We’ve Got Friends Who Can Help
Worried about a friend? Dealing with some issues of your own? There are trained people who can help.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or your local police station.
General Crisis Support by Text
Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741 (24/7). Our trained counselors can discuss anything that’s on your mind. Free, 24/7, confidential.
National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) Email the National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7)
RAINN: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Call 1-800-656-4673 (24/7) Live Chat with RAINN (24/7)
Runaways, Homeless, and At-Risk Youth
National Runaway Safeline Call 1-800-786-2929 (24/7) Live Chat 7 days/week, 4:30 to 11:30 PM CST
Home Free Family reunification program provides free bus tickets to eligible runaway and homeless youth.
If you are interested in doing volunteer work that you can do from home, here is an idea for you:
While working as a Crisis Telephone Counselor for Crisis Hotline (CHL), we assisted CTL when we could so I am familiar with this organization. Now that I am no longer employed or volunteer with CHL due to having relocated, I have entered the volunteer program at CTL. Though I have been through a version of their training as a continuing education requirement and having been through CHL’s training, I am finding the CTL volunteer training to be very beneficial. This is a rewarding endeavor and for those who like doing things for others anonymously, this is your ticket. All training and working on the texting platform is done from your computer at home. You set your own schedule and the text line is open 24/7 so working it into your personal schedule isn’t difficult.
If you are nervous about crisis support, let me reassure you that you will be well-trained and their training includes live observations. Also, you will have all the tools you need right in front of you. All texts are monitored by a supervisor who is always available if you get stuck or need assistance. Though it is a mandatory reporting agency for imminent risk of suicide or homicide as well as child abuse, the reporting is actually done by the supervisor, however, these instances do not occur often. The way I look at it is “It’s just a conversation.” There is no script but you will learn active listening and productive conversation.
Rather than quote all the information regarding CTL, I am posting their FAQ sheet. You can also go to crisistextline.org
|Text START to 741-741|
Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?
- You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
- A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
- The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.
Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?
A: We exist to help anyone in crisis at any time.
Q: WHO ANSWERS THE TEXT MESSAGES?
A: Crisis Text Line crisis counselors are both rigorously trained volunteers and employees of our crisis center partners.
Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?
A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.
Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?
A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. We take your anonymity seriously. Check out our terms of service here.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?
A: We do not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to our short code, 741741 are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.
Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE SHOW UP ON MY CELL PHONE BILL?
A: Nothing will appear on your bill if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. If your plan is with another carrier our short code, 741741 will appear on your billing statement. Read about how this happened here.
Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK WITH MY PHONE?
A: Crisis Text Line works on all major US carriers, and most minor regional carriers. However, shortcodes (like 741741) are not allowed on many prepaid plans like T-Mobile’s.
Q: I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE WHEN I TEXTED IN, CAN I TEXT IN AGAIN?
A: You can text in again, if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on us. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.
Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO TEXT WITH A CRISIS COUNSELOR?
A: Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, such as at night or when people are talking about us on social media, wait times may be longer.
Q: IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: Yes, our system is only able to process 140 characters in one message.
Q: WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?
Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes–and the small percentage of people with these phones, can’t use Crisis Text Line. (We hear that sometimes you get an auto-error response. Sometimes nothing at all. We know this is shitty and we wish those carriers would enable us). If your phone carrier doesn’t enable shortcodes, here is a list of hotlines you can call.
Q: IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT?
A: Yes, you can reach us through Facebook Messenger. Access to message Crisis Text Line is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. This is accessible by flagging a user’s post.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, DOES ANONYMITY APPLY?
A: Yes. We do not have access to your Facebook profile. The only know information about you that we’ll know is what you share with us.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DATA?
A: Three parties: you (in your Messenger thread), Crisis Text Line, and Facebook.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER AND I WANT MY DATA DELETED, WHAT DO I DO?
A: Message us back with the word ‘LOOFAH’. We’ll scrub your data from our system, and make a request to Facebook to do the same.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHICH TERMS OF SERVICE APPLY TO ME?
A: By contacting Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger, users agree to Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service, as well as Crisis Text Line’s Terms of Service.
Q: WHAT ARE ALL OF THE CRISIS ISSUES YOU TRACK? CAN YOU ADD MORE?
