"There were times after it happened when I wanted to die," Mary Jo Buttafuoco tells In Touch, two decades after she was gunned down by her husband Joey’s mistress, 17-year-old Amy Fisher. "The pain, the scandal, the upheaval ... I wondered why the hell God let me live."
After more than a dozen facial surgeries to address facial paralysis and hearing loss — and a stint in rehab for an addiction to painkillers — the mother of two is the ultimate survivor.
“This tragedy might have been a blessing in disguise,” says Mary Jo, who is now happily married to Stu Tendler, a printer with three kids of his own, and a motivational speaker and board member of the Facial Paralysis & Bell's Palsy Foundation. “I realized I could choose to lay in a hole and disappear, or try to help others by telling my story."
"[After the shooting] I was very angry and depressed," she says. "But that's life — it moves on. Now I'm older, wiser, stronger.”
To see more on Mary Jo's progress, tune in to "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 10p.m. ET on OWN.