The Full Story

This is everything. I do mean everything.

Preface

I was going to write this as far back as mid-2019, but I decided not to, because I figured it would be a waste of time. I knew that nobody, on my side or hers, would change their mind about anything. My original point in wanting to write this was so that all my perspectives and thoughts and feelings could be right out in the open, and Brooke could no longer say I was trying to be deceptive or manipulative or whatever, at any point in time. But I didn’t write this, for so long, because it would take far too long and I saw no point. Nobody’s mind would change at all. But I’ve had a change of heart, for one reason and one reason only:

Our daughter. That is the reason. It’s become obvious that my ex-wife and I will never stop despising the other, and at some point in the future, our daughter will notice this, no matter how hard we try to hide it for her sake. As she continues to go back and forth between us for her entire childhood, she will eventually become desperate to know what happened between her parents. When she asks her mother, she will get nothing but selfish, immature bias in which she did nothing wrong and I am to blame for everything. (I seriously worry about how much her mother’s immaturity will rub off on her.) But when she asks me what happened, I will have to admit that I have far too much to say. My short version is: We separated because we were both immature, but we stayed apart because your mother had no desire to fix things. So, that’s my short version, but that’s still unsatisfactory. The short version doesn’t tell enough.

So, here’s the long version. If I write it down, I can just give it to our daughter later in her life. When she’s ready. I won’t include this preface, of course, and I’ll rewrite and polish this accordingly when she’s ready to read it.

This is … everything. Everything I experienced, and everything I was thinking.

Part 1. Getting to Know Her

For most of my life, I wanted to be the father of a daughter. I have two younger sisters whom I still, to this day, have never met. While I was growing up, I didn’t like being the youngest, and I also wanted to have little sisters to teach and protect. Eventually, I accepted that I wouldn’t get to meet my little sisters before I grew up, and after accepting that, I wanted to grow up to be the father of a daughter. This is important to note, before I start telling this story.

Random thing to know before I start, so that you don’t get confused later: My name was originally Zak. “Michael,” as you know me, was what I later changed it to.

It was February 2016. I had just quit my job as a welder, putting oil barges together. I quit because I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life, and since they threw extra money at me every 3 months (either through bonuses or wage increases), I knew the longer I stayed, the more likely I’d do it for the rest of my life. A month before I quit my job as a welder, my girlfriend and I broke up (she was the girlfriend who was 16 years older than me).

I lived off my savings account for the next several months. I was severely depressed. So, for several months, I lived off my welding earnings, not caring much about my future. I admit I occasionally thought about suicide. Without a good job, without someone to love, and without knowing what I even wanted to do with my life, yes, I sometimes thought about suicide.

When my savings ran dry, I got a job as a dishwasher, just as something to pay the bills while my life continued to drag on aimlessly. I started this new job on June 1, 2016. It was on that exact day, while I was in the middle of training, that I first saw Brooke. She was a host at the restaurant. She had briefly come into the back room, talking to somebody. In that instant, the first time I ever saw her, I fell in love with her. It was like getting hit with a brick.

She was all I thought about for the rest of the day. And this was before I knew anything about her. I didn’t even know her name yet. Yet somehow … SOMEHOW … I knew this girl would be my wife, and be the mother of my daughter. Yes, that feeling I got also told me our child would be a girl. I can’t explain that feeling. That was the only time, in all my life, that I’ve ever gotten such powerful feelings for someone, I also had never gotten such strong feelings for someone before I technically met them.

I officially met Brooke when I saw her reading in the back room before her shift started, which she always did. I asked her what she was reading, and it was a YA novel of some kind. I thought, Oh, she likes to read. That’s a good sign!

As time went on, my feelings for her didn’t fade, they only got stronger. I kept trying to repress these feelings, because after my disastrous previous relationship, I had decided to be single for a minimum of 3 years. June was only 5 months after that breakup. My feelings weren’t cutting me any slack. I wanted to be single so that I could feel I’m worth a damn to myself and especially to a future partner. But did my feelings for Brooke fade? No, not at all. Something kept telling me I had to marry her, I had to make a child with her. I couldn’t shut this feeling up. Nothing worked. Distracting myself at work, distracting myself at home, nothing. Nothing got Brooke out of my mind. It wasn’t until I finally just said to myself, “Fine!” and gave in to my feelings and started giving it a shot.

Sara, who I called my lesbian best friend, who worked with Brooke and I, was the first to find out that I liked Brooke. Sara said, “… I think she has a boyfriend?” I asked Sara if she was sure, and she said she wasn’t sure. After a bit more talking, Sara eventually said, “I can find out if you want? I’ll talk to her and ask.”

“Don’t make it obvious!” I remember saying nervously.

