“Shame on him the first time, shame on me the second time.” “You’ve made your bed, Now lay in it.” Oh man those are quotes that are fun to say but awful to live. I had now burned bridges I couldn’t afford to burn, and his manipulation had worked once again. Y’all I could literally write an entire book on the next 3.5 years but for the sake of this only being a 10-part story, I will save those stories for later time. I want to set this scene for you though so that you truly understand the situation I had put us in. I had burned every friend, every family member, I had no job, and now no place to live because my dad refused to help financially and rightfully so. I literally had NOTHING! Can you imagine how happy that must have made him? Isolation is key to abuse because now I wasn’t talking to anyone outside of our house and when I did it was “everything is great” mentality. We moved into a 2-bedroom apartment complex and started over. Within months, we were right back where we started. I call it abuser personality. They hurt you then apologize and tell you how much they love you until they get you back just to hurt you again. It is the most insane process and I hope if you are in a relationship like this that you can see it for what it was. He began going back to the gym, leaving for entire days and intimidating us with words and actions.

On my birthday one year, he called me early in the morning and told me he had been laid off. He filed for unemployment and headed back to school. I would drop him off in the morning and then pick him up later in the evening. Or if he was mad, he would take the car and I was left without a vehicle for the day. We had NO money, yet his gym membership was always paid for and the man always had everything he needed. Suddenly out of the blue, we had the best DVD collection in town. Several people a day were coming to borrow DVD’s and return other ones they had borrowed. When He was home, he would lock himself in the room for hours and the girls and I were not allowed in. To top it off, we were going to get healthy because he needed a food scale in our house. If you haven’t caught on yet, don’t feel bad I didn’t either the entire time we were married.

In a last-ditch effort to make us happier, we decided we should have another baby. (I know you just yelled “NO” out loud). I got pregnant and of course I took it as a challenge to see how much more weight I could gain over the next 9 months. While I was married to Vincent, I battled my weight through depression and I can honestly say I hated myself. I wore sweats and no makeup and weighed more than I ever hope to weigh again. While I was pregnant, he got a job offer with another oilfield company. I will never forget the next 24-48 hours after he got the call to take a drug test and fill out paperwork. He sat on the edge of our bed in a dead sweat shaking and didn’t sleep. I really thought he might die but he refused to go in. I called one of my friends Machel, and I just remember being so worried. He passed the drug test and began working. A few months later my water broke, and we welcomed Jace Brogan into our lives. The hospital experience wasn’t much different than the first time. He fell asleep a few hours after Brogan was born and slept until the next morning. I’ll always be thankful to the nurses who came into my room and spent time with me and rejoiced over this new baby with me. I laugh now but back then my feelings were sadness.

Life had begun with 3 kids and the misery was adding up again. I was coming out of the bathroom one day and saw a needle in a trash bag. I immediately broke open the bag and used needles began dropping out of bags and other trash. About a month or so prior, I had lost my mail key, but he reminded me how stupid and irresponsible I was for losing it and It dawned on me in that moment he must’ve have taken my mail key. I began looking in his famous hiding spots and low and behold, I found that mail key in his tuxedo jacket pocket. The holy spirit rushed over me and I went downstairs to log into the computer and maneuvered it in a way I couldn’t do on any ordinary day. I discovered he was ordering things from Mexico, researching how to shoot cocaine without leaving tracks, getting cocaine out of system and that the man in my house had a severe porn addiction. His favorite site was “step daughters getting F&%# by stepdads.” Knowing my past you can imagine the rage that overtook me. I called Machel once again and told her I was bringing the kids over because it was about to go down. I had gone from an intimidated girl to a passionately enraged WOMAN!! She asked if her husband needed to come and I assured her that if this was the way I was meant to go out, I’d go down kicking and screaming. Keep in mind, up to this day, I feared him, so you can imagine the shock when he came through the front door and I was in his face. All the anger and fear I had built up over 7 years came flowing out like a raging river. I was ready to destroy everything in my path. I went to see a counselor the next day and I will never forget her leaning forward in her chair and telling me I had 24 hours to vacate or she would be calling CYFD! I had come to point that the truth had surfaced and even though I didn’t have any sort of plan in place, I only had one direction I could go. He left for work the next day and I packed enough stuff for me and the kids, drove to Aztec to get divorce papers and called dad to tell him I was done for GOOD!

I had no job, no college education to fall back on and no plan but we were FREE!! When I went back to our apartment the following day, he had wiped everything out. He took all our furniture, beds, couches, TV’s, kids piggy banks, that food scale I now realize was being used for drugs, DVD’s…I mean Everything. I had made my bed and it was a tough pill to swallow to have to lie down in that. One of the greatest gifts my dad has ever given me, came over the duration of the next 3 years. He made me pull up my big girl panties and figure it out on my own. There’s no lesson in being rescued every time things get tough. The next season of my life would be just as interesting. I am sure you are thinking there is no way that there is more darkness before the light. We are getting closer, but my wild days were just getting started. I was finally free. Let me note that we later learned of several affairs, “side jobs”, credit cards, student loans and that unemployment had been paying him for months while he was working his new job. I guess you could say that when Vincent’s mouth was moving, he was lying. I hope you are as overjoyed as we were that the last 7 years had FINALLY come to an end.

“The strongest People are not people who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.” Be kind to every person in your path because you have no idea what life looks like behind closed doors!

Still Fighting with Courage,

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