Because We Love

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| This is the 251st story of Our Life Logs |


I was born at the very end of a very hot spring day in 1963 in San Antonio, Texas, a premature baby born at only 4.1 ounces. But what I lacked in pounds, I made up for in volume. I learned at a very early age to speak often and loudly. I was a middle child bookended by an older sister who knew it all and a younger one that never told us anything about what she knew. But her eyes talked. What was in those dark, sad eyes still haunt me because the darkness lived in my and my other sister’s eyes too, but we never admitted it as kids. Not to each other. Not to ourselves.

To some extent, I think all three of us blamed our mother for not leaving my dad who abused her physically and sexually and started to abuse us sisters respectively after we each turn six years old. Of course, when we were little, we didn’t know that we were all going through the same abuse, but my mom knew. She always knew. I could never figure out if I hated her or felt pity for her because of that fact.

Sandy as a little girl (2)
Me (in yellow) with my mom and sisters.

What my sisters and I knew as we grew up was that we needed to get out of our home as quickly as we could, no matter what the financial or psychological cost was. My older sister Venus left after she got pregnant and married at 16, I left after high school, and my younger sister Lynette left not only our home, but the world at 19 after she killed herself by overdosing.

The night my mom called to tell me that my sister had died, I told my mom that it was her fault and more importantly, it was because of our dad’s sexual abuse throughout the years that she had kept silent about. My mom just quietly hung up the phone. In the days following Lynette’s death, my older sister and I shared with each other our own stories of abuse. We could trace our choices, substances, and self-destructive behaviors to the same night when we each turned six years old. Sometimes, it takes only a memory to derail a life.

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After moving out, I worked for a couple of years, married my first husband, had a baby boy in 1983, and a little girl in 1985. I was smart enough to go to college during both pregnancies, and graduated when my daughter was one. Too bad my first husband Buddy was only good for drinking beer. By 1986 I was divorced, making a decent living for the first time in my life, and yet I was absolutely scared to death as I had no idea what I was doing, how to do it or where to learn how to do it better as I was convinced I was doing it wrong.

One night in 1987, a couple of my girlfriends invited me to a concert to see one of my favorite groups perform in Dallas. They had phenomenal tickets for the third row, and I had an amazing time! I remember wishing that the evening would never end.

Be careful what you wish for.

As if the band read my mind, one of the members named Reb sent some friends out to talk to me after the show. Before I knew it, my friends and I were hoisted into a limousine that was in transit to a wild, after-party binge of music, drugs, and alcohol. I ended up spending the night, and the next day, Reb asked me to move in with him. Captivated by this lifestyle, I accepted, and my life was never the same.

Except for performances, Reb was on drugs; a lot of drugs. And because I was his girl, I was on a lot too. I became his princess who he primped and molded how he wanted. He bought me a palatial home and a Lamborghini, paid for me to do a plastic surgery because he said I was too flat-chested, make me dye my brown hair blonde, and installed a tanning bed—all so I could look good on his arm. He also encouraged me to go back to school and get my graduate degree in finance as well as my CPA certification. He loved to brag to anyone that I did the band’s books. I didn’t mind the changes because he spoiled my kids, too. I don’t think I ever loved anyone as hard, as big or as much as I loved Reb. Sober, he was a shy, introverted, musical composer and talented artist, so, I was shocked at what happened next.

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During my “Reb” days (me on the right).

One weekend, in 1989, I pulled into the driveway after running an errand, walked up to the door only to find that the locks had been changed. When no one answered, I wandered to the back, thinking maybe Reb was in the pool. Then I noticed all my stuff was boxed up, sitting in the yard with a white envelope on top, inside of which was a letter that said, “It’s been great but it’s over now. Here is everything you own in the house. Please leave, do not take the Lamborghini or I will call the police.”

I was both surprised and not surprised by what had happened. Reb was a rock star after all. I knew the kind of life I was getting into and the risks. My life with Reb had been built within a glass castle. It was only a matter of time before it cracked and shattered.

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I moved back in with my mom and checked myself into rehab. It wasn’t easy. I hated Reb for every pain I endured and every night when I was crawling the walls, I plotted revenge against him. However, three months later when I checked out, I had no revenge left in my heart and just wanted to start fresh.

