Chapter 14: Changes
The next few months were exhausting. I would be at work by 7a, come home at 3 and it felt like the second I was home, Jake abandoned ship and left to go skating or hang out with his brother… He would come home to put Melody to sleep and we would ignore each other while we turned on a movie or show to fill the silence and pretend we had a connection or were spending time together. I had been at my new job and our new place maybe 4 months. It was January 2015 when I found out I was pregnant. I was excited, maybe a baby was just what we needed to move forward and heal…
Nope… Instead it was another topic of emotional abuse and accusations from Jake….. “I bet that baby isn’t even mine!” “Are you sure I’m the father?” It was hurtful, unnecessary and ridiculous… I knew I had never physically cheated on him. I had not slept with anyone but him in 5 years! He couldn’t say the same… It brought out awful retorts of “Are you sure you don’t have any bastard children out there? You have been cheating for years…. What if you have a baby out there, or more than one?!” You guys it was ugly…. Maybe it wasn’t uncalled for, I HAD earned my punishment slightly.
For my dad’s birthday, I surprised him and told him I was expecting (it was early but I needed someone to share in my joy)… He was thrilled. A second grand baby! So far I was the only one of my siblings to have any kids. Melody was almost 3. It was good timing to have another one in regards to sibling relations go, but it was seemingly difficult to excite or make my husband ready for this and trust me that this baby was his… I honestly thought I would have to submit to a paternity test to prove it to him. But that notion became a moot point when I lost the baby… Heavy bleeding for days and I was pretty sure it was over. I was 4 days away from my first ultrasound, when lining was shed and I had a physical representation of what my baby was at that point… I cried, I was angry, I was thankful, I was relieved… But most of all I was sad. I needed something fresh to cling to. Someone I hadn’t screwed up or damaged in some way. A new life to mold and nurture. Melody was her daddy’s girl… she barely wanted anything to do with me, and Jake hated me…. I selfishly needed this baby. Which likely was why God took it from me.
Life went on like nothing had happened. Back when I was 15 I had spent a summer in St George
performing with 75+ of the strongest high school actors and actresses in Utah. We had auditioned all over the state and been double cast in a production of “Grease” that we performed at Tuacahn High School’s indoor theatre during the summer. We spent 4 weeks preparing and 2 weeks performing. While I was there I met an amazing human and dancer named Mic Thompson. He choreographed my dance solo with a kid named Randy Moore. I was Cha Cha and Randy was Danny. If you know Grease, you know that Danny shows up to the dance with Cha Cha to make Sandy jealous. In the script Cha Cha tells everyone she is the best dancer at St. Bernadettes which means I had to be talented and we had this big dance Solo. I got my first taste of lifts and ballroom dance from that experience… I kept in touch lightly with Mic through the years…. Side note- Mic was a backup dancer for Michael Jackson for a few years… Like no joke.. Legit! So when he made a social media post that he was looking for men and women to be part of a Michael Jackson tribute show- my first thought was I need to tell him about Jake! My hubby was an amazing dancer… So with Jake’s permission I helped send in all the audition video clips, his resume and headsets… whatever was asked…
He got a callback. Which was Virtual. They send a video of choreography to learn and Jake had to film it and resubmit. Well long story short- Mic hired him! The show was going to be a 16 month contract in Korea! This was a chance of a lifetime! I wouldn’t be able to go, but it was going to be a high paying opportunity for him to do what he wanted! Of course I was nervous he would cheat or leave me while over there, but all I could worry about was getting him what he needed… Getting him the opportunities he felt he gave up to have a family… Another way to prove I would not hold him back from his dreams! Almost in perfect timing, my position was eliminated at my job and I was let go… But that was okay- because Jake was going to make amazing money… We made the plans to get out of our housing contract, planned to move Melody and I to my mom's and I didn’t register for another semester at school so I could focus on Melody.
