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A Personal Note From Nancy

Today I did the hardest thing I have done in my entire life.

I kissed my husband Mike goodbye, and then sat in a courtroom and watched (trying not to let the tears show to be strong for him) while he plead no contest to two felonies related to a car accident in June 2010. Then I watched as he was handcuffed and taken into custody to begin serving a 40 month prison sentence.

If things go as well as you can hope in a situation like this, he will be home with his family again in late-2013 with credit for good behavior.

Today’s court proceedings were the result of a plea arrangement to deal with six felony charges Mike faced as the result of a car accident he was in last June 14th involving three bicyclists. He was arrested a short distance away from the accident for leaving the scene, unaware of what had happened because he doesn’t remember the accident (he was alone in the car at the time). DUI charges were added to the case six weeks later when the blood alcohol test came back over the limit, which we hadn’t expected.

The three victims in the case are all recovered/recovering from their injuries and have been compensated for their medical bills, lost wages, expenses, and trauma by our insurance company in a massive settlement.

Medical evaluations after the accident determined Mike has an extremely severe, potentially life-threatening, case of sleep apnea (remember Reggie White?) that was previously undiagnosed. Mike has an extreme phobia of doctors, who he believes caused the death of our son and caused me permanent injury in the process, and so he hadn’t seen one regularly in over 10 years. Several doctors have expressed the belief that based on his medical condition, Mike was “sleep driving” at the time of the accident. This is frighteningly common in sleep apnea cases as severe as his, and explains his lack of memory of the time around the accident (since his blood alcohol content was nowhere near high enough to cause a blackout).

Unfortunately, I didn’t find out until after the accident that Mike had been secretly using alcohol on and off for several years to self-medicate a debilitating undiagnosed anxiety disorder that was being aggravated by his employment situation. Although I knew he was extremely stressed (and had pushed him to seek medical help for it because he had a history of suicidal depression), he worked very hard to hide from me the extent of his distress and his misguided attempt to manage it. He thought he was protecting me, he says now, by not telling me. He was, essentially, virtually non-functional from anxiety and desperately trying to hide that fact from me. In fact, the accident actually happened because he experienced a complete mental breakdown that day from anxiety and fled his office in a panic and was driving around aimlessly in a state of mental crisis trying to decide what to do (he was not drinking behind the wheel). During that period he apparently started sleep driving and that is when the accident took place.

Immediately after the accident, Mike was evaluated for rehab and entered the recommended outpatient therapy program for alcohol abuse (not addiction or dependence – his therapist has stressed repeatedly there is a difference although much of the treatment is the same). He also began receiving medical treatment for the first time in over a decade. I’m proud to say that he has done wonderfully in the rehab therapy program that was recommended for him, and that his medical condition is now stable with treatment after being in a very scary state initially.

I haven’t discussed this publicly until now partly on the advice of our attorneys, and partly because I really didn’t know how to explain it based on what I was able to make public about the case (due to the ongoing legal proceedings) without making Mike sound like a terrible person. Which he isn’t – he’s simply a fragile human being who imploded under terrible pressures that he was not equipped to handle because of his undiagnosed anxiety disorder, sleep apnea (which caused him to be living in a constant state of sleep deprivation without realizing it) and some other issues.

I’ve been with Mike since I was 18, when we met as residents of the same floor in our college dorm. It was love at first sight – literally like one of those struck-by-lightning moments you see in a movie – and we’ve been together now over 20 years. We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last April. We’ve faced some serious challenges in our life together. I’ve been sick since the day we met with auto-immune issues that were finally correctly diagnosed as lupus a few years ago. We lost our first child, our son Parker, to stillbirth. Our beautiful 7 year old daughter, Bridget, is autistic. Mike has put a lot of pressure on himself to take care of me, and to take care of Bridget,  through all of these challenges, because he loves us. He took on an impossible burden and tried to carry it by himself. He couldn’t do the impossible, and so he collapsed under the weight of that burden.

It’s now my turn to do the near-impossible: hold our family together while Mike is incarcerated. Why am I bothering to even try, when most women would probably just walk away and start their lives over instead of waiting and putting themselves through this trauma? It’s simple. I love my husband. He may be flawed, but he is also an amazing husband and a wonderful man. He loves me and our daughter with his very soul. He’s a devoted father. It breaks his heart that he will be away from our daughter for so long and not part of her day-to-day life. He has amazing talents with cameras and computers, and no one can make me laugh like he can. I could go on and on…how do I explain the million things that make him my soulmate, a part of me?

