man looks at me. “Maam. Come with me.” “Can I put some pants on first?”, I soberly ask. He speaks down the stairs. “We need a female officer up here.” Two seconds later, she arrives and the men head back down the stairs.

The female officer says nothing but “Go ahead and get dressed.” I quietly grab my sweatpants from the floor and put them on. “Come with me, please.” She follows me down the stairs and has me sit on the bottom step. “Wait here.” I hear my boys talking quietly with their Dad in the next room.

Sitting on the lower landing of our staircase, looking at the downstairs bathroom door, the light is on. My step-daughter must have been just about ready to leave for school. It’s 7 am. She’d be leaving about now. I hear her questioning voice with my mother-in-law’s in her living room on the other side of the bathroom. To my left is our front door. It’s open. There is a man on the front porch and one in the doorway to the living room with my husband and sons. Why are we all separate? I hear lots of people walking and talking, looking for things? Who are they looking for? “This neighborhood is getting ridiculous.”, I think. “I bet this is really about our next door neighbors.” Strange people moved in a year ago and they have different people in and out of the house all day. They are going to be so embarrassed when they realize they have the wrong house.

The officers continued to search the house while we sat there. Once the house was thoroughly searched for people, they began to interview the adults. They asked my mother-in-law to speak with them and I heard the door shut. I hear my sons asking their Dad if they can get up, they need a drink. Even in the serious air of the situation, little boys just aren’t able to sit quiet and still for very long. A few minutes later, she came out and they asked my husband back. Grandma came over and sat with the kids. I hear my step-daughter talking about getting to school. When my husband returns, I hear my mother-in-law ask if she can leave to take my step-daughter to school.

About twenty minutes passed when a man in a suit came to me at the stairs and asked me to come with him. He escorts me to the back of the house. We pass by my family. They look worried. I see my sons’ toy guns laid out on a cabinet near the officers in the room. The boys jump up. “Mommy!” Dad holds them close to him. “Stay with me. Mommy has to talk to the policeman.” “Are they looking for bad guys, Dad?”, I hear my older son say. “My gun.”, my youngest babbles, pointing to his toys. “My In Jone!” He’s two and believes he is Indiana Jones. He takes it very seriously.

I walk into the room and he asks me to sit on the couch. The officer sits down in the chair across from me. He’s pleasant and polite, not rushed, not angry or gruff. “Do you know why we are here, Mrs. Huelle?” Confused I answer, “No.” “Are you sure about that?”, he says. I’m actually in shock that this is happening at our house. I feel like we’re in a TV show. It’s all happening just like “Law & Order.” and I say so. He introduces himself as Detective Austin. He says he’s looking for a robbery suspect. They have a warrant to search the house. I just look at him. I honestly didn’t react at all. I just sat there staring. I’d never had cops in my house. He looks unfazed. “If you really have no idea why we’re here, I’m sure this is a bit shocking. I have some questions if you don’t mind. Maybe we can clear this up.” I shake my head, “I’m willing to answer anything. I hope I can help.”

The interview continued for several minutes. He told me the robbery happened at a mall in the next town. “I know that mall. I used to work there when I was in high school.” “Can you tell me where you were on this night?” He asks. “I’m not sure. I’d have to look at my calendar. I keep notes about our schedule there.” I explained that I sometimes worked different nights at Disneyland, I had a bible study on Wednesday nights, and that I usually stayed home in the evenings other than that. I’m a nervous out at night alone. It’s not the best of neighborhoods. And I’d rather be at home with my husband when he comes home from work. “After the robbery, the perpetrator went to a nearby restaurant. Have you been there?” “Yes. It’s right by the mall. We had my Grandfather’s birthday dinner there about three years ago.”

The interview continued for a few more minutes. He asked me about a safe in the house, whether I knew how to open it. It was my husbands. He’d had it before we met and I know he told me the combination was somebody’s birthday but I couldn’t remember who. He asked if I’d ever fired a gun. At first, I said no, but then remembered we went shooting a couple times with my step-dad when we were kids. He also asked weirder questions like where I kept my clothes. I’ve never been much into fashion. I had t-shirts and tennis shoes, jeans and sweatpants. It’d be hard to tell between my dresser drawer and my husbands other than underwear. I think I own a dress somewhere and a couple nice shirts for special occasions. It was such a strange interview. There was never a time when I felt uncomfortable or uneasy. He seemed honest and sympathetic. I answered all his questions honestly and completely, offering additional information as I thought of it. I wanted to help catch this person, too!

