Your Villain is My Super-Hero

I think it’s time I talk about my best friend; my boyfriend; the father of my child; the man who would undoubtedly be my husband if it weren’t for the next sentence.

He’s in prison. He stabbed someone.

*  *  *  *  *

Nate and I met when we were fourteen at a mutual friend’s get-together the summer before 9th grade. It was 2002, I think in August or the beginning of September. I was wearing baggy pants and a super tight orange tank top. He was wearing a bowler hat.

He had a box of some sort of food but I forget what so I want to say Munchkins. He sat there quietly and ate them, all night. He and I never said a word to each other, but we noticed one another.

I hooked up with some other guy that night who turned out to be crazy.

Then I ran into Nate again, randomly, while walking through our local church’s parking lot. It was called the Tabernacle.

I don’t remember how it happened. I don’t remember how fast it happened. But I know soon after that we became inseparable and had our first kiss. I fell in love with him immediately.

collage

But I wasn’t ready to be with him. I ended up dating his best friend, who often disappeared for days at a time. Nate and I were still attached, and during one especially long period of his best friend’s absence I decided to break up with him. But I couldn’t find him. So instead I lost my virginity.

Nate and I started officially dating the next day. March 8th, 2003. Eleven days before my fifteenth birthday.

*  *  *  *  *

We dated, officially, for a little over a year, with a few breaks in between. Like normal teenagers. On May 11th, 2004, when I was sixteen, he broke up with me. For Nikki. On May 19th he started officially dating her.

Within a week we were sneaking around behind her back. I know this because in one of my old journals it says ‘He couldn’t even last a week’. We continued for about four years. During that time they had a baby girl, got married, and had a baby boy.

We stopped the affair when I was twenty but we remained best friends. Nate and Nikki broke up when I was twenty-one, which I’m happy to say I had nothing to do with.

*  *  *  *  *

When I was twenty-two we started dating again. His kids called me Mommy. It was rocky, but after our son was born our relationship was better and stronger than ever before. We had grown up.

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The five of us had six months together. Six months until our worlds were shattered.

*  *  *  *  *

Nate and I were living in separate states until one, or both, of us became more stable. On Christmas Eve of 2011, I woke up to a text from a friend with whom Nate lived. She asked if I had spoken to him at all. When I told her not since early the night before, she called and informed me of the story.

The cops had shown up at her house early in the morning, shining flashlights into all the windows and asking if the children were okay. The whole thing is a blur for me to remember, but I understood he had been arrested and it was for something serious. Other than that, either the cops wouldn’t tell us anything or my mind couldn’t handle it.

I drove up there in a fog. It was Christmas-fucking-Eve. My son’s first Christmas. Our first Christmas together as a family. What the hell was going on?

I spent the day on the phone — with police, with family, with bosses, with other family, with friends, with the court, with guards. I called everyone I could think might be able to help. No one could.

The article was already online and in the papers. The police wouldn’t give us any information. No one had enough money for bail, whatever the amount was.

We went through Christmas as normal as possible. I stayed in our room and woke up with the kids and we opened presents and everything was as wonderful as it could be.

I was holding back tears all day.

*  *  *  *  *

Slowly we started to piece things together. There was a knife. And a washcloth. And a woman. There had been Xanax and alcohol and Prozac.

According to the bits we’ve gathered from Nate’s story, he went out to return a tablet he had bought for himself but didn’t like. On his way home he stopped at a local bar. He remembers leaving the bar, hopping the concrete wall on one side of a graveyard he frequently cuts though, then suddenly being screamed at to get down.

The police arrested him and brought him to a house where a man identified him. They took his mug shot at 6am and hauled him off to county jail. And that was that.

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*  *  *  *  *

According to the police, on his journey from the bar to the graveyard, Nate broke into a home and stole some large kitchen knives. He then walked into another home, the door being unlocked, walked past a sleeping child, Christmas presents, and a wallet downstairs, and went upstairs. The owner of the home, a woman, heard a noise and went to investigate.

When she and Nate saw each other, he started poking at her. One of the pokes scratched her hand. Another caused a three-inch wound in her stomach.

She had to have exploratory surgery but was ultimately fine, although emotionally scarred for life.

*  *  *  *  *

I wrote him letters explaining how much I loved him and how this must all be a misunderstanding and how I would stick by his side no matter what. We heard nothing until New Year’s Eve. Sadly, I still consider that call to be the best New Year’s I’ve ever had, simply because I got to hear his voice.

