An early apology letter to my kid’s teachers for the 2016-2017 school year…

It’s that time of year again! The time where I sit back and mentally prepare myself for the up and coming 2016-2017 school year. Last year at this time, I wrote an early apology letter to my kid’s teachers, because if you know me, and you know my kids, you will understand why an early apology letter was needed. You can read that Here!

Vinnie’s Teachers~ We are ten days out from the first day of school, and well, it seems that Vinnie does not have a school to go to. Despite what he will tell you, this is not my fault. You see, Vinnie made the last-minute decision to change schools, and because I am such an awesome mom who will support my children, I told him I can make it happen! Guess what. I can not make it happen and right noe I have no idea what school Vinnie will be attending. The very nice lady who is in charge of these sorts of things from your district office is out until Tuesday. Of course she is! So, this is what will most likely happen. I will be stuck home-schooling him until the very nice lady from district, gets this sorted out. You know what else will happen? I will try my hardest to teach Vinnie math by using vodka. I will have the patience of a Saint, while I pour vodka into three shot glasses and then ask him the very important question “If there are three glasses of Vodka and Stephanie wants 1/5 of vodka, how much vodka will that leave Jessica? Vinnie will then look at me wondering exactly how many shots of vodka I had consumed before his “math” lesson and proclaim “THIS IS NOT EVEN A MATH PROBLEM MOM! I NEED TO LEARN MATH, NOT HOW TO BECOME A BARTENDER!” So for that, I am so sorry to whichever teacher he gets in whichever school he ends up at. The thing is, Vinnie is not what one would call an “easy” kid. Some may say that out of all my four children,Vinnie is most like me. Which, may present a very small problem for you, Dear Teachers. Vinnie always has to have the last word. Always. You will be calling me (I promise you, you will be calling me.) You will tell me what a good kid Vinnie is, you will tell me you know he has potential, and you will confirm what I have known for years, his mouth always gets him in trouble. I am sorry. With everything I have, I am sorry. You will have your hands full with him, but he is eager to learn. He is eager to learn so he can grow up and find a good job that makes a lot of money. He is also eager to learn so he can continue to play football. So, I just gave you a few incentives that you can use on him. You’re welcome.

Gracie’s Teachers~ Oh dear God where to even begin. Perhaps I should just get the apology out now. I am sorry. I am sorry that I will be needy and clingy through Gracie’s transition period into middle school. There is no way for me to even sugar coat that. I will be needy and clingy. Gracie does not do well with change. Most likely because she has autism, a less likely theory is because she is just like me. Either way, she does not want to come to your school. She hates it, she wants no part of it. The times I have taken her to your school, she has had a breakdown. Gracie looked her new principal directly in his eyes and ever so clearly told him “I do not want to be here, I want to go home.” When I ran into the principal at the district office (thank you Vinnie) he seemed to be recovering nicely. Now, you guys are Sped teachers so you know the drill. You have most likely seen it all. I have no doubt that you have helped the most challenging of kids transition nicely. However, this is my kid, so that is kind of a gamer changer. I will 100% do my part. All I want is for Gracie to have as easy of a transition as possible, I just ask that you also be patient with me. When you see me peaking through the window on your classroom door, just ignore me. If you happen to see me hiding in your coat closet, you don’t see a thing! I feel Gracie can be an easy target for some people. I need to know that you Dear Teacher, you will have her back. I am trusting you with her. That is not easy for me. Please watch over her as you would your own child. If I can trust you then Gracie will see that. If she sees that I trust you, then maybe, just maybe, that will be one small baby step in this transitioning process.

