Chapter 23, loren
“Nobody hides pain better than a mother who is trying to remain strong for her children.”
My world had been shattered into a thousand pieces. Sure, my heart had been broken by men before, but this…this was a heartbreak like no other. This hurt a depth of my soul I never knew existed. The pain of being erased from my babies’ lives was unbearable.
No order was given on the day of our trial; therefore, I had no idea when I would see my little humans again. The unknown left a pit in my stomach that ached with a vengeance.
Fight or flight was all I knew.
My first plan of action - I scrambled to put back together what pieces of my life I could. I dropped out of school, called every realtor in North Carolina, cancelled the lease on my existing and now empty apartment in Georgia, and packed up the pathetic pieces of the life I once had.
In just three short weeks, I packed up my entire life. Once again, I moved back to the dark place that I had tried so desperately to escape.
Some questioned why I chose to move back, but for me there was no question to be asked. My babies were in another state now, and if I was ever going to have a fighting chance at seeing them again, wherever they were, I was going to be. I would have gone to the ends of the earth to get them back, and the gypsy in me was ready to go.
Just as I settled into my new place in North Carolina, I rushed to have my attorney file for a retrial. I was back in town and wanted the judge to know that I was not a selfish mother. In fact, I was a mother willing to do whatever it took! I was more than willing to uproot my life in order to be wherever my babies were - at no cost or question.
My attorney filed for a visitation order, and just before the school year was to begin I received the news...every other weekend. I was allowed to see my boys, who I now lived 15 minutes from, only every other weekend. Complete defeat came over me. I felt humiliated. What kind of mother was I, to only be allowed to see her children four days a month? Not only did my blood boil, but to make matters worse, John and I were on such bad terms that I knew seeing them any more than four days a month was going to be a fight from Hell.
Hell, is exactly what it was.
The first day of school came, and my oldest was to begin first grade. This would be my first encounter with my boys under the new ‘circumstances’.
I had no idea who his teacher was, I was not allowed on the school emergency call list, and I was exiled from interacting with them on days that were not ‘mine’. So, showing up uninvited and unannounced to the first day of school, was a risky move.
I pulled into the parking lot and sat in my car, bracing myself for the absolute worst. I had a knot in my stomach that felt as if it would never untangle. My hands were sweating profusely, and I could already feel the tears teasing at my eyelids. I had my camera ready and small ‘first day of school’ sign. The anxiety I felt derived from having to face this man that I felt took my babies from me, along with his new girlfriend.
The daunting reality was that I was going to have to come face to face with the life that was taken from me.
I sat in my car until I saw John pull in. I jumped out of the car and rushed over to my boys, squeezing my oldest as hard as I possibly could. I could sense my presence was not welcome at all. I saw her, the woman I deemed to have taken my place, looking nothing short of perfection. She was pushing my baby in a stroller with a diaper bag attached, and I felt my heart drop to my stomach.
She walked next to the man I once walked next to, and they were an image of the ideal family, without a care in the world...except for the monster which now stood before them.
I was ignored and cold shouldered, which only further escalated my anxiety. I stood in the corridor of the school across from ‘my family’. I attempted to go over and hold my baby, and as he reached for me, the stroller in which he sat was pulled away. I am certain smoke was visibly seen coming from my ears. Tears welled up in my eyes out of pure anger and embarrassment.
What must these people around us think?
They probably thought I was some pathetic worthless mother and were judging me for not having my children next to me. In all my life, I have never felt more pathetic and unwanted. I felt both disgusted with myself and humiliated.
I was now the poor single mother, who did not have her children. I felt as if all eyes were on me, judging me as if I had some dark seedy past which led to my misfortune.
All I could do was bite my lip to keep it from visibly quivering or showing an ounce of pain. I walked with my head held as high as possible and tried to not show any sign of disturbance. However, my strength was weak, and I knew deep down that it showed clear as a day.
As we made our way out of the school, a familiar face approached us. It was Jerry, April’s first husband. I was relieved for the moment of distraction he brought. With the impending tensions rising between us all, my patience unfortunately ran out. I muttered to John, “How dare you bring this other woman to our sons first day of school! How dare you parade around as if I am no longer their mother!”
The volume of our voices slowly increasing as the crowd around us gathered. Our Lord and Savior himself must have been restraining me at that moment because I have never in all of my life had the urge to throw hands so angrily.
I was fueled with anger and hurt at being thrown away as a mother, as if I had not been the woman who birthed them, nursed them, and never left their sides since they were born. I was flustered with embarrassment of my once husband and his perfect new love, over shadowing the pathetic mess that I now was. I felt beneath them, lesser in every way. Insignificant.
Before I knew it, a strong arm was wrapped around my shoulder, directing me down a corridor away from the two people I was about to put on full blast!
The tears couldn’t be stopped any longer. I felt them rush down my face, as I leaned into the arm that was gripping me so tightly that I could barely move - it was Jerry. God sends people at the exact moment you need them, and I truly believe He sent Jerry that day to man-handle me away from a situation that would have only damaged my reputation and character further. Jerry walked me to my car, all the while calmly assuring me that I was going to be ok. I didn’t believe him, but his soothing voice was the calm I needed to bring me back to reality. His shoulder I so desperately needed to cry on.
I was so alone in navigating everything, that any ounce of human compassion I clung to with a death grip.
I got in my car and drove back to the emptiness that was my world. I knew my scene would be documented. That would be another arrow I was going to have to catch and repair. I felt so small. I felt so worthless. I felt as if had been replaced and was no longer needed on this earth for any purpose. My soul purpose, which was being a Mom, had been taken from me, and I felt completely forgotten…erased.
Did my babies even know who I was? What were they being told about Mommy?
The questions and unknown were nearly the death of me. With every inquiry I had, I gradually started to see it answered in front of me. With each revelation, I felt a piece of my motherhood slowly die.
This was going to be my life, I realized. I was going to be exiled, shunned, and punished for the rest of my life.
Where, if anywhere, did I now fit?