There were of course bitter feelings about moving back to my moms… I had screwed up here, so Jake worried I would do it again… The arguments that followed that topic were like a broken record. I was so tired of assuring him I was done with that part of my life and reminding him we were back here so he could have this amazing opportunity and save as much money as we could! He quit drinking as much while he worked hard to be show ready. In January of 2016 I had learned that I was expecting AGAIN… almost a year to the day since I had found out I was expecting my baby last January… I didn’t tell anyone this time… My sister who had been married for 8 years and had been wanting a baby for a long time, just found out SHE was expecting over Christmas… I didn’t want to jump on her surprise and I was scared to lose this baby too. Jake started to wonder if he should continue to do this MJ show… I insisted he keep going! Jake traveled back and forth to Vegas a few times to learn and practice the show with all the dancers in the performing group and to meet with Mic and get the details…. As the time neared and we got closer and closer for him to go to Korea in March, we were ready. Our lives were sorted.. We had moved into my moms, we were set… Then the Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus spread across Korea… we waited and waited for it to clear… Plans were still set just pushed…. Then tourism took a massive dive…. In April Korea cancelled all performances and we were stuck with nothing… No income, no place to live (except my moms) and Jake was back to devastated. Back to drinking heavier.
We decided to give Jake a chance to find a job. He applied two places. Winco and Home Depot… Home Depot interviewed him first, then Winco asked him to do a drug test. He had done an onsite drug test at Home Depot in his interview… He passed both drug tests, but Winco didn’t get back to him quickly… Home Depot hired him a couple days after his interview! He started the last week of May. We made the decision to move into a basement apartment in Saratoga Springs, across the lake from where my parents lived and about a 20 minute drive to his work… He was hired for a hard shift! 4a to 12p I think… If I remember correctly… But we was making enough to support us.. It just meant he went to bed between 6p and 7p every day. He drank a lot, especially at night when he was trying to go to bed while the sun was still high in the sky… this meant he would start to drift in the middle of games with Melody or he would make promises to her and then pass out before keeping them… She was 4 now, and really struggling to feel like she was doing something wrong. That daddy didn’t want to play with her.
She often came to me and told me that daddy said he would do this, and then the next day would say he never said that… Or he would fall asleep before tucking her in and it made her sad. She couldn’t figure out why her best friend was drifting away. He was short with me like always and it was annoying but I was starting to feel like it was my new normal… I pleaded with him often to quit drinking. But he didn’t want to. I decided then and there that I needed to explain to my daughter that her daddy had a problem… Up to this point she had no idea… She didn’t understand… As I tucked her in one night after Jake had passed out and disappointed her again, I held her close and I told her that her daddy loved her so much…
I said “Mel-b. You know daddy loves you right? You know you are his best friend and his favorite person in the whole world?” - “Yeah. Daddy is my bestest bud!” - “I know, you guys have so much fun together huh? I know it makes you sad when daddy falls asleep before you get to play, or before you finish your game. But do you know why he falls asleep?”
-“Cuz he gotta go to work early. He gotta make money so we can live here.”
-“That’s right! Daddy works really hard for us, huh? He works hard so we can have food, and toys and a place to sleep. He loves you very much! But I know it’s hard for you that daddy works and that mommy stays with you. He used to be the one to stay with you and now mommy does. I also know you have a hard time when Daddy forgets to finish games, or tells you he will do something and then he doesn’t do it. Is that true?”
- “…. mmmhmm (head hung low and a sad look on her face)… he promised. he lied. Why doesn’t he want to play with me anymore?” - “Oh baby girl, Daddy wants to play with you! He doesn’t try to lie.” -“Is he mad at me? He forgets about me lots of times now.” - “No baby! He doesn’t forget… The problem is…. daddy has been having a hard time with something. He has a favorite drink, and this drink makes him sleepy and it makes him forget what he says when he drinks it. SO he really wants to do what he promises… he just forgets he promised, or he falls asleep because it makes him sleepy.” -“Does it make him mad too? He gets mad at you a lot.”
....my heart breaks…
-“ I know baby, and yes… it makes him be mad sometimes…” - “maybe if i tell him to stop fighting he will. or if i ask him to pick a new favorite drink! Do you think so mommy?”
-“You can try baby, but it's really hard to change favorites… Your favorite toy is your Elsa toy… do you think it would be easy for you to pick a new one if daddy told you to pick a new favorite?” She thought long and hard and said “That’s really hard. But I love daddy and if he wanted me to pick a new one I would pick a new one cuz he wants me to.” -“How about this… next time you think Daddy is ready to talk about it, you can ask him if he drank his favorite drink and if he would be okay picking a new one so he could still play with you.” - “OKAY! I really like playing with daddy! Maybe he will keep the promise!”
