Come on Erin, What REALLY Happened With The Silver Alert?

Last night at work I had a friend ask me, “What REALLY happened with the Silver Alert?” (Thank you Michele for inspiring me to finally write about this)

At the time my son, Marc, was missing, my ex-husband was calling me and telling me not to post about our son, Marc, on my Facebook or my blog. After twenty years of being told what I should and could, or could not do, I cowered and complied.

I am not proud that he still has the ability to shut me down.

After the fact, I ended up writing a post on my blog about Marc being missing and how I wanted to lose weight. Probably the worst post I have ever written… nonetheless, I was in a bad head-space and I posted it anyway, not wanting to reveal any details as my ex-husband had instructed.

Marc loves his dad and is very protective of him. No matter what John and I do for Marc, we will never be able to give enough for Marc to accept John and I as a couple.

Fifteen is a tough age. I remember it all too well. I remember feeling that I was as big in stature as most adults… and also feeling that I knew it all and could do anything that adults do.

This combination leads to some pretty bad decision-making on the part of a fifteen year old.

I know it all too well, yet as a parent it doesn’t make it any easier.

Prior to the actual Silver Alert, Marc was making comments for weeks about going to live in New York.

I called my ex-husband.

“Marc is saying that he’s moving to New York.” I stated.

“Don’t worry about it Erin,” He replied, “Marc has no money to get there. He’s just talking. Let it go.”

And, I did.

Until Marc came in my room to borrow my computer and check the train schedule.

I sent a text to his father, who replied, “Don’t worry. He’s just talking shit.”

I knew that Marc didn’t have the money to leave the state, so I just chalked it up as an attempt to get under my skin and I let it go, as my ex had instructed.

I returned from work on a Friday night and Marc was gone. I questioned his brothers who told me that Marc was in New York with his friend Angel who lived in the Bronx.

I was surprised but comforted that they knew where Marc was.

Angel is my Landlord’s nephew. I knew that Marc was safe and I was ready to ride out the latest chapter in parenting a teen who was irreversibly affected by both domestic violence and divorce.

I worked a double on Saturday, feeling a bit out of sorts. I checked with Rocky and Kevin who both told me that Marc would be home on Sunday night and at school Monday morning.

Saturday night I awoke from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. I walked into Marc’s room. I had no idea why I did, but I have become in tune with my sixth sense.

The room was dark and empty. I glanced at the entertainment center and confirmed the reason that I had gotten up in the first place… both his T.V. and PlayStation were gone.

“John!” I yelled, “Marc hocked his T.V. and PlayStation. They’re gone. He’s not coming home.”

I was petrified and full of fear.

I began to cry.

That turned out to be a long night of tears, worry and no sleep.

On Sunday, Marc texted me saying that he was hungry and wanted some food.

“Where are you Marc?” I texted in reply.

“In the Bronx with Angel.” Marc replied, “Can you send me some pizza?”

Part of me felt like not enabling him and letting he deal with the decisions he made. The mother in me couldn’t stand the thought of eating without knowing that my child had been fed.

“Call me.” I texted, “I need the address where you are so I can send the pizza.

My cell phone rang.

“Mom, I’m almost out of minutes. Here’s the address. Please send me something to eat. I’m starving.”

I dialed the number Marc had given to me and placed an order for wings, two pizzas, cinnamon sticks and a bottle of soda, as I listed off what I thought to be the delivery address.

The woman at Domino’s Pizza put me on hold for a ridiculous amount of time.

Finally she returned to the phone.

“Ma’am, the address that you gave me is our address.” She stated, “”Do you still want me to go through with the order?”
“Yes,” I replied. “My son will come and pick it up. I said realizing that Marc must be in walking distance of this Dominos.

“I ordered the food,” I texted Marc when his order had been placed.

“Thank you, Mom. I’m not coming back home.” He said, “I’m almost out of cell phone minutes and I’m going to live with a friend in Manhattan who used to go to my school. His family owns a restaurant and I’m going to wait tables.”

“Marc, you’re fifteen. What do you know about waiting tables?” I yelled, “You have school tomorrow!”

Marc hung up.