Sometime later, Sara said she talked to Brooke, and sure enough, Brooke confirmed she has a boyfriend. And that was nice to find out, because I thought knowing this would make my feelings for Brooke go away. But that didn’t happen. My feelings for Brooke didn’t fade whatsoever.

One night, Sara invited me to hang out with her at a bar that she frequently went to. Earlier that day, I found Brooke on Facebook and sent her a friend request. When Sara and I got to the bar and were hanging out, Brooke’s name actually didn’t get brought up at all … until she accepted my friend request. Sara and I were playing a game called … Cornhole, I think it’s called?… And in the middle of the game, my phone notified me that Brooke accepted my friend request, and it made me smile. Naturally, Sara asked me what I was smiling about, and in a childlike way, I told her, “Brooke accepted my friend request!”

Sara gave me a weird look when I said that. She gave me a look and said, “Zak, it’s never going to happen. She has a boyfriend. You gotta find somebody else.” I remember looking at Sara and saying, “I know, but I still can’t help that I like her so much… Trust me, I’ve been trying not to.”

Later that night, Sara brought me over to her apartment and we watched some Rick & Morty. While we were there, I started pouring my heart out to Sara. I told her about how I wanted to stay single for 3 years, so that I can figure out what to do with my life and such, and how having such powerful feelings for Brooke was messing that up.

I think it was July when all my friends at work decided to go swimming. We went to a place in the next town over, and that’s when I first met Brooke’s boyfriend Dylan. Brooke and Dylan gave me a ride over to where we were all going swimming. I liked Dylan quite a lot. He was very nice, he liked to joke around, and the fact he was chubby made him seem like a big teddy bear… I couldn’t find anything wrong with the guy. This made me even more excited, because I thought that if Brooke has a boyfriend, and she’s such a great guy, then there’s no chance I can be with her, and therefore, my feelings for her will have to go away. I had no desire to break those two up.

They looked so happy, I just had to take this picture.

I remember we got a bit lost on our way back from swimming. After figuring out where we were going, we stopped at a Starbucks. Overall, it was a fun time.

So, I assumed that after seeing what a wonderful guy Dylan was, my feelings for Brooke would HAVE to start fading. No, still didn’t happen. I figured the only way to make my feelings truly go away is if I give this my best shot and Brooke outright tells me it’s not going to happen. It’s weird to think about in hindsight: The whole time I was pursuing Brooke romantically, it was only to get to a point where she would turn me down, JUST so that my feelings for her would dissipate. Because I wasn’t ready to be with someone, and she was happily with another guy.

In August 2016, another swim day was planned by our coworker friends, this time at a completely different location about 20 minutes-ish away. This time around, Brooke said she couldn’t come because she gets anxiety trying to find new places herself. I suggested Dylan just navigate for her, but then she said that Dylan wouldn’t be coming either, because he had to work. So, I offered to take Brooke myself, in my own car.

When we got to the location, we were the first ones there. Brooke and I sat on a bench waiting for everyone and passed the time by talking about Pokemon Go (which was very recently released at the time). When everybody else arrived, we went down to the river and started swimming. The only thing I really remember from that day was when Brooke and I playfully took pictures of each other … taking pictures.

That’s her. Behind her is our coworker.

One day, not too long after this, and still in August, Brooke and I were talking at work, and she made mention of how she loves photography, but never gets a good opportunity to go out and take pictures. I said the place we went for swimming the second time was a good place for photography. I offered to drive Brooke back down there to do just that. And she agreed. I made no mention of Dylan, because I was indifferent about him coming along or not. He ultimately did not come along, and I’m guessing it’s because he was working again.

So, we went back to that same swim spot 20 or 30 minutes away from our town. I jumped right into the water as Brooke walked around taking pictures of the place (which actually was beautiful). I don’t remember clearly, but I think she brought her dog along as well… Or maybe we just talked about her dog? One of the two. Then, once Brooke was done with her photography, she got in the water as well. She didn’t actually swim, she just floated on something the whole time. I remember while we were in the water, we were talking about subjects I usually focus on, like politics. It was this day that she told me her political beliefs were liberal, which I liked because mine were the same back then. And that’s all I remember from that day.

Ever since that day, I genuinely wanted to encourage Brooke to be more into photography, while at the same time (2 things can be true at once), I was trying to get close to her. So, I texted her one day, during the last week of August, saying we should go to the coast, because the coast has the greatest places to take pictures of. And she agreed. So, on September 1st, we drove all the way to the coast, in my car once again.

