Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
Just as I began to get used to the idea that Nate wasn’t coming back, he came back. Mom and I got home from getting Scott’s portrait made at a studio, and there was Nate waiting in the driveway, looking impatient. I was never happier to see him. Or angrier. Who did he think he was, just coming and going as he pleased? Was I just supposed to sit by and wait and then drop everything when he decided he wanted us back again?
Apparently I was, and the side of me that wanted to be with him won. Despite the change in my relationship with Mom, which was probably the best we’d ever had together, I left with Nate. Regardless of the night school I had just finished setting up for myself, and even those sure-to-be adorable photos we’d just had taken of Scott, I dropped it all to run back to Nate again.
It was stupid. A stupid, vicious cycle. Our whole life together revolved around what he wanted, never what I wanted. While I did indeed want to be with him, I wanted us to be in a good place, in a safe place, not still running from the law, not living with family. I knew if we gave ourselves the chance, we really could make our lives work for the better, that our marriage could be happy, that our son could learn what stability meant. I knew it was possible that this time everything would be right, better.
On hope alone, I left my mother’s home and went with Nate to Tampa.
“I missed you, baby. Things will be different,” he promised.
As soon as we arrived in Tampa and I found out we were going to be living with family again, I didn’t think things were going to be different at all. Different state, different family, same story.
By the time we finally moved into a trailer of our own, Nate acted as if he couldn’t stand to be around me. Our fighting only got worse, and it didn’t help that Tim, who now lived with us, instigated. I was relieved that we were out of my sister-n-law’s house, even if Tim had to come with us. It was too hard on us, and I held onto the hope that once we could settle down, we would be ok.
Scott and I spent long hours alone while Nate worked and did whatever it was he did after work. The trailer was infested with spiders, and so I spent many days sitting in the middle of the tiny living room, keeping an eye on Scott to be sure he didn’t get bit by one. Memories of spider bites as a child were enough to keep me fearful for my baby boy, especially as he learned to walk, and then run, all over the trailer.
I often daydreamed about how life was supposed to be. I was still only fifteen, but I was sure it was supposed to be better than this. I wanted to finish school, but the nearby high school wasn’t like the safe one back in Delaware. This one was often on the news, and it was never for anything positive. And I wanted more than anything to be happy. I wanted my husband to love me the way husbands are supposed to, and I wanted him to like being home with us. I couldn’t make him do anything he didn’t want to do, but I tried many, many times to talk him into just being with us, that all the other stuff wasn’t important.
All the talking in the world didn’t matter, and I grew angrier with each passing day. Why couldn’t we be enough? Why was drinking and partying and whatever else he did late into the night more important?
Panic set in all over again when I awoke one night to find Nate and Tim hauling in a brand new TV and other various electronics. They were definitely stealing again, despite me begging Nate to stop. Their luck was going to run out, and I didn’t want to go to jail with them. I didn’t want to lose my baby.
“Take it back!” I screamed, unable to contain my fear. “Get it out of my house now! I don’t want—“
In mid-sentence, he backhanded me and dragged me toward our room. Nate didn’t hit me often, but when he did, he didn’t hold back.
“If I wanted someone to tell me what to do, I’d go home to my mommy,” he said, and hit me again. Through my own cries, I could hear Scott screaming in the living room. Tim knocked on the door and warned Nate to be quiet.
“It won’t look good if someone calls the cops, man,” he said.
Nate was on top of me now, dominating me, but he rolled off at the idea of the police showing up. “Don’t ever tell me what to do again.”
I stared up at him, trying not to cry more, just nodding. I didn’t want to make him any angrier. Words from the past whispered: stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about. And I didn’t want Scott to hear me. I waited until I was sure they left, and then went to the living room to get my baby boy. I needed to hold him close to me. He was the only one in this world who loved me and didn’t want to hurt me.
The next day, I told Nate I should just go back home to Williston so he could have the life he wanted.
“Take me home to mommy!” he said, mocking me. “I should have left you there to begin with.”
“Yeah, you probably should have,” I said. I hated him right then. I hated the sound of his voice, and I hated the way he looked at me, and I hated the way he didn’t fight to keep me with him. He didn’t want me around. I didn’t understand why he came to get me if he didn’t love me. I didn’t know where he was then; he had his freedom!
Within a couple hours, our stuff was packed and we were on the road. Scott and I still had very few belongings, so the two-hour drive was comfortable. I couldn’t wait to get home.
A couple of miles before we hit Williston, Nate pulled the car over. “Keep your mouth shut,” he warned. “You know I love you and Scott. Times are just hard for me and I don’t mean to hurt you. I love you more than anything in this world, ok? You just have to wait for me. I’ll come back when I get my head on straight and get my life straight. Just wait for me, ok baby? Will you wait?”
I nodded. Of course I would be waiting. What else did I have to do? And of course I’d say yes. I wasn’t stupid enough to say no.
“Good. Because if I hear that you’re cheating on me…I’ll kill you.” He laughed then, but I knew he was serious. He was always serious.
He pulled back onto the highway and I stared straight ahead. And when we arrived at Mom’s, I was never happier to see her in my whole life.
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!