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How Emily Patterson of JohnsonAndToxin Ended up Homeless
Homeless since foreclosure on June 17, 2011. Here's how that ended up happening...
Date Created: 2019, May 19
Keywords: homeless, florida, jensen beach, poverty, jobless
Site accessed 2,539,536 times.
This page accessed 840 times.
The downward spiral to homelessness from a home-owner with a tenant, management job and part-time jobs didn't start with just one thing. It was a series of unfortunate events and poor decision-making on the part of my ex-husband.
When I met my ex-husband, I had $50,000 in the bank, was making $55,000 a year working three jobs. I worked around 60 hours a week at a printing company, 20 hours a week cleaning offices and 16 to 20 hours a week at a flower shop. I had a nice little apartment, a brand new car, only $800 in debt on cards used ONLY to build credit for buying a house. Now that I hit my target of $50,000, I was ready to buy my first house.
My ex-husband was working one job for minimum wage, living on the third floor of his parents' house. He was deep in debt, had two children to provide for and his ex-wife was fresh out of nursing school, making entry level wages. I truly loved my ex, his children, the entire family. I provided as much as I could for him, his children and even his ex-wife. In addition, he decided he wanted to start a handy-man business - so I financed all the tools, paperwork and covered all his debt while he was starting out. Not to mention the incredible numbers of hours I put in, while also keeping up with my own jobs.
Some personal issues arose between me and the step-children (basically, I expected them to do chores and account for their whereabouts, nothing extreme), and my ex-husband and step-children began saying negative things about me that I didn't find out about until later. I was no longer welcome at my in-laws. I spent every holiday alone, sending my ex and our sons to family events that I was not welcome to attend. I grew up in foster care and do not have a family, so my holidays were spent, literally, alone. After five years of that, I really felt like I didn't belong. I was treated like shit. Ignored. Treated me with less affection than the dog. I got sick of it. Sick of begging to be noticed. Sick of begging for at least a night to watch a movie together. Sick of being treated as though I wasn't wanted around. My ex literally would not even say my name. I gave up. Too much anxiety. Too sad and alone. So I left.
I left our sons with him. They were in excellent schools and did not need more of a disturbance in their lives than what they were already going through. I made the decision regarding our children that I thought, at the time, was in their best interest with regard to their education and emotional stability.
I stayed at a friend's for a month until I got a small townhouse. My sons and I actually hated it and spent most of our time together in a park. My ex kept being late picking our youngest son up, which was destroying me for being able to be on time for work. It was one of the reasons I lost my management job at UPS.
When my ex-husband and I decided on division of property (after 13 years married), he determined that if I left everything except my personal stuff, he would settle with: $42,000 cash (what I dumped into his business, my portion of equity in the house), pay off the van and put it in my name alone (it was currently in both), pay off two credit cards (that I had thought were his). HE is the one who divided the property. I simply agreed to what he proposed. I let him keep the house, everything in it, took only things that were important to me.
He gave me only $41 of $42,000, which I didn't care because I knew most of it would go to the kids. I used $36,000 to buy my house in the mountains. I put the rest aside knowing it would be a while until I found a job.
I found a job as a property manager for a millionaire a few months before I bought my house. He was paying me $1,000 a week. I used that money to buy all new furniture for the three bedroom bungalow with a garage that had an apartment over it. The apartment brough in $500 a month when I had tenants.
The millionaire died before I found a decent 'normal' job. I had saved a bit, had around $18,000 in the bank. I had already been looking for a more normal job, even if less pay, since I only had a one year contract as property manager anyway. I couldn't find anything. It took four years to find a decent paying job. In the meantime I worked whatever I could find. I was writing for google and yahoo, my foster brother had construction work, a logger friend needed help sometimes. I was also donating time at a horse rescue, feeding, grooming and cleaning up after a number of abandoned horses.
It got really tight, I was struggling for food, heat, electric, let alone gas to run the kids and food for them when they were at my house. My ex brought them up a few times with food, but that didn't last long. He paid two electric bills and four partial-payments on my mortgage and put in a hot water heater in the main house and a tub in the rental. I found out later he simply put those things on the credit cards. You'll see why that's important in a minute.
During this time, I was doing all the running of taking our sons back and forth from their dad's house to mine. Because of the fact that my ex kept dropping the children off when I had other things I needed to be doing, like going to work, I moved a long way from him. My house was 125 miles from his, a 2.5 hour ride one-way. Even with that distance, I was seeing our sons at least once a week, usually more. I had my youngest son with me as much as possible, sometimes weeks, since he was so young and I wasn't working but my ex was. My oldest son and I were on the phone almost every night.