I wanted to go to the Astoria Column, and I printed out directions that I had Brooke read while I drove. I remember making the instructions as humorous as I could, and she seemed to find my directions funny. (Though I’d later find out, while we were dating, that she found them annoying. It really didn’t seem like they annoyed her, but alrighty then.) Somewhere in the directions, I even wrote something like, “Be sure to smack me upside the head to let me know we’re going close to such and such road.” And she most certainly did smack me upside the head when the time came. While at the Astoria Column, she took some pictures as planned. I felt happy about that. I was happy that she had a friend in her life who truly wanted her to pursue her passion. And remember, at this point, I still didn’t think we’d ever become a couple.

(Her dog was definitely with us that day, because I remember she had a very difficult time getting her dog to walk up the steps of the Column. I didn’t help her dog get up because it was a German Shepherd and I used to live with a trained German Shepherd attack dog, and so I’ve always had caution getting those dogs to do something they’re not comfortable with.)

On the way back from the coast, I got my first (and still only) speeding ticket. So, that was great. But by the time we got back to town, I came to realize something. I came to realize that Brooke still had no idea I had feelings for her, and I started feeling very guilty in not telling her that. So, when we got back to town, and we were just one block away from where she and her boyfriend lived, I pulled the car over, and told her straight-up, “I feel it’s the right thing to tell you: I like you.” When I told her this, she didn’t say anything, nor did I expect her to. I started driving again as soon as I spilled the beans, because I didn’t want her to feel obligated to say something. I knew the rejection speech was coming, but I was too scared to hear it in that moment. So, I told her the truth, then drove her 30 seconds away to where she lived and dropped her off.

There was at least one day (maybe two) where Brooke and I didn’t work together, and during that time, she didn’t text me anything at all, either. It was two or three nights later when she and I worked at the same time again, and as soon as I walked into the building, I was certain she was going to avoid me, and she was going to gossip with the other girls about how I liked her… That night at work, I avoided both Brooke and everybody else. I assumed she already told everyone, and I felt very uncomfortable. But to my utter surprise, when I went to the cash register to punch out for break, Brooke approached me, very slowly, and she said, “Hey. How are you?” I said I was doing alright. And then she … just continued to converse with me. She didn’t say anything about what I told her, she just talked to me like she did any other time we worked together. And the whole night went by without anything awkward or heartbreaking (for me).

Still, though, the suspense was killing me. I just wanted her to get it over with. Remember, my feelings hadn’t faded at all, and at this point, we were good friends. We’d spent two whole days together, alone. Even if I hadn’t told her my feelings, I still would have been in agony.

Now, sometime after I told Brooke how I felt about her, Sara and I hung out again. I don’t remember if this was before the ‘awkward night’ or after, but I remember Sara took me to a new restaurant I’d never been to before, and we saw Brooke jogging, which was quite surprising. Brooke was wearing something on her knee as well, and I didn’t know what it was.

Finally, the time came when Brooke would bring up what I told her. But it wasn’t in person, it was when neither of us were at work. She texted me her thoughts. I archived this conversation, and the reason I archived it was because I was SO certain she’d give me the rejection speech, but instead, she told me how she wanted to stay friends and that she trusted me and respected me.

Here is that whole conversation, down to the exact letter and grammar…

Brooke:

I really want to stay friends with you. I know we haven’t known each other for very long but I do consider you a good friend. I respect the hell out of you, and I really appreciate your honesty. There are only 3 people that I really respect. I’m not mad or upset that you told me. I was just shocked. It also brought back an uneasiness I’ve been pushing down for awhile. I talked to my cousin and she was bluntly honest with me and confirmed that she also saw what I was afraid to admit to my self. I’m sorry for rambling for so long. I’m terrible at talking about stuff and getting a coherent thought in my head when I talk about something I have trouble talking about.

Me:

What did your cousin see that you were afraid to admit to yourself? What do you mean by ‘uneasiness’? I’m sorry. I just don’t quite understand everything there.

Brooke:

She said that even though I love him and that it’s making me blind to my own happiness. She said that she can see me growing as a person and trying to better myself. But she worrys that he has no problem working the job he hates and has wanted to get a better job but isn’t willing to put in the commitment to getting to a better place. That I’ve fought so hard and long for one thing that brought me happiness at that time, that I’m afraid to let it go because it’s the only thing I know. She said that some day that he won’t be enough. And I’ve been thinking about it all day yesterday and today. I only slept about 2 hours last night because I realized that she was right. And I’ve slowly growing less happy.

Me:

:/ I’m sorry.

Brooke:

Yeah I’ve also fucked my self over because I can’t afford an apartment my my self there’s no one I can move in with. Well, besides my parents but I will be homeless before I ever move back in with them. I refuse to be treated like a slave again.

Me:

I’m still looking for a place but I know that’d be inappropriate since I’m a dude. So what did you mean by uneasiness? Do I make you nervous?