Talk about stress.

I should have never listened to my ex… if this kid runs out of phone minutes, I’ve lost him.

“Okay, we’re going to the police station now!” I yelled, as John hurriedly got his shoes on and grabbed his car keys.

Kevin flew into the room.

“Mom, my girlfriend Anna is on the way here to meet the family for the first time! Please don’t involve the police! We have to pick her up at the train station in forty-five minutes… how long is this going to take at the police station?” He pleaded.

“Kevin, your brother is missing! Anna is just going to have to get used to our crazy lives. I have to go, I’m worried about Marc.” I said, as I rushed out  of the front door.

Once at the police station, I realized that I had to pee.

“I’m going to the bathroom.” I told John.

“Okay.” He said, sitting in a chair in the waiting room, settling in for the long haul.

When I returned a few minutes later, another person was at the window, stating their complaint.

“Seriously John, we are supposed to meet Kevin’s girlfriend for the first time. Couldn’t you have taken the next spot in line while I had to pee?” I asked in desperation.

“I didn’t know what you wanted me to do.” John replied.

I sighed and took a seat in a hard chair in front of the vending machines.

The person next up at the window, (Not us of course) rattled off his name, date of birth and street address for all to hear, as we sat in the lobby.

“Did he just say that he lives on the same street as we do?” I whispered to John.

“Yes.” John whispered in reply.

What are the odds, I mumbled.

“I don’t know why you couldn’t have taken the next place in line while I was in the bathroom.” I said, annoyed and as stressed as I could possibly be, “We have to pick Anna up from the train station in less than forty-five minutes and I’m sick to my stomach about Marc.”

The guy on the same street as us began to file his complaint.

“I believe that someone shot a beebee gun at the siding on my house. There is a dent to prove it.” He said, as if it was the most important crime of the century.

It took all of the strength that I could muster not to yell, “MY CHILD IS MISSING AND ALMOST OUT OF PHONE MINUTES! IF I DON’T ACT FAST I CAN LOSE HIM FOREVER!”

But I sat quietly, rolling my eyes.

Finally it was our turn at the window.

I had the chance to vent and tell my story about my missing fifteen year old son and my emotions began to get the better of me.

The officer told me to please take a seat, and I complied.

I was worried for Marc.

I felt bad that I was ruining Kevin’s girlfriend’s first visit.

I was afraid and I wanted someone, anyone, to tell what to do.

Behind closed doors, I heard the officers talking about who was going to take what case.

I held my head in my hands, tapping my foot as I waited for my name to be called.

“Mrs. Reed.” The officer said as he lead us to a private room.

“So was it a toss-up between who took the dented siding and who took the missing child case?” I asked in jest.

“Actually, it was.” The officer laughed.

“Well I think that you might have drawn the short straw.” I said, as I began to fill him in on all of the details.

Before long, both my strength and my sense of humor began to fall by the wayside as I was overcome with fear and concern.

After I answered all of the questions, I sat and cried.

My fifteen year old son was in a bad section of the Bronx and he was telling me that he wasn’t coming home. He was almost out of phone minutes and I had no idea what I would do if I lost all contact with him.

“Where did you send the pizza?” The officer asked.

I gave him the address of Domino’s Pizza which I knew was in walking distance of where my son was.

“At this point, we have to file a Silver Alert.” He replied, “He’s only fifteen years old.”

“A Silver Alert?” I asked, “Can I call my eighty-two year old mother before she sees it on TV?”

“You can.” He replied, “And you probably should. It’s just procedure, but the alert will be on television, radio and social media, nationwide.”

I called my mother and broke the news.

My mother was so distressed.

And just for the record, that conversation alone broke my heart.

The police contacted my son on the few minutes that he had left on his cell phone and made sure that he was on the next train and on his way home.

My ex-husband retrieved Marc from the train station and the police met them at my house.

Marc was home and safe…

Angry about the police involvement.

Angry with me.

But home (thank God) nonetheless.

Anna embraced the situation for what it was and took it all in stride.

I like that Anna.

I guess if you’ve never been there, you will never know what it’s like to deal with not only your own, but everyone else’s growing pains, confusion, longing for affirmation through love and attention, and the need to heard.

