Part Four- Moving on Isn’t Always Easy

Reborn, only to keep living the pain

To understand how this loss of memory from this time gets to me, you should know I remember things. I remember when my mom was out with her ‘boyfriend’ and dad was driving us around drunk saying he was going to take us kids and “go AWOL”. I remember looking out into the dark dessert night and wondering what AWOL meant. Wishing he would stop scaring us and let us just run and play, even if it was to make ’sand angels’ in the sand under the stars. Something to be happy.

I remember Mom’s wedding day. I’m pretty sure she went to the courthouse to sign the divorce papers and stayed to marry her boyfriend. We were left with some people we didn’t know and watched “The Fog”. I resented not being included, being left behind for someone else to take care of me.

In retrospect, I feel like that again about the night P. left me to fend for myself.

And like my other memory, I reverted to childhood play. Late the next morning, I found myself outside in the drizzling rain, making fairy houses from twigs and leaves. Sometime later I called P.’s father as I guessed P. would be there. He wasn’t. I called his mom and remember being thereto visit with her. She’s two hours away. I don’t remember the drive there or back.

P. came home, I think he was gone two nights. That first one and another. Just said he had been with friends. I can’t remember…was he loving? Was he cold?

I had classes, he had work. I asked to ride in together. I remember the song “How do I live” came on the radio and I started crying. P. reached over and turned it off with a snap.

It was real early but I planned to wait until the campus counseling center opened up. But I couldn’t wait. I was falling apart all over again. I desperately called my old boss, T.J. She was the owner of the Christian daycare I worked at for years before I decided to move on to teaching high school. She comforted me, prayed with me and led me to Christ. I had to know that even when everyone else in my life left, there was Someone there for me. I can’t even remember the prayer we prayed.

I went in and was assigned a counselor. I found it disconcerting, she had something wrong with her eyes, I couldn’t tell if she was fully blind or just very vision impaired. A seeing eye dog sat at her feet. I wish she had addressed the issue as I felt it would be rude to ask. I don’t remember getting much help out of those sessions. They had to end when the summer ended and I was not longer in school. I really needed more, but I couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. I could have gone to the county mental health center but S. was the receptionist there. Any appointment would have to go through her.

My peace came from T.J. She gave me the number to her pastor and he agreed to do marriage counseling. P. and I went in, it was actually good and we felt closer. P. kept talking about resenment for what I had done in ‘97, pushing him out. I had worked hard at pushing the shameful memory into the deep recesses in my mind, so I was just aghast that he resented me for insisting he leave or stop hurting me. P. also said that the fact I was agnostic until recently disturbed him. He had been confirmed Catholic in boot camp yet I had gone to Mass more than he had. I worked in a Christian daycare, he had an emotional affair with a woman that would say “G-d Dammit” and laugh just to see her husband flinch. And he was mad at me for seeking a religion that accepted me as a woman like he was accepted as a man.

The pastor G. eventually became our pastor. The first thing he did was assert we were both willing to have Christ in our lives and our marriage. The second was to create a list of the wrongs we had done each other and forgive each other. I knew there was something to say about T.’s visit in ‘97, but I held back to see what P. said about S. There was ‘nothing’ so I said nothing.

I was doing my best to show P. how much I loved him. Little notes, small gifts. I couldn’t help but cry though whenever P. came to me with something he had talked about with S. At one point he sternly told me to stop with the overt affection and the show of pain. It was manipulative apparently. So I journaled, not even daring to write the words in my secret thoughts. Even now, reading the notes and entries from that time can bring back to a sinking heart and breath that catches in my throat, threatening to choke me.

We went to counseling. At one point our pastor mentioned that S. and J. had come in. Apparently S. sullenly told them that she wasn’t planning on working on the marriage. P. nodded and said he knew. He had told her if there was a chance for them, she had to try to work on her marriage first so he wouldn’t feel badly about ruining a marriage. Even though she refused, P. continued to talk to her.

One night while we were kissing and talking under the stars by a local pond, P. mentioned that he had jokingly mentioned to S. that the solution was the “Chasing Amy” solution. As I recoiled from the thought, he told me that S. had eagerly said, “Yeah, I could do Jem!” P. gave me a look, realized I was disgusted and played it off like it was a joke.

Another night P. casually mentioned that S. had offered to help me. Help me? How? By helping to teach me how to keep him of course. Funny, she didn’t “have him” so just what lessons was she planning on teaching me?

Quite a few times he tried to talk me into turning to J., who was going through the same pain I was and needed help…could understand. Why would I want anything to do with either of them? P. seemed somewhat relieved I refused to talk and would either cuss and fume when either of them called or just hang up.

Eventually, I heard less and less about “S. said…” and it became more and more about us. One day, P. got a phone call. He had finally been hired by the company he wanted to work for. He would begin as a federal police officer, but it meant getting his foot in the door and moving up. He told me, “You know what this means? This means I stay with you.” I was relieved to finally have an answer one way or the other. P. told me that he had been praying and he ‘told God’ that getting the job would be a sign that he was meant to be with me.