Brooke:

I really dont care about you being a dude and living with you. Your trustworthy in my book. As long as your honest and dont pull bullshit, I dontt care what gender you are. Because there is nothing I hate more than being lied to straight to my face. I’m not an idiot and I see right through it. It doesn’t matter if your family or friend. No, no I guess uneasiness isnt quite the right word. Its more like a fight or fliet defense. I was so used to getting my self into trouble by talking and saying the wrong thing that i slamed down a wall to any response or thought because I was always wrong and  it was a usless battle to argue. That only made me more worked up. So no its not you its just a really annoying defense I us to try and save my self some pain. That I no longer have any control over it. When my brain doesn’t know what to do it shuts down my thinking and I just stand there blinking like an idiot. I can’t make a complete thought to save my life. It’s pissed my step dad off quite a few times. Had a few things thrown in my direction because of it.

Me:

And I brought that back? Sorry I’m still a tiny bit confused. I think you’re saying this shutting down thing is what you did when I told you how I feel. Yes? Haha sorry if I’m miles off

Well I mean it is just living together. Don’t really see what lying and honesty has to do with it. It’s not like borrowing money or something. Well, dude or not, it’s still inappropriate because of how I feel about you and you’re not single. I wouldn’t treat you any different than I have for all this time, but it’s still inappropriate even if I was a chick

Brooke:

No your right. Well no you’re didnt bring it back, the last time it happened was with my mother when she told me if I moved out I was going to get pregnant and be left alone with out enough money to support my self.

 Well it does to me I would never room with Kay for instance. I wouldn’t consider her as a roommate. I trust her as much as how far i can throw her. She’s nice and we’re friends and all but… I won’t live with someone I don’t trust. Honestly I don’t feel like I should keep dating Dylan. And knowing that I can’t live with him much longer. I gave up going to college  for him just so I could move out and I really wish I hadn’t. I know going to college doesn’t mean I’ll get a job as what I want, but I loved going to class. And I’m definitely going to need sometime to a just. I would want to be friends because I have fucked my self up so so many times because I was lonely. I realize now that Dylan and I were so broken as people that we needed each other to help get back on our own feet. And that brokenness and building our selves up was the only thing keeping our relationship working.  I not going to jump into another relationship. I need to teach my self that not to rely someone else for my happiness. I thought that I had but I now realize that.

So, as you can see, I didn’t get the rejection I expected, and Brooke was even now about to break up with Dylan and live somewhere else.

Nothing was going according to plan. Getting rejected was part of the plan. I needed to hear her say it couldn’t happen between us ever, but instead, things were only getting better between us. I didn’t want her to break up with a good guy, and I wasn’t ready to be with anyone, let alone someone I had such powerful feelings for. But because my feelings were so strong, I wasn’t strong enough to have the self-control to put the brakes on.

So, I offered to let her live with me, and she accepted. I was renting a room from one of my parents’ neighbors at the time, and I knew we’d have to share that room … and there wasn’t a whole lot of room. I felt very stupid after making this offer. I still had no idea how she felt about me. Trusting and respecting someone doesn’t mean they have feelings… So, I was about to have Brooke live in not only the same house as me, but the same room as well, as friends.

I’m pretty sure I remember it being a Wednesday when she brought her belongings to live with me, so that must mean it was September 7. I asked her how she left Dylan, and she told me the story. Basically, she sat next to Dylan, told him it was over, and gave very little explanation as to why she made that decision. She still spent that night with him, though, but she always insisted she slept separate from him that night. The story she told me of how she left Dylan felt very cold to me. But the most I told Brooke at that moment was, “Don’t you think that was kind of cold?” I don’t remember how she replied.

So, after she was all moved in and everything, life carried on as usual. But as 2 friends sharing the same room together, I made sure to respect the fact we were friends. I changed my clothes in the bathroom (we had our own bathroom), and Brooke did the same. She had a complete-set … twin bed? … on the other side of the room from my queen-size mattress on the floor. We kept it strictly platonic those first couple days.

Since I had a routine of going on night walks, I invited Brooke to come along one of those nights. We went to the school about half a mile away, and just walked around it for about an hour. Then, we went to the playground and just sat on the structure for a little while. I started talking about Jasper, one of the only dogs I ever loved (because I’m a cat person), and after talking about Jasper for a while, I started getting philosophical. Because Jasper had died 4 years earlier, and I still missed him a lot. In my philosophical rambling, I remember saying, “You never know when your time’s up, and no matter how long we live, we’ll be dead longer than that.” Which sounded very morbid to me, and that made me certain, “If Brooke didn’t like me before, she definitely doesn’t have feelings for me now.”

