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In part two of Lisa's story, she shares how her life changed for the worse after she learned that her husband was gay. If you didn't read part one, start there first.
I said, 'After all this time, me having nervous breakdowns, almost committing suicide, being depressed, taking all these drugs on Zoloft and Percocet and all these other narcotic drugs because I'm depressed. And I'm thinking that it's me. It was you? It was you! '
He said, 'It's not what you think it is. I didn't want it to end this way.'
You know what?' Take your shit, take your children and leave. You know what, scratch that. Take your shit and leave. They're my children.'
He said, 'I can't leave right now because I don't have anything. I don't have anywhere to go.'
The last job he had, I actually wrote the resume, contacted the people, wrote the letter and did everything and got the job. He started saving and in less than a month's time, he had found a place. He started buying new furniture, new stuff, bringing it in. 'I was like, okay, great for you.'
I'm telling my friend, I have to find a way to make money. I'm not working now and I have to find a place for me and my children to stay. My friend told me, 'The children are citizens. You can go down and apply for foodstamps and they will help you go to court. You have rights.
I was like, 'Really?' She said, 'Yeah, do it.' So I went down, spoke to the lady and she told me what to do. I brought all the documents in. They said they'd come to the house. By the time I got home that day, he cleaned out the house. took the children and left. The city came and I had nothing to prove. So they couldn't help me. I didn't have anywhere to go with my two older girls.
So now, the eviction notice came. There's a lock on the door. We have nowhere to go. So when my daughters would come home from school, they would meet on the corner, one person would walk ahead, make sure the coast is clear and the other daughter would come kick in the AC vent to the front of the building, climb through, open the door and we'd get in for the night and sleep in the basement. Some nights we'd get on the train and ride the number 4 train from here to the Bronx and back.
Then one day my sister-in-law called and she said, 'What's really going on?' I told her and she didn't believe me. She said, 'So why did you cheat on my brother?' I said, 'I didn't cheat on your brother.'
She said, 'He said, you slept with another man.'
'I did not sleep with a man. I went out with a man but I did not sleep with a man.' We had a confession one night. We sat down and we spoke and he asked me everything and I told him exactly how it went. I told them I did kiss the man. I was naked in front of the man but I didn't sleep with him. We didn't go through with it because I didn't want to do it. I told him no and he was kind enough to say ok. He respected that no. I might have been raped but he didn't do it. We didn't do anything.'
She said, 'But you can't be out on the streets like that with the girls.' You can come sleep with me. She has a one bedroom, tiny little apartment. We wound up coming to stay by her.
I didn't want the baby [I aborted], I lost my job, then I lost the children. I called my mom and I told her, he has the children now. She started yelling, she said, 'What did I say to you? I told you this was gonna happen. I told you to have the baby. But you're going to get it, you know, you're going to get it.'
August of that year, he would bring the children every evening. The day before school started, I went with them to get school supplies. And the little one, he was just about to turn three in October. We're waiting on the corner for the light to change and he said, 'Mommy sing the song Granny sings.' So we're all singing the song and I'm telling them, 'Okay, we have to wait until the light turns white for us to cross the street and the white man comes up on the screen. And he said, 'Mommy, it's safe. We can cross now.' And it's him and I in the front, the middle two behind and the older two of the rear of them. And as we're crossing the street, this car comes out of nowhere and is approaching for my sons.
I immediately threw my body over my son, but then I see the road, I see the sky, I see the road, I see the sky. I don't see anything else. When I open my eyes, I'm in the hospital. My son is in one corner crying. I looked down, I can see my daughter on the other side, on a stretcher. I roll my eyes back and I see all these monitors and stuff and I'm like 'What the hell's going on?'
The doctor says, 'You were in an accident. Some car hit you and your son.' And then I hear my mother-in-law on the phone, 'What the hell you mean she ain't dead yet?! This is the mother of your children. I'm telling you she just got in an accident! And you're asking me if she ain't dead yet? Somebody need to come and get the other children!'
I'm like, 'What the hell?!' And then I started crying because everything starts coming back to me.