I get it.

Life is hard and beautiful all at the same time.

Face your fears,

Let go of your judgement,

Don’t be afraid to call on your humor,

And live through your heart.

It will never let you down yet.

I have made it this far and for the grace of God, so will my kids.

Keep fighting the good fight… it’s always worth it in the end.

Erin Cooper Reed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Nobody Cares What You Have To Say”

It’s been seven years since I started writing and speaking about domestic violence.

I have written for many organizations and I have spoken in front of large groups of people. For years my own children didn’t know half of the things that I had accomplished or was involved in.

In 2014, I was appointed to the Restraining Order Task Force for the General Assembly and served for six months. It was quite an experience and one that made me come to realize just how difficult it is to change a law in this country.

Eventually, my children caught wind of some of the things that I had been doing.

I remember them telling me, “Mom, no one cares what you have to say.”

Well, what I have to say is this…

When I began blogging, I had it in my heart that I wanted to write. I wanted to share both my humor and my perspective with the world.

Thank you, to all of you that read my blog, message me and share my stories with your friends and family.

I love to hear that I make you laugh.

I love to know that contrary to popular belief in my house, someone does care about what I have to say.

If you’re reading this post right now, know that you are my reason to keep at it…

You have helped me to realize that my voice does matter and that someone does care what I have to say.

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

 

 

Oh Joy, How do I fix this?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, You’ll Never Be Bored” Part 5: The Grand Finale

Was the moving experience just a prelude of things to come?

I’d love to say, “And we all lived happily every after…”, but truth be told it was only the beginning of the kind of events that left me asking, “Is this really my life?”

Well, it is and here I am ready to disclose it all or at least some of it.

I’m struggling with where to even begin…

We returned from North Carolina a day late. My boss at my new job was not happy, to say the least.

I ended up with only two shifts a week at my restaurant job…not enough to support the rent I signed up for.

John couldn’t find a place to live and I couldn’t afford the apartment that I rented. We talked about how nice it would be to live together. We also talked about our parents reaction to the news and our Catholic upbringing. In the end, we decide that we wanted to live together, not only to be together but also for all of the practical purposes…but how would we break the news to our religious parents and our teenage boys?

The only logical explanation was to hang the duck.

What???

John and I both lost almost all of our worldly possessions in our respective divorces. Whenever we contemplated the things we had, in a situation where we needed a certain gadget, or the right knife, or the proper screwdriver, we always joked “I had one but I lost it in the fire.” (Our metaphor for the loss of all of the things we once collectively owned)

Just let me note here that John Lennon has it right.

“Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can?”

Well, I can because I’ve been there and it was the most freeing experience of my life.

When I first left an abusive 20 year marriage, all I had in the world was half a trash bag of clothes and two pairs of shoes. I was never a materialistic person, but that experience has changed me in a way that most people couldn’t even imagine.

And, it’s all good.

I’m smart, savvy, and completely disconnected from the material world.

Sorry, Madonna, but I am not a material girl.

Image result for images of madonna material girl

Owning nothing for that short period of time in my life was actually an amazing life lesson that has shaped who I am today.

Anyway, about the duck…

One of the few possessions that John got to keep from his divorce was a ceramic duck that he loved. It had hung on the wall of his family’s home when he was a child.

Somehow we decided to hang the duck, (over our front door entryway), invite our parents over for lunch and hope that they would notice, get the message, and surmise that John and I had decided to live together.

It seemed like an obvious, great plan.

Just for the record, it was a total bust.

Our parents never noticed the duck and we never had the guts to tell them about our living arrangement during lunch. In retrospect, the entire scenario seems ridiculous, especially seeing that John and I were respectively 46, and 45 years old at the time and well beyond needing our parents approval.

And yet, that wasn’t our biggest hurdle, by a landslide.

In December 2012, my boys spent their Christmas vacation with their father. John and I spent that vacation in an immaculately clean house relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

When my boys returned, everything was different, but seemly okay.

Well, except for my son Marc.

We were surprisingly functioning as a household, then left for a business trip to Pennsylvania.