I think it was the following night that all of this buildup came to a close. It was right as Brooke and I were retiring for the night, and shut off the lights. I sat up from my mattress and softly said, “Can I talk to you, Brooke?” She said sure. I don’t remember asking her to sit next me, but I know she did as I was talking. And I told her everything. I told her it’s been painful for me to share the same room with someone I have such intense feelings for. I told her I expected her to reject me, and I asked, politely, if she’d let me know what she felt about me. (My meaning was, “Please just tell me you don’t want me as more than a friend.” I was hoping she’d just get it over with.)

But once again, Brooke surprised me. She half-paused, and then said as time has gone by, her feelings for me have been getting stronger. I’ll never forget her exact words. “I’m becoming more and more in love with you.” Honestly, it took me a second or two to process what just happened. But once I did process it, I asked her if she’ll have a relationship with me. And to be even more honest, I’m quite fuzzy on the exact response she gave. I don’t remember if she said, “Yeah,” or if she said, “Okay.” But either way, she answered yes.

I smiled. I smiled very bright. A few seconds later, I looked down and I asked her, “Can I touch you?” Now, in hindsight, I realize that was probably interpreted as being sexual, but I didn’t mean it that way. We didn’t have sex for the first time that night. No, what I meant by asking if I could touch her was just … touching her. I wanted to feel her touch, because I’d never felt her touch before. And I’ll never forget how it felt to touch her for the first time. It felt like my whole body suddenly came alive. Kind of like when you eat a mint and you’re like, “Oh, I CAN breathe easier than I was before!” Same kind of thing, but it was with my whole body. Not in any one of my previous relationships did simple skin-to-skin contact make me feel so happy.

When you piece it all together, it should make sense why I wanted to marry her, and marry her so quickly. The very first time I simply looked at Brooke, I fell in love with her. I spent months fighting this feeling, because I didn’t want to be in any relationship for at least 3 years, I wasn’t ready for the emotional maturity required to be in a relationship, and I still hadn’t gotten a job yet that adequately replaced my welding job. But my feelings for Brooke were too damn powerful. I still, to this day, can’t explain how or why I had such strong feelings for her…

Part 2: In Love, But Afraid

So, now, there I was, in a relationship with the girl I was crazy for, when I never expected I even had a chance to begin with. I knew I wanted to be with her, she said she was in love with me …, and I wasn’t ready for any of it. I never told Brooke (and never will tell her) just how frightened I was at the beginning. That fear never completely went away, either. She wasn’t just some girl, and I didn’t want her to feel she was. I was set on doing everything I could to keep earning her companionship. I never even came close to thinking, “Okay, I got her; mission accomplished.”

But my god I didn’t know what to do! I had quit my best-paying job just a few months before I met her (and I would never have met her if I’d stayed at that job); I had just emerged from another episode of severe depression…

I never felt I deserved her, especially at the beginning, when I was still surprised to be with her at all. I couldn’t comprehend how someone could “fall more and more in love with me every day” when I didn’t even like myself. For all the time we were together – all of it – I was never able to explain to myself what it was she loved about me, and I always, yes always, wondered if she even did love me. It was easy to forget all this fear and uncertainty when we were being affectionate or intimate, but every minute we weren’t talking or touching, my mind was overwhelmed with not knowing how to process everything.

My uncertainty would only amplify over time, after meeting her family, after time itself had gone by, after … several things I will talk about. My uncertainty only got worse, not better.

Brooke was just shy of her 20th birthday when I first met her, and she grew up around 25 miles away from where we first met. At the time, why was she living where I’m from? She wanted to get away from her family. As you read in our text conversation from Part 1, she felt like her family treated her “like a slave.” When we got to know each other, and especially once we started dating, Brooke opened up about how she felt about her family, namely her stepfather. She described her stepfather as abusive, even though she never used that word outright. According to Brooke, he yelled at her, he blamed her for things her brothers did or things that didn’t happen at all, and as you saw from my text conversation from Part 1, her stepfather threw things at her simply because she got quiet when he yelled at her.

Brooke wasn’t ready for her family to know about us. As you could read from the text conversation from Part 1, she didn’t like or trust her family. She felt they treated her “like a slave,” and not to mention, none of them liked Dylan, for ridiculous reasons. So, there was a short time when Brooke kept me a secret from everyone she knew, just so her family wouldn’t find out. But that only lasted about a week or two. I won’t cover anything regarding her family in this part, but I will extensively cover those things in part 3.

