I really hadn’t told my parents about these incidents with my ex. I was so consumed by him that I couldn’t even think for myself at times, and to think of what a great example I had had in regards to my parents and marriage. What a shame, right?
It was one fight after another when it came to planning our wedding. God forbid we use any of his sister’s colors at our wedding. Instead, I had to choose banana yellow and purple, not the pastel blue that was “in” for the year. Nothing from the start had even gone right and that really should have been another big sign for me to not go through with it. But what choice did I have at this point? Move back to my home town where yet another form of ridicule would happen and not just gossip around town, but hearing about it from my own family? I, equally, couldn’t handle that stress. I was pregnant and felt more alone than I ever had in my life. I had to deal with the consequences of my actions. I can’t take a baby away from his father (I still feel this way to an extent to this very day). He’s a pretty good dad, maybe I’ll have this baby and all will be well (because this is what you convince yourself of when you’re being abused. You resort to finding things and hoping for things that don’t exist just to keep going).
While living with my soon-to-be in-laws, I experienced things most people wouldn’t. I’m going to forewarn you right now, it is going to seem like a script for the movies; that that kind of stuff really doesn’t happen. But it does. I would share the one photo I have held on to, in case I ever needed it. I tried to show it many times to people; to get it out there that abuse is so very real, it is undeniably real. It happens to the smartest people, it happens to the “dumbest” people. Abuse does not discriminate no matter how good life seems. I only just recently shared this photo after all, with my Facebook page. I’m not sure I will have the courage yet to share this with my blog yet. Maybe, if I find a dire need to do so, I will, but for now, it will remain where it is until I find that courage.
Back to the wedding. Since I hadn’t told my parents or my sister of the shenanigans I was experiencing with my ex and his family, I had to fake it till I made it when I needed to be around them. Really, inside, I was dying. I was crying out for help while choking back the tears and fears. I didn’t want to tell them that upon moving in with his family and while trying to find a job, I was helping maintain the house by cleaning. I had a small job initially outside of the home. I was working at the local hotel cleaning rooms, but they wouldn’t allow me to work there past my 6 month mark. They said it was too strenuous for pregnant ladies (I was too young and naive to know that was illegal and discriminatory, or for the fact that they truthfully knew what I was getting myself into and ultimately protecting me in the end). Meanwhile, chores in the house were everyday. There were quite a few of us living there after all. His youngest sister, his mom, his dad, and his aunt. His mother watched his niece and nephew quite a bit and whenever my step son was over she would watch him too.
Any way, the chores I would do were vacuum, dishes, help with groceries and cooking, clean one bathroom in particular and any other random things his mother would propose. Yet somehow, it wasn’t good enough. My vacuum lines weren’t straight enough. I bought the wrong kind of dish soap. I couldn’t get food stamps because we were living there but I got WIC and every one of those checks went to her household. I didn’t argue with that but it was funny that I could never actually have any of that food. There was one time she was so stressed out about finances (even though I helped where I could in that arena while my ex remained unemployed and partied on a nightly basis by this point) and when I moved myself and the vacuum because I stepped on the chord, I made a curve in the vacuum line and she screamed bloody murder at me. It woke my ex up and he was livid. He started yelling at me too. Next thing I knew when I was winding the chord back up, ready to put the vacuum away, and even though I had fixed “said vacuum line” in the carpet, I was pinned on the floor by my ex, yelling at me, calling me names, and his mother in the mix as well. This was the first time she slapped me. I was so stressed and the day only got worse. I got a call from my OB doctor telling me I had bad results from my pap smear. He told me I had chlamydia and he sent in a Rx to our pharmacy to clear it up, but that I would need to come in in a week to do a repeat pap.
I did everything they asked me to, and took meds that made me sicker than a dog. How the heck did I contract this? Nothing about my “woman area” seemed to be out of sorts. Everything I read and everything they explained to me about being pregnant and all of it’s “wonderful” side affects seemed to be what was happening, but it wasn’t. I went back a week later and wound up with the same results. It was then that my doctor (my ex was there) told me we both had it and we both needed to take meds for it. I’m sure you can guess where the blame went for that. Reluctantly, he took the meds, as did I and I was to start my other job the next day at the grocery store.
