About two weeks later, while I was still on maternity leave, Nyle came home for lunch. Bethany was in her crib sleeping while I was in the kitchen washing some dishes. Immediately walking in, Nyle lay down on the couch and asked, “What do we have for lunch?”
I could hear irritation in his voice and I wasn’t sure why he seemed to be in a bad mood.
“We don’t have any lunchmeat. I’m only buying frozen vegetables and meat for dinners and cereal for breakfast,” I said and starting to tense up.
He exploded in anger, “Why don’t we ever have fucking food in this place? I can’t even have anyone over for lunch, it’s embarrassing!”
I yelled back, “We don’t have the money! I’m sorry!”
“We never have any fucking money!”
“That’s not my fault, asshole! Why don’t you get a second job?”
“Oh, it’s always my fault, huh?!” He glared at me and sat up on the couch.
I walked over to the couch and fired back, “Maybe you could not be such a jerk when you come home!”
He kicked me so unexpectedly that I didn’t have time to move out of the way. He had never before touched me in anger. Between the force of the kick to my leg and my utter shock, I fell to my knees and grabbed the couch for support.
“You…hit me,” I said just above a whisper.
He got up off the couch and stood there looking down on me.
In that moment, I was done. Done with the yelling. Done with the fighting.
“I want a divorce,” I said with a flat voice.
“Fine,” he said, leaving and slamming the door as he went back to work. Gathering his things later, he went to live on base.
Very soon after that, Nyle’s mom called me on the phone.
“What happened?” she asked.
“We got in a fight over lunch meat,” I said, knowing she would not understand what had led up to that isolated incident.
“You don’t get in a fight over lunch meat and get a divorce,” she said in exasperation.
“Well…it wasn’t just about lunch meat,” I said, wishing it could have been different. I wished we could have created a happy little family.
“Don’t you think you should work this out? For the sake of Bethany? You know, this is a marriage, not just a relationship to toss away.” I knew she wanted me to feel guilty, and it was working. Maybe I should try harder. Maybe it was my fault. But even though I felt bad, I was not going to ask Nyle back. I was not going to ask him back because I was afraid he would have to babysit while I was working on the weekends and that he would be drunk. I feared that he would hurt Bethany through negligence. I was not going to risk that just because I was afraid that I would not, and could not, financially survive without him.
A week later, I called him to say, “I need money for the rent.”
“No,” he said.
I pleaded, “Please, Nyle. You know I have no money!”
“Too bad,” he said with complete indifference.
We had not gone through any divorce proceedings yet, so there was no mandated child support. I thought to myself, I am not about to be evicted with a month old baby!
I called his Commanding Officer and told him my situation and Nyle’s refusal to pay our rent.
He told me he would look into the situation.
The next day, Nyle came over with the rent money and left immediately.
Right after I told my parents about my separation from Nyle, they wanted to ensure that I would receive custody of Bethany. They also wanted to help me through my divorce. They found me an attorney and offered to pay him since I had no idea what I was doing nor did I have any money to pay anyone.
My parents met me at the law office, and the attorney was straightforward about the entire procedure. He told me how much child support I should expect to receive and since Nyle wasn’t contesting anything, he assured me it would be a simple and smooth procedure.
After we finished discussing the paperwork and the next steps involved, I looked across the table to see my parents looking at me with eyes full of compassion and love. I quickly looked away. I couldn’t continue to look at them; I didn’t want to cry in public. I was so grateful for my parents’ assistance, but at the time all I could do was say a quick thank you and go to my car where I sat with my hands on the steering wheel and my head on my hands while my body shook with loud sobs for fifteen minutes.
Later, in my immature and naïve way, I told my attorney to reduce the child support from $600 per month to $400. I knew how much Nyle was earning. What I should have remembered was that he had moved back into rent-free living.
I applied and qualified for CCAP (child care assistance program), LEAP (utility bill assistance), and WIC (Women Infant Children-food assistance). All of these helped me with childcare and utility costs, and the WIC program sent me coupons that covered some basic food items, such as peanut butter, milk, formula, eggs, cheese, and cereal. This, along with my parents’ occasional financial support, helped me to pay my bills, but even with the support, having enough money each month remained an issue.
It was not long before Nyle showed no interest in being an involved father. I found myself trapped in sadness, despair, and anxiety over my life. I didn’t realize at the time how Nyle’s choices would create so much pain, not just in my life, but in Bethany’s, and how this early abandonment by her father would later lead her on her own painful quest to find male love. I could not have predicted or simply did not predict the amount of work it would take to guide my daughter through her own adolescence. At that point in time, I was focused only on our survival. My mistake was holding on to the false belief that it required having a man in my life in order for us to survive.
That belief system would end up costing both Bethany and I a great deal.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.