Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 392 Getting Back To Routine and The Scariest Experience of Our Life

Day 392

Getting Back To Routine and The Scariest Experience of Our Life

The performance this afternoon of “Call Me Henry” was wonderful. It's awesome to be a part of something so special. We're off until rehearsal Thursday night, then two performances this Friday and Saturday night. It's a much needed break for everyone involved. So now what do we do?

That's easy. Courtney and I will be hitting the YMCA tomorrow evening and I've set a goal to accomplish another 10K before Thursday. It's time to amp up our workouts and shoot toward our ultimate goals. It was very nice to rearrange the schedule and enjoy a real life dream come true, now it's time to proceed to the next level of amazing accomplishments. It's a wonderful clarity we have about these goals and aspirations. Like never before, our sites are set on a clear and easily attainable goal. We know what it takes, what we've done, how far we've come, and where we're headed. Let's go!

A couple of weeks ago, maybe longer, I was awarded the “Honest Scrap” blogging award. The award requires the recipient to honestly share ten things that were previously unknown to readers. I sincerely thank those that gave me the honor, but I have to admit, I don't really know what to share that I haven't already. Because if I haven't shared it yet, it's probably something you wouldn't want me to share, something way too personal or inappropriate for sharing. Some things should be kept confidential, you know what I mean? I could write about the amazing changes in our private “personal” life...wink, wink---if you know what I mean---But really, that wouldn't be appropriate at all. I could go into details of some of our “stressful situations” in the last 392 Days, the majority of them being related to finances, but really, we all have our struggles these days---and I don't share that kind of information, I wouldn't feel comfortable being that open. It wouldn't be appropriate.

So, I've decided to share a real life story from our past that has somehow escaped the pages of this weight loss blog. This is a story that very few people have ever known, except those that lived it and were close to us at the time. Are you ready? Buckle up my friend.

I planned a trip to meet my real dad not long after I discovered he was alive and well in Alabama. I can't remember the exact dates, or even months, but it was the early 90's. An entire childhood worth of emotions had built up and even though I was twenty years old, I was still in many ways a child. I wasn't emotionally ready for that kind of rendezvous. I thought I was ready, but the closer our drive came to Alabama, the more I realized that I couldn't handle the situation. I had what most people would call a nervous breakdown, and we were less than 100 miles from my fathers doorstep. My whole life I dreamed of meeting him and getting to know him. It didn't matter the resentment and childhood anger I had for him, that stuff was replaced with a longing to know and love him, and feel that love in return. Or so I thought. I was a complete basket case when we made the necessary decision to turn around and head home that day. As the miles brought us closer back to Oklahoma, closer to our world, the nervous breakdown continued. And what was about to happen to us wasn't going to make it any better, in fact, it made it much worse and almost deadly.

We stopped at a small truck stop on a rural Mississippi highway for some fuel and food when we noticed a family having car trouble. It was dark and they were trying to work under their hood, so I decided to shine our headlights toward them in an effort to help. This “family” consisted of three adults and a couple of kids. We got out of our car and struck up a conversation. That was a really bad mistake. These people were bad. They must have sensed my weakened mental state, because immediately they started telling us what we were going to do for them. Now understand, we were driving a four door hatchback Chevy Chevette. Irene and I was in the front and two year old Amber in her car seat in the back. We didn't have room for these people, but they insisted we give them a ride all the way back to Arkansas. When we resisted, they started making it very clear that they weren't asking, they were telling us what was going to happen. They put all of our stuff on the roof of the car, and with their two kids and an adult stuffed into the hatchback area, and three adults (including Irene) plus Amber in the back seat, we were on our way. Oh yeah, I was in the front passenger seat because the “leader” of this family insisted that he drive. It might sound crazy, but trust me---this situation turned psycho fast. Any resistance to their demands was met with anger, threatening tones, and sinister glares. We were scared to death and I was not in the best shape mentally to protect my young family.

The leader was driving so fast and furiously, I honestly thought it would all end in a horrible crash. Somewhere in the middle of a Memphis highway, all of our stuff went flying off the roof of the car, scattering across all of the lanes. We begged them to stop, but they wouldn't hear of it. They were desperate to get home, and it didn't matter what we wanted or lost. When we arrived in Oceola, Arkansas---not too far northwest of Memphis, it was kind of a relief. We thought that maybe we could get them out of the car and then head home. We were completely shaken, and still the worst was yet to come.

When we arrived at our captors home, they kept the car keys and insisted that we go inside and stay with them. When we resisted, they made sure we caught glimpse of their guns. The sight of their weapons made it very clear without a word. We were being kidnapped and held against our will. I knew that I had to fight to get us free, but I also knew that we had to be smart about our movements, we didn't want to startle anyone with a sudden outburst or run. So we went inside and did what they said to do. It was the strangest thing. They were treating us like we were guest on some level, guest who couldn't leave.

