#WhyIStayed #WhyILeft

Stop

 

You can learn more about abusive relationships

and reach a trained counselor 24/7 at

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

and 1-800-799-7233.

Too many women, some just girls, are “tricked”, by their abusers, into believing that they have no choice but to stay in an abusive relationship. They are lied to, manipulated through fear, coercion and battery, and find themselves alone and afraid, ill-equipped to make necessary changes to save their own lives. Often times they don’t even realize that what they are experiencing is not “normal”.

I was one of them.

My own story is chronicled in a memoir published in 2013 called More Than Everything. It took me 20+ years to write about my abusive relationship and my voice still falters when I talk about it. For years I struggled with the pros and cons of  “putting myself out there”, with exposing the truth where darkness had lived for so long. It’s not easy laying your ugliest bits and pieces out for the world to see and pick apart.

Finally, I decided that “there is more room on the outside” and maybe I could help someone else in the process. One of my greatest hopes is that through reading my story, women who may be in seemingly hopeless situations can find the courage to get out and stay out.

I am certainly no expert on the topic, I can only speak to my own story, but over the past few days I’ve read many posts on the topic of violence and abuse. Following is one of the best I’ve seen that paints a full picture and helps explain an abused woman’s skewed thought process – posted anonymously. Here is one woman’s story:

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Don’t Get Me Started

Like many of you, I suffer from seasonal allergies. In addition to being allergic to most grasses and trees, I am also allergic to cats and dogs – and my husband and I currently share our home with two of the sweetest hairy canines you’ve ever met.

Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes – are all a constant in my world. As you can imagine, I go through tons of tissues. As you might also imagine, I’m particular about my tissues. Firstly, they must be white. No pretty pastel colors for me. Oh no. White is the only color of tissue for me. Secondly, and most important –  NO POP-UP TISSUES!

Shortly after we married, I had to send my loving husband to the store for more tissues, and probably a bottle of Benadryl and maybe even tampons. I told him what brand to get and that he better not come home with any pop-ups! He had no idea what I was talking about. Continue reading

Not For Use In Dishwashers

It was still two days until payday, and my wallet was empty, so it was scrambled eggs and pancakes for supper. There’s something about eating breakfast food at supper time that incites a little bit of giddiness and lightens the mood. Kids especially love it.They are thrilled by the idea of mom breaking the rules. It turns their little world upside down and kids love going upside down. It’s almost like being on vacation. Almost. I too loved it as a child, and now, as a single parent, with a more mature view on things like money, groceries and stretching a dollar, I was still enamored with eating pancakes at night time – but mainly for the joy it brought my bright-eyed, tow-headed spitfire of a daughter.

After supper and bath time and brushing our teeth and story time and snuggles, it was lights out for my four year old. I was looking forward to vegging out in front of the TV and watching my new favorite show, Northern Exposure. I had a mad crush on John Corbett who played Chris Stevens, the town’s ex-con, philosophical  DJ in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska. I also had a connection with Alaska due to my own skirmish with the law, and there was something about watching that show that helped me begin to come to terms with some demons in my not-so-distant past. Continue reading

Mystery Photo

 

WhoIsThis-EstellHadThisPic

This mystery photograph was passed around at a family reunion I attended this summer. No one there could positively identify anyone in the picture (that was found in my great aunt’s photo album) but I haven’t been able to take my eyes off of it.

The first, and most notable thing that strikes me is that the small boy in the foreground seems to be smoking a cigarette like all the men (the one on the left probably has one between the fingers of his left hand, and the one leaning against the wall may be holding one to his lips). The second thing is that they’re all wearing newsboy caps…maybe it’s a fashion statement, or maybe that’s what was on sale at the five and dime, we will probably never know. But besides the obvious, there is so much more to be divined here.

Based on my family history, this photograph was most likely taken in Oklahoma, probably in the 1940’s – during the Great Depression and the worst of the dust bowl days. I’m sure there were serious issues being dealt with on a daily basis, like having enough food and water, and finding jobs; and while there may be an ounce of sadness here, I don’t see defeat.

