Before we move on to husband number 1 I want to back up and tell a couple of stories I didn’t get in earlier. But first I want to explain my title “My Truth”. The reason I am using this is because I believe that two or more people can be in the same place at the same time but because of their life experiences they can see things very differently. That isn’t to say either of them get it wrong, just different. For each of them it is their truth. Because I can not possibly tell my story without including other people that were there and influenced me, I think it is important that I recognize that they may not have seen it the same way I did. I don’t want to discount their interpretation of it I simply want to say, this is mine.
First, I am going to tell a funny story about the time my dad got struck by lightning. Oh yes, you read that right. My dad got struck by lightning, nearly died even. But man, it was funny. Everything in my family was fair game for being laughed at, even near death. Hey, if you survived and the hair on your head was still standing straight up and smoking hours later, sorry we were going to laugh.
I was working at Fuddrucker’s one night and it was storming (obviously) and I see my brother’s beauty queen girlfriend walk in wearing old clothes and no make-up. I know right away something was wrong. I am not being a smart ass she really was a beauty queen. Anyway, she walks up to the counter and says in all seriousness, “your dad’s okay.”
I did mention she was a beauty queen, right? It took me all of a split second to say, “Well, obviously he isn’t. What happened.” I was in a panic.
“Umm…well… he got struck by lightning on the golf course.”
I laughed. Not my I’m -so-stressed-out all-I-can-do-is-laugh laugh but my she’s-fucking-with-me laugh. Denise and I were friends and I was off the clock in a little bit so I figured she was really there to pick me up or suggest we go do something. But after staring at her for what seemed like an eternity I realized she wasn’t kidding.
“I am here to take you to the hospital. Your mom didn’t want you to drive yourself.”
I don’t remember anything from then until I got to the hospital and saw my mom.
“He’s in a room now so we can go see him but I have to warn you,” I knew this was going to be bad. He was burnt or something awful. If after everything we went through when they were both sick didn’t warrent a warning but this did, it couldn’t be good.
“Don’t laugh.” I was stunned. Why on earth would I laugh? I mean it did at work when Denise told me but my god I thought that was a joke. I couldn’t possibly see why she thought to tell me that. Until we walked into the room.
It is one of those scenes in your life that you can replay in your head with insane accuracy many years later.
My dad was in a two person room but the bed closest to the door was empty. Walking just past the threshold I can see that his hair is still standing straight up and smoking. At first glance this was very upsetting. But then he did it. Sound asleep, he did it. His arms and legs lifted straight up off the hospital bed and back down. He looked like he was doing a straight sit up or a Herman Munster impression laying down. That was it, mom and I were in hysterics. Apparently, this had been happening for a little while and he was pretty sensitive about it. He woke up, looked at us and yelled, “Fuck you both.”
We never let him live that down. Nor did we stop teasing him when he joined the Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Victims club. They meet in Dollywood every year for a convention. I swear, I am not making this up. He even got a hat with their logo.
So we all survived that. Although my dad never looked at thunderstorms the same way again. Seriously, I’m not kidding. He didn’t.
Remember those couple of jerks I dated that I mentioned earlier. Well, I am picking up right about the point where one of them dumped me. We dated for quite a long time and he was, gasp, my First. When he dumped me my senior year I was completely destroyed. When I say dumped I am not exaggerating. He literally showed up at my house with some guy I had never seen before and told me it was over, just like that. This was not long after the Air Force told me they couldn’t take me either. I was pretty hysterical in my best teen girl fashion. This was pretty unusual for me because with a few exceptions I handled break ups pretty easily. I didn’t get too invested and within a day was back into it ready to move on. But when you are a teenage, Christian girl and you think you love someone so much that you are finally ready to… well I can’t find a way to say this that doesn’t make me want to puke, have sex, it makes you very vulnerable. I was also a believer that you don’t have sex until marriage and I was so sure he was The One (thankfully, I was wrong) that it was a real blow to see that I was wrong.
I want to point out right now, that Dan HATED this guy the entire time we dated. He was never even allowed to meet him face to face because I knew how much he hated him. He claims it has nothing to do with the fact that, “you were having sex with that jack ass instead of me.” This guy just wasn’t a nice guy. Like I said before I really did usually date nice guys but this one played an unusually good game. Most every guy I had dated before him were just nice, not only from the beginning but the entire way through the relationship. This guy was only nice in the beginning. I was too naive at the time to realize that this was even an option.
After he dumped me I was very unsure of myself. I no longer trusted my own instincts when it came to guys. I was so wrong with him that I figured I was going to screw up and end up with another jerk unless I was very careful. Yes, there was Dan and this was the time that I wrote him the “I Love You” poem that fell on deaf ears. So, there was one other guy. A guy from work. He was truly about the nicest guy I had ever met. His name was James.
