August 29, 2004 – On my way to a new life
Today is my husband’s birthday; it’s the day that the powers that be, the universe, the angels above began to move both of our lives in a direction to bring us to where we are today.
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of a milestone for me. On August 29, 2004, at about 6am, I left New Jersey, left my abuser Michael and moved to Florida. The weeks leading up to my departure were filled with turmoil, rage, arguing, trepidation on my part, walking on egg shells, begging on his part, repeating the words which I had heard so many times, but yet, had no meaning left to them, because nothing ever changed. Sure, he’d go back to being a nice guy for a day or two, sometimes more…yet someone can only pretend for so long and sooner or later his real self would show through.
I had spent most of the month of July in Florida, where my mother asked me, after years of never discussing life, “What do you want out of life.” My answer was simple “I want people to see who I am inside and stop judging me for the outside.” I had left NJ shortly after my Birthday on June 27th, but even though she told me to just stay and leave all my things behind, I had to go back. Michael had threatened to kill Haley and Chelsea, especially Haley. He hated that Haley would run from him and he hated that she would come to me after his raging fits were over. Haley was my bright light in what was a very dark period in my life. Whenever Michael would go off on me, she would run under my bed and hide. She learned that I would always end up in the bedroom, so that’s where she would go. I had to go back, if only to get them out of there.
Michael called me every day while I was in Daytona Beach, telling me how much he loved me, how he didn’t want me to “quit on us” and how he wanted to make things right. They were just words to me, I’d heard them all before. When I arrived back in NJ, it was July 27th or 28th and his birthday was on the 29th. So, he was in a pretty good mood. Nothing bad happened for the few days right after I came home. That weekend, on August 31, was the Memorial Service for Noni, my dear friend Anne’s Mom. She had passed away while I was in Florida and I wanted to make sure I was back in time for her service. It wasn’t so much Michael’s birthday that I wanted to be back for; it was Noni’s service. Michael thought I came back for him and rather than deal with any rage that might come my way, I just let him go on thinking that. For a couple of days, I didn’t say anything about my Mother and Art saying that I could come and live with them in Daytona until I got my life back in order. It was the lesser of two evils in my eyes. I either stay in NJ and deal with Michael, never knowing when he might go off on me and knowing deep inside my heart that with each incident his rage grew and grew or go and live with my Mother, who never stood up for me against my abusive and molesting Step-Father. Just before I went back to NJ Art almost had me convinced that he was for real in his offer to let me stay at their house until I got my life back on an even keel. I should have known better, he was only doing that so that he could stay in my Mother’s good graces. I found that out shortly after I moved to Florida.
A few days after Noni’s service, I found myself sitting in Anne’s office, just talking about life and after almost 3 years of keeping everything about Michael to myself, I confessed to her what it was that he’d been doing to me. I told her how he broke my fingers when I said that the wind had blown the car door shut. I told her how he split my lip open, when I told her that I had fallen by getting out of the car and tripping over the curb. I told her about the black eye, when I cancelled dinner plans and she hadn’t seen me for a couple of weeks. Anne was never judgmental and she was one of the few people who always saw me for who I was inside. She didn’t see the fat girl; she saw my heart, as did Noni…she was like the grandmother that I lost when I was 10 years old. Noni was very wise and I admired her greatly. Anne was like the mother I always wished I had, she was supportive, strong, she was fun and she was caring. I told her about my opportunity to get out and move to Florida and explained that I was ready to go, but I didn’t know how I was going to get out, without Michael seriously hurting me. She sat back in her chair behind her desk for what seemed like an eternity. It was probably not even a minute or two, when she leaned back, put her elbows on the desk and said “How about an eviction notice?” I felt a sense of calm come over me when she said that and at the same time we both said “He can’t blame me for that!” She was right; Michael couldn’t blame me for that. There was no doubt he’d blame Anne, but he didn’t have enough guts to do anything about it. And so….together we sat there and wrote the eviction notice, saying that she had to sell the condo in order to pay for her mother’s medical expenses while she was in the hospital for several weeks and then in the nursing home before she passed away.