Sofia’s Teacher~ You have big shoes to fill! My family and I adored Sofia’s 3rd grade teacher. He was the perfect fit for her. I hope we are just as lucky this new school year. Sofia is such a sweet and innocent little girl. She always wants to please, even if it seems she is rushing through her work, she just wants to make you happy. She wants to make everyone happy. I can honestly say you will not have any issues with her. Well……okay…..I take that back. The only issue you may encounter is if Sofia comes in contact with a certain well-known little “spit-fire” who is also going into the fourth grade. If you are not careful, and aware of what may happen, sweet innocent Sofia is liable to go all “gangsta” on this little spit-fire. In the past, Sofia “may have” been a little too vocal about wanting to punch this little “spit-fire” in her face. So…there’s that. Other than that, no issues at all. I promise! However, you will still be stuck with me, and even though I know you most likely will not have any issues with Sofia, I will still be hounding you, asking you if everything is okay. Sofia takes on a lot. She is the only person who knows how to deal with her sisters breakdowns. Her dad and I count on Sofia to help us with Gracie, and sometimes, that may be unfair of us. It’s hard, and I do not always have the answers. That is why I cling on to you teachers. Many times you have answers that I do not have, and for that, I  thank you. Also…I am sorry. I have a feeling Sofia will be the easy one, me, not so much.

~Jennifer

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Letter to Him

I’m glad I got to meet you before the world made you hard. Well, maybe not the world but people, experiences, circumstances—those things. Before a time where your defenses were up and your tolerance was low. A time when you were soft-spoken, kind, gentle and had a sincerity about the way you acted, spoke, felt and related to others.

The real you.

Not how you are now—manipulative, selfish, deceitful and yes, hardened in a way that can never be undone.

Unless you can turn back time, which I’ve tried—unsuccessfully.

I guess it’s really not realistic to think that life experiences—both good and bad—don’t leave their impression on your soft, malleable skin. No matter how hard you fight against it, life leaves marks and scars on your body, heart and mind.

It’s inevitable.

But for some reason, I thought you would be the exception. I thought you were different. Even though 15 years is a long time—I thought you will still be the same.
My savior in some sense. My lighthouse on a dark night, choppy waters and no shore in sight. That was you. You found me and pulled me to shore when I was drowning. I’m not sure I ever told you that. I don’t think you knew what you really were to me back then.

Maybe you never will.

But that doesn’t matter anymore. You are not that person you were a decade and a half ago. Really it feels like a lifetime ago. The only proof I have of the old you resides in some letters, a few pictures and hundreds of flash bulb memories.

That is the you that I choose to remember.

The new you—unhappy, complacent, indecisive—I don’t want to know that you.

You’ve lost your spark, my friend. Your shine has dulled.

Your spontaneity that drew me to you has departed.

I hope that you find it somewhere, someplace or maybe with someone.

Maybe one day you will remember what I remember.

Before everyone, everything took you and made you someone else.

At a time when you were still mine.

-Christin

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Complacency

Have you ever thought about someone from your past and you had an image in your head of what you thought they would be today?

Now, as most of you know, Jen and I have been working on some behind-the-scenes stuff. What is it, you ask? Well I can’t reveal any of that information right now but part of this “project” we have been working on has caused us to ponder where the people that we knew 10 or 15 years ago ended up. For me, I have “created” in my mind what would be like today. Probably not the same people as they were 15 or 20 years ago because people change, right?

Except sometimes they don’t.

Complacency takes over and they are in the same place and mindset with the same lifestyle and habits that they had over a decade ago.
Now not to toot mine or Jen’s horn but we are definitely not in the same place nor in the same mindset we were 15 years ago—thank God for that. Speaking for myself, I am still a work in progress but can finally say I am proud of where I am today—considering where I was in my younger days.

Now back to being complacent. So upon doing some research for our project, we ran across some of the some of the major players in our story from back in the day. Now we all know Facebook is a place where you can find, track down, stalk anyone. Well that is just what we did. (The first one—not the latter two)

It’s midnight, Jen and I had just finished up another piece of the “project” and out of sheer curiosity we typed in a couple of names from our past. After a few minutes…Bingo! The first one was found…we think. No profile picture but everything else added up. This particular young (well, I guess now old) man hadn’t changed. He had a few strippers on his friends list and still had a particular liking for (a lot) of ladies. We are talking about an almost 50-year-old man here. Interesting.