My shifts at the store were 2pm to 2am. It eventually turned into a rather full time job when one of their store managers quit. For a month I worked from 6-11 at the hotel, and then off until 2pm to head to the grocery store. We weren’t always as late as 2am for closing. It just depended when the truck got there. Because I was gone so much for work, things seemed to get a little better. My ex still hadn’t found a job. This was when I found out he was a felon. Once I was laid off from the hotel things still seemed a bit smooth (other than my ex’s mother calling my mother to complain about me being lazy in the household). What can I say? I was gone most of the time, working and giving most of my income to her along with my WIC checks. The rest of my income, my ex would take. Thankfully, the store I worked at was able to give me a free lunch or dinner. At least I got one meal right? And what money I managed to hold on to I used to store some kind of food in a lunch box in the trunk of my car.
The wedding happened regardless of any thing that was going on. My sister was my maid of honor. One of my really good friends from high school came and participated and surprised the heck out of me! It was a day I knew I was safe. I knew no harm would come to me because there were too many people for him or his mother to act in a way other than “normal.” During the reception, I lost track of him. I don’t know the amount of time he was gone, but it was for quite a while despite his friends being in the same place at the same time. I went outside to see if he was there, well, he was, or so I thought. Turns out he had gone to get liquor… at least that was the story it evolved to eventually but he was ten sheets to the wind when he returned.
It was a good day and I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay with my family. I wanted to run away home with my family because why? Because at this point it was time for us to go to our hotel. And surprisingly, he didn’t do anything other than sleep. I took a bath in the big whirlpool tub and then went to bed. We woke up the next morning, got his son, and went to breakfast with my parents. I was so very anxious at this point. I wanted to hold on to my dad like I did when I was a little girl. I wanted to go home, but again, in my head I told myself I have to deal with this. It will get better. He will get a job and it will get better. But it didn’t. It just got worse.
About a month after the wedding, the night after the fourth of July, my ex went to a party. I got a call at work from a number I didn’t recognize. It was him telling me he needed a ride home after work and to come to the Yellowstone Apartments to pick him up, he’d wait outside. This was the first time he asked me to do this. I didn’t know what to think so I didn’t really think at all. I just thought, maybe he got into a fight he lost, or maybe it wasn’t his crowd, or maybe for once his mother told him to come home to take care of his son. I went home to change after work really quick. I tried to be quiet. Apparently not quiet enough. I apparently woke up his son and his mother was fuming angry with me. She told me it was my turn to take care of the kid. I told her about the call from my ex and if she could just watch him for another 15 minutes and I’d be back and we would take care of his son. She told me to grow up, act like an adult, and take the baby with me because that’s what she had to do back in the day to pick up her drunk husband. So I did.
It took me a minute to find the apartment complex. I couldn’t remember where this one was located since I had only been there one time previously when I still lived in Chadron (college town). Nonetheless, I found it eventually and he wasn’t outside waiting. I was ready to apologize profusely. I was ready to tell him that I wanted to change, his mother made me take his son, I couldn’t find the apartments initially… I was ready for anything really. But he wasn’t outside. Once I pulled in the parking spot in front of a basement apartment with its window wide open, I could see a person get out of bed, naked as a jay bird. I wasn’t looking hard, obviously, I really just knew they were shirtless and I didn’t catch a face. I didn’t know what to do at this point. Did I start knocking on doors? Which apartment was he in? He didn’t tell me. I looked at his son and somehow found the courage to get out and head to the first apartment I laid eyes on. I went to knock when the door opened and there was my ex in the doorway, fastening his belt. He managed to tell me in a slurred voice that he wound up going to bed because I took too long. I knew better than to say anything so I didn’t. I didn’t want to make things bad in front of his son. I kept quiet and started to get in my car. That was when he ran around the car, pulled me aside, slammed my door shut, shoved me against the car and started choking me two handed.
