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I just lived the worst ten years of my life

by Brandy Enn 9 months ago in Secrets
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Trigger warning: abuse, addiction, pregnancy loss

I just lived the worst ten years of my life
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Oversharing is a funny concept. What does it really mean? What constitutes the words one should share or keep to themselves? Is it fear of embarrassment due to inevitably being judged? You’re going to be judged anyway, no matter how much you keep to yourself. Someone, somewhere, will always have an opinion about your life.

But when it comes to letting it all out we have this mental stopping point that hinders us from telling about the skeletons in our closets. I’m done with being that person. There was a point where one of the few people who knew what happened to me used it as blackmail. When I didn’t comply, they released it. I felt like dying. What would people think? What would they say? Memes were made about it. I was publicly humiliated. Then, after a while, it died down. Nobody cared anymore. They had moved to the next small town gossip of the week.

I’m tired of us being told to stay quiet. I’m tired of the feeling that I should be ashamed of acts I did not personally commit. I am no angel, as you’ll see, so I do want to take personal accountability for my own actions as well. I haven’t been fully honest with anyone, and my timeline in comparison to my other writings may not make sense because I wasn’t ready to tell the whole truth. So here is the real, raw, and ugly story of the worst ten years of my life.

Note: Names have been changed.

The Good

I was a typical teenager. I went to friends’ houses and we snuck out. I drank. I hung out with people who I shouldn’t have. In 2008 I was a high school junior. I went to a party called Lowman Party ’08. Lowman was a well-known classmate, but for all the wrong reasons. The name was more of making fun of him than it was about him. More on that later.

I drove my 2001 white Ford Explorer to this party, so I couldn’t drink more than one Smirnoff Ice (my favorite drink at the time). It’s not fun to be around drunk people when you’re sober. The house party was in an old, decrepit house that I’m not sure anyone at the party owned. Maybe Lowman did? Who knows. I had gone with my friend Meagan. She was one of the people I remember the most during those days. Always the life of the party and everyone loved her.

While we were there, I was introduced to a boy named Heath by his drunk friends. They said something along the lines of, “Hey, this’s Heath. Yoush-should talk to’em.” Like I said, drunk people are not quite as amusing when you’re not really drinking too. I thought he was cute, but in my manic teenage state, I decided I’d rather do something else than talk to Heath. I had the urge to dye my hair. So I did. In the bathroom of the neighboring abandoned house that still had running water, I dyed my hair, accidentally turning it orange.

For a long time after that I didn’t really think about Heath. I ended up back with an ex my senior year. My ex cheated, then broke up with me for a girl who broke up with him six months later and stole his cat (sorry, T, but you kinda deserved it).

After about a month of being single, Heath popped up in my mind. He was cute. He had long hair, was slightly chubby, was a stoner, and super nerdy. 100% my type at the time. I messaged him on MySpace and told him I thought he was cute and that we should meet up. I was pretty mousy, so this was not like me. My stomach was in knots until he responded a week later, asking me if I wanted to go on a date.

He picked me up in his Ford Taurus and brought me to a park. It was in Port Arthur, TX — a slightly larger town than the one I had grown up in, but still very small. It was one of those parks with the giant wooden castle structures. He brought me to the top of the castle, where he had a bouquet of roses waiting that a friend had placed a short while before we arrived. I picked up the roses and before I could even thank him, he kissed me. It was awkward and not great, but also sweet. Then he uttered what I didn’t expect on a first date. “Can we have sex?”

Dumbfounded, I just stared for a moment before replying, “Yes.” We did. Right there. It was just as awkward as the kiss. It ended up getting dark and some kind of authority (I’m not sure if it was the police or a security guard) shined his flashlight through the castle to see if anyone was there before locking up. “I’ve never been in trouble before.” I was almost in tears. “Just be quiet and be still,” he said. I listened, and after a couple of minutes the man locked the gate and left. My heart was pounding. When we were sure he was gone, we decided to leave.

