Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
Being alone in our apartment was scary. Every creak was someone trying to break in. Every tiny noise kept me on alert, unable to sleep. I chatted with crickets to keep me company, and I spent a lot of time in bed reading, mostly to learn more about the baby growing in my belly.
The same judge who joined us in holy matrimony oversaw Nate’s case and set his bond high. Without any money to my name, there was no way to bail him out. I continued to live the first couple months of our married life all alone.
The weeks dragged on, with only twice-a-week nightly visitation to look forward to. Most weeks, I had to beg a ride. Sometimes someone would just show up and offer to take me. Other times, we missed visiting all together. As much as I missed him, though, I hated going to the jail, to the cold visitation room where every sound echoed off the stark walls, where female guards ran their hands up and down my body, and where every eye watched every move, from both sides of the glass that separated prisoners from the free. More, I hated seeing Nate in that bright orange jumpsuit. It made him look cold. It made him look guilty.
Which, I knew he was. Guilty, that is. Mostly, I hated visiting him because I couldn’t tell him no.
“Write me every day.”
“Deposit money into my account.”
“Wear a skirt so you can show me what’s mine.”
My face burned every time, more out of embarrassment that some other guy in jail or a guard was going to catch me. And I was ashamed that I was doing it at all.
“I don’t like this,” I told him.
“But you love me,” he said.
While he was in jail, one of his older brothers was killed after waving a gun in public, and Nate’s anger raged. He wanted out of jail more than anything. He was given a one-day furlough to attend the funeral, but he treated it more like a long conjugal visit and returned to jail leaving me sore and used up.
My belly grew rounder and the days grew hotter. The Florida humidity was hard on a pregnant girl without air conditioning. I stayed indoors, hidden away in my room, writing my daily letters to Nate, marking off the days on the calendar, waiting for the next court hearing.
When it finally arrived, I pleaded with the judge to release Nate. His older siblings in Delaware volunteered to move us there to help us start our lives over. As I stood before the judge sitting high on his bench, purposely rubbing my swollen belly, he said the words I longed to hear: Released and granted permission to have his probation transferred to Delaware.
My husband was coming home! And we were moving far away to a place I’d never been. I’d never been anywhere, really, so it was crazy to think about moving to the north. I didn’t care that we’d have to live with someone else and lose our privacy. All I cared about was the fresh start this move promised. Now we could build our lives as a family.
With very few possessions to our name, the move was quick and easy. I decided not to even tell Mom I was going. I was tired of being dumped off whenever she didn’t want me around, so now she could deal with being left behind. I wish I could see the look on her face when she found out I was gone.
“The air even feels different,” I said when we drove into Delaware. This was the best decision we could have ever made. I could feel change taking place just as I felt the change in atmosphere. Surely everything was going to get back on track now. Nate’s brothers and sisters all seemed so open and ready to help.
Soon after we settled in, instead of enjoying our new life together, I was always alone. Many nights I sat in front of the bay windows staring out or pacing the hardwood floors, waiting for Nate to come home. He’d pull into the driveway in the wee hours of the morning and I’d run to our bed and pretend to be asleep. Funny how some things just repeat themselves.
I wanted to scream at him, to tell him he was doing the same thing my mom did, that nothing was different, but I was afraid of another scene like New Year’s Eve. Besides, he wasn’t my mom. He loved me. I knew this. But it was hard sometimes to keep my mouth shut when all I really wanted was for him to just want to be at home with me. Why couldn’t I be enough for him?
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!