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Tapenga's Tales
Part 1 - Married Too Young

Sometimes we have the drive to succeed and change our lives that surpasses anything that we ever dreamed was possible for us to do. This is the story of how I went back to school and changed my life despite incredible challenges.

I am not sure that I went into my marriage with the idea that it would be forever. Perhaps this doomed it from the beginning. I was very young, certainly too young to get married, but like so many young people I thought I knew what I was doing.

I never dated much in high school. In fact I only really had one boyfriend that I was very serious about and who, of course, broke my heart.

After that I began dating the man who would become my husband. I think that I was a sophomore in high school at the time, and he was 7 years older. Though I was a majorette in the band, I never had a lot of self confidence and was just sure that if I let this guy get away that no one else would ever love me.

I really am not sure where those feelings originated. When I was about 16 my parents divorced for many reasons including the fact that my father was seeing another woman. I was definitely a daddy's girl and to further complicate the situation the other woman was my cousin whom I had adored and patterned my life after.

I was very quick to find fault in my mother and knew that she must not have worked hard enough at things like cleaning the house or my father never would have been unhappy enough to leave us. My father went off to begin his new life with his new wife and my mother, brother and sister and I tried to pick up the pieces of the old life.

It was, I think, as a result of this that I clung to the relationship that I was involved in. I wanted someone who would love just me and not leave me.

We had a big, but low budget wedding, paying for most if it ourselves and doing a lot by ourselves to cut corners. We both worked for a local grocery company.

I went to college for a year before we got married, but mostly to appease my mother, not because I was committed to getting an education. If I would have looked harder prior to the marriage I am sure I would have seen problems coming, but I had the blinders of young love on.

There were lies before we got married. There were times he would tell me he wasn't home and I would drive by and see his car in the driveway. He told me at one time that he suffered from a fatal disease and did not know how long he had to live. I, being a nurturer was just sure that I could make his short life so much better.

After the marriage finances were tight. We combined our money in one account that we both had access to. It was understood that we both could draw from this account, but the bills had to be paid first and there was not enough for a lot of extras.

I was in charge of paying the bills. It wasn't long before we were receiving NSF check notices. I went over the check book with a fine tooth comb and could not imagine how this was happening since all the math and the timing was right. At the same time we were getting phone calls saying that our credit card bills had not been paid.

Again I did not understand how this was happening because when I got a bill I paid it. Long story short...it turned out that my new husband was taking checks from the back of the packs in the bottom of the box and not recording them in the ledger, and taking the credit card bills out of the mail and hiding them in the bottom of his dresser drawer.

When confronted with this I was of course the bad guy because I was the one who had snooped through his drawer and found the bills he had hidden. I still believed in him at this point, and just knew that with time he would learn to be a team player so leaving was not a route I wanted to take.

Besides, 6 months after we were married I was pregnant, not by accident, and 19 years old!

Most of my married life my husband was emotionally abusive. He regularly cut me down, called me names, yelled at me and accused me of numerous affairs of which in reality there never were any. There was no reasoning with him.

We ended up having 3 children in a little over 5 year period. I worked part time evenings and weekends and raised the children and he worked the traditional 40 hour week in a warehouse. I was very family focused and committed to my children. I was very involved in their school life and held numerous offices in the PTA.

My husband continued to think of me as having men lined up down the sidewalk all day long to sleep with. If I asked him when I was supposed to be doing this since I had 1-3 children with me at all times, PTA functions, and a part time job, he had no answers for the reality of my time being filled and continued to tell me how worthless I was.

I remember one time I ran into my first boyfriend at the mall when I had 3 children with me. When I got home I told him about it. I didn't think he was ever going to stop yelling at me. He would always pick horrendous fights when we were near the children and he knew that I would back down and let him do whatever he wanted to protect the children from his wrath.

I came to find out in later years that when I was at work he was equally as emotionally abuse with the children and when I would call home on my break would threaten them if they told me.

I continued to live this way because I thought that the best thing I could do for the kids was to give them a family that was together. I am sure that my own parents' divorce played a large part in my feeling this way although I can remember praying when they were fighting that God would let them separate.

I was just sure that the right thing for me to do was to sacrifice myself for my kids stability.........after all he wasn't physically abusive often, and there were surely a lot of women who had it a whole lot worse than I.

Part 2 - Back to School

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