Upon John’s return all hell broke loose.

John came through the door exhausted from traveling and he was running a fever.

“All I want to do is get into bed,” he stated.

It was l:00 AM and I was concerned about John’s weak condition. I suspected that he had the flu.

John made his way upstairs to find Marc lying diagonally across our queen size bed, with a death grip on the corner.

“I’m not moving!” Marc yelled, “There is no way that John is sleeping in this bed!”

“Marc, John is sick,” I pleaded, “Please just let him go to bed.”

Marc is a strong and willful kid. We tried everything that we could think of, but there was no compromising and no moving Marc.

Finally around 4:20 AM, I said, “This is ridiculous. Let’s go to a hotel.” I grabbed a bag and started throwing some clothing in it. Leaving was a just ploy to get Marc out of our bed and a long shot, but it was worth a try.

We got in the car.

“Where are we going?” John asked.

“No idea. Just drive around the corner.” I said.

My phone rang. It was my ex-husband. (Apparently Marc had called his father)

“So, you’ve abandon the kids?” My ex-husband asked.

“I haven’t. We’re just having a problem.” I said with disdain.

“The police and an ambulance are on the way,” my ex replied, then hung up.

We were only up the street. “John, turn around,” I said.

We headed back to the house. The police and the ambulance never came but Marc did finally relent and made his way to his own bedroom.

This was just the beginning of the power struggle between Marc and John but not the end of our challenging circumstances.

That summer, John decided to send a friend who was in a domestic violence situation some money so she could leave her husband who was in the military. She even came to stay with us for a short time until she got on her feet.

Once she had found her own place and was in the midst of her divorce, we received a phone call.

“Hi, may I speak with John please?”

“May I ask who’s calling?” I inquired.

The voice on the other end of the line rattled off his name, rank and informed me that he was an investigator with the military, the United States Government.

He set up an appointment to drive out from Washington D.C. to get sworn statements from us for the investigation that was underway during our friend’s divorce proceeding.

When Marc returned from school that day, he walked in the door and found John and I seated with the two investigators.

“This is my son Marc.” I said.

Each of the investigators shook Marc’s hand and explained that they were from the United States Government performing an investigation.

“Did I do something wrong?” Marc asked nervously. “Are you here because my brothers and I were ding-dong-ditching houses? I promise we won’t do it again.”

“No, we’re not.” one of the investigators replied, “We are not allowed to disclose why we’re here and neither are your mother or John.”

Rocky had just gotten off the school bus. As he climbed the front porch stairs Marc flew open the door.

“Rocky, the government is here for an investigation but they can’t tell us why.” he yelled.

“What’s going on mom?” Rocky sighed as he entered the living room, “Am I in trouble?”

“No Rocky,” I replied, “You’re not in trouble but we’re not allowed to tell you why they’re here.”

“Let’s call Kevin!” Marc piped in as he ran to the phone.

The investigators spent hours asking us questions.

Then my phone rang. It was Kevin. “Mom, what’s going on? Is the government really investigating our house. Is it something we did? Just tell me…”

“Kevin, I can’t tell you and it’s nothing that any of you did,” I stated.

“Well, is it something that dad did? Is it?” Kevin pleaded.

“No, Kevin” I replied, “It’s not about any of you.”

The investigators gave John and I each three sheets of paper and had us sit in separate rooms. We were instructed to write our sworn statements detailing anything that our friend had confided in us regarding her suffering any kind domestic abuse.

John was done in half an hour and barely had one written page, in the same time I had filled three sheets of paper and asked for more. (What can I say? I’m a writer!) John was asked to go back upstairs and fill the three sheets of paper that he was given. I laughed to myself.

When we were done writing and I thought that it was finally over, we sat while the investigators read and initialed every page and asked that we do the same.

My phone rang again. It was my ex-husband.

“Hello.” I chuckled.

“Um Erin, please tell me that this has nothing to do with me.” He said.

“This is unbelievable!” I replied, “This has nothing to do with any of you!”

“Well, I hope that you’re telling me the truth.” He said, before hanging up the phone.

