Chelynne Galloway finally felt a respite this summer, able to take her four kids to visit family in Kansas.
Her divorce had been finalized in February after two tumultuous years. She hoped she and the children would finally have a chance to relax.
But driving back home toward North Port, the second they crossed the state line into Florida, Galloway, 33, experienced a wave of debilitating panic.
It may have been the enormity of the divorce catching up to her – having moved beyond fight-or-flight mode. It could have been an underlying depression stemming from severe childhood abuse. Or the terror of making wrong decisions for her kids, ages 5 to 12, all considered gifted, some with behavioral issues, one diagnosed with ADHD and another heading down that path.
There was also a gnawing realization that she was falling further behind on the bills, after $10,000 in legal fees and a need for back-to-school supplies and clothes. And she was terrified to ask for help.
Focused on being a good mother
By her early twenties, Galloway knew she would love being a mother.
She and her husband got together young, starting a family in Pennsylvania. She hoped to give them a loving home, having survived traumatic abuse by her father, who committed suicide on her 14th birthday. Her brother took his life three years later.
Galloway’s husband worked as a truck driver and she labored in the house as a stay-at-home mom after the birth of Alex, now 12, followed by Jacob, 10, Michael, 8 and Emma, 5. Money had been tight from the start, she said, and fights often centered on why she wasn’t doing more outside the house.
They were a team, she remembered arguing, regularly feeling that she had to defend her work with the kids and in the home.
Through the years she tried to take online college classes, aspiring to be a special education teacher. But each time, she felt something in her brain blocking her from focusing, and she would quit.
Four years ago, they moved to Florida, where her husband took a job with Cheney Brothers, and when they bought the house in North Port, higher living expenses and unexpected necessities – like a water softener – came as a surprise.
“These are things you don’t think about when moving to paradise,” she said.