I wasn’t necessarily attracted to James and I don’t mean to be cruel but I just wasn’t. However, he was such a good guy that I felt safe dating him. I don’t know why I felt the need to date anyone but I did. James and I started dating and I loved his energy and attitude. He was always happy and upbeat. His friends were about the best people I had ever met. They all went to Hoover and were so insanely welcoming that I never wanted to be without them. Almost every single one of the hugged me the first time we met and every time we saw each other after that. My friends at Jackson were falling apart all over the place. Most of the friendships had been severed for a million different reasons and it wasn’t fun. We weren’t a group any more. Here was a new group. A lively and loving group of people who adored each other and me. I got completely swept up into them. The second half of my senior year was pretty well wrapped up in them and a few people, Dan for one and Joey, Sherra and Christen, from Jackson but I was already separating myself from them. I don’t know if this was natural because we knew we were all going our separate ways and were disconnecting in a self preservation sort of way or not. Either way, I was all about my new Hoover friends. I loved them and that love kind of transferred itself on to James. Now I did love him, I always did but I wasn’t in love with him and I wasn’t passionate about him as an individual. I didn’t real realize it at the time but what I was doing wasn’t fair to him.
About a month before I graduated he told me he wanted to get married. I said yes. I have no idea why so don’t ask. I think I really thought it was never going to happen because I would be away at school. But life would get in the way of that. James was in the same year that I was but took AP classes and was actually able to finish school in January. This isn’t something my school did so I don’t fully understand how it worked. He was already out of school for a few months and ready to move on with life but I was a few steps behind. When he told his parents about the engagement they freaked and kicked him out. Took away his car and kicked him out. So I was a couple months out of high school and my fiance was kicked out of his house with no car because of me. What was I supposed to do? My parents let him move in and it was clear that college wasn’t going to happen. That first semester that I should have been away at school I was instead moving out of my parents’ house and into an apartment with someone I didn’t want to be with any more. Yes, about a week before this whole thing went down I decided to break it off. I wasn’t in love and was ready to move on with my life. I was completely stuck. I didn’t think he had the option of going back to his parents and he didn’t even have a freaking car. I couldn’t just say, “oh well, sucks to be you.” So, I closed my mouth and stayed.
As we were living together my religion was getting the better of me. I hated that I was “living in sin” and felt awful about myself. I was a horrible person in every way. I wasn’t in school, I was with someone I didn’t love and we were living in sin. I didn’t know what to do to make any of this right. So, I just tried to start where I could. I enrolled at Kent State, I was only a semester behind and knew I could make it up in the summer. It was also a nice distraction from my life. The agreement was for me to go to school full time and work part time while he worked full time and went to school at night part time. The transportation was tricky but we worked it out. The next thing I decided was there was no way out of this and I didn’t see one ever coming up so it was time to get married. If we were married then living together was okay. Now I see that as fuzzy logic but at the time it was the only thing I could figure out. Being married also meant we could use our own income on my FAFSA form and that would mean a lot more money for school. The wedding was set for December 20th. I wouldn’t be very big.
My life was not turning out at all the way I had planned or wanted it. I kept making bad decision to make up for other bad decisions but I couldn’t seem to find a way out of the hole I was digging, deeper and deeper. Before the wedding I became more and more panicked. I knew I didn’t want this but had no idea how to fix it. One of my only friends at this time was Dan. He and James got along really well, not a surprise since they both get along well with everyone. Dan spent a lot of time at our apartment. I would make us all dinner and we’d play video games or watch movies. I was realizing more and more that the wrong guy was going home at night. I even got up the courage to tell Dan, kind of, how I felt. It was the month of the wedding and we were doing our annual Christmas shopping at the mall. I didn’t have the right way of going about it so instead of saying, “I don’t want to marry him” or “I’m in love with you” I said, “we have never kissed.” Brilliant, I know. Dan confirmed that we had never kissed. I don’t know if he wasn’t getting my point or was trying to avoid it but he started to drive us back to my place. “Before I am married and not allowed to ever kiss anyone again, I would like to know what it is like to kiss you.” I could not believe I was being so bold. Dan just stared ahead probably thankful to be driving. He very politely explained that he really liked James and thought I was just nervous about the wedding. It was dropped.
To this day he claims that he didn’t think my feeling at that time had anything to do with him necessarily. He thought I had pre-wedding jitters and he was just there.
I think that was my only cry for help. Something had to have tipped off my dad though because the last thing he said to me before we walked down the aisle was, “it isn’t too late.” Everyone was there, what did he mean it wasn’t too late? I thought he was making more of a joke and less of a legitimate way out. James and I got married. The wedding itself was a great time. The marriage, not so much. I really can’t fault James in anything. He was a good guy. He was good to me and tried hard to make it work. There was just no way it was going to. I was 19 when we got married, I did it out of feeling trapped and I didn’t love him enough. He could not have fixed any of that no matter how hard he tried.
I remember a few months after getting married I was at Trivium with a friend between classes and I said to her, “the only way out of this is for one of us to die. I really hope it’s me.”
