After the movers left, Brielle left hers and the girl’s old phones sitting on the kitchen counter. She carried the baby on her hip, while calling and whistling for the dog. Bandit came running, followed the family outside and jumped into the SUV. Then Brielle, strapped the baby in the safety seat before she and the girls got into the Escalade and pulled out of the driveway, leaving Karen and the boys standing there waving at them.
Brielle and the girls waved back as they pulled away and slowly disappeared down the suburban street, toward the freeway, thus beginning a long drive back East.
The girls turned around in their seats and took one last look at the house and neighborhood before Brielle turned a corner and it faded out of sight. Bandit barked, then let up a whimper.
“Seatbelts, girls.” Brielle said in a stern tone.
Leaving the Only Home the Kids Ever Knew
“Sorry, Mom.” Jane said as she sat in the passenger seat and clicked her seatbelt secure. Olivia followed suit in the back seat. Baby Kennedy gurgled and cooed in the baby seat beside Olivia. Bandit sat in the back with his back to the humans in the car, staring out the back window and panting. The dog had always loved to ride in the car.
“I just wanted to get one last look at the house I grew up in. ‘Ya know?”
“I understand sweetie.” Brielle assured.
“As bad as Dad is, I’m going to miss California and our home and neighborhood.” Jane continued as a tear streamed down her cheek.
Brielle reached over and lovingly patted Jane’s knee.
“I know honey. But you understand why this has to be, right?” She said.
“Okay, girls, now listen. I’m doing this for not only me. I’m doing this for you girls too. It’s like I told you yesterday. When a man abuses you, that’s never okay. It’s never okay when he hits you and it’s never okay when he yells, curses, or talks down to you. None of that is okay! I can’t stress this enough! You girls grew up watching your dad abuse me and enduring abuse from him yourselves. And when you’ve grown up with it, it’s too easy to think that crap is acceptable and normal. It isn’t!”
A Much-Needed Discussion
“I want you teach the three of you that you shouldn’t allow a man or anyone else to abuse you. I also want to teach you that we deserve better than what we’ve been getting, you deserve better. And there are great men out there- loving men who will love you and take care of you. But you must get to know him first. It starts when you are dating, not after you’re already married. You must watch for the signs, and I did not do that because I wasn’t very smart about it. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
“Yes, Mom.” Jane and Olivia both answered.
Brielle continued to talk as she drove on, pulling onto the interstate and heading east.
“Not every man who shows his teeth to you loves you and has your best interests at heart. Not every man who marries really loves his wife. To some men, men like your father, women and children are possessions rather than individual humans with their own thoughts, feelings, perspectives, opinions, and views. Your dad was very controlling and someone who tries to control you doesn’t really love you. When someone hits you, that’s not love, Jane. When someone tries to control you, that’s not love. Do you hear me, Olivia?”
“Yes ma’am.” Olivia said.
Looking Back and Realizing Her Mistakes
As soon as they reached the east side of Bakersfield, Brielle and the girls stopped for a late lunch. Not wanting to leave the dog in the car, they went through the drive-thru. They bought and paid for the food, then sat in the parking lot and ate. Once they were through eating, Brielle hit Interstate 40 and they were headed east.
By dark, Brielle and the girls were well into Arizona. They had just pulled onto the interstate again after having dinner. The baby had fallen asleep, aided by the hum of the motor and the steady vibrations. Jane and Olivia had their earbuds in and were playing games on their tablets. As Brielle drove, all was quiet, and she finally had time to think.
Brielle was taking a huge step, perhaps, the biggest step she had ever taken. After fourteen years of being verbally and physically abused, Brielle had taken her three children, left her husband, and was moving back east to Tennessee. This was no easy task by any stretch of the imagination, and neither was it an easy decision.
A Hard Decision
It was downright scary. Brielle still cared for Bill, even loved him a little bit. But she had to love herself and her girls more than she did him. She had to do what was best for the three of them. If she did not fart around, she would already be in Tennessee by the time Bill returned home on Saturday.
Brielle could only imagine the look on his face when he pulled into the driveway and realized that Brielle’s escalade was gone. She could also imagine the shock as soon as he entered the house to find them all gone, along with Brielle’s and the girl’s belongings. Bill would shit a gold brick! That much she knew, and it was best to get as far away as she could.
Brielle then thought back. Bill had been a complete psychopath. During the first year of their marriage, he had started out verbally abusing Brielle. Then it escalated to physical abuse. Brielle had finally reached her breaking point. She thought back to her middle and high school days. As she reflected, Brielle remembered how horribly her classmates had bullied her.
She wondered. Why was it that women who were bullied in school always seemed to attract, fall in love with, and marry bullies? She couldn’t understand it. It seemed that no matter what she did, she always attracted more bullies and more abusers. But she finally realized that there were things she had to change within herself before she could stop allowing these types of people into her life.
The Big Realization
After years of wondering if there was something wrong with her, Brielle finally concluded that there was never anything wrong with her. Bill had the issue. Bobby, Rita, and the rest of the creeps who had bullied her in school- they had had the issue! Thanks to Shannon Crooke McGregor and her books, Brielle had come to the realization that each of her abusers were the ones who had the problems.
She then became angry- angry at her abusers for brainwashing her into thinking that she “made” them hurt her. And most of all, angry at herself for allowing it! Brielle was angry at herself for taking the blame for their disgusting behavior! For taking the blame for the battering of her own spirit! And this time, she was done!
She was done with Bill! She was done with every person who’d tried to destroy her spirit in the past. And she was done with being treated like a piece of garbage. Brielle was bound and determined that she was going to be happy for once in her life. More so, her girls were going to see an example of a strong woman. As a mother, Brielle was determined that her girls weren’t going to follow in the footsteps of a weak and powerless woman.
Putting Herself and Her Kids First
Brielle was not only leaving for herself; she was leaving for the welfare of her girls. She wanted to set an example for her young daughters and to send them a message – that they didn’t have to take abuse from anyone, be it a man, a girl pal, anyone. Ever! That it was okay to leave when you didn’t feel safe. And that is exactly what she planned to teach her daughters from here on out.
After spending the night in a five-star, pet-friendly hotel in Arizona, Brielle, the kids, and the dog set out once again. It was Thursday and the sun shone high in the sky…