‘SWAT, OPEN THE DOOR!’ Awakened into a nightmare, my husband was their suspect.’: Woman overcomes parental loss, abusive relationship, ‘I went from prison wife to purposed-filled life’

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of drug abuse, grief, and domestic abuse that may be upsetting to some.

“Footsteps. Multiple footsteps rustling outside our bedroom windows. Why in heavens is the neighbor up so early on a Friday doing yard work – ‘SWAT, OPEN THE DOOR!’ I flew out of my bed, grabbed clothes, and ran to our youngest’s crib. The nursery contained an exterior door and I heard attempts to enter. Disoriented, I rushed down the hall to the boys’ bedroom. ‘STAND STILL DO NOT MOVE HANDS UP!’ I have a baby, how can I? ‘Give us the baby.’ HELL NO.

There were so many of them. There were assault rifles. There was noise, so much noise, and I didn’t know where my husband went. MY BABIES ARE IN THERE! ‘Ma’am when we clear the room you can go in!’ I looked and could see my boys slowly waking to DEA, ICE, and FBI in their room. WHAT IS GOING ON!!!??? Alone in the hallway facing down half a dozen agents, everything began to spin.

I am not a stranger to loss and devastation – nor secrets. At eleven years old I would read the obituaries and one night I held that paper knowing what I must tell my Mom. ‘Dad died. Mom, it says here Dad died two days ago.’ My father battled lung cancer that metastasized and he succumbed to the disease at 50. I wouldn’t know the secret toll this took on my mother while it split our lives in two.

As I grew older, my memories of him would fade and as the oldest I would take on more responsibilities. The relationship with my mother strained as I grew with the weight of taking on household responsibilities, working, and always being pushed to succeed in every area of my life. Finally, I could decide for myself when I enrolled in college. However, again I would be faced with devastation. For the first month of school, I enjoyed every moment until my birthday weekend and a planned surprise party by my mother. During this exciting weekend I could feel deep in my soul something seemed off. Six weeks would pass before I received another phone call from my mother – this delay being uncommon for her as she always stayed in contact.

Young girl takes a photo in her cap and gown with her mom before her high school graduation ceremony
Courtesy of Meg Myers

Before answering the phone that afternoon, I knew as soon as I heard her voice. I questioned, ‘What do you have?’ In tears, she said, ‘It’s cancer.’ Cancer already took my father. Now, will it take my mother too? I struggled with school, with the fear of losing my mother, and the torment of making poor choices. My mother kept her cancer battle a secret from me and no matter how hard I tried she wouldn’t let me in. Soon I lost my scholarship and quit school to return home. Dreams of teaching and the faith found in college slipped away. Ultimately, I struggled to find direction or purpose in my life. Instead, turning to alcohol and illicit drugs to dull my memories, pain, and fear of being alone.

Over the next six months, desperate for a different life and fighting to dull the pain, I turned to drugs, alcohol, and friends for validation which ended in being assaulted. Completely lost and in a constant state of secrets and spiraling out of control, I ruined the best relationship I held. Then my mother’s cancer went into remission a year later. Hope returned!

The desire to heal and clean my life up reignited my passions and so I returned to college. In a few months of going back, my mother called to tell me she learned the news from my doctor, and she was devastated and ANGRY. I knew this came from the assault and yet I still could not bear to tell her the truth. This caused another spiral in my life and I found myself drinking again. My college boyfriend became abusive, controlling, and kept me supplied with drugs. He quit school and moved in and became violent. When I kicked him out of the apartment, I sought shelter with friends to come home to my apartment in shambles. I knew my life spun out of control again and I needed help.

Through everything, I still managed to complete school that year and walked the stage in May of 2000. This made my mother proud, even though she knew nothing of the secret life I lived for two years. After I graduated, I escaped that abusive relationship by moving home with my mother. Continuing to battle in silence, I realized I needed to change my life – or I would lose it. Over the next few months, my relationship with my mother changed. At last, we became not only friends, but she also provided the support and understanding I required to heal from the pain and hurt. However, I never told her about my secret life due to the depth of shame felt.

Young woman gets her college degree despite the trauma she's experienced
Courtesy of Meg Myers

With her support and while in remission, our friendship grew. Fall of 2001, everything changed in our world and after that day our bond changed dramatically. We dreamed, we joked, talked late into the nights, baked together, and shared our lives. She was funny, she was kind, and she was my best friend. In July 2002, my manager approached me and said, ‘It’s your mom on the phone.’ I rushed out the door and to the hospital minutes away. There on a gurney sat my best friend, and I knew. ‘It’s in my brain babe.’ There were no treatments. My mom was dying, and I could do nothing.

Finally, I am sober and our relationship healed. WHY is she being taken away from me? Why would God take my mom – He already took my dad. Two weeks before my birthday, on Friday the 13th, she succumbed to her illness at 51. All alone in the world and just 21 years old. My greatest fear became reality.