I went home that afternoon, terrified about how I was going to tell him that we had to move. I watched for the car to pull in when he came home from work. When I saw him coming, my heart started racing and I listened for him to unlock the door. The moment I heard the key turn I picked up the bedroom phone and pretended to be talking to my mother. As far as he knew, I was in the middle of a conversation, and was just saying things like “OK…yes, OK, yeah, I know…OK”. When I turned to him my eyes were filled with tears, but they weren’t fake tears, they were real. Not real in the sense that he thought they were real, but real because I wasn’t exactly sure how he would react and what he would do. I said my last “OK” and hung up the phone. He stood there, with his arms crossed and said, “What’s wrong?” I held my hand out with the envelope holding the letter and cried, “We have to move.” He snatched the envelope from my hand, ripped it open and started yelling. “I told you” he said, “I told you that she wasn’t your friend.” He punched the wall as he walked out of the bedroom and said, “You should have listened to me.” He didn’t talk to me the rest of the night and went to go sit in his chair, play his video games and chat online with whomever it was he was trying to hook up with. It took me a couple of days to get the courage up to tell him I was going to Florida.
I’m certain he didn’t believe me, even though that weekend, I packed Haley and Chelsea up in a kennel, got some tranquilizers from my vet so that they would stay calm and asleep for the entire drive. Put the kennel in the back seat of my brand new Trans Am and left early Friday morning, driving straight through, 15 hours to Daytona. I told Michael that I was taking the girls to my Mother’s house to get them out of the way while I packed up. I left my car in Daytona and brought Art’s van back to NJ. Michael was surprised to see the van and that is when I told him that I thought it best that I move to Florida. I told him there was nothing for me in NJ. My business was going bust (thanks to him answering my cell phone and not giving me messages from potential clients) and that I felt it was the best move for me. He asked what he was going to do and I said, “I guess you’re going to have to find someplace to live.” It took a lot of nerve for me to say it, but I did it and was really surprised that he actually didn’t say anything at all.
Back to his chair he went, back to his Xbox, his laptop, his cyber sex and I packed. I piled all of his stuff in a corner and I packed my things. Just the important stuff, my clothes, some of the antiques I had collected and when the van was full, I made another trip to Florida. I came back a few days later and started over again….I had less than 2 weeks left to go. Apparently, he wasn’t having much luck finding someone else online to feel sorry for him; no one was falling for his story like I had. I could see that his anger was beginning to rise, the rage was coming, I could read him really well and I could sense it. I started packing only when he wasn’t home. I made arrangements for my cougar to be turned over to his name. Wrote up a bill of sale for $100, got the title put in his name, got the car registered to him, and he got himself car insurance. I think that is when it hit him that I really was leaving. That night, he got down on his knees, wrapped his arms around my legs and begged me not to go. He again asked me not to quit on him and said that he would be lost without me. Words…more words with no real meaning behind them. I didn’t respond as he had hoped I would and he began yelling and pulled my legs out from under me, pulling me down to the floor. He pinned me to the carpet in the living room climbed on top of me and began to squeeze my wrists, I fought him and he just squeezed harder. I yelled and screamed, I shouted for someone to call the police, but no one ever did. The neighbors ignored my plea for help for almost 3 years, I don’t know why I thought they would step in now and call the police. I guess I still had hope (or still have hope) in humanity. I was able to get away from him, ran into the bedroom and locked the door. I told him I was going to call the police and he told me to go ahead, they never believed me before. I did call and they came out and had him pack up some of his things and told him to leave. They set me up to file a temporary restraining order.
When I went to court for the permanent restraining order, the court ordered a date past labor day. He didn’t want to hear that I was leaving NJ and moving to Florida and I wouldn’t be around for the court hearing. He said that if I didn’t appear for the hearing, I could get charged with contempt and so I had no choice but to drop the charges. I felt pretty sure that I could keep the peace, especially since Anne had a friend of hers change the locks for the condo. He came back and the very last week of August came and I was beginning to feel a sense of relief, knowing that I only had a short time left. I was leaving right after Labor Day. I just needed to hang in there and keep the peace. Unfortunately, he wasn’t up for keeping the peace….when he finally came to the conclusion that I was indeed leaving and that he was indeed going to be without someone to live off of, I knew another episode was coming. He’d come home from work, sit in his chair, get on his laptop, fire up the Xbox game and drink his beer.