I'm like, 'Oh my God, oh my God.' Then I see my older daughter and she's crying. She's like, 'Mommy's alive. Mommy's alive.' I said, What happened?' She said, 'She hit you. She hit you and she drove off but I ran after her and the policeman had to arrest me and then...' Oh gosh. That was my oldest daughter, at the time she was only 13 going on 14. and it took three men to hold her back from beating up this little, old lady, a block up from where she knocked us over.
Fast forward, I got discharged from the hospital and back at his sister's house. I damaged my left ankle, right knee, lower back and my neck. I had to have surgery on my knee.
The day I was released from the hospital, he drops the children off and says, 'They have school tomorrow. They need their hair braided.'
So his sister says, 'What the fuck you mean they need their hair braided? You couldn't take them to the Africans to get braids?!' And they start arguing. So I called him and I said, 'Listen, I can barely sit up. I can't move my legs. I can't do anything.'
He's like, 'You don't have to do it all at once. It's still early. Braid one now and then rest for five minutes, braid another, rest for five minutes.
He wouldn't bring any money. He wouldn't do anything. My sister-in-law, at this point now, is getting irritated. 'You can't be bringing the children. I don't have enough food to feed everybody. She's not working. What's going on?'
The same guy who I almost slept with in Long Island, he's leaving Long Island and bringing food for me and the children. He's taking us out. Eventually, his sister says, 'Okay, you know what I'm moving. You guys have to leave. You have to find a spot'
I'm like, 'Lord, where the hell am I going to go? I don't know anybody. I don't have anything. I have to find a job. But I'm trying to bide my time, then one morning he called saying, he had to go to work in the morning and he has nobody to watch the children. I must come up and get them. I said, 'I'm on crutches.'
He said, 'It doesn't matter. I'll come and pick you up and you can stay until I get home in the evening.
So he comes pick me up in the morning, 4:30 in the morning, on crutches. Sometimes he calls, he can't make it. He'd leave the door open. I'd walk from St. John's and Kingston, all the way up to St. John's and Buffalo on my crutches, through the snow. One day, I busted my ass on the snow, burst open the stitches on my knee. And my little son, I get in the house and I'm crying and he says, 'Mommy, your hands dirty. You need to wash your hands.' And the poor little guy thought he was bringing me hand sanitizer but it was KY Jelly.
I didn't know what to think. I just said to him, I need to get to the bathroom. He said, 'No Mommy, wash your hands.' I said 'No, I need to use the bathroom.' I went to the bathroom. I washed my hands, came back and asked him, 'Where did you find this?' He said 'Daddy's room.' I said, 'You don't touch the stuff you find in Daddy's room.' Then I closed the door.
A little while after that, my husband's brother came to visit and he said sometimes he picks up the children and one day, he came and there was a man in the house. And I remember my son calling me and he said, 'There's a man sleeping with Daddy.' And I said, 'No, that's your father's friend.' And my son said, 'No, I'm not naive. That's no friend. He's in the bed. They're both in boxers.'
I was like Nah, he's got to be mistaken. But then his brother asked me, 'Is he gay?'
And I said, 'I don't think he is. I don't know him to be like that.' And the brother said, 'Well I find it strange that he's with a man.'
NSNC: Why didn't you think he was gay at this point?
I thought it was just a hoax. I couldn't see it. I didn't want to believe it. I guess that's what it was. I don't know.
So at this time now, I started going to this little dance class and there was this guy. He's also from Trinidad. I would pass him when I'm going with the children to school and we say our little hellos.
The two continued talking and eventually, he started taking her home. One day he met Lisa’s daughter and asked if they lived there. She honestly told him that they don’t live there, they’re just staying there temporarily. When he learned this, the new Trinidadian man let her know he was the super of a building. He invited Lisa and her children to stay there until she was more stable. She took him up on his offer.
So we started talking, then I get a call from my son's school. He's acting up in class. They need us to come in. My husband couldn't go, so they called me. I couldn't make it because I just found that that I'm pregnant again.
And I'm just afraid to tell anybody because this is a totally different person that I'm now pregnant for. I just lost a house sometime before, I just had the accident and now here it is I'm pregnant for another man that I barely even know.
But I go down to the school and the teacher pulls me aside, and she's like, 'What the hell is going on in your house?' And I'm like, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'I called your husband today, and he said he couldn't make it. He said you had some doctor's appointments. And some guy came over and said, he's the other parent.' His hair is neatly pressed. His manicure looks better than mine and his makeup is on point.'
