Not long ago, I was contacted by a production company. They were putting together a new docu-series and wanted to know if I’d be interested in being part of an hour-long episode on Mary’s murder, Marty, his secrets, the trial, and all the juicy details in between. I was interested but had some questions and reservations. Mainly, how would the story actually be presented? I didn’t want this to be a repeat of trial coverage.
My questions were answered and the woman I spoke to multiple times was patient and understanding. I had begun to talk to Will, my parents, and family about potentially agreeing to do it. As I understood, I would essentially be narrating the episode as I had the most “first hand account” information. Of course there would be others interviewed and dramatization (it is television) but I would be telling the story – not some celebrity narrator. It was a chance for me to do something. Not to sensationalize and re-publicize all the messy indiscretions & horrible actions that led to my mother’s death and Marty’s imprisonment. It was a chance to take a different approach. A chance to share all the things I saw then and everything that’s much clearer in hindsight. The various warning signs that Marty exhibited. How my home environment was breeding grounds for something horrific. It was a chance to potentially help someone else. Not to make others see a “murderer around every corner” but to raise awareness. To give hope that nobody has to stay in an abusive or controlling relationship and/or environment. To let others know there is still hope after tragedy. Secrets can be detrimental and silence can be deadly. And, to let anyone who may have felt like me know that maybe they aren’t crazy.
I can’t tell you how many times I felt like an insane traitorous daughter for feeling like Marty was capable of something awful even before that fateful night.
My husband and family supported my decision either way because it was just that – my decision. I could tell some had reservations. I was excited about the potential but still needed some time. Not too much though because these things need to move quickly. I’m not sure what happened but I woke up two days after saying I was “75% on board” with a complete change of heart.
I didn’t want to do it.
It took a little while to figure out why. It felt a little, no actually a lot selfish at first. My reasons for wanting and being willing to do it were still very much valid but I just didn’t want to. The more I thought about it, the more I realized no timing is ever perfect but this timing was particularly awful. The list of reasons not to do it had exploded overnight. It went about like this:
- We were only a little over a year removed from the re-trial and conviction.
- I had been in counseling to prepare for and recover from that re-trial (along with other impending life changes) less than 6 months before.
- Matthew had given me his blessing but had no desire to participate. That was a relationship I needed to grow and mend – more important to focus on that than participating in a television show.
- Who knows what final editing would actually be and unfortunately, how that could be used against me or anyone else or potentially help Marty in an appeal. You never really know.
- I had just gotten married, moved over a thousand miles from anything familiar, and was in a very transient stage gearing up to move again.
- I was still recovering from a traumatic car accident.
- Doing this would have a chain reaction for so many others and could be emotionally harmful to them.
- Just because this was the first opportunity to share on a larger scale didn’t mean I had to take it.
- There are other ways to share “warning signs” where I have more control of the narrative (i.e. a blog) and there is a better chance to remind others Mary was not just a victim of one man desperately clinging to his secrets.
- So. Much. Change. Happening
- The potential pain from revisiting so much on someone else’s schedule with some else’s questions to answer was very high.
- I just didn’t want to.
Sorry, my face won’t be coming to a television screen near you anytime soon.
I think for so long I’ve been used to the repercussions of my mom’s murder dictating where I needed to be and when. There has not been a sense of freedom from the burden of “sharing my testimony” for detectives, twelve strangers in a jury box, or indirectly, the various news outlets the cover the “story”. This is the first time I’ve been able to say no. This is the first time I haven’t HAD to work on someone else’s timeline. It doesn’t mean I won’t ever say yes to something similar but I truly believe it was the right answer. I still very much want to share the story (the whole thing – not just the “legally relevant” parts) and plan to do so. I’m also compiling the list of red flags I saw then and see now because there are others who can benefit from it. Not only those who may be in a similar situation but those on the outside who assume everything is fine.
There is freedom in saying no.
I don’t practice it well because the innate people pleaser in me wants to always say yes for the convenience and satisfaction of others. I truly believe by saying no though there is a chance to share on a better platform in a better light. At the end of the day the whole point of sharing is not only to raise awareness or entertain (it’s still scandalous and full of juicy details) but to share hope. Sure, it’s “my story” as in it’s my life and experiences but it is so much more than that. It is the story Christ has written for me and I do not always understand or appreciate it but the foundation is sure. My only reason for making it this far is because of the sure hope in the God who made me and continues to sustain me. My capacity to live, love, forgive, and continue on in this messy world would be beyond overwhelmed if not for that.
I have hope in something greater. That’s the point.
I love the words of this hymn:
“His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.”
Life around me continues to speed along, change, and frequently leave me tripping around with whiplash yet it is still a joyful, bittersweet, and hopeful journey. The past is past with undeniable marks left in the present. The broken pieces are continuing to be remade into something more beautiful than before. I hope you find some piece of light in following along.