I am sure it isn’t necessary to say this but my OCD was running wild during this time. My apartment had to be spotless at all times. The bed made, no dirty dishes ever and I vacuumed twice a day. Every thing in our cabinets were alphabetical with the labels facing front. The refrigerator was no better. This was all a way for me to feel in control of an out of control situation. This is also the first time I ever began to have a legitimate weight problem. I felt so hopeless that I completely gave up on myself physically. I ate anything and everything. Yes, on the bright side I did beat the anorexia (bad taste?). Seriously, I didn’t care about that anymore. As far as I could see it my life was now about just getting by. We had no money which goes without saying. Everything was a struggle. My intrusive thoughts got worse than I ever thought possible although not as bad as they would become years later. I would go over and over in my head that I was going to die. Every time James left the house I was sure he wouldn’t make it home. I didn’t want to be his wife but I certainly didn’t want anything to happen to him. It got to the point where I became obsessed with the fear that one of us was going to die. I had terrible insomnia sometimes not sleeping for days. I thought God was going to make me pay for all the bad things I had done and was going to kill someone I loved. When I did sleep the night terrors were so bad I woke up screaming sometimes in a cold sweat. There was no escape, I could not get my brain to stop torturing me. The only times I felt at ease was when Dan was over. For some reason his presence seemed to calm my brain but eventually my brain seemed to catch on and I became convinced that Dan was the one God was going to take to make me pay for my crimes. These thoughts bombarded me almost non stop for months.
Having a lot of people around also seemed to lessen the fear. We had a lot of friends they spent most of their time at our place. We had lots of parties because no one else had moved out of their parents’ house yet. Some of our friends were still in high school. I can’t say everything then was miserable, it wasn’t. I loved our friends and we all had a great time together but James and I were not happy.
This was the first time I ever drank and started to do it a lot but it didn’t really become too much of a problem because I didn’t really like the taste of anything enough to get very drunk. Not that I never did, but not very often. We did drink most days and our friends were like fish. When I say “we” I do not mean James. He never touched it. His dad was an alcoholic and James wasn’t willing to take any chance of going down that road. I don’t think I ever saw him take so much as a sip.
The most fun we would have was playing Magic (the Gathering), N64 or having a Grease sing-a-long. So, yes there was drinking and a lot of them smoked pot (I never tried it, the smell gave me a headache) we were also doing other fun stuff. We went on like this for about a year. Then everyone else who was still here left for college. It was left to Dan, James and I. We spent a lot of nights just the three of us. At some point Dan started to bring over a friend of his I knew from high school, Brad. The four of us would play Bond and watch the Indians (only Brad and I watch the games) or we would play poker. Dan and I would sit on the floor while the other two were on the couch and we would pass cards back and forth to each other cheating. This will become more ironic later in the story. For those of you who don’t know, Brad = husband number 2. So yes, it was me and my three husbands hanging out playing poker. (you can’t make this shit up!) If you think that is strange imagine how it feels to me looking back on it. With everyone else gone it became even more clear that the only reason we had made it that far was because of the other people around us acting as buffers. This was the beginning of the end.
First, my parents and James and I decided to move in together. This might sound odd but it is how it happened. My parents wanted to move and found a very nice duplex in Jackson but it was pretty expensive. So my mom and I decided that there was enough room for all of us and if we paid a little rent too it would be easier on them. We moved in with them. James and I were in contact with his family more and more even though they were horrible to me and made no bones about the fact that they. The feeling was mutual, no doubt.
I want to be writing about my big epiphany right now but I don’t know that I really had one. I think I just realized at some point that it was him or me. I was too young to have to face the rest of my life so unhappy. It wasn’t that we fought because we really didn’t. He wasn’t the fighting kind and I just didn’t care enough to fight with him. Finally, one day I just told him I didn’t want this any more. I wasn’t happy and the fact was we were nothing more than roommates. I know it hurt him deeply because I don’t think he was even aware of how miserable I was. He was the only one. I don’t think I told one person we were breaking up that was in the least bit surprised but it was a big shock to him. By this time we had been married for about 18 months and lived together for about 2 years. I can probably count with my fingers the number of times we actually had sex in that time. I was 19-20, in my own place with a husband and having no sex. This wasn’t an indication? A week after our second anniversary the dissolution was final. James had moved back in with his parents who rewarded him with a big brand new truck, I am not kidding. I have not seen him since then. I do hope he has found happiness.
I want to point out one thing here. This whole marriage only took place because his horrid mother kicked him out. If she would have acted like a normal human being, the whole thing would have ended in about a week. Instead, it took two years and a lot of misery.
There are no pictures of this time, because I honestly don’t have any.
My life was starting over. I was still in school and loved every minute of it. I was thrilled that the marriage was over and finally thought that I might have a chance at a happy future. I had no idea who much more awful things were about to get.