On Saturday, August 28th I received a phone call from Art, telling me that my mother had been rushed to the hospital and that I needed to come to Daytona right away. Apparently she had been bleeding internally and lost almost all of her blood and was rushed to the hospital. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Michael couldn’t react to it, he didn’t have time to get angry and it was my mother, he would look like a heartless asshole if he got angry over my mother being rushed to the hospital. I called Anne, told her the situation and she told me to leave whatever I needed to and she would take care of the rest of it, selling whatever needed to be sold. Bright and early the next morning I was off, before the sun came up. It was barely dusk when I said goodbye to Michael, locked the door to the condo and my heart was pounding when he got in his car and I climbed into the van, I said my goodbyes and before he left for work I told him “By the way, Anne said to call her to get back in the condo and you have until the 1st to get your stuff out. That was that and I was gone.
I drove straight through to Daytona, although I did have some troubles with Art’s van. It kept overheating, so I had to keep stopping to let it cool down. When we owned the limousine company, I learned a lot about cars, including how to fix most problems that didn’t require heavy lifting, or a car lift and I couldn’t find anything wrong with the van. I think that I just had such a heavy load on it and the continuous driving was just taking a toll. I made it to Daytona in the early evening, before visiting hours ended at the hospital where my mother was. It turned out that she had a bleeding ulcer and she’d been losing blood for weeks, but was ignoring the symptoms and by the time they brought her into the emergency room she’d lost so much blood she was barely alive. But, they pumped her back up with blood and she ended up having to stay in the hospital for a few days. I went to the house and was in bed by the time Art got home that night and really didn’t say much to him over the next couple of days while we were in the house alone. My mother was running a small pet sitting business, so I took care of her clients, which kept me busy and kept me from having to spend too much time with my stepfather.
In looking back to my life 10 years ago, as I was leaving New Jersey, there is no way that I could have ever imagined the journey that was about to lay ahead. In these past 10 years, I’ve learned so much about my life, about people, about society. I was living in a world surrounded by negativity, a dark place, and a tunnel that I could not see the end of, there was no light. I didn’t know where I was going, or what I was doing when I left…but, what I did know was that leaving was the right thing to do. I had to get out of there, because if I didn’t his rage would continue to grow and I would end up either dead, or in jail when I was only trying to defend myself. Here I am in 2014, a VERY different woman from the one who left NJ in 2004. In the beginning of 2005, I started a weight loss journey, like I had started so many times before throughout my childhood, teens and into my adulthood. Except this weight loss journey was different, this time there was no going back. This time I would succeed, because I was a different woman, I was focused and determined and while my time with Michael was one of the darkest periods of my life, it propelled me to this point, to where I am today. It made me stronger, and even prepared me to handle my still abusive step-father. Yes, he was still a jerk; he still was verbally abusive, because that’s all he had. He could bully me, he couldn’t touch me, and he couldn’t make me feel any worse than I was already feeling, but he had his words. I sit here and chuckle as I write this, thinking back to the power struggle between us. Here I was, the 43-year-old woman, who had lived through hell and there he was, the same jerk who was so pathetic that he needed to make me feel bad about myself in order to make himself feel better. It didn’t work for him, because each time, I felt more and more empowered. The more empowered I became; the more I wanted to succeed on my mission. And, succeed I did…here I am, 10 years later, over 250 lbs. lost AND maintained, something that most so-called “experts” will tell you can’t be done. Yet I did it and so can you. As a Professional Certified Life Coach, I have taken the lessons of my past, the life that I lived and am using it to help change the lives of others for the better.
If you are in a place where you’re not happy and you want to move past, please reach out to me. I offer a free 45-minute consultation and several packages that will fit every budget. Let’s talk, let’s meet over a cup of coffee or tea, and let’s see how we can work together, so that you too can find the life you’ve always wished for. Take the time today, to make yourself a priority and perhaps you’ll find yourself on the path to success.