Excerpt: A Perfect Nightmare: A harrowing tale of business, depression and violence

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The children also learned not to speak to their father about work because that only made him more stressed. The year before the crash, George had started experiencing panic attacks that sometimes landed him in the emergency room. And through it all, he was still injecting HGH, which worsened his rages.

The more George felt like a failure at work, the more he raged. He would get a sarcastic smile, as though he could envision how he was going to have some fun being mean. He locked me out of the house at night several times, forcing me to sleep in the car, and mocked me constantly, telling me that I was stupid. Whenever that happened, my response was always the same. Fear would hijack my body: my mind would go blank, my body temperature would drop, and I would start to shiver. I would feel my lips go dry, and lick them. Here George would mimic me, licking his lips too. He’d make fun of me stuttering and not being able to follow a train of thought, which discombobulated me even more …

They say violence begets violence, and this was true of George. The more he did it, the more violent he became. His eyes would narrow, his jaw and neck would tense, and he’d puff his chest as if he was preparing to charge or hurt me. He was getting hostile to me in front of the kids. “I can’t keep doing this, George, you are exhausting me,” I’d tell him.

I have a high pain tolerance. When I was pregnant with Carter, my water broke and we were in the ER with people screaming around us. The nurse sent us away, explaining that I wasn’t in distress and was just taking up space. George insisted she check me. When she did, they discovered I was fully dilated and ready to give birth. Carter was born ten minutes later, with no epidural. One therapist told me, “You’re like a thoroughbred; you’re like the only one who could keep up with him.” It sounds like a compliment but it’s not. My ability to withstand pain without complaining allowed me to put up with far more than I should have.