Before leaving, the investigator thanked me and handed me his card…in case we could think of anything else…

Exhausted, I said to John, “Can you believe that took three hours?”

Before John could answer, Marc piped in, “They were here for three hours? Did you leave them alone at all? What if they bugged our house or put some cameras in?”

“They didn’t Marc but you better behave just in case,” I said jokingly.

Marc began picking up knickknacks and looking under tables. “Mom, what’s that flashing red light?” Marc asked in a panic, pointing towards the ceiling.

“That’s the smoke detector Marc.” I said.

It wasn’t long before Rocky joined in and began helping Marc search for cameras and other devices.

“Okay, guys. That’s enough.” I demanded, but I did not calm their fears and the search continued.

Luckily, I had the investigators business card…and I wasn’t afraid to use it.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number.

“Hi, it’s Erin. Sorry to bother you.” I said.

“No, bother Erin. Did you think of something else that you’d forgotten to tell us?”

“Actually no, I didn’t but my boys are flipping the house looking for cameras and bugs that they believe you may have planted.”

The investigator laughed a deep hearty laugh and said, “Put Marc on the phone.”

“Marc, the investigator wants to talk to you.” I yelled.

“Me? He wants to talk to me?” Marc asked looking bewildered.

I handed Marc the phone.

I’m not sure what he said to Marc but he seemed to put off the camera search…at least for a while.

Eventually, things went back to normal, whatever that means in our house.

The following spring, there was a rash of signs being stolen from Cumberland Farms Stores.

I guess it became a sort of dare among teenagers and college students to pull into a Cumberland Farms and try to steal the life-size cardboard David Hasselhoff signs in the parking lot.

Image result for image david hasselhoff cumberland farms sign

I’m not sure if the appeal was in scoring a sign on a dare, or in the fact that David Hasselhoff was sporting white linen capris that made the entire idea so inviting but it became a trend across the country.

One night the Cumberland Farms down the street from our house became the source of such a prank. Unfortunately, the prank went a bit too far and the outcome was tragic.

A teenager that was attempting to steal a David Hasselhoff sign was approached by the clerk from Cumberland Farms. The clerk tried to retrieve the sign and somehow his clothes got caught in the perpetrator’s car door. The clerk was dragged by the vehicle, resulting in severe injures and trauma to his head.

I was so upset when I heard the news. We frequented Cumberland Farms and I knew this clerk. His wife was pregnant and she, as well as his mother, both worked at the same Cumberland Farms as he did.

I knew that this meant that there were now three people in their family that were out of work with no income. The clerk was in a coma and his wife and mother were sitting vigil at his bedside.

I fired up the computer and began to type.

“What are you doing?” John asked.

“Figuring out how to get on twitter.” I replied.

(I had never sent a tweet in my life, but trust me I was about to)

“Twitter. What for?” John inquired.

“I’m going to tweet David Hasselhoff.” I confidently replied.

“Whatever you want to do, babe,” John said with a smirk. He had become accustomed to my harebrained ideas.

“And say what?” John asked.

“I’m going to tell him what happened. I’m going to say that this family needs his financial help and his support in their time of need. I mean, come on, David Hasselhoff is wealthy. In my opinion with wealth comes the responsibility to do good and help others… so I’m going to figure out how to get in touch with him.”

I followed the steps and set up my first twitter account. I composed my thoughts, wrote what I wanted to say and sent my tweet to David Hassselhoff.

John was supportive but I’m sure he was secretly questioning if I had lost my ever lovin’ mind.

Just for the record, I hadn’t. I’m just passionate and not afraid to act on my feelings. Strange to some… normal to me.

To my surprise David Hasselhoff responded to my tweet and we had a conversation on twitter. He thanked me for letting him know what happened and promised he would look into it.

The next day the Connecticut Post newspaper reported the story and even  mentioned my tweet and the David Hasselhoff response.

John and I spent the morning doing some gardening and planting flowers before our lunch date with my parents.

It was a warm day and I lifted my gloved hand in an attempt to brush a dangling lock of blonde hair away from my face as I smudged a streak of dirt across my cheek.

“John, the garden looks beautiful.” I stated, as a NBC Connecticut newsvan parked in front of our house. “He’s probably here about my David Hasselhoff tweet,” I joked.