I see grit and sincerity. There is a sense of family and purpose. I see community, and faith and ingenuity. I also see pride and joy and love.  These are salt of the earth folks and they have pride in their country and faith in mankind. They take care of each other and do the right thing more often than not. The women are probably in the kitchen fixin’ a pot of pinto beans and cornbread for dinner and they all go to church on Sunday morning.

These men work hard and take their responsibilities seriously, but they know how to laugh, even on the toughest of days. They are handsome and strong. This boy has a place in the family, and even though he’s young, he matters and is cared for and loved. He helps where he can and does what his mama says most of the time.

I may not know for sure who these men are, and I don’t know what they’re working on here – in what looks to be someone’s front yard – but I believe that they care and that they can be trusted. They will survive and thrive and be successful. They will fight in wars and marry their sweethearts and grow their families. They will provide for their wives and children, and say their prayers. They will be knocked down and they will get back up. They will do the best they can with what they have and they will help their neighbors because that’s what you do.

These are my kinfolk, y’all.

When Your Waterbed Explodes

Note: This is an excerpt from my book, More Than Everything – the true story of my life on the run from the FBI. This scene takes place in Chapter 2. My husband (at the time) and I have just moved into an apartment in Fort Worth after living in Cleburne, Texas for a couple of years.

This is me (age 22) Cleburne, Texas
This is me (age 22) Cleburne, Texas

Shane’s cousin, Robert, helps us move from Cleburne and then Shane has to take him back home around midnight when we’re finally finished.  Shane and Robert set up the king-size waterbed when we first get to the apartment and it has been filling up for a couple of hours.  Before they leave Shane says he’s turned off the water, but instead of turning it off he has mistakenly turned it on full blast.  Continue reading

That Time Charles Bronson Offered To Rub Suntan Lotion On My Back

village inn

When I was in high school I worked as a waitress for ninety cents an hour plus tips. On top of going to school, I worked seven days a week at the Village Inn Pancake House. Monday through Friday it was just me and the cook from 3p – 10p. On the weekends, I worked the breakfast shift with several other waitresses (one being my older sister), serving eggs over easy and buttermilk pancakes to GI’s from the nearby Air Force Base. On a good Saturday I’d bring home $60 in tips. For a sixteen year old in 1976, that wasn’t too shabby.

On the occasional Sunday I’d work a double shift. After working from 6a – 2p, I’d pick up the 2p – 6p shift and literally work all day. One such Sunday, driving home from a double shift sent me through the windshield of a Volkswagon, but that’s a story for another day.

In the summertime, there was no school, and I didn’t have to be at work until 3p during the week so I could sleep in and still have a few hours of down time. I had recently gotten my driver’s license and had my own car – an orange 1973 Chevy Vega – and had been promising my younger sister that I’d take her and some friends to the lake. They wanted to swim and I wanted to lay out and get some sun, so we packed up the Vega and headed out one morning.

There was only one other car parked in the beach area when we arrived at around nine. There hadn’t been anyone at the guard gate to take our three dollars and I found that odd. The other car was a dark green Chevy Corvette. I’m pretty sure it was a ’72 because I noticed the two rectangular exhaust pipes and split bumper. Daddy taught me a few things about cars, including how to tell what make and model I’m looking at, fueling a lifelong admiration for design and details.

I zipped the Vega into a spot a decent distance from the Vette because there was a big burly dude standing next to the car with his arms crossed. I glanced around and saw one head bobbing in the water a short distance from the beach. I figured they were together and didn’t think too much about it. Continue reading

Mr. and Mrs. #Shannyforever

Magic Was In The Air ~ July 12, 2014

We had a wedding!

Friends, family and loved ones gathered at the end of a beautiful July day, in overwhelming joy, to witness the exchanging of heartfelt vows, celebrate love, and to dance our butts off. All of that and so much more! Everyone ate, drank and got merry, just as intended. And now two extraordinary young people are a brand new family because they chose each other!

There was so much love and joy floating around this place for three full days, I thought I might burst. Every time I turned around there was another smiling face or a hug or a special conversation waiting for me. Not only did the gorgeous bride choose a bright, fun, caring and thoughtful man to share her life with, but he came with a warm, loving family that has embraced us all and now we are bound together too….an unexpected and totally awesome benefit of our children coming together.

Continue reading