Chapter 2: Starting Over

The end of 1989 was extremely difficult and those few months seemed like years to me.
Depression wasn’t as understood back then; so I thought I was just physically sick and went to the doctor. I was so blessed to have a physician’s assistant that spotted my problem right away. Even though he didn’t know the “why,” he did explain to me depression and how situations can bring it on and make you feel the way I was feeling. He prescribed an anti-depressant for me to try. He let me know I wouldn’t have to always be on the medication, but just until things were better. It took several weeks to kick in fully. I was still very sad and depressed, but now I could at least function. I still cried a lot but instead of crying for days I would have shorter times of intense sorrow and grieving; then I could dry my tears and do whatever I needed to do. With the medical help I was better able to care for my sons and do more than just exist.
One of the heart wrenching memories I have is of my boys seeing me cry so much and so often. One day little 2 year old Caleb said,”Mommy, please don’t cry anymore, ok?”
They needed their mom to be whole and healthy and that didn’t happen overnight.
Somehow I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt like I never got warm that winter…..I felt hollow, unwanted, and just plain sad, cold through and through.
About a month or so after the divorce was filed, the reality began to sink in that I had to get a job and get a car (I didn’t have my own). I began to open up my heart to a few people and was met always with open arms and compassion. Depression loves the isolation. The more you reach out, the less power it has over your life.
As I told the story in my earlier post “A January from the Past,” the thought of finding a job was overwhelming, not just because of my depression but also the fact I had no college education or career. I knew I would have to leave my boys with others while I worked and that was hard as well. I pulled up to the Sonic Drive In in Mena, Arkansas that cold January day; and somehow I knew after many stops at other places with no success, I would be offered a job there. That’s exactly what happened.
I was barely 26, but I felt like I was 126…..no confidence, no self worth, empty and sad .
When I left there I cried in my car because it was not the job I wanted, to be honest. Back then only 16 year olds car hopped and I felt silly as a woman with 2 children to be a carhop….but I had to work, I had no other options; so I did what I knew was necessary.
My Sonic job holds many sweet memories as well. I would have never imagined I would ever look back on that time as anything but humiliating; however, I always smile when I pass a Sonic 🙂
I didn’t know at the time that people tipped at Sonic. I was so surprised when I started getting tips. I was not only the oldest car hop in history (in my mind, ha) but I also became the highest tipped one. I made more in tips and salary than I could have ever made at -say, the bank or a more glamorous place. I also was able to pick my hours every week, which helped with scheduling around times my boys were taken care of. Added bonuses were I was forced to be outside walking (a lot), fresh air and human connections, all of which are so good in fighting depression. At first I wanted to hide when I would see someone pull up that I knew. I hated feeling the stares, knowing what the talk inside the car was; but I had to face them, no room for pride. I slowly realized that I needed to do my job and not worry about people and gossip. Before you know it, I was in full swing as a car hop. Not long after I got the job, I found a car for sale. With the help of one of my aunts and uncles who were willing to co- sign for me, I was able to buy it. It was nothing fancy, a little maroon and silver/white Chevy Spectrum 😁
Another reality during this same time frame was that I could no longer live in the house where we had lived as a family; I simply could not afford it, not even slightly.
A wonderful energetic minister’s wife that I had known for years and still adore, took me under her wing and said, ” I’m coming with you and we are going to find you a place to live.” A couple of days later she and I were pulled up in front of the Polk County Housing Authority (government subsidized housing), and again I felt that same feeling as I had when offered the job at Sonic.
I filled out the paperwork with her encouraging me all the while, reminding me this wouldn’t be forever; but it was the next step. I was almost relieved when they said there was a waiting list and it would take possibly a couple of months or so. The thought of leaving my home with all the memories, the boys’ tire swing in the big tree, sand box, my flower beds I had worked so hard in; everywhere there was a connection. Less than a week later I received a call from the office and was told that, amazingly, a little duplex had just opened up and would be ready to be moved into in a matter of days. I remember a hint of excitement rose up in me, because I knew this could only have been possible through God when it was supposed to take months. The excitement was short lived as the reality sunk in that I was moving, not to a cute little house or adorable apartment, but to a government housing duplex. Not where I wanted to be; but just like Sonic, it was exactly where I needed to be.
About a week later, truck after truck of loving friends from the little church I was attending pulled up to my house and loaded all that I owned (which wasn’t much) and moved Charley, Caleb , and me to our new little duplex. It smelled a little funny but it was now home. Everyone helped me unload everything and got things set up for me …..the quietness of the evening settled in; and as I lay there in my bed, I felt one of the first real feelings of peace in a very long time. The beautiful country moon that had shown over my home in the country was replaced by a street light. The solitude I knew there was now the fact that I lived in a duplex with total strangers who were just a wall away, but still there was undeniably a trace of peace. It was just right for us, really; and the boys and I could live here for 32.00 a month, rent was based on salary. Soon with the help of the scented candles and other touches I brought to this new home, the funny smell was gone, a few pictures began to be hung, and the beautiful trees that budded and surrounded us later that spring gave us a new beauty, a new hope, a new beginning. This was our little house, and even though it had a few bugs that came out at night at times, it was ours! Little did I know I would find a greater peace than I thought possible while living there.
As spring began and I was able to plant a few flowers in front; the beauty of the wooded area on one side of the complex was very inviting…..color, warmth, freshness that only spring brings. Looking back I see how in my life the same process was starting. It was slow in my eyes; but just as spring had brought things to life, my life and that of my little boys was ever so slightly beginning to bloom again. I just could not see it at the time. In my dark, dark tunnel of depression…..around this time , if I looked very close every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of a flicker of light, just a hint of hope; and every now and then, I would smile.
Though sadness still ruled my life for the most part, it would not always….I was starting to heal. A few of those shattered pieces of my heart were lovingly being worked on and cared for awaiting the day that each piece would be restored without a hint of a fracture….it was beginning to happen, I just didn’t know.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid, Lord,
for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.
You prepare a banquet for me,
where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
and your house will be my home as long as I live.

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