My Life Story–Mary

“My name is Mary Lynn McNamara, I was born August 27, 1953 in El Paso, Texas. My parents are Robert and Ruth Hughes. I am the youngest of seven children (though my oldest sister Judy did not live with us). My brothers names are Bill, Bobby, and Ken (deceased), my sisters are Judy, Pat and Barbara. Our childhood was rocky due to the constant moving, I can think of six states that I have lived in and I know we moved at least three times a year. My father worked drywall so of course he always went where the work was at. I didn’t find out until years later that my father had four children from a previous marriage and was sending child support to them. I guess that explained our poverty over the years. I also found out years later that my parents ran off together when they were both married to other people, plus my mother was pregnant with my oldest brother Bill, by her first husband. My parents were married close to sixty years so I know it was meant to be. My father adored my mother in everyway possible. He loved all of us kids and was so loving and kind to us.

I hated the constant moving and I always told mom and dad that when I got married I would never move, a promise I followed through. I don’t remember much anything from my childhood. I can remember when we moved to Tampa when I was four years old and I ran away from home while my parent where unpacking in the new house. I guess I was mad we had moved again. I was picked up by the police because I wondering the streets of Tampa. When the officers asked me where I lived I kept giving them the address in California. My parent found me when they called the police to report me missing.

My next memory is of the third grade. I was attending St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Brandenton, FL, I remember the plaid uniforms and the saddle shoes with the knee highs. I remember the nuns. I only went to catholic school for three or four years and then I went to public schools.

I remember when we moved to Sarasota, FL. I had a girl friend by the name of Barbara Giarlando. We played Barbies together and we stayed at each others houses on the weekends. She was my best friend for three years until my brother Ken did to her what he had been doing to me for a couple of years.

I guess this is a good time to talk about my Brother Ken and the things that happened with him. I am not sure when “IT” started with Ken, nor do I remember the extent of what Ken did to me. It must have started when I was eleven or twelve, I am not sure. He would come into my bedroom at night while I was sleeping and he always held a flashlight under his chin. He would stand beside my bed in the dark and wait for me to wake up. When I would wake up he would pounce on me and he would start acting like he was raping me. This is where my mind is fuzzy about what exactly he did to me on those nightly visits. It scares me to think about it and I was terrified of my brother in everyway. I tried so hard to tell my mom and dad what he was doing but they didn’t believe me. My mom kept going back to the jealous speech she always said to me no matter what Ken did to me. Ken’s abuse started when my mom brought me home from the hospital. I was told by my oldest sister Pat, that Ken (who was three at the time) held a pillow over my face and tried to smother me but Pat walked in and caught him in the act. This was the beginning of Ken’s abuse but mom thought it was just normal jealousy while I walked around in terror. I also thought that if I loved him enough he would love me, but that didn’t work.

During the time Ken was abusing me I had my girl friend, Barbara Giorlando over to spend the night. I think I was thirteen at the time. Barbara was the first girl friend I truly ever had in my life and I cherished out friendship. The night she stayed the night my brother had a friend of his stay the night also. During the night the two of them came into my room and Ken jumped on Barbara while Billy (my brothers friend) jumped on me. Very early the next morning Barbara’s mother picked her up and that was the last time I saw my friend or heard anything from her. Again, I blocked off what was going on. It seemed like I had developed a great talent for taking all things unpleasant and “forgetting” them, or at least blocking them out of my memory.

