The following story is a continuation of part 1 of LaChelle’s story that can be read here.
“I didn’t realize until many years later the influence my mother had over me. But I allowed it,” LaChelle said.
Initially when she moved out of her parents’ house, her mother did not let LaChelle take her daughter with her, which LaChelle found strange since her mother had pushed for her to abort the baby on several occasions.
“I’m a non-confrontational person and I wanted to keep the peace, so I left my daughter and went over on Wednesday nights to stay with my child overnight. I knew my mother wasn’t ready to be a mother again, she just wanted me to do what she told me to do,” LaChelle said.
After her second child was born, LaChelle said her mother eventually allowed her daughter to move home with her to be with her baby brother.
In 2001, her father was injured on the job and suffered debilitating injuries. By this time, LaChelle’s daughter was going into the 8th Grade.
“I let my daughter go over to my parents’ house to help take care of my dad. It took about a year for him to recover to 65-70% (his new norm),” she said. “My daughter was about to go into high school. She didn’t want to come back home and my mother supported that.”
“Some days I did not feel like struggling with my mother, and some days I felt like my daughter was my responsibility, so she should be home with me. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was that they wanted me to pay for my daughter to go to private school and my child was being VERY disrespectful to me at that time. All of that was under the influence of my mother. So, I put my foot down and told her that she was coming home.”
Time went on and cracks began to form in the relationship between LaChelle and her boyfriend. They had everything that mimicked a married couple – cars, a home, children – but he did not think the commitment of marriage mattered.
“We lived this way for 14 years. I put up with a lot of things emotionally because I came from a two-parent home and I wanted my children to live in a two-parent home,” she said. “My children were more important to me than what I felt. It took me to a really dark place.”
The disagreements between the couple escalated and on two occasions, LaChelle found herself spending three nights in jail.
“The police came, and I was defending myself. He said one of us had to go. When I got out the second time, I went and stayed at my parents’ place for about a month,” she said. “Eventually, we worked things out and we ended up back together in “our” home.”
When she went back home, LaChelle decided not to take her medication with her. They were prescribed for asthma, depression, and pain she had because of car accidents.
One day, LaChelle and her daughter were in the car and her daughter was being disrespectful. After warning her, the behavior continued.
“I popped her in the nose, and she began to bleed. A few weeks later, I got a call that my daughter had reported the matter and I needed to go and answer some questions,” she said.
When LaChelle arrived, she found her mother and her aunt sitting with her daughter. A caseworker was present and began to question LaChelle.
“They had told the caseworker that I was addicted to pain medication. The caseworker was able to pick out when she met me that I was not the person my mother had portrayed to her. And she realized that my daughter was being coaxed to speak ill of me,” she said.
The case against her fell apart and was dismissed, LaChelle returned home.
Some joy came into her life when her boyfriend had a change of heart about marriage and the two finally officially wed. The couple thrived for a season and welcomed another child, a baby girl.
In 2008, her parents split up after over 40 years of marriage. It was devastating for LaChelle, and a couple of years later, her own marriage fell apart.
“One of the things that was the demise of our relationship was I thought my husband was a little intimidated by me because of my ambition. By this time, we owned a salon together and it became popular very quickly. I am a very humble person. Status does not matter to me. But I think he felt like he did not have a place in the salon. But he did.”
The strain of her marriage caused her to shut down.
“I became emotionally bankrupt with him, and I was just existing. I was going to work, coming home and spending time with our children,” she said. “I got to a point where I didn’t want to be around him because he was a Debbie Downer. I do not like negative energy. I refused to be depressed especially since I’d gone through a depressive stage years prior.”
During the divorce, LaChelle lost everything. She lost her home and her salon because it was in both her name and her husband’s name, and she could not afford to keep the salon going on her own.
“Someone I know went and purchased it from the auction so I wouldn’t lose it completely, and it would not adversely affect the other stylists in the salon. The business continued and I was supposed to purchase it back from her later,” she said.
“My husband was the primary provider and there are some things that he should not have done during the divorce,” she said. “He turned off the utilities in the house. I was still in the house with the kids trying to make ends meet at home and the salon.”
Meanwhile, her father’s health declined and LaChelle became his caregiver while juggling her responsibilities at her salon.
“When I was taking care of my dad, my mom was nowhere around. When my father became sick, he was hurt that my mother did not take care of him. All those years he was the primary breadwinner and he always made sure that we were taken care of as family. If there was a need for additional income, he bent over backward to make sure we had our necessities and some occasional extras. So, for my mom to not be there for him when he got terminally sick, was very hurtful to him. They had their irreconcilable differences and she moved out, so they were estranged the remainder of his life and they never divorced.”
But LaChelle had troubles of her own. A custody battle ensued over her youngest daughter. Her husband was seeking custody, claiming LaChelle was an alcoholic and could not pass a drug test. She took the test right away and passed it.
