Chapter 35, loren

“Be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can.”

 A proposed “meeting of the minds” was our next attempt at an effort to make peace of this coparenting war. April had extended an offer to meet up over dinner and drinks, and I not-so-graciously accepted. Typically, a double date is right up my alley. A double date with my ex-husband, his new wife, and my very new beau, however, was not exactly the “good time” that I had in mind. Much like many of our interactions, the tension was as thick as my mama’s cornbread. Not even a burning shot of whiskey didn’t seem to calm my nerves. 

The “Johnny and June” duo sat down across from us in matching Johnny Cash t-shirts and converse shoes. The picture perfect couple, strolled in as if they had just left their engagement photoshoot, and I felt even my whiskey shot scoffing at them. “Could this scene possibly get anymore awkward?”, I thought as I internally rolled my eyes. I’m not one to care about the judgement of others, however I remember the tension being so high on that occasion that I was certain everyone in the room could feel it as well. 

“Here goes nothing,” I thought rather unenthusiastically. 

April and I began the negotiations, discussing our intentions and desires for the future of this coparenting disaster.  

My main objective: I my wanted sons. I wanted 50/50 custody. I had offered up this plea on several occasions and would continue to do so until someone finally heard me.  In addition to this apparently not-so-realistic offer, I also asked my competitor to communicate with me on a civil level instead of belittling me, as I so often felt he would. I was never good enough in the eyes of my former husband. Not then, and certainly not now. 

“Was I truly asking for too much?”, I questioned. No, surely not. 

Perhaps my execution was off, or perhaps I was coming about this request the wrong way. Either way I felt as if I had tried several ways in which to approach John and yet somehow the conversation that would always begin with a smooth opening act, quickly turned ominous. This such day was no exception. I began to notice that John was gazing off into any direction he could to avoid eye contact with any one of us. I then noticed his leg shaking up and down at a faster and faster rate. I quickly realized things were about to go south...and fast. 

 Meanwhile on the opposite side of the table, my leg was being bruised by the amount of pinches it was receiving under the table from my supposed partner. 

Anytime he felt as if I were out of line or my frustration was rising, I would get a tinge of pain straight to my thigh. I suppose it was his best effort to discretely scold me, however I began to question if whether or not the real enemy in all this was in fact sitting beside me on the same bench, instead of the other side of the table. I let the thought quickly pass once more, as I did so often. 

No, this man loved me and was only protecting me the best he could. 

 Ultimately, our efforts that day were again left unsuccessful and defeated. However victories do come in all shapes and sizes, and that day a single compromise was made: April and I would be in sole communication from that point on. John would not be contacting me and I was not to contact him. Not to take this the wrong way, this was in fact more than a baby step in the right direction. This was a solution that was made in order to resolve the bitter dialect between John and I, which inevitably tended to always end in flames. So from that point forward, April was going to be the designated mediator in our war.  

Her new promotion I did not envy, but was secretly glad for. 

After each side headed back to our designated headquarters, my new battle buddy decided it was time to pursue his initial suggestion of buying a home together where we would build more than just our life, but also our love. Seeing as how he had just sat with me through one of the most awkward dinner dates in history, I thought surely this was a man who would stand by my side no matter what. 

So, we began our pursuit to find the perfect abode, and it just so happened to look like an acre of land out in the county. It looked like a two-story, white house with black shutters, and Purple Hearts growing up the walkway. It looked like chickens in the front yard and kids playing in the street. For the first time in nearly a decade, I could envision a future for myself. A future that most women dream of and one I had always secretly hoped I would have. 

 My new glimmer at happiness ignited a warmth in me that I had not seen in myself for years. I began to soften and possess a peace, which I found to come in handy when it came to the rifts in my coparenting world. One such rift being the deposition I was suddenly ordered to attend per the request of my ex-husband’s attorney. 

 Having never had the pleasure or honor of such a request, I confidently walked into the attorney’s office with my legal counsel by my side. I was quickly briefed on what all this interrogation would entail and thought, “This can’t be so bad. It’s basically just a woman sitting across from me asking me juicy details about my life. I do that on a typical Friday night with my girlfriends and a bottle of wine!”

 For two hours I was questioned and interrogated as if I was qualifying for a Top Secret Security Clearance. 

My entire life and every action I had ever made, both as a mother and a wife, was hastily thrown at me. I was then expected to answer and account for every detail. The only thing missing in this scene was a bright spotlight shining down on me.  

The intention behind this uncomfortable and invasive session was to catch me in a web of dishonesty that they would be able to later use as a tactic in court to secure my demise. I, however, had nothing to hide. I spoke my truth with an intention and assertion that would have impressed any courtroom. In fact, upon leaving the interrogation room that day my own attorney turned to me and said, “You are a rockstar on the stand and you were today against her questioning. I wish all of my clients held the confidence you had.” 

 Truth be told, it was not confidence I possessed. It was motherhood. My determination and drive was unwavering in my quest to protect my rights as a mother, and my babies. 

As the weeks began to blend in to one another, life as an every other weekend mom still stung with every exchange we did. Alas, we attempted a new meeting of the minds by visiting with John and April for yet another attempt at reconciliation. Only this time, the topic at hand was broached by John. He was requesting that both homes share a similar setting for routines and discipline. 

Sure. I had already been doing that, but unbeknownst to me, my effort was not holding up to the “John Kirk Standards”. He was quick to remind me that I was not upholding the same guidelines with which he had set in place at his own home for our boys.  

“How could I?” I thought. We are two very different people. I was not him, I was me.  

I agreed with him on so many things, but my execution was not going to be the same. Surely he could realize this obvious factor. No, instead he came at me like a recruit being disciplined on field day. Everything I did, or lacked to mimic as he did, was corrected and scolded. 

 Again, little progress was made, and I once more left their humble abode with a churning in my gut of defeat. 

Only this time, my frustration came with an outpouring of tears to go with it. 

My energy was losing fast, and I could see my breaking point upon the horizon. 



Behind Enemy Lines