Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An internet connection

I don't exactly remember when I purchased my computer, if it was after he left, or right before. Nonetheless, I had my hands on an open invitation to a whole new world. The Internet was new to me. I had never actually logged into AOL or a chat room, but once I did I found myself hooked.
It was so fun to sit and chat with people all over the world. I was able to travel with my imagination into other places without leaving the confines of my chair at home.
After T moved out, and I knew that separation and divorce were awaiting us, I was moving on. I will admit, I may have gone about moving on in a whole different way then some would, but I was still young. I was lonely, and I was looking for a friendship. I was looking in all the wrong places.
I did start talking to a few guys, one in Jacksonville FL and one in New Orleans. I am going to be honest too, yes, I wanted to meet these guys. But I never did. The chats would be as far as it would go. The guy in New Orleans was an attorney, so he was interesting to talk too.Although lived in New Orleans, he did try and give me some divorce advice. The conversation with him, or the chats with him didn't amount to anything but idol chit-chat. Same with the guy in Jacksonville. It was very interesting however, to talk to so many different people.
I bought a scanner to scan pictures of me so that I when I am talking to someone, they could see who I was. It was a good way for me to see who I was talking to as well. But not everyone had a picture posted. So that made it difficult.
T and I were still on the same schedule, he would come to sit with the boys while I worked, and leave when I came home. I wasn't to educated on how the whole computer thing actually worked, so I didn't know how to erase history or anything, but leaving him alone in the house with my computer would turn disastrous for me. Little did I know, T was already trying to bust me out on anything and everything he could. I was so naive, that I didn't think twice about what he was capable of. He had been a wuss of a guy when it came to confrontation. So what he had been doing to incriminate me, and build a case for himself was the last thing on my mind. In my mind he didn't have the balls or the brains to figure anything out. Boy did I underestimate him. Or should I say, his mom.

On April 4, 2000 I was on AOL chatting online in a Chicago chat room, everyone was talking about the plans they had for that night. Since it was a Saturday, everyone with a social life had something to do. My social life was sitting in the family room watching cartoons with the boys and chatting online.
I knew my plans were not that exciting to chat about. So I just watched, and made a comment from time to time. Then I heard a “bling.” It was a guy named Brian. He said “hi!” I said “hi” back.
I asked where he was from and he said Kankakee. He said I probably hadn't ever heard of it. But I quickly told him I had. (Which I had) We talked about how old we were, what we did for a living..etc. I told him I had 4 kids. That I was separated from my husband and a divorce was in the near future.
I sent him a picture of me, and asked him to send one of him, but he didn't have a scanner and wasn't able to send one. Needless to say, he liked my picture. Right before T and I separate, I had went to a local photography studio downtown Dundee and had some really cool pictures taken of me. I was feeling very confident, and pretty and wanted some pictures done. Those were the ones I used online.
The funniest thing happened, and we still joke about it to this day, we were talking about the music we liked and when he said he listens to the 80's channel, I had no clue that in his area he was able to pick up on a station that played 80's music only. But during that conversation, he had said that the song that he was listening to at the time was “Say my name, Say my name.” But I didn't catch that he said that's what was on the radio at that very when he said “say my name say my name..” I laughed and said “Brian” “Brian.” We still say “say my name, say my name” to this day and laugh whenever we here it on the radio. The connection we had was like no other. It was amazing.

We chatted for the rest of the day, even exchanged phone numbers and by the early afternoon we were on the phone making plans for him to drive and meet me. Our phone conversation went extremely well. We both talked about our families, and our childhoods. He had never been married, and was looking for friendship. Perfect, because so was I. Given the distance between us, 1 ½ hrs I knew that meeting him that night was going to be the last. This was my first experience meeting someone online, as was his, so we both decided what the heck, let's give it a try. We had no plans to leave my house, since I had the 4 kids, and it was going to be late before he arrived. So we decided to rent a movie and order pizza.

