Earlier this year, after my husband and I had split for good, I got a friend request from Scott on Facebook. I debated and overanalyzed and overthought that one to death. Surely he had seen my “complicated” relationship status and would hound me to try to get me back. He would be an internet stalker and that’s just what I needed—I already had a husband stalker. But I was curious and I wasn’t sure why. And we had so many friends in common, he would have some indirect access to me anyways. One friend said to go ahead and approve it and if he bothered me, delete him. So I winced as I hit the “approve” button, as though the stalking onslaught would be immediate in coming. But there was nothing. No “hi, how ya doin” post on my wall, no personal messages, no photo comments, nothing. I was almost disappointed. Maybe my husband’s rejection wouldn’t get to me quite so bad if there was a man out there who had been pining for me for 16 years! But, alas, no. He virtually ignored me. I went on with my life.
After a few months, Scott eventually made some innocuous comments on a few of my posts. But nothing more. In July, I was surprised when he suddenly struck up a chat with me and even more surprised when I enjoyed talking with him. He initially offered to pay for me and the kids to go to Worlds of Fun (he lives in Kansas City) because he saw from my posts that we seemed to be having a hard time. At that point, I was so broke, I didn’t know how I would pay bills. I was getting no child support and my part time job was cutting back even more hours. I was on food stamps (which I hated) and had also had to go to some food pantries and clothes closets (which hurt my pride even more). But apparently I still had enough pride to not want to take someone else’s charity (plus with our history, I didn’t want to owe him something), so I refused. He tried to talk me into it about 10 different ways, but finally laid off and just chatted. I was surprised when he listened and asked questions and pretty much let me talk and seemed to enjoy it. I like to talk and it’s rare to find someone to actually enjoy listening to me. After a lengthy chat, he said he’d like to talk again sometime. That night I had a dream that I married Scott and he loved me so much and treated me so well. When I woke up I thought that it would probably be true, but I was also sad. Sad that someone showing a little bit of kindness to me could make me feel so wistful.
Well, I couldn’t stop thinking about Scott after that. I kept trying to put him out of my mind and remind myself of how much I hated him all these years, but it didn’t help. I would sit on Facebook and wait to see if he would get online and want to chat and get disappointed if a) I didn’t see him online or b) he was online but didn’t strike up a chat. He sent me a few messages, but by Saturday, I was a wreck. I resembled some angst-ridden teenager! I sat at work, crying, because I wanted to talk to him so much. It was ridiculous! I was so disgusted with myself for how I was behaving. I went home and immediately logged onto Facebook and checked every 5 minutes to see if he was online. I sent him a message when I saw him, but he said he was tired and was going to bed early and I was deflated. I had deluded myself into thinking he would be just as excited to talk to me, but apparently sleep was more attractive to him. I cried some more, but tried to pull myself together and just played some games to calm myself. I was surprised when I got a chat window from him. It was so funny how I immediately relaxed and calmed, like a big sigh of relief. That was the first night of many nights where we stayed up till the middle of the night either chatting or on the phone.
He admitted that he had never stopped thinking about me and felt he had really missed his chance. He admitted he still had feelings for me, but that he was content having his best friend back if that’s all there was. He said he would be open to dating later on, if I was. I was surprised to find that I was. The lengthy hours of talking daily made our relationship go serious very quickly. We agreed that we wouldn’t date until my divorce was final, but he already knew that he wanted to marry me. And he would have married me immediately. I was a little more cautious and had my own “plan”. We jokingly named them “stages.” Stage 1 was us dating, stage 2 was introducing him to the children, stage 3 was engaged, and stage 4 was marriage. I wanted stage 1 to last a long time.
Speaking of plan, I had previously made a list of all the qualities that I wanted in a future husband. After I was done, I proclaimed that the guy couldn’t possibly exist (or if he did he was 85 or 12 or lived in China) and told God it was impossible. Oops! Wrong choice of words to use with God. That’s like issuing a challenge. Luke 1:37—“For with God nothing will be impossible.” I was surprised to find that Scott met every one of my criteria.