I can’t really describe how I felt when this was happening. I was certainly scared for my life. I was scared he’d take off with his son, I’d be left to walk home, his mother would be in a fit of rage for having me “allow” him to do that, that I would deserve to be choked. But when things like that happen, when something truly physical begins to happen, it’s almost like you’re out of body. Like, you’re looking at yourself from afar. I mean, I was panicked obviously. I was being choked, I couldn’t breathe! I started to fight him off, but found that I couldn’t. He wasn’t even yelling at me. He was quiet. He only had a look on his face that could “kill” per say. I finally passed out and fell to the ground. When I came to, there was a man standing over me trying to talk to me in a quiet, but “wanting to yell but can’t” voice. I opened my eyes, heard my stepson crying, and sadly was relieved to hear him crying. I was worried my ex had taken off with the car, his son in tow and would do something to him. This guy didn’t touch me. He apologized to me because he was sick with the flu and didn’t want to spread his germs but didn’t want to do nothing for me. I got up and he asked if I needed an ambulance. I said, “No, I must have just passed out. Darn pregnancy.” He looked down and indeed saw that I was sporting a protruding belly. He also kept looking at my neck and had a look of disgust on his face. He said, well, I would have take you but I am sick and don’t want to get you, in your state, sick as well. So if you’re ok, please just go home, go straight home and go to the doctor tomorrow. Luckily for me, it was another OB appointment to check on the baby, the one where you get an ultrasound and pictures from it! I had something to look forward to at least. And I did. I went straight home. I knew that if I went home, his mother wouldn’t do or allow anything to happen in front of the baby. She never allowed that in front of kids if she could help it.
I got home, laid the baby down in his crib, and I then went to bed. I didn’t speak to my ex, nor did I cuddle him or try to sleep any where near him. I was scared for my life.
The next day was, yet again, another day where nothing supposedly happened. I didn’t bother to look in the mirror before going to the doctors. I should have. We got most everything done at the appointment when the doc surprised me and told my ex to go pull the car around. He told me he’d be reporting what he’s seeing. I still had marks on my neck from my ex choking me. Those marks eventually turned into bruises, small, and not really noticeable unless you’re really looking for something. The doc told me that he would help me if need be and asked if I was being abused. I said yes. He asked if I had a place to go and I told him my family lived four hours away, but that’s where I very much want to go. He told me if I could get there soon. I told him no. I had no money to my name. They take it all. What happened after that was nothing short of a miracle. He contacted my employer. He told my employer what was going on and if he could help. And the help I received wasn’t exactly ideal, but I think he knew my time was going to be cut short, so we had to participate in the game in order to get me out safely. They were giving me two paychecks at the store. One was 10% of my actual pay. It was cashed and held on to for as long as it took me to get things out slowly. The second paycheck was for me to take home so they wouldn’t think much of anything.
It didn’t exactly work. Two weeks before my leave date, my ex found my pay stubs and realized I was short some money each check. I was lucky. Just a mere ten minutes later an employer finally called him and accepted him for a position. Thank the Lord! Now, my plan could really go in to action. I started packing stuff up and storing it in the closet. When his mother asked about it, I just gave her excuses (I didn’t want the clutter, I wanted to keep it packed up because soon we would find our own place, I don’t fit in my old clothes, etc). She thought she was doing me a favor (I knew she didn’t want us living there) by taking those things to storage. FUCK! Then she proceeded to tell me I would have to help pay for storage then too. Another FUCK! I didn’t have any more money to give her! Most of the time, I was in the hole and still owed her money! What was I going to do now? Well, I asked my employer to see how much I had saved. It was enough. I told him no longer take the 10% to save. Of course he questioned my motives. He didn’t want to loose me as an employee but my health and safety were important. I told him I was still leaving at this date and then had to tell him about storage. He reluctantly agreed. Needless to say, my date did wind up changing all because of my pride. All because I didn’t want to admit defeat to my family. I didn’t want to disappoint them. And, because a very bad incident occurred that brought my self shame to a whole new level.
I was so close to my leave date. Nothing really happened out of the norm during this time and I thought I was getting so close to being free and clear. I’d have money for a lawyer (didn’t know about legal aid at the time). I’d be able to pay court fees for an order of protection. I thought I was getting all my ducks in a row. But what excuse was I going to give in order for me to get stuff out of storage? Well, the day came for me to leave and believe it or not, the starter went out on my car. I couldn’t jeopardize my “cover.” I couldn’t spend the money I’d saved. I didn’t know what to do. I called my dad. He came, he bought the starter, he took me to lunch and fixed my car while I worked. I didn’t tell him. I should have went home with him and worried about my stuff later, but truth be told, I wasn’t really worried about my stuff. I was worried about my step son. I was worried what would happen to him should I leave. His mother did the best she could. She really did. But her and her family, and her new husband were rough around the edges. How was I going to leave a sweet, innocent little boy to live a life full of dismay? Any way, when I came in to work for my last day, my employer gave me said saved money. It was all in cash. And you wouldn’t believe what happened when I got home from running errands. I had a dollar bill sticking out of my pocket. His mom noticed.
