My Love Story
PROLOGUE BETWEEN YOU AND ME
When I was a little girl, I loved taking chances. I’d swing over a creek in the backwoods of Nutbush, Tennessee, the place where I grew up, never thinking for a second what might happen if I fell into that swampy water. I tussled with animals—horses, mules, even snakes. I’m afraid of them now, but I wasn’t when I was a child. I wasn’t afraid of anything. One day, when I was playing in the woods, I found a little green snake and I thought, Where did that one come from? I was sure the baby had gotten separated from its mother. So I picked it up with a stick and went looking for the nest. Sure enough, when I found it, there was a big, ugly snake, ready to strike to protect its young. Immediately, instinct took over, not fear but self-preservation. I jumped up and ran as fast
as I could, my braids coming undone and the sash of my dress falling off, until I was somewhere safe. The point is, I knew when to run away from snakes.
Throughout my life, there have been lots of times you might have asked me, “How did you get out of that one?” I did dangerous things, and dangerous things were done to me, but in the eleventh hour, something always told me when to run, how to survive. No matter what happened to me, I came through it every time. I decided, well, maybe I’m supposed to live. Maybe I’m here for a reason. And maybe the reason is to share my story with you.
You might be thinking, “Tina, we know your story. We know all about you and Ike, and the hell you lived through with him. We know you escaped from that terrible relationship, and that you endured.” But, here’s something that might surprise you. At this point in my life, I’ve spent far more time without Ike than with him. Forty-two years, to be exact. That’s a whole second life, one with adventures, accomplishments, and love beyond my wildest dreams. But there’s also been a dark side. During the past few years, I’ve faced life-and-death challenges I never, ever, expected. Let me tell you my story.