May 31st, 2015. How else can I describe that day?
It was my wedding day, it was the worst day of my life.
I had made a grave mistake, and only in time would I be able to tell.
I met my husband when I was only 15-years-old. My twin sister and I had run away from home. My mother, who is deceased now, lived in an apartment with my younger brother. She was going through a divorce and had never been on her own. (Sound familiar?) We were visiting her one weekend when my twin sister told me she was leaving. My sister and I were inseparable up to the age of 16, when I became pregnant with my first daughter.
I was her shadow, so to speak. I never really made friends of my own. Her friends were my friends. I was known as, “Jessica’s sister”. I still remember watching her shimmy down the curtains, landing and running off into the night.
She was a rebel.
I debated for the longest time what to do, and having been scared to death of heights, I decided to just tell my mom I was going out to her van to get some things out. So, I just kinda walked out the front door, and never came back.
By the time I got outside, I realized I had no shoes. My mind went blank. I was frazzled.
I decided to keep going. I have to find my sister. By this time, she was long gone. I walked and hid behind “Donate Clothing” bins. After awhile, two women stopped and picked me up. I hitchhiked to an apartment complex of a mutual friend- (I don’t even know how on earth I remembered where it was, my sense of directions are horrible).
That night, I slept outside on the pavilion that surrounded a big pond. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. My feet were bruised and sore from walking for hours before being picked up by the two women. (I later found out they had just been released from prison).
I waited until the early morning hours to walk up and see if I could figure out which apartment complex belonged to our friend. I figured that if Jessica went anywhere- that’s where she would be.
Miraculously, I somehow ended up catching up to her. It was the first time I met my husband. The next thing I know, we were on the run for what would last exactly one week, in Walton County, Georgia.
While on the run, my family members were panicked, worried to death. Looking back, I really- really- don’t know how I’m still alive. They went all over the counties, and then some- posting our photos labeled, “MISSING”.
While on their hunt, my twin sister and I were with my soon to be ex-husband sleeping in old abandoned cars, parking lots, churches, and even inside a loft in a barn.
He gave us aliases. I was referred to as “Abbey”, and my sister was from then on to be called “Jersey”.
He fed us prescription pills, Coricidin to be exact. I’m not talking about one or two at a time either. I’m talking about handfuls.
Eventually, we met his mother, (years later it all makes sense).
However, being 14-15 years-old, I just thought, “Wow, what a nice family.” They gave us clothes to wear, allowed us to shower in her trailer, and even gave us food to eat. There were certain times throughout the day that my husband would have to leave us in the company of others while he did things such as visit his brother who was incarcerated at the time.
I remember wanting to go home so bad, but my sister was stubborn. Nothing could make me change my mind either. I was going to be at her side- no matter what. I looked over at her, she was sleeping outside on a broken down piece of wood. She was laying in a bed of ants. I tried to wake her, but she would not respond.
She was breathing, she was just exhausted.
I cried. I just really wanted to go home.
My husband had just sealed the deal to get bus tickets for the three of us to travel down to his grandparents home in Florida. We were at a gas station not far from his mother’s trailer.
He had been in a fight with someone he knew. That person recognized my sister and I as missing persons, and called police.
It was my husband’s first trip to jail, but not his last. He was charged with two counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”. He stayed in the Walton County Jail for around three months. My sister and I were also transported to the Walton County Jail and placed in a holding cell. We were (thankfully) not charged with any crime, although we were indeed runaways. I gave the officer my aunt’s telephone number.
My aunt recalled answering the phone and hearing the officer say, “We’ve got Jessica”.
My aunt held her breath till he said, “We’ve got Jessica and Jennifer down here at the Walton County Police Department.”
“Thank God”, she responded. That night, two of my aunts and my uncle came to pick us up. I wish I could say that the story ended there, but that’s not the case. It wasn’t quite “Happily Ever After”.
I don’t know what it was. I guess I was just desperate to be loved. I wanted to feel loved. It seemed like he had our interests in heart. I mean, he took care of us, you know? He was also extremely intelligent, and handsome. Tall, dark hair, he swept me off my feet.
(Till I hit the floor, here most recently).
Naturally, I felt awful. I felt as though we were responsible for his incarceration. I saved all of my lunch money and change and kept it in a jar until it was full. I begged and pleaded with my aunt to drive me to his mother’s trailer so that I could drop it off. I thought any money towards his bail may help.
I accepted several collect calls from him, letters, etc. My sister wanted nothing more to do with his shenanigans. For me, it was all over. I had this intense need to be and feel loved. I really thought he cared about me. I thought he loved me.
Eight years went by. Eight years. Over that time, I had been in two significant relationships which resulted in three daughters. He had been in several relationships as well, and a marriage that resulted in two children- a boy and a girl.
One day, I received a “MySpace” message. The butterflies in my stomach instantly came back- full swing. It was an intense summer. May of 2010, is where it really all began.
Back to our wedding day. Five-years later. Five years of pure hell- nothing like what was to come after I said, “I do”. But you know, we had two little boys together. And maybe, just maybe if I loved him enough, he would change.
Anyway. We married on May 31st, 2015 in a gorgeous cabin with a mountain top view; in Almond, North Carolina- Graham County. We had a handful of close friends accompany us, and of course his grandfather, who was the one to perform the ceremony.
Ya’ll. I should have known. Really… I mean he was SIX hours late to our wedding. I’m not sure how many red flags it took to wave in front of my face before I realized- “Who the Bleep Did I Marry?”
I put on a fake smile, and sat in my wedding gown for six hours waiting. He was supposedly picking up his grandfather, and later he claimed he stopped to have lunch (while I was starving), and decided to purchase purple socks to go with his suit.
Okay, well. I am quite the saver. Really, I am. I am excellent with savings, and on my own, I am good. I was so concerned with the expense of this elaborate cabin that he rented for a week, that I decided I would just get married BAREFOOT in exchange for wasting a few dollars to get some wedding shoes.
So, while I was married barefoot, he was married with his purple socks that took six hours to buy.
It was the worst day of my life. I tried to make excuses for him to my friends and family. For the longest time, no one knew- except of course the ones who were present. I felt so incredibly bad that we were just stuck, waiting.
I pretended like everything was fine. Truth be told, I wanted to bust out in tears. I was devastated.
After our family and friends left, he acted like he didn’t even know me. Our “honeymoon” consisted of him getting sick all in my car, forcing me to clean it. (He had drank too much the night before).
He stayed in bed. There was nothing romantic about it. I felt like he was a stranger. As he put it, “I was now his, he owned me.”
I knew I had made a mistake. My gut told me this all along, but I ignored it.
I ignored it for a long time, until the abuse became unbearable.
May 31st, 2015, was in fact- the worst day of my life.
Why did I chose to write about this today?
Because today I filed for divorce. Today, was a good day.