So, I’m 5 feet tall. The gates were about 7 feet high. Heath jumped the fence with ease and started to walk away. My heart sank. I was going to be left there all night. I knew it.

About two minutes later, Heath returned with an empty trash can. He told me to flip the one inside the park, climb over the fence, and land on the second trash can. It worked. Both were empty, y’all. We didn’t litter.

We ended up having sex again in his vehicle, and at his friend’s house who allowed us to stay the night. It was a pretty crazy night, but also the best first date ever.

A week later, we had our second date. We went back to the same park and I was sitting on a swing when Heath said, “So, when are you moving in?” Heath lived about 45 minutes away in Louisiana. I considered his question for a moment before asking if he was serious. I had quite a few boyfriends, but none that ever really committed to moving in so quickly.

It had just so happened that I was being kicked out of my mom’s house because I was 19, so it was almost too perfect. I worked really hard for the next two weeks to save up as much money as possible, and a week later I moved in with him.

Heath had a small apartment in Kinder, Louisiana. He had neglected to tell me that he had a roommate, or furthermore that he had not discussed me moving in with his roommate. On the first night in the middle of the night I woke up and walked towards the restroom. The first thing the roommate said to me was, “goddamn, you’re tiny.” It was the start of a beautiful friendship. I still respect him.

The next day, Heath said he had a confession. With tears in his eyes, he told me he was bisexual. I told him I was too. He looked super relieved and said most of his girlfriends had been extremely uncomfortable with the idea. I told him as long as he was satisfied with me, I was fine with it. I just didn’t like cheaters. He agreed.

A couple of months later, I was contacted by my biological father. He has never been in my life so I was pretty eager to see him. He stayed overnight a couple of times. We met his girlfriend. She had two kids that were not in school. They asked us to dog sit their Jack Russell Terrier for a few days and said it would be fine around our pet, a bunny rabbit. Us being stupid teenagers thought this would be true. It was not. It tried to kill him and we asked for my father to come get his dog. Then, like a thief in the night, he was out of my life again.

I remember us being so poor that we struggled to pay our bills. I hadn’t found a job yet and Heath was working at a supermarket. One day I went to an interview for an insurance agency and got an offer that I couldn’t refuse. Nine dollars an hour, y’all. Looking back I realize that’s very little, but at the time I felt like I had hit the jackpot. We soon after got our own apartment in the city where I worked, Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The Bad

I told Heath to quit his job. He had been harassed by a coworker to the point where he hated going to work, and I could afford to support both of us. He thankfully obliged, and it went sour from there.

I met his mom in an awkward way. T-Mobile had charged us three times for our phone bill, and I was sitting in the living room crying. They told me even if I brought my bank statement they could not reverse the charges. She was so kind and gave us a little bit of money to help us out.

Heath didn’t start looking for work. He sat around smoking pot from money he took from me, and we started to fight quite a bit. One day, after a fight, he dumped me. A few days later I received a message from his new girlfriend, who I found out wasn’t so new. He had been cheating on me with her while I worked to support us.

I did the only logical thing I could think of, and I messaged Lowman in a drunken stupor. “Let’s get drunk and have revenge sexxx.” I didn’t really know him, but I wanted to get back at Heath. Lowman and I became friends. He stayed the night at my house several times, but we never had sex. We would go play mini golf, get food, or hang out. I don’t know if it was because we didn’t have sex or what, but Lowman started to be really mean to me on Facebook and called me a whale several times. It was weird. Like a switch flipped.

Then I dated a Christian boy named Michael. I believed in God but he was much more religious than me. He wanted to wait until marriage but knew I was not a virgin. I moved back to Texas around this time and he was moving to Baton Rouge to pursue his career as a sports journalist, so it didn’t work out.

My friend had let me move in with her for free because she felt bad about me and Heath splitting up. I got a job at Chicken Express where she worked (and where I had worked before I moved to Louisiana), and things went pretty smoothly for a while.