At the end of the interview, the detective told me that I had been picked out of a line-up by two different people as the person that had robbed a woman in a parking lot, attempted to steal a car at gun point, and then used a stolen credit card to buy dinner and drinks, tipping extravagantly. “You’re under arrest. We’ll go out the back door to a car. We won’t handcuff you in front of your children.” I just sat there in complete shock. I felt nothing. No tears, no anxiety, nothing. He asked me to walk out back with a couple of police officers. I numbly complied and said nothing as they put handcuffs on me, read me my rights (now that they were arresting me), and put me in an unmarked car.

I wasn’t exactly worried. Shocked, confused how this could happen, strangely intrigued by the event, that’s the best I can describe it. I’ll admit my high dose anti-anxiety medication probably helped a lot. I just kept thinking it was interesting and that it would all be cleared up as soon as they figured out who I was, that I couldn’t possibly be the person they were looking for. This was not how I thought my day would go at all.

Driven to Distraction

Daily writing takes focus. I’m easily distracted by the things going on around me and I find myself pulled in several directions each day. If I set a time to sit and write in the morning before the housework gets done, I find myself thinking about all the things that need to be done next. If I set a time to it in the afternoon, after the house work is done, I find that I’m too tired to think or I find myself sitting down just before I need to get up and get dinner ready. I can’t just write in ten-minute sprints, no better than I can read a novel in ten-minute sprints. And I really want to write daily, not once or twice a week.

I find myself distracted by my newsfeeds. Looking thru social media, reading friends’ posts, watching funny videos, playing a game, they are all fun things to do and I do them…maybe…a little too often. They occupy my mind and if I’m bored, sometimes that’s the best thing I can do. I only have a few minutes before I have to be doing something else or there are too many distractions (people talking, etc.) to read or write. But when I spend too much time doing this, the next time I sit down to write, I find myself just staring into space with nothing coming to mind.

I need quiet to generate ideas, to think. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, folding laundry, without music or podcasts playing, my mind wanders in and out of memories and ideas. I suddenly have to sit down and get a few sentences out to remind me where I went. Later, when I have an hour to sit quietly and focus, I reread and retell. I can put in a few better words, expand on it. Reread. Rewrite. Then have my boys read it for errors or run it through Grammarly if they aren’t available.

I’m struggling with time management. Who doesn’t? I have housework, grocery shopping, and sewing projects to get to. And I do still have kids to care for, even though they look like adults. Teens are a strange thing, a cross between grown-up independence and childish needs. I want to be there for them if they need me and it can mess up my well-planned schedule. They are like the baby birds I see around the house. They look like adults but they still follow mom around screaming for food. Eventually, they’ll fly off for good and I’ll rarely see them. I’m trying to savor this time. And then there are weekends when my husband isn’t working like he does on weekdays. Does he want to do something with the family or work on his projects? Sometimes I feel like I’m in a giant game of Tetris! It’s an interesting position. The good part is that I know it will all change again soon and I’ll have a new set of obstacles. I just keep rearranging the plan and seeing what works this week. Speaking of the plan, I’m off to look at next weeks agenda!

 

Morning

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

I could hear the boys stirring in their room and my step-daughter’s alarm ringing. I pretended I could sleep a while longer, lying in bed, snuggled down in my blankets. My husband was already up making coffee and getting ready for work. I could hear him downstairs in the kitchen. It was an old house and every move anyone made anywhere echoed quiet creaks through the wood slats and plaster. My boys came running in to crawl in bed with me as per their usual routine. It was 5:30 am and still dark. Sometimes I could get them to settle down with me and go back to sleep but not today. The giggling and poking each other had already begun and my older son wanted his “coffee” which he would not accept from his Dad. Kids. I swung my legs out of bed in an exaggerated manner and threw on some sweat pants to follow them down the stairs. They ran ahead chattering back and forth with each other, my older son with his mouse tucked under his chin and my younger with the corner of his blankie in his mouth. I warned them to be careful as they headed to the top of the stairs. My step-daughter passed us with a grumbly morning “Hi” as she headed for the bathroom, the first step toward getting ready for school.

