Appreciating Life’s Blessings – Even #ToddlerTerrorists

Baby yoga

Baby yoga

When Prince died, I distinctively remember trying to actively stop my mind from racing.  I had been a toddler Mama, and with that comes a complete change in your brain – at least that is how it felt.  From the moment Prince was born, I never stopped thinking about where he was.  When he became mobile, however, it became almost impossible to get my brain to think about just one thing.  If it was silent, I would always be looking around identifying potential hazards or wondering where he might have crawled off to.

As so many mothers who have lost children can likely relate to, when your child dies your brain does not stop acting as that child’s mother.  When Prince died, my mind raced.  I would look for him when it was silent, only to then painfully realize over and over again that he was not there – and why.  I didn’t feel normal because I couldn’t stop my mind from racing.

Prince toddling:

Prince didn’t start crawling until he was 8.5 months old.  For weeks, he would get on all fours and reach his hand behind his butt as though he was trying to push himself across the floor.  Then, he would do what we called the Quasimodo crawl.  We called it this because he would walk on one leg and crawl with the other.  While Prince was later to crawl than Stela, he loved his independence.  Shortly after crawling, he was walking (and then trying to run).

I frequently had to chase him places as he was always determined to run in the opposite direction.  He would run down the street like a little determined fellow who was so curious about the world.  There was not a moment in my day when I didn’t think about his safety.  For months after he died, I would instinctively look in the back seat of my car expecting to see his face smiling back at me.  It is impossible to turn off your motherly instincts – even after your child dies.

Stela Toddling:

Stela has been threatening to crawl for a couple of weeks now.  This past Saturday, I took her to a gym class where she was able to observe several other babies crawling on all of the equipment.  Stela, being the cerebral little diva that she is, watched them closely.  There were moments when I could almost see little light bulbs going off in her head as if she was thinking, ‘Oh snap!  That is how I am supposed to do that crawling thing!’

A few hours after her gym class, Stela crawled for the first time.  As I sat on the floor with her trying to grab the cell phone, that ended up being the crawl motivator, out of her mouth – I cried.  While for many parents this might feel like a frantic time, I finally feel like I am normal again.  There are still moments when I look around and think about where Prince is, but now my mind also races for Stela.  My Mama brain has kicked back into overtime as my infant is quickly becoming mobile.

My Appreciation:

I complain a lot about the lack of sleep I am getting, and how many hours I spend trying to get my child not to go after all that is dangerous in our home.  That said, I cannot express how thankful I am to have this opportunity to be my daughter’s mother.  From the moments she is punching me in the face at 2am, to the times when she does the Mama dance as I walk through the door after work – I am constantly aware of how precious her life is.  I am constantly grateful that I am able to be her mother.

It used to bother me when I would hear the news talk about the death of a child.  The reporters almost always follow those stories by telling parents to go home, and hug their child just a little tighter.  After Prince died, I always hated hearing this because it would always make me think about the parents who would have to go home without their children – those parents wouldn’t be able to hug their children at all.

Instead of telling all of you to hug your child a little tighter, I wanted to share this all with you today as a way to express what I have gone through.  My hope is that no parent will have to experience the pain that I felt losing Prince in order to appreciate their children the way that I do.  So when you hear my story, it shouldn’t just make you go hug your child tighter.  It should make you realize that you should love your child every day.  It should make you think about how privileged you are to be a parent, and how you should hug your child tight every single day.   It should make those tough moments when your toddler is throwing a fit, and being a little monster (because they all are like this at one point), a little easier.

When Prince was around six months old, I took him into a fast food restaurant to grab a sandwich before running back to the house.  He was tired, and decided to throw a royal fit inside the restaurant.  He screamed, kicked, and caused such a scene that all of the non-parents gave me the stink eye until I left.  I remember how frustrated I was with him that day.  I remember that in that moment I did not appreciate how precious even that time was with him.  Today, I would give anything to go back to that moment, and relive it with him a million times – just to be able to hold him in my arms one more time.

My Survival Date

This past weekend (October 20th and 21st to be exact) marked the one year anniversary of the worst two days of my entire life.  While I am still relatively young, I am willing to bet that October 20-21, 2012 would have been considered astronomically bad by anyone’s standards – and even that seems like an understatement.  For those of you who don’t know, October 20th last year was the day that I found out my son had been murdered by his father.  It was the day I learned that I would never again see my little boy open his eyes, give me a hug, or say “Mama”.  All of my hopes and dreams for him shattered in that single moment.  A year later, I write this post reflecting over the past year.  I received more messages this past weekend from people telling me they were thinking about me than I received on what would have been Prince’s second birthday (which to me was a more difficult milestone).  My response to everyone who sent that message went something like this:

“Thank you for your kind words.  Today is not a bad day though.  I will not be spending it thinking about the worst day of my life.  I don’t care to celebrate or commemorate this day.  I refuse to allow a date that a demonic man chose to terrorize me for the rest of my life.  This day was not a good day for my son and it was not a good day for me.  I do, however, see it as a day that marks strength.”

Many people seemed confused with my response.  Maybe they were expecting me to curl up into a corner, and spend the two days crying as I forced myself to relive the nightmare that occurred just one year ago.  While I could have chosen that path, and I would not judge someone else who did, I continue to choose survival.  So instead of curling up into that ball and crying, I thought about all the things and people who have gotten me to this place of strength.  I will never say that the path I have taken in the last year should be followed by everyone who has endured tragedy, but it was my path and if my words can help someone then it is worth sharing.

