Most of the names in this post were changed to protect the guilty.
Right now the kids are getting all geeked up about their costumes, plotting out which houses they will be hitting for the best candy. Every year that passes, I get less and less enthused. I mean Halloween was fun when Kameron was little, now it’s like when is enough enough? You’re thirteen, I’m thinking next year he will be passing out candy instead of giving it away.
When is enough enough?
This post isn’t about candy, it’s about something that most people don’t know about me.
Imagine a 19 year old girl. Just graduated from high school. Worked full-time selling shoes for Nine West because I wasn’t interested in going to college right away, and when your parents tell you they’re not paying for college, you need to explore other options. The options were, live with my parents (yuck), continue working (yay), anything else could just come my way. I was young.
I don’t remember where I met “Chris” it must have been at a party somewhere. Chris was 21, so he could buy alcohol for all the parties . Chris also had just graduated from an in state college with a degree in electronics. He had a fast car, a charming personality, an apartment that I was welcome to stay at whenever I wanted (which pissed my parents off.) He would me make me feel like I was the only person in the world, and he did for awhile.
We had been dating for a while and Chris decided it was time for me to meet his parents. Terri, his mother, was a nurse. She worked third shift at a hospital in southern Indiana. Chris’s dad wasn’t around. He never paid any child support, never saw Chris, the typical dead beat dad story. Terri got remarried several years later to Bob. Bob, Chris, and Michael (Chris’s older brother) never really got along. I don’t know if it was the stepfather thing, or that he just seemed to be in a rotten mood whenever we saw him. Except when I was around. Bob and I had and instant connection, we both loved IU Basketball. It just happened when Chris and I were dating it was basketball season, and I was able to get tickets for a ballgame. Bob had never been to a game at IU, so that carried a lot of weight, besides the fact that he liked me already. What he didn’t like, and that I really didn’t notice until later that Terri was giving Chris money under the table. I remember Chris being on the phone with his mother asking her how many extra shifts she would be working because he had some bill he had to pay. I should have thought there was something wrong with that, now that I’m 30ish I would totally think there was something wrong with it. It just happened so often, and it never seemed to be an issue that the 19-year-old me didn’t give it a second thought.
That should have been a red flag right?
You have to remember I was 19, and when a handsome guy gets down on his knee to ask you to marry him, it’s pretty overwhelming. My parents weren’t happy. Not that they didn’t like Chris, they just thought we were too young. Then I reminded both of them how old they were when they got married, that pretty much ended the conversation.
We decided on a Halloween Wedding. How much fun is that right? A traditional Catholic wedding, and a costume party reception.Chris even went through the RCIA to become Catholic, I think he did it mostly to please my parents. People loved it. Even my parents warmed up to the idea. So the plan began. We were married on October, 31 on a perfect fall day. Everyone showed up in costumes. The diner was delicious – my family cooked it. The music was scary and fun. It was a fun wedding.
In the mean time Chris and I moved in together. It was a town house on the upper west side of Indy. It was odd, because he worked on the south side, and I worked downtown. While we were in the townhouse we began looking at houses. I think it took us less than three days to find the lovely chateau in Whiteland. Our backdoor lead us right to the park, where I imagined our children would play someday.
Dealing with mortgages in the 90’s was just as difficult as is it now. I took months to get the financing (which Chris fudged the numbers a lot, he was getting his salary and added the money he got monthly, sometimes weekly from his mother.) We begged my grandmother for the down-payment which was $5,000.00 that we promised we would pay back. I somehow knew Chris would never let happen, he talked her into it, he was conniving.
I suggested that maybe we should wait to move, that maybe borrowing money wasn’t the best idea.
That was the first time he hit me. I was in shock. Then he grabbed my face and said “don’t ever question my motives again, I’m doing this for you bitch.” It scared the shit out of me.