In the kitchen I found my husband getting some coffee and offering me a cup. I took it and smiled. One spoon of sugar already in the cup and a spoon to cool it. He loves me. My older son clamored to the fridge and lugged out the gallon of milk. I took it from his small hands and poured them both a cup of milk over chocolate syrup, twisted the sippy lid on, and shook it vigorously. Little hands reached up for their favorite morning ritual.

Walking back to the living room I heard my mother-in-law’s TV in the next room. She was up early. Maybe she was planning on doing the school run today instead of Dad? He usually dropped her off at school and then drove to work but sometimes she would do it for him if he had an early meeting. One of the perks of having an extra adult in the house. Getting our younger two up and out the door to the car just to drive their sister 40 minutes to school and head home wasn’t fun. It could be done, but no one wanted to if it could be avoided.

I was tired and not feeling well. I hadn’t slept well due to a sore throat and itchy ears, a good spring cold in the making. I told my husband and asked how his daughter was getting to school. He was planning on taking her. I opened the door to Mom’s living room and asked if she could look after the boys so I could go back to bed for a bit. She cheerfully agreed. The boys were tucked onto the couch, chocolate “coffee” in hand, watching cartoons. I kissed them both and headed back upstairs to my bed, passing dear daughter on her way down to the living room for breakfast. I climbed back in my bed, sweatpants and all, and went right back to sleep.

To read the next chapter, click HERE.

 

Find Your Road

20170802_080822Sometimes when I finish one of the “Great Books” and look to the reading list for the next one, I am sorely disappointed and do not look forward to reading it. “Elementals of Chemistry” by Lavoisier was one of those books! Chemistry?! Oh, this will be a fun and exciting read! I was happily surprised at its content, though!

French. 1780’s. Science. I can’t imagine a worse subject for me. I looked up the Wikipedia article on him and found out he’d been beheaded during the “Reign of Terror”. Interesting. Then I began to read. It wasn’t difficult and I enjoyed the subject. I even learned a few things about acids and air. Why can’t all science text books read like this?

And here was my favorite line in the reading (the assignment was only the first fifty-two pages), “…in chemistry as in moral philosophy, it is extremely difficult to overcome prejudices imbibed in early education and to search for truth in any other road than the one we have been accustomed to follow.” Ain’t that the truth?! If only we could see that we all tend to do this, we’d have an easier time finding a new road to travel, wouldn’t we?

Since everything I read tends to remind me of God or Home Education, I’ll go down that road with this text as well. This time I will choose Home Education. Looking back, I believe I’ve given my children the best chance at being open to any road ahead of them because we did not attend any formal school in what I consider their childhood. They were educated in that we helped them learn to read, write, and cipher when they wanted to. We introduced them to the world around them but they were not “schooled” so that they followed a particular road. Now that they are in their teens they are looking out into the world and finding the best road for their needs. My hope is that they will be just as comfortable changing roads once they are out there, and will see that the road they are currently on doesn’t lead to the destination they now have.

It’s like this. I feel that so many people I talk to are stuck on the same road they were set on in their early years because they cannot see another way no matter how hard the look at the map. They see others heading to better destinations or happier in their travels, but instead of changing the road, they change their vehicle or how they drive it. They try the shoulder of the same road, get a bigger or nicer car, or try walking instead but they cannot see they could just change roads altogether.

It makes me sad sometimes, especially when I see someone so unhappy on the road they are traveling. All I want to do is pick them up and put them on my road or any other road, just so they can see there are others. I know it wouldn’t help them. Everyone needs to come to the realization that there are so many choices out there on their own and that we should be constantly changing to meet our current needs, not blindly pursuing the goals put on us by someone else. And many people never will.

Go To Sleep!

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

Sometimes looking back through old calendars and journals, I get sad. I’m doing it because I’m trying to better remember the week before I was arrested so that I can write about our life up to that point. Memories are fuzzy, but journals…well, they leave the cold details of the dark place I was entering at the time right out there for anyone to find. I want to burn them so no one can see. But I also want this story to get out there, all of it, so I trudge through and then try to write it out so that it looks happier than it does on paper. So much drama in my heart and on my mind. I’m not sure I want to remember and share it.