Yes, he screwed up, and the whole family is paying the price…but I am not throwing away 20 years with my soulmate…and the potential for 40 more…over this. He’s stood by me through some awful things, and now it is my turn to be there for him.

It’s going to be beyond challenging. I know that. But anything valuable is worth fighting for.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m sure many people have noticed that something has been wrong – things have been unusually quiet on Scrapbook Update since the summer, my post-CHA Summer editorial plans were postponed indefinitely, and I’ve mentioned repeatedly on Roundtable and on Twitter that I had a family problem. I felt that I owed my friends and loyal readers an explanation of what has been happening. Plus, I hate keeping up pretense, and there is no way I could hide something like this for several years anyway, especially in a community as personal as scrapbooking.

And now, I have to look forward. My life is essentially starting over. It’s not a start that I want to be making. But I’m committed to the path that I am on – to try to keep my family together through this – and I have to make the most of it. Scrapbook Update is going to be a big part of that path. It has to be, because I have to support myself and my daughter now.

I’d like to thank everyone who has offered me their support during this extremely difficult time for my family without even knowing what I was dealing with, and thank all those who have respected my family’s privacy as we have dealt with unimaginable stresses the past few months. I’ve always known I had some wonderful friends in this community, but until now I never knew how wonderful. Many thanks also to the readers who joined in the voting for the tag feud…that project was some of the most wonderful time we spent together in Mike’s last month at home, and it was very therapeutic for both of us.

To those who did know what I was going through – I’d like to thank my friends for your incredible loving support. I wouldn’t have made it this far without you. This goes especially for the ones (you know who you are) who have been the recipients of countless tearful texts, phone calls and IMs in the past few months. Thanks for the shoulders to cry on. I’m glad they are there because I’m going to need them for awhile I think.

All I can say, finally, is…don’t drink and drive. It will destroy not only your life but the life of everyone you love.

[Please understand that due to the circumstances, comment moderation is turned on temporarily on Scrapbook Update. Comments must be approved by a moderator before they will be publicly visible.]

372 Responses to A Personal Note From Nancy

  1. Peg January 21, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Nancy,
    Just coming by to add my support in this difficult situation. I read this a few days ago and just have been thinking about all of you so often. You and your family will be on my prayer list and I will pray for Mike’s safety and that he receives the care he needs and for you and your sweet girl to find ways to make the time go as fast as possible and to handle all the curve balls ahead. Take very gentle care of yourself during the coming weeks and months.

  2. Tammy January 21, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Nancy,
    You and your family are in my prayers as well as my thoughts! Everything happens for a reason…I know that sounds so bad…I still need to remember this my self. Life can be so hard sometimes. But we do get through them with Gods help and understanding! There is light at the end of the tunnel my friend! God Bless you, Mike and Your Family.
    This is how I am looking at this…I am glad no one was killed. That is a blessing in its self. I will pray of Mike’s safety as well as you and your dd. I hope you find peace with this and can move on one day at a time and handle all the curve’s ahead. Take care and love of your self as well as dd. God bless you and Keep you!:)

  3. Missus Wookie January 21, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Nancy,

    I heard about this on PRT and wanted to say that I’m so sorry to hear of your family’s troubles. I’m hoping the time apart will strengthen your relationship and thank you for sharing the bad as well as the good. It is good to hear that others are flawed, and if it stops one person from drinking and driving… Hope Mike will get help whilst in prison and you will both be able to visit and continue to share your lives together.

  4. Denice Lingen January 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Nancy, I am a loyal listener of Paperclipping Round Table, and have come to really enjoy your weekly contributions. You don’t know me, but I wanted to say that I am so sorry to hear about what has happened!!!! Thank you for sharing what is such a difficult story for you and your family. Many people just don’t understand what it is to have serious anxiety and depressive issues, and what it can really do to people. I am so, so sorry for what you are all going through!! You are a wonderful example to stand by your soulmate, as you say, as he serves his time. I know it will never seem this way now, but in the end, your family will be stronger for this challenge. You are a strong woman and will find a way to make this work. Good luck, and know that you are in one more person’s thoughts and prayers.