Next stop, a young woman that we used to know. We found her and we also found her kid calling her out on Facebook, talking about the next party she’s going to and endless pictures of her with different guys. She was still the same person we knew. Nothing has changed.

Another guy we spent time with was found. This one was a big one. He was a mess—just like he was 15 years ago. The pictures said it all.
By 2 a.m. we had seen enough. We had found almost everyone. Almost.

My point? Well, if you find yourself in the same place as you were 10 or 20 years ago—maybe it’s time for a change. If you are not constantly trying to improve yourself—even is the smallest ways, well then my friend, you are complacent.
If you find yourself at 40 years old, doing the same things you were doing at 21… don’t put that shit on Facebook!

~Christin

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Finding the light in the darkness…

If you are a loyal reader of this blog, then you have been following my sons story. You can read about that Here.

It has not been an easy few days, however, in the midst of it all, hiding behind  the glory of cell phones, there was a glimmer of light, a glimmer of laughter, that my father, unbeknownst to him, provided.

The first night was bad, very bad. This was the night where my son had his breakdown, he hit his rock bottom and he hit it hard. In the middle of his breakdown, out of the blue, my niece decides to text me. A cute little random text that talked about her anxiety. So of course I do what any sane rational mother does, I lay all of this on her. I lay it all on my niece who, her, herself struggles with anxiety…and depression. #AuntFail

In the heat of the moment I told her (via text) that it was now her job to update everyone while my husband and I were dealing with our son. What did she have to update you may ask? Well….I will tell you. It seems that during my sons breakdown, I had my very own breakdown, and like any rational person does…..I brought it to Facebook. My status was something along the lines of…

Feeling broken, now I know what the last chapter of my book is going to be.”

I know. You do not even have to say it. I know.

So…..because of my dramatic status in the heat of the moment, my family started to ask questions. Questions that I could not reply to, so I put my niece, my niece who struggles with anxiety and depression, I put her in charge of updating my poor family who probably thinks I am ready to take my own life. #FacebookFail

Now, in the midst of my sons breakdown and my dramatic Facebook post, and my niece updating everyone, this is what happens. My dad, my very wise all-knowing dad, took the time in the wee hours of the morning in a suburb of Houston, to text my son, his first grandchild. He texted him a nice thought out, caring, sentimental message. Uplifting, just letting my son know that he has a lot of people both thinking about him, and worried for him. This is my dad for you, always putting everyone else before him. There was just one tiny problem. He sent the text message to the wrong person.

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So of course, I laughed. I laughed so hard I had tears coming out of my eyes. I laughed so hard because I needed a distraction from my reality, and my dad, along with his clumsy fingers, provided that.

The next day, when everything had somewhat settled down, I was able to talk to my dad on the phone.

“Hello”

“Hey Jen……So did hear how I texted the wrong person?”

Did I hear about it? At this point the entire family had decided this is going to be the running joke, Dad and his new BFF…Vern.

Allow me to paint the picture. My dad, assuming he was texting AJ, my son, texted Vern instead. When Vern calls back, my dad in his moment of glory, thinking it’s AJ,  is all like “Yes, I got to him, my text reached him, AJ is reaching out to me.” Except, no. Not quite.

“Hey AJ, how ya doing bud!”

“Yeah, hello there, I saw you texted me, is everything okay, I think you have the wrong person.”

And that ladies and gentleman is how this faceless person name Vern, is going to be a lifelong topic at family gatherings. I believe my sister even suggested that my dads next tattoo should be “Vern.”

Also, if anyone is curious about the infamous text message that was supposed to go to my son, but went to Vern instead, well…..you’re welcome.

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Really, what else can you do but laugh? You find the small moments in darkness and you laugh, you cling to them and bask in the laughter, because we do not know how long it will last.

