The End of My Year 2023 By the Numbers

It has been 127 days since I was involuntarily removed from my home of 18+ years – in handcuffs under false pretext using an invalid warrant. That’s one third of 2023. One entire third of my year. Gone.

Every single one of those day, I have focused on two things: recovering from the traumas and then getting myself home to my cats.

Furthermore my judge has ordered a co-habitation agreement that we are working through mediation. I should be home in January 2024.  I hope. So more than 127 days. This next year.

The year in legal, health, and more

Three lawyers. I have three lawyers in three legal cases. I also have a lawyer as a mediator. My wife is a lawyer, Other involved parties are lawyers. So many lawyers. Last year, I needed no lawyers.

Three times I had to go to Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Family Law Division. Once by myself and twice with my lawyer and a friend.

Four times, I’ve had my case continued. For weeks at a time. Not to punish me, but just because family court has limited resources. Each day, week, month, and year pass by.

Three days. Since early September, I’ve seen my therapist three times a week. I take my mental health seriously. Typically I see her twice a week. A third slot opened up when my world imploded so I am now working very hard to use all of that time to manage life, deal with the details of recent events, and process trauma.

Thirty dollars a week is what I spend on co-pays to see my therapist. Worth every penny, but a lot.

Three psychiatrists. Since recent events, I’ve been moved through three psychiatrists. The first just disappeared. Poof. The second was horrible. Now, I’ve begun working with a psychiatric LPN. He seems cool, so far. No red flags.

The year in cats and my Council of Ladies

One woman who has cared for two colonies plus her own since early August without complaint.

Nine hours. I now regularly sleep nine hours without alarms. I go to bed between 8 and 9, read for a few hours, and sleep until 8 most days. It’s been the best self-care. I rarely need naps. I can get up earlier when necessary just fine.

Six friends. My core interior group or “Sue’s Council of Ladies.” They text or call me multiple times each week, since the first week. They follow the legal ups and downs. They stand with me. They believe me. They show up when I need to vent or celebrate. They do not judge me when I let days slide by without contact.

Four cats here, I call my ‘nibblings’ who have grown accustomed to me. It might be due to the catnip I spread on my bed. But they treat me like any other member of their extended family.

Eight times I’ve been able to see my own pet cats most of whom come to see me when I visit. I’ve been sitting in the kitchen on a floor mat. Next week, I get to sit in the living room and start working on a plan to return.

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Eight people who have given me rides. Rides home. Rides to the doctor, to court, and my lawyers’ offices. Rides to my cats and rides home. Rides to the pharmacy, the grocery store, and an occasional trip to Starbucks. Indeed, these eight people mostly say yes, make me feel comfortable, take photos, carry bags, etc.

Three times I had to visit my local police office (Zone One) for official reasons. More than my whole life.

Two nephews who welcomed me, comforted me, amused me. gave up their bedroom for me, and have been my riotous companions in watching a million movies. Further, I am much more well-versed in Star Wars, Nic Cage movies, and the Simpsons.

Two mama friends who dropped everything to help me and haven’t stopped for 127 days. I’ve known them for 20+ years. They took care of me as I recovered medically. They assured me I was safe and not going to be abandoned again. They bought food I like, took me places, and always listened. They are my guardian angels whom I can never repay for turning their lives upside down to hold fast to me. Moreover, this is consistent with who they are.

One. One thing at a time. One moment or hour or chunk of hours at a time. One day at a time. One has helped me navigate overwhelming odds. One keeps me from spiraling. One step at a time, I have arrived here, almost home.

The year in conclusion

As for 2024, we’ll have to take it as it comes. My goals were to work on the trauma and to get home to my cats. I’ve made no further decisions except to cling tightly to my civil rights and not be forced into decisions on anyone else’s schedule.

204 people donated to my legal aid fund. See below.

Two seasons. I left my home in flip flops and pajamas. Now I wear winter clothing with hiking boots and sneakers. Formerly, the photo on my crowdfund was the rainbow flip flops that I had to wear to court and elsewhere. Thus, I’ve replaced with my hiking boots to represent my current reality.

Another number is $9000. That’s what I still need to crowdfund for my legal and personal expenses. Like too many people, I can’t protect my civil rights without financial help. Obviously, the retainer for a lawyer is essential to justice. It is a horrifying reality. All the pro bono work in the world won’t help. Cash bond, quickly accruing fines on late payments of citations, and survivors who can’t afford a $5000 retainer. Without a doubt, these challenges are hurtful. All of us are denied justice because we are poor.

In brief, please help me and my cats continue to walk through this with hope.

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