Woman takes a photo with her mom and brother while wearing a yellow tank top and denim shorts
Courtesy of Meg Myers
Woman who lost her mom at 21 to brain cancer takes a photo of her memorial tattoo that reads "Dare to dream & follow your heart - mom"
Courtesy of Meg Myers

Following the passing of my mother, I decided to pack and drive to Texas unbeknownst to family or friends. Sixteen hours I drove, stopping once for gas while being completely high. There in Texas, I lived with my best friend and who I deemed the love of my life. I hid at his home and barely did anything of merit. Within months of losing my mother, we returned to Indiana to help me in a way to find peace and healing.

Weeks would go by and I would pass out at a friend’s house and be rushed to the hospital. The drug use numbed the pain of an infection that raged within my body and sepsis invaded. My ovaries burst from infection and almost took my life. The doctor sat at my bedside, held my hand and apologized. There was a zero percent chance I would ever have children of my own. They declared me barren.

As a result, I feared life would again spin out of control. However, somewhere somehow at THAT moment the drug use and drinking brought zero comfort and led me to seek my Father’s guidance. I would plead and beg, cry and scream. I would recall a couple days before my Mother passed she stirred and called me to come to her bedside. She made a declaration from a vision: ‘The Lord will send you a daughter’ and ‘She is so beautiful, but do not name her after your grandmother.’ I laughed that day, but hope is what I clung to after she passed. She said I would have children, HOW DARE anyone tell me I could never have children.

Back at the hospital four months later, I returned for the follow-up. I wanted everything in the past and the clearance to stop multiple medications/treatments that ensured my health since leaving the hospital. Instead, I would receive unexpected news. Through a miracle, I was pregnant. My oldest son is my miracle. Proof God hears us in our darkness. In those first few months, I didn’t know how I could ever do this on my own. I didn’t have a mom to call for advice. Barely 23 and all alone with a brand new baby, I found myself in tears talking out to her in the darkness and dreaming vividly of her presence. There in my dreams she gave me advice, we enjoyed lunch dates, and she held my son. I sought solace in my dreams.

Young mom told she couldn't get pregnant holds her miracle newborn son
Courtesy of Meg Myers

My relationship began to spiral out of control. Due to fears of being alone and even more fearful of being a single Mom, I stayed. I chose not to leave, although deep down I knew this decision would come at a cost. Nevertheless, I owed it to my son to stay. When he was five months old, I would marry his Dad and try to make my family not just whole, but perfect.

Young woman gets married to the father of her son while holding a purple bouquet of flowers
Courtesy of Meg Myers

We would then have a second son, although my heart yearned for the girl of my mom’s promise. But God gave us a second boy and he is my light. Meanwhile, our marriage stayed tumultuous and I fell out of love after his emotional affair while I was pregnant. Yet my light made a way for hope to remain. Trapped by the awful power of his words and the fear of being a single mother, I stayed to make our relationship work. I was committed to the point where I agreed to move across the country to Texas for better work and the opportunity to become a stay at home mother.

Although his work schedule brought welcomed relief from the arguments, our marriage remained difficult. He would work for days or weeks out on location. Although left to single parent our two littles under four, I lived my dream of staying home with them and again I chose to remain. Then my health began to fail due to lifelong scoliosis and depilating pain from a 52-degree curve. I couldn’t keep up as their momma and began to feel like a failure.

In 2008, I received life saving surgery to correct my scoliosis. But with this surgery came a price. I needed to give up the hope of having a daughter due to the concerns after such a surgery. For six years I clung deeply to that promise from my mother. There were two choices – to be a momma to my boys or someday be a momma to a girl too. I chose my boys – all three of them.

Woman with severe scoliosis undergoes corrective surgery on her spine
Courtesy of Meg Myers

Through this surgery, I gained back my strength and ability to be the momma I desired. However, with the surgery came a change in my husband. Being faced with losing me changed something in him and our marriage began to heal. But God wasn’t done with us yet. Exactly fifteen months after spinal fusion surgery, the shock of my life came unexpectedly. Unbeknownst to me, I was over ten weeks pregnant. I would have my girl! The one He promised through my mothers vision. Life stood complete. Or so I believed.

Mom of three takes Christmas photos with her children while her husband is in jail
Courtesy of Meg Myers

‘Ma’am, you can go in now.’ I rushed into my boys’ room still clutching my thirteen-month-old daughter. ‘Boys, we gotta get up okay – we must go outside now. No, it’s okay, you don’t need your shoes. Just hold momma’s hand love and get your brother’s hand too.’ Awakened into a nightmare that many say only lives in the movies were a team of agents and my husband – their suspect. ‘This cannot be my life,’ I reflected as I walked out of our home with my babies to never return the same. Once more, secrets were destroying my life and dreams for the future. I knew after all I had endured in my life this would not be what broke me. I would fight. I would fight for my children and my family.

