Chapter 19, loren
“There is no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.”
Instinct and adrenaline rushed through me like lava. They say the adrenaline that a mama has, when she is scared for her baby, could lift a car straight into the air. Mine could have lifted an 18-wheeler.
My ex-husband had crossed a line, which turned out to be the first of many to follow. In complete crisis-aggression mode, I drove as fast as my car would go all the way to North Carolina. I was going to get my babies back from this man, if it took my last breath. How dare he call himself a father! How dare he rip his sons from the only mother they have ever known. Above all, how dare he try and replace me! This was war.
The man I once knew, the man who whiplashed my entire life and my once innocent heart, was not done just yet. His grip on me was suffocating. The fear, paranoia, and insecurities all came flooding back, only this time, I no longer had our vows or love to fall back on. I was a mere mistake he made, and he was trying to erase me. Every threat, every dig, every vindictive move he made felt like an eraser going over me. It was as if I had never existed in his world.
An ex parte order quickly granted me partial custody of our sons, but this was only the first of dozens of court hearings we would find ourselves sitting through.
The anxiety I felt while pacing the halls of that cold, dark, courthouse was unmatched by anything I have ever experienced…and I have jumped out of a plane! This was more terrifying, and there was no parachute to save me now. The only person taking this tandem jump with me was my legal counsel, and neither of us had jumped from this unknown height.
Our temporary court-ordered agreement stated that we were to meet halfway between our homes every other week. This meant my life was once again put on hold. I was back in the control of John, and being under his thumb was a fear I had been trying to outrun for what felt like an eternity. He knew me, which meant he knew how to hurt me to my core, and his wrath was far from over.
I knew I had upset him by leaving, and now he was going to make me pay. My payment came at the highest cost - he wanted me erased as the mother of his children. Keeping that thought in the back of mind, only drove me to a deeper level of heartbreak. I felt that every action was his way of saying - I want you gone. For good.
I would go on to spend hundreds of miles traveling what seemed like the longest highway of my life that summer. A pit in my stomach and ache in my heart always growing more painful with every mile down.
My life, and my sons’ lives, was in the hands of men and women dressed in suits, wearing no knowledge of my children and their needs. They knew even less of the man who they seemed to not be seeing the way I was…the way I always had.
My first of many trips came just before Mother’s Day. The first Mother’s Day in which John did not allow me to see my children. I Facetimed with a nervousness that I can only describe as an intense nausea with every ring that went unanswered. Two calls, no answer. Where were my babies? I needed my babies, and they needed me. I could not understand how no one else was seeing that. Could I be dreaming?
The day I finally got to see my boys, I scooped them up with an excitement and joy that surpassed all the prior dark days.
They were brought with no change of clothes, so I quickly made a stop at everyone’s favorite place on earth - Target! I thought, we will make the best of this situation, and I will make sure they have no idea anything out of the ordinary was going on! We would pick out some clothes and toys and enjoy a few days in a hotel.
No sooner had I stepped out of the car, than my phone rang. “Mrs. Jennifer Kirk?”, an unknown man asked. I replied, “This is she.” After giving his name he said, “I am from Child Protective Services. We have received an anonymous call and need to speak with you and your children as soon as possible. Where are you staying?”
My first thoughts - I just picked them up 20 minutes ago. I have not seen them in 2 weeks. This cannot be real.
I stuttered through the remainder of the call, at the time not thinking too much into it. It wasn’t until I met with the gentleman that I realized who the twisted, sinister, mastermind behind this “anonymous” call truly was. My blood boiled. How could I of all people possibly be accused of child abuse? My children laugh at me when I spank them, and I can’t even kill a bug! That day, the social worker said something to me that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up in anger. He said, “The father of the children stated that he does not spank his children and is concerned for their safety.”
Did not spank his children? Did I hear that correctly? John was the supporter and enforcer on correcting our children in a “spanking” fashion! Perhaps this was all a mistake and they had the wrong family.
