The story continues. R and I continued our somewhat turbulent relationship. The deep love was always there; we had turbulence because I wanted more from him than he could give. He said he would never be enough for me, due largely to his nature and my nature and the differences we had. He needed freedom and kept responsibilities to a minimum. My life was all about taking care of other people and having my relationships be my focal point. I was also navigating the unfamiliar waters of being a single mom to my three beautiful boys, struggling with having enough money for bills and food (because we were not officially divorced for years, my ex never paid child support) and at times being dragged under the water by my despair at loving Rich with such intensity. I was clinically depressed at the time, but did not know it.
So, it’s not a time I necessarily look back on with fondness. It was character-building , for sure, however! I also did not have family support, which did not help matters. When I first left my husband, my parents were not supportive. They are pretty conservative (my mother is a Southern Baptist), and it’s not that they disapproved of divorce; my sister had been through one. They knew of “the other man” and then about R, and assumed I was cheating with R, too. I was emotionally having an affair with R during my marriage, but not a physical one. That may not make a difference, but there you have it. Anyway, because of their lack of support, I stopped talking to them for four months. I knew that I needed people in my life who unconditionally loved and supported me, whether they agreed with my choices or not. My parents had never learned to do that. Growing up, I always felt their displeasure at who I was and how I lived. My sister never got into trouble, made straight A’s, was a virgin through high school, and did all the things that make parents proud. I made “Who’s Who of American High School Students,” so it’s not like I was a horrible student! I loved English Lit and French class, but struggled in Math, and in my family, if you were not good in Math, you were made to feel a bit stupid. No one ever came out and said it; it was just something you felt. My parents didn’t like most of my friends or boyfriends, either. There was always the underlying feeling of not quite measuring up. Once I married, I tried to create a new and better relationship with them, and for a long time, it worked fairly well. However, I never fully disclosed who I was to them. I couldn’t share my political or spiritual beliefs, and felt I had to be perfect to finally receive their approval.
Now you understand why this whole affair and marriage-ending thing might have upset them! Eventually, after our four-month silence, I called them and we resumed our relationship. My boys were doing well in school, their father and I were amicable for the most part, and R and I eventually began seeing each other more. He took me to Aberdeen to meet his folks, and we hit it off immediately. I felt instant acceptance and warmth. I could tell them anything and they didn’t judge. What a new and beautiful experience for me to have parents in my life who acted with such tolerance! I met his sisters and grandparents, too, and loved everyone. It just felt right. Simple as that. In February of 2009, I discovered I was pregnant. I had been on birth control pills, but wasn’t always so responsible about taking them daily. Truth be told, I knew that if I became pregnant, I would be happy about it because I loved R so much. So, I wasn’t necessarily TRYING to become pregnant, but I wasn’t preventing pregnancy either. I told R the two tests I took were positive, and he was stunned, for sure. This was certainly heavy news to someone who lived with such freedom. It took him a little bit, but pretty soon he let himself feel the joy of the situation and became really excited for the future with our child. He never missed a prenatal appointment, and was really supportive through the pregnancy. He and I were living together at this point, so I had his regular presence, finally! My three boys were excited about the baby as well, so life was finally looking up! I waited four months or so to tell my parents the news, and to my surprise at the time, they took it rather well. They said I had the right to live my life as I chose. I told them the news via letter because I didn’t want to hear their criticism over the phone. The fact that they took it better than I expected really was shocking to me, but I saw it as a sign of their growth and was glad for it.
The plan was to have the baby (another boy!) at home with the assistance of a midwife. A little before midnight, Rich called her and told her I was in labor. The boys were with me that week instead of their dad, but they were asleep in their bedrooms during most of the labor. After many hours, a stint in the special tub the midwife brought, and several positions during pushing, the baby would not come out. His heart rate was decreasing as well, so the decision was made to drive to the Enumclaw hospital. I had an emergency C-section. After complications (took them forever to fully numb me and resulted in several epidurals), he was born beautiful and healthy at 9 lbs., 7 oz. No wonder I couldn’t deliver him naturally-so big! We named him Lake. I had a couple spinal headaches in the hospital, which are brutal to say the least. My ex brought the boys to the hospital and even held Lake. The next day, though, he called the hospital and gave me grief because he didn’t want to continue to watch the boys. I was flat on my back with a spinal headache (that’s literally the only position you can be in during this kind of headache because otherwise your head feels like it will explode), had just had a C-section and was in a lot of pain, and he was arguing with me and in general just being a selfish ass. This was the start of our once amicable relationship turning into something else entirely…
The baby was allowed to come to work with me until he was 6 months old, and once he reached that age, as I was about to have to put him into daycare, I found another job (I had been miserable at my job the whole 3 years I worked there) in Seattle. Rich quit his job to stay home with the baby. Things were definitely working out nicely! The financial struggles were still there, of course, but we made it anyway. The older boys were loving and devoted brothers to their new sibling; I couldn’t have been prouder of them. Scott stopped dating this teacher he had been seeing from the beginning, and started dating a girl less than half his age. Her influence on him was dramatic. He became aggressive and bullying, and things escalated quickly. I became severely depressed with the stress of it all, and eventually admitted this and asked for help. I started taking medication for depression/anxiety, and it worked. Life was not magically better, but it helped me from experiencing the kinds of lows I had been dealing with. Due to the hostility with Scott, I knew I had to protect myself and file for divorce, finally. I never had because I couldn’t afford it, and he certainly was not going to take the initiative and file because that would mean he would have to start actually paying child support.
I found a lawyer named Aimee who lowered her fee and agreed to let me pay her back over time. She was wonderful. There were the usual back and forth things during the divorce process, but eventually it was finalized. Hallelujah! It was so nice to be done with it officially. One of my stipulations in the divorce was that the only way Scott and I could communicate would be through the website Ourfamilywizard.com. You each sign up for an account, and can post expenses, medical info about the kids, send messages, etc. I had enough of his nasty texts and emails, so I demanded he agree to joining this website so that anything he said to me could be admissible in court. He, of course, didn’t sign up for it after the divorce and I had to get my lawyer to contact his lawyer to tell him he needed to follow through and do it. Now, having this as our means of communication doesn’t take away my initial anxiety at receiving a message from him. I still do, and there still have been unkind messages. I told him I wanted to start fresh and try to be amicable. It’s still in the new stage, though, so I do not know how it will end up. I’m trying, though. It’s important for the boys and it’s important for me personally. Conflict is something I always felt growing up, so as an adult, I try to avoid it. Inner peace is that seemingly far-off jewel I have been grasping at my whole life. I’m meditating again, too, which helps. It’s not easy and I have my days where I feel like I’m going to go under from the stress, but I try to never lose sight of my blessings.
Here’s the newest blessing-I’m pregnant again! I’m due in January and we could not be happier about it. My eldest son initially said “You have enough kids,” but he came around to the news eventually. I spent the first four months sick as a dog all day long-couldn’t even keep water down. I’m almost 24 weeks along now, so I’m doing much better. I bought a house (we’re finally out of our small apartment) and we moved in a few weeks ago, so we are continuing to build a life for ourselves. I’m hoping for the best for all of us-that all my boys will thrive, that Rich and I will grow old together, that my ex and I will find our peace, and that life will finally be drama-free. I know I have to create that. My life hasn’t just happened; I’ve created every bit of it. Now it’s time to create peace and balance. Love. Ultimately, that’s what it all boils down to.