Q: WHO CAN APPLY FOR ACCESS TO CRISIS TEXT LINE’S DATA?
A: Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016. Otherwise, please visit www.crisistrends.org to see the latest trends in how texters are experiencing crisis.
Q: HOW CAN I DONATE TO CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: You can donate via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
Crisis Text Line
Attn: Finance Dept.
24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
New York, NY 10010
Q: IS MY DONATION TO CRISIS TEXT LINE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
A: Yes! Upon receiving your donation, we’ll send you a thank you letter that clarifies your donation is tax deductible.
Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE REALLY A NOT FOR PROFIT?
A: Yes, we are! Here are our latest financials as proof.
Q: HOW IS CRISIS TEXT LINE FUNDED?
A: We’re privately funded. This means we receive funding from foundations, individuals, and corporations.
Q: WHERE CAN I FIND CRISIS TEXT LINE’S FORM 990?
Q: I SAW YOU RAISED A BUNCH OF MONEY (WOOHOO!) FOR THE ORG. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?
A: We are focused on three main initiatives: (1) supporting our Crisis Counselor community with better products and more emotional support, (2) integrating with tech companies to provide support to users inside things like After School, Kik, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger, (3) white labeling our service for other orgs and locations– providing a free text service for the National Eating Disorder Association and cities like Newark and Atlanta.
Q: WHO CAN PARTNER WITH CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: We partner with not-for-profits, colleges and universities, and corporations. Want to partner? Fill out this form!
Having technical issues with the site or text line? Check out our Help Center.
Q: CAN I GET MARKETING MATERIALS WITH THE CRISIS TEXT LINE SHORT CODE TO SHARE WITH MY COMMUNITY?
Q: WHOM I CONTACT FOR A PRESS INQUIRY?
A: Email email@example.com
Q: HOW CAN I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?
A: We are always accepting applications! Apply Here.
Q: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER?
A: To become a Crisis Counselor, you must:
- Pass a background check – that means no felonies and no violent or sex-offense misdemeanors
- Have a US Social Security number (in order to complete the background check)
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection
- Commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year
Q: WHAT’S THE TIME COMMITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS?
A: We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year. Volunteers are able to break up their commitment into two 2-hour shifts each week if they would like.
Q: HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS TRAINED?
A: After a rigorous application process, our volunteers complete a 34 hour training course over 6 weeks. This includes ongoing simulated conversations and personalized feedback from our experienced trainers as well as 8 hours of on-platform observation. Training content is based on best practices in crisis counseling and Crisis Text Line data.
Q: WHEN IS YOUR NEXT CRISIS COUNSELOR TRAINING?
A: We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks, so apply whenever you want! We’re excited to meet you!
Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A CRISIS COUNSELOR VOLUNTEER?
A: Check out our blog to read stories from our volunteers.
Q: ARE VOLUNTEERS SUPERVISED?
A: Yes. Our experienced supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers, when necessary, while on the platform.
Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE COUNSELING?
A: No, our specialists do not counsel, but rather practice active listening to help texters move from a hot moment to a cool calm.
Q: WHAT IS ACTIVE LISTENING?
A: Active listening is when someone communicates in a way that is empathetic, understanding, and respectful. It includes focus on the texter and thoughtful answers.
Q: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRISIS TEXT LINE AND THERAPY?
A: Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for therapy. Therapy includes a diagnosis made by a doctor, a treatment plan of action, and a patient/therapist relationship. Crisis Text Line helps people in moments of crisis. Our crisis counselors practice active listening to help our texters find calm and create an action plan for themselves to continue to feel better. Crisis Text Line’s crisis counselors are not therapists.
Q: WHO STARTED CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: We were founded by our CEO, Nancy Lublin. After seeing a need for the service we provide, Nancy hired a team to build what is our current platform. The original team included a data scientist and an engineer. Hear our story here.
Help Make it Happen
Want to start a crisis text line in your country? firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are in crisis, text START to 741-741.
Keep me posted
I have had people tell me that they do not want to take anti-depressant medication because it will cause them to be unable to cry. I would suggest that anyone who has this experience should check with their doctors or get honest with themselves. I have been on anti-depressants for many, many years and I have no problem crying when emotion calls for it yet I do not cry constantly with no clearly discernible reason as often happens with untreated depression.