LaChelle and the kids moved into a house where she was renting, but as her father’s health continued to worsen, she moved back into the home she had grown up in – where he was living.
“I lost a lot taking care of my dad. I made many sacrifices. I could not go to the salon and I brought a chair home so I could do people’s hair out of my home and take care of my dad at the same time,” she said. “I was also running my salon and taking care of my youngest daughter. I also went to school and did a four-year degree in a year-and-a-half during that time. At the time, it was a welcome distraction.”
“In addition, I had a couple surgeries and I still needed to have surgery on both feet. I had a lot going on and I had to still try to put things back together. I took care of my father for about four years. My mother did not see him for much of that time, only a time or two when he was in the hospital. I felt when she came to see him in the hospital it was to see how close he was to taking his last breath. (Lord, forgive my thoughts if I was wrong), but later her actions backed up my thoughts.”
“When my dad passed, my mom wanted to have the upper hand. I stepped back and allowed her to do that. I lost my dad on a Friday. That Sunday, my mom said we all needed to have a meeting – myself, my two brothers and her. I told my mother that my kids and I were still living in the house and that I’d been taken care of things all this time,” LaChelle said. “Her response was, ‘You will live there as long as I allow you to live there.’ I felt defenseless and did not know what to do. I was in survival mode because I didn’t know what she was going to do.”
Meanwhile, LaChelle was trying to purchase her salon back but she had a lot on her plate. She had finally gotten her credit back in good standing and was on the brink of purchasing her salon back. However, the lady who now owned the building told LaChelle that their situation had changed, and they needed to sell it right away. The good news, she said, was that the woman had found a businessman to buy it and he wanted “everything to stay the same.”
“I understood that as I’d be able to run my business and I would only have to pay rent to someone else. But once they signed the deal, he told me that all the utilities were going to go in his name the following week. He said he was offered the building by itself or a building with a fully functioning business, he chose the latter,” LaChelle explained. “While I argued that the lady did not own my business and therefore could not have sold what was not hers, he said he had already paid a premium price for it. So ultimately, I no longer had the business. It was unfair.”
It was a painful loss; she had owned her salon in that location for fifteen years. She had worked so hard to be able to get her salon back and now all was lost.
Compounding the matters at hand, it did not seem to matter whether LaChelle and her daughter had anywhere to go or not. Her mother was adamant. She wanted LaChelle out of the family home, so her younger brother could move in.
“My mother and my brother put us out. A month before that, I had lost my salon. I lost everything. My daughter and I did not have a place to call home. November 26th of 2018 is when we felt the feeling of being homeless.”
Before he died, her father had given consent for his share of the house to be transferred to LaChelle’s name. But while she was at the County office having it processed, she got the call that her father had died. So, the transfer was never completed.
“I hoped that I wouldn’t have a problem because this is my mom. but I was wrong. She told me that I had to go. My daughter came home from school one day and found a notice to vacate stuck on the front door. My daughter knew that her grandmother had ordered it,” she said.
Because of a call down south to a long-time family friend that had kept her phone number when her dad died, she was connected to someone that lived in Alabama that needed to get rid of a house in Dayton. It had been a year and a half after her dad had died. She contributed the connection to fate. Now the time had come, and it was at the point that she had to move.
“When I was trying to move and still staying in both places, my brother and mother were coming in and out of the house when I went to work and my daughter went to school rushing to get me out completely. I ended up having to get a protection order against my brother so I could just get things out of the house without being harassed,” she said.
LaChelle was not able to move all her things out. She said her brother lied to authorities and filed an order and was granted a protection order to lock her out.
“He trashed the rest of my things. Some of my property he left out in the rain, some of it he just threw out in the garage. I lost so much stuff. It was a very emotionally devastating time,” she said. “But I had a teenage daughter and she was watching me. I had to stay strong for her. I did not want my daughter to worry about where we were going to live. I told her that we would be okay. This was the second time I was losing my home, but this time was more profound.”
“My brother moved into the house soon after. It was a three-story house. There was enough room for everybody. I grew up there, but ultimately, my mother allowed him to have the house, he lives there now. You must release negativity. I just went into a cocoon for the most part. I became a recluse. There are people who fell by the wayside, but some were there for me. A lot of people did not know what I was going through, but I persevered.”
Now LaChelle is focusing on rebuilding her life. Some opportunities have opened, and she continues to stay positive. She says prayer keeps her sane.
“You cannot stay stuck in a problem. You have to stay in motion, you have to keep moving and somehow you will make it out,” she said. “If you do not keep moving, you’ll become stagnant and won’t grow. Growing through what you are going through, will make you stronger in the long run.”
LaChelle also says it is important to reflect on the past to avoid repeating the same cycle.
“Everything we do, every encounter we have, every mistake, per se, we go through…that makes you who you are as a person. You must take something positive out of experiences you have. It never matters what the problem is, it’s how you react to the problem,” she said.