P. told S. that we would be moving. That it was completely over between the two of them. She got upset and demanded money for the cell phone she had purchased him. P. came home and told me that we had to pay her over $200 and why. I was flabbergasted. He had a cell phone this entire time and I didn’t even know it. I went to search for it in his car. I found a shirt that she had bought him. I found a CD of 98Degrees “The Hardest Thing” and I found pictures of her. One with her lounging on the bed in short shorts…on her honeymoon. And a couple of her from her high school cheerleader days.

I demanded it all be thrown away. He told me he had to give her back the pictures, that she had asked for the CD back when he gave up on them and he was keeping the shirt. “Why?” I cried, “When you don’t even wear the shirt I bought you?”

“Because this is more my style.” P. replied, “She knows me better than you do.”

The shirt I bought him was just the same, except a thin line across the chest. Nearly the same color even.

So we drove to her apartment and he went in to give her the check for the money. He insisted, saying it was the best way to get her out of our lives. He also returned the pictures, but not the CD. He said that would just be thrown away. I still wish he had given it to her, so she knew it was over, like she requested. Of course, the lyrics are awful if you are the wife that feels like a second choice. A choice by chance.
“I can’t let you see what you mean to me
When my hands are tied and my heart’s not free
We’re not meant to be

It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever had to do
To turn around and walk away
Pretending I don’t love you “

At her apartment, I stayed in the car. He was up there for maybe fifteen minutes, but it felt like forever to me. P. came back and told me that she cried and asked if I would talk to her. She knew she couldn’t have him, but she missed our friendship. Of course I refused and P. looked relieved.

Moving on Isn’t Always Easy

Well, you would think so, right?  We’re still young, just pushing into our mid-20’s.  P. has the job that will open up doors and windows and bring us into the world of fresh air.  We’ve rededicated our lives to each other and Christ.

Yes, the curtain opens.  S. and her husband J. are out of our lives.  P. is a few states away training for his new job.  But he comes home every chance he gets.  Even through Hurricane Floyd.  His school was evacuated, he was supposed to go west.  He came north to be with me.  Water was riding high over the headlights of my little Dodge Neon.  He still drove on and stayed with me through the aftermath of no drinking water, no power, nothing.

In those early weeks of September, S. paged P.’s pager, only I had it.  I wore it in case my friend O. went into labor.  She had her baby right around that time.  Seeing baby B. was the first time I ever had baby fever.  P. and I discussed it and decided to ’stop preventing’.  We weren’t trying, but we would accept a child if God chose to give one to us.  By Halloween I knew I was pregnant.  I kept it in until P. could come home.

I had obeyed P. and Pastor G.  I did my best to stuff those feelings of pain and mistrust.  It came out with my pregnancy announcement to P. though.

“Are you sure I am the only one you want forever?”

P. was puzzled and defensive, “Of course!”

“Well, too bad, someone else is going to be in our marriage.  A little boy or girl.”

P. was over the moon.  Bought a little moose for the baby.  Started talking names.  He graduated soon after that and began working in VA.  He had to live with relatives and commute until we had a home.  My father-in-law still has many of our possessions from that time, including the boot camp letters.  He says no, but I saw a few the last time we visited his house.  Sorry for the tangent, but I feel enough of my life has been taken between being a military brat and having divorced parents.  He’s just one more on the pile.

P. wanted the best home for his family that he could afford.  I just wanted to be with him.  I gave up driving up there to find a home and left it to him.  We wouldn’t agree anyway.  By December we had a home and were just waiting for all the paperwork to go through.  I had also found a job near P.’s at a federal daycare.  Daycare hours, school teacher pay.  Perfect for our fledgling family.

I spent New Years Eve ‘99 babysitting and rubbing my still tiny belly.  I had lost about 30 pounds in the aftermath of the summer of ‘99 and was feeling good for the most part.  There was still this nagging sadness, but I did my best to concentrate on the future and pushed it aside.  I talked to P. on the phone, he was working too.  He asked what I was doing, I said I was in bed with a guy, the little boy I was babysitting.  He had been afraid of all the noise.  And so rang in the year Y2K.  This century had to be better than the last, right?

The next day I moved up to live with P. in a motel while we waited for our house.  I began my job and was initiated into the Washington DC mixing bowl traffic.  We did travel back to NC in that first month for a funeral.  P.’s paternal grandfather had died.  Even in her mourning, his grandmother managed to ‘joke’ that P. wasn’t the father of my baby.  I bristled at the implication and could almost see some respect for P. drop away as he said nothing.

We moved into our first home.  It was a sweet little townhouse in the far ‘burbs of DC.  We began nesting and planning our future as a little family with so much promise.  The problem is, you can live in a new house with fresh paint and throw the curtains open to a new day.  But if there’s a body under the rug, it’s eventually going to stink.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MinneyMee
    May 26, 2008 @ 14:40:06

    And? Now? Are you going to continue with your blog? Don’t leave me hanging!

    MEE

    Reply

  2. jemjester
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 20:49:41

    I will, it’s just that even after all these years it’s emotionally draining to write each entry. Therapeutic, but draining.

    Reply

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