Clinging to the Lord’s strength, I supported my husband’s case and in the end, we still lost. ‘I hereby sentence you to 97 months to be served at a location far from family and friends.’ And then he was gone, whisked out of the courtroom without a goodbye. At 31, devastation again found its way into my life. Not only alone and a single mother, I was a prison wife too. My fears became reality. Again.

Prison wife takes a family photo with her three kids while walking down a road together, their backs turned to the camera
Lane and Misty Photography

That night I sat on the floor of my boys’ room and held them as they processed the words, ‘Daddy isn’t coming home.’ What followed were heart-wrenching guttural cries with deep moaning. How do you explain to a five and seven-year-old they will be teenagers when Daddy is able to be outside again? Especially when they only understand Legos™, Hot Wheels™, and dinosaurs?

The night after my husband’s sentence and when the boys were finally asleep, I fell on my knees in our bedroom screaming, pleading, and begging the Lord again for understanding. WHY ME, LORD? ‘Three years. Give me three years.’ Those words so loud and so deep in my soul raised up hope for a better day. I hung on for three years and worked to make our family whole again.

Fortunately, the judge’s orders failed to come to fruition and their father was sent just forty-five minutes from our home. To maintain our lives, I worked three to four jobs at a time. I created moments and memories when money became tight. My greatest creation: Bowl Night. At least once a week there would be Bowl Night. The rules were simple: They could enjoy anything that doesn’t require cooking, nothing from the freezer, and is fairly healthy (i.e., not overly sweet). However, everything must fit in your bowl. Bowl Night could not be missed – a mistake I made and learned quickly not to repeat.

Those first few years of visits occurred every weekend on Saturdays – my only day off. My daughter grew up in a prison visitation room learning how to walk, going through security scanners, and getting to know her Dad only in khaki. You cannot change someone when they are unwilling to change. I chose to not let secrets continue to have a hold on my life nor damage my life and the future of my children. I chose to not let secrets prevent me from having a life that is not only mine but full of beautiful moments. Finally, I chose my children and most of all I chose myself.

Mom takes a photo with her three children while at an event, all wearing striped shirts
Courtesy of Meg Myers

During those three years I came to realize I wasn’t giving God the time to heal my marriage that I gave to heal me. When the third year came around, freedom from an utterly broken marriage required our home to be sold. Yet this time fear did not determine my decisions. Instead, I possessed the strength of my single mother deep in my soul to guide me and hope for a better future. I took all the money from the sale of the home and secured a two-bedroom apartment. I returned to college and tried to jumpstart our new life on my own, however the city was expensive, and the money ran out quickly.

But God. Before we would lose the apartment, a transitional housing program for single mothers who are facing homelessness and poverty accepted me into their program. That first night I cried in thanksgiving for relief from the fear of failing my littles. In that three-bedroom duplex, our tiny family started to heal and could finally see the light coming at the top of the mountain.

Fifteen months later, I graduated with my bachelor’s and secured a teaching position on the other side of the state. Soon after, we moved into a tiny two-bedroom apartment – all I could afford on my salary. However, the city provided us with a fresh start. We lived frugally, I created Bowl Nights, and couponed to save money which afforded us with season passes at local theme parks. We also found all the things free to enjoy in our new city. Slowly we began to build our life and save for the future. After two years, we found our dream house and finally, we were home. We made it to the mountaintop, my loves. We realized everything we dreamed of together laid ahead of us. We settled in and even then, we celebrated with Bowl Night. Bowl Night will live for generations to come.

Prison wife graduates with her bachelor's degree while raising three kids on her own
Courtesy of Meg Myers
Woman excited to start teaching holds up a sign that reads "Welcome to Kinder" outside the door of her classroom
Courtesy of Meg Myers

Across the ages of eleven, twenty-one, and thirty-one, abundant life did not seem possible. From the passing of both my parents, I learned the true meaning and purpose of life. Those pivotal moments have made me aware of the importance of creating memories with my littles while raising them with a deep belief in the power we hold when we let go and let God. Life is about moments, not things. What happens to us does not define us. We will live by the word and not the world.

Today I am victorious thanks to His love and choosing more for my life. Year forty-one has only begun and I live not in fear of what this year will hold but walking in the hope and beauty of this new season.  These days I am not a weak, broken, lonely prison wife. I found the courage and strength to follow His direction. I know there is no other way to live a rich life. God wrote a story for my life, albeit not ideal, it is my story all for His glory and it has taken me from prison wife to purposed-filled life.”

Woman takes an engagement photo with her new fiancé at Seaworld
Team Jenysis Photography of San Antonio
Beautiful blended family take photos together on the day of their wedding and union
Team Jenysis Photography of San Antonio

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Meg Myers of Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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