Note: This story was sent to me and the author wishes to remain anonymous. After communicating with the author, she wanted me to take out names of locations/places that could possibly give away her identity. The world is, after all, a small and scary world. Therefore, any names in the story has been altered or replaced with pronouns. Also, I want to give many THANKS to the lovely author for sending me her story because it takes a lot of courage to send such personal and intimate story to a stranger on the other half of the country. Happy reading!
I got married at a young age—fourteen. Naïve, carefree, and impatience were the perfect words to describe me during my teens. I met my husband when I was thirteen years old at a traditional housewarming party. He was eighteen then. It was 2005, a few months after my family and I came to the United States from Thailand. As a young girl, I was always very talkative and outgoing, so many of my friends considered me flirtatious but cautious. However, I wasn’t attentive enough around him.
I remembered flirting with him because he was tall and handsome. So, we both flirted with each other, and finally, he asked for my number before he left. I didn’t have a cell phone then, so I gave him my mom’s cell phone number. A few days later, he contacted me, and we began to talk for a year. During that year, I thought he was a nice man as he helped me with my homework and projects. He always came over to help me whenever I told him I didn’t know or understand what I was doing. I had cousins, but they did not want to spare their time to help me. So, I turned to him for help. Soon enough, we began to date officially.
I slept with him three days after I turned fourteen. I had denied him a few times, but that day I let him manipulate me. He told me, “if you really love me, you will give me your virginity without me having to beg. That is what a real couple does.” After a few hours of being alone after an argument, I finally went to him and agreed to have intercourse with him. A few months go by, and I was pregnant. My parents were furious and demanded to know who the father was. I finally told them.
His parents were also furious with him, he was an adult, and I was a minor. I remembered them yelling at him, saying that what he did was illegal and deserved jail time according to state laws. However, both families resolved this the Hmong way, and we married traditionally. It was not a marriage with a fairy tale ending. He could not go to university like he planned but did attend a nearby community college and work a part-time job. Our baby was a little girl. We were happy for the first three years. A year later, we had a little boy but started having minor problems in our marriage life.
When I finally turned 21, I worked two part-time jobs, and he one day told my in-laws and me that he was going to college. He had already applied and filed for FAFSA. He said it was because of me that he spent his youth working so hard, so I should let him go to university. We fought. I asked him to wait until the kids were older—back then, online colleges were not as popular. Hours later, I finally gave in, but my in-laws and I told him the only college he can attend was the one that is thirty minutes away. I remembered our younger brother in law told him, “if you got accepted once, you could get accepted again (referring to the university close to home). If you want to go far from home, then you’re just wanting a way out to have fun and not take on any responsibilities. I know the truth brother, because I have been seeing you at the bars with your friends. Friends with negative influence that won’t help you get anywhere in life.”
I started to notice some changes. He was out later, calling off work, and he would bring his friends home even though I was too tired to cook a meal for them. Especially after putting the kids to sleep and getting off from work. He would get mad at me for not letting him go out with his friends, but he never hit me. I threatened to leave a couple of times, and he would tell me to go ahead and leave. Since I ruined his life after all, and everything was my fault so I can leave. I couldn’t because he had never hit me. This continued for the remainder of our marriage. One day his cousin came over while my parents-in-law were visiting. She told us that she caught him at the mall with a girl holding hands and shopping together. I was so upset that I just cried for hours. My mother-in-law comforted me while my father-in-law was ready to talk with him once he came home.
My husband admitted to the affair, and my heart broke. My father-in-law told him to stop acting like a child and get his head straight because he is a married man. He got mad and said he never asked for any of it. That it was not his fault that I got pregnant; it was my fault that he missed out having fun. My father-in-law got so angry that he had a stroke on the spot. My two brothers-in-law (one older and one younger) were also upset that the three brothers got into a fight. Two of their other uncles were present because my father-in-law called them over, and they broke the three brothers apart. Once separated, my older brother-in-law yelled at my husband, “Everything is your fault, not hers. Now you want to walk away! You are a coward and nothing but a disgrace.”