1)  Find your people:  I put this one at the top of my list because without my friends and family I know I wouldn’t have survived this past year.  When my son died, everyone who knew him was devastated.  It rocked my family in a way that a family should never be rocked.  That said, many of my family members were able to rally around each other and we gave each other the strength to keep living.  In addition to my family, I learned who my true friends were.  As soon as I sent out the text message that my son was dying, several of them dropped everything and drove to the hospital just to be there with me.  One of my oldest friends got on the next plane from Louisiana to visit.  She listened to me, sat with me while I cried, made me laugh when I didn’t think I would again, and cooked when nobody seemed to have the strength to even think about food.  When chaos and tragedy strikes, find your people.

2)  Clean house on the toxic folks:  Throughout life its never a good idea to allow toxic people to hang around.  This is especially important during the hard times.  I found that there are some people who enjoy chaos.  They will gravitate around you during these times and make you feel worse.  If you find that someone is making you more sad or appears to be feeding off of your bad situation, drop them like a bad habit and move on.  In the past year, I have made no apologies about getting rid of bad people.  For example, two weeks after my son died, someone who I thought was a friend told me that I needed to “just get over it and stop talking about how angry and upset I was about what happened.”  After that conversation, I promptly told this person to lose my number and I truly believe I am better off because of it.

3)  Grieve your way:  In the past year, I can’t even count the amount of times people have tried to tell me how to grieve for my son or passed judgement on me for decisions I have made.  Many of these people have never lost a child and seem to project how they think they would feel if in my situation.  Recently, one of my coworkers lost his son tragically to a brain aneurism.  The child was six years old and he was devastated.  He asked me what he should be doing.  I told him that he needed to do whatever he felt he needed to do and that he shouldn’t let anyone tell him that what he chose to do was the wrong path.  That said, I would advise someone against doing something that was hurtful to themselves or others.

4)  Don’t be afraid to go to therapy:  Admitting that you need to see a therapist shouldn’t be seen as a weakness.  If a person broke their arm and just decided that surgery or casting it wasn’t for them, they would end up with a jacked up arm for the rest of their life.  If you find yourself in an emotionally unstable place, sometimes you just need to seek medical help and talk to a therapist.  I am not ashamed to say that after Prince died (and while I was in the throws of the custody war), I have seen a therapist regularly.

5)  Take back your happy:  Ever since I met Luc in February 2010, my life has been in some level of chaos.  He has tried to control and torment me.  While I believe he killed my son primarily for money, his secondary motivation was likely to destroy me.  He chose the first time he saw Prince after my birthday as the day he would drown him.  He intended for that day to make me sad for the rest of my life.  I will always miss my son.  I will always hold a certain sadness about the fact that he will never grow up and do the things he should have been allowed to do.  I will not, however, allow the man who killed him to destroy me.  I chose to take back my happy.  I chose to do this for myself and for my daughter.

Finally, I leave you with one of the wisest things I heard after my son’s death.  I was speaking to the priest at my church.  I asked him why so many Christian people were telling me that in order to have peace I needed to forgive the man who killed my son and all of the people who allowed my son to be killed.  I asked him if I needed to forgive these people before finding peace.   Father John looked at me and said, “Hera, hold onto your anger.  It is that anger that will help get your son Justice.”  Father John went on to explain that forgiveness should be reserved people who can understand forgiveness.  It was clear that Luc had no soul.  Forgiveness would simply allow him to feel absolved for what he did, and possibly even allow him to continue to torment me.  So I will not be forgiving Luc.  It is a waste of my energy –  energy that should be used on happiness.  While I don’t forgive him, I also don’t dwell on him either.  I stayed angry for as long as I needed to in order to get the wheels of justice to turn.

I would never tell someone else NOT to forgive someone who has hurt them.  I simply offer you an alternative.  If forgiving the person who has hurt you allows you to heal, then do it.  Just don’t allow that forgiveness to let them continue to hurt you.  For me, what was more important was learning to forgive myself.  This remains the hardest part of my journey.  While I know how hard I fought and how much I loved my son, there is still a level of survivors guilt and victim guilt that I will likely face for a long time to come.  As I continue on this journey, however, I will focus my efforts on life - on the legacy of my son through telling his story and helping to try and protect other children.  Soon, I will also focus on raising my daughter.  I am starting a new chapter of my life and Luc is not a part of that chapter.

So next year, when my daughter is about a year old and the anniversary of Prince’s death approaches, I will think of strength and survival.  I will have survived one more year, and I will be thankful for all the wonderful things life has given me.  This is my survival date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Child Of A Football Player

In the past week, many of you have likely heard about the murder of Adrian Peterson’s two year old son.  Though the brutal murder of this innocent toddler should have made headlines regardless of who his father was, the fact that his father plays for the Minnesota Vikings became a center piece for the story.  At first, I wondered why the media was referring to this child as Peterson’s “secret child”.  After reading more, I learned the sad reality that Peterson didn’t even know this was his child until a couple of months before the child’s death.