It turns out his regular doctor had him on all the meds. His regular doctor had upped his Xanax and taken him off his Prozac at the same time.

Nate was seriously struggling with his mental health. I saw it every day. So his regular doctor threw some medication at him and left it at that. It was Nate’s fault he drank on the meds, but is was not his fault he wasn’t getting proper treatment.

He still doesn’t remember the events from that night. Some of his family still don’t believe he did it. I think the only reason we do is because succumbing to what we can’t change is the only thing keeping us sane.

*  *  *  *  *

Nate was, and is, and will always be my hero. He supports me no matter what. He keeps me in my place when I’m so obviously not okay. He fathered my child and two more I love like my own.

He’s been strong for almost two-and-a-half long years. He was in county jail, and then prison, and then another prison. He’s in there with rapists and murders and truly horrible people, who know damn well what they did and have no remorse. But he’s stayed strong through it all, so eventually he can come home to his family. To me.

They tried to charge him with attempted homicide, but didn’t have enough evidence. So instead he got convicted of aggravated assault, simple assault, and burglary. The judge decided to give Nate the maximum sentences because ‘he didn’t seem remorseful‘, mainly because he didn’t think he did it. He’ll be there for another twelve-and-a-half to twenty-seven-and-a-half years. He got sentenced fifteen to thirty.

An old friend of mine shot someone in the head with a shotgun around the same time Nate ‘committed’ his crime. He got fifteen to thirty, too.

*  *  *  *  *

The rest of the world sees a violent criminal when they see Nate’s picture. I see the man I love; the father of my child; my best friend and my hero. He’s not a villain. The world failed him and he’s living the consequences of an incredibly flawed system. I feel for the family affected by his crime, but I think the world needs to see that they’re not the only victims. My son knows that Daddy is the man on the phone, and nothing else. Three children will grow up without their father. Please, someone explain to me how that’s better for society than getting Nate the help he needs.

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I wrote this while in the midst of my anxiety/mania/whatever is going on, so it might not be my best piece. If you feel I missed anything or have any questions, please feel free to ask. I plan on doing another feature including him by posting the letters he sends me from prison so the normal population can see what it’s like behind the cell (or ‘hut’, as he calls it).


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31 thoughts on “Your Villain is My Super-Hero

  1. Oh, Tempest, my heart goes out to all of you.

    When I read about Nate, and combining meds and alcohol, I get it. I’m not proud to share the following, but I don’t like to hide anything anymore. I’ve driven while inebriated many times. I drove into a church fence because of Xanax — right before I was to meet with its minister about having my women’s mood disorders support group there! (He was kind about it.) The next accident was far worse – I almost killed my baby when I accidentally drove through a red light in a busy intersection with her in the backseat while under the influence of Xanax along with my regular bp meds…which is what prompted me to taper off benzos forever.

    There but for the grace of God goes, I, you know? I’m not gonna judge one bit here.
    xoxoxo
    Dy

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am in awe of your courage and honesty.

    This just reinforces how critical it is to have the right support and how wrong things can go when you do not.

    It also shows that our justice system does not fully understand mental health (nor does it help that so many claim mental health issues as a means of defense).

    You are strong in an imperfect world!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Another thought provoking post. Some of mine: Is Nate getting the medical/psychological help he needs inside; it can be difficult to in the Uk. How hard is it to keep the relationship between your son and his father going? The kids I used to work with would have HUGE anger issues (they were 11-16 ya’s).

    Liked by 2 people

    • He’s not, no. He gets to see a psychiatrist now and then but he’s told me it doesn’t really help him at all. The only good thing that’s come from this is that he gets to see the dentist.

      My son is only 3, and Nate got arrested when he was 6 months, so Holden doesn’t really know him at all. We used to visit frequently but then Nate was moved to a prison farther away so now we are limited to phone calls and letters. Holden knows it’s Daddy on the phone, but I’m not sure he understands who Daddy is.

