Mandie Englert is raising two sons from her first marriage, and has custody of a third son that she’s raised since he was three months old alongside her ex-fiance…until her ex-fiance fell into a cycle of addiction, recovery, and relapse.
“I was with * through one-and-a-half relapses,”
said Mandie at the start of her interview. She goes on to describe how she got herself out of an abusive marriage with *’s help, and how their relationship felt bifurcated.
Mandie said she feels like there were two *s throughout their relationship. There was the one she fell in love with. The one who helped her hide her car and keep safe while leaving her marriage, and who gave her the kind of relationship she’d longed for. One like her parents’. The second, however, was precluded from being in the home they’d rented together when her two older sons were there. It was part of her custody agreement with her ex-husband, and it was because * , Mandie said, had started using methamphetamine.
While high, * broke into her home in the middle of the night, blew up her phone at all hours, and ran hot-to-cold with her, swinging erratically between being alternatively supportive and loving, but then aggressive and scary.
Through his two arrests and then his third – for which he’s still awaiting sentencing – Mandie said she tried to love * through his addiction but finally realized that she couldn’t be the one doing all the work.
Mandie also talks a lot, in Part I of Episode 8, about dating as a single mom in her 40’s, and how easy it is for a new man to trigger an ancient, hindbrain response that affects her behavior to the point of panic attacks. She talks about grieving for a person who’s still alive and living in her hometown, but whom she had to let die in her heart in order to go on living herself.
I can relate to so much of what Mandie is going through. While her attorney counseled her that, “Mandie, you can’t save everyone,” she said, knowing that did nothing to reset that default setting of hers to be there for others.
“I’m a helper.”Mandie Englert
Mandie’s also been left reeling from the loss of two jobs in the past two years, and having had to move residences three times. With a master’s degree in Psychology, Mandie said, she’s been a Behavior Support Consultant, Therapeutic Staff Support, a preschool teacher, and a math teacher at a residential facility for at-risk youth. All of the places she’s worked have either had to let her go because of *’s behavior, or have closed with little warning. Through it all, Mandie said, she continues working her second job – waiting tables through double shifts at Applebees, the “friendly neighborhood bar and grill,” where she met * and also where she was served with a protection from abuse order by state police after he claimed she broke his wrist following a negative interaction she’d had with him (all of her charges were later dismissed, but her ex-husband went further, telling the principal of the charter school where she was working that she was sleeping with students).
Mandie’s been through some shit in her past, y’all, and she lays it all out in part one of this episode before moving on to her present and future in part two.
In Part II (out next week), Mandie talks about how raising three sons with special needs led her to put her education and experience to work in creating a support group for parents of special needs kids that actually meets those parents’ needs. Mandie’s support group, Heroes, offers Warren County, Pa., parents of special needs kids a monthly meeting on a topic that’s been requested by the families she serves. Parents are able to bring their kids to the meetings, where someone with clearances takes them for a group activity while parents can hear speakers like the Director of Pupil Services at the Warren County School District, the Director of the local sheltered workshop, and other professionals who can offer parents without a background and education in Psychology the education and information they need to better handle the challenges that come with raising special needs kids.
Mandie’s group has also done sensory-friendly events in the community, including a sensory-friendly Easter egg hunt at a local sensory playground, a sensory-friendly trunk-or-treat, and a sensory-friendly “Meet Santa” night during Warren’s annual Christmas parade and walk. Many of these community activities are out of the question for parents of special needs kids because they’re not inclusive, or are too overstimulating for their kids. I’m really excited to share Part II with you as well, so come back next week for that one.