I signed the final divorce papers and was told they would be before a judge to be signed right away. So Scott and I planned our first date. I was anxious because I had not been out with other adults in a long time. My 2 closest friends in town worked the night shift, but I switched to days to make child care easier, so our schedules didn’t mesh well. I was craving adult conversation and some time away from the kiddoes. Their dad was going to take them camping Saturday night and his mom offered to take them Friday night so I could have a whole weekend to myself. I didn’t tell anyone what I was planning, which was to meet Scott in Emporia (sort of halfway) and then go up to Kansas City with him to spend the following day. I was either going to sleep on his couch or he was going to rent me a hotel room, but I didn’t think people would understand, and it would look scandalous, so I didn’t tell but one friend. I packed a bag and hid it in the back of my SUV, then I packed the kids up for the weekend. I picked them up at school and dropped them off at their grandma’s, then I headed out of town. I am usually very conscientious of people being able to get a hold of me when the kids are not with me, in case of emergency, but I didn’t think about my Cricket phone not working out of town. I had been on the phone with Scott as we drove towards each other. I missed a call on the other line from my mom and then I got a text from her, saying to call her. That was odd because she would normally just tell me what it was she wanted, so I was a little concerned. But just about then, I lost signal, I think a little ways past El Dorado. I had only been on the road about 30-45 minutes. I thought I would have signal once I hit Emporia and could call her back, but I didn’t.
Scott and I met at Applebee’s and had dinner. I tried to enjoy myself but I had a nagging sense that something was wrong. My grandpa had been sick in the hospital so I wondered if something might be wrong with him. Scott gave me a beautiful sapphire ring and then we headed to Kansas City, leaving my SUV in the WalMart parking lot in Emporia.
On the outskirts of Kansas City, I finally got signal and called my mom. She said that my ex-husband had been calling me (I now had 8 voicemails) and that he called her, saying that I took off and left the kids, had packed a bag and left town with a boyfriend (how did he know this?) and that he was going to take the kids and I would never see them again. My phone died then. I also found out later that he had been calling one of my friends, questioning her as to my whereabouts. We turned around and went back to Wichita, picking up my car first in Emporia. Scott offered to go to my house with me, but I said I would be fine, just needed to get the phone charged so I could call my ex and get to the bottom of this and talk him out of his tree. Scott went to his mom’s in case I needed him and instructed me to call him as soon as I got in the house.
When I got home, there were lights on in the house and I could see the TV was on. I knew I had turned it all off when I left. I had told the kids’ grandma where my key was hidden in case she needed to take the kids by the house for anything. I assumed maybe she was there now. I knocked on the door and was surprised when my ex peeked through the blinds. The divorce papers included a temporary restraining order that says he is not supposed to come around my house without my permission. His middle-of-the-night visits had prompted me to remind him of this and tell him to never do it again or I would call the police. Now, here he was IN my house.
He let me in and I saw that the kids were asleep on the couches, then he started grilling me about where I had been and who I had been with and why hadn’t I answered my phone. I told him the phone had died and that the rest was none of his business. He started puffing up and getting in my face and said, “I’ve never hit you before (which is a lie), don’t make me start now.” I told him to get out, but as I had a dead cell phone, how could I call the police? He refused, and kept yelling, calling me a whore, and woke the children. I again asked him to leave and to calm down in front of the children, but he refused, so I went for the door because I had a sheriff’s deputy that lived down the street. But he grabbed me and started shoving me against the kitchen counters and the walls. The kids came up and tried to get him to stop, but he kept shooing them back to the living room. I thought about the knives that were in the cabinet right near me and the pepper spray that was so far away in my bedroom and about striking out, but I had the distinct feeling that it would be worse if I fought back. He was shaking all over and I felt like he had some thin layer of control, but if I did anything it would snap and I would be no match for him, whatever my weapon. I tried to turn on my phone in a desperate attempt and was surprised when it actually powered on! But he kept trying to either knock it out of my hands or grab it to see who I had been talking to. I managed to keep a hold of it, but couldn’t get anything dialed. I had managed to get near the back door, but he blocked it so I couldn’t get through. He demanded that I tell him who I had been with. When I said no, he grabbed me by the throat and held me against the wall. I remember thinking, “oh my God, he is really going to kill me.” He said, “tell me his name and it will stop. If you don’t tell me, I won’t stop.” I managed to choke out the word “no” and then I felt everything going black and fuzzy. Next thing I knew, I hit the floor and I was aware that the kids were behind him, so I assume that they had stopped him. It took me a moment to get up because I couldn’t move at first. He had moved enough away that I grabbed the closest 2 children and flung open the door and shoved them out. I told them to run to the neighbor’s and call the police. But they just stood there, rooted to the ground. He had turned around and went back to get his boots, so I grabbed the last of the kids and we ran out the door, me pushing all 3 in front of me. I started dialing 911, amazed that my phone was on at all. I don’t know if he knocked me down or if I tripped, but I know I ended up in the grass. He knocked me over the head with his boots and then shoved them on and started running down the street. My across-the-street neighbor had come out and came over to us. I had enough battery to tell the 911 operator what happened, where I was, and which direction he was heading before it died.