I finally found a management job at the paper, and was also delivering papers for the Saturday into Sunday run (the largest), had a military couple as tenants in the rental, was still able to work for google and yahoo. Things were finally coming back around again and I was looking forward to being able to afford to see my children more again. I missed them desperately.
Only two months into working at the newspaper, the guys came to reposess the van. My ex had quit paying on it. I went to the bank to get a home equity loan to solve the problem. I had been in the house for over five years and had put $32,000 down. I should easily qualify for a $20,000 home equity loan. I was just going to pay off the van, pay off the cards to help my ex out a bit since our sons lived with him. Problem solved and help for my ex, best interest all around, right?
Wrong. I found out that the cards I though were my ex's were actually credit accounts he forged my name to open. The total on the two $4,500 cards was over $10,000 with fees and they had already filed with the Courthouse to start procedings to put a lien against my house. With such unreasonable debt and new job, I couldn't get the loan. I checked my ex's credit, found it would be good enough and asked him to co-sign the note so we could dump the debt, save my car so I could keep working and all would be well for all of us. The payment on $20,000 was only $200 a month, something I could easily have covered with $500 from tenants, $600 from delivering papers and $3,000 from the management job. I'd have been able to start giving him money towards our children on a regular basis. He refused to co-sign the loan.
I put $1,000 on each card to get the total below $10,000 and the rep stopped late fees from being charged to the accounts to stop the action against my house.
I put $500 a week on the van, the lowest the finance company would allow.
I was still trying to catch up on other bills, such as water and sewer that were a couple months behind, but all my money was going to trying to save the van so I could keep working.
Inpection, registration and insurance ran out the first of February. Found that my ex had put the van in ONLY his name. After dumping all the money I had into trying to keep the van, I had no money to pay insurance, inspection or registration. My ex refused to reimburse me for the debt I had paid out on his debt to me. I could not get it insured, inspected or registered until it was fully paid off since it was not in my name. I lost the vehicle, could no longer drive it or lose my license and/or go to jail. My management job was over 20 miles away and there was no way I could continue delivering papers without a vehicle. I could no longer work. I also no longer had transportation needed to get to food in the dead of winter in PA. I had no money for food. I had no way to make any money at all. There was no public transportation in the rural area where I lived. I lost BOTH my jobs.
My house went in foreclosure. My tenants quit paying rent. I had no money and no transportation. I had enough coming in from google and yahoo to keep the internet connection and electric. I had no heat. I was living in my bathroom with the door blocked shut with an electric heater and all the blankets I could find to keep from freezing to death. I had no food, no money for food and no way to get to free food.
I was freezing and starving in my own home. I could not get to social services to fill out paperwork for food stamps and heat assistance. No one I knew would take off work to take me - they were strapped financially, too. I have a limited circle of people I know. I grew up in foster care, because my mother repeatedly tried to kill me, so I don't have any family to turn to for help.
I begged my ex not to let me die in my house. I was starving to death and barely sane. I was 21 days with NO FOOD, almost dead, wouldn't have made it another week. I had literally lost well over a third of my body weight. My joints ached, I could not move without pain and the energy required to move just to get a drink of water was exhausting. I was doing all I could to find help on social media sites whenever I was awake - which was down to only a few hours total a day.
I met someone on LinkedIn who needed a web site done. He was an 82 year old psychologist who had a product to sell and a ton of info for a site. It was a $5,000 job. He called the local pizza place and had food delivered. I finally got to start eating again. The first four days were excruciating - but I made it through it without ending up in the hospital.
Less than a month later was the final foreclosure, on June 17, 2011. I lost everything. My ex refused to even come up and take our son's things from the house. All my new furniture gone, all my pictures and framed finger-paitings from my sons. All the Christmas stuff, the receiving clothes I made for my boys, and so on. Everything I had worked for my entire life was gone. The psychologist rented a car for me to drive to his house in Florida and said I could stay there for two months or so until finished the site and then take my money, buy a cheap car and go back to PA. I might have had to live in a car for a while, but at least I'd have been able to see my sons. I packed what I could take to Florida with me in the rental car. My ex told me that if I stopped at the house to hug my sons he would call the police and I'd be going to jail. I did stop. Sat at the bottom of the driveway hysterical that I had no choice but to go so far away from my babies. But I had no other options.
My ex changed all the numbers, the house number, our youngest son's number and blocked my number from all phones. I no longer had any way to talk to my children. I was dead depressed anyway - that devastated me even more. Then to be stuck down here, away from my babies, totally blocked from any communication with them on even a good day, was beyond my most wildest nightmare. Your father cost me everything and then even took my babies from me.