One day I heard a couple of “friends” that I worked with talking shit about me. These were people I cared about, and it hurt. I walked off the job and to the only place where I knew I could to — Heath’s mom. She lived a few blocks away and I showed up to her door crying. She knew her son was a stoner with no life goals, and at the time she was not speaking to him. She welcomed me with open arms and I will forever be grateful for that.

I got a new job working at a staffing agency for a local refinery as a housekeeper. The weeks for 55 hours long at 11 hours a day, 5 days a week. I was also allowed to access the gym at the refinery, so I was there probably 65 hours weekly. One of the stipulations of staying with Heath’s mom was that she had to have access to all of my money to make sure I was saving. She then told me I needed to get a part time job on top of the refinery. I was exhausted already from working and working out, and felt like I had stretched myself thin. I told her there was no way, and she wasn’t happy about that. One day I bought myself a Dairy Queen Blizzard, and she made a comment about me wasting my money. There were also cats everywhere, and I was told to give them bites of my food. She and her husband (Heath’s stepfather) got to a point where I felt I could not take it anymore, and I left in the middle of the night. In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad. I *could* have worked 70 hours a week if I had really tried, but at the time I did not appreciate my situation enough.

I moved into this house that had multiple families, each family in one bedroom. I think there were 12 of us in that 3 bedroom home. The floor was sunken in from hurricane damage in my room (the living room), people’s pets kept going in my room, and the homeowner would not stay out of my room. He was oddly obsessed with my things and kept asking if he could have anything I didn’t want. Plates, blankets, phone chargers, you name it. He would ask if he could have it. I was there for one day before moving back in with Heath.

Back in Louisiana, I was again jobless. I took a job at a local convenience store making $3.50 an hour under the table. I was there for one day before they told me there was a venomous cottonmouth snake loose somewhere in the store that they couldn’t find. Not worth the less than legal wages.

Around this time, I got into an argument with my mother and she took my vehicle. It was technically hers, but I didn’t realize it would be taken away. Her reasoning was fair. I couldn’t afford the $60 a month insurance. At the time I thought she was awful.

We were sleeping in the extra bedroom of a friend’s house when I was around 20. I had found a job as an operating room assistant through Heath’s aunt, who was a scrub tech there. This was also around the time I started experimenting with drugs like acid, ecstasy, weed, and liquor. I never did drugs around the time I had to work and never while I was on call. Heath and I were stupid, young, in love, and we had no real responsibilities. We walked to the grocery store with thirty dollars and carried back everything we could, knowing that was all of our money for the week. Operating room assistants make less than you’d think.

Eventually we found a little place in a mother-in-law suite downtown. We would walk to bars and struggle to walk home. It was probably my favorite time in our twenties. We randomly decided to get married one day. I wore a peace sign t-shirt, jeans, and Chucks.

The place where we lived was chaotic to say the least. The homeowner constantly had strung out ‘friends’ knocking on our door trying to find her. We were constantly blocked in our driveway, which was really bad because when you’re an operating room assistant where I worked you only had 20 minutes to get to work if you were on call and a case came through. One of the homeowner’s friends hit our house and then the neighbor’s house with their vehicle while drunkenly trying to get out of the driveway. We had to go.

We moved into an A-frame tiny home that consisted of a small bedroom, an even smaller kitchen, and a bathroom complete with only a shower, sink, and toilet. We ended up buying Heath’s grandfather’s 2001 Dodge Ram for $1000 because at the time Heath’s Taurus decided to die and I had just lost my vehicle.

I was pretty much done with experimenting with drugs and wanted that to be over. I had landed a new position working in sterile processing at the hospital where I had been an operating room assistant. Heath didn’t. He continued to do drugs and spent hours upon hours in the bathroom, and I wasn’t sure what was happening. I ended up getting pregnant, and shortly after, I miscarried. It happens to one in four women, but you never think you’re going to be one of them until you are. It was painful, and it stung like a fire I can’t explain. You still have to go through labor when you miscarry, and I think a lot of people don’t think about that. You naturally pass what was formed of the fetus. All of the pain, none of the reward. On the way to the hospital, Heath called and asked if he could stop at Taco Bell. This should have been my first real red flag.