This turned into a fight where she filled me with guilt trips about how she has taken me in, fed me, bought me clothes (a few maternity shirts from the 80s), takes care of my step son, all around helps me. I didn’t budge and just told her that that money was the money that was suppose to be for my ex. So what does she do? She wakes him up, tells him what’s going on, he grabs me by the neck (one handed this time), and proceeds to choke me yet again. I was forced to hand over the money. How utterly disappointing that was.
I got ready for work. I had a hard time keeping myself from crying that day. I had a hard time trying to keep my composure for work. My pride got in the way again and I didn’t want to tell them, but had to because I’d have to start the process all over again. When I approached him on the matter, he too was shocked. Why didn’t you leave it in your car? Why didn’t you wait until after your shift to get it? Believe me, it was all the questions I was already asking myself. Of course he agreed, but told me if I came to work one more time with bruises he’d call the cops.
That night my ex didn’t go to work. He called in and went to party hard with his sister in her new trailer house. I was just about to head home when a phone call came through at work. My coworker answered and told me to come get the phone. It was my sister-in-law. She told me I needed to come get my ex. He apparently was trying to sleep on her bed. I thought it odd. He’s her brother. Why couldn’t she deal with him? So I told her that I had to go take care of the baby, I couldn’t do that. She obliged and we hung up. I went home, got in to my pajamas and his mother came barging in, telling me I needed to go pick up Rick. (Sorry, I do have a hard time saying his name yet). She handed me the baby and told me to leave. So I did. I was so scared. I had already withheld money the day before and they found out. What was going to happen to me? Maybe nothing would happen since I had his son. Maybe he would keep his cool. WRONG! ABSOLUTELY WRONG!
I guess it was one of their friend’s birthday that they were celebrating. This guy, in the end you’ll see how lucky it was, left some items on a table in the house. So when I first got there, it was obvious the party had died down, heading to a halt. It was just my sister-in-law, her boyfriend, and Rick who was in her room sleeping. I didn’t think I would be long so I left my door open to the car. His son was asleep, safe and sound in his car seat. I would be quick, right? In and out. Again, wrong, so so wrong. I don’t know how long I was in there for. For me, it felt like an eternity. I will spare you these details. Just know that I came out of that house black and blue. The friend who was celebrating his birthday, helped me to take the baby to his mother, and me to the hospital. Once I got there, I saw my ex, handcuffed and sitting in a chair. From what I could see with swollen eyes, he had scratch marks all over him. And then I was placed under arrest, cuffed to the hospital bed. It wasn’t an easy night. I was not released until the police had orders by the judge to do so. But I stayed in the hospital. I was not allowed visitors (I’m so glad for that).
What happened was my ex was thrown in jail for the night if I wasn’t wishing to press charges and that was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t press charges. I really don’t know what was going through my mind when I did that. I had no idea what I was thinking when I returned to their house. The only thing I know for sure during that time, was I just didn’t want my parents to see me like this. I wouldn’t be able to handle the guilt that was running through me like a race horse. I returned to work about three days later when the swelling went down to some degree where I could properly see. A coworker, who used to do make up professionally, helped me as best she could to cover up the abuse. We even came up with a story that I was in an accident and this was a result of the air bag. She knew exactly what I was going through. I think about her often. She didn’t have to say a word to me. She just simply knew on a level that I’ve told people over and over who mock the system of abuse: that you will never, truly understand unless you live it, so be kind.
For the next month, while I healed, everything was a blur. I asked to work double shifts until I could leave. My employer didn’t even hesitate. I basically lived at work. I only went home if I had to and even though my shift would end before we closed, I’d stay and hang out any way. It was when the bruises faded and my nose was back to normal that I realized the abuse would only continue and get worse. If I even looked at my ex, he would threaten to kill me. My only thought process at this point was, “not if I do it first.”
