I Am Still Standing

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      Jan Kerrigan

      I was very young when I was married. I was 20 years old. I had had a difficult childhood. My older sister,Mary, who was only 14 years old, was raped & murdered when I was 8 years old. I loved her dearly, she was my hero. As one can imagine this had devastating effects on my family. In a very rapid order, everything in my life changed or was taken from me. I lost my sister, my home, my neighborhood, my community, my school, my friends, almost everything. I also lost my parents also. They both had lousy childhoods & were not in anyway equipped to deal with the situation. Even tho my parents were physically there, they were not there at all. My Mother didn’t get out of bed for a year & a half most days. As a mother myself I can understand this some. My father became, “Mr life is too short”, I must live for today & only my happiness matters. He became a big drinker & drug user. A serial cheater.

      Mary’s murder was a news making event. She was 14, her rapist/murderer was also 14. The press was awful. We had to flee our home eventually. There was no peace to be had at our home. When I tried to attend school, international news crews set up their satellite trucks on the street outside my school. They had to have leave school so the other kids could learn. We could not even purchase groceries. Press followed us everywhere we went. We fled to another state, to stay with family friends.

      I at age 8 had to learn to look after myself. I had to learn to cook for myself. I make a boxed Mac-n-cheese, almost better than anyone you will ever meet. I had to learn to put myself to bed on time. Get myself up for school. Do my homework. Just to take care of myself. The only task my Mom could only do laundry. Everything else I had to manage myself. My father was out being “Mr Happy”.

      We moved back to our home state eventually, to a new house & community. I thought at first, I could escape the past,
      be invisible. Rather quickly people figured out who we were, in our new community. I just wanted to hide & pretend we were normal. Tho we were not, normal.

      Three made for T.V movies were made about her murder. A mini series in Japan. Also three books & movies made from the perspective of Mary’s murderer. I hide from cameras to this day. I shake when I have my picture taken still.

      As I grew it was difficult for my parents to see me become older than my sister. She was frozen in time at a 14. My 15th birthday. It was a bridge too far for my mom. She could not handle it. She would not let me out of the house except for school & work. No seeing friends anymore,I became a prisoner almost. She was cold & aluff. She couldn’t manage her emotions. At age 16, I left to live with my father. He was “Mr Happy”. By age 17, I became one of his drinking buddies. This never a good thing, but it seems good when your 17! I was finally close to him. Part of his circle again. I had a new school, a new life I thought. By age 18, I had been in drinking & driving accident. I almost killed a friend & myself. I had no business drinking, let alone driving.I was so injured, I guess the state trooper took pity on me. I had a broken ankle & sprained the other. I fractured my sternum, some of my ribs still move to this day. Oh, and I looked so scary, I made children cry with fear! My head went through the windshield. I didn’t receive a DUI, even tho I deserved a DUI. I quit drinking after that. I had a new lease on life.

      I met a guy from the neighborhood,younger brother of part of my Dad’s extending drinking circle of friends. I thought he was great, charming, funny & smart. He needed to move for his job. I was 19 & cramping my Dad’s dating life. I was asked to move out with him. I cared about him. We enjoyed each other’s company. At first all was well. We were poor. Hungry at times, we did it together. So it was fine.

      Time passed we moved back near family. After a while we discovered I was pregnant. We decided to get married. I thought we were building a family & a life together. He began to change over time. Drinking & doing drugs. Sometimes just missing. After our wedding, the real violence started. He punched my belly real hard. Our daughter was born healthy, luckly. The first thing he said about his daughter was to question if she was his child.

      Before I knew it I was pregnant again. Our older children are 13 months & 8 days apart. I was busy. He did as he wanted. Showed up when he felt like it, was always laid off from work,because of his drinking & drug use. He had awful friends, all on drugs. He was a awful husband. I would ask him to leave. He would apologize. I would take him back. I miscarried 2 children & chose not to have one child because I had extensive dental work and it was a unhealthy child. My husband decided I didn’t want to have that child because it was someone else’s baby & not his. I would never cheat on my husband, I could hardly handle him. My life became only him & our kids. A few years later I had our third child.

      We always had highs & lows. Way more lows than highs. I stuck by him, through thick & thin. Hoping in vain, that by taking all the abuse, I was proving my love & devotion. All I was proving was I could stand years of abuse.

      In 2019, he was once again doing drugs & was fired from his job. He was manic. He was awful all the time lying for no reason other than to lie. He is the king of gaslighting. He was doing drugs with our oldest child. I would say I knew this. I was threatened & lied to. I June of 2020 it all came to a head. I caught him red handed cheating. He beat me badly over a two day period. He was asked to leave. I discovered I was pregnant again two days after he was asked to leave. I lost the babies. He denies they were his children.

      He enlisted his family to try to ruin me. He tells the world his sons are not his sons. Our daughter has become his “creature & drug dealer”. She had three children in 3& 1/2 years. With a man who feeds her drink & drugs.
      Thinks “she is funny drunk until she isn’t funny anymore!” He children suffer greatly every day. I am not allowed to see them. I won’t say her pack of lies is true. Go with my husbands insane story.

      It has been a awful year. But I am lucky tho. I am so very lucky. I have the love & support of our sons. They are two of the finest men, any Mom could ever hope to have. They saved me from being beaten to death. They have cared for me. They have protected me. We have formed a new family. Just us three, a cat & a dog. I have no real family & we are cast out of my husband’s family.

      I married a man that was all the worst part of my parents in one person. Cold, aluf, distant, dishonest, unkind, selfish, violent, abusive, minulipative, drug user, a drunk & a serial cheater. I could not see this until recently.

      Our road is still long. We have so much healing to do. But we will heal. We will have new lives. I hope our daughter gets to the point where she will accept my help. I can’t make her. She calls drunk late at night. I speak to her for as long as I can. At some point she says something awful to fight. I won’t fight, so I say “I love you & goodbye”. I can’t control her. I can only control me.

      Abuse & domestic violence is generational. My grandchildren suffer because of it. Their mother is on drugs, she drinks too much. There are so many things I wish I could change. I can’t change the past. All I can do, is keep trying. Keep getting up every day doing the best I can. As I always have. I can only control me. I just have to learn how to be the best me, I can. I will spend the rest of my life trying to help others, in a way I wish someone could have help us. I will speak the truth as I always have. I won’t hide afraid in silence, confusion & darkness anymore. I will stand in the sunshine a person in the world again. I hope this true story lets others know they are not alone. I always felt so alone. I’m not alone anymore.

    • #13769 Reply

      You are so strong! Your story is the base for most of our stories. I hope you continue to find the strength you need to keep moving forward.

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