I felt like somebody knocked the wind out of me. I'm like, 'What are you telling me?' She's like, 'Yeah, this man came up in the classroom on behalf of your son.' And your son was more agitated by him' I'm like, okay. Now, my son is only three and a half going on four. So I thought, the next day I'll come by myself and I'll go to the school. When I get there the next day, my brother-in-law is also there. He told me they just got into an argument because he got to the school, the man [the "other parent'] is there and he's trying to tell him what to do and the man started to curse him out and he's not dealing with it anymore because his brother is gay.
I said, 'I don't believe.' He said, 'You don't believe it?' We started talking and the little one comes up and he said, 'Mommy, do you want a balloon?' I said a balloon? And he said, 'Yeah, Daddy has a lot of balloons.' I never knew that condoms came ripped, scented, glow in the dark until my son brought it out for me. My jaw dropped. I thought, this man is doing all this shit with these children in the house? I just got my children and I left.
Another day, the doorbell rings, the children come in, running up the stairs. He tells me that he has to go away for the weekend. I said, 'That's not what we arranged. I'm supposed to have the kids every other weekend. What the hell is going on?'
The super/new boyfriend says to, 'You know what, it's time for you to put your foot down on this guy. You afraid of him.' I said, 'Yes, I am afraid of him in a kind of way because you have to remember, this is all I knew for the last ten years.' He said, 'But you have to stop being scared of him and if you want, I'm going to go with you and we'll talk to him.' So we went over and we talked to him.
I said, 'You can't keep doing this. You have to start being more mature with these children.'
He said, 'You don't like what's going on, then take me to court.'
I said, 'You serious?'
'Yeah, take me to court.'
So we went to court. The judge said to me, 'Why is it that you don't want your children?'
I said, 'To be honest, I don't have any documentation here. I had my son. We lost the apartment because he stopped paying the rent. He actually bought himself a new apartment. He's working. I'm staying at someone's house and because I'm staying at this dude's house, I'm now carrying his child as a result of that. I don't have the resources for myself. So, if he's the one that's working and he took the children away from me, where am I going to put them?
She said, 'That makes sense. You know what, you'll have joint custody, but you, sir, will have physical custody and she will have the children every other weekend.'
He said, 'No, I don't want that.'
She said, 'That's what's going to happen because you're making the money. Or would you like me to put you on child support?'
He's like, 'Nah, Nah, Nah.'
She looks at me and says, 'Do you want me to put him on child support?' I said, 'He doesn't have to be on child support, he takes care of the children.' She said, ok.
But yet still, every evening, after school, he's dropping them off. Every day, every weekend.
So I have the baby. We're home. Everything's fine. My husband starts coming by, he starts sending money whenever he feels like, probably $200 every other week. What we agreed on first was a $1,000 dollars a month, he started doing that and then it whittled down to like $200 a month.
One day, I get a call, 'Mommy. The cops are here. Daddy's in handcuffs. You have to come and get us.' I'm like 'What? What's going on?' The police tell me, 'Ma'am you have to come down because we have the children and we have your husband in holding.' I go down and find out that he beat them so bad that when my daughter sat down in her chair, she flinched. They took her to the office and saw the welts on her back, so they called ACS.
Because of it, they can't stay with him. They have to stay with me. He comes out and he sees me and starts yelling, 'I don't want nothing to do with them. Them girls. I don't want them. I don't want nothing to do with them! She called the police on me.'
And then the lady comes out and she said, 'Well ma'am, you have to take the children tonight because we can't send them home with him and we have to come and inspect.' I said, 'But where I'm staying at is small.' She said, 'Well, these are your children. You're going to have to go.'
NSNC: Now, the daughter he beat, is this the one you all share together?
This is the daughter that we have together. Now, they're going to bring these three children to where I'm staying.
So I called my youngest son's father (the super) and explained to him what's going on. He says, 'Well, you have the apartment upstairs. It's small, yes. It's a one bedroom but I can convert the living room into a bedroom. The younger three can sleep out there and the older three can be in the other room.' Okay, fine. So he comes up and rearranges the apartment. He had painted over the entire apartment, the floors, everything. He moved my bed into the living room, put up some curtains. Put up a partition, set up a little air mattress for the children. The social worker came in and she looked at the place and said, It's a nice little place but it's too small for all of you. But for now this will have to do.' So I said, 'What else do I need?' She said, you'll definitely need a bed and you'll need a bigger space.
