When I was 20 years old, I was in a dysfunctional relationship with a dysfunctional man. I got pregnant and realized I would soon be responsible for a child and needed to better myself-- for him and for me. However, after my son Parker was born I continued in this chaotic mess with his biological dad, who couldn’t seem to overcome his addiction. I tried for several years to make our marriage work (and I use the term marriage loosely). Even while he (my ex-husband) was in and out of prison, I tried to stay committed. My marriage was a joke: it was an unhealthy, destructive, abusive relationship and home environment. I was afraid to go home. I had to lie to Parker about the bruises on my body, the screams he would hear almost nightly, and the constant fear I felt. I finally realized I was better than my circumstances and my child certainly deserved better. It was time to make significant changes in my life.
I was scared, broke, and unsure of just about everything, including myself. But I wasn’t content with mediocrity-- with having just enough to get by. I wanted to be better and to do better. I knew that I couldn’t depend on anyone except God to get me through what seemed impossible. I had no education but knew that was the starting point. I soon enrolled in community college (which was a feat unto itself), and took classes to become a paralegal.
During my schooling, I worked full time as a housekeeper and part time at a nursing home (not to mention raising a very active son). Times were always tough. There wasn’t a single easy day. But, like all great things in life, I had to look beyond my struggles. And that’s exactly what I did. I broke my back (specifically, my tailbone as a waitress), to take care of myself and my son.
I had to get on food stamps and housing assistance. My parents graciously paid for my son’s clothing and shoes for school since I didn’t have the money. I could barely provide for my own needs. Although I was overwhelmed with work, school, my finances, and raising a strong, spirited kid, I forged ahead. I knew one day I would cross that finish line, and nothing was going to stop me.
Once I graduated, I went on to work for the State of Texas at both CPS and APS. I didn’t make much money, but it was enough to support myself and my child. Knowing I could finally give up my food stamps and government housing was liberating. I could even finally afford to buy my son school clothes! But, yet again, I wasn’t content. I wanted more.
I finally had a legitimate job and enough money to survive. But my personal life was in shambles. I lost my father and lost a bit of myself in the process. Parker started skipping school, using drugs, and doing everything he possibly could to be a criminal. He was 13 and spiraling out of control. But I wasn’t doing so well myself, either. I didn’t know how to handle him, especially on top of dealing with my own issues.
Parker left home shortly after, and I had some time to myself. I can say honestly that a part of me hated him for what he had turned into. A part of me blamed myself. But the remaining part was scratching and searching for something. I wanted to find myself and that is exactly what I set out to do.
So, I decided to go back to school. It was during my career at APS and work experience in a nursing home that I developed an admiration and love for the elderly. I went to Wayland Baptist University and got my certification as a nursing home administrator. Shortly after, a physician approached me and offered me a job managing his practice. I started supervising and managing 4 physicians, 10 nurse practitioners, and 2 physician assistants.
During this time my son was lost to me. Only he knows exactly what happened, but I can say with certainty it was nothing good. I knew he had to find his own way. He was taught to never ask for anything and that his potential was limitless, but he had to earn it. So, he didn’t reach out much. It was difficult to see him. He was in and out of jails and institutions. All I could do was watch and pray for his life.
I guess prayers work because Parker got his life together and I finally got my son back. He seemed to have changed so deeply that I became a believer again. I continued to work my butt off and watched my son do the same. I finally understood that teaching a child is one thing, but being a living example day after day is another. He was never soft on himself, but now he started to create the world he wanted, and I did the same.
Parker started a business and became everything I had hoped for him. And finally, after all the years of questioning myself, my life, and the powers that be, everything became clear. God had always been there with me. He had just been waiting on me to realize it.
After years of managing the practice, I was approached by a local business owner who was ready to retire from her business: donuts. Today, I am the owner of a successful donut empire (as I like to call it) with 80 employees. Our sales exceed $6 million per year. It is by the grace of God, hard work, and not settling for mediocrity that I am where I am today. In all my trials and tribulations, I never gave up, I took initiative, and worked like a dog to get what I have.
So, in closing, please understand this: Times will always get tough. You will be tested mentally and physically. You will have to help others. Some may even depend on you. But through all this one thing must remain: your belief in yourself and your willingness to work your butt off.