108: Demon

108: Demon

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Demon

Faith assuages, guides, restores.

~Arthur Rimbaud

I lived with Glen for ten years before we amicably separated. During those ten years, he raised my daughter, Meara, as his own child. We also had a son together.

During our time together, he had a project car, a 1972 Dodge Demon. He poured blood, sweat, and tears into that car, and I helped as much as I possibly could. After it was completed, it was beautiful; and I loved it so much, he gave it to me. A year after driving this gorgeous car, I had to swap it for a more fuel efficient vehicle and it was sold to someone from out of town. I missed my Demon, but I just could not afford it. I tried to keep track of it for awhile, but it changed hands too many times. Now all I have are pictures and memories of it.

After our split, Glen and I remained close. I had always counted on him to be a good judge of character during our years together. I rarely have the good sense to choose friends who will be “true” friends—mostly, I attract hangers-on looking to take advantage of my good nature and generosity. Sadly, he passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer shortly after I had begun a new relationship with Bryce.

My relationship with Bryce is nearing the five-year mark now. We are incredibly happy together. That happiness is very hard won, though. We started our relationship together partying—he was fun, charming, and extremely good-looking. I fell in love with him soon after we started dating. The party turned into a nasty habit that didn’t want to leave.

A year into it, we became homeless. We moved to my mother’s property. It was summer, so we camped out in her 1,500-square-foot greenhouse, with all our belongings crammed onto shelves cleared of their plants for us. My two children stayed with other family and friends for the first two months of life without a home.

It was an extremely depressing time for my little family. Bryce and I constantly fought about every little thing—we were very abusive to each other. I can only imagine the pain I caused my kids. I cry now when I think about it. Drinking and drugs blinded me to what we were doing to ourselves, each other, and everyone around us.

Eventually, we found a small apartment, but continued with our abusive ways. Bryce once in a while would mention quitting and I would give it a weak attempt. No matter what path I chose, he would follow—always we were together.

After four years of chaos, neglect, and abuse, we managed to rise above the depressing life we had created for ourselves. After fighting so horribly that it became physical, we separated. A week later, Bryce came back a new man, determined to quit the lifestyle he had become a part of and take the woman he loved with him. He literally saved me.

Bryce is now working full time, I am a full time stay-at-home mom, and we are both clean, healthy, happy, and looking forward to our future.

When asked why I stayed in this horrible relationship when it looked as though one of us would surely kill the other, my answer is this: Hope.

About two years into our relationship, I had heartbreaking doubts about Bryce’s love for me. I did not trust him. I did not believe he was true to me. I went to Glen’s grave one day and poured out my heart to him. I told him everything that had been going on between me and Bryce and with the kids, and between sobs I said to him, “Glen, if ever I needed your good judgment of people, now is the time. I need you to help me and tell me if Bryce is the person he says he is. Is he true to me? Does he truly love me? Can we ever get through all of this? I need you to send me a sign to let me know that he is the one. It has to be a big sign, something so big that I won’t miss it, because I’m not so smart these days. Please, send me a sign I won’t miss so that I know that Bryce is the one.”

The next day, the old 1972 Dodge Demon that Glen built for me was parked in front of my mom’s house.

~Betty Harrigan

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