      Thankfully, Jack has been there since the day Holden was born so he does have a male role model in his life. I’m not sure how things will affect him when he gets older, but for now we talk on the phone several times a week and exchange letters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s pretty much the experience of prisoners in this country too, as far as the medical help goes, which is such a waste of an opportunity IMHO. Get the guys head straight and everything else follows.
        The bond between Nate and Holden can get a lot stronger as the years go on, I saw it happen a lot in the prison, the guys (and ladies) who put the effort in got it repaid a 1000%. Waiting until after getting out never worked, even in the short term. I don’t see a villain BTW, I see a guy, someone with potential, who will still be young enough to have a great life when he gets out.
        Dean

        Like

  4. Wow props to you for being open and genuine! Honestly, all this stuff is so common anymore! I feel like the vast majority of people have first or second-hand experience with substance abuse, psychological problems, and the justice system. It must be so challenging to be separated from him like this. I am not sure if you are one of those people who believe in fate or destiny, but there are some interesting forces at work here for sure. I’m curious about what you do for a career? I can’t even imagine supporting three children alone, though my mom often times had to. I don’t think you can help who you love (I’m a prime example of this). I also think everyone makes mistakes, although some of course have bigger consequences than others. This is a really fascinating story, however, so maybe you should have a book in the works? Assuming you don’t already. I know I would read it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! And you’re right, it’s so sad how common everything is.

      Right now no career — I screwed up my life a lot during my late teens/early 20s so I’m just now getting back on track. I’m going to college to become a High School English teacher, but obviously my main dream is to be a writer, so I just tell everyone I am one. Currently I’m getting help from my dad and Jack so I’m able to be a stay-at-home-mom when I’m not in school (although believe me, I’d much rather be working).

      I’m only supporting my one child — the other two are Nate’s from his previous marriage. I used to take care of them when their mother was gone [read ‘The Other Woman (On Forgiveness) for that story], but since I have no legal ties to them I wasn’t able to get them when Nate got arrested.

      I have a book in the works about my life. I’m still deciding whether to split it up into one about my addiction, one about my mental health, one about Nate, etc. or if I’m just going to keep it all together. Right now I’m just writing — I’ve been working on it since I was 14 and I only have about 50 pages because I keep starting over. Haha. But I’ve talked to Nate and he said he’d help me write a book about our experiences dealing with him being in prison, so I can write about both sides.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh sad you couldn’t get those kids, but taking care of one is probably a lot easier. Going back to school is great and I bet you would make an awesome teacher! When do you graduate? Sorry I’m being nosy, I’m obviously curious. I think it would be interesting to write one that included all of the things you mentioned. They make up the right pieces for a great book. It would have a really unique, fascinating dynamic. By the way, you definitely are already a writer :)

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you again!

          Yeah, I really wanted them especially because their mom wasn’t around, but now she’s back and from what I hear doing really well, and I’m struggling with my own as it is, so I guess it’s all for the best.

          I was supposed to get my Associate’s and be able to start substituting this Spring (then Bachelor’s two years after), but I took this semester off because of my mental health. I felt too unstable and would rather take longer to get my degree than take on too much and screw up my GPA.

          I’m afraid, with my writing style, if I include everything the book will be too long. We’ll see how it goes=]

          Liked by 2 people

        • Tempest, I agree with whennothinggoeswrite. Your stories are all interconnected, so weave them into one whole. Dual diagnosis, resulting criminal behavior, and their effects on family relationships is hugely important and timely.

          I will keep you all in my prayers.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Tempest, this is heartbreaking – for you, for Nate, for your son and his half-siblings …

    it is also a sad commentary on our society and legal system; Nate needs help, not punishment ridiculously disproportionate to his mistake … a mistake caused by mental illness and doctors and treatments that failed him.

    This disgusts and saddens me to a degree I haven’t words to describe.

    T

    Liked by 1 person

      • The system is flawed – and not to consider Nate’s state of mental health is simply wrong.

        Consequences in this case should have started with proper diagnosis and treatment – and then reasonable, compassionate punishment Nate could understand and accept as fair and just.

        No one – not you, not Nate or his children — and not society — is served by this sentence.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My heart goes out to you and Nate and his children. Our judicial system and mental health system are so messed up! Stories like yours, sadly, at not uncommon. At least you still love each other and can talk and write. Sometimes you can say more and get closer to each other through letters than in person. Your son can do that too with his father. Wishing you all the very best.

    Like

  7. I came to this post after reading a couple of Nate’s letters on your blog, because I wanted to comment, but didn’t really know what had been happening since I am a new follower of yours. I have been there too. While I wasn’t in the same situation as you, I understand some of how you feel, how it is for you. Sending you all much love x

    Liked by 1 person

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