The woman ordered a twin size bed for the children and visited weekly to make sure they were bring properly taken care of. Eventually, the husband’s family learned what Lisa had been going through with their son and brother and finally learned that he was gay. They came back shocked by the new information.
All this time we were blaming you, thinking you had the affair with the other person and now we find out it was him from day one. I said, 'Yeah, how does that feel?'
So we're all staying in the same apartment and the lady comes to me and says, you have to leave. I said, 'Where are we going to go?'
She said, 'Well, your husband said he's leaving his apartment. You all can move in there. It was a two-bedroom apartment, you can stay there.'
We had a family meeting, we discussed it and I said to her straight up, 'I don't like New York. I don't want to be here. It's uncomfortable. I want to go back home to Trinidad. My mom is getting older. I need my family. I can't do this anymore. I feel lost here. I don't have anything.'
She said, no this is what we have to do.
My mom called me and she was mad at me. 'Why didn't you tell me what's been going on? Why didn't you tell me about the accident?'
I was so embarrassed to talk to my mom and let her know what happened, I didn't tell her about the part of him being gay. She didn't find out about that until 2016, just before she died.
NSNC: What did your family say?
They were mad me. They said I should have packed up. I should have taken the children and come back home. I didn't have to stay out here and live like this, in a strange place.
I told them I couldn't just leave because if I leave with the children, I could be arrested. That's kidnapping.
But before all that, back in New York, we had a family meeting and my husband told the caseworker that we worked past our differences and we see we did something that was wrong but now it's all about the children and we're going to get married and...
I'm looking at him like, 'Marry who? I'm ain't kissing your gay ass.' I'm not marrying you! But she said it was the better option. I could get my paperwork together. The children will get their paperwork together.
When the caseworker leaves, I ask him, 'You really want to get married and all that.' He's like, 'Yeah, it's the least I can do for you. You're the mother of my children. We got to stop fighting.'
I'm like, okay, cool. Agreed. So I say, 'So how's the living situation if I move in by you with these children? What's going to happen?'
He said, 'I'll still stay in my room. You can take the other room and the children can stay. I'm like, okay, fine. So I took the smaller room. Me and the children's stayed in the smaller room. And then he stopped coming home at night and then he cleared out his stuff and then he left and then I got an eviction notice on the door.
I'm like, 'Okay, God, what the hell is this? Evicted once, evicted twice.' Now, I'm back in court, fighting back and forth with the landlord.
'There's nothing we can do. We've already passed the time. They want us out. He said if you have to go to a shelter.
'I don't want to go to no shelter!'
'Yes. You have to go to the shelter.'
'I don't want to go to the shelter. '
'If you refuse to go to the shelter, we can have you arrested for child endangerment and we will call ACS on you.'
I went to the shelter August 6, 2012. I spent six months in the shelter and the six months that I was in the shelter, my husband would come down to Brooklyn and would give the children money. That was the first time I ever got a $1,000 out of him.
And I bought the children whatever they needed for school, for the winter time. I got the settlement from the accident. But I have no social security. I have nothing. I've got to put some money into an account. I have nobody here, no family. So I thought, you know what? This guy [the super] was generous enough to let me to stay in his place. He's the father of my child. I think I can trust him enough until I get back on my feet and he can hold the money. So we spoke about it. He said he didn't want to do it, but he could understand the situation and as I get myself together, I'll deposit the money into an account.
The husband was still on his shenanigans, this time fighting with one of his boyfriends in the home with the children there. And in the midst of all this, Lisa discovered that she was pregnant again.
Then one day, I'm coming back to Brooklyn. I went over to the super's house and he's making out with another woman, in the house. So I leave. He comes back later on and says, 'No, that wasn't what I thought it was.'
Fed up with the super/boyfriend, Lisa went back to the shelter. Later, her daughter introduced her to her teacher, saying he was a cool guy. Her daughter told her teacher that she, her siblings and her mother were staying in a shelter so the teacher started visiting them there, bringing food, taking them out for drives. Eventually, he asked to take Lisa out on a date by herself.
