Growing up, I dreamed of being a mom. I wanted to be the TV version of a wife, mother and neighbor; living in the perfect house, married to the perfect guy with the perfect job that would support our family, and the perfect 2.5 kids and a dog. I carried that vision with me until I was 20 or 21, as I watched some of my friends get married and start families. The image of the perfect family with the seemingly perfect bank account that would allow a woman to be a stay at home mom if she wanted to became a little harder to see as the reality of the cost of things started to hit home.
I got married at 22 to a man that I thought would be a “secure” bet. He was a couple of years older than I was, he seemed pretty stable, personality wise, and he had long term goals for a career. He was training to become a fire fighter while working a full time job, and met that goal after about 3 years when he was hired on with our local fire department. We immediately began trying to get pregnant. After a year of trying, I saw an OBGYN who voiced some concern that I had a heart murmur…that began a nearly 18 month long path from a diagnosis of pulmonary stenosis, a congenital condition that had gone undiagnosed, to open heart surgery and recovery, after which I was finally given the green light to start trying to get pregnant again. I was excited to start trying and believed that I would now easily get pregnant, but after another year and much frustration, I was still not pregnant.
Over that year, my husband seemed to conveniently have to work, had a migraine, or was too busy or tired to be a part of the process of getting pregnant. And he decided to go back to school for nursing because he was no longer happy with his chosen career of fire fighter. After much discussion we ended up selling our house, and decided to move from Spokane, WA to Portland, OR so that he would have more opportunities for nursing school. Gone was the security of a well paying job and a home and a place that I was familiar with. So after about 15 months of erratically trying to get pregnant, we put the possibility of having a baby on the back burner until he was done with school and we were in a better place financially and more time and all those things one tells themselves when they are forced to give something up or are not in a place to make that dream happen. That was 2003.
Fast forward 10 years. Ten years of believing that I was unable to get pregnant, and telling a million people that we just didn’t have kids because we never got around to it, or sometimes I would just say “we tried and it never happened”, but believing that I was broken somehow because I never got pregnant. After 10 years in Portland, minus a miserable 10 months in Missoula, MT, and years of my husband being in school and getting his LPN but never finishing his RN, multiple disappointments, a cancer battle (his), a suspected affair (his), and a disintegrating marriage, we chose to move to Seattle, WA in December of 2013. The opportunities were better here, for him, and I was trying to do anything to hold the scraps of our marriage together. After a year and a half of doing things that interested him when he had time off, and being the understanding wife when he worked long hours and weekends, and listening to him complain about everything to do with his job…the job he uprooted our lives and plans and dreams for – on top of the previous 10 years – I had reached capacity. I told him things had to change. We needed counseling, I needed him to acknowledge how he had hurt me in the past and I needed him to fight for me. I waited for him to consent to counseling with me, and waiting for him to do something, anything to get me to stay, and it never happened. So, I started making plans to leave. The last year and a half we were basically living separate lives and living as roommates.
In May of 2017 I finally told him that I was leaving. I had a move out date scheduled, I had a place to live arranged, and I was already going through all of my stuff, getting rid of things I didn’t need anymore, getting ready to move. When I told him I was leaving, he reacted the way I’m told a lot of men do; surprised. WTF? You’re seriously surprised? You have to be kidding me. I’ve been as clear as I could be about what I needed from you and been distancing myself from you for about a year and a half now, but you’re surprised? Ok. Well, I’m sorry to surprise you, buddy, but I’m done and gone. And so, in June of 2017, I left. And that was the beginning of the greatest adventure of my life.