The police came quickly and it took longer to explain everything than it took for it to actually happen. They took pictures of my neck and told me that they had arrested him and that he would be out in 4-8 hours depending on if he was able to post bail or not. I finally was able to call Scott who was beside himself by that time since it was more than 2 hours after we had parted. Then I called my mom and she came and stayed with me, per Scott’s orders. He is a paramedic and he was worried about me being alone if I had lost consciousness. My mom and I were scared to death. We couldn’t sleep and I was a nervous wreck, thinking about my ex coming back to kill me or snatching the kids. Every noise made me jump. I knew I couldn’t stay there. Scott had offered to let us come and stay with him for a few days and I decided to take him up on the offer.
I hated having to traumatize the children further by introducing them to mom’s new boyfriend, but I needed for us to feel safe. My ex knew everywhere else I might go except Scott’s. I felt it was the only safe place. So we went with the idea that it would only be for a few days.
But things started to unravel. I kept trying to call my lawyers to figure out what to do but they would never return my calls. Hooray for legal aid! I knew I couldn’t trust the kids’ grandma to babysit anymore because she had obviously told him where the key was hidden. Also there was a dispute over how this got started. HE said that SHE called him, freaking out, saying that I had dumped off the children, etc. SHE said that HE showed up, demanding his children. But I couldn’t trust her and she was my primary Saturday babysitter while I was at work. So now what should I do? Then I got a call that the girls’ school transfer hadn’t been approved so our whole reason for moving into that neighborhood was gone, they would have to go to a different school. Then I found out that work was doing a schedule overhaul and not one of the new schedules would fit into our school/childcare schedule. And the fear didn’t go away. I made the decision to stay in Kansas City with Scott. We would get married soon because I was not okay with being a live-in girlfriend.
Except then I found out that the judge had never signed my divorce papers and I was still legally married! My lawyers started trying to get me sole custody and supervised visitation and I was going back to Wichita to get a Protection From Abuse order and to pack my things. The “ex” kept calling but I ignored the calls and eventually they stopped. Long story short, I agreed to move the PFA over into the divorce papers, he got a lawyer which stopped all the divorce papers cold and got him diversion on the domestic battery case. I was informed that sole custody is pretty much a joke and I would never get supervised visitation so we agreed to a 4 hour visit with the kids every other Sunday, but for 4 times, he didn’t show up. I was happy, thinking he would lose his parenting rights, but the next thing we knew, he hauled us into court, trying to take the kids away from me, saying I had kept them from him for 3 months. I hired a new, better lawyer and of course, he didn’t get the kids.
I have signed 3 sets of final divorce papers, but it seems like it all may finally be over this Monday! If that is the case, Scott and I will be married December 15. Our relationship has been pretty abnormal and all of the stress hasn’t lent itself to romantic interludes. We trade off sleeping on the bed or the couch, to try to maintain some sense of propriety. The kids really love him and he has proved himself to be good dad material. I will be glad when this is all over and we can relax and start a new life.
The kids had to go for their first weekend with their dad 2 weeks ago. I was nervous and cried a lot, but it all worked out okay. They go with him again tomorrow and I pray it will be easier for me this time.
So that is my 2009 in a nutshell. My nutshell is REALLY long so I will save my thankful post for tomorrow!