Although according to my son, it will last for a very long time.

Laughter, finding the light in the darkness.

~Jennifer

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A Sons voice on depression…

The following is an entry from my son, in a “stream of consciousness” format. If you have followed the blog, then you know who he is. If you have followed my personal Facebook page, you know it has been a rough few days.

Come to find out, my son enjoys writing. It is his escape, his outlet. We have a lot of work to do. With is permission, he allowed me to post his stream of consciousness thoughts. There are no easy answers now, over time there will be. For now, I am going to give him my little space here on this blog, and write it all out.

~Jennifer

Journey to the End

Day 2 now. Hell of a lot worse then yesterday

Or was it two days ago?? It’s all blur.
The thoughts finally kicked in. Like I knew they would. Check off step one and two. Scratch that step 2is in progress.
My mind is experiencing lots of changes. Emotions too. God I wish they didn’t have to exist. Don’t understand how people will all of a sudden start to worry when they witness something traumatic.
Only spoken bout this for  years now.
Night terror bout a week or two ago same dream that has occurred for the last 8months.
                             Only dream I’ve had.
Everything happens for a reason. And people only stay in you’re life for seasons.  Thought about why this is going on came up with 3 reasons.
                  1.karma 2. Lesson. 3. Punishment.
Been high for the last three weeks. No signs of deterioration of my mind. Really wanna drink though I know what that will do to me.
The visions, movies,voices, sounds. All still in my head. You know the kind where insecurities are in charge.   And constantly beat a excruciating pain full vision that only hurts you.
I’m serious if it wasn’t for a specific someone I be gone. No doubt about that.
I can’t help but to wonder whats waiting at the end of all this. How much of me  will there be left. Will I know who I am? Does anybody know who I am anymore?  I think not.
My body is in pain. From the episodes.
Worried about work. No clue what’s going to happen. If I do get cut. Ill add that to the list.
Day2 I may have learned something about my self. The screams that came out if my mouth were horrifying. I heard pain. Loneliness. And confusion.
                 Day 3. Show me what you got…
              Day 3. I went back to the crime scene not sure why but something in me told me to. Maybe I wanted to relive those moments.
                 That horrible traumatic experience. It was odd almost paranormal. I could almost see the emotions that i left begin to Orbit around that one specific table. I sat on the that table where her and I once made love on not once but a few times.
                     As I walked away 4hours later replaying step by step what happened everything from me calling her out on seeing some one. And ending with me telling her this is good-bye.
At that point she started to cry. A big part of me hopes she will contact me when she has had her fun and ready to settle. Though by then it may have been to late. For her….and my self. thoughts of suicide continue to beat there way in my head getting louder and louder trying to block any other positive thought left in my head. I’m starting to think how I would do it.
      overdose or grab a gun……  Happy 6year anniversary Shaina I still love you.
                          Day. 4……
Just Something Else

 