I was in the thick of the toddler years of defiance. My boys were becoming their own persons and making sure that I knew it at every step. On top of that, they had totally different personalities.

My older son was 3½ years old, strong willed and full of questions, testing everything he could find around him, curious about the world around him. He was inquisitive, happy, talkative, and always wanting to try things.

My younger son had just turned two. Although he had few words, he knew what he wanted and always seemed to be thinking about something. What everyone around him was doing was of no interest usually, unless it was his Dad. He always wanted to know what Dad was doing.

My journals are filled with what we did each day and grumblings about them not listening to me, or that they wouldn’t go to sleep, worries about Nikki, and my family. I had been taking anti-anxiety medication for about a year and wanted to come off of it. It dulled all my senses, made me sleepy and added even more pounds than my birth control pills. I still wasn’t really happy while taking them but at least I wasn’t angry anymore. There was this nagging feeling that I really didn’t need them. I just needed to catch up on sleep and then I’d be able to control my emotions again. I had tried coming off of them, fell into an angry depression, and then reluctantly started taking them again hoping I hadn’t done too much damage to the relationships with my husband and children. There was much more work to do before I could come off those drugs. I needed help. I didn’t feel therapy was working. Feeling like I belonged at church helped more, and it was free.

I didn’t like the person I was. I felt like I was just getting along. I had friends and activities but no goals, not vision of the future. In hindsight, I wish I had realized at the time that I was and should have been focused on raising my children. I kept going backwards in my mind, wondering what I was doing and where I was going. I was being a Mom of small children. I fully enjoyed being just Mom, why couldn’t I see that and relax into it? My children seemed to be happy…unless they were going to bed, which was when I had the most time to write in my journal. I did it to distract myself from the antics going on around me. I refused to let them cry themselves to sleep and they refused to go to sleep without me. So there I sat with my journal and my bible, trying not to let myself get angry at the two little ones unwillingly ending their day.

Evenings went something like this. After dinner, we’d begin our “routine”. We’d say goodnight to Dad, sister, and Grandma. We’d enthusiastically climb up the stairs to pick out books to read. One for each boy. And one for me, usually a longer book that I wanted to share with the boys. We’d brush our teeth and get into our PJ’s, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, and snuggle down on the bottom bunk together. There was usually one boy on each side of me, kind of picaresque like. We’d read “Where The Wild Things Are” and “Curious George” for the hundredth time, mimicking the characters and acting out scenes. Jake would “read” the book himself, turning pages and telling us what each person said in his tiny baby words. Once those books were read, the boys would get into bed, one at each end of the bottom bunk. Neither one wanted to sleep on the top. It was too scary! We’d dismantle the bunk beds soon and never put them up again. They only used it as a jungle gym and it was just a matter of time before one of them got seriously hurt anyway. I’d sit in my rocking chair (the one my Grandma had and gave to me when I got my first apartment on my own), open the book I’d chosen and start to read. They loved any book I’d read out loud, mostly because it let them stay awake that much longer. We read things like “Little House on the Prairie”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and “Pinocchio”. Sometimes I’d have to stop reading to fix a blanket or separate little feet from kicking. I’d read a chapter, close the book, and then the antics began.

I could feel my temper start to rise every night. One wanted the window open, one wanted it closed. One wanted to talk and wiggle himself to sleep and the other needed complete silence to settle down. We tried going to bed one at a time and it failed miserably. They didn’t like to be separated either. I wish I’d had more patience back then. I wish I had just taken a deep breath and let it go, but as I sat there writing a bit in my journal and trying to read the bible passage in my devotional, I wondered if they’d ever go to sleep. Many nights I just gave up and laid down on the floor next to them or in bed with them and went to sleep, only to wake up a while later and crawl into bed with my husband. I desperately wanted a whole nights sleep in one bed. I really didn’t get that until years later. Looking back, I’m glad we slept this way. It was crazy, but it became a routine that worked out well for all of us. I laugh thinking about sitting there in my rocking chair. My memory tells me that I was frustrated from time to time but generally peaceful about it. My journals show a different picture!

To read the next chapter, click HERE.