I have to be honest, I have sat down a few times to write this and thought it was going to be easy but it has been far from that. I type this through tears.
Nearly 17 years ago I started a business with my then husband. A mailing and shipping store, although I knew like most things I would be doing most of it myself. This proved to be true, I spent years sick and tired but still drove to town at 6am to get the kids to school many miles from home. I had three kids that went to three different schools, and once we drove the nearly 30 miles to town we dropped off the kids at each school and landed at The Mail Center around 7:30 am. The store didn't open until 9am, so I worked on my other business to make ends meet. The rent was never paid on time, the house was in foreclosure 4 times and late often. We would go to Sizzler and sneak the salad bar and share the meal so our family of five could eat for $20. We were a regular at Round Table Pizza, so much that my youngest daughter still detests pizza to this day. We did this because I couldnt leave work until late at night, travel 30+ miles home to a freezing cold house because we only had wood heat and by the time we got there at night, my poor son had to cut wood and bring it in and start a fire while my then husband sat in his chair with a beer barking orders. Once he got the fire going he would go out to the poorly constructed addition to our mobile home to freeze for the night. To this day, he sleeps with a window open.
Many years of poverty, then there was the physical, mental and verbal abuse we went through for so many years. But that is a story to follow at www.jiltedwings.com, not this post. Many years of going to work 6 and 7 days a week for over 9 years with very little help physically or financially from my then husband. But like all things in my life, I am committed no matter what. My vows were real the day I got married. I did everything I could to keep going in keeping our home and business. My then husband did not contribute much, although I used 1000s of dollars of money we didnt have to set him up in different businesses to help make him a better man and contribute to our family. But all those years, he was more concerned with his sexual and deviant impulses. Myself, my children and even my employees at work when he was there seen hundreds of hours on porn that later turned into a full time affair and double life. Again another story but is the reason why I had to work so hard myself to pay bills. I didn't get to be there for the children's ANYTHING, I always had to work. I knew nothing but get up and work and go home. Money was my only reason for living because I had a partner that did nothing to help. Yet, I was accused of being a workaholic.
Seven years ago, a scout parent introduced me to scrap-booking. It was a little frivolous to me, I didn't have time and money for that. But it was fun, not just the scrap-booking but the friendships. I wasn't able to have women friends, my then husband was so inappropriate with even our employees that I avoided having any women friends. Of course, I could not have men friends, not with an insanely jealous husband. But the women that I met through crafting were strong women, they did not let him get away with his crap ans cared about me and came around to craft together. This saved me more then they will ever know. Thank you Debbie Harmon and Patty Smith and those of you that stood by me.
This was my life, I accepted it.
In 2011, I discovered that my then husband had been having a full blown double life with an ex employee. Funny thing is it hurt at first, but it didn't bother me as much as people thought. I just dug in harder, worked harder and tried harder. We separated but like always I didn't want to split up the family so I let him back in my life. A few months later, his serious narcissist personality and excessive unfounded jealousy based on his own infidelity hit a serious note. Over two days I was held hostage and assaulted that resulted in life long injuries and him ultimately going to prison for four years.
During three years of courts for the criminal portion, then the divorce I kept the business open. First because the courts required me to, second because it was all I had. I was given the business but I also got the bills. Not only the business bills, but my own of course. Then I got all his bills, over $86,000 over the last 4 years that he failed to pay or tell the courts. The only reason why this happened was because his wonderful family decided to keep quiet about his mother passing. This meant that he inherited a portion of the estate and in their greed and so much worry about me taking something from them. They did not after being in that family for over 14 years the benefit of the doubt that I wanted nothing of theirs. But if the judge had known, I would not have been strapped with HIS BILLS. This was the beginning of a living hell in my business, for my family and my life.
Although these were tough years, I also had such incredible customers that literally became family and dear and close friends. My customers are why I kept doing this, day after day...I am so thankful for each of them. I will miss them so much. I hope to see them in town from time to time and maybe visit me in my new business.
I am prideful woman, I do not like to fail. So through years of financial devastation, I sold everything I owned several times, took out loans...did it all to keep my doors open. For my children first and for my customers second. Then there was the employees, so many that robbed me in so many ways. I could write a book on that alone but for the sake of what happened most recently I will keep it to my last employee, Jenniffer Pope. A woman who came to me through Job Council because she had lost a long time job that she had and was on welfare. I always hired people through this program because I was there once.
Over the two years she was with me, I came to trust her. She opened and closed my store, had full access to all my money and even my home. I helped her in many ways including keeping her children, getting child support, extra income...all this on top of her paycheck. A paycheck that took every dime I had every week to pay but it was paid. Over the course of the last year she was late over 185 times and didn't open my store fourteen times in 4 months. This is not heresay, these are facts. I finally had to let her go because it was causing issues in my business, with my customers and certainly my bottom line. I let her go. Shortly after I found her in my store, with the incredible excuse of the doors were unlocked. I dont need to go into further detail as it is in court at this time, but needless to say it was the last straw for me. I have been working to line every single persons pockets except mine.
I needed to put an end to it all but after 17 years and hundreds of customers it felt impossible to close it all down. And that is exactly what is happening this Friday. It will be my last day of The Mail Center, LLC. All mailbox holders and business services will move to MAILBOX PLUS at 1051 NE 6th Street Grants Pass, OR. Same great service but there will no longer be shipping for the public or packing services. I will be close by working on my new ART CENTER and building my new venture while helping in the transition.
For the first time in my life I have anxiety. I have been self employed and an entrepreneur most of my life and I am the type that just jumps in feet first and asks questions later. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes not. I dont have anything to be scared of, my children are all grown and successful young people. Its just me and my guy, so why am I worried. I think because it is the first time someone else made this decision maliciously for me. My ex husband and his actions, the choices of numerous employees over the years, landlords and more. But I know that I am a very prideful and stubborn woman and just as something horrific had to happen to free me and my children from my former life, this too had to happen.
So here I am ready to embark on a bit of an adventure. Although I will still be helping in the transition of the mail center, I will be building my craft world back up and forward. I am working on my ART THERAPY CENTER where I will be a life coach teaching with art therapy. This has been my calling for many years, but I have been kept from it for so long. No more, the road blocks are being moved out of my way one at a time. It will still be months but I am closer than I have ever been and I am nervous, scared, happy and excited.
I look forward to getting back to the person I was meant to be, even making a name change. Craft world I am back with a full art center to create and work in!!!
Thank you to so many for the support in so many ways throughout my life. Family, friends, companies, customers, and online peeps. You mean the world to me.