The year 2004 dawned on a much more positive note. My older son was back home, working and somewhat less defiant, starting to see the error of his ways. He was still quite angry, but the anger was slowly but surely fading as time went on.
I was feeling restless and ready for a change. I had had enough of the problems of Pennsylvania, the depression, the financial difficulties had all taken a toll on me. The first thing I did that year was to file for bankruptcy. I couldn’t see how I would ever be able to pull myself out of debt, so I gave up on debt completely. I figured I had nothing else to lose. My credit was shot anyway. Part of my financial problems stemmed from the fact that my kids have dads who don’t like to support their children and the other part was I could be a compulsive shopper. At any rate, living life by not facing life ultimately led to the bankruptcy. It was just easier to sweep all my problems under the rug and forget them.
When I initially filed, I decided to hang onto my house, but by the spring, changed my mind and even let them take my house back. I decided it was time to move south. I had always wanted to move to a climate that is warm year round. So in a totally self-centered move, I announced to my family I was moving to Florida. I asked my 13 year old son if he would be okay with that and he said he would and I invited my 18 year old son to come with us, but if he wanted to stay behind he could do that as well. Nobody thought I was serious until I made all the necessary arrangements with an agency and got my Florida nursing license. I really gave no thought to anybody else’s feelings. I was determined to “run away” and start over.
My older son ended up staying behind at first because he really didn’t want to go. He was quite mean to me and his brother for a couple of months until I pointed it out to him and then he was sorry. I told him I just wanted him to be happy.
The day finally came to head south and we started our trip on the day of my uncle’s funeral. I am ashamed to confess that even the death of a family member wasn’t going to stop me. His family claimed to understand, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out they were just being unselfishly kind. I’m sure my family was kinder to me in my life than I was to them. It was Labor Day weekend and there was a hurricane in Florida.
We drove through 3 states, facing torrential downpours, I was so determined to get to my destination. It was a harrowing adventure. When we arrived, we had to stay in a hotel. The state was a little out of sorts from the storm. We were just happy to be off the road, me, my younger son, our two little dogs and a hamster.
When I went to my new job, I was taken aback and hurt by the reception I got from the woman in charge of agency nurses. She scolded me loudly for coming in to the catholic hospital with tattoos showing. It was not the reception I expected at all and made me worried about my appearance for a very long time. The OR staff couldn’t have been nicer much to my relief. There was one other incident I faced when one of the nuns told me they didn’t hire “low class” tattooed people to work for their institution. I was so hurt by these statements, I wondered what kind of huge mistake I made in coming to Florida.
In the mean time, I got my younger son into school and thankfully he made new friends right away. And after spending 2 months alone in Pennsylvania, my older son decided to come live with us, which made me quite happy. The level of stress increased with the arrival of my older son. He was getting better, but still had uncontrolled anger. Thankfully, I was finally able to convince him to seek psychiatric help and he was put on a mood stabilizer. After this, his behavior steadily improved and he became easier and easier to live with.
But the happiness was always short lived. I was still getting drunk everyday and I had completely given up on medication because it just didn’t seem to work and I couldn’t see wasting the money on doctor visits and endless prescriptions. I was determined to just learn to live with depression. Other people learned to live with their mental illnesses, so why couldn’t I?
At this point I had no friends, although one girl I worked with was friendly and tried to make an effort by inviting me to church, but I didn’t do church. I was quite lonely and drowned myself in alcohol every night to kid myself into thinking I was happy. Here I was in Florida, new place, new chance, new life and I was just as miserable as I had ever been. I was isolated from my whole family and it was my own fault because I selfishly moved away on a whim. Thank God they loved me anyway!
After my first contract was finished I got another job. I spent six months working in Miami and the next six months working in Ft Lauderdale. Nothing changed. I basically went through the motions of life because I kept waking up. My mind was full of suicidal thoughts and it was tormenting because I knew I would never act on them. I was selfish, but not selfish enough to commit suicide. I would never have done that to my boys. I continued to quit, quit responsibility, quit taking care of myself, quit thinking about what I was doing to my family, quit life.