I'm like, 'Listen, I've got no time for this shit. I ain't got no luck with men, especially Black men. I love them but they don't love me. I've had my fill. I can't trust nobody, no more.
But Lisa reconnected with her daughter’s father, the super. They had another "makeout session" and she got pregnant again.
I didn't say a word to him. I didn't tell him. I said let me just keep quiet because God knows I don't want this. I'm living in the shelter. I don't know yet. I didn't know what was going to happen.
After Lisa learned she was expecting again, the settlement money came in. Lisa found an apartment and paid the rent for a full year and she paid everyone she owed, including her sister-in-law for allowing her to stay. She was content in her new apartment but hanging over her head was that fact that she was pregnant. Then, the super told her that he’d gotten his ex-girlfriend pregnant.
I cried, I cried, and I said, God, I can't do this again. You better find a way to end this because if you don't end it, I'll end it myself. A couple of days later, I started spotting. I went to the doctor. 'Oh we're not getting a heartbeat. You may have to come in and do surgery. I passed the baby out on my own, the night before my birthday. So I said, 'God is good. Something is going to turn around.'
But the doctors called one night. [The super] picked up my phone and he found out. He started yelling at me. 'You mean you were pregnant all this time and you didn't tell me!' I told him, 'You have a family to take care of. You don't care. Think about your ex-girlfriend right now. For all I know, you might have been sleeping with your ex-wife too.'
He said, 'In all honesty, yeah I was. She's pregnant too.'
NSNC: So all three of you were pregnant at the same time!
What the Hell is wrong with me and my life? This is the kind of thing you see in movies only. Something is definitely wrong with me. I'm like, okay, you know what? Cut ties. That's it. I'm done.
I'm like, you know what, to hell with it. I'm not all that cute but I am too far from ugly. I could go out there and have some fun. So I started going out to parties with one of my home girls, started dressing reckless. Started making new friends, I landed my scholarship to go to hair school, got my license, started working.
Then next thing I know, the super/boyfriend tells the landlord, that I'm in school, I'm not working. So he's going to take care of the rent for the next year. He stopped paying the rent. I tried to get money out of the account, I couldn't get money because he'd already maxed out the account.
I'm talking about over $30,000 in the account. So now I'm back to square one. I have to fight my landlord because she's threatening me with eviction. She said the rent hasn't been paid in nine months.
I'm like, 'Lady, are you crazy? You haven't been paid in nine months and you're just now calling me to tell me you haven't had rent in nine months? You made an agreement with [the super] behind my back and now you want to call me?'
She said, 'Well, it's your name on the lease.'
I said 'You should have known it was my name on the lease the first time you didn't get any money and called me then. Not now!'
So I'm like, okay, what am I going to do now? What am I going to do? I always communicate with my children to let them know what's going on. And my daughter said, 'Mommy, we're always sick. The sewage is always bubbling over in the basement. The walls are moldy. It's cold in here. The sinks are falling apart. There are mice.' And she starts taking pictures and documenting stuff..
Legal Aide took on Lisa's case. Eventually, the housing department found 25 violations on the property.
The landlord decided to let me live out the rest of the year and then find something else. So I was supposed to be there for three months. I was only there for a month because she hired someone else privately to have us evicted. I didn't know it was an illegal eviction but I was determined that I was not going to go back to the shelter, so I ended up crashing at my girlfriend's house with the children.
Lisa was involved in another program that found her housing where she was able to stay for two years. But then the program changed.
So now, present day, I'm back to square one again. I've been back at my ex sister-in-law's house for the past month, with no where to call home. My boys now live with their father because we've been having the back and forth pulling and tugging where, 'Daddy, I want an iPad, or I want an iPhone.' And he's giving it to them. 'I want a hoverboard.' And I'll say, 'I don't want them with hoverboards. They're not doing good in school.' Mommy says no, Daddy says yes. So, the boys are like, 'I want to go with Daddy.' The older boy left me last year, just before my mother died. He's 14 and he was nine at the time we found out that the father was gay. The younger one is going to be 12 in November. He just left in July.
So now he has both boys. He does not speak to the girl. She's 17. He stopped talking to her in November 2015.
