Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
“Get your own self home.” Those are the last words from Mom when I called for her to pick me up from Nate’s after spending Thanksgiving with him and his family. But I couldn’t get myself home. That’s why I needed her to drive me to begin with. Home is over fifteen miles away. I couldn’t just walk.
Ever since the last fight, we hadn’t talked. We avoided each other at all costs. Maybe she was afraid I would fight back more next time, or maybe fighting back gained me a little respect with her. Whatever the case, it was chilly between us, and I didn’t care.
Nate’s stepmom, Mary, let me stay because she also didn’t have a way to get me home, and she wasn’t happy about it. I slept in her room because even though I was already pregnant, she wasn’t going to condone our behavior. It made me feel dirty, but there was no other choice.
One night turned into two, then three. I woke up one morning just as the sun was beginning to rise to noises at the front door. I got to the door and peeked out the peephole just in time to see the back of Mom’s head. When I opened the door, she was already back at her car and driving away. A pile of my clothes was sitting on the ground. No note, nothing to explain.
She just keeps letting me go. I feel like nothing more than an afterthought, a problem that requires a quick fix. I am homeless now. No doubt Mary will take me in, but for how long? How many times is Mom going to dump me off on someone else?
I guess I no longer have to figure out how to get myself home.
Mom does show up again, or we go to her somehow, I no longer remember. But she’s the one who drove us around on December 7 to get all the paperwork we needed to get married. She signed off, though we don’t need her to. My pregnancy was permission enough in the court’s eyes. But we couldn’t get medical proof, other than my growing belly, so our would-be wedding day was moved when the day ran out.
She wasn’t there when we tried again a week later. This was surprising since she seemed so eager to marry me off and be done with me once and for all. Nate and I stood before a judge with Nate’s little brother as our only witness. My belly pushed my stonewashed jeans to the limit, but I was too excited to pay attention to the pressure. And it’s not like I had much else to wear anyway.
So on December 14, 1989, Nate and I were married.
We ran out of the courtroom jumping up and down, and then walked to the restaurant where Nate worked to announce the news. We feasted on a wedding dinner of burgers and fries, and our meal was on the house.
“No soda for you, though,” Nate said, ordering milk instead. “And this is probably your last junk food, so enjoy. We have to feed my boy healthy.”
“Your boy? What makes you so sure it’s a boy?”
“Because a daddy just knows!” he said, puffing his chest with pride. “Like my dad says, anyone can make a girl. The pattern is laid out right in front of you. But it takes a real man like me to make a boy.”
He was so happy and proud it made my heart race. I might have only been fourteen, but it was exciting to me to know my life was really beginning. I was a wife and would soon be a mom, no longer my own mom’s punching bag. It was all I ever dreamed of, and if I happened to have twin daughters, just as I’d always wanted, I would be even happier, though I guess Nate wouldn’t be nearly as proud of himself.
When we got back to the apartment and announced we were married, Mary relented and finally let us share a room. She stood firm before in her argument that we would not live in sin under her roof, but now she had no choice but to allow us to be together.
“I think you two better start figuring out what’s next,” she said. “Now that you’re married, you need to get your own place.”
That was a nice idea but felt impossible. We didn’t have money. Nate barely made minimum wage. I couldn’t even legally get a job, not that there were many opportunities in this country town. We had just spent most of his last check to get married.
“There are government apartments right up the road,” she said.
She seemed eager enough to get rid of us, but I was used to not being wanted around. Still, we were ok with the idea of moving out. If we could get into a free apartment, even better.
We applied and couldn’t believe it when we were accepted. The lady running the office had to break the great news to us in two parts because right after telling us, I passed out. I was also used to doing that all the time, but she seemed to think I was just overtaken with the news. In a way, I was. We’d be getting a small one-bedroom in a few weeks, as soon as the current occupants moved. I couldn’t believe our luck. She told us it usually took several months of being on a waiting list, but for this particular apartment, they couldn’t fit a family in, so we got it.
As a brand new year approached, it was an exciting time. Each passing day put us one day closer to the birth of our child. Our baby! Just thinking about it made my heart race, but only in a very good way.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!