Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
I didn’t love him anymore. My journal entries tell a different story, a tale of hope for us to get back together, lies written in a private place because he has always looked there. But I stopped loving Nate right after finding out about Brittany. As he told me Jenny was also pregnant, and as the last several months flashed through my mind, I realized I really, really didn’t love him anymore. All the hope for happiness with him, all the desire to grow old with him, it was just gone. Every action and feeling stemmed from a place of survival, desperation.
But that didn’t mean I could just walk away. That would be too easy.
After picking up Brian, I went back home and tried to pretend everything would be just fine. Clearly Nate thought I was stupid enough to believe him when he said, “I don’t want her to be pregnant; I want you to be. That baby probably isn’t even mine.” If you deny something enough, it can’t be true. Like Brittany’s baby. Now Jenny’s. Like the years I wasted denying Nate was bad.
My doctor wouldn’t be happy to hear I was pregnant so soon after getting off my medication and less than a year since my illness began. I wondered exactly how long before I wouldn’t be able to work both jobs anymore, if I’d lose my house, and on and on.
It didn’t matter anyway, because I became sure I would miscarry the baby. Deep inside, the thought nagged at me, a heavy blanket of doom, that I wouldn’t ever really meet this baby. And that made me sad, despite the bad timing.
I worked harder at my waitressing job, hoping to earn more money, but instead, business slowed down and I started getting sick. So when Nate called to tell me he kicked out Jenny, sending her back home to Tampa, and that he was going to move the boys and me to Georgia to be with him, I just let it happen. I weighed the options and found I could make the sacrifice to leave my home, rent it out to strangers, and go back to him if it meant the boys would be better off and I wouldn’t lose this baby.
As the day neared for us to pack up our house and move, I thought about what it would be like to live with Nate and not love him. Would I grow to love him again? Would he change? That was a stupid question. I knew he wouldn’t, not after all this time. Surely there was nothing more I could do to help him. Now it was time to just help the boys, our new baby, and me. I’d plan something and, as far as I was concerned, this was temporary. It’d be over as soon as this baby was born.
Upon arriving in Georgia, I found a letter Nate had written to Jenny. I didn’t want to read it, didn’t even care, or so I tried to tell myself. But I did, and it hurt even then to read his words, telling her how much he really loved her and that he was only with me so he wouldn’t lose his kids.
We fought that first night, and it became one continuous fight, with small breaks here and there. My pregnancy was miserable, and I hated him more and more every day. I hated him even more because I couldn’t just tell him I hated him. It always felt like I had to be the same person, do the same things, have sex with him if he wanted, fix his dinner, wash his clothes. I hated everything about being with him.
When he didn’t come home one night, it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t feel the way I used to, watching the driveway for his car, pacing the hallways, praying he was ok. Instead, I went to bed and slept through the night, not worried at all.
The phone rang early in the morning. A collect call from jail. I almost refused it.
“I need you to go get my brother and come to the jail in Atlanta. I need you to bail me out.”
“Bail yourself out.” And I hung up. I sat for several minutes as my heart raced. What did I just do? No doubt he was pissed now.
Out of courtesy, I suppose, I did go tell his brother, but then I went on with my day, tending to the boys, cleaning house, even reading a book. By noon he walked in the front door, threw down his lunch cooler, and just smirked at me.
“I got myself out, thank you. I’ll never call you for help again.”
We both knew we were unhappy together. A part of me wished our new baby could bring us together as a family again, but I had also long ago given up on happy endings. Now, we were just doing time together.
A few months before the baby was due, we moved into a single-wide trailer in a pretty decent trailer park, and things seemed to go smoother for a little while. Nate and I tried to get along, more for the sake of our boys, I’m sure, but his temper was shorter than ever. He’d violated his parole and was officially hiding out again. It was just more of the same old story, and I wondered how long it would be before he either started stealing again or was just caught for this violation. Either way, it was an easy out for me and I longed for it.
The closer we got to my due date, the harder my pregnancy got. On more than one occasion, as early labor hit, Nate accused me of having cheated on him, that if the baby came early, he’d know for sure I was lying to him. After denying both Brittany and Jenny’s babies, it was only a matter of time before he completely denied mine.
Day after day, he picked fights with me, calling me names, telling me what a mistake he made moving me up with him when he could have been with Jenny. His sweet Jenny, only 17, ready to do whatever he wanted. She was a brand new version of me, not around long enough to know how to fight back. I was jealous of her, not because she seemed to have left with his love, but because she got out before the big hurts would come.
I wondered if I’d ever get out for good.
A week or so before I went into real labor with our baby, we had our biggest blowout yet.
“Where are the waffles?” Nate asked, digging around in the freezer.
“They’re gone,” I said.
“Looks like someone is eating a little too much around here, don’t you think?” He’d been telling me from almost day one that he’d leave me if I ever got fat.
I looked at him and screamed, “I hate you!”
We weren’t fighting about waffles. No one screams about waffles. This was a response to a lifetime of pain for me, and running out of waffles made me an easy target for him.
As I turned to walk down the hallway to shut myself in the bathroom like always, he hurled a glass of tea at me. It barely missed my head and smashed into the wall beside me.
“I hate you too, you fat bitch!”
“Mommy?” Scott called, stepping out of his bedroom and into the hall.
I pushed him back into his room and shut the door, then whirled on Nate.
“Get out. Leave. Don’t come back. I don’t need you or want you. Just go.”
And he did. He stayed away all night, and I was torn between being afraid and being very happy. I sat with my journal and made plans to move back to my house in Florida as soon as the baby was born and able to travel. I would get my job at the newspaper back, and perhaps find something else in town so I wouldn’t have to be away from the kids too much. It would be hard, but I’d make it work. I believed in myself now more than ever.
Nate came back the next afternoon, and without a word of what happened, told us we were going shopping. It was as if none of it happened. Although, when he loaded up five boxes of waffles, he was still trying to make a point.
We never talked about that day, the words we exchanged, and then I was finally in real labor. We let it all go in favor of the birth of our third baby.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!