Irene pulled me aside and informed me that they took all of our money. This situation was straight out of a psycho thriller movie. It almost didn't seem real. But it was happening, just ask Irene. She was sexually assaulted by the ring leader. He didn't get very far, but he did jump on top of her groping and then tried to put his tongue down her throat. He then told her how they were going to “take care” of me. Irene heard them talking about how he wanted Irene and Amber to stay, and how they were going to dispose of me during a late night “fishing trip” to the Mississippi River the next night. Irene communicated to me what was said, and we knew we had to escape somehow, some way, and quick. Before most everyone went to bed, they prepared a big meal they had purchased with our money and even made us help cook and serve. We were walking on pins and needles. At that point I really thought they would just shoot me. We already knew what they wanted to do with me. Needless to say we couldn't sleep under these conditions and someone was always up and awake making sure we didn't leave. The next morning we found the ringleader gone. Just a few people remained at the house. This was our best chance to flee. Irene came to me and told me that the time was now, we had to make a run, but I was too scared. What if it went bad? And then Irene gave me a look of combined fear and determination and told me that if we didn't make our move now, then we might not survive this horrific situation.

We waited until the best possible moment, grabbed Amber, and started walking really fast toward the front doors. As soon as we found daylight we noticed our car was gone, we didn't have the keys anyway, so that didn't matter. We were on the run. We quickened our pace as we fully expected to be chased and/or shot from behind. It was so scary. We kept going and when we finally looked back, no one was chasing us. We ran into a pharmacy and frantically asked to use the phone. It's strange, our first thought wasn't to call the police, We didn't want to upset them even more. isn't that crazy? Our first thought was to call home and explain what was happening, and ask for money to be sent our way. After arranging for some cash from a very confused and concerned family back home, we made our way out of the store and into the town square. We were paranoid. What if they're after us? We knew that we had to find help, we needed our car back, we needed to get home. So we made our way into the local newspaper office and frantically explained what had happened. They quickly called the police and we were picked up and escorted to the station. We told the officers what had happened, but convincing them of this wild tale was not easy. We were out of our minds scared, especially me, and I think that made them discount our story. They did some investigating at the scene and of course received a totally different story from our captors. The police found our car in the next town, the ringleader of these hoodlums had taken it to work. When the police returned with our car, they decided the best move was to get us out of town and back on our way home. They escorted us to a little convenience store where they used what was called “travelers aid” money to fill our tank and buy us food and drink for the road. They then escorted us to the highway out of town.

I was a complete wreck emotionally. I was in such bad shape, they insisted Irene drive. I couldn't. The entire time Irene drove, I was looking behind us, paranoid that these captors would somehow find us fleeing the area. It was a real life nightmare. Somehow, some way, by the grace of God, we made it back home. I've never been more relieved to see the sights of my hometown as we pulled into Stillwater that day. Our nightmare was over.

Amber was too young to realize the danger of it all. Irene was strong through it all, with an amazing resolve to survive, she saved us really. I was a complete basket case. The entire experience that started with the stress and anticipation of meeting my father for the first time in my life, then turned into a fight for survival, left me totally out of my mind. My nervous breakdown from that experience landed me in the hospital recovering for a few days.

I never again want to ever see Oceola, Arkansas in my life. Now, we never stop and offer help to anyone on the road. We can't after that experience. We're lucky to have survived. And to this day, not many people know of this horrific event in our life. Even family and friends don't know all of the details, well, they didn't until now. It's not something we really like to talk about. It just not talked about.

So there you have it, something very personal and scary that you didn't know about me. Thanks “Honest Scrap” blog award for inspiring me to share that horrible experience. That should count for more than just one of the ten things, don't you think?

I love life. I love living. And that's why this journey from 505 pounds is so meaningful to me. It's freedom and safety away from the threatening dangers of obesity. We'll no longer be held captive by obesity. It means the world to me. Thanks for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,


  1. WOW Buddy can I cant even believe it as i read it, I know it happened and still, it is hard to understand it...It was a vey dark and terrible time to say the least and one of the scariest times of our lifes for sure...what you left out, was how you really thought in your mental state, that they were trying to help us, which made it so hard for me to convience you that we had to leave and we had to live soon, because they were going to hurt you and hurt you bad...And I was the adult by the way in the back of the hatchback with the kids...they took the back seat and you were up front, and I do thank God because I had no idea where we were let alone home to get home,but I just kept driving and before I knew it we were save and sound at home...
    I love living to buddy and feeling alive and able to do whatever and face anything to have the freedom and the strong will that comes with it...Just want to tell you again, how very proud I am of you, I know it has been a tough schedule but we did it, and your reward is knowing that you can, and you make me so prroud of you each and everyday so proud of how far you have come the things you have over come and all the things yet to come!! You are so very special to me, and I am so happy those captors didnt put you in the Mississippi!! LOL

    i guess we can laugh at it now...but boy at the time...not so much!!

    Love you baby enjoy your days off at the Y I need to get in there with you for some weight training...gonna be doing that when my schedule changes up in a few weeks...
    Love you buddy
    all my heart

  2. Wow that sounds so frightening, wow I have chills you poor things. I hope these people didn't get away with it, SOunds like some kind of weird cult.