Many people do not understand that depression is not always situational. There are those of us who have a chemical imbalance that brings about depressive symptoms. When depression is situational, most people are able to stop therapy or taking anti-depressants after the situation comes to a resolution or they come to terms with the outcome of the situation. However, please be aware that getting off anti-depressants is not something that should be done without the guidance of a medical doctor, psychotherapist or psychiatrist who will instruct the patient in the best way to taper off the medication.
I have a friend who refused to take anti-depressants because she didn’t like the way they made her feel. I spent time with her after our not seeing each other for a while and she was like a different person. She was happy, positive and upbeat because her doctor put her on an anti-depressant that worked for her. My sister has gone off her anti-depressants from time to time because she is very health conscious and didn’t want to take pills. She has gone back on them every time because if you need them, you need them. Unfortunately, there are times that a person has to try several different anti-depressants until the right one for them is found. It is understandable that one would get frustrated and want to give up but when the right medication is found, it is worth the necessary journey. There are anti-depressants that I cannot take because I metabolize medications slowly or because they aren’t a good fit for one reason or another. The medication my friend has found that works so well for her is one that I cannot take. I have had it prescribed and/or suggested by doctors because it would seem to be the perfect medication for me but it has the undesired of inhibiting my focus.
Another thing about anti-depressants not always understood is that it is sometimes beneficial to change to a different brand or strength after a period of time. I have changed several times over the years because there is a more current, more effective or more beneficial drug or strength for me.
There seems to be a stigma about psychotherapy just as there is about anti-depressants. That stigma can be quite dangerous because depression can destroy not only one’s quality of life but can destroy one’s life itself. I have also heard that some will stop psychotherapy because there comes a point when they cannot stop crying. This is a valid point because emotions that have been stuffed inside or ignored are released by talking through experiences or opening up about thoughts and/or needs. This phenomena is referred to as “getting your feelings” and is an important point in therapy. Rather than being something to be avoided, it is a desired effect of therapy.
Anti-depressants are so widely prescribed these days that some researchers think that the symptoms could be caused by poor diet, lack of sleep or evolving changes in the environment. I believe those could be valid causes as I also believe that the tendency to have depression can be passed down from generation to generation as mine seems to have been. In Ala-non, we learn that when you have a sudden and/or temporary change in mood or experience depression-like symptoms, you might ask yourself if you are hungry, lonely or tired. I have found that any one of these three conditions will cause me to experience a temporary anger or depression.
If you are hesitant to seek treatment for your depression, I encourage you to re-visit your decision by doing research and having a discussion with a physician or psychiatrist. You may be in serious trouble long before the realization hits you or even worse, it may not hit you until it is too late.
So you think you’ve escaped alcoholism, not a chance. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be effected by alcoholism.
Alcoholism affects everyone who comes in contact with an alcoholic. It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, child, or a co-worker. That is why Ala-non, is a support group for families and friends of alcoholics not just families of alcoholics. You may not have the disease but I can say that you have the ism’s without ever having met you.
It is said that alcoholism is a family disease and I believe it with all my heart. I grew up in an alcoholic home. Why do I call it an alcoholic home? Does that mean that all my family members were alcoholics? No, our home revolved around my alcoholic mother because her actions or in-actions affected every one of us. Our emotional make-up developed around coping with her drinking and the effect it had on us. I like to see my mother as having alcoholism rather than as an alcoholic but it is my habit to use the term alcoholic which is unfortunately a label. She grew up in an alcoholic home just like I did. I have the utmost love and strive to understand because but for the grace of God, go I. As alcoholism is said to be genetic, I could have followed in her footsteps. I am lucky, I don’t like the taste of alcohol and yet I am unlucky in that I don’t like not having control. Why is that unlucky? Because I have to fight the tendency to control everything around me to ensure that it doesn’t give me that feeling of not having control over my life and to avoid the helpless feelings I had growing up. I also believe it is a learned behavior, we do what we know and alcoholism is what we know.
That is why even though you think you have escaped the parent or ex, you are wrong. You were affected and I can prove it.
Do you have problems getting along with others?
Do you have control issues?
Is your relationship picker broken?