It was during this time that I met a boy, Johnny Hyatt (time had passed and now I was thirteen). Somehow I convinced my parents to let me go on my first date. A lot of whining, perhaps? I would live to regret this date for the rest of my life. I did not know this guy very and he was sixteen years old with car of his own. My parents didn’t know him at all. The stipulation for the date was that I had to go out in the afternoon. Johnny picked me up on a Sunday afternoon, it was in February. We went for a ride and Johnny decided to take me to Manatee River. We parked at the river and Johnny wanted to get in the back seat to talk so I went along with it. We talked for a while and then we started kissing. I was uncomfortable but I didn’t feel too threatened, not at first. The kissing became more and more demanding and that is when I became worried and scared. How do I describe the next few minutes when it went from uncomfortable to terrifying? How do I describe being held down? I was raped at thirteen and when he found out I wasn’t a virgin (from Ken) he hit me as hard as he could. I was screaming and yelling “NO” over and over again. I can’t seem to get his smell out of my memory bank. I will never forget it. Johnny finally took me home while I sobbed the entire way home. When I got home I ran into the house, I told mom what happened and she called me a liar, then she called me a whore. I knew then that I couldn’t tell anything again so I went into the shower and scrubbed off everything I could scrub off. I did that for days. Years. I couldn’t get rid of the smell or the memory. I still have memories of it that turn in to nightmares for me. If I am under stress or I am unhappy about something I have nightmares about being held down. From that point on I never told mom or dad anything. I didn’t have to tell them. I became very quiet and withdrawn.

Four months later I realized I was pregnant from the one date with Johnny Hyatt and I had to tell my parents. I was more terrified that I had ever been in my life but I told mom. She cried and called me a whore and said we would talk to dad when he got home from work, which we did. Dad was furious and hurt because I was daddy’s girl. A few days later mom and dad talked to me, they were sending me away to a home for unwed mothers in St. Pete, it was a catholic home run by nuns. I will never forget sitting in the office with the Mother Superior and going through the questionnaire. When I got to the question about the baby’s father my mother nor the Mother Superior believed me that I had been raped and I knew who did it. My mother told the Mother Superior that I was a whore and would always be one. I just shut my mouth and quit talking and allowed the adults to speak around me passing the harsh and unjust judgment. I was there for a couple of weeks when my oldest brother Bill and his wife Mary decided to take me in and give me a home. At this point mom and dad did not want me back. I was homeless.

While I was living with Bill and Mary my parents decided to forgive me and part of this was moving again to Venice, FL (Part of Sarasota County). I gave birth to a baby girl. The only reason I know the baby was a girl is because during the time I was in the hospital a nurse brought the baby to me by mistake and I was able to spend time with her.

When I left Bill and Mary’s and moved home to my parent’s house in Venice things quickly returned to normal. Ken left me alone after that and Barbara had married, divorced and had a baby boy. She moved back home so we had a full house with my nephew, Darrin there too. I loved it because ken was not me and as I started Venice Junior High I met girls that became my friends all the way through high school (and now).

It was during high school that I met Jeff Stephens. He was two years older than me but we started to date right after the tenth grade and continued to date until we married on February 5th, 1972 which was midway through my senior year. This came about because my parents moved to Atlanta during my junior year and though I went with them and finished my junior year in Atlanta, I moved back here and got an apartment with two other high school girls. I finished high school at night and worked during the day to support myself. Jeff and I dated when we could. We where engaged by then and decided to get married. I was eighteen and Jeff was nineteen.

Jeff and I had a small church wedding at South Venice Baptist Church. Jeff and his family had attended this church for a number of years and even though I had been raised a catholic I was more than willing to be married in the Baptist Church. The wedding itself was family only and the reception held at my in-laws was for friends and family. From the very beginning Jeff’s parents gave me a feeling of security, warmth, love, and acceptance and such a feeling of parental love like I had never felt before in my life. I loved them and I trusted them. Jeff had saved up $10,000.00 over the years from birthday and Christmas gifts and with that money we purchased furniture and everything we needed plus we gave part of it to Jeff’s parents as a down payment for a new home they were holding the mortgage for. So as newlyweds we had a new home just built and new furniture. I was so happy because I was so much in love with Jeff and I felt like I was in heaven. I didn’t tell Jeff about my past (except about ken) because my mother took me aside and told me that I was no good for the Stephen’s and that if I told Jeff about my past he would leave me in a heartbeat, and if his parents ever found out they would never speak to me again. She said that I needed to promise her I would never tell anyone about my shameful past.