I was so sad and ran outside to cry. I blamed everything on myself. If I had not been so carefree, stupid, flirtatious, and naïve, I would not be in the position I was. My older brother-in-law and his wife came out to comfort me. I was the youngest in my husband’s family; our younger brother-in-law is two to three years older than me. I cried in my older sister-in-law’s arms while my brother-in-law hugged us both. No words were said, and we stood in silence as we can hear the ambulance finally making its way towards our tiny house. My husband left for a few days, and I could not get hold of him. Everyone told me to let him be, even if he died and rot under a bridge, then let him because I deserve better. My in-laws were willing to send me back to my family and even keep my children to raise them until I got a better job. However, I rejected the offer.
A few days became weeks, and weeks became a month since my husband ran away. Then one day, my oldest sister-in-law dropped me off after picking me up from work. I saw that he was home because his car was parked outside. She helped me carry the groceries bag inside and walked in first. From outside, I can hear her screaming. I rushed in, thinking something terrible had happened to my husband, only this time to get heartbroken for the last time.
I cried as soon I saw him and his girlfriend naked on the couch, kissing and cuddling together. I was so angry that I picked up a pair of heels and hit his head with them before running out the door. My in-law lived closed by, two minutes by car and roughly ten minutes by walking. However, I was so furious that I ran so hard and reached them in five minutes. I told them what happened, and we all went back to the house. My younger sister-in-law stayed with all the children.
He and his girlfriend were still there. She tried to leave, but my sister-in-law prevented her from leaving and said she is now part of the problem. She cannot leave, but she is more than welcome to call her parents and an elder from her family side. She could not look me in the eyes, but when my in-laws asked if she knew about me. She said, “Yes, I knew.” I wanted to strangle her for knowing that she slept with a married man, but I had no more energy to fight. I wiped my tears away and asked my father-in-law to call my side of the family; I saw the tears in his eyes. He knew that I was leaving, but he went outside with my older brother-in-law and made the calls. I turned to my mother-in-law, who was silently wiping her tears, and we hold each other’s hands throughout the night.
I divorced him that night at age 23. I left both my children with my in-laws, but I always visited them on the weekends. I went back to community college and earned my CNA. A year later, a friend of my father came to visit, and he brought his daughter, Kalia. She was around my age. I heard her telling my father that she was planning to get her master’s degree. Curious, while our fathers went outside to look at some chickens, I asked her what it takes to attend a four-year university. She told me that it would be an easy process for me because I already had an associate degree. The next few days, I went over to her place, and we look at a few universities’ options and eventually became friends.
I was hesitant, but I remembered her words, “There some sacrifices you’re going to have to make, but it’s good sacrifices. Your children will grow up to be thankful later.” I was stunned at how she knew that I was thinking about my children and worried about not seeing them. I did not want them to think I abandoned them, but Kalia was right. I wanted to do everything for me and my children’s future. So, I crossed my fingers and began applying.The colleges that accepted me into their nursing programs were roughly about an hour and a half to two hours away. After looking at tuition and cost, I chose the one I can afford without taking too many loans—Kalia had told me that was a mistake she made for undergraduate, so I should learn from her. It was two hours away, but everyone was supportive of me: my parents, siblings, my former in-laws, and even my two children.
It was rough for me in college, learning new vocabulary and making friends all over. It was hard and sometimes I cried. However, I thought about my husband’s last words on the night we got a divorced. That I was not enough for him. I was stupid and not good enough for him. I will not be able to get him anywhere in life. Those words became my motivator and encouragement. I want him to see me be successful and that he was the one not good enough for me. During my free time, I would video call my children and talk to them. They would cry over the phone about how much they missed me, and I would tell them how much I missed them. In 2018, I graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing. I would never forget the day I walked across that stage and managed to find my entire family applauding and cheering for me.
I went back to work at the hospital where I used to work. Of course, I got a promotion from my supervisor right away. My two children finally moved in with me in early 2020 after I got a lovely small house. Currently, I am not seeing anyone, but that does not matter. I am happy with my two children and where I am at in my life. Every time I look back on my life, I deeply regret all my decisions at such a young age. However, out of all my friends, including me, we all came to the United States during 2005-2006. I am the lucky one. I went to school, earned a degree, and have a stable career that I enjoy. Like, Kalia told me “You deserved to walk around with your head held high no matter what your past look like because you earned it.”