-“If anyone can get him to change favorites, it would be you baby girl!”
Her face lifted and her whole demeanor changed… I wrote this conversation down to remember it. It was such a sweet moment and I felt so much better with her knowing she was not to blame for Jake’s behavior. I worried a lot about it being too much for her to handle, but I felt so much peace knowing she would not internalize his actions as her fault or something SHE did to “make him lie” to her.
She asked him many times to change his favorite… he would sink in his place and hold her close and promise he would try. I don’t know if you have an alcoholic in your life…. but trying looks an awful lot like not trying. In fact it gets more secretive and heavy as they sneak away to get their sip… that turns into gulps…. which turns into bottles.
Jake decided to enroll in school again in August. We worked out his classes and made arrangements with his job… We did a lot of his core classes online… I mean I… I did his online courses for him. I was massively pregnant and due in less than a month when he started school. Jake’s day went something like this… wake up at 3:15a, go to work, come home on his lunch break to be with Mel, leave straight from work to school and be at school until 5 or 6p, come home, eat dinner and drink until he could sleep. repeat. every day. On weekends sometimes he would work, but if he were home we would be at parks and walking and doing activities. My days were caring for Melody, helping her with her Waterford Upstart computer program, struggling with pregnancy pains and normal discomforts, and after Jake would go to bed and I got Mel to sleep, I would do his online course work… Often this would take me until 1 or 2 in the morning where I would then soak my muscles and belly in a warm bath and sneak into bed.
An opportunity to FILM an MJ advertisement or promo for an upcoming show with Mic came up… He was able to get time off for it, but it was happening right after our Second child was due. Which by the way was another little girl! Jake would be home for the delivery and leave the next day. I was induced and brought our second daughter, Versailles, into the world (yes like the palace or treaty). Her name had no sentimental value, Jake just posed the option and it took me some time to come around but I fell in love with it as I chose middle names to go around it. We call her Sai Sai, Sai Pie, Sai-fi, Sai-duck, Sai and more. I stayed at my moms while Jake was gone for that week, and brought Versailles and Melody home the day before he was home. Life
resumed. Our day to day was the same, but now I had a little girl to add love to and care for. We became a family of 4 in the blink of an eye... I struggled a lot with balancing time with my girls, to make sure Mel knew she was loved and cared for, especially as she struggled with Jake being out of the home, and drinking while breaking promises…. Melody started having a little bit of attitude and I know it was the combination of Daddy working, Mommy being home, the 2 moves and a new sister. Not to mention daddy drinking and barely seeing him....
We were getting really sick of his commute… He spent a total of like 2 hours a day driving two and from work, to school and home… it was expensive in more ways than one. It robbed us of time and it drained our gas tank… We started looking for something that was closer to his work or to school…. We found a place close to my parents in a basement apartment. It was small but it had access straight to a yard. It felt safe, because the owner who lived upstairs was a police officer. Between semesters Jake was promoted and his schedule changed… He made a little more money and it was harder to work in school… we decided to withdraw from the Spring semester and let him focus on his job, which he really liked. But he also really like Vodka… It would prove to be even more destructive than it had been up to this point. But that’s for next week.
My relationship with Jake to this point had been many things. He was the “White Knight” I needed at 17, he was the love of my life, he brought me two beautiful girls. But he also brought me torment, insecurities, shame, guilt, encouraged the deflation of my value and worth as well as my ability to stand up for myself. I coward and allowed myself to be bullied and put down by the person who was supposed to be my partner and treat me with grace, love and forgiveness. What's worse? I bullied myself more than anyone. I said horrible things to myself and I believed them. I am still learning to get rid of the lies I told myself. Some of them have continued to follow me today, and it's a process. The lesson here is that beauty can be found amidst the dark. Your trials yield blessings and rewards. Keep that in mind as you battle your own rough seas… Why? Because, Mama, YOU are worth it! Let’s rise together and shine a light on the blessings! See you next week!