Are you hyper-vigilant?
Do you fight depression?
Do you lack confidence?
Are you an under or over achiever?
Are you a people-pleaser?
Are you a care taker?
Are you a fixer?
There are many other symptoms but I’m sure you get it and you know which one of these have developed in you.
In my work as a Crisis Call Counselor, I could pretty much bet that regardless of the crisis, the conversation would eventually reveal that the caller had been affected by alcoholism, either theirs or someone in their past or present life. I consider alcoholism an “emotional” disease because it can bring about anger, sadness, depression, resentment, etc. in the alcoholic or those affected by a person’s drinking. The reason persons affected by another person’s drinking are considered to be co-dependent is that while the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, the affected person is addicted to the alcoholic. I have had so many friends, boyfriends and a husband who were addicted to alcohol and in the beginning of the relationship, I didn’t know there was a problem. It’s like a magnet! I have friends in Ala-non who say it is because alcoholics are charismatic and exciting. Perhaps we see something in their personalities that we wish we had.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I’m not with him/her any more, so I don’t need Ala-non.” I have thought that myself but I always end up going back because my ism’s become overwhelming. This post is not meant to advertise or push Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics, yet it is what I know so I do highly recommend them. Just like the person with alcoholism, only you can decide that you need help and what support is best for you. I have been told, “When it hurts bad enough, you will get help.”
“Co-dependent No More” by Melody Beattie is a really good book for understanding the effects of alcoholism. I read this book like a person dying of thirst drinks water. It told me that I was not crazy and there was hope.
People addicted to alcohol and/or drugs will to try to convince others that it is your fault, don’t take it on. Think 3 C’s – You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, alcoholism in you or someone else is not your fault but it is your responsibility. If you are afraid of the alcoholic becoming angry because you are seeking help, 12 step support groups are anonymous as is therapy. If you go to a meeting or see a therapist and you are not comfortable with the environment or personalities, try another meeting or therapist. There are many meetings and therapists available. If you are in a remote area, I understand that there are meetings online. Just do an Internet search of Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics. There are two daily readers, One Day at a Time in Ala-non and Courage to Change that are utilized by Ala-Non. I find ODAT (nickname) useful when you are in a relationship with an alcoholic and Courage to Change is a good all-around book. I mostly use Courage to Change and it seems to be a favorite among recovering Ala-Non’s. Before using these books, it would be helpful to do some research on alcoholism. People active in Ala-Non attend open AA meetings to learn what the person with alcoholism experiences.
Whatever you decide to do, know that you are not alone. Everything you have experienced, someone else has experienced. It helps to talk with other people who are experiencing the same thing or who have been there and survived.
There is always hope.
So the drinking binges at Margaret and Doug’s house continued and my sister and I continued to resent them. Once, I wanted to send mom a rose with a note on my birthday but I was living in the city at that time and it was going to cost too much to have it delivered. I called Margaret and asked her if she would pick it up and give it to mom and she said she would be glad to. I called in the order and Margaret picked it up and called mom over to her house. She even took a picture of mom as she cried when she saw the rose and read the card. She wrote me a note about mom’s reaction and I have kept and cherish that note. I loved Margaret so much and wished I could wake her up to reality but I, like so many others, stayed out of it. At that time in my life, I would never have crossed that line because it would have been highly inappropriate. I don’t know that I could prevent myself from approaching Margaret today. My parents loved Margaret and they had been through so much together and I believe that my m0ther’s secret about her father wouldn’t allow her to judge . Is that that why she stood by Margaret and by association, Doug?
Mom and Gayle went by Margaret and Doug’s for drinks one evening and after they left, things got really dicey. I am not sure of all the details but Doug was drunk and there was an argument between Doug and Margaret’s oldest adopted son, Terry, in their front yard. Doug went into the house and got a gun and it was taken away from him by whom, I don’t recall. Doug went back into the house and got another gun and pointed it at Terry. Margaret moved in front of Terry and Doug shot the gun hitting Margaret and killing her. He got another shot off and hit Terry whether it was before or after he shot Margaret, I don’t know. Terry lived and when he recovered, he left town and would not respond to his family’s attempts to locate him. Doug went to jail and after serving his sentence was released. Sadly the house went to him as Margaret’s husband, not her children. How ironic that was.