The psychologist sold his catamaran to pay for the site. He was getting too old to be out on the ocean. He sold it for $17,000. He had been out one last year doing the island run, so had to catch up electric, mortgage and such. He had around $8,000 left after he paid off his debts. An ex-partner stole $7,200 of what was left. My money gone.
Okay, so figured I'd jump right in and grab a couple jobs, not like I was afraid of work, save as much as possible and be back to PA in six months instead of two. It was depressing to know I'd have to go so long without seeing my sons and all the bullshit I'd have to go through when I got back just to be able to see them again. My ex had already changed all the numbers, blocked my number from all accounts, literally cutting me off completely from my children.
Couldn't get a job, I had a PA ID which, understandably, was not accepted for ID. To get a Florida driver license, the paperwork needed included my birth certificate, my PA license and my marriage certificate to explain the difference in my last name from birth certificate to driver license. I called my ex and asked him to send me a registered copy. He refused. I begged. He refused. Unless I send him money. It was $30 and 20 minutes of his time. I had no money, Phil was wiped out. He had enough for food for both of us and the electric. Sales were just starting out so money was extremely tight.
We had enough in sales that by February I was able to get a total shit car. Would never have made it to PA. But Phil was moving so we decided to get me the beater so I had something. I lived in it for six months until I could not find enough work to pay the insurance in May of 2012. Then I was straight up on the street with nowhere to go. I ended up in Jensen Beach. There was plenty of free food, safer places to sleep and many parks to wander between. Cops hated my PA ID, which ended up being stolen in March of 2013, leaving me with no ID at all. I had to dodge cops, dodge criminals and try to stay sane. No one would hire me without ID. I was fucked.
Someone from West Palm called me and told me of a place I could stay in exchange for cleaning and such. I could use the address, get a job, and so on. Okay, cool. I went down and stayed there. My oldest son, who was just turning 21, wanted to live with me. He had started using drugs due to the extreme stress of losing his mother for so many years. I of course, was happy to have him and figured we could work on therapy to mend our relationship, his rehab and such. I could apologize for past mistakes and we could move forward into healing our relationship and get him working, keep him busy and not thinking about things he shouldn't be thinking about.
Begged my ex again for at least some of the money he owed me so I could get a cheap car and be able to get me and Calvin around for work, appointments, therapy and so on. Begged him to please send the marriage certificate so I could get my Pennsylvania license changed to a local address so I could get a job. NOPE.
My oldest son couldn't find work within walking distance, got more depressed, he needed help but I could do nothing since he was still so angry with me. He went back into the drugs. Got me kicked out by constantly upsetting me. I had to leave since I was no longer allowed to be there. I could not stay on streets in West Palm - totally not safe. Begged him to go with me to Jensen Beach, the only area I could live relatively safely on the streets. He refused.
I was never told when he got caught using by the people who owned the place where we were staying. Never told anyting. Calvin blocked me out. My ex blocked me out. Of course, had not been allowed any contact with Justin since May of 2011 when I had been 18 days with no food. I was in absolute, unbearable hell.
The week my oldest son was in the ER due to a blood infection that caused problems with his heart valve, I hadn't been told, but knew full well something was totally wrong with my son, just a gut feeling. I called my ex over 100 times in four days, leaving voicemails to PLEASE tell me where my son was. I knew something was wrong, very wrong with my son. Begged him to PLEASE tell me where me where my son was. I had friends to give me a ride to come get him lined up. I had two places where he could live with guys his age who were employed and relatively sober. I had three jobs lined up for him. Two landscaping and one construction. I even had the initial paperwork done at a rehab in town that works with re-training by learning to do things all over again without drugs. No harsh treatment. They just keep them busy, surfing, outdoor meditation, going here, going there. Was a great rehab. We had planned to introduce him by just having me take him to there outings and get him to want to get involved more. It would have worked. I had lined all this up in the couple months I was back in Jensen.
My fucking ex sat with my dying son in the ER and ignored EVERY GOD DAMNED CALL. He told the nursing staff I was a junkie on the street with no phone and no way to contact me. He never even told me my son was dead until three days after he was buried.
After I found out Calvin was dead, I called Chester County Domestic Relations, who I had been calling to try to find out how to get my ex to have to give me at least some of what he owed me so I could save my son. Nothing, without a lawyer, and I didn't qualify for a free one. I let them know that I was correct, that if I'd have had the help I needed to save my son, the money owed me so I could get a car and get him working and in both therapy alone and together, he wouldn't have ended up dead. The loss of a child is the most devastating thing a mother can ever have to endure. I had lost my oldest son forever, with my youngest son kept from any communication with me for, at that time, over four years.