The future is a tantalizing subject for me.
            I’m not sure what it’s in store for someone like me. And I’m not talking about finding a home being stable with money. It’s a bit deeper than that.
Being a socially awkward person has hit me in a way that I feel I can’t go back and re do. With a severe lack of social skills what does one do to go meet some one new.
That has been a thought of mine for a while now.and while it’s not a huge thought at the moment it will occur as time goes on.  It’s hard not to think about and it’s easy to put aside.
They say everybody has a soul mate. And if I had one wish just one I don’t need the other two. I would ask to know where she is I don’t need a name or a picture I just wanna know someone is out there.
 When shaina kicked me out of the apartment back in July I went sober that weekend. I found my self with a purpose and I was willing to do whatever it takes to keep that close to me. I even started to pray a few times.
First time I prayed I ask for strength to get through the break up and being back at my parents. When I went back to work I was answered. My work gave me weekends off  same days Shaina has off. As time went on I tried going to church with her and really trying to prove that I was different. And honestly I thought I was getting some where.
Fast forward a little bit and. I prayed for the second time. I had asked for the Lord to help Shaina get through what she was going through.
Poor woman couldn’t talk to any of her family cause nobody couldn’t stand the topic of my self be brought up in the house. I saw the pain she had I understand what it’s like to feel that way. So I had asked the Lord to help her by any means necessary. Even if it doesn’t have me in the picture. The very next day not even 24 hours she decided she didn’t want to try anymore. Boy did that hurt.
Before I continue I need to say i had asked her to make me a promise. Nothing crazy and perfectly reasonable. I ask once she moved on to another man to please let me know so I can back off cause I was still trying to prove my self to her. I was ready to have kids the very next day with this women.
So one day we meet at my go to place to get away from everything and just be on my own. I’ve been going to this place for as long as i can remember. I’ve had great times and wonderful laughs. Also I had bad times got in to fights break ups ect…. it’s a very special place to me. The phone call leading up to us meeting there was off. I had the vibe that something was wrong very wrong. On the walk there listening to my music on the highest volume it can possibly fucking go.
I approach the table I saw her at exchange a few words and I called her out. Are you seeing some one. The look she gave me I will never forget so wide eyed I could see it through her sun glasses……..
I’m going to stop right there this was not supposed to turn into what happened with her and i………… to give anyone any closure who actually may stumble on this. I wasn’t the same person after that day. A side of me I never seen before took over. And God it was hell……….
AJ
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Anxiety

” Anxiety, I will transform you into something useful and productive. I will not bow down to you”

It was a normal morning. Wake up around 7am to get Sean ready and get him on the bus for school. I give him a hug, tell him I love him and I send him off. I always watch him get on the bus then I go back inside to start my day. I go in and as I open the door I hear an ambulance heading the way Sean’s bus was going. This is when my anxiety kicks in, I’m already assuming the worst and my heart drops and I start crying. I try to tell myself I’m being silly. He’s okay. I try to wait awhile but I just can’t. I need to know if he’s okay NOW. I call my mom but I know she’s busy at work and wont answer. Then I call Sean’s school. They probably thought I was crazy as I asked to talk to Sean’s teacher to see if he’s there and if he’s okay. I finally calm down as she tells me he’s perfectly fine and sitting at his desk…This is anxiety.

I have struggled with anxiety for a long time and to make matters worse I also deal with depression. I have been on a lot of meds but I am still trying to find the right one for me. Sadly, I get most of the side effects that come with the meds so its hard for me to take it. I am currently on med #9 to see if it will work. Anxiety has taken over my life. Being worried about every single thing is no fun.. especially when you want to go out and have fun with friends but you’re just too nervous. Going out in public and being around people I think that a shooting will happen. I try to tell myself “It’s just the anxiety” but it always defeats me. Last year I was on the news. I was so nervous and didn’t want to do it but knew I had to. As I watched myself on tv I could tell how scared I looked and was.. I then read the comments and one person said I looked like I was being held hostage. LOL! When I read that I could not stop laughing because its true but it was also sad because someone I don’t even know could tell something was wrong.

Dealing with anxiety and depression at the same time is pure hell. With depression you feel sad, uninterested, tired, don’t care about anything but with anxiety you care about everything, feel nervous all the time, and your heart feels like its going to jump out your chest at any moment. My depression was so bad at one point that I had thoughts of hurting myself. That’s when I knew I had to tell my parents. I had to save myself but I needed their help.

I now see a therapist who I love and she has helped me so much. I still struggle with anxiety and depression but still trying to figure out a good medicine that will help. I want everyone to know that if you struggle with the same thing I understand. It’s very challenging but I promise you that you are not alone!

~Alyssa Briggs

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The Secrets That I Keep

Let me preface this by saying this is part of my life has never really been talked about. I put it on a shelf many years ago. I let it sit there, collecting dust over the last 18 years. But for some reason today, I feel the need to pull it down, dust it off, like an old photo album stuck in the attic over time. I will somehow, someway open up this old photo album and page by page I will do my best to recollect the painful memories that have been locked away. I will show you pages in my album that no one has ever seen or heard before. Here goes.