Even though it appeared that Peterson had been robbed of the chance to know this little boy, some internet trolls had no problem throwing him under the bus for continuing to play football despite the news.  Before I move on to the real issue here – the child – let me just say some words in support for Adrian Peterson.  Peterson is one of the victims here.  He lost a child he never even had the chance to know (and not through fault of his own).  If he felt the need to dance on top of Mount Everest or run naked on the beach as a coping mechanism, I would have no judgement.  People grieve in all sorts of ways.  Many people choose to throw themselves into their careers in order to keep living.  This man also has two other children for whom he is financially supporting.  Keep living Adrian – it’s what your son would have wanted and it’s what your other children need.

Under The Media Frenzy:

While many of the articles I have read focus on Adrian Peterson being a football player, as if the death of his child is somehow more shocking than the thousands of other children who die after being abused, this story can serve as an example of many disturbing trends in our society.  Just weeks after my own son’s murder (at the hands of his own father), I continued to say that I hoped my son would be the last child who had to suffer in this way.  Though that was my hope, I knew that would never be the reality given the current state of affairs in America.

Adrian Peterson’s son, whom family members called “Ty”, was a happy and vibrant two-year old boy.  His mother had left him in the care of a man named Joseph Robert Patterson.  Without details about how much the mother knew about this man (or more importantly how much information the system allowed to be public information), I will refrain from judging her for the moment.  I will, however, come down harshly on a system that allowed this abuser to roam a free man long enough to kill a child.  It is now known that Patterson was indicted in June 2012 on several counts of simple assault involving an ex-girlfriend and her 3-year-old son.  He was also later charged for violating a no-contact order.  While he was sentenced to one year in jail for both of these cases, his time was suspended upon the condition that he attend domestic violence counseling.

Abusers and Deadly Plea Bargains:

In December 2010, my son’s father was arrested for violently assaulting his then 11 year old son.  To avoid a conviction and criminal record, Luc agreed to family counseling and the child was put back in the home.  Child Protective Services issued a report that the abuse was founded, however, records disappeared and Luc was allowed to go on as if this assault had never occurred.  Luc, just like Patterson, is an abusive man who prays upon women and children.  A few months of family therapy didn’t turn Luc into a loving non-abusive father, and “domestic violence counseling” clearly did nothing for Peterson either.  If Luc had served the mandatory year in jail for abusing his older son, Prince would likely still be here.  If Patterson had served the two years in jail that he was sentenced, I wouldn’t be writing about this story because little Ty would be here too.

My son, Prince McLeod Rams, and little Ty were both brutally murdered by men who shouldn’t have been free to walk amongst us.  While Prince and Ty had  different circumstances leading to how these men obtained access (Prince was forced into the custody of a killer by the courts and Ty was left with his mother’s abusive boyfriend),  the two cases have frighteningly similar roots.  Both killers found dangerous loopholes in a broken system.  Both killers had previous run ins with the law where they were able to convince psychological professionals and court officials that they could be rehabilitated and should be given another chance to behave.  As long as society remains in denial about personality disorders, more children will be at risk for deadly child abuse.  It is not possible to rehabilitate a sociopath.  My son, Ty, and all the other children who have been victims of our broken system (and those who will be victims in the future) deserve better from us – they deserve justice.

Shocking Statistics:

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services analyzed data that showed that 80 percent of the 1,570 U.S. children who died from abuse were 4 years old or younger.  In 87 percent of these cases, the perpetrators were biological parents of the victims.  The Every Child Matters education fund reports that 15,510 children are known to have died between 2001 and 2010 from child abuse related incidents.  This is about 2.5 times the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Though these statistics are shocking in and of themselves, the U.S. Government Accountability Office states that these numbers are underreported because there is no national standard for reporting.

When my son arrived at the hospital, nurses and doctors immediately called police and Child Protective Services as his injuries were consistent with child abuse.  Though every person who encountered my son in those initial hours after he arrived at the hospital was likely horrified at the scene, my son’s death went unreported for nearly a month after the incident.  Police didn’t release a press release of any sort and my son’s killer wasn’t arrested for over three months after the incident occurred.  I often wonder how many other cases where children have been murdered go completely unreported.  For months after my son’s murder, I was told that the case was “under investigation” and that authorities were not releasing the cause of my healthy little boy’s sudden death.

Ty’s story was reported because his father is a football player.  Perhaps my son’s story was reported because I am loud, and continue to scream at the top of my lungs.  Perhaps my son’s story was told because a brave reporter from The Washington Post Editorial section took a chance and reported about a case that officials seemed dead set on burying.  The sad reality, however, is all the cases that go un reported – all the children who are born into this dangerous world with no weapons to protect themselves – no Civil Rights – no voice – and no future.

 

 

 

 

 

Justice for baby Prince

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Over the past two years, there have been many moments in which I have been ashamed of my country.  I grew up believing that if I was an honest person, who worked hard to positively contribute to society, I would always be able to turn to our justice system for help in dangerous times.  When I needed help, however, the justice system was not there for me.  The justice system allowed my sister to be assaulted and for the criminal who assaulted her to walk free, for me to be falsely arrested instead of protected from my abuser, for the Family Courts to ignore the dangerousness of my son’s father, and for several public servants to place my son in the hands of a disordered man who I believe murdered my 15 month old baby boy.  I have lived a nightmare since the day Luc walked into my life.  This nightmare reached epic proportions the day I left him, and since my son’s death has reached the unimaginable.

