We have almost made it through the school year, but it’s not over yet. Apparently, my 15 year-old-son, Marc, (who has good grades and is passing) feels that it’s okay for him not to attend the last week and a half of school. Judge me here, if you dare… but I was stripped of my parental authority long ago, during my marriage. If you have never been there, you won’t be able to comprehend my predicament. If you have been there, then you know that I have a better chance of winning Powerball than I have of gaining my parental authority back.

To add fuel to the fire, Marc is pushing 6 feet tall and is almost 200 pounds, mostly muscle. Gone are the days of, “Get in the car, you’re going to school!”

Plus, parenting children of domestic violence is completely different from parenting by the standard of the hundreds of parenting books I own. Offering consequences like, “You’re grounded!” just doesn’t work. Saying, “I’ll take away your Xbox! leaves you up until two in the morning while your child flips the entire house looking for it.

Image result for images of a flipped house

What I have learned is taking away tangible things like an Xbox doesn’t work, but something that is intangible, like a sleep-over or the possibility of a trip to movies, works. What can I say? You’d never understand it unless you had lived it. If you have, I’m with you! If I ever get through this and figure it all out, I certainly will write a best-selling parenting book for children of domestic violence. For now, I take it day by day and do everything humanly possible to help my kids. (But I am taking notes.)

This week included a truancy meeting in the town of Bridgeport to get some support and guidance for myself and my strong-willed son.

I met with a lovely woman named Joanne, who not only recorded our session, but documented it, as she asked a lot of questions.

I’m an open person. She asked me about the counseling that we’ve had. I recounted the seven years of counseling for my children, all of the school assessments and explained what we all had to go through when I left my ex-husband, and as well, the aftermath.

I told her I attended counseling at the Woman’s Commission for Victims of Domestic Violence, in Charlotte North Carolina. Although I talked in circles at the time, and I couldn’t express a clear thought, it was then that I picked up a yellow legal pad and began writing.

I had no idea why, and I didn’t think that I had anything of value to say, until I showed it to my counselor and she said, “This is great! Can we use this?”

I said, “Sure, if it can help someone.” I had no idea where that was going to lead me.

We talked about Marc, all of his troubles and all of his strong, independent and humorous qualities. (He has many!)

I told her stories you wouldn’t believe, but ones I may reveal in my memoir, “Sometimes You Have To Run In Bare Feet.”

(Stay Tuned!)

I told her how my ex-husband was staying overnight in my basement (unbeknownst to me) and how Marc ran off to the Bronx and the police issued a Silver Alert.

She was interested in my son, my life and my writing.

She was surprised when I said that my notes on a yellow legal pad snowballed into me writing for five domestic violence organizations in North Carolina and the Charlotte Court System.

When I returned to Connecticut, I gave speeches and wrote for the Center For Family Justice and was appointed for six months to the Restraining Order Task Force for The General Assembly to try to change Connecticut’s current restraining order laws.

I looked across the desk at Joanne, (her head in her hands) and said, “You must be exhausted just listening to me.”

To which she replied, “No, You are inspiring! I’m going to figure out what we can do to help.”

I left her, feeling hopeful and better than I had been in a long time.

It feels good to be heard and not to be judged.

It feels good to be validated and to be offered some help.

And, it feels good to know how I have dealt with difficult times and challenging circumstances, can be met with a comment like, “You are inspiring!”

Thank you, Joanne. I think  you gave me the energy to keep going, and not give up hope my child will turn out okay, no matter how difficult it is right now.

I’m glad I inspired you.

Thank you for inspiring me.

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed










17 thoughts on “Oh Joy, How do I fix this?

  1. Erin, you ARE inspiring. Wow, I had no idea you had gone through all of that, along with your kids, too. I have no idea what it must have been like, but it must have been hell. I can only tell you that I’m here for you anytime you like. I can listen, I can be a sounding board if you are looking to vent, I can ask questions that might help you organize your notes. Whatever it is, just let me know. You were kind enough to offer me support, let me do the same for you. Sending hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a series of poems on my blog that describe a lot of what I went through and how I was feeling at the time if you want the whole picture. Two of which are signature poems for domestic violence organizations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will definitely check them out. They will probably make me very angry. I have a very hard time thinking about the abuse some women, and men go through. I just can’t stand the idea of kids or pets being hurt. Anyone who hurts a child is sick beyond words.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wasn’t physically abused, but in my opinion, mental, emotional and financial abuse is just as bad. Either way it’s all about power and control. There are poems that are very positive and inspiring. In one poem, “In Her Shoes” I speak on behalf of all women and all kinds of abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So true! Okay, here are two of my poems that shouldn’t make you angry…

        Petals of Progress

        You are a work in progress.
        You are not what you have
        been told you are.
        You are not the total sum
        of all of your bad experiences,
        or even your mistakes.

        Like a dormant seed,
        All you are,
        All you’ve been through,
        All the uncertainty,
        You’ve buried deep in your soul,
        is waiting until the climate is right.

        You are exactly
        where you need to be.
        And all your fears,
        And all your pain,
        All your doubts,
        And all your sorrow,
        are the barren seeds,
        that slowly take root.

        Out of your pain,
        grows the strength of the stem.
        Your fears produce the bud
        which surrounds you with
        new found confidence.
        Your every doubt,
        And every sorrow,
        unfolds from the bud
        developing into
        fresh new petals of
        love, creativity, joy and hope.

        Through strife
        grows your
        inner most beauty,
        which produces
        your greatest potential.

        Like a flower
        blossoms in Spring,
        You flourish into
        more than you ever

        dreamed you could be
        APRIL 9, 2017
        Abusive MarriageBlogDomestic ViolenceParentingRecoverySelf-Esteem

        In Spite of All the Rain

        I left an abusive marriage.
        I’m strong and I’m free.
        Have to get on with my life,
        figure out who I’m supposed to be.
        Still I can’t help but notice,
        that something’s not quite working.
        I’m struggling to find myself,
        a midst damage so deep, that it’s still lurking.
        So accustomed to living in turmoil,
        no time to focus on all the things I feel.
        When they begin to surface,
        they are as sharp, as they are real.
        I never would have imagined,
        that what you leave, is also what you take.
        And all the good intention,
        does not a perfect person make.
        I’m well aware of my issues;
        anger, guilt, low self-esteem.
        Slowly, counseling is helping me,
        release my inner scream.
        Deep inside how do I justify,
        all the degrading things that I’ve been told.
        And compensate for so much lost time,
        when I know I’m getting old.
        So much hurt ingrained in me,
        only I can work through the pain.
        By looking for the rainbow,
        in spite of all the rain.
        Stay strong and don’t forget to laugh!

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