When he arrived the boys were already in bed. The house was quiet,and I had picked up the toys that the boys had left out. I took a shower and made myself look HOT! Well, I put on a long sleeve pink t-shirt with a pair of tan cargo pants. I fixed up my hair like I normally did.,and put on makeup. I didn't want to portray something I wasn't. I was anxious, and nervous all at the same time. But more anxious then nervous, since our conversation earlier, we had talked and shared so much that I felt so comfortable with him and wasn't afraid at all to meet him or let him in my house. He was wearing a pair of tan cargo pants had a maroon shirt, with brown shoes. He was very good looking and he smelled wonderful.(it had been a while since I had a man smell so nice) He wore glasses but had them on his shirt. So he was sqwinting when he met me. I shook his hand and invited him in. (shook his hand, who does that?)
We talked and talked...then I ordered pizza and waited to start the movie until the pizza came.
We watched “Double Jeopardy.” Interesting!
While we waited we started talking more about life, and things we talked about earlier. We had an instant connection. I found out that he liked to R/C race, but hadn't done it for a while. He as going to school and working, so his R/C hobby was placed on hold. He told me about his job, and that he worked 3rd shift. That hes been doing that for 5 years and was hoping to get on 1st shift soon.
He had a good head on his shoulders, knew what he wanted. Had goals.He was smart, and had a few bucks in the bank. He was going places.... I liked all of the above.
Lucky him I thought. We even talked about what was or wasn't going to happen that night.
We both agreed that nothing was going to happen. NOTHING!! We even said that we could remain friends, and chit chat over the phone and via Internet, but nothing further was going to amount from it.
We both knew this. After all, he lived far away.
The pizza arrived and we started the movie. I turned the lights down, just a bit to add to the mood. Hahahaha!!!
Then we made our way to the floor. Before you knew it I was kissing him. Then he was kissing me and then we kissed...and kissed...and kissed!!! The movie was really good.
We both knew that he was going to stay the night, since he drove such a long way. He made that clear. But we agreed that he would sleep on the couch. Which he did do...but it would be 3am before we actually did go to bed. (separately)
The next morning, we said our goodbyes, and said we would call. Maybe he said, he would call. Or did I say I would call. It doesn't matter...I was going to call him again regardless. I liked this guy. But in the back of both our minds, we knew we would never see each other again.

After he left, I went back to bed. It was still early and the boys were still in bed. It was also Sunday morning, and I knew that it wouldn't be long before they would be up. T was suppose to come pick them up for the I knew that I had to have them ready.
By the time T arrived, I had the boys ready to go. I think that we had a few words too while he was there, I think he wanted to know who was at the house last night. I couldn't exactly lie, since he knew someone was there, but I wasn't about to say who. I just said a friend, and left it at that.
After he left, I took a shower and made that phone call to Brian. I told him I was coming to see him, and which exit was it once I got into Kankakee? With that, I was on the road. It took me 1 ½ hrs to get there. Once I did, I didn't feel nervous or scared. It felt right. It felt comfortable. It felt like home.
But why was I feeling this way, this is crazy. This won't work. I kept telling myself.

When I pulled up at his house. It was exactly as he had described it. The lawn was perfect, which was a plus. I always had to remind T to mow the lawn or trim the bushes. Or, if he didn't I would have to do it. So when I saw that Brian's lawn was manicured and the bushes were trimmed, I knew that I liked this guy. He welcomed me into his house. I was taken back at how well maintained it was. How clean and well decorated. Either he had really good taste, he was gay, or he was married before. Well, one out of three....he just had really good taste! He had it all. A pool, jacuzzi, a boat. But honestly, that all did nothing for me since I had all that growing up as a kid. So that wasn't impressive and certainly didn't lure me to him by any means. Even if he didn't have all that, I still would've fallen for this guy.
After he showed me around, we talked more. Then he said that he had to work tonight and had to leave at 10pm. I said that was fine, that I would leave when he did, if that was OK. He said that he did have to sleep before he left, and I said that was fine too.
We stayed at his house most of the day. Then he took me to this little restaurant near his house. He warned me that it wasn't the best place in the world, but it had good food. When we arrived, we sat across from each other in a booth. He ordered a bacon cheeseburger and I ordered a baked potatoe.
Like it had been 24 hours earlier, the conversation was great. We laughed, and talked and shared stories about our lives.
After we left, we made our way back to his house. It was getting late, and he knew that he needed to go to bed. So, I laid with him and talked until he fell asleep. Then before we knew it, it was time for him to leave. We said good-bye and this time he promised to call me. I followed him until he got off at his exit and I headed home.
It was 12:30 before I made it home. T was there and the kids were sound asleep in their beds. He didn't leave when I arrived. But was asleep on the couch, so I went into my room and crawled into bed. But couldn't fall asleep, I was still on a high from that last 2 days.
Eventually I feel fast asleep, and before I knew it I was up and getting Cody off to school and back to my normal routine. But it was different this time. I had a quicker step in my walk. I had a smile on my face...for the first time in a long time I was happy. Until the phone rang. It was my dad. Apparently, T had called them, or something... and told him that I hadn't come home last night. I wasn't a child, I didn't need to call and check in. T had the kids for the day, I was on my own. We were separated, I didn't need to call and let him know where I was. And I certainly didn' t need my dad calling and asking about my whereabouts either. So I lied. I didn't care, I didn't need to share all my personal life with them. So I kept everything as quiet as I could.

