I was pregnant. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
My brain started spiraling out of control. I was leaving. I wanted to leave. I was done with this marriage, done with this man.
WHAT THE HELL WERE WE THINKING??
My thought process was unhelpful. I did not want to be pregnant. I didn’t want to be a single mom to THREE kids. Single mom to two was enough. More than anything, I didn’t want to stay with this man just because I was pregnant. I didn’t even tell him. I was prepared to leave, and I wasn’t going to change my mind.
I started looking through all of my options. I looked into herbs and medicines. I talked to one of the CT techs at my hospital about high dose radiation. I spoke with a friend about adoption. I even called Planned Parenthood. I did all of those things trying to figure out where all of my options where, and if any of them were an option for ME.
It turned out they weren’t. I was already so in love with the baby growing inside of me, the only option that existed was to bring this baby into the world, with or without Brock. However, I learned a big lesson in those few days – the one that says to never judge what someone else does, especially when you have no idea of their circumstances. At any given time, I think, we only have about 3% of an idea of what is going on with someone outside of our own self. I was still blogging and still posting on Instagram through ALL of this bananas, and I didn’t share any of it.
I finally told Brock that I was pregnant. His eyes lit up. He put his hand on my stomach. He saw a glimmer of hope. I, quite coldly, told him that it didn’t change anything for me. I was still leaving.
This time, Brock broke down in tears. He begged me to go see someone with him. He begged me to go to a marriage counselor. “Please,” he implored, “Please come talk with someone so we can see if we can save this.”
I was so far beyond done that his request enraged me. Where was this “someone” years ago when I actually gave a shit? And is it possible for a man to do the right thing without first pushing you to the brink of the end, and crushing your heart in the process? Why does everyone that I love have to wait until it’s too late to do the right thing?
He didn’t stop asking. Over and over. Begging. “Don’t do it for me, do it for our baby.”
I finally consented to see someone, knowing that it would be the outcome that I expected. There was no human on the planet that would hear our story and think that I had any reason to stay. We found a marriage counselor through my work’s mental-health program that promised 5 free sessions, and made an immediate appointment. Together, we drove to speak to the gentleman – Brock, filled with hope, and me filled with cold resolve.
When he came out into the waiting room to meet us, he had a warm smile. The counselor was an older, heavy-set gentlemen, entirely white haired, with sparkling eyes. He beckoned us back to his office, and shook our hands as we approached him. We settled into the chairs in his office in silence, our backs to the windows. There was no cheerful banter or friendly conversation. With a gentle smile, the counselor got comfortable in his chair across from us, well lit by the sun, and asked us what we were there for.
I told him all of it. Every single thing, from the beginning. I told him about the porn, and the anger issues. I told him about how I was made to feel crazy for finding those things unacceptable. I told him about the year without a job, and the video games, and the un-fucking-acceptable living situation with Brock’s parents that I just couldn’t handle another day of. I told him about the lack of help, and the lack of love, and the over abundance of sex that I didn’t want, and the return of the porn. I told him about the baby.
I cried through most of it, and when I was done, there was a heavy silence in the room. Brock hadn’t said a word. He sat in the chair beside me, quiet and ashamed. After a long pause, the counselor leaned back, and put his hands on his head. He looked away from me, lost in thought, before he started speaking.
“Well,” he began, returning his gaze to mine, “I don’t think there is a single person that would argue you didn’t try hard enough or long enough. Honestly, I believe that it’s completely right for you to be done. If you are done, that is your right.”
He then had a short conversation with Brock about porn, and how damaging it is. He talked to him about his anger issues, and how that was a choice. And he told him that it wasn’t fair for him to expect me to try for even just one more day, after the past seven years of trying and failing. Then, our time was up, our session over, and we thanked him and walked out. I left feeling validated. And smug. I was smug, because it was the first time in our relationship that someone had told us that I was right, and it was the first time that Brock heard it. Truly heard it.
We got into the car and drove home in silence. I looked over at Brock, and tears were streaming silently down his cheeks. His last chance to save his marriage had been shattered, and he was falling apart.
“Don’t listen to him,” Brock said suddenly, quietly. “Don’t listen to him. We don’t have to be done. I can fix this. I can change. I promise. Don’t listen to him. Let’s talk to someone else.”
His voice got louder, more frantic. He started speaking more quickly, “We’ll find someone else. Someone good. Ask your friend, what was her name? The one that’s a therapist? Ask her for a recommendation. Please. Don’t listen to him. Please, Mandy.”
I was so deep into my apathy at this point, that his display of desperation didn’t move me or touch me. It annoyed me. Why couldn’t he see? Why couldn’t he let go? Why didn’t he realize this was all his fault? Didn’t he hear?? I didn’t have to keep trying. I was RIGHT, and he was WRONG.