    Sean I am amazed at how you have handled your busy schedule and not let it get in the way of your goal. Wow truly amazing. I truly need to take a leaf out of your book and stop letting our social life on the weeked getting in my way of my goal.

    Enjoy getting back into routine and thanks for sharing your story. Jill

    By the way Irene rocks what a fantastic wife you have there.

  3. Sean, You and your family were very blessed to have escaped. I can't even imagine everything that you were feeling and how it rocked your world. I hope the police arrested them because if they are that wacked, they will do it again, if not worse. You probably spent a good deal of time even in your own environment looking over your shoulder. They stole more than your material things that day.

    I'm glad you were able to find your inner strength again and get past this and so many other challenges in your life. You're doing it Sean, one day at a time. God Bless.

  4. The Author of this blogOctober 12, 2009 at 6:44 AM

    They were playing some serious psychological games with us. Some were acting as if they were trying to help us get out, acting sympathetic, but Irene quickly brought me to reality with what was planned for me. We got out at exactly the right time.

  5. Son, I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was looking so forward to seeing you and you never shower up. I thought you must have changed your mind about meeting. Then I received your phone call telling me briefly about getting kidnaped and robbed, and that if I could send you some money to get back home on. I expected a phone call from you after I returned from the western union office, but you did not call. I never knew what all happened, but I assumed it turned out ok, for I didn't receive a call saying differant. That time has come to mind several times but I didn't ask about it, feeling if you wanted me to know, you would tell me. I am deeply sorry you went through that experiance trying to see me. Thank you for relating it, now I know. Thank you

  6. Um, yeah. That counts for at least 10 things.

  7. Wow what a terrible experience. Glad it all turned out ok.

  8. Wow Sean...I thank God for delivering you and your family from that mind-blowing situation. And I have the utmost respect for Irene and the strength & presence of mind she showed in saving her family...with you in a weakened emotional state and a 2 year old baby...Irene is just an amazing wife and mother. God bless her.

  9. wow... just... wow.

  10. That is one of the most horrifying things I've ever read. You try to be a nice guy and WHAM! I can't believe you guys didn't have to get therapy after that! I definitely would have. I would have been scared of my own shadow after that. I'm so sorry that happened to you!

  11. I think that was probably some of my Osceola kinfolk. They're not that bad once you get to know 'em...

    Seriously, I was waiting for the banjo music. You're lucky you got out in one piece.

    Way to jack the bar way up for the next "Honest Scrap" recipient...

  12. My gosh, it was reading something straight out of that "I Survived" show. That's horrendous and must have felt both surreal and horrendously real at the same time. I'm so glad you all came out of this safe, things could have been so different and that sends chills up my arms.
    I hate that it happened at all, but thanks for sharing - I hope it brings you a little bit of healing for having said it out loud. Wow.
    I'm sorry that the people we share this world with, ... that we have to fear them like that :( What strange, horrid people - I hope those police didn't let it all just go!

  13. I truly hope they were charged!! How scary

  14. OMG, Sean.

    Did the police ever charge these people?

  15. Have you thought about training for an actual 5K or 10K race? Lots of the ones I have done have raised money for charity and since you are a radio personality, you have a platform to get a big team together and raise a lot. It's a great way to not only motivate yourself to keep up with your fitness goals but also raise money for worthy causes.

  16. Thank you for sharing... I hope that you are able to heal a little more from this experience by 'talking' about it here.

  17. That was very scary to read, I cannot imagine how scary it was to endure.

    Apparently you and Irene escaped because you were meant to do something else.

    I'd say you two are amazing and caring people who help lots of people everyday.

    Thank you.

  18. That counts for 5,000 things!
    Wow Sean! You and irene are so strong!
    - Lisa

  19. Wow...I'm glad you and your family got out of that okay!! Irene is such a strong and smart lady - you all are!! Thank you for sharing this.

    BTW, I always read your posts even if I haven't commented in awhile!! All the best!

  20. Hi Sean. Wow. I was riveted. That would have been a page turner if it had been a book. So glad you survived.

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx

  21. I'm sorry that you seem to regret posting this. .. that has to feel rotten. Just keep moving on . . . your dad's note was nice.. . .

  22. Sean, as I was reading, I kept hoping you would just say "Boo, happy Halloween!" But it was real! I have a very dear friend who was held up in a bathroom at a mall once, and he NEVER likes to talk about it! So I know how hard it was for you to share. But just another layer of Sean and Irene we get to know. Don't worry, "they" will get theirs. If not here on earth....

  23. Wow Sean! OMG! I remember when you went to Alabama and I remember when you returned that you wasn't yourself, but I had no idea! How frightening! Thank God you have a strong and determined wife! Hopefully sharing this horrible experience after all these years keeping it in, will help the healing process. Have you ever thought of doing research to see if they were arrested. You know the dates...check it out. It might give you a sense of peace. I am so sorry you and Irene had to go through that and thank goodness Ambie was just a baby and doesn't remember. You guys were so lucky! I love you all, Cousin!


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