He didn’t mourn like I did. Instead, he continued to do drugs and stay in the bathroom for hours. It hurt so badly to not have someone to mourn with, and my mom came and cleaned my house for me when I was too depressed to get out of bed while Heath refused to do anything. Around this time, he also started drinking much more heavily.

I asked him if he could draw back just a little because I thought maybe the drugs had something to do with our inability to get pregnant again. He threw in my face that I had to be the reason the pregnancy was lost because I was the woman, and I was the reason I couldn’t get pregnant. I felt less than human, and confused at this new side of Heath I had never seen.

We were both stressed, and I thought it would make things better if we went on a short vacation. I planned a three day stay in New Orleans and a concert to see Coheed and Cambria, our (still) favorite band. We stopped at Sonic on the way, and I received a text that would be the start of the worst ten years of my life.

The Ugly

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this now. I know you just had a miscarriage, but Heath has been cheating on you.” 3 attachments

Photos popped up in my phone of emails between Heath and another man, a mutual friend’s brother. I was torn. He immediately denied it, and continued to deny it until I showed him the proof. We decided to go on our trip and talk about it after. I had been through enough and wanted to at least have one good weekend.

When we returned, we fought harder than we ever had. I was blamed for everything. I didn’t give enough sex. I was boring. He had needs. I didn’t want to experiment with drugs with him anymore. That’s what he was doing in the bathroom. He had even taken a nude photo in the bathroom at work. In typical fashion of how life tends to go, I soon after found out I was pregnant.

Two weeks later we were told the pregnancy was a blighted ovum. We had to wait several days before a follow up ultrasound to schedule a D&C. At that appointment we found out the doctor was wrong and the baby was growing and healthy.

It was a pretty easy pregnancy until the end. We got over our fight. He started being nicer to me, but he still would not slow down on the drinking or weed. I was 36 weeks pregnant when he told me he was gay and did not want to be with me anymore.

A week later he changed his mind, was not gay, and wanted to be with me. He said he was just bisexual and confused and on drugs. I had pre-eclampsia and was too tired to care. I had our baby at 37 weeks. He was not the most loving father at first. He got a job in the restaurant industry and started coming home from work drunk every night. In high school, a boyfriend of mine was hit and killed by a drunk driver and I explained how it made me feel, but he did not care. He came in stumbling, slurring, and angry every night. He was mentally abusive but had never hit me.

Around this time, I got closer with the girl who had told me about my husband’s affair. I quickly learned this was a mistake. She turned out to be slightly internet infamous for being a garbage human. She said she was going to start making dead baby jokes to a woman on Facebook. I didn’t care because I wasn’t sure what was going on between them or what the woman had said to her first. Turns out, that woman was the mother of twins. One of them had died. She was making dead baby jokes about the woman’s actual dead baby. I was not comfortable at that point. The ‘friend’ said if I didn’t take her side she would air my dirty laundry, and when I refused, she did. People made memes of my husband’s nude photos. They made fun of me. They told me I was crazy for staying, and that he’d just keep cheating.

One night I mentioned I needed more help around the house and with the baby. He’d pretend he didn’t hear her at night when she woke up and he refused to do anything around the house, so it was all on me. I didn’t go back to work after I had our daughter due to how my employer treated me. I had miscarried at work and they refused to provide adequate accommodations during my pregnancy, so I was expected to still life heavy surgical instrument trays even though I was supposed to be on light duty. He said I shouldn’t need any help because I wasn’t working, but quickly changed his tune in his drunken state. “Oh, you want help? Give me the baby. I’ll feed her right fucking now since I don’t ever help.” He sounded stupid, disgusting, and more unattractive than I had ever seen him. I had the baby in my hands and he had the bottle in his. I wasn’t about to give my baby to an angry drunk man. “You won’t let me hold my fucking daughter? Give me the baby!” I reached for the bottle, and at that point he picked up his hand and struck my arm.