  5. Debbie in AZ January 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Nancy,
    I’m a regular PRT listener just caught up on the last podcast. I’m so sorry that you and your family are going through such difficult times. My thoughts and prayers are with you now and over the next few years. Thank you for your work, commitment to Mike, inspiration and honesty. May there always be a candle shining in the darkness, just when you need it most.
    Debbie

  6. Angie January 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Oh, {{{Nancy}}}. I’m sorry to hear about all this. May you find strength, comfort, and courage, just when you need it. Here’s a Christopher Robin quote to start:

    “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you. ”

    Through your struggles, you are lighting the way for others. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Jayne January 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said – but I would like you to know that my thoughts are with you. Good luck to you and your family. And kudos to you for standing by your husband. Because of your strength you will keep your family together. Good luck in this process and the recovery.

  8. Natalie M. January 26, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    Nancy, I just found out about this and I am praying for you and your family! God loves all of you and if you draw near to him he’ll see all of you through it. God forgives everything and even though Mike messed up by taking these choices to the extreme, God still loves him. All he has to do is ask for forgiveness and God wipes the slate clean. I know in the world of man it works differently, but this world is not for eternity, thank goodness! You have been blessed with this scrapbooking outlet and with having all your fans, we love you sincerely and want the best for you. We are here for you and you can always count on us to pray for you and uplift you in your time of need. I pray that God sends his angels to protect Mike, to heal him, to comfort him and to do the same to you and your family. Do not be ashamed, be thankful that no one died and that you will get your beloved back. I pray that when he gets out that your life can start anew. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, somewhere someone will be able to help you all get back on your feet. God has his keepers in the strangest of places just waiting to help people like you.
    Take Care,
    Natalie

  9. Deb January 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Nancy,

    I so enjoy listening to you on the Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, and my heart is just breaking because of what you are going through. Keep strong and know that there is plenty of love coming your way from scrapbookers everywhere.

    Thank you for sharing your story with so much grace and I am sure you have helped someone by being brave enough to share your story with so much honesty.

    Deb.

  10. Dottie Pennington January 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Nancy, you are amazing woman who recognizes that her husband was sick and as a result, got into some trouble with the law. I am glad to hear that the bicyclists are recovering and that your soulmate is now recovering also. Marriage is through health and sickness and you are a role model for other marrried people who are also facing challenges. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Dottie

  11. debi January 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    God bless you and your family, I’ll be praying for you.

    Thanks for all your work. love debi

  12. Lanus January 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Oh, Nancy, I’d been asking after you. My heart hurts for your current struggle and I am honestly humbled by the strength and grace that shines through in this post. You have all my prayers and well wishes for a brighter tomorrow.

    Lanus

  13. Lori N February 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Nancy:
    You are courageous to tell your story so publicly. I am very impressed at your strength and openess. Your a great example of unconditional love, which is so very needed in our present day and age.

    We all make mistakes, we all have struggles in our humanity and are blessed to know that our God forgives if we ask. But it is not so easy to find forgiveness in families and in the public eye. I pray that you and your spouse and family will be able to find healing and a fresh start as time passes. Keeping positive words in your mouth and finding joy in the little blessings in life will keep you pointed in the right direction.
    I have enjoyed reading this forum for many months now and especially enjoyed you and Mike’s 12 tags of Christmas contest. All in good fun and a great distraction I am sure. I pray that your business pursuits will prosper and you will be covered with protections as you wait for your soul mate to return to you.

  14. Sheila February 6, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    I’m so sad that you have to go through this. You are an incredibly strong woman being tested in ways that no one should be. Major hugs to you guys.

  15. Laura February 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Nancy, I listen to you regularly on PRT and my heart broke when I heard your husband was incarcerated. I didn’t know why, and was very curious, but I still just felt for you and your family. It took me this long to get here to read. Thank you for sharing. You send an important message about drinking and driving as well as standing by your man. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. I hope that scrapbooking and your time on PRT (on which you manage to sound very upbeat, I must say!) are good escapes for you. <>

  16. Janet February 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    Nancy, You don’t know me but I listen to you every week on Scrapbook update. I am so sorry to hear what you have been through. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Your head and heart are in the right place. Just know that you have friends you don’t even know about pulling for all of you.

