love story

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My marriage of 17 years to Scott Whitman is on the rocks in Los Angeles, California. I was just 17 years old when we met in our hometown of Bluestone, Ohio in 1996 but now he's telling me I was too young when we got married. Maybe he's right but I did grow up much faster than most teenagers. When people ask us how we met we tell them my grandfather delivered him. They always think we are High School Sweethearts but they don't know about our secret romance that turned the entire town against us. It was such a traumatic experience that we can barely remember what happened in 1997 when my boyfriend Chad Lyons and Scott's fiancé Shannon Sanderson found out about us. Our friends disowned us and our significant others tried to keep us apart as rumors, lies and the truth was exposed. 

Scott and I first kissed when we spent the night at a party at Andrea Whitman's house in September 1996, a night that we will never forget but will always regret how much damage was done to the ones we loved. I didn't know he was planning on getting married or that my new boyfriend was planning on staying together after he moved back to North Carolina for school. Scott and I fell in love online in 1997 from a Computer Lab on the college campus. I didn't have my own computer yet but as post-secondary enrollment student, I was able to get a college email address as a Junior in High School. Long distance phone calls still cost about $20 for an hour call and dial up internet from a long distance line cost a fortune. Chad only called me once a month and sent a few emails or letters in the mail. It seemed pointless trying to have a relationship, especially since I was 4 years behind him in life. I had a major crush on Scott long before I ever even met Chad but he now had a fiancé. He had this friend name Judson who cracked me up in the computer lab. I didn't really know how to use the internet yet so he'd sit with me and show me how to visit a website. He asked me what I wanted to check out and I said " The Smashing Pumpkins". I wanted to get the details for their upcoming tour.

After that party at Andrea's, Scott and I agreed just to be friends. He was managing Domino's Pizza with my best friends Andrea, Cassie and Ronnie, so I stopped up often. I told my close friends what happened but the more his relationship to Shannon Sanderson evolved, the more I tried to distance myself because it was wrong. He'd told me she had cheated on him with his friends, not that it changed things. I didn't want to be that girl who stole another girl's man but my man was gone and I felt like he didn't really care so I let Scott give me relationship friends. Our feelings were extremely confusing because the situation was so wrong. On Valentine's Day my Romeo sent me a dozen roses to the High School and all the girls were jealous even though they didn't know Chad Lyons but it made me feel cool having a college boyfriend. 

As sweet and beautiful as he was, Chad was not the boy I wanted to marry. My attraction and connection to Scott was undeniable. By the summer of 1997 my friends shamed me for chasing Scott and Chad's friends warned me about getting involved with Scott. I felt like I was wearing the Scarlet Letter. Why did I choose a man I was told not to trust and why did I want to destroy 20 years of his trust in me?

Maybe I was destined for a life of destruction instead of the depression I had been sentenced to while serving time in my bedroom with my Stepfather, the Warden of my new family. I wanted to do everything I wasn't supposed to, have everything I couldn't have and be anyone one but me. The more often I changed my course, the less likely I was to suffer from boredom or a broken heart. But what changed me? My parent's divorce? My stepdad's rules? My training as an athlete? My boyfriends cheating on me? My shame for cheating? Or was I bullied as a teenager by my best friends Molly McHollister and Andrea Logan?

You can either start the Story with the First 20 and flash back to the past that shaped my decisions or start the story during the First 20 without knowing what where life will take me after I thought I'd never find a way out. All I know is my life is never what I thought it would be but the only time I ever felt like I might not have a way out was when I was about to sign my name on the line for a multi-million merchandising deal in the music industry. Something just told me don't do it. Don't let them control you. Don't give up your ability to change your own destiny. I didn't sign a deal with the devil but the foundation to my empire crumbled all the way back to the ground floor of 1996.

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