As you can figure from what I said at the end of Part 1, in how much I wanted to simply feel Brooke’s touch, there certainly wasn’t any time wasted in that becoming sexual. I think it was the first afternoon after the night we started dating. I wouldn’t say what I’m about to say if she and I were still together, or if I still loved her, so I’ll say this now: It was the worst sex I’ve ever had. A large part of the reason for that (or maybe even the entire reason) is … a deeply personal reason for Brooke – still too personal to publicly share – and so I won’t disclose that. But I divulge that it was the worst sex I’ve ever had to help emphasize another fact: I didn’t care. My love for her more than made up for it. To me, sex with Brooke was never about having fun, it was just about the intimacy.

Regardless, whether it had been great or not, I couldn’t stop touching her. I loved her hair, I loved her longer-than-normal fingers, I loved staring into her eyes. She had this habit of nudging me with her nose. At night when we were going to sleep, I tried to hold her as tight as I could. She even did her nose-nudging thing when she was sound asleep. I couldn’t stop touching her – before sex, after sex, didn’t matter. She didn’t like it when I stroked her hair, always complaining that her hair was greasy, and so I had to do it reservedly.

So, that’s how it was for the first month. Every day watching Brooke’s favorite shows together, every day working on each other’s art, and every day making love, often multiple times a day. The image used for this post was taken during that first month, when I wanted some ‘model’ shots of my beautiful partner. But there were a couple things of note that happened during that time as well…

I told Brooke about Lana and Larry (among many other things, of course). Lana and Larry are, to this day, the couple whom I deem “the parents I chose.” They’ll come up in the story later, so I’ll save more description of them for then. Well, the day after Brooke and I had started dating, Lana’s mother, whom I called Grandma Jackson, had died. Sometime shortly after that, a memorial was held for Grandma Jackson, and I asked Brooke if she’d come with me there. It was at this memorial that I learned something interesting about Grandma Jackson. I learned that both she and her husband decided way back in the 1940s to make a conscious effort to raise their children with good morals and a strong sense of family and community. (I will come back to this point in the final part of this whole story.)

I was glad Brooke got to meet Lana and Larry less than a week into our relationship, because they are the parents I wish I’d had, who in a way I’ve always treated like my parents, even though they’re not. Wise, altruistic, generous, and they bring people together like nobody else I’ve ever seen in my life. Brooke trusted me (I could see that, and she outright said it), but I still wanted her to know, for certain, who I choose to keep in my life. The company we keep shows who we really are. She hadn’t met my best friend Mitch yet, but I wanted her to meet him as well for the same reason. I wish she had met Sydney, whom I’ve known even longer than Mitch (she and I grew up together), but that was never possible because Sydney moved to England in 2015.

I was so proud to call Brooke mine, and it made me happier and more hopeful that she could call me hers. I outright told Brooke shortly after our relationship started, “I don’t just want to be your boyfriend, I want to be your man.” I even wrote about that exact thing on this blog, which I reposted here not too long ago. This is why as soon as we started dating, I finally decided to try starting a business. But more on that in part 3.

I could see it on Brooke’s face how happy she was. I could see it, I could feel it. One day, still during the first month of our relationship, I wanted to make a video and post it on my YouTube channel about how amazing she was, and how happy I was to be with her. Keep in mind, never had my feelings for anyone before Brooke been this powerful, not even my first love, Lisa. She always had such a big smile on her face, and I wanted to capture and record it for my YouTube video. She looked so happy, all the time. And the only reason I’m not posting one of those pictures here is because she almost never wore clothes when we were home. But that face… That face made me so happy and also so scared.

Being with her made me so happy and fulfilled, but I was also scared because I didn’t know what I needed to do to be a proper partner. I didn’t want to just be her boyfriend, I wanted to be her man. (Yet another reason I asked her to marry me, but more on that later as well.) Ever since the movie The Social Network came out in 2010, I was inspired to start my own business, but I hadn’t even started yet. Even when it came to my books, and I’ve been writing books since the 3rd grade, I didn’t finish my first novel until 2015, the year before I met Brooke. What I’m saying is: Believing in myself has always been a struggle of mine.

But I was determined. I was going to serve my woman, whatever it took. I was going to start a business, I was going to write more books, I was going to establish a name for myself in order to open more doors for our future… There was only one thing that had to be done first: I needed to marry her. But I couldn’t ask her to marry me in the first week of dating, or even the first month. So, I thought waiting two months was plenty. The logic was that I didn’t want Brooke to think I was out of my mind (asking for her hand in marriage after just a couple days), but I also wanted a bit of time just to be sure this is what I wanted to do.

Our first month together was amazing, but it wasn’t perfect. And here’s where I cover the imperfect parts of that first month.

The day after Brooke and I had started dating, I made sure to sit down with her and tell her everything I thought she needed to know. Really the only thing I remember needing to explain was my insecurity. I told her about Lisa, and how Lisa cheated on me with one of my buddies and then left me to be with him. I told her that being cheated on scarred me. Brooke told me I had nothing to worry about, and she offered to leave her phone unlocked if that’s what I needed to feel better.

