Ten parts seems like so many.
Start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start.)
The bookstore near our house was really wonderful. First, because it was close by, and second, because it had a coffee shop on the second floor where there wasn’t a ton of foot traffic. It was quiet, and lovely, and had many tables near walls where one could sit and cry in relative seclusion without that being too weird.
I mean, let’s be honest, if I really wanted to cry alone I could have gone and checked into a hotel.
But I digress. I sat and cried in a bookstore. I felt so trapped. Stuck in North Carolina with no friends, no family, and no plan. I didn’t even have my own bank account. I figured I could move into the hotel near my hospital and work for a while to save up money. I got so far inside of my own head that I’m sure reality slipped away for at least an entire moment. Then I called mom.
Touchstone. Always call mom. Not often when things are going well, or when I’m having a brilliant day. But always when life is falling apart or I am lonely and desperate, or when I just need to hear her voice. She’s my safe place. I remember the comfort and warmth. I seek it, even over the phone, when things get hard.
Mom sits with me and listens. She hears me and offers “Oh Mandy”s and “I’m so sorry”s. She doesn’t tell me what to do. She never tells me what to do. Her trust in me is so big, it’s inspiring. And then there are text messages from Brock that I don’t want to look at. I don’t want HIS “I’m sorry”s. I don’t want to know how bad he feels. I want to shout at him, and tell him that I promised myself I wouldn’t stay. I PROMISED.
And you are HURTING me.
It hurts so much because I love you so much.
I get tired of crying and decide to drive home. I wanted it to be our home, and the loss of that dream feels like the physical loss of a part of me. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to try again. Brock is waiting for me when I walk in. He is desolate, desperate… but silent. No empty words.
I collapse into him and cry anew. My mouth vomits all of the words and feelings – I have never been one to keep things inside – and I describe to him all of the ways this has crushed me. Physically; I am not good enough. Sexually; I am not enough. Emotionally; you are my everything and I am your… what? Relationally; I don’t know how to trust you. I don’t want to stay, why should I stay? Where can we go from here?
It can get better, he promises me. We can put software on computers and change all of the passwords and do whatever it takes for me to be sure. We can do all of the things. The wry voice inside of me says, that doesn’t stop you from wanting it. Just from doing it. But I concede. We will do all of the things.
I swear to be enough. I will meet his needs whenever they are communicated to me. More. I won’t allow the needs to be felt. I promise myself to bend over backwards, figuratively of course, (because seriously) to make sure that there is no lack on my part.
And life went on. I got a pit of fire in my stomach every time I sat near Brock’s computer. I stopped going upstairs to the loft, because just being in that area of the house caused me physical pain. The anxiety was overwhelming. But life always goes on. Brock continues to tell me that he wants to get married, and I continue to hold him off, deny, claim against. I do not want to get married. I don’t want to be married. And I CERTAINLY don’t want get married to someone whom I believe will get suddenly comfortable and then find himself watching porn again. I said “not yet” for months and months.
When I signed on to work at my first hospital, I signed a contract to work for them for an entire year… but in June, an OB/GYN office near my home was hiring a full-time tech. I applied and was offered the position. For the next four months, I worked 8am-5pm at the local office and then Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday at the hospital. To say that it was exhausting is a laughable understatement. I had two full incomes and nothing to give to anyone. I didn’t experience any joy. I cried all the time. I was so tired, so burned out from working and giving, giving and working with no respite. It was the first time I realized without any doubt that money wasn’t actually worth anything.
Finally, in October, my contract was up and I was able to quit working for the hospital. No more weekends! No more call! It was brilliant. I felt like a brand new person. Also, my new job was on the way to Brock’s work, so we got up together every morning, went to the gym together, showered together, and then he dropped me off at work. I truly remember those times as some of the best of my entire life.
I ultimately loved working at the OB office. My patients were beautiful and brilliant. I enjoyed getting to know them. I was enchanted by working with pregnant moms and their babies. I was fulfilled by getting to know the doctors and nurses and techs. I built relationships that really mattered to me. I knew, to the depths of my heart, that I wanted to work with pregnant women forever. I started dreaming about going into high-risk ultrasound; the pinnacle of obstetric ultrasound. The potential for learning there was immeasurable. I set my sights on that… high-risk ultrasound was my first goal. The second was med school – I was going to be an Obstetrician.
In December of 2007, Brock and I decided to go to Canada together for Christmas. The morning before the trip, we couldn’t find his passport. We looked everywhere. We turned the house upside down. We drove to his parents house to look. We drove to his work to look. We tore out drawers, and emptied dressers and moved all of the furniture. It was no where to be found. There was no chance to replace it. He couldn’t come on the trip with me.
Brock drove me to the airport the following morning, and walked with me to the ticket counter, and then to security. I felt like I was in some crazy romance movie. I was just going for a week? Why are you crying so hard? Did he really think I wasn’t going to come back? We will talk every day! It’s just a week! I left entirely unsure why Brock was struggling so hard – this was clearly not the worst tragedy to happen in his life, and I couldn’t understand why it was undoing him.
I had no idea.
To be continued.
Read part 11 here!