I am not alone in my quest for peace.  Every person (man or woman) who has found themselves in the grip of a psychopath comes to a point when they also crave peace.  As MLK Jr. stated so eloquently, peace does not only come with the absence of tension.  To a large degree, the tension I had with Luc no longer exists – Prince is gone and Luc has no more control over the person I cared most for in life – my son.  The tension was also reduced the day I realized that Luc was a lost cause, and that I truly didn’t care what happened to him (beyond justice for my son).  Though I will never again be in family court with this demon, it is impossible to truly have peace until justice is served.  While many men and women who have dealt with a psychopath may never receive the justice they deserve, today me and my son received a part of justice I feared may never come – Lucifer was arrested this morning.

The medical examiner report ruled my son’s death a homicide and that he was drowned.  Since my son was only 15 months old, Lucifer could be facing capital murder charges and the death penalty.

This piece of justice feels bitter sweet.  Had the justice system been there for us before now, my son would be here to celebrate this moment with me.  I am not sure that I will ever be able to forgive my country for the terrible injustices that led to the death of my son.  I am not sure if I will ever forgive myself for following the law and waiting for justice my son would not live long enough to see.  That being said, I realize that if I sit back and merely complain without attempting to change the system – I become part of the problem.  When I read the words of MLK Jr., and think about the incredible legacy that he left behind, I feel hopeful.  While many of the injustices he felt during his lifetime have improved, it was not without struggle.  Right now, we are facing new injustices and new problems.  We are facing a crisis directed at our children.  It has become part of my legacy (and the legacy of my son Prince) to see to it that no other child faces the same fate and no other mother will have to bury her son in this way.

One of the most vivid memories I have of my son happened on one summer day (a few short months before he died) when I was dancing with him up and down the driveway in front of our house.  I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and asked, “Are you going to dance with Mama on your wedding day Mr. Prince?”  Prince was laughing hysterically as I spun him around in circles to the silent music both of us imagined.  While my son was not verbal, if he could talk his answer would have been “No”.  It would have been “no” because Prince would never have a wedding day.  He would never be old enough to get married, and we would never again dance together.  I tell this story not to ask for pity, but to ask for your help in finding the justice my son, and every child, deserves.  Justice does not come from one mother screaming at the top of her lungs about what happened to her son – it comes from the power of many.  The civil rights movement was not a movement based on the words of one brave man; it was a movement afoot in a country that was tired of living in the shadows of injustice.  I am tired of living in a country where the courts allow children to be abused and killed by disordered parents and caregivers.  How about you?

Today was a big day for justice, but it was only a piece of the story and a pebble on the path of justice for our children.  I have often told you that this blog is not about Lucifer (that is one of the main reasons that I don’t use his true name).  Today, however, I want to share a letter with all of my readers that I have written to Luc (but will never send).  I imagine this letter could be used over and over again for many woman (and some men too) who have escaped (or hope to escape) a psychopath.  I encourage everyone to share their “goodbye letters” in the comments of this post.  Say goodbye and good riddance to the psychopath in your life and pledge to have “no contact” with this person in both the physical and in thought.  This is the first time I will address Luc – and it will also be the last.

 

Dear Lucifer,

I regret a lot of things in life, but I will never regret leaving you.  While we were together, I wrote love letter after love letter – hoping and praying that you would one day prove to me that you were the man I wanted you to be.  You never proved anything, because being that man was impossible.  You have taken a lot from me, but you have not ruined me.  I was strong before I met you, but now you have assisted me in becoming wiser and stronger than I ever believed I could be.  Prince was an angel.  I have always known that he saved my life, but now I realize that he likely saved many others.  Sometimes I think Shawn sent him here to protect her son from you.  Maybe your mother Alma sent him so that you would stop killing, conning, leaching, and abusing.   Prince’s true mission was one that I will never completely know until I am in heaven along with him.

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.  After this moment, I will begin to forget about you.  I will move on, fall in love again, have more children, and one day remember Prince without remembering his unfortunate sperm donor.   I am fairly certain that you will remember me forever.  You are likely thinking that your current situation is my fault.  Don’t be confused Luc, this is part of your disorder.  You always said that you wondered if you were being punished for the bad things you had done in a past life (because you didn’t have money, were not a successful singer, or whatever thing you chose to complain about that day).  I am here to tell you the honest to God truth – you are being punished for the terrible things you are doing in this life.  Everything that is happening to you right now is of your own doing.  That very large and angry man who wants to make you his girlfriend (or maybe already has) is sharing that jail cell with you because of what you have done to the people who tried to love you.

You have destroyed everything that could have been good in your life.  Now, you have nothing.  You have become what you have feared the most – powerless and utterly irrelevant.  In jail you will probably still tell stories about how you believe you were in concert with Brittany Spears, Rihanna, or whatever other artist you will claim to personally know at the time.  The difference, however, is that now everyone knows how delusional you are so these stories will be nothing more than the stories of a crazy man who sits in prison for the rest of his miserable life.

Enjoy the media attention and the televised trial because it will be the last stage you will perform on.  Eventually, you will disappear along with the average news cycle, and nobody will think about you as you rot in jail where you belong.  And remember – you are sitting there because of the things you have done.  You took Prince’s life after only 15 months.  My little boy touched more people in a positive way than you will have in your lifetime.  In fact, I would challenge you to find just one person who will admit (after they learn who you really are) that you have touched their life in a positive way.