Honestly, as I was telling her this, literally as I was speaking, I was doubting if I should go through with continuing to be with Brooke if I still carry this problem. Toward the end of our discussion, I told Brooke, “All I need is for you to be honest. If you’re going to text or call another guy, or go see a movie with a guy, all I need is for you to tell me. Just tell me.” I very vividly remember telling Brooke the words, “Just tell me.” My meaning in emphasizing that was so that she knew I wasn’t going to have ‘rules’ for her or something. I asked that I just be in the know. Then, aftertelling Brooke about my insecurity, I gave it a lot of thought, and I realized I probably have nothing to worry about, anyway. So, I didn’t worry about it…

One night, maybe one week into our relationship, I had to go to work, but Brooke did not. While at work, I texted Brooke, asking what she was up to and she said she was playing tennis at the high school. This made my insecurity get hold of me a little. I asked Brooke if she’d send me a picture of herself at the tennis court. She sent one, but this greatly annoyed her. I don’t remember how we resolved this, but I remember we got over this minor bump in the road in less than a day. I think she apologized to me for overreacting, and I apologized to her for doubting her.

That was the first time she and I ever clashed. But it made me happy how quickly we resolved it, though. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last time we clashed in the first month of being together. Before I tell about the second time we clashed, I must preface by admitting I did start occasionally looking at Brooke’s phone after the tennis thing, even though she hadn’t done anything wrong (that I know of).

The second (and final) time we clashed in our first month together was much more severe than the first. It was one of the last days of September. I was about to go to work when I … sensed something. (This was yet another instance when I knew something without having any idea how I know it.) I sensed there was something Brooke needed to tell me. This was the only time in our entire relationship that I got this feeling. It wasn’t suspicion, it was as if I actually knew. So, it was a few minutes before I left for work… Brooke was reading on our bed, leaning against the wall. I was sitting on my desk chair, and I leaned over. “Brooke?” I asked. She looked up. “Is there something I need to know?” She said no, in a strange way, as if I wasn’t even speaking English. “Are you sure?” I asked again. She answered, “No, there’s nothing.”

I accepted it, at least at the moment. I went to work, and while I was at work, I still couldn’t shake my suspicion. So, when I got back from work, Brooke was still reading (or she had started reading again). And so, I asked her again. I said, “Are you sure there’s nothing I need to know about?” And this time, I only needed to ask once, because she paused and gave a truthful answer. “There is one thing,” she said. And she proceeded to explain that she went over to Dylan’s house to pick up some mail, and that she stayed at his house for half an hour because he wanted to talk.

Ever since I had started occasionally checking her phone, I had never seen anything from Dylan – no texts, no call logs, nothing – and so, when Brooke admitted that she went to see Dylan, I immediately knew that she had erased the evidence of it. And so, right there, after she admitted what she did, I asked her, “…If all you did was pick up mail and talk, then why did you erase your messages with him?” Brooke said that she erased everything so that I didn’t get upset. Then, I asked Brooke, “When did you do this?” And she said, “About two weeks ago.” (Which meant she did this one week after we’d started dating.)

I leaned back in my chair and thought about what to say. I was really at a loss for words. “That’s really messed up,” I finally said. “We’ve been together for less than a month, and you already do something behind my back?” I didn’t raise my voice at Brooke. In fact, I’ve never raised my voice at her. As far as I can remember, I’ve never raised my voice at anyone. But even though I kept a calm tone, as I usually do, Brooke started crying. To this day, I still regret how I reacted at first. I did nothing; nothing at all. And the reason I did nothing when she started crying was because I consciously believed she didn’t deserve comfort. That was … until what happened next. While she was crying, she said, “I don’t deserve you…” And then she buried her face in her arms.

Once she said those words, I got off the chair, sat next to her on our bed, and held her. I don’t remember if I said anything or not. All I remember was what I was thinking. I remember thinking how much I didn’t want her to feel like she didn’t deserve me. I remember wishing she didn’t think that way at all, because I’ve never believed anybody should think that way. Maybe that’s hypocritical? Because I always thought from the very beginning that I didn’t deserve Brooke… So, all in all, I couldn’t handle that Brooke said she “doesn’t deserve me,” because in absolutely no way did I believe that was true.

She took my reaction to the Dylan thing much harder than I had wished. I wanted her to feel bad, but not so terrible that she hated herself for it… But I thought even this dark cloud had a silver lining: I came to realize that Brooke is someone who can admit mistakes, she is someone who tries to resolve conflicts. I came to love her even more after all this. I was already planning to propose to her in early November, and this made me even more certain that I wanted to.