In May 2000, I was still working at First Card. The schedule that we had made was still working out.
Or so I thought. One night while I was at work, my supervisor came and excused me from my desk. She said that I was needed out in the lobby. So I walked to the lobby, and there before me stood a women dressed in a nice pantsuit, and handed me a brown envelope. She said she was from an attorney's office and that I was being served divorce papers. This was not surprise, but it was a surprise that I was being served at work. What a jerk! I was home all day long, why would he serve them to me at work? Anyway, as she handed me the papers, she also handed me a card for another attorney's office.
I thanked her and walked away in shock. It was finally hitting me that I was getting divorced and he wasn't playing.
The papers were cold, formal and very scary. The words were intimidating and harsh. He was seeking full custody of the boys. I was scared out of my pants. How dare he even try and get full custody of the boys. There is no way he was going to get full custody of the boys, what was he thinking? We are both the parents, therefore we would have joint custody. This is not what we talked about. We promised that we wouldn't fight over the kids, we promised that we would work together for the kids. All of a sudden he had a set of balls that he hadn't had before. They must have been his moms balls, because he wouldn't have thought of any of this.
Come to find out, I was a little panicked. I called the attorney that was on the card the messenger gave me, and made an appointment. She told me that the papers were just normal lingo, and if I would've first mine would've said the same thing. OK, that made me feel better. Then we talked about how much she charged to represent me. It was very expensive. I had no money saved, so I had to get money from my parents. They sent the attorney $1500.00 to get started and the rest would be paid by me through a payment plan after she used the $1500. I knew T's parents were footing the bill for him, and money was no object for them.
Anyway, I hired that attorney, and she started my paperwork. I hated every single minute of this process. The financial parts, the not answering my questions and phone call parts. I hate attorney's. I didn't realize how much I disliked them until I had to start dealing with them.
I told her that he moved out on March 22 of 2000. (that year) and that I had been at home with the boys and got them off to school and picked them up. Then since I worked in the evenings, he would come and sit with the kids until I got home. She asked me “is this working?” I said “it has so far.”
Then she said “we will keep it this way until we need to change it.” She wanted to know who took the kids to the Dr.'s appointments and I said that I had been doing that.
Then I started telling her that he had cheated on me 2x, and I have proff of both. She wanted all the information. I told her that he was arrested and accused of rape, and was discharged from the Marine Corp. She assured me that I wouldn't have a problem establishing that I was the primary caregiver and the this would be a simple divorce as long as he didn't drag it out over the kids. But, given that you have been the primary caregiver, we would probably get joint custody with the primary care with me and he would have weekends, holidays...bla bla bla...that would be figured out later she said. Let's just get the basics out of the way.
She took a few notes, and then my “free” consultation was over. I was on my way to becoming a divorcee! I was feeling a lot better to now that I had an attorney, and she was confident that this would be simple, and it would be just another divorce for her. “Simple my ass!”
I would guess that T's attorney's strategy wasn't quit like my attorney's was. He was out for blood and I was about to be stabbed to death.

I had taken the day/night off from work so I could get a few things done that needed to be done. So when he came to sit with the kids, I was home, and he didn't know that I wasn't leaving for work. There were no cell phones, and I was asked not to bother him at work. So I didn't.
When he arrived, he had an agenda. For some reason, he wasn't leaving and he was staying to take a shower. Which I found odd, because he never liked to shower before, why start now.
So I kept asking him to leave, but he refused. By this time, T knew that I had a temper. I wasn't afraid to throw a few punches at him, and after about the 5Th time I asked him to leave, I hauled off and slugged him. But I couldn't stop hitting him. He didn't fight back, but this was part of his plan. His attorney had told him to provoke me so that I would hit him. In doing this, he would be able to have me removed from the home, and therefore establish himself as the primary caregiver. With me out of the house, he was sure to get custody of the kids. He went next door and called the cops. No sooner they showed up, his parents were right behind them. If I didn't know any better, which I didn't think about it that night, but they were in on the little plan too, because they seemed to have showed up in no time, to stand by their son. I was asked to leave the home for the night to “cool off” and he didn't press charges. Which was odd, but all part of the plan.
I think I called my dad, and he called my uncle or I called my uncle then I called my dad...I don't know, but all I know is that I stayed the night at my aunt and unlce's house that night. It was a long, stressful night. This is where I screwed up. When I allowed him to corner me, and provoke me into hitting him. So many things went wrong that night, and I have had to live with those decisions to this day. That night not only did he establish the primary caregiver status, but I was now going to find out what the term noncustodial parent meant.
By morning, I was driving back to my house, and I let myself in. He tried to push the door shut, but I let him know that I was only told to stay gone for the night to “cool off,.” I wasn't told I couldn't come back. So I marched myself in the house and went to bed. He got up and left.
I was back at home and my routine was the same. Cody off to school, then Brandon....

Somewhere in here, I quit my job at First Card, or I was let go....not really sure...but nonetheless, I wasn't working anymore. One night, while I was at home, alone..T had come and picked up the boys and took them to his parents house, which again was very odd since it was a school night and Cody had to be up for school. But thought nothing of it. I got comfortable, and put my pj's on and watched TV.
Then I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to see two police officers asking to come in. They had an order of protection, and that I needed to get a few things that I needed and then I had to leave the house.
(I think this happened near the end of my early June.)
This was the last time I was ever in that house again. If I would've known I would have tried to grab more things, like my baby books, some photo albums and a few other mementos. Oh, and more clothes.

For the next 2 weeks I stayed with my aunt, an old friend of the family and then eventually, on June 13, 2000, I moved in with Brian.

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