Perhaps, this was the “new rule” with his new love, and in order to prove his loyalty and love for her, he was going to reach to any level. Ah, yes, that sounded more like the John I knew. He would do anything to convince someone he was the man they wanted him to be. After all, he did that with me. “Surely she would see through this”, I convinced myself. How could we both claim to know and love the same man, and yet have two very different perceptions of him?
That incident was simply the tip of the iceberg. Four weeks later, while driving down that eternally dismal highway yet again, I was alerted of an email from my attorney. My heart dropped, as it often did with every email, call, or text I would get from either John or my attorney.
I pulled over and opened the attachment in the email: 25 pages of affidavits. They weren’t just statements, they were bullets. Bullets that aimed, fired, and emptied the magazine, right at me…all 25 rounds.
A handful of these rounds included:
- Drugs abuse
- Alcohol abuse
- Child abuse
- Child neglect
- Multiple Sexual partners
- Accusations of incest
- Threats of bodily harm
If I ever wondered what a volcano felt like before eruption, I now knew. My core body temperature rose higher than it has ever been.
The only person to calm me down, was my attorney. He gave me the single best advice I was given during that time. He said, “You will go through something that most mothers will never have to, and you are going to have to prove you are a good mom. If there’s a hoop you can jump through, jump it. I don’t care if it’s 500 feet away and on fire. You jump through them all.”
So that’s just what I did.
I took every drug test, documented every moment I spent with them, had dozens upon dozens of friends and family members write character statements, and I took every opportunity to love my boys harder than I had ever loved them before.
Every exchange we did would be under the supervision of law enforcement, every phone conversation would be recorded, and every “tattle tale” my boys shared with me was notated. I was under a microscope, and my every atom was on display.
That was not the last of the heart stopping emails I was going to receive. No, there was one more. I received an email from my attorney one day saying he needed to speak to me immediately. I quickly called him, and asked, “What more could there possibly be? This man is tearing me to shreds, please have good news!” To which he then went on to tell me:
My former husband’s attorney was executing a motion that would reverse our divorce.
I’m sorry, what? My mind could not even grasp the concept and I ended the call in complete bewilderment at this possibility. Why would John want to reverse our divorce? Was he starting to regret everything or have second thoughts?
I called him and demanded an answer. His reply was the single answer we both agreed on. He simply said, “I will pay millions of dollars to make sure we are never married again.”
That was that. There would be nothing left to discuss and I was again assured of my decision to end our marriage. He never loved me, and a million dollars would prove it.
Our bi-weekly exchanges began to include a 5th party - the other woman. My wound had salt poured into it several times, and now John was using acid.
They both seemed so at ease and happy parading their love in front of me. I felt like she overstepped every boundary…maybe overstepped isn’t the right word - she pranced.
My blood boiled and my skin would crawl seeing them elated with one another, as if they had not a care in the world. “Take the high road, Loren.” I would tell myself that often. Ha! Taking the high road is NOT as simple as others make it seem. In fact, I did not want to take it at all and would still give my middle finger wave as it seemed like the only justifiable action I could get away with. When in reality, an intense rage consumed every fiber of my being.
Looking back, God was testing me. He was testing me for something far more difficult than I had ever walked through before. In order to prepare me for battle, I had to come face to face with some of darkest my fears, and my faith needed to be unwavering. We cannot always see God’s hand in the dark, but faith is what assures us He is there. I had no choice but to leave everything in His hands now; this time the hoop I was jumping through, was a leap of faith.
Week after week I received a notice of a possible date for our court hearing, and week after week I became more prepared - ready for that day. I had done everything I could think of. I was ready to go before the judge and fight like Hell. I was a good mom! The things that were being said about me were not true, and surely no one would believe them to be. I reassured myself of that. I prayed harder than I had ever prayed and had faith in God to lay a peace and understanding on the hearts of the judge and attorneys.
Finally, I received the news…a date had been set for our trial!
July 12, 2017.
That date will forever be ingrained in my mind.