Vanessa: I am a mom of three, Hispanic Catholic, girl, and came from a very traditional family. I was married twice. The first was the father of my children. We were high school sweethearts. We got married really young when I was 18. My husband and I grew apart. We were really young.
I remarried and got into an extremely, physically abusive relationship and we were together for nine years.
BW: How did you get out of it?
Vanessa: I started working out with some of my friends doing CrossFit. He told me, "I don't know why you're wasting our money. It's ridiculous. It's a waste of time." I was very overweight at the time. I hadn't really worked out like that before. It kind of gave me the mental strength I needed. He kept telling me I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. And I kept saying I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it.
So I did it. I was working out 5 days a week. It gave me the mental strength. The last straw was a big-time physical altercation. He choked me. I went to my daughter's room. I had grounded her, so her phone was in her drawer. I ran to her room to get the phone so I could call somebody. He was choking me in her room and all I could think is, I'm going to die in my daughter's room and my daughter is going to know that I died in her room. But I managed to get away.
BW: How did you and Brittany meet?
Vanessa: I'm an emergency room nurse and she's a paramedic. For about nine months she came into my E.R. all the time. All the time! More than any paramedic ever. I said to myself, why is this chick always in the ER?
It was a nine-month span of us kind of just checking each other out from afar. I knew her name because I had asked. She came in one night and she asked about me but I wasn't there. The next night I came and the charge nurse told me that the really cute paramedic came in and asked about me. I said "What?!? I promise, if she comes in tonight I'm going to talk to her."
So she happen to come in that night. I was going to go up and talk to her and then of course we got a code blue. When we finished with that I ran back out and asked did she'd left. They said she'd left. So I'm standing at the nurses station and I'm like dang it she's gone. I'm really sad. And like two minutes later I turn around and she's walking towards me and she says here you go and she gave me her number on a EKG strip [laughing] and I still have it. We've been inseparable ever since. Today is our four year anniversary.
BW: Congratulations. Have you come out to your family and everything?
Vanessa: Oh yeah. At first it was like, "What are you doing? This is a phase. What happened to you? Why? Was it the abuse? Do you hate men now?" My sister actually said to me, "Well that's no surprise. I always knew you were gay." She was the only one that got it. She was the only one that understood. So I had one advocate in my family.
My mom came to stay with us for Mother's Day. She said "Don't expect me to be nice to her." I said, "Mom, you're in our home. You need to be respectful." Within the first couple of hours she said she understood. I was a completely different person. "I've never seen you smile like this. I've never seen you happy like this.", my mom told me. "You're comfortable in your own skin for the first time in your life."
And I am. For the first time in my life I feel like I can be me.
Part of these collections: Coming Out