When I realized I couldn’t take it any more, I called my mom in the wee hours of the morning. I told her a “lightened” version of what happened the night I wound up black and blue. I didn’t care about saving money at this point. Besides, his mother took the bag I had all my cash in any way. She was a snoopy bitch to say the least. I let go of my pride that night and asked my parents to help me leave. They got ahold of my sister to borrow her truck and got there as soon as they could. My ex had just gotten off work when they came. They took me to Kmart to get some totes to put stuff in. We got as much as we could (I still didn’t have stuff out of storage and frankly didn’t care at that point). We packed it up, and we left. We stopped at Kate’s house so I could explain to her what was going on, that I was leaving. She offered some sympathy, told me she never experienced that degree of assault.
I left, I finally left. And do you know what I felt? Not relief, not joy. Just sadness. Sadness that I let it get this far. Disappointment that I couldn’t even tell my parents the truth of it all. I didn’t want any one to know what I endured. I was beyond ashamed. I was beyond embarrassed. I didn’t want to live, yet I did because of the baby I was about to have. One of my friends told me to hang on and keep fighting. She told me that any day we’d cross paths, for quite some time. I tried to get an order of protection through the local victim’s advocacy program, but even then, even though he showed up and clearly looked intimidated, I couldn’t follow through. I couldn’t bear the thought of doing something that would get my parents killed, or some sort of torture he’d come up with to taunt us all. He even showed up at my parents several hours after that court date to harass me.
I should have lead that paragraph with this detail but nonetheless it’s a little lengthy in itself. I hadn’t spoken to him for a while when I moved back to my parents. His mother had already called my mom several times to bitch about the issue, to tell my mom I owed her money, to bitch about the way we had served him. I can’t control that right? It’s the local Sheriff’s office that does it, not me. Well, he finally braved calling me on a number none of us knew. Yes, it was him. I knew I couldn’t hang up on him or he’d just call and call and call. I obliged his nonsense. He told me wanted to come see me, to work things out. I knew in the back of my mind it wasn’t possible, but I didn’t know what he was capable of if I didn’t allow for such a cause. I told him yes. He left me with such paranoid thoughts. Between the accounts of actual abuse and all the times he was so manipulative with words and the emotional abuse, I just thought the worst of everything. I did that for a very long time and still catch myself doing it: planning for the worst of the worst. Any way, he came up literally that night. My parents had spoken to my sister who was extremely livid. This was the first time I’d ever seen my sister in a way I so badly needed her. It was the first time I’d experienced the actual big sister side of her. Guys, she was more mad than the day (in my previous blogs) I lost the key to the lock for the dog she was sitting. Her boyfriend at the time had to hold her back from coming at him and beating the shit out of him. I know she would have. She would have beaten him to a pulp. And I’m sure by now we are all thinking the same thing. We should have let her. It would have been justified by us, but not the law. I didn’t want my sister going to jail for me. I believe it was after that that my ex realized it would be a lost cause for coming to my territory. He stuck to having communication via phone. He would call and text as much as was humanly possible, disregarding the no contact order. I typically didn’t answer him unless I got a voicemail that was threatening to come kill us all. It was then, and only then that I’d oblige him.
Halloween had rolled around. I had already tried to reconcile via distance with my ex to no prevail. My mom paid for a downpayment on an apartment and we spent one day in Alliance looking at the one place we could afford. It wasn’t bad by any means, but obviously being around my ex my mother was very uneasy. I knew then that it was an extremely bad idea, that I had to let him go. And that was hard when there was no real excuse to not speak to him via phone.