Good riddance Lucifer.  You are finally where you were meant to be – in chains, powerless, and forever in jail.

Truthfully and finally,

Prince’s Mama

 

 

 

Domestic Abuse – Stupidity does not unite us

A few days ago I wrote about something I like to call Non-Traditional Domestic Violence.  Since I wrote that post, I have received several emails from women who have lived through all kinds of horrifying abuse at the hands of likely sociopathic men.  I wanted to share some of the experiences of these strong women with my readers.  When I was living through the abuse, I felt very alone.  Even though I had friends and family living near me, I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through.  I was not even sure how I would begin to explain why I spent so much time crying.

One of the things people wonder about me is why I write.  Let me clear this up for the record.  I do not write out of vengeance.  While I know that Luc (and likely his old man housemate too) are reading every single word I write, this blog is not for them.  It is also not to try to change the minds of those who don’t believe psychopathy exists.  I write for the mothers (and fathers) who will one day be in family court trying to protect their children, for the man or woman who falls in love with someone who doesn’t exist (a con), for the judges who care about saving kids, for the lawyers who will represent a victim of domestic abuse, for the men and women living through abusive relationships, and most of all – for my son.  I want people to know what happened.  I promised him that I would see to it that his life will is not forgotten and that I will fight for justice.

It’s unfortunate that my son’s story began with his mother’s horribly abusive relationship.  Though its not pretty, it’s important to tell this part of the story.  For all the women who have had the strength to write down their story – me and my baby send you hugs.  Here are a few that I have heard:

1) ” …I found out I was having twins.  My pregnancy was lonely.  He wouldn’t touch me, he wouldn’t speak to me.  He treated me like a test tube only making sure that I had enough nutrition to keep the babies healthy.  I developed pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and was put on bed rest.  While in the bathroom, I collapsed from a pain in my back.  My mother and I tried calling “J” (the sociopath) all night and into the morning.  He did not answer.  I was in the hospital for five days and my boys were in the NICU for 3 weeks.  I was there with them every single day and most nights too.  “J” was not there.”

2) ” …he would tell me that he was going to China to buy a woman whom he would bring back home to raise his sons.  He said a stranger could do a better job that I could.  He called me a “negligent cunt” when he discovered a diaper rash on the baby and he threw dirty diapers at me.  He asked me to leave the house so he could have a prostitute come over.  He would lock the car seats in his car and sleep on the keys so I couldn’t escape with the babies.”

3)  “He stopped letting me sleep at nights.  He would stay up late playing video games and would come into the bedroom periodically doing something idiotic like yelling at me just to wake me up….or he would shove me out of bed and I would end up down on the couch.”

(Note:  At the risk of being a little controversial here, if your boyfriend/husband plays violent video games ALL day and ALL night….to the degree that it impairs his ability to get a job or socialize with others…this is a HUGE red flag.  Luc did this – I should have left when I realized this was a problem.)

4)  “After a year of abuse…I started planning.  I met with a lawyer and I started telling my friends about the abuse (I had previously kept it a secret).  One night, when I knew he would be away – I left.  I had 13 friends and family show up with a moving van.  An aunt took the children and the rest of us packed anything we could for as long as my nerves would hold me at that house.  Then – I left.”

5)  “After he pushed me into a wall, punched me in the stomach (post pregnancy while holding my 3 month old son), and tried to kick in my front door, I gave up and tried to get him to stay away from me and my son.  I finally realized that this was not the kind of man my son needed in his life.  He fought me for custody.  At first it was supervised, but now its unsupervised.  I refused – now we are going back to court because I violated the court order.”

6)  “My ex husband poured scalding water on my face because he was upset with his finances and because I wouldn’t allow him to leave the country with our son.”

7)  “For nine hours, he held me hostage in his apartment, violently assaulted me, suffocated me with a body pillow…he didn’t allow me to use the bathroom.  When I finally told him that I would pee on his floor, he allowed me to go to the bathroom.  While I was using the bathroom, he took pictures of me.  He then told me he would use these pictures to embarrass me.  He did – he sent them to my father’s work e-mail address.”

8)  “I’ve seen the scariest man I have ever met walk into a court room with his head bowed, hands clasped, voice low and one tear on his cheek.  This has only made him more frightening.  I know…how it feels to lose a child.  To lose a child due to another’s complete lack of empathy and, in fact, humanity.”

9)  “…now he has started to emotionally abuse our son.  Every time my five year old son has to go to a court ordered visit, he says ‘please Mommy I will listen, now can I stay at your house?  Please, I don’t want to go to any sleeps at Dad’s.”

10)  “When I finally got the courage to leave him, he held me at gun point.  He told me that I would leave one of two ways – by jumping out of the window or in a body bag after he shot me.”

 

These stories are horrifying, but sadly they are not as uncommon as we would all like to believe.  I have heard the statistic that only four percent of the male population is considered a psychopath.  I wonder, however, how many more have gone undiagnosed and how many people are “on the spectrum” and, while not killers, are still abusive and dangerous.

The women who have shared their stories with me are all pretty, smart, and educated.  They are someone’s daughter, sister, cousin, friend…

Abuse can happen to anyone.  Stupidity is not at all a unifying characteristic for women who have been in abusive relationships.

