Chapter 11, loren

When I made the decision to leave our marriage, it was a decision that we had both come to mutually.   It made no sense for me to stay in a town where I knew no one and would not be able to find a career that would financially support myself and my children.   So, the only logical solution was for me to move home to Georgia. I dreaded that thought nearly as much as John did, but we had no choice. We needed to cut things off before they got worse. 

Little did we know that they could get worse...and they were about to. 

My stay in Georgia with my family was short lived, lasting all of 2 months. The tension between my mother and I grew to an explosive level.   A level that was exposing my boys to worse than they had seen between myself and their father, and a side of me that I am not proud of as their mother. You see, my family was not aware of how bad things had gotten between John and me. I kept so much from them, and the boiling tension inside of me lashed out at everyone around me, to their bewilderment. I was in a constant state of mixed emotions, conflicted about my life, and the demise of my marriage - not fully willing to let it go.   I made a call to my still husband and begged him to help us.  We needed to do something.  I was staying in a hotel room, juggling 3 children, and living paycheck to paycheck.   So, he calmly said, “Come home. I’ll help, and we will work this out.” 

This was it! I thought.  This was the moment I had been waiting for our entire marriage.  This was the moment we were going to fall in love, and all the pieces were going to finally fit.  I went back with higher hopes than ever.  I went back with confidence and excitement....that lasted 24 hours exactly. 

The moment I got home, John greeted me with flowers, a new book, and a smile on his face.  I thought to myself, We have weathered so much and never fell in love, but this is it! We’re in love now...this is what it took. We’re going to live happily ever after, at last!

The very next day, the storm hit.  He was on his phone constantly and blatantly.  This continued for the first few days.  He was silent towards me, barely even looking at me unless I was in his line of sight.  He wouldn’t touch me, and my tears were laughed at by him.  I wanted so desperately to understand what was going on. 

He told me things would be different, and he sounded so warm and loving on the phone before...what happened? Who was he? 

He would go to the bus stop in the morning to watch our oldest son go off to school.  That’s when I noticed him walking next door after the bus left.  I would peek out the window to see him chatting with the woman next door.  Surely not. Surely he is not pursuing a married woman right under my nose, right next door!  No, he’s not that cold and heartless.  Or dumb!

Week two, his antics became more hurtful.  One Saturday morning he came in the kitchen while I was making breakfast and said, “I’m taking the boys next door to spend the afternoon with the neighbor.”  I was blind sighted. This was news to me!  Since when were they good enough friends for play dates and why was I not invited?

My questioning began, “You don’t think that’s inappropriate, or you never thought to invite me?”  To which he replied, “She’s kinder than you are. She’s a better mom, and I prefer to be over there than in here with you.” 

Well, that hit me like a torpedo.  His words cut me unexpectedly and stung my heart with more pain than I’d ever felt from him before.  Confusion was all I could come up with.  He had been cruel and mean before, but this was a whole new level.  This was intentional.  This came with a vengeance. For what reason, I had no idea. All I felt was unbelievable rejection and betrayal.  How dare he! I had been through Hell with this man. My whole life had revolved around him since I was 21! I had given up my entire 20’s for him, his career, his bad decisions, and our family. And now, you want me to be ok with you making moves on a woman living right next door?

Just as I had suspected, my worst fears were unfolding right under my nose...right next door. 

The storm that was brewing in our home, began to brew outside one night. The weather that hit our town knocked out our power several times. That evening, as the wind was howling and the thunder clamoring loud enough to shake the pictures off the walls, my husband came to the room where I was getting ready for bed. It was late, he had been drinking, and I was tapped out on every emotional level possible.  With the look of disgust on his face at the pure sight of me, he said, “I’m not staying here, I’m going next door to hang out with April. I don’t want to be here.” This was our cycle, it was normal for us to cause intentional pain out of jealousy. It was as if the only way we could get an emotion out of one another, was to inflict heartache. However, this pain was at a new extreme. I let him go. I had no fight in me and was still trying to remain calm and rationalize that perhaps he just needed the friend that I couldn’t be for him. 

The next morning, I woke up feeling hungover from crying and wondering all night. Your mind can go to some pretty dark places when it is left in a state of panic and heartbreak. With tears still fresh in my eyes, I decided to re-introduce myself to the woman next door. The woman I had been avoiding in order to not ruffle any feathers. So, I walked past my husband, still passed out on the couch after a late night, and just said, “I’m going to get the truth from her, since you won’t give it to me.”   I walked next door and very unconfidently waited for her to answer.  She greeted me at her door with surprise, in a beautiful nightgown and silk robe. My first thought, No wonder he’s falling for her. She’s perfect. She even has beautiful bedtime attire.  Meanwhile, I sleep in an old T-shirt and sweats.  I imagine rolling over next to me in the morning must look something like finding a homeless meth addict on the street. 

I walked in and sat down.  I had no idea what I even wanted to say.  She wasn’t going to tell me anything.  She was on his side.  She was his ‘friend’ after all.  Was it too late to run out of the house and avoid this confrontation all together?  I calmed myself. I told her how hurt I was about their relationship and how hurtful he was being to me.  She didn’t know me, after all, and was listening to stories from a man I knew to be a liar and cheat.  

I wanted to tell her of all this...but seeing the smile on her face and the look in her eye, my instinct screamed at me...he’s already got her.  I’m too late. Anything I say will fall on deaf ears. 

So, I said my peace...and left. Defeated.  My husband was moving on, and I was in the front row of this Nicholas Sparks film, watching as my role was being taken on by someone new. 

I went back home that day.  I cried some more.  I screamed even more, until he snapped.  He said what I begged him to say, “I do love you Loren”. Looking back, I should have never begged someone to love me. But I did.  I foolishly got down on my knees, tears in my eyes, and begged, Please stop hurting me! Please love me. He gave me a sliver of hope that day, and I ran with it. I didn’t care what his intentions were or what they meant when he said it. That day, all I saw was my chance to fight for us as hard as he was fighting for his ‘friendship’ with her. This man was not going to push me out coldly or easily. I was not going down without a fight! 

In a matter of days, there I was questioning him again about his whereabouts and distance with me all over again.  You have got to be kidding me.  Becoming more inquisitive with my questions, I asked him if he had any remorse for pursuing a woman whose husband was stationed in another country. He said he did not. He told me that he wanted to date her, and he was planning on doing just that. This news coming to me after a night of us actually playing “husband and wife”. My emotions feeling like they were in a wind tunnel full of quarters.  

Did he want me? Did he not want me? Last night he did…this morning he doesn’t! 

Well, it wasn’t going to go down like this...not on my watch. I had kept quiet and forgiven him for what felt like a million times, and I was not going to let him slip away from me, not this way. Not being as cruel as he was. In my mind and heart, I knew we didn’t belong together. At the same time, I could not quite understand why it was that he had to be so cruel with his intentions of letting me go. 

So, an idea popped into my mind one day.  I was going to handle things myself. Fight for my man, if you will. If jealousy was what he wanted to see...well grab the popcorn, because this show was about to begin, and it was starring Loren.  I went to the store and bought a watering can and a pretty card.  I came home and wrote the first passive aggressive quote that came to mind, “Water the grass on your own side of the fence”. Naturally, I had to put my own twist on it, so I used a much more vivid vocabulary.  I marched my hot-headed self over to her front door, placed said watering can and card on her doorstep, then ran back to my home and waited for the fireworks to implode.  

It was a moment I still feel secretly proud of because I don’t typically seek out confrontation, but when it’s presented to me, I won’t shy away! 

The Watering Can