Are you caught in a bad relationship? It doesn’t matter if you are married or dating, it can be difficult to navigate out of it. The laughter in the marriage or relationship is gone, and you are left with only anger and destruction.
I have a friend who was in a bad relationship, and it did not end well. I don’t think she would mind me sharing with you some of her mistakes. Knowing her, she would want people to learn what not to do. This is the true story of my friend, Shannon.
The First Time I Met Shannon
The first time I met Shannon we were 8 years old. Our families crossed paths in Wyatt’s cafeteria. We were both leaving. My dad knew her dad. It was a very quick introduction. I probably would not have remembered the experience if it weren’t for the way Shannon looked.
Don’t get me wrong, she was pretty. But her bangs hung over her eyes. You could barely make eye contact with her because of them. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but the memory did stick in my mind.
The next time we crossed paths was in 8th grade. We ended up carpooling together for 2 years. When you spend that much time in the car (about an hour a day), you really get to know someone. We had different friends at school, but we were always good friends in the car.
The thing about Shannon is that she never had the best choice in friends or boyfriends. And that is why we never hung out at school or afterward. She seemed to get caught in one bad relationship after another.
Our Lives Kept Intersecting
Looking back, I realize there was really no reason for us to ever get close to each other because we never had the same friends. Somehow our lives kept intersecting; it was a type of weaving in and out of our teen and adult years. I think God kept putting us together for a reason.
I spent those 2 years in 8th-9th grade with her, and then we both ended up at the same college our freshman and sophomore years. Again, we had completely different friends, but we talked pretty often.
It wasn’t until our sophomore year in college that we became close. She talked me into volunteering with her at the local Young Life organization. We were together every Monday night.
After a while, she started opening up to me. I learned more about her, and all the things she had gone through.
Some of the things she had been through included sexual abuse. I had no idea that when we were younger she was being abused by a family member. It all made sense after she told me.
I could never understand some of her choices. That information filled in the gaps. I tried to encourage her and love her unconditionally after she told me.
The thing that really rocked my world was when she told me about something that had happened to her over her freshman summer of college. She had an abortion. She got caught in another bad relationship with a man.
Shannon never told him she was pregnant or about the abortion. She was absolutely devastated that it happened. At this time in her life, she was relieved that it was over, and her family didn’t know about it.
I never had the chance to talk her out of the abortion or to speak into her life because we didn’t talk at all that summer. I was really sad for her and the baby, but I loved her through it.
There were several sides to Shannon. She had her Christian friends and her wilder friends. She had one foot in each world. (That never ends well.) I was one of the Christain friends. She would eventually tell me things that she did when it was weeks or months later, but she would never tell me what was going on with her presently. That made it hard to really help her.
Shannon Got Married- Twice
At about age 23, Shannon got married. I was her maid of honor. I never told her, but I didn’t think it was a good fit. Personally, I never liked the guy. He gave me weird vibes. She ended up divorced within a year. I won’t go into details, but it was a mess. Yet, again, she got caught in a bad relationship.
Her next marriage was at about age 26. She was living in a different city and she got married at the JP. I wasn’t even invited. It was quick due to her being pregnant. By then, she had no real job, her mother had died, and her father pretty much abandoned her. I NEVER liked her father.
I met Shannon’s 2nd husband eventually, and he was just scary. He tried to be nice to me, but I never really thought it was genuine. He didn’t smile, and he wasn’t a warm person.
I found it odd she picked him because she was so warm and loving. He was the opposite of her in every way. Strangely, he looked like her dad in some ways.
Having Children Together
Shannon and I had 2 of our 3 children at the same time. One of our kids has the exact same name. Even though we lived in different cities, we talked on the phone, traded out kid’s clothes, and she would connect for a play date when she was in town.
It was at this time the abortion started haunting her. She was having nightmares about the child she never had. It took 10 years, but it caught up with her. She kept dreaming she was drowning her baby. It would be the same dream every time. I remember her complaining about not being able to sleep because of the nightmares.
Over the next year, I started noticing small changes. She would talk really fast when we were on the phone. I could hardly understand a word she said. Other times, she would be slurring her words.
Looking back, I realize she started abusing prescription drugs when she started having the nightmares. I think she was desperate to sleep.
Eventually, Shannon started having all sorts of “accidents.” Her foot was broken, her tooth was chipped, her back was hurt, etc. It was then she really started becoming addicted to pain medication.
By this time, she was pretty open about what she was taking. She had to stop driving because she actually flipped her car. Thank heavens her kids were not in it at the time.
Going To a Counselor
When we were about 38 or 39 Shannon got into counseling. She asked me to help her put her family history together. I knew more than anyone. She couldn’t mentally do it. I spent a week typing out everything I knew. It was about 8 pages. I was glad she was working with a counselor. I thought maybe she would get better.
One day, I got a phone call. Shannon was not living at her home. She had run away to her counselor’s house. During the conversation, she asked me to keep care of some photos. I didn’t really understand the depth of her request until she emailed the pictures to me.