He had never hit me before. It was more of a slap but I was stunned. I didn’t know how to react, but I knew I had to keep my baby away from him. I grabbed my phone and started recording, afraid to call the police. Unfortunately, he heard the beep when I hit record and he knew what I was doing. “Oh, you’re going to *hiccup* record me now? Biiiiig bad husband, so *hiccup* ‘abusive’ to you?” He had put the word ‘abusive’ in air quotes. “Go ahead, record me. Send it to your mom or whoever. I don’t give a fuck. Send it to my mom. What the fuck are they going to do? You’re so fucking stupid.” I took his own advice, stopped recording, and sent it to his mom. I didn’t want him to go to jail but I was not about to let that be the beginning of a physically abusive relationship. She was on her way by the next morning.

She screamed at him like I’ve never seen her scream before. It didn’t do anything. He left the house and pretended he hadn’t done anything wrong.

When our daughter was eight months old, I went back to work. I took a job at Rent-A-Center as an assistant manager. This was our first time trusting anyone to look after our daughter. I met a local mom who said she could watch her. Within days, I walked in on her screaming at my infant and shaking her. Nothing prepares you for seeing your child being abused by someone you thought you could trust. Your mine wanders to how long has it been happening? Is this my fault? I wanted to die.

I ended up having to ask my mom to watch my daughter. She lives 45 minutes away. She and a friend helped for two weeks and I drove there and back every day before and after work to keep my job.

The job turned out to be awful. My store manager was running a whole operation where she would put fake customer information in, deliver the merchandise to a friend or family member’s house, and mark it as non-pay. Corporate got involved, she was fired, and we ran the store for two months with only three people. We couldn’t do deliveries or pickups except for very specific time windows and members were pissed at us, understandably.

I was offered a job working at a local Medicaid office and I took it the second they called.

Soon after, a family member passed away and we were allowed to move into her house with Heath’s older brother, Ron, who was in his thirties and jobless. He had used all of his time, in his defense, to take care of the family member who had been ill for quite some time.

Things got worse. He was constantly drunk and was meaner than ever. He never hit me again, but the mental and psychological abuse was so difficult. He didn’t care about me, he didn’t care about our child, and he didn’t care about himself. I found drugs several times and told him each time that I didn’t think it was fair that he could risk us losing our child over drugs. He said, “It’s just a fucking hobby.”

I ended up getting a promotion and started making decent money.

Eventually we all moved into a three bedroom trailer, and his brother came with us. He didn’t have a job but he had money saved up and paid his bills, so I was fine with it. Then we found out Heath had warrants in Texas and his drivers license was suspended. We had just bought a 2014 Kia Forte. I told him he couldn’t drive it because he didn’t have a license. One night, in the middle of the night, I woke up to our car gone. I was about to call the police and report it stolen before I realized Heath had taken it. He said he just needed to get it “out of his system.” I was livid, but I told him I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it if he came home safely and we could talk about it. When I tried to calmly explain my problem with him taking the car, he said, “I thought you weren’t going to make a big deal out of it.” He left the house on foot. The thing is, I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I wanted to talk calmly. I needed him to understand.

The next year, we bought a house. My brother-in-law gifted us $4,000 in exchange for a year of free rent in the new house. Shortly after buying the house, my husband got fired. He was doing drugs, getting drunk, and chasing after the girls he worked with.