We were approved for the house, and the excitement of starting in a new space made me have a little hope that things were going to get better. When my sister was over helping us pack for our move she said something to piss Chris off, I don’t even remember what she said. Chris choked my sister, and came after me. I threw my rings in the snow and swore I would never come back. I went to my parents to stay for a little while. I think they knew what was going on, but I was too ashamed to acknowledge they were right. On the day of my wedding my Dad said to me “you know you can hold my hand and we can walk out of here.” I knew then he was right, but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I was young and impressions were a big thing to me.
Chris crawled like a dog, promising counseling, a new life in our new house, and he had finally got a full-time job, so the stress was going to go away. I was still 19, and I still wanted to believe him.
So I got married. Not too long after the abuse continued. He would hit me in places that people couldn’t see. Never my face, always my legs, ribs, upper thighs. He would taunt me, “who are you going to tell, no one will believe you, because everyone knows what a whore you are.” This from the man that suggested that I have an abortion after taking a positive pregnancy test six months after we were married. It turned out that I wasn’t pregnant, thank God I wouldn’t be attached to him for the rest of my life.
I began a plan. I don’t know if that is exactly right, I decided that I was going to leave Chris, but I was tremendously afraid that he would kill me .He held a shotgun to my head and swore that he would kill me if I ever left him. I knew in my heart of hearts that he would kill me. I lived in fear everyday.
I met a friend Susan thorough another person that I worked with. Susan did nails, and from what I saw from Teresa they looked beautiful. Chris and I were making a little more money, so he encouraged me to get my nails done – he was always about appearances, I was living in a fog.
I remember the first time I met Susan at her apartment, she pulled back my sleeves and looked at me. I think she said “are you ok?” I said “no” and “could you just do my nails?” About an hour of getting to know each other Chris showed up to her apartment, just to make sure how things were going (actually checking up on me to see if I was where I said I was.) After playing twenty questions with Susan he decided to leave. After he was gone, Susan asked “are you ok?” I think the expression on my face told her all she needed to know.
The next weekend Susan asked me to go with her to the Bob & Tom Lake Monroe Party. I spoke to Chris about it. We fought, it was bad this time. He kicked down the door, threw everything off the walls, and left me in a corner of the bathroom with fresh bruises and a bloody nose.
When Chris would beat me that severely he would leave all night. I decided when Susan came to my house I was going to the lake. I was going to think long and hard about divorcing Chris. I figured that if was going to get the beating wrath when I got home, so why not have some fun for a few hours? When Susan knocked on my door, it fell right into the living room because Chris had kicked it in the night before.
When I did get home I found the door still kicked in, all of my things knocked off the walls, the coffee table on it’s side..and a note from Chris saying “I made him do this and he wouldn’t be back in the morning because he had to work, but he would deal with me later.”
Then the phone rang, it was Chris. He said” have you been listening to Bob and Tom?” I said “no.” “Turn it on” was all he said, and hung up. I immediately turned on the radio, my friend, Zack Steinke, who I went to grade school and high school with was dead. Dead at the age of 17. The cause of death was the life loving child was wanting to go on a bungee jumping in South Carolina. The elevator that took Zach up to where he would jump snapped and Zach fell to his death in front of his parents. Zach was a thrill seeker, outstanding student, he was the Ferris Bueller of Chatard High School.
I got beaten because I wanted to go to his funeral. “You whore, you probably slept with him didn’t you?” I was paralyzed with fear, but went to the funeral anyway.
After Zach’s death I decided the life I was living was no longer for me. I was going to get killed. So when Chris left for work at a very early hour I left. The only things I took were my clothes, I called my friend Susan, and she just asked where and when. I asked her to meet me at my house between 8:30 a.m and 9:00 am. That way I knew he would be gone. I shoved all of my clothes into Susan’s car and kept saying “I’m sorry.”
Months later we got divorced. He got the house, I got the clothes on my back and my day bed. And my life, I got my life back.
You are stronger than you think, and even then, you are stronger.