I was 18 years old and had just graduated high school. For the last year and a half I had been “dating” Cole. I lived in Wisconsin, he lived in California. I had met him in a chatroom on the internet via my best friend, Shelly. She had been talking to Cole’s best friend, Nick for a while and somehow both Shelly and Nick mutually decided to introduce Cole and me.  From the first words we spoke to each other, I knew he was the one for me. I had never really had a boyfriend before or even had a boy that was interested in me. So going from that to having someone genuinely care about me, felt amazing. We began writing letters to each other. Every day after school I would rush home and check the mailbox to see if I got a letter from him. We spent countless hours on the phone talking about our day, life in general and plans for the future.

Our relationship grew overtime. Cole was in college and I was finishing up my senior year in high school. He treated me very well, always sending flowers or cards. I was in love. At least at that time I thought I was.

Over the span of a year and half, he flew to Wisconsin 3 times and I flew down to California 2 times. My family adored him. He was so charismatic and friendly.

My first time visiting him in California was amazing. We did all the sightseeing there was in southern California. I felt like a kid in a candy store seeing the walk of fame, Hollywood and Venice beach.

In early 1999, I boarded the plane in Green bay and headed to LAX with my 2 very full suitcases. After 2 hours, I had landed. The first thing I saw was his perfect, handsome, smiling face. Like a scene in a corny romantic movie, I ran into his arms.

The first few days were perfect. I unpacked my clothes, rearranged our room to accommodate my “stuff”. He was happy and so was I.

I was due to start my job, which I had transferred to from Wisconsin. I was excited and scared my first day. Would people know that I’m not from here? Do I look different? These insecurities were flooding my mind. I just wanted to fit in. My first day was a little… no, it was very scary. New people, new city, new state—it was just me by myself. But I made it through. I found out I was going to be working overnights. I didn’t mind, less customers to deal with. It was quiet and I needed that with all of the changes that were happening.

The first red flag.

I came home one morning from work about 8am. I was exhausted as working nights was beginning to take a toll on me. I was tired, I just wanted to crawl in bed and sleep. As I walked in the door and went to the bedroom, he was waking up.

“I’m going to bed—I’m so tired” I said while yawning. I was starting to see double—I was so tired.

“No you’re not—you sleep too much”

“What?”

“You sleep all day” he said, scolding me like I was a child. This is the first time I ever heard anger in his voice.

By this time, my eyes just wanted to close. I laid down on the bed anyways, hoping he would just get over it and let me sleep.

That didn’t happen.

Cole then decided to put a pillow over my head. I thought he was just playing at first until it really scared me. I screamed, struggling to get the pillow off my head to breathe. I finally got it off my face and ran to the bathroom where I locked the door. He began banging on the door to let him in. I didn’t and he finally left to go to school. I cried myself to sleep in the bathtub that day.

We never brought up the incident again. I justified the incident to myself by thinking maybe he just had a bad day or maybe he was stressed out from school.

The second red flag.

Things went on as normal, until one night we were going out with his friends, I threw on some shorts and t-shirt with some sandals and was grabbing my purse when out of nowhere he grabbed my arm. He told me I needed to change. I asked him why while looking down at what I had on. He said I need to dress up, look nice and do something with myself. I didn’t want to fight, so I put something a little nicer, put my hair up and put some make-up on. Maybe he was right—maybe I did need to look better—he was good looking guy who wanted to his girlfriend to look nice too. Right? I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his friends. I wanted them to like me. The people pleaser in me was in full effect.

As the weeks went on the red-flags just kept coming. I felt trapped. There was no way I was going to move back home and admit defeat. I wanted to prove to everyone I could make it on my own. But I was all alone in the big city. I knew exactly 1 person. And that 1 person was abusing me. How much would I be able to take before I broke?