Tracy was born on September 9th, 1972 and I was ecstatic, beyond ecstatic. I wanted her so much and I poured all of my love on her ( I am still doing that today) she was my world. I was working at the family Chrysler-Plymouth dealership as a part time bookkeeper so I brought her to work with me. Jeff worked there as well in the service department. Jeff’s father figured out what our monthly expenses were and that is what he paid us at the dealership, so Jeff and I had to budget our money very tightly. On May 24th, 1976 Terry was born and our family was complete. I truly wanted more children but Jeff was happy with two, and did not want more.

The next few years went by quickly. The children kept me busy and I worked at the dealership while the children were in school. After school I packed them up and did the usual things. Tracy had three dance classes until she graduated high school and Terry had little league, boy scouts, etc. As the kids got older and older, I worked more and more at the dealership because in the early eighties I became office manager and my mother in law retired. I loved that time. I loved being so responsible for the financial statements and the sales tax report. I loved everything about bookkeeping and looked forward to going to work everyday. I quickly became a workaholic working sixty to seventy hours a week.

The years flew by for our family. Jeff and I went to resorts all over the country for Chrysler meetings (about four or five a year). We had another couple we hung around with, that also had two children. Their names where Marty and Sharon. They played a major part of our life and Sharon was my best friend for over twenty five years.

It was in the late eighties and early nineties that things started to fall apart at the dealership. Slowly we lost money and while the financial statements not always reflect a loss, usually at the end of the year we showed losses. More and more, Jeff and I had to put into the business to keep it afloat. We sold property (we had build a new home in 1980 that was on ten acres), and we borrowed money. We quit taking paychecks and I went out and got two other part time jobs to help supplement the money at home. Jeff refused to get another job which I resented considering I was working three jobs and taking care of the kids. I did more than resent it, I was livid.

During the time we were failing, I would lay awake at night sobbing because everyday the bank would call me and tell how much I needed in the bank that day. It could be a thousand dollars or it could a half million, and I would have to spend my mornings trying to get the money together. The vendors where constantly calling me for money and Chrysler credit lived at the dealership to get as much money as they could out of us when a car was sold. We had to let employees go (that were like family after years of employment) which meant work had to be done. I began to work seven days a week around 1988 and this lasted until we finally went under in 1995.

1995 was a very rough year and this is when I went to a doctor for migraines and constant headaches. He gave Tylenol three and Soma. We lost our family business and in the process Jeff and I split up. One day I packed my bags and drove to Atlanta to live with my sister Barbara. While I was up there Jeff and I had to file for bankruptcy because of the business losses. We were over a million dollars in debt. Terry was also caught selling drugs, and we had to re-mortgage the house (we lost the house). After three months, out of guilt, I came home back to Jeff. I always believed in the Ozzie and Harriet life and that is what I wanted to give my children.

Jeff and I lasted another five years. In the year 2000 we filed for divorce, I asked Jeff for the divorce for so many reasons. His twenty eight years of verbal abuse. My anger. It was complicated but yet simple. I still love him and always will but I am not in love with the man he is today.

Terry and Tracy did not take the divorce too well. They later came around and were fine until I started dating, Terry then became angry and shut me out. It was also about that time that Terry’s girlfriend Susan, left him with their daughter Anna, so I guess that might explain his sudden change of personality.

I went to work for a computer company by the name of Reynolds and Reynolds right before my divorce and this job had a really good positive influence on my life. I went from dealership to dealership training employees (classrooms at a time) on how to use their computer system. I would be there for a month. Obviously I had to know what I was doing, and if I didn’t I had to fake it.

I learned at this job about different personalities and how just because a person reacts a certain way toward you does not mean you should take it personally. Every person has their own personality and we are all unique. Just because I am a touchy feely loving person does not mean every person is that way. It was a valuable lesson.

When Jeff and I divorced, I was alone for the very first time in my life. I was living paycheck to paycheck, and I became depressed because we had lost the business. I had lost my marriage, my children were upset, we lost the home we had raised out children in, and my best friend of 25 years, Sharon, slammed the door in my face and refused to have anything to do with me. I was crushed, I am crushed, I don’t know what I did wrong.