The driver got out followed by a cameraman.

“Excuse me. Are you Erin Cooper Reed?” The reporter asked.

“I certainly am.” I replied.

“It took me forever to find you. Is it okay if we interview you on camera?” The reporter asked.

“Sure, can you give me a minute to get cleaned up? I’ve been gardening all morning.” I said.

“Uh, we really need to do this now,” he said with a smile. I insisted that I needed to clean up so he said, “We’re going to get the camera set up out here. It will take about five minutes. Can you be back by then?” I dashed upstairs.

On the way up the stairs and into the bathroom to wash my face, my cell phone rang. It was my dad.

“Hi honey! Mom and I are on our way over to pick you and John up for lunch. Are you guys ready?” he asked.

“Dad, NBC news is here to interview me. Could you hold off a bit before you come over?”

“No problem honey. How much time do you need?”

“About a half an hour.” I said.

“Okay, see you then.” My dad replied, “Love you.”

“Love you too dad.” I said, then hung up the phone.

Now, you know that your life is truly crazy when your dad calls to pick you up for a lunch date and you tell him that NBC news is there and he isn’t at all surprised… I mean not in the least.

My interview with NBC news went well and aired that night.

As far as I know, David Hasselhoff never sent the family of the injured man any money like I had hoped.

We haven’t heard from John’s friend lately but I hope that she is doing well.

Marc still finds way to torture John on an almost daily basis but I know that someday when he’s older he will come to realize and appreciate all that John does for him.

As for me, I continue to live with my heart on the outside of my body, speak my mind, challenge the perspective in any situation and find the humor that gets me by.

In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And just for the record…there’s more, there’s always more…so much that I may decide to continue this series down the road.

Stay tuned!

My life, I swear!

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

In Her Shoes

This is the signature poem that I wrote for The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport Connecticut.

Center for Family Justice

 

In Her Shoes

Her eye is black, her nose bleeds red,
Yet she still has to sleep with him, in the same bed.

He says he’s sorry, one more time,
She numbs her pain, with a glass of wine.

Her children fight, and swear, and yell,
Her life becomes a living hell.

She knows the reason this is so,
Unfortunately, it’s all they know.

If you had the option to choose,
Would you walk a mile in her shoes?

Whatever goes wrong, she gets the blame,
It’s all a part of his controlling game.

He tells her she’s old, and stupid, and fat,
As he threatens her with a baseball bat.

The police arrive, once again…
This is visit number ten.

He tells them yet another lie,
Will she ever get out, or will she die?

If you had the option to choose,
Would you walk a mile in her shoes?

He says the law’s not on her side,
And if she leaves he won’t provide.

He monitors her every move,
Her whereabouts she has to prove.

With any man that she may meet,
He accuses her of being a cheat.

She can’t go out, he takes her phone,
She lives in fear of the unknown.

If you had the option to choose,
Would you walk a mile in her shoes?

In a fetal position, on her bed,
She wonders if she’s better off dead.

She feels so alone, she feels trapped,
All of her energy and resources have been tapped.

The things he says don’t hold much merit,
But they’re enough to break her spirit.

She works so hard to try to hide,
The stress and hurt she feels inside.

If you had the option to choose,
Would you walk a mile in her shoes?

What is the reason that makes her stay?
The children, money…she sees no way?

It’s all too much to untwist,
The things that have happened, too many to list.

Physical, verbal, emotional trauma,
A life filled with too much drama.

The things she’s been through make it hard to cope,
She feels like there is no hope.

If you had the option to choose,
Would you walk a mile in her shoes?

She loses perspective so easily,
To the things he says, she’ll comply and agree.

He says the children, he’s going to keep,
If she ever leaves. This makes her weep.

She’s convinced there’s nowhere to turn,
Unaware of all she can learn.

She can begin to heal with the decision to enter,
The doors of The Family Justice Center.

So TODAY, you have the option to choose,
Do you have the strength to walk a mile in her shoes?