I was so sure that there was no counselor or therapist that would hear our story and think that I had any obligation to give anything else, that I accepted. Challenge accepted. I dare you to find someone that thinks you’re worth fighting for.
In the mean time, we agreed to continue as though things were mostly normal until I left for Canada. I didn’t want to upset the kids needlessly, and I didn’t want to answer questions about what was going on. I didn’t want to deal with any of that.
I was still pumping for Ruby, and nursing her in the night when she was sleeping. I was still working overnight weekend shifts. I was still trying to be a good mom and a good person, and I felt like I was losing my mind. I had lost an unbelievable amount of weight, and wasn’t taking good care of myself. We celebrated Ruby’s first birthday, and then Ronan’s third. We moved Ronan out of the crib where he was sleeping well and into a toddler bed, and he quit sleeping completely. Ruby and Ronan got a stomach bug, and everyone had the pukes. I sat down to pump one morning, as I had been, and because all Ruby wanted while she was sick was breastmilk… and there was nothing. Literally nothing. My milk disappeared overnight, and I wouldn’t have believed it were possible were it not for my experience. Pregnancy plus low milk removal and it was just gone. I mourned that too.
Time passed, and we made an appointment to see the marriage counselor that my friend suggested. She was also a sex therapist, and worked primarily in “betrayal recovery.” That seemed promising. Also, she charged $250 per hour.
We made an evening appointment (for an extra $50!) so we wouldn’t have to get a sitter. We drove downtown to her office, and walked into the building wordlessly. I followed her into her office incredibly jaded. I KNEW she was going to tell us she could save our marriage with intense therapy… of course she would! She charged two hundred-fifty dollars per hour!
This therapist was a tall, strong woman. She had chestnut hair and a no-nonsense air about her. She smiled often, but her smile didn’t go all the way to her eyes. I could tell she wasn’t interested in niceties, but just wanted to get down to business.
I sat down and told her the whole story. The same exact story that I had told the other counselor, from start to finish… and her response was exactly the same.
“It is entirely reasonable for you to be done,” she told me. “No one would fault you for turning and walking away right now. I wouldn’t dare to invalidate your feelings by telling you that you are wrong.” Except… “If you would, however… I would want to ask you to hit pause. Just pause. Don’t make a decision to leave or to stay, and let Brock do some work. Let him go through therapy, his own therapy separate from you, and get to the root of his problems. Let him prove to you that he has the ability to change, and that he will. Then… you come back and reevaluate. Are you willing to do that?”
There it is, I thought, $250 per hour.
I reluctantly agreed. Honestly, I didn’t really care what Brock did. Let this be for his future romances, I told myself, as it surely is not for me.
The kids and I packed our things and flew to Canada for three weeks. I was twelve weeks pregnant, and excited to be with my parents, where I would get some REAL HELP with my kids. I was excited to be out of the house of tension. I was excited to be away from Brock. I had even given myself permission to do WHATEVER I WANTED while I was in Canada. My parents could watch the kids and I could do whatever I wanted. If I met someone I liked? Whatever. If I had a grand time with someone else? Whatever. In my mind, our marriage was over. I was already somewhat convinced that Brock was seeing (if not simply engaged in a heavy flirtation) with someone from his work, and I didn’t even care. Apathy.
Here’s the thing, guys. Grandparents don’t help.
I arrived in Canada, the land of hope, and my mom and dad did not help. My parents gave my kids tons and tons of junk. They bought them shitloads of toys. They indulged in my children’s every whim. They let them stay up HOURS AND HOURS past their bedtimes, and then fed them junk for breakfast. My life was infinitely harder while I was staying in my parents house, and my beautiful dream of moving home and having “real” help was shattered, wholly and completely. I knew couldn’t live like that.
After just a few days with my parents, it became resoundingly clear exactly how much Brock WAS helping with our kids, even when I felt like he didn’t. He fed them nutritious foods, and made them take naps, and helped with bed time. He picked up after them, and expected them to follow the rules, and took up slack that I didn’t even know I was leaving. He parented them.
The real eye-opener came to me one night as I sat down at a table in the bar with my brother and his wife. I had a coke (’cause pregnant) and chatted with them easily. We ordered food, and as the bar filled, I just kept coming back to the same place. Over and over.
I don’t want to get to know any of these men.
I don’t want to talk to any of them.
I don’t want to touch any of them.
I don’t want to kiss anyone.
I only want to kiss Brock.
I only wanted to kiss Brock. And in that moment, my heart softened, and I cried. The wall I had built around my soul and my feelings came shattering to the ground, and I was torn wide open again, and I just wanted my husband to love me and to do the right thing.
I wanted to go home.
To be continued…