It felt like a perfect family at first, and it was totally different than living with Mom, but I guess they were having some troubles of their own. As I approached graduation, my dad and stepmom had a meeting with me.They divorced about a year later and my stepmother got custody of me. They suggested I go into the Army because they were concerned that I could not take care of myself when I was out on my own.Even though a brave soldier rescued me by putting out the fire, I was severely burned and hospitalized for almost two months. However, I served the remainder of my time and was honorably discharged. My aunt arranged for me to work at the hospital where she worked.While there, my aunt introduced me to my future husband, Rudy, while subbing on her hospital bowling team.Rudy and I began to attend church together and sought marriage counseling. Rudy and I worked together in children’s ministry and were really impacted by the simple stories. My life changed forever on Valentine's Day of 2003. I could escape reality at least for a little while with these online relationships, and I could pretend to be someone else. Morning came, but I didn’t realize how bad things were for him. That evening hospice came, and so did a great support system, our church. I was so overwhelmed because I couldn’t take care of us. Everything seemed okay, so I went into the kitchen to get ready for our next wave of visitors. I ignored it because I thought I was losing my mind. I went to get my bible to find something to read over Rudy, but the voice told me to put it down. He struggled to breathe and then let out a gasp and was gone. Over the next months, I chose to deal with my pain and grief by leading a double life.Through marriage counseling, we learned about communication and about trust. Although I had prayed to receive Christ when I was five through the ministry of a lovely neighborhood woman, I had never really had a relationship with God. About a year later we got a call from the doctor who asked to meet with us. When Sunday came, Rudy got up early and beat me in getting dressed and ready to go to church. I was only aware of how much effort it was taking for me. I went into the room with my husband and told him it was okay to go, and that we all loved him. I was instantly full of anguish and began to scream so loudly that my neighbor heard my cries. I was going to church and acting like I was okay, but I was continuing to go to chat rooms forming new sexual friendships online.
I agreed to go and moved to live with my dad and stepmother.
We had remained close even after her divorce from Dad. I was sleeping around and working as a waitress at a strip club. I began to give him control of every aspect of my life to the point I made him my god.
I had an abortion and too many relationships to keep track of. A year or so later, Rudy moved to Oklahoma, pursued me, and we were married. Looking back on it now, I realize that he didn’t want that role, or maybe he did.
We were told that we needed to consider calling in hospice. We had dinner at my brother's house, and all seemed well. I felt that he had given up, but I wasn’t ready to. I needed my church friends, but I was more real with the chat friends.
At that point, I saw the light go out in Rudy’s eyes, he had given up. In the Summer of 2004, I flew out of state to secretly meet with a man I met online.