Since 2012, I've lived in five different homes in Flagstaff. And we're about to do it again! This time, more than any other, we are excited for the little things. A bedroom. A door to that bedroom. A back yard. A garage!
Let me catch you up on the adventures in moving over the last three years. When Scott and I split up in 2014, it took a while for me to move out. Because the "build up Mod Life (my ex's line) to help build up Mod Mom" plan wasn't working, I ended up getting a job at the local university to make ends meet. It allowed me to finally move into a place of my own. I picked an apartment that was in a good location and was well put together, but most importantly, it didn't require thousands of dollars deposit. Just a few hundred bucks and I was in my own two-story, one bedroom apartment. The kids split time between Scott's place—he also moved but into a home with three bedrooms so the kids had their own rooms there—and mine, but not in a formal way. It made sense that I was the one who would sacrifice because I was the one who left, and the one who was expecting to live with her new love.
The plan was put into place and my ex moved from Philadelphia to Flagstaff, living with me in the one-bedroom when he wasn't traveling home or for work, trying to build up Mod Life. I foot the bill for us to live in the apartment with my new job. It was all working fairly well, except for the abuse. One day, someone called the cops because they heard him yelling at me, and they heard me crying. Having never endured such a thing, it was terrifying and mortifying all at the same time. Anyhow, my lease was coming up in March of 2017, and he and I were on again, off again. Scott called one day to tell me the house he was living in was being sold in roughly 20 days. Out of the blue, a buyer made an offer. He knew it was coming, but not that quickly. He was frantically checking out other homes and condos and pulling together the amount of money needed for the deposits, but the logical answer came quickly for both of us. We're both adults and we handled our separation lovingly, despite all that was involved, so he ended up renting a two bedroom in the apartment complex where I was living. He upgraded my apartment to a two bedroom and Grace came to live with me, and Noah lived with him. It was ideal because we didn't have to drive all over town towing kids back and forth, and they could easily come and go from either apartment. There were no plans to reunite at the time; but as coparents who got along, this seemed like an ideal situation given everything Scott was facing.
Now, here's some backstory for you that will give you more context as to the nature of the abuse I allowed. I didn't realize when I initially signed the lease at the apartment complex that smoking wasn't allowed on the decks or patios. I just assumed it was which was a grave mistake on my part. My ex has smoked two packs of Marlboro Red a day since he was a young teen. I almost didn't sign the lease when I found out but I was already packed up ready to move in. When I shared this news with him before he moved out to Flagstaff, he was livid. He was so angry I would do this to him—that he would have to walk downstairs, and outside, to smoke. Now, I didn't grow up in a smoker's world, nor was it ever in my mind that it would be OK to smoke in the apartment. I'd had a few smokes over the years in the spirit of rebellion but it was never inside a home. You see where this is going, don't you?
He moved to Flagstaff and immediately starts pushing the boundaries. He would start having a cigarette with the door open, or in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on. I pleaded but eventually felt I had no way to win. (He made a point to not smoke inside around my kids.) Hell, I even joined in with "lady cigarettes" out of stress. After all, I was now living in a smoker's place, breathing Marlboro Red. I'm not proud that I started smoking—and haven't smoked at all since—but I chalk it up to being part of surviving life back then. I quit cold turkey after severing ties. In addition to smoking, I was so stressed I literally pulling my hair out. The whole time he lived here, I felt scared because I knew it was illegal in the apartment complex but I felt powerless to change the situation. I'd been bullied by the best of them and as much as I tried to stand up for myself and fight him on it, I didn't stand a chance.
The point of sharing that is because upon moving into the two-bedroom with Grace, I was hit with a $1200 charge because the carpets in my old one-bedroom had to be changed due to smoke. If I didn't pay it within 10 days, Grace and I were out on the street. I was a mess. With tears in my eyes, I told Scott what had happened and he hugged me and said, "It's gonna be OK, I've got the money and I'll take care of it." And he did. When I shared the news of the bill with my ex, I was told it was my fault. And he didn't have the money, nor would he help me.
While my ex never lived with me in the two-bedroom and he had already moved back to Philly, I finally told him to never talk to me again in early June after a woman wrote to me sharing she had been with him in May, while he was still telling me I was the love of his life. Counseling, friends, and family helped me regain my strength for good. This time, I was not falling back into the cycle of abuse. Scott was my biggest supporter but he was never pushy. We knew if we had a future, it had to be because it was what we both wanted and we'd been through a lot. We let nature take its course and got to know each other again. In September, we made it official—we were reuniting. September was also the time I went to see a judge about granting a restraining order because my ex was threatening me and harrassing me at work and privately, through email. He granted it after reviewing the evidence. I took the restraining order to the apartment complex manager and, through tears, told her what had happened over the past year. She was very comforting, having gone thorugh similar with an ex-husband. She told me that the day three cops came to my door was not the only day someone in the complex spoke up about the abuse I was enduring. Apparently, multiple complaints had been made about the noise level when he would get angry. I was mortified. This couldn't be my life, but it was. She immediately told me that because I had obtained a restraining order, I was able to vacate my apartment without penalty. Scott sat by me holding my hand, and the office manager was so happy to know he and I had made it back to one another. While I was free to move, Scott wasn't so our decision was made for us.
Now, here comes the fun part! Grace and I moved into the two-bedroom with Scott and Noah. Scott and I thought long and hard about how we'd arrange things and ultimately decided it was best to give the kids the bedrooms, and we'd hunker down in the living room. We knew we'd be moving at the end of March so it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Scott and I joked that it's felt like we've been living in a loft in Manhattan. Our "bedroom" is next to the kitchen, "living room," and "dining room." The only problem with this set up is that when we come home from work, it's hard not to flop on the bed and fall asleep at 7pm. Ok, so that's not the only problem with this set up long term. :)
We're all looking forward to moving in a few days to a house in an area we love. And get this—it has a bedroom with a door! Four of them, to be exact. And a yard!
I look back at the last seven months and smile. We did it! On so many levels, we did it! We've made beautiful memories here, rediscovering ourselves, healing, and rebuilding our life in new and better ways. The walls of THIS apartment have only heard the sound of love and laughter, and felt excitement for this next chapter. We finally feel we are home.
(Here's an inside look at how we set up our mini-home over the last 7 months. Onward to a home with a bedroom door! :) ^^^)
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