The answer was coming, but not soon enough.

Cole made sure I knew how he felt about my: weight, appearance, housekeeping inabilities, being too friendly with guys at work…pretty much everything I was and did wasn’t good enough for him. The sad part is, I began to believe him.

Maybe if I wasn’t so lazy…stupid…dumb…friendly…fat…ugly…

He would love me again. Like he used to.

I began trying to become the person he wanted me to be. I began jogging every day. I began eating less. I began to become the best housekeeper/girlfriend/person I could be.

I still wasn’t good enough.

After a few weeks of being there, I began to make new friends. Another thing Cole didn’t like, but at this point, I didn’t care.

One day while working, I was talking to a male co-worker/friend in my department. Just as we were finishing up the conversation, Cole walked around the corner.  I saw the look on his face and I knew I was in trouble.

I clocked out for lunch and we walked to the car. As soon as I shut the door, he grabbed my arm and began yelling at me. “Who the fuck is that!?” “Did you see the way he was looking at you?!” “I told you not to talk to other guys—what the fuck is wrong with you?”

I didn’t say anything. The more I would talk, the angrier he would get. So I just sat there. Silent.

I justified everything by telling myself:

  1. At least he doesn’t hit me
  2. He stressed out from work/school
  3. Maybe he’s right
  4. He’s never left bruises on me
  5. He loves me

Until the night he did hit me and left a bruise.

His brother came over to visit. I really can’t remember how an argument ensued between Cole and I, but there was some yelling going on. His brother tried to intervene, however Cole was too strong. I ran to the bedroom and shut the door. Unfortunately there was no lock. I went to the bed and laid down, hoping he would just leave with his brother.

That didn’t happen.

The next thing I remember is the door opening and something hard hitting me in the head.

I blacked out for just a moment.

When I came to, I looked over. He had thrown a big black steel toed boot and it had hit me in my head. My head was bleeding and I had a nice little goose egg on my forehead.

I felt so beaten down. Defeated. I just laid there crying, never feeling so low, battered, and pained as I did right in this moment. I just wanted to die.

Things just got worse. The verbal abuse escalated. The physical abuse was beginning to be more frequent and harsh.

About 3 months in I decided I needed to get out.

 Step 1: I went out a bought my own car. (We had been sharing a car up until then)

Step 2: I needed to get my own place, but rent was outrageous in southern California.

I had befriended one of Cole’s friend’s ex-girlfriend– Ally.

Ally was looking for a roommate and I needed to get the hell out of where I was.

I went to Ally’s job one afternoon and talked to her about becoming roommates. To my relief she was all for it. Now the hard part came—I had to tell Cole.

I prepared myself for the worst. Was he going to flip out and hit me? Would he make my life a living hell? Would he even let me leave?

The good thing was none of those things happened. He was in agreement in me moving out. I was so relieved.

Soon after, I moved out and Cole never hurt me again.

Cole and I have remained in contact over the last 18 years. He did apologize for what happened during the short time we were together. I accepted his apology and eventually I forgave him.

That was so many years ago, but somehow those things always stay with you. The hurt, the pain, the fear of that relationship never really left me. But for now I am going to put that old photo album back on the shelf and perhaps someday I will take it back down again to share with my own daughter so she will never have to find herself in the same type of relationship.

I kept my secret for 18 years. Letting go and moving on allows me to live my life without being ashamed. I couldn’t let what happened in my early adulthood define the rest of my life. Although I haven’t talked about it before, in my own mind, I have been able to forgive but I will never forget. Forgetting dilutes the lessons that were taught to me at such a young age. Those lessons, although painful and frightening have allowed me to remember that I am worth so much more than what that relationship made me feel like. It allowed me to put boundaries up early on, never allowing myself to be treated like that again.

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sad woman sitting alone in a empty room; Shutterstock ID 103754675; PO: aol; Job: production; Client: drone