 

The woman my son can be proud of

Tonight I sat and stared at the Christmas tree my parents put up this year.  My eyes quickly focused in on a small ornament I had bought a little over a year ago today.  I remember like it were yesterday when I had brought Prince into this small mom and pop Christmas store in search of his first Christmas ornament for his very first Christmas (which unknown to me at the time also happened to be his last).  The ornament was of a baby in a pea pod shaped frog outfit.  The baby was wearing a crown and a cape and it had a simple inscription:  “Little Prince”

The baby seemed to stare out at me from amongst the other ornaments on the tree.  As I stared back at it, I couldn’t help but to cry.  Despite how strong people have said I am throughout this ordeal, I didn’t feel strong in that moment.  The helpless emotions I have been feeling throughout this holiday season came rushing out as I stared at a small token that represented my little Prince.  I stared at the tree and remembered how instead of my son sleeping peacefully in his crib, his body lay cold in the ground.

This coming week will mark eleven weeks since my son died.  This time of year is a time when people tend to reflect on the year and think about how they will “change” or “reform” or “resolve” for the new year.  I have spent a considerable amount of  time thinking about my son and how much time I spent trying to protect him.  I have put a lot of thought into how I will transfer that energy into getting Justice for my son and holding the “periphery criminals” (those who stood, and continue to stand, one the outside periphery of Luc and both condone and enable his criminal behavior) accountable as well.

Beyond this, however, I am also focused on how I can be the type of person my son will be proud of.  This might sound strange to those who don’t believe in an afterlife, but bear with me on this one.  Every day I wake up, I balance my firey burning rage against the system that failed my son and the demon Luc himself.  There are moments, however, when I imagine my little boy watching me from heaven.  I don’t want him to see me angry all the time and full of hate.  I want him to see me as I would have wanted him to see me had he lived.

 

So in the new year, I am not making a New Years resolution that will fade in a few months as life gets busy.  I am starting the new year deep in thought about how I can be the woman my son will always be proud of.  This is not something that can be accomplished overnight because I have some work to do.  I need to be able to wake up without wanting to punch a hole in the wall in anger about what has happened – I need to be able to focus my anger into justice achieving activities – I need to be able to move forward with grace in the face of the most horrendously bad lifetime movie-esque story.

 

 

Hold Fast

In the past few weeks, I have received many more emails from women (no men yet) who are facing what seems like impossible situations with the father of their child/children.  Given what has happened to Prince, it has been hard for me to find the words to advise others who find themselves in similarly horrifying situations.  I fought through an impossible situation for 15 months, but even though I gave it my best shot – it didn’t end well for me and Prince.  My baby boy died during one of the first times he ever spent alone with his father.

While to many my story is uniquely horrifying, I have come to find that it isn’t as unique as it should be.  Sometimes after reading similar stories over and over, I start to think as if there is some playbook of psychopathy that all these crazy men are reading.  I say this because even though we are all different in some ways, some of the terrible things these men do are sickeningly similar.

Many people love to judge women for falling for psychopaths, but I am here to tell you that none of these men are going to walk up to you – punch you in the face – and then ask for a second date.  Most women who end up in abusive relationships (be it physical, emotional, or a combination of both) can’t even understand how they ended up in the situation when its all over.  The burning question on many of my reader’s minds is this: what do you do once you realize that you have been sleeping next to a monster and you now share a child?  The unfortunate reality is that you only have a few options and none of them are good.

1)  RUN:  If you realize the man is a monster early enough, the safest option is to back away slowly toward the door.  As soon as you get through the door safely, run as far and as fast as you can and make sure you hide in a place where he cannot find you.  If however, you have already entered into a Custody War with this person, this may not be a legal option.  (Note:  Even though it wouldn’t have been legal, I still wish I had chosen this option in order to protect my son.  Hindsight is always 20/20)

2)  FIGHT:  Once you find yourself in court with one of these monsters, you don’t have the option to stop.  By that, I don’t mean that you should get emotional and fight with your words or your fists.  If you truly believe this man is dangerous (gun carrying, serial killer, drug user, mentally disordered, gang banging, or whatever else evil you can imagine) type, you can try and fight if you choose not to run.  Most attorneys will not be prepared for the kind of crazy you are going to tell them, so start by contacting a local domestic violence group.  They can give you free legal advice and refer you to an attorney who knows how to deal with psychopathy.  If you choose this option, buckle down and get ready for a terrible experience.  Family court is never fun and games and this is especially the case when you enter into court with a pathological criminal psychopath.

3)  PRAY:  If the first two are not viable options, sometimes all you can do is be the best parent you can be to your child and pray for them when they are with the disordered parent.  The unfortunate reality is that in most situations, family court will not choose to protect your child if that means limiting the parental rights of the disordered parent.  (Yes, this is crazy – but true)  So if you have already considered the first two options, or have tried them and failed, your best bet might be to just be a good mom.  Your child will need you to be emotionally healthy so that you can help them weather the storm of the disordered parent.  (Note:  At the point where I ran out of money and my attorneys would not file an emergency order, I tried this – it clearly didn’t work)

Psychopaths do not play by normal rules.  You will find yourself playing a crazy and disordered game of chess with someone who might very well end up blowing up the chess board.  There are many things I am proud of in my life -my son is one of them.  I am not, however, proud of how many nights I spent stressed out over things I could not control.  I would give anything to go back and rewind time so that I could try all over again to save my son.  I would fight for him every single day and for the rest of my life.  I don’t have that option now, but many of you do.