What I didn’t understand then is you can’t start over renewed unless you have dealt with all your demons. My past was speaking to me, but I couldn’t hear it. I could think about my hurts and wounds I carried within me from the sexual abuse as a child, but I wouldn’t let myself feel them. When I checked out of rehab to start over, my dark shadow followed me as I walked out the door.

Denial and pretense became my daily mantra as I moved forward yet again. My new master’s degree and CPA certification had helped me obtain a great job with a huge furniture company based in Austin. I got my kids enrolled in school, and after five years of being single and stable, I met my next husband, Ashton. We married in 2000. He too was a rocker and drug user, although he had not made it the way Reb had. I supported him when his band went on the road, and when he came home, any profit he had made went up his nose. It was around that time when I also started stealing money from my employer. I cannot even provide a good reason as to why I did it. I would steal money from their receivables and then reimburse some or all of it and this went on for years.

Finally, in 2010, I divorced Ash and started therapy to find out why I always wanted to hurt myself through the men I married, the drugs I took, or the money I stole. Unfortunately for me, my boss had figured things out a few months prior to my first therapy appointment. Turns out, the FBI could care less why I was doing what I was doing, and I was arrested in 2011 for wire fraud.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of my story.

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After my arrest, I received a gift from the universe and God. I met Travis, a retired cop from Boston. When we met in an elevator at the courthouse, he initially thought I was an attorney, so you can imagine his surprise when he found out I was a defendant!

I had never looked for Travis. I didn’t think I deserved him. I turned him down multiple times when he asked me out. I told him I was probably going to prison. I told him about Reb, my drug use, and my two loser ex-husbands. I even told him about what my dad did to me and my two sisters. I had never told anyone (other than my therapist) the horrific memories of each of those episodes. Travis, with his accepting heart and unconditional love, took me, all my chaos, tragedies, poor choices, and kids, and gave me hope. I had never experienced hope before, but once I felt it, it changed my world forever.

For two years, we lived on love and hope. Travis helped me during the darkest days of my therapy, remembering all of the incestuous episodes with my dad. He also helped me make peace with the choices I made with Reb and my ex-husbands.

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In late 2013, I was sentenced to three very long years. Travis and I got married right before I self-surrendered to a federal prison in Bryan, Texas in 2014. Travis showed me that when one really loves no trial or tribulation can stop love from growing. He visited me every weekend. He never missed one weekend. Even his family came to visit me, and they came all the way from Boston—I mean, I had never even had a chance to meet them prior to our marriage! They would give me kisses, hugs, tell jokes, make me laugh, and give me constant support for no other reason than because Travis loved me. I asked them one time why they were so nice to me and came so far to see me when I was a criminal. They just said, “Travis loves you and that’s what families do.”

What Travis did next blew my heart open so it would never shut again. He bought a little cabin in Bryan with a pond and ducks about three miles from where I was incarcerated. He told me where it was so I knew he was close by, and when he couldn’t get in to see me, he wanted me to look up at the night sky before I went to bed each night, because he would be looking at the same stars. That way, we would be joined. That’s love. That’s my love.

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Travis and his family at the cabin; they all came to visit me at prison.

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I have been out since January 2018, and Travis tells me the best thing about me being home is being able to snuggle at night after long, hard days at work. I can never work in finance, accounting, or money again, so I work at a call center. I push through the day because I know each night I get to hold Travis with no walls that separate us, no guards watching us, and no space between us. Love wears more than one face and can change more than one life. More than that, real love has helped free me because I know that a life lived in the past cannot be shared with the present. I cannot imagine my life journey going any other way because it led me to him.

 

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This is the story of Sandy Miller

Sandy lives in San Antonio with her husband Travis. After a life of having to hide her pain from being sexually assaulted by her father, Sandy was enticed by the rock star life and wound up dating a member of a popular 80s rock band until he unexpectedly kicked her to the curb after 18 months. Sandy later ended up in jail for wire fraud done through her employment. It wasn’t until she met her current husband that she found genuine love. Sandy and Travis like to travel to Boston to see his family and go to Red Sox baseball games as Travis is a lifelong ticket holder. They never take one day for granted that they get to spend together and have created a garden in commemoration of Sandy’s release by adding one flower to the garden for each month she has been home. One of her favorite things in the whole world is to have her kids, brothers, sisters, cousins…all over for a cook-out and truly enjoy the simple things.

 

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This story first touched our hearts on January 30, 2019.

| Writer: Samantha Seconds | Editor: Kristen Petronio, Colleen Walker|

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