Domestic Relations in PA called a local charity and verified my ID. I was finally able to get a Florida license. I thought I would finally be able to get a job and all that. Nope. "General Delivery" is not a valid residential address. In addition, I still needed my Social Security card in Florida, since there are so many immigrants. I again begged my ex for the marriage cert so I could get my Social Security card and back to work so I could at least try to see my youngest son one day. Of course, he refused.
I was living in the damn dirt the majority of the time from May of 2012 to August of 2018. Still couldn't get a job. Suffering unbearable misery without my babies.
I sent thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of texts, emails and voicemails to my ex begging him for any information at all about my sons, up until our oldest died, and now only our youngest. I get ignored, mocked, insulted, called homeless trash, a piece of shit, not worth a bullet, jail would be a great place to live, told to fuck myself with a coke bottle and other such unbelieable cruelty. For a few years I regularly called the police around the corner from my ex just to have them stop by for a welfare check so I could at least know if my son was alive since my ex refuses to even tell me that.
In August of last year, a girl I know wanted to go on vacation, but had to find someone totally reliable to care for the old housebound man she takes care of. I, of course, accepted the offer of the work for a month. She gave me an old 2001 Hyundai and helped me get it registered and insured. I finally had a place to live out of the dirt. No more ditches, bugs, snakes, rats, hell, absolute hell. My ex heard about the car from my comments on my twitter feed, which he stalks, and is now demanding the car or some money since I can afford a car I should be able to give him some money. Fuck him.
The car made it so I could get to more cleaning work, was able to pay insurance, gas, and a little more for food. My ex still sticking his hand out for more. He fucking took everything from me, even my fucking babies and that STILL is not enough for him.
I put the money into the front end and tires, all it would need for the trip to try to see my son. I was finally done fixing what had to be fixed on the car in October and took off and drove up to try to see my youngest son. My ex refused to allow me to see him. He has the local police believing I'm a drunk, druggy, party whore with diseases and a criminal history a mile long. Nope, not at all. I tried everything I could think of, but he has it so I can never see my son. I can't even find out what school he's in: NOTHING. Told me I'll never see my son. Told me how bad my son hates me and wants nothing to do with me. So I just went back to Florida since, of course, I have nowhere to go in PA. While in PA I did pick up my marriage certificate and applied for my Social Security card and received it at this time.
Last month, a friend was moving from one old boat to another, bigger and better old boat. He gave me his old one for helping him and his girlfriend move. Finally a place to live not in a car. Around here many people live on boats, it's not uncommon. A more stable place to live, store food and bathe was an unbelievable improvement in my living conditions. No longer having to drive around all day to keep from being noticed. I'd be able to fix up the boat and have a decent place to live.
My ex already has his hand out, saying I should sell the car, boat, guitar and give him the money. For what? No contact with my son since May of 2011 when I was literally starving to death because he chose not to meet his financial obligations? Couldn't walk, muscles and tendons, guts, in agony from 18 days at that time, with NO FOOD.
During my time homeless, I've dealt with horrors I will never repeat. The abuse suffered by homeless people from police, criminals, bullies, abusers, users, liars and society in general is mind-blowing. I've been spit on, pissed on, the range of insults I receive on a daily basis is beyond depressing. It's hell, absolute hell.
There's literally no way for me to get out of this hell. I'd have to be able to get a place to live with an actual address to get a real job. And I can't afford a place to live on nothing more than slave wages doing cleaning and yard work when available.
And now for even worse...
Now that I've built up to a cheap car, deralict boat and enough cleaning work to survive at least in this upgrade from the streets, I get abused by a cop who obviously has a thing against homeless people.
This link is to the entire story of my arrest. I was doing nothing but gathering my things to go out to my boat to check bilges, get washed up, get something to eat and get some sleep... but it didn't work out that way... The next time I have to go to court in on May 30 at 8 AM.
Depending on how that turns out... I either will or will not be back. I cannot afford a lawyer so I'm the mercy of the judge.
It can go anywhere from being dropped due to the fact that the search was illegal.
... to losing my license for a year, time in jail, probation and all the costs involved meaning I'll lose my car, my boat and be back sleeping in ditches. It took eight years to get built back up to just a cheap car and crap boat to live in so I can have a place to sleep, bathe, store food and be out of the public eye and transportation to get me to services, food, better possibilities for work since I can be rested, clean, fed and able to work.
Guess we'll see how it goes...
Some people want to know how old I am. I turn 52 on May 23. It's been a real long, hard and very lonely 52 years.
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