On top of this, my former landlord called and said I had hit the trailer we lived in with my car and had damaged it. I had no idea what he was talking about. He sent photos of damage to the very top of the trailer. I explained that I drove a Kia Forte, and it would take something like a semi to hit that far up. He then changed his story and said he saw me in a U-Haul driving and that there was video footage of me hitting the trailer. If you’ll remember, I’m 5 feet tall. I probably couldn’t reach the pedals of a large truck if I had wanted to. I’ve also never rented a U-Haul in my life. I had a Dodge Ram and didn’t need one. I ended up calling the police because he harassed me so much. The texts and calls were constant. I knew he was lying and that I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I wasn’t worried about his court threats, but he started texting and calling me at work. The police were pretty helpful. He happened to call while they were at my house and they told him to take me to court if he wanted but he had to stop calling me. I never heard anything from him again.

Eventually we had to evict my brother-in-law after a year with no rent came and went and he refused to get a job. We were patient with him for three extra months, but he’s much older than us and capable of working.

Heath eventually got a new job and I got another promotion. I found out about more cheating and a “goth girlfriend” before out home was struck by a hurricane.

Two hurricanes, to be exact. They were a category 4 and a category 5, six weeks apart. The second hit on my 30th birthday. This was also around the beginning of the pandemic. Our town was destroyed, my work building was destroyed, a tree fell on our home, and things were, quite frankly, fucked. We lived in a hotel for months. The lock was broken and people constantly walked into our room if we forgot to use the latch. Someone even looted our air conditioners from our house while we were gone. I’d like to think someone really needed them. We came home to no electricity, no water, no gas, and no grocery stores.

I do feel the need to add here that while the government was not helpful, my friends were. I found friends where my former ‘blackmailing’ friend had found infamy. They helped me through everything. They paid for hotels, food, entertainment for my daughter, and even a mini fridge.

The New

Something changed after the hurricanes. Heath was all of a sudden the father he never was. I had recently started college and he took our daughter everywhere while I stayed home to finish schoolwork. They went to museums, Lego Land, NASA, zoos, and just about everywhere they could before places started shutting down due to COVID.

Speaking of, soon after we returned home I got COVID. I was on oxygen and got hit pretty hard. He took care of our daughter and me the whole time. No alcohol, no drugs, no secrets. Just honest, hard work and love.

The next month, my grandmother died. He was there for me. He made sure I was okay. I started to see the Heath from 2009.

The month after that, a deep freeze burst the pipes under our house. We had them fixed, but then the hot water stopped working. He boiled pots of water for us to take baths.

He started gradually taking over the housework. He got a new job and a promotion. He became the best father I’ve ever seen.

In October, I got my third promotion. I’m now applying for a fourth. Our lives are stable. We don’t really drink, he has stopped all drugs, he’s completely honest with me about everything, and life is good.

I can’t say that a person can change or not. That’s up to him. I have never seen such an involved father, such a supportive husband, or someone who offers to cook and clean so much. I don’t know what came over him for those ten years, but the last year has been the happiest I’ve ever seen him.

He’s not scared to leave his phone laying around like he used to be. He doesn’t go to another room when he gets calls or texts. He gives me sweet gifts and does so much for me. I’m still a little confused but thankful at the same time. Maybe it was turning 30 or a mid-life crisis that caused him to change his ways.

He takes pride in himself and his work as a sous chef, he has hobbies, and he’s my best friend again. He got his license back and has his priorities straightened out. We’re going to see Coheed and Cambria again in February, and I can’t wait.

People have mixed opinions about our marriage. Some people think I’m a fool for staying. However, even my mother who used to despise him now loves him and who he is today.

But I think I wrote all of this to say life does get better. I’m not encouraging anyone to stay in an abusive relationship. Life isn’t all about who you’re with. Just know that life, in general, does get better. If you’re barely holding on by a string, try to stay strong. We as humans can fall pretty hard and still get back up.

You don’t have to keep quiet about what has happened to you. It’s your story to tell, no matter how it ends.

____________________________________________________

Because my story does involve elements of abuse, I want to provide the domestic violence support hotline. It’s never too late to get out.

Call 800.799.SAFE (7233) for the domestic violence support hotline or visit https://www.thehotline.org/. Be sure to clear your browser history after visiting this website.

Secrets

About the author

Brandy Enn

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