He called one night when I had finally given up on him all together. It was proof in the pudding that I really needed to let go and get things started with what I found for legal aid. In this phone call he was speaking really softly, sort of being distant towards me. He kept saying random things. It was a really weird conversation and I heard someone in the background I didn’t recognize. I asked him who it was and he told me his friends girlfriend. She didn’t seem too impressed by that. What I heard was a loud “thunk” and then yelling. More specifically, yelling about their baby and how she had already caught him with a teenie-bopper. I hung up after that. I gave up. He still tried to call me back several times. He tried to act all innocent, like she was just being jealous. I clearly didn’t believe him or care. And when I would no longer oblige him in pathetic conversations unless it had to do with our child, he resorted to voicemails that would say such things, working out on our own, no lawyers, to get a parenting plan going. He called me one time while he was hanging out with said “teenie-bopper.” She was only 16 at the time. That scared me. He was 10 years older than me (30) and I was four years older than her. Do you see why he’s a typical abuser? He sees women much younger than him, women who are still, yet moldable, people easy to control. And yes, that woman who was screaming on the phone with him over “their baby,” had his baby nine months later while he was still dating the “teenie-bopper.”
Before my own divorce court happened, I had to go to court over his son. I had to tell the judge what happened to me so that visitation with his son could be adjusted to supervised visitation. I also wound up back in that town to pick up my last paycheck when I decided I could brave it (why didn’t I just have them mail it!?). Like I’ve said, there’s no logic to others as to why victim’s do what they do. I didn’t really need my speakers that were left at my sister-in-laws house. I should have left them there. I should have had my employer mail me my check and I really shouldn’t have traveled that far because it wasn’t but a week later and I had given birth to our daughter. But I went any way. I made arrangements to stay at my sister-in-laws house. She and Rick had gotten into a really bad fight over her boyfriend, or something like that so they were no longer speaking. Besides, he had been in so much trouble by then it was questionable as to whether or not he’d be in jail for the night.
Any way, when I got to town I got a call from a friend who told me not to go to that house, to come to her house instead. She had heard rumors flying around amongst their friends that they really thought Rick was going to kill me that night and his sister’s boyfriend confirming said details. God was it ever true too. We decided to head to my sister-in-laws house earlier than anticipated because we wanted to catch a movie and catch up with one another. It was a better time any way so I could bid my sister-in-law before work, good bye. No one was there though except the police. The trailer had been shot up, the neighbors called the police and the landlord and the only damage they could find was to the spare room where I’d be sleeping. They couldn’t find casings any where except one bullet that was embedded in the bottom of a bed frame. It was thought to have come from a .27 caliber hunting rifle. How ironic was it that my ex happened to hunt with a .27 caliber Remington rifle? The neighbors said they never saw any one, just heard the shots. And one shot, the one where the bullet was embedded in the bed frame, went right through the pillow I would have been sleeping on.
It felt like a movie, like I was living a plot to a movie and had been in denial about it for a long time that it was motive to kill me. I never explained that to the police, to the lawyer, to anyone. It simply sounded crazy in my mind so it would have just sounded crazy to everyone else right? It’s something that haunts me often and probably will for the rest of my life. I could have died. My baby could have died. I never told any one this detail until I felt comfortable with them, until it seemed less crazy and I could laugh about it (nervously of course).
After we were done with the police and I was able to get my speakers, I decided to go back home instead of staying there. And all the way home, I would get paranoid if someone was behind me on the road for too long. What happened there only enveloped me back into paranoid thought. I didn’t say anything to anyone about it. I tried to seek some help by going to see our church pastor but even then I didn’t feel good enough on the inside, or less paranoid to explain it all. I didn’t even tell a therapist for a long time. I didn’t tell them some details because I didn’t want to relive it all. I didn’t want to relive times that happened early on in the first part of my ex and I’s exclusivity of dating, a rape that also happened to me. I didn’t give my husband (Daniel) all the details right away. I thought it would scare him away, think less of me. It took a lot of years to reveal details to him. It has taken me a lot of years to even reveal to my parents the severity of the situation I was in. Some of the details they still probably didn’t know but my pride kept me from letting them in. I didn’t like being a burden. I still don’t. My pride is something I have a hard time letting go of when it comes to being real, being open and being honest about the traumas I lived through. But I survived. I’m still here. I am blessed beyond measure these days and have been married to a wonderful husband who has dealt with all of my behaviors since even when he couldn’t make sense of them. I still struggle with some of these behaviors. They became second nature to me. I couldn’t explain them. I couldn’t communicate and still sometimes don’t know how to until I’m given time to process.
All of this is true. It is not fictional. It isn’t something I made up to make the story some grand thing that happened to me. It was real, it happened, and I can’t take any of it back.