Hold Fast

I come from a long line of strong people.  My Scottish roots can be traced back hundreds of years.  I am from the Clan McLeod.  My son is a McLeod.  When my son passed away, my father told me a story about how long ago when our family was still living in the highlands of Scotland there was a horrible tragedy.  The rival clan had gathered around the McLeod church and burned all of them alive inside.  Entire families were killed -women, men, children.  The only people who survived were the ones who happened to not be there that Sunday.

If my family members who had survived had not moved on with their lives, I would not be here.  They lived through a terrible situation and made sure to thrive in spite of it all.  Our family motto is “Hold Fast”.  This could mean many things, but to me it means sticking to who you are, protecting your family, and fighting for Justice.

So my advise to other parents who are living the nightmare that I have been living the past several years (since I met the devil himself), is to hold fast.  It is your job to protect your child in any way you can - even if that means just being the strong and healthy rock they can come home to after surviving the chaos.  For those of you, like me, who have lost a child (my unnatural or natural causes), you are still their parent and you must still hold fast in the fight to protect their memory and their legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Child Club

This post is dedicated to the parents who lost their babies in Newtown, Connecticut today.  18 babies died in their classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman deliberately came into their classroom and murdered these innocent children.

Rest in peace baby boys and baby girls.  My Prince is waiting for you in heaven to show you the ropes, give you a big hug, and welcome you home.  You were loved and you will be missed.

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Tonight, several parents join a club that no parent wants to join.  I call it the “Lost Child Club”.  This group of parents are forced to live life as parents without their children.  These parents woke up one morning with healthy children, and are now going to have to go to sleep knowing that they will never see them again.  Unfortunately, I can imagine how these parents feel.  While my son was not killed in a mass shooting, I remember how I felt when I realized that my Prince would never wake up again.  A part of me died that night with him as I know is the case for all of the families who have lost their babies tonight.

I joined this club nearly eight weeks ago when my son died tragically and suddenly during an unsupervised visit with his father.  Before Prince died, I could never have imagined being a part of this club.  I wouldn’t have signed up, nor would I have wished membership on anyone.  I knew I was not the first parent to lose their child in a tragic way, but after it happened – I hoped that I would be the last.

A loss for the right words:

When I first heard about this tragedy I was on my way to meet with someone who I had identified to help me with my case.  I needed someone who could help me in my fight for justice.  For the last two days, I have been practicing what to say in this particular meeting.  I needed someone who could add some teeth to my fight and this guy was the guy to do that.  After hearing this news, however, my “speech” fell apart.  Hearing this news brought me back to how I felt the night I lost Prince.  So instead of the grand speech that I had prepared, I said something like the following:

“I had something to say – I had planned a speech.  I just heard the disturbing news about a shooter who killed an entire class full of babies.  I have no words right now that sound right.  I need your help.  My son died and I need your help.”

 

Under normal circumstances, I consider myself a very articulate woman; however, this situation has left me cold.

 

Psychological Confusion:

I hear news anchors talking about how “rare” these things are and attempting to calm down the public.  Having met someone who is capable of this sort of horror, I wonder if it is as rare as people want to believe.  While we don’t yet know if this shooter was a psychopath, it is clear that he had some sort of psychological condition.  Given what I know about the system, I believe that we will soon hear about the people who could have reported “suspicious behavior” or possibly even had him committed to an institution.  We will likely hear of the many things broken in our system that allowed this mentally ill person to walk into an elementary school and murder innocent babies.

We have laws in this country that state that if you are seriously ill, you cannot possess a weapon.  What is the threshold for this and do we really enforce this?  For example, Luc owns a handgun and actually still possesses a concealment permit in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  That’s right – a man who is under investigation for killing his own child is walking around a free man and allowed to conceal his weapon in public.

 

Finding some words:

I won’t sit here and say that my situation is the same as these parents.  While there are similarities, there are many differences.  (No better – no worse – just different)  I have been living in chaos since the day I met Luc almost three years ago.  I worried about Prince every single day,  because I came to understand what Luc was capable of and how truly disordered.  These parents, however, sent their children to school.  While they were at work expecting their children to be singing songs and learning to read, these children were being killed.

There is nothing that I can say that will make tonight any easier for these parents.  There is nothing anyone can do to make them not want to jump in the grave with their children.  If they were reading this tonight, however, I would say this…

“You are not alone.  You were not the first, and you probably won’t be the last.  You did the best you could to protect your child.  You will, however, still beat yourself up for all the things you think you should have done and all the things you wished you had done differently.  This is normal.  Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve.  You need to do it your way.

Right now, you get the ability to act or feel however you want to act or feel.  When this initial grief phase begins to ease, please try to celebrate the memory of your baby.  Your child is now your guardian angel.  You were chosen to be your child’s parent and, unfortunately, you and your child were chosen for a greater cause for which might not make sense at this time.  Don’t lose your faith in God because of this tragedy.

