Chapter 40, loren
“You don’t lose a good man. You lose a man who’s not good for you.”
The August heat beat down on our little town well into the early days of September. If you grew up on the east coast, you are well aware that between the months of May and September, Mother Nature will often show her power by bringing ashore her wet tornadoes. This time of year was known as hurricane season, and the predictability of a hurricane’s path was about as accurate as my ability to navigate my own life.
While the whirlwind of chaos began to settle in my co-parenting world, a new wind tunnel soon began to form, and its path was aimed directly at my heart…again.
My once new and shiny relationship was becoming stagnant and sour. The distance between he and I started to grow further with every passing day. His words that once spoke highly of me and kindly towards me, started to become aggressive and belittling. In my experience, this often meant a secret was lurking in the shadows, but I felt so assured that things were different with him than any other man I had known.
I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt; after all, relationships ebb and flow. That doesn’t mean you should give up.
I had seen him cry, laugh, hurt, and love. It wasn’t until I noticed myself going down an all too familiar path of exercising my excuse creativity. I naively made excuses for why he broke furniture when he was angry, or threw objects at the wall when he was frustrated by my silence, or why he would lash out and call me a “See you next Tuesday” in front of our friends. I suppose a part of me was numb to it all. I was numb to the chaos and constantly repeated patterns of men in my life.
In a fate of irony, news of a pending and monstrous hurricane miles out in the ocean somehow brought peace to my relationship. In a state of emergency, all of the recent events became static in the background, which we could attend to at another time. We needed to evacuate our home, and in complete uncertainty we left our entire life behind us, with nothing but a suitcase and love to get us through it.
Since I did not have my boys for that week, I called April to confirm if they were also evacuating. She reassured me they were already heading safely out of the state, and a calm immediately fell over me. My boys were safe and all parents were on the same page of protection for the first time. Our evacuation plan began and we set off to hunker down for what turned into nearly a two week stay in Georgia, awaiting for the storm to pass.
As we drove back into our town, I began to witness first hand, the devastation that had come over our little town.
I will never forget that day. We drove up to our ‘once upon a time’ home to discover the mark that Mother Nature left behind. Both the exterior and interior of our home looked much like one would expect after a storm of that magnitude. However, witnessing it for the first time felt like my chest was on fire. Ceilings had fallen in, shingles had been stripped off the roof and strewn about the yard, water was leaking down the walls, the fence line had been flattened, and after two weeks the power was still out. For me, the worst of the devastation was visible in the boys room, where the entire ceiling had fallen and their beds, toys, and electronics were soaked beyond repair.
I cried at the site of it all and my heart sank as a I began to realize I was now mourning the loss of a tiny dream I cling to for far too long, unrealistically.
The ominous energy continued on that day as the rage, that for a couple weeks had subsided, began to grow in the man I loved. For reasons unknown to me at the time, the dark side of him came out again to play that day. Something in him snapped. Only this time, his scene of rage included my clothes and belongings getting sporadically thrown out onto the front lawn as he yelled, “Get out of my home! Leave now!”
In complete bewilderment I picked up my belongings and loaded them into my car, which had also seen the devastation of the storm and was stuck in the garage under yet another fallen ceiling.
This was the first of a total of three times I was kicked out of “our” home. Always accepting the tearful apology and promises of change. Always overlooking the blaring signs, I would return to continue the fight of a dream I felt I deserved to finally have come true.
How much of this am I supposed to take?
Should a relationship be this hard?
I would often ponder, if this was life then I knew I wanted nothing to do with it. I flashed back to the promise I had made myself long ago - If this was my last chance at love, I was not giving anymore chances.
Always on the pursuit for positivity and grasping at straws to find the blessings I did have in my life, my co-parenting relationship was starting to take a turn for the better.
Sure, we had some ups and downs in the communication department, but the relief of possibly never returning to court again brought a peace over everything. This in turn allowed for all parties to take a deep breath for the first time in a long time.
I was only “allowed” visits with my oldest son, Jack, in his father’s home. This was news to me, that I admit I did not take so well to begin with. After a rather rough start to the new arrangement, I soon found myself sitting on the floor playing with my sons in John and April’s home, and for the first time in a long time, I actually felt a piece of home. A situation I would normally deem as uncomfortable or anxiety ridden, in turn felt somewhat “normal”.
This new strange I felt, was something I confess I fought and ran from.
“No. This is not normal. Normal is being in my home with the man that I was suppose to be building a life with.”
If this was the case, I soon wondered why I felt better after leaving John and April’s home than I did about returning to my own…
By the time Christmas songs started playing on the radio, my “partner” was someone I barely new anymore. He began showing all of the signs that most women could write a book on. Late work hours, picking up extra shifts on days he was not scheduled, breakfast with ‘coworkers’, falling asleep in his truck, midnight trips to the gym, were just a few of the gems I started to witness. Spending that Christmas alone in a house that was stripped down to its bones, was the icing on the cake. As I sat in that cold, bare living room waiting to hear from him, I realized something.
“Loren, you have a choice. This is your life and yet you are allowing someone else to determine your happiness.”
As I reflected on my worth and tolerance, I knew exactly what I had to do. The terror of the unknown had held me back so many times in life. This time was different. This time I knew my worth, and I was more than the circumstance I was living in. Enough was enough, and I made the decision to move out and venture out on my own without any plan at all.
As I packed up the last of my belongings and drove off to my next destination, I realized one small consistent in my life since I was 16, had not occurred in an unknown amount of time. As panic set in I made a purchase and did a deed that I had done only 3 other times in my life, only this time 2 pinks lines was not what I wanted to see....and yet, there they were.
As my every emotion was coming to a complete boiling point, an oddly calming thought came to mind.
My fingers began to work faster than my brain to find April’s number in my phone. Shaking, in tears, and on the floor of an unfamiliar home, I sat down and made the call to April that forever changed my life.
On the other end of the line, I heard her calm and soothing voice...and in that moment every wall I had spent 31 years building, came falling down.