It hurts to this day to think about the loss to Margaret’s biological children, her adopted children, her immediate family…my family, me… When I returned home after my divorce, my mom and I joined a church that was across the street from the house where Maggie died. After a while, I got used to seeing it and it began to blend into the background but Margaret will forever live in my heart. The thing is, as humans we all make mistakes, some more serious than others. Margaret was a victim of the heart, the heart wants what it wants and she was too vulnerable to see where her choices were taking her and to realize that she was taking everyone who loved her along on her tragic journey.
Alcohol was a contributing factor to the tragedy that became Margaret’s life. When I am asked why I don’t drink alcohol, my answer is that alcohol has caused so much pain in my life. I was born lucky in that I hate the taste of alcohol and while it played a big part in my single life, it has no place in my life today. We have friends and family who drink alcohol and attend events where it is served, however, we don’t keep or offer alcohol in our home. My sister and I were hopeful that our mother would stop drinking or at least cut down after Margaret died but for her it just wasn’t that simple.
*I have changed the names of those involved in this story even though it was a very long time ago. There are lessons to be learned from this story so if it helps one person to see the truth in themselves, it will have been worth the telling. I leave it up to the reader as to what they take away from the reading of it.
Margaret got her new house and though it didn’t seem much larger than the old one, I’m sure getting away from the memories of the old house was a relief.
I wish I could say that life improved for Maggie but while she might have thought she was on a good path, she made a very large mistake. She became desperate to prove that she was desirable to men. She started dressing provocatively and going out with one man after another. She finally settled on a merchant marine. I found him to be creepy and couldn’t understand why my parents would have anything to do with him. My mother’s explanation was that they put up with Doug for Maggie’s sake but I think they just didn’t want to see what a useless creep he really was. Maggie’s biological children were adults and had their own families by then but her five adopted children were still at home. Margaret married Doug and he moved into the house with her and her adopted children.
There was a lot of heavy drinking in that house and my mother and Gayle got into a habit of going by there after work to “have a drink”. Maggie and Doug lived in the same town where my mother worked. We had moved to another town a short distance away and had to drive to their town or another one for groceries etc. My mother would often go to the “grocery store” after work and then go to their house and drink. It was very frustrating for my sister and I because we would have to track mom down if we needed permission to do anything. We felt lonely and abandoned waiting for her to come home and when she got home, she was usually drunk.
Reading my stories would make it easy to put my family and family friends into a “white trash” category but they weren’t. The fallacy of this kind of dysfunction is that it doesn’t happen to decent people. Not true. If you follow my blog, my hope is that you will see that dysfunctional families often don’t know that they are becoming dysfunctional or are dysfunctional because their lifestyle is no different from those in their social circle. It’s kind of like, “If its o.k for them, its o.k. for us.”
Eventually, one of the Maggie’s adopted girls told her school officials that Doug had been molesting her. The other girls were questioned and at least one other, maybe two admitted that he had molested them as well. When she was notified, Maggie called the children liars and Children’s Protective Services split the children between her biological son and daughter. This is a woman who I loved and spent so much time with, who was as much a part of my life as my own parents. How could she do this to her kids? How could she choose that asshole over her kids? Why couldn’t she see who he was or why didn’t she want to see what he was? It hurt.
When I worked for a police department, I saw first hand that women will betray their children so often to hold on to a man. I don’t need to tell you that though, do I? Constantly we read or hear in the news about the boyfriend or the stepfather physically or sexually abusing the children or even worse, killing them. Yes, I know that women do it also but it is different. Men don’t have the same desperation to have a woman be a part of their life as women have a desperation to have a man in their life, its ingrained into women. Our mothers push and prod to get us married and have children and if we want more, if it isn’t a priority, then there is something wrong with us. Yes, we are progressing but not entirely. There are those who do not have parents encouraging and supporting their need to become individuals before they become a wives and mother. Those women can easily fall into the get married, have kids and struggle mentality, after all, that is what we are supposed to do. Some religious zealots believe it is our sole purpose based on bible teachings.
Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents had a big party for family and friends. That year, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and I could not believe that my parents allowed Margaret to bring Doug to the party. He tried to talk to me but I excused myself and walked away. The next day I asked my parents why they invited him and told them how I felt when he was around. I will never forget my dad saying, “He would never do anything to my daughters.” Hello Dad, is anyone in there? He would molest Margaret’s children but not yours? Was my dad that naive or did he just feel guilty for exposing me to Doug in the first place? Needless to say, I felt angry that my feelings were dismissed so easily. My dad did not know that I had ever been molested because my mother never told him.
Margaret’s daughters missed her and and it being Christmas…they told Children’s Protective Services that they lied so they could go back home. One of the daughters was in my computer class at the community college and she told me that they didn’t lie, they just wanted to go home. I didn’t ask any questions, I just let her talk as she told me what they went through with Doug. By then Margaret was dead.
Continued Part Three
The phone rang sometime in the middle of the night. Our parents came to our bedroom and told us that Nate had shot himself and they were going to the hospital. Neither my sister nor I had any reaction whatsoever, we were neither sad nor surprised.
After our parents left for the hospital, we talked about our lack of surprise and emotion being because there was always some kind of drama associated with Nate and Margaret. Maggie and Nate were my parent’s best friends. My sister and I were very close to Maggie and loved her as we would a favorite aunt. Nate doted on my sister and I thought she was attached to him but she confided that the older she got, the less comfortable she felt around him. I, too, had grown less and less fond of him as I got old enough to be wary of the behaviors of adults. Still, Nate and Maggie always treated us like we were their own children. They had two of their own close to my brother’s and my ages and our families were very close. It was always as if they belonged in our extended family and we in theirs. We visited with Maggie’s parents and younger siblings in rural east Texas where they lived in a small house with an outhouse. Everyone called her mother “Big Mama”, even though she was small, most likely because she “ruled the roost”. Big Mama and Maggie were both freckle-faced with reddish hair, had wonderful laughs and were very loving. Every morning, Big Mama would cook up a big breakfast with bacon, eggs, homemade biscuits and cold fresh milk. When we were in east Texas, we would also visit Nate’s mother who was a tall stoic woman but the visits were confined to an hour or two.
Nate was possessive and controlling not only of his wife and children but of my mother as well which always made me feel uncomfortable. At times when they were all drinking, most often with another couple in their group, there would be arguments started by Nate or Joe, our previous next door neighbor. Nate would act as my mother’s protector even from my father always making me feel unstable. Joe also interfered in my parent’s marriage, always kept tabs on my mother and I can recall him playing tattle tale to my dad. All of this chaos disturbed me especially as I have always been hyper-vigilant, feeling a need to know everything going on around me in order to stay safe.
My dad was raised in the Church of Christ and his family were devout members. My mother joined the faith when she married my dad. It was attractive to her as her father was an alcoholic and Church of Christ did not allow drinking or much of anything else. Things for me went to “hell in a hand-basket when my parents met Nate and Maggie and Joe and Gayle. My parents started drinking and there were too many late nights with our parents getting drunk, flirting and getting loud and obnoxious. I was uncomfortable with the couples dancing with each others’ wives and husbands. There were times when the men would want to dance with me which really made me uncomfortable. I look back now and realize that even as an adult, I was uncomfortable with older men possibly related to my grandfather’s sexual abuse. The parents would sometimes put the kids to bed at whatever house we gathered and often left us over night. Sometimes my parents would put my brother, sister and I in the car as they were getting ready to leave and left us there for what seemed to us like hours most likely thinking we would fall asleep. I always imagined that terrible things happened in the house while we were in the car and they were in the house because their behavior frightened me. I didn’t like it at all. I was hyper-vigilant as a child and still am in adulthood. I got through a lot of my life by using daydreaming as an escape.
Maggie’s brother and sister-in-law were killed in an automobile accident and they had five surviving children. Nate talked Maggie into adopting the five kids. Mom says it was to tie Maggie down to the house because he was jealous of her job working as a dental assistant. Their house was too small for their two children (a boy and a girl) and the addition of three girls and two boys but there wasn’t enough money to buy a larger house. They argued about how overtaxed they were quite often and one night it got really heated. Nate told Maggie that he would take care of things seeing that she had a bigger house. He went into the garage and shot himself in the head leaving her to raise seven kids alone.
Continued Part Two