Chapter 27, loren
“Never think that what you have to offer is insignificant. There will always be someone out there that needs what you have to give.”
For a moment in time, my world seemed to be brighter than I had ever seen it. The light that had died at the end of my tunnel got a new shiny bulb. I could see again, and I could feel myself begin to soften.
This new peace that came over me brought on a courage that allowed me to reach out to John and April. In an attempt to makes amends, I tried to remain civil at our exchanges and not retaliate to every text message that I deemed was an attack from my enemy. Even if it meant sending a gif or emoji as my response to the paragraphs John would send me, I felt I was doing my part by not ruffling the feathers even worse.
While at work one evening I received a text from April. “Odd”, I thought. The text simply said, “I need to talk to you, it is important.” Ok, I’ll bite. So, I replied and asked what it was she wanted to talk to me about. She said she needed to discuss something very important, and it had nothing to do with the boys.
Here’s where I’ll be blatantly honest with how I felt: The very first thought that popped into my twisted head and bitter heart was, “Ah! John messed up and she is reaching out to me to gossip about him. She wants to gain my friendship as her ally and take John down. Finally, she has seen the light!”
Well, if she was looking for a teammate to take down John, the girl had come to the right place!
I was eager to call her when I got off work. Mostly, I was just nosey. The call started out not as I had so devilishly anticipated it would. I admit, my disappointment then lead to a deeper frustration towards April.
She began firing questions at me asking me to not claim my children on my taxes and prying me on why I had not paid child support. “Well, I have never been ordered to pay child support. I make $800 a month. I can’t and won’t pay anything .”
Harsh? Perhaps, but after all it was not my choice to not have my children. I would gladly take them full time and not take a dime from John. In fact, I did a full send and told her all of this can be over if John would allow 50/50 custody, and I won’t even ask for child support. All I wanted was my boys. So, where was all of this coming from? What was her real agenda? Puzzled and annoyed, the call ended in a huff, and I felt like we had again taken 12 steps back.
Several weeks later, I would go on to discover the true intention behind that call. The “secret agenda” so-to-speak came in the form of a notice to my attorney. A date had been set for child support.
“This has to be a joke,” I thought to myself when I got off the phone with my attorney. Well, a joke it was not, and I had exactly 30 days to supply documentation of all my utility bills, bank statements, and pay stubs, to present to the opposing counsel. I thought to myself, “Well I sure hope my debt collectors aren’t going make statements on my behalf!”
My humiliation level already being at an all-time low, but now it was going to be paraded around in court for everyone to see. As if I didn’t already feel small and insignificant enough, the pending holiday I once loved, was looming close by. As a child and product of divorce myself, celebrating a holiday twice came as nothing new for me. I had grown up splitting Christmas and birthdays with my parents, traveling from one home to another.
However, when it came to be my turn as the parent sharing a holiday, it was uncharted territory. I was now a single mother spending the time I was allowed with my boys on the holiday, alone.
Our first Christmas with the new arrangement hit me harder than I expected. I didn’t make enough money to afford to buy my boys any gifts. I remember the gifts my parents had purchased for them that Christmas came without a “From” sticker on them so that I was able to pretend like I had bought them. I barely had the energy to put up Christmas decorations that year, and frankly all I wanted was for the season to end as soon as possible. The sooner it ended, the sooner I could forget how small and broke I truly was.
The arrangement that year was for the boys to spend Christmas morning with their dad, and I would pick them up at noon. The look of disappointment on their faces when I showed up to get them, stabbed me to my core. Of course, they were disappointed. They had just received their gifts with little-to-no time to play with them before Mom arrived. The disappointment only continued as I brought them back to my immensely less decorated home, only to be let down by the lack of gifts the half lit tree held underneath. I tried my best to brush it off and not be offended by their innocent reactions. They had no idea why their Christmas’ looked so different, and they honestly never should have.
All I could do was try my best to overcompensate for the lame excuse of a Christmas I felt entirely responsible for. I caved in every mom rule I ever had and I let them eat candy, stay up late, and watch more television than usual. They had full run of the house, and I was not going to disappoint them further by adding restrictions to their list of “Reasons Why Mom’s House Sucks”.
The holidays finally ended, and I had minor relief from all the anxiety it brought upon me. My new relationship was evolving at a frighteningly rapid speed that I was not at all prepared for. The new man in my life decided to come and live with me, unbeknownst to me.
Commitment had always terrified me, but something felt different this time. Perhaps I was ready for a fresh start, or perhaps I just wanted to have a teammate in this race that could stand by my side the way John stood by April’s. The man I started to fall for seemed to fit perfectly into my puzzle. He was kind, patient, and never overstepped my parenting boundaries. He loved me and made me feel loved. Above all, he made feel wanted and important, every day.
If there were red flags, I was colorblind.
I held my breath and made my final wish. This was the last chance love would ever have in my life.
I swallowed my fear of commitment, quieted my panicking gut instincts, and jumped in feet first! I made a vow to myself just before I took that leap, “This is the last one. If this relationship ends, I’m not giving love another chance. I have no more heartbreak or forgiveness left in me.”
And it was.