  17. Joan March 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Nancy, I am just catching up with podcasts for the PRT. I thoroughly enjoy your contributions to the group. You are funny, and sincere, and informative, and well … one of my online girlfriends! I also read your blog on Google Reader, but have been remiss. So, I am late with extending my heartfelt prayers and thoughts. It seems funny not to be able to share a hug with you in person, but please know that that is what I send to you.

  18. Lesley Oman March 9, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Nancy, Your bravery is compelling. I’ve heard you talk in snippets about the family situation on PC Roundtable but wasn’t aware of the details until I read your post above. I really admire your strength in such a difficult and heart wrenching situation. It has been clear for years since I first ‘virtually’ encountered you through scrapbooking, that Mike has been a wonderfully supportive husband, a loving daddy and a rock for your family.
    I am blown away by your open heartedness and determination. My Brother in law is 10 and is autistic, so I know (perhaps not first hand, but from a close proximity) how difficult and frustrating it can be when the links of communication aren’t as obvious as you think they sometimes should be. My thoughts go out to B as she learns to accept this new situation, and pray she knows deep down that her daddy is still with her and loves her an immeasurable amount even though he isn’t there physically. Just know that there is a mass number of your followers who are thinking of you and understand that family comes first. Let us know if you ever need anything as I am sure I am only one of many, many people that would like to help in any way we can.
    x
    hugs
    Lesley

  19. Andrea Graves April 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Nancy,
    I’m sorry your family is going through this right now. I can’t even imagine how hard it is. I have to say that I ::love:: your positive attitude. You have your heart in the right place and I’m so proud of you. Hang in there sweetie. Big {hugs}

  20. Dale Rose Stream July 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Dearest Nancy,
    I have ‘met’ you via the prt and have enjoyed ….sorry, I had to wipe some more tears before being able to type…….I have enjoyed your participation which always includes insightful, honest comments & that lovely laugh of yours. I also cried as you spoke of leaving the prt………
    I did not know what the details were involving your husband until tonight, when I did a search for “Nancy Nally’s husband”…….. I am a former Michigan Dept. of Corrections employee, albeit for only a few months, as an Environmental Health Sanitarian at the now closed SPSM: State Prison of Southern Michigan, aka “Jackson State Prison” (I inspected the RGC:Reception & Guidance Center for all environmental health issues, as well as managed the pest control for the entire facility), therefore when you mentioned DOC, I immediately recognized & was surprised to hear it.
    I waited several months before doing this search, waiting to see if you spoke anymore openly of it, feeling that I would be intruding…….but I thought that you may have written of it after some time.
    I cannot imagine the emotional, psychological & PHYSICAL stress that your family now endures. The light at the end of the tunnel, the maximum length of time, as well as the potential early-out must be kept in your forethought, fueling your strength to endure this.
    As I mentioned earlier, I was only an employee of DOC for a few months. My ultimate career goal was to be a Marine Biologist, specializing in the communication & migration of Humpback Whales, or at least, some other Marine Mammals. I was fortunate enough to be hired by MSU before finishing my B.S. & completing my minor, then eventually stuck around Michigan (feeling the need to move ‘back north’ to be closer to my father) after accepting positions from the Michigan Dept of Natural Resources, ultimately becoming District Fisheries Management Technician before losing my job in June 1999, at the age of 35, just 2 months before my wedding.
    The reason I mention this is the fact that I lost my job due to my Fibromyalgia, which was originally mis-diagnosed as Lupus. Since these conditions share many symptoms, I have an idea of what you are physically & psychologically challenged with on a daily basis. It took over a year to be diagnosed, which is quite common, and so many of us struggle with not even knowing what we are afflicted with…….and depression is another challenge that we share. I was the primary ‘bread winner’ when I lost my job.
    Your entire family is in my prayers now. I am quite sure that you are a much stronger woman than myself, as I struggle to get through each day with my 8 year old and am not dealing with the additional challenges you face daily. My GENTLE, FIBRO/LUPUS hugs to yourself & your family, and again, my prayers go out for you tonight & in the future. I am also going to miss you on the prt every week, but look forward to your guest appearances, & immediately watched your scrapsoup debut after you mentioned it! God be with your family!

  21. Anne-Marie Boudrie October 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Wow. Thanks for sharing. You are truely amazing and strong. You understand a commitment better than most of the people in the free world. Hats off to you and your family for doing what needs to be done to move forward. I look forward to supporting you any way I can, counting down the days and rejoycing with you, upon Mik’s release!

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