I did enjoy my time alone, though. It was nice to able to watch what I wanted to watch, eat when I wanted to eat, and all the freedom that went along with it. It was during this time that I went to a doctor again and got Tylenol three and Soma for the headaches. I purchased a new double wide trailer to live in, it was in a 55 and over community which was ok with me. It was during this time that Tracy found me during a black out and took me to the hospital. I was baker acted at the point and stayed in Tampa General Hospital for five days.

After that rough patch I got myself together again, went back to work, and met Marty, my husband. I posted a profile on and hooked up with Marty after several other dates. Marty and I have been together for seven years and married for five.

Our wedding was a small church wedding on May 11th, 2004. I had a beautiful white dress, Marty wore a suit, Bill gave me away. Tracy and Terry were both there but Terry looked like he wanted to kill everyone in there (according to my son in law, Scott). Marty has been wonderful to me since the first day. His daughter, Carol has accepted me into her life and has made me feel like I am a step mother and a friend to her.

Things with Terry became very rocky at this point. He had some problems that really upset me. The first thing he did was throw all of his things and Anna’s things into the garbage, told Anna he never wanted to see her again, and went off to live in the woods because he wanted to know what it felt like to be poor. This only lasted a few weeks because my son is used to having things. However, when he came out of the wood he didn’t have a job or a place to live so he arrived in Sarasota at his grandparents, life around Terry was not easy. Jeff and his parents took Terry to the doctor and a therapist, he was given anti depressants but he refused to take them. It was during this period that Terry started to call me and began to tell me “F*** You” over and over. I tried to take him to movies and dinners but he was always angry and sullen. By the time he was done yelling at me about his life being in ruins was all my fault I would literally be in tears for months. My drug use became heavier and heavier while I tried to handle my failing relationship with my son. It tore me apart. The next thing Terry did was to decide he could read minds and he could hear voices so he was going to go to NYC to open a business. He set off without a dime and got as far as South Carolina before he ran out of gas, at this point he decided to lay on I-95 and take a nap, right on the highway. The police came and they had to take him to the hospital (they had to taser him to calm him down) and at this point they ran a drug test. His blood work came out clean. Jeff and his parents wanted me to go to South Carolina to get Terry but I was too afraid of him. I honestly had no idea at this point what my own son was capable of doing to me. He was verbally abusive to me. Jeff put him in a drug rehab center and I tried to visit him but Terry told me every time I went there to “F*** Off”. He wanted nothing to do with me.

Thank goodness I had my daughter Tracy, my grandchildren and Marty. Without them I would have gone crazy during this time. Of course, my drug use increased as my stress levels increased with Terry.

I went to an orthopedic doctor that did an MRI on my back and neck. He found several discs that had some problems but he decided not to do surgery. The injury had been caused when I fell down the stairs one morning back in the eighties. I never went to the doctor because I had two kids to take care of a job with sixty hours a week. The orthopedic doctor referred me to a pain management doctor that prescribed Loretab, I also started ordering Soma and Farocet because I could get it. I also ordered Tylenol 3 to have on hand just in case I ran out of Loretab. Medications are too easy to get online.

On February 12th 2008. Terry drove to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and jumped off, that day my brother Bill and sister in law Mary, came over to our house to tell me the news. When I pulled up in the drive way and saw their car, I thought they where there to see Marty, he had his hip replaced about five days before and had just gotten home from the hospital. Bill told me and it didn’t register, but when It did I couldn’t stop crying and I needed to go to my ex in laws house. Marty took me over there and I went straight to my ex father in law, that I will always love, and cried my eyes out. My next job was to call Tracy and Susan.

I started going to a therapist after Terry’s suicide but I kept myself medicated so I couldn’t feel anything. A part of me died the day my son jumped from the bridge and the worse part if they never found his body. We waited three months to have a service because I kept hoping he would show up, but I finally had to get realistic. Jumping from the Skyway is like jumping from a ten story building.

So here I am today at Synergy Group Services, Inc, getting my life back together, I am where I need to be, getting the help that I need to be sober.”

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