 

by Erin Cooper Reed

19,000 Reasons

This is a poem that I wrote for a domestic violence organization called 19,000 feet. This organization raised money for victims of domestic violence by taking donations and climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro which is 19,000 feet.

At the top of the mountain they read intentions that were submitted on behalf of countless victims of domestic violence.

A beautiful story, gesture and organization.

I am proud to be a part of their cause and to have created their signature poem.

 

19,000 Reasons

There are 19,000 reasons,

To climb 19,000 feet.

To end the cycle of violence,

What children live,

They will repeat.

 

And even if you’ve never,

Given a thought to it before,

There are many battered women,

With no strength

To walk out the door.

 

And if you heard their stories,

You would not believe,

How anyone

Wouldn’t want to help them,

Find resources,

So they’d leave.

 

And if you’ve ever used the expression,

“For the grace of God go I”

You’d understand why we’re climbing,

19,000 feet into the sky.

 

There are more than 19,000 reasons,

To give with all your heart.

So many millions of women,

Who need hope,

And a fresh start.

 

by Erin Cooper Reed

Let’s Get It All Out There

I have posted some of the domestic violence poetry that I have written through the years. It is about not only what I have personally been through, but what I have endured and who I have become.

Let’s just get it all out there.

There really isn’t a market for domestic violence poetry…but there are people who connect to it and feel inspired.

If I never accomplish another thing in my life but to move and inspire just one person who is struggling, it will all be worth it.

So, there it is .

My past. My pain. My growth.

I have shared with you the depths of my soul.

Take with you what you will and what you need…

I am glad that we have gotten to know each other on such a personal level.

Thank you all.

Now, Let’s get back to the laughter.

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

Petals of Progress

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

In Spite of All the Rain

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.

Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation

 

The foundation poured, the groundwork laid,

Well before you left.

Being stripped of parental authority,

Is the worst kind of theft.

 

Yelling orders at the children,

Your abuser has the upper hand,

Powerless you stand and watch,

As they heed his every command.

 

He turns your children against you,

Until you can hardly cope.

Your mother’s love, says don’t give up,

You hang onto your hope.

 

You finally leave, get custody.

The children are angry and sad.

You listen to their endless chant,

“We want to live with dad!”

 

And everything that happens,

In your home and in your life,

Is reported and distorted, though

You’re no longer their father’s wife.

 

The children devour the twisted spin,

He puts on your every word,

Your life becomes hell, as they rebel,

The entire situation absurd!

 

He convinces the children,

A break from you,

Is a well deserved vacation.

But what they are experiencing,

Is called “Parental Alienation.”

 

He says, “You’ll get to see the kids.”

The days, the weeks crawl by.

And it becomes apparent,

On his word you can’t rely.

 

What if it takes years,

Before they even heal from this pain?

Will it forever affect your relationship?

Your fears drive you insane.

 

Your only hope is that the court,

Will figure it all out.

But in the meantime your heart aches,

Your head is full of doubt.

 

You spend all your time “Nesting”,

Readying your home,

For when your children come back,

But for now you’re all alone.

 

While in a store,

A small voice, shouts out for his “Mom”,

Your emotions soar, you turn to look,

Trying to remain calm.

 

This occurs so frequently,

It’s such a mental game,

You try to resist answering back,

Calling out your child’s name.

 

Of course it’s not your child,

And you begin to cry.

How could he keep your children from you?

And the endless question, why?

 

The thought that keeps on churning,

Your deepest, darkest fear,

You’ll never see your children again,

And they won’t even care.

 

You can’t stop thinking of them,

You lie awake in bed,

Are they happy, safe and cared for?

Are they healthy and well fed?

 

If you’ve never been there,

It’s so hard to explain,

Estranged from your own children,

Yet in your heart they still remain.

 

And yet it is so common,

It happens everyday,

Using innocent children,

For control, to get his way.

 

The damage to the children,

Runs so very deep,

Pains them for a lifetime,

Into their words and actions it will creep.

 

So if you are a parent,

Going through divorce,

Hear my words, your child’s life,

Needs a stable, loving course.

 

“Children need the love of BOTH parents.”

This is tried and true,

Children deserve nothing less,

Than the BEST of BOTH OF YOU!