She said that if she turned up dead, I was to turn them into the police. Shannon was a little dramatic so I didn’t really know what to believe. I didn’t know at the time that her husband had been beating her up.
All of her “accidents” finally made sense. It had been going on for more than a year by the time I found out.
After I got the pictures, I believed her. She had been beaten to a pulp. Her face, her body, everything. She had a black eye. It was swollen halfway shut. She had pictures of cuts and large bruises on her torso. Her back was all cut up. It was horrific.
I cried in disbelief. I couldn’t process what I saw. The pictures burned a hole in my computer. I would keep going back to look at them over and over again. It was sickening. Words cannot express how I still feel about what I saw. It is beyond me how a man could do this to a woman.
I begged Shannon not to go back, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She had 3 children, and she said she would never leave them. I think she knew she would never get custody if she left.
She was dealing with a prescription drug addiction, and she had no real way to support her kids financially on her own. I think she knew she was trapped. She said she was going back even if it killed her.
That is exactly what happened to Shannon. On February 1st, 2010, at the age of 42, my friend Shannon died. She should be turning 50 this March. Shannon’s counselor called to tell me the day after she died.
I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame. I felt I had not done enough. For the last year, I had been ignoring her calls some of the time because they were becoming more and more bizarre. I had little kids and my own family problems. I couldn’t deal with her.
Thankfully, Shannon had left the pictures with a cop friend in Dallas, too. He contacted me and together we worked to try to get her justice. The authorities did hold her body over for several extra days so they could do a complete autopsy.
The official report said she died of a heart attack. There were no visible bruises or wounds at the time of death. I don’t know what really happened, but it still haunts me.
Caught In a Bad Relationship
I don’t know exactly why or how Shannon died, but I do know she got caught in a bad relationship. The man she chose was not someone who made her better.
It is my opinion that the man she married destroyed her. He slowly disassembled who she was piece by piece. Over time, he destroyed her by the way he bullied her, controlled her every action, and demeaned her very being day after day. The person I knew when we were young was a mere shell of what was left of her at the time of her death.
The Shannon I Used to Know
The Shannon I used to know had a bubbly personality, and she was generous to a fault. She was always going somewhere and doing something for someone. Shannon never met a stranger. She was the most sanguine personality. Oh, how she loved to talk.
Shannon was smart. Her IQ was very high. She was much smarter than me. We used to trade out books. Well, really, it was more of a one-way deal. She would read the book in a day or two and then let me borrow it. And she LOVED movies. There wasn’t a rom-com she hadn’t seen.
Shannon was also incredibly artistic. She wrote some amazing poems, and she painted. My sister gave her painting lessons for about a year.
Most of all, Shannon loved kids. She was babysitting her nieces and nephews from an early age. I remember her talking about them constantly. She adored them.
She left a huge hole in the lives of not only her friends and family but her children. I know they will always miss her. They adored her. She was a good mother to them.
Shannon no only had a tender heart for kids but animals. She loved dogs. I think she tried to smuggle her dog into almost every place she could. If you saw Shannon, her dog was not far behind.
Even to this day, you will see people leave messages on her Facebook. Shannon didn’t know how many people loved her and cared about her. Her life and death have touched many people.
The Baggage Trapped Her
Shannon definitely had a lot of baggage going into her marriages. I wish she would have finished college and really gotten some help for all the things she had experienced. Instead, she got caught in one bad relationship after another wallowing in her pain.
Shannon never thought she deserved anything good. She didn’t know her worth as a person or that she could really accomplish something with her life.
I think she would still be alive today if she had the skills to support her kids. The problem was that Shannon got trapped. One day she woke up and couldn’t leave. It was an accumulation of her choices over a long period of time.
I encourage you to start looking at your choices today. What you do today affects tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after that. Look at where you want to be in 6 mos, 2 years, and 5 years. Start making the decisions that will get you there.
If you just live life for today and have no thought about tomorrow then you will wake up one day and be trapped just like Shannon. Whether you like it or not, someone else will be making your decisions for you.
Are You Trapped?
For those of you who are already trapped, I pray you will get help. You can start by praying for God to rescue you. He listens when you cry out to Him. God is there, and He uses people to help you out of this kind of situation. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There are local shelters and church ministries that deal with this kind of situation. Find a way out. Don’t be like Shannon.
Praying for Your Spouse
It is never too late to start praying for your spouse/significant other. It doesn’t matter if your relationship is good or if you have been caught in a bad relationship. (You should start praying for your spouse/s.o. especially if it is a bad relationship.) Praying for your spouse/s.o. changes things. If you find that you are tongue-tied, then you can get a really good prayer with lots of scriptures that will help you along. You just have to insert the name. Subscribe to the email below and it will automatically be sent to you.
*My hope is that Shannon’s story will inspire you to live your life in a way that will make you think twice about your friends and your choice in a spouse. Shannon isn’t just another statistic out there. She was my friend. I saw her slowly dwindle away right before my eyes. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.