You don’t know me and we might not ever have the chance to meet.  If you cannot get out of bed and fight for the memory of your child, I will try and fight for you.  I am a mother who lost her son.  I fight not only for my son, but I also fight for yours.  When you feel like dying, please remember that you are the only thing left of your baby in life.  Your child deserves the right to live through your memories.”

For all of my readers who have children.  Don’t just hug your children tonight.  Hug them every day and never take being a parent for granted.  You never know what hand you will be dealt in life.  Even a child can be there one day and gone the next.

 

The Pain of a nation:

We need to all start taking some responsibility in this nation.  How many people see child abuse on a daily basis and don’t report it?  How many people see someone with a serious disorder and allow him/her access to a child?  How many children are going to have to die before we as a country start actually trying to fix the things that are wrong with our country?

President Obama said, “our hearts are broken.”  I would take that a step further and say, “Our nation is in danger.”  What has made our nation special is that throughout history we have overcome tremendous challenges.  We have been able to come together and make important changes.  Now we face a crisis on children.  Let’s come together and fight for our children.  Let’s put our differences aside and start asking the right questions and seeking the answers.  We are all responsible.  Reporting something after the fact is too late.

I was not the first, and clearly I was not the last…but I wanted to be.  Rest in Peace baby boy Prince.  Take care of these new baby angels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am – Prince’s Mama

Since the beginning of this nightmare, I have heard a lot about bravery and strength.  I have thought a lot about what these two words really mean to me.  A lot of people have been wondering how it is that I am able to keep talking about this and why I haven’t just walked away from this and attempted to move on with my life.  Here is the best answer I can give for that:

I was chosen to be Prince’s Mama.

I didn’t choose to have Prince die so young.  I didn’t choose for my story – our story- to be so terrifying and tragic.  This story – this cause – chose me.  I have received hundreds of emails and Facebook messages from women (and some men) who have been fighting this broken system.  It’s true that my story is terrible and tragic, but it is not the only one and I am not alone.

I could choose to walk away and try to forget all of the painful memories, but to walk away from this story and this cause would also be choosing to walk away from my baby boy.  That is not a choice any good mother would make.  This cause is bigger than me and Prince and, unfortunately, we are now faces in a sea of other people whom the justice system has failed.

When I first heard that my son was dead, I wanted to die with him.  I vividly remember contemplating jumping into the grave and laying next to his tiny casket.  That seemed like the easier option than staying here on earth and continuing to fight.  After laying in bed for at least a week, crying myself to sleep at night, and nearly dying from an inability to eat, I remembered a promise that I made to Prince as I sat beside his open casket and read to him for the last time.  I promised him that I would always fight for him.

God chose the two of us for a reason.  I will always stand up and fight for justice with my words and the way in which I choose to live my life.  I will carry his memory like the proud Mama I am.  I will think about him every day and imagine how he would be growing if he would have been allowed to live.

As a parent, I had a responsibility to protect my son because he could not protect himself.  Now, after his death, I have a responsibility to protect his memory and protect his civil right to justice.  Our country is in trouble.  Our children are in trouble.  Justice is in trouble.

I am not brave, I was chosen.  I am strong, but that is only because my son made me that way.

I hope you all will continue to stand with me as I stand for my son – as I stand for the children who have come before him – and the children who will come after him

Spicy Cucumber Margarita

I met up with a good friend of mine last night.  It was another moment when I had forgotten that not everyone knows Prince passed away.  As I began talking to him as if he knew, I slowly watched shock and horror come over his face.  It’s times like these when I am able to visably see how much this experience has changed me.  It had been a long time since I had seen this friend – since before “chaos” (otherwise known as Luc) entered my life.

One of the first questions he asked me after he found out was, “how are you up and walking around?  You are such a strong woman!”  I told him there are two paths (or options) I can see a person taking after they have lost a child:

1)  Lay in bed and die along with the child. (Note:  I did think for a moment that jumping in the grave with Prince would be a good option).

2)  Living for the child as you are all they have left in life.

I have chosen the second path.  I love him too much to have chosen the first. He needs me to fight for him and for me to live for him now.

So now what?  Choosing to live is the first step.  Figuring out what to do with your life seems to be the harder part.  Especially given the fact that I feel as if I need to “relearn” how to live.  It’s like waking up one day and having to teach yourself how to walk again.  The only problem is that you are an adult and people expect you to already know how to walk.

Last night at dinner, I had one of the most amazing alcoholic beverages I have had in my life.  (Note:  I am not an alcoholic and certainly don’t plan on becoming one even after this tragedy)  It was a Spicy Cucumber Margarita.  As I stared at this drink, I thought about how funny and ironic it was that I felt like I was staring at what could be a metaphor for how I feel right now.  It was a margarita full of all sorts of cucumbers that didn’t appear to fit together.  Then, there was an awkward and out of place looking pepper thrown on top.

Even though I always used to like to see myself as tough – I wasn’t.  I was sweet and scared.  I was the girl who trusted those who didn’t deserve my trust and who called the police after running the other direction.  I was afraid to speak up when it mattered and I was always worried about hurting other people’s feelings.

Now, however, I am like a Spicy Cucumber Margarita.  I am different.  I am unapologetic.  I don’t care if I don’t look traditional.  You either understand and appreciate me – or just don’t.  I am sweet with a little sour.  The thing people will probably notice right now is the pepper.  The awkward and out of place looking pepper thrown on top.