She didn't acknowledge the new boyfriend that he came with. He used to send money off and on for them even though I told him that I lost the program, what I'm making is not enough to pay the rent. They've raised the rent several times. I need to find something. I need help. Things are tough. But you've been to Canada three times with the boys and your boyfriend.
NSNC: You don't want to take him to court for child support?
He has the two boys. I have the girls. She's almost 18. She's like 'I don't care about him.' It will come back to haunt him.
At this point, I just want to go home. I just think I should just pack up and go back home to Trinidad. But everybody's like, 'You've come so far, you have a great job.' But it's not enough. I can't afford it.
Everybody always asks me, 'How could you not know?' I didn't know. I didn't know. Even though the signs were there, I couldn't tell. And now, there are times when I look at him and I'm like, 'Damn, how? How?' You don't even look it. People won't believe it. One of my bosses at my old job saw him and said, 'There's no way in hell.' I said, 'I know.'
At the end of it all, the only thing I can say is it was a bunch of learning lessons from 2004 to 2012. All I knew was getting from point A to point B, getting the children to school, getting into work and into the doctor's office. Getting to work, getting home. That was it.
I haven't developed many friends because of the life that I lived then, I'm afraid of it repeating itself all over again. I'm afraid of talking to anybody or opening up to anybody else because of the series of things that have happened before. I tend to put everybody in the same category. My girls are telling me, 'Okay Mommy you're getting old.' And you want to but at the same time, you don't want to. I don't know. I'm scared.
But now, my ex-husband is happy. They have their house in Pennsylvania, you know, big, big old house with a garage and backyard. Three bedrooms. The boys are happy.
NSNC: Has he ever apologized to you?
No, he won't. He's not about that life. Saying I'm sorry or saying that I care about you or anything like that. Nuh uh.
The night we broke up was the only time that he ever came out and said how he really felt.
And I said to him in the 12 years that we've been together, what did you really do for me? Besides, two plane trips to New York, 7 children, a laptop, a gold chain, two earrings, one or two outfits, a pair of sneakers and a watch. What else have you done for me?
And he just stared at me and said, 'You're too perfect. You're too good of a woman. You'll make someone else a decent wife, just not me.'
NSNC: Well, why did he bring you here for all that?
I don't know. I said to him, 'You didn't know that this is what you were all along? Is it because you were trying to fight it so much, you told yourself having a family would make you change? What happened? When did it happen?
He never responded. He never answered. Up til this day, he has never come out to say this is what I am.
He has never said it. But one year for Carnival 2014, I did make up for my best friend and my payment was a costume, a carnival costume. He saw the costume and said he wanted to see it in person. And he came down. And it wasn't until the day that we were on the road, that I met the boyfriend. But he didn't introduce me to the guy, I introduced myself. I saw them together and he just disappeared and the guy was there. So I walked up to him. And I said, 'Excuse me.'
He said, 'Hi, how can I help you?' Then he said, 'Oh my God, you're ex-wifey.' I'm like, 'Yes, I am. I'm sorry to disturb you but I just wanted to say this to you. Whatever you have going on, I'm happy for the both of you. As long as you guys are happy, I'm happy. But please do not hurt my children because I will go to jail. I will go to jail. Do not hurt my children. Do not encourage my boys to become this is. If this is what they want, fine, but do not put it on them.'
And the dude hugged me up. Then he said, 'You're as sweet in person as he told me.' I was like, 'What?!'
He said, 'Nevermind him, he doesn't know what he had.'
There wasn't anything that I didn't do. I did everything and then some. I was willing to do anything. I even offered, to stay with the boyfriend in the house and he told me I was crazy... The husband, that is.
NSNC: They're married?
Yeah. He didn't tell me but I saw the ring at the last Thanksgiving.
NSNC: How does the family react to him being gay?
The 14-year-old is like that's not what it is. They're just friends. He doesn't want to hear that. Don't you ever say that about his dad. The younger brother, he's like, 'Oh well, so what. It is what it is. This is America. People can love whoever they want to love. He's still my father. He was my father before he decided to do this.'
And the girl, she's like, 'I don't give a damn but at least he shouldn't have ruined your life like that. He should have come clean first.'