After the night she admitted the Dylan thing, I made a very conscious decision to be more careful with how I say things to her. I realized now just how fragile she was. When October came and went, I remember making a mental note about that month: Nothing bad happened. No issues whatsoever, at least that I could perceive. And since October went by without a hiccup, I was even more certain I wanted to marry Brooke.

When November rolled around, it had finally been two months of waiting. Well, technically, it still hadn’t been a full two months to the day, but whatever. It was finally time to propose. I asked Brooke if she’d ever been to a place called Rocky Butte. She said no, and I asked if she wanted to go see it. She said sure. I put on my nicer pants and a nicer shirt. I knew she noticed, but she never said anything about it. Then, we drove up there that night. This was one week before the 2016 presidential election, so it was either November 1st or 2nd.

The place I took her to, Rocky Butte, is a peak where you can see all of Portland and pretty much the entire Portland area. It’s gorgeous at any time of day, but nighttime is my favorite, and that’s when we went. When we got there, I think Brooke might have tried to do some photography? But before long, she and I stood leaning against the stone perimeter, just talking. When I finally mustered the courage, I said, “Brooke, do you remember when I said I don’t just want to be your boyfriend, I want to be your man? And then you said that you could see yourself being with me for the rest of your life?” Brooke said, “Yeah.” Then, I said, “Do you want to? Do you want to spend the rest of your life with me? Because I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And Brooke said yes.

Sure it was unorthodox, but all of it was intentional. I wanted to present the question in a way that kind of conveyed, “We already kind of said we’d stay together forever.” Almost as if I asked her like we were already married – with that level of ease. And no, I didn’t buy a ring, because I know a few things about the diamond industry: It’s a scam industry. (If you want proof it’s a scam industry, just buy an expensive diamond ring, and then try to sell it back to the same jeweler or to a pawn shop. You’d be lucky to get even 10% of the price you paid back.) Even my best friend didn’t buy an expensive ring for his wife; their rings only cost about $80 each. And after the night I proposed to Brooke, I explained to her why I didn’t get a ring, and she seemed to already understand. I already told her my views on that industry. I remember a month or two after we got married, I went looking at the same type of rings my best friend got, but Brooke said she didn’t want one. I asked if she was sure, and she said she was sure…

At this time in my life, I didn’t even believe in marriage. My views, as of 2021, are different, but back then in 2016, I believed marriage itself was unnecessary and pointless. So, why did I still propose to Brooke? It was my way of telling her I was serious about being committed to her for the rest of my one and only life.

In the previous part, I skipped over some of what happened involving Brooke’s family, and focused on how things were between Brooke and I when it was just the two of us. Now, I will focus on our interactions with her family.

Part 3: Overwhelmed

From the get-go, Brooke painted a very negative image of her entire family. There were three branches of her family – her bio-father’s family, her bio-mother’s family, and the stepfamily her mother married into. The stepfamily were the ones Brooke talked about most, because they were the ones who raised her. Even as an adult, and probably still to this day, she spent/spends far more time around the stepfamily than the other branches.

In part one, in the text conversation I showed, the family she was speaking so negatively about was her stepfamily. Well, it was mainly the household she mainly grew up in – consisting of her mother, stepfather, and 3 half-siblings. Frankly, I’m still not sure what “being treated like a slave” means, but it’s obviously nothing good. Brooke didn’t just move out of that house when she became an adult, she fled that house. This is further proved by the fact Brooke told me herself just a few months ago (before I wrote this post) that the only time in her life that she was happy was when she moved out of that house to live with Dylan. (And I recorded that conversation, in case she ever denies having said that.)

During our entire relationship, I never knew what to do. Honestly, it’s only while writing this multiple-part series that I’m realizing this in hindsight. Only now do I understand why I was so overwhelmed. I explained only a portion of the reason for this in the previous 2 parts. What was the rest of the reason? Brooke’s stepfamily (her main family). I couldn’t meet their own standards, I couldn’t even understand exactly what they expected of me in the first place, I never liked them anyway, and worst of all, I always felt the need to protect Brooke from her own family (which I will certainly delve into in a bit). So, combine those feelings with the feelings of … not knowing how to start a business with minimal risk that was guaranteed to make us financially prosperous, not knowing how to meet my own standards for myself as a person, and not feeling I deserved Brooke in the first place.

In hindsight, it amazes me that I kept calm the entire time. I had no choice but to keep calm, because I’m a man. I don’t care if this is an unpopular opinion in the 21st Century: Men are obligated to keep it together on the outside, even if they are overwhelmed on the inside. We have to be strong for our loved ones. I believed that even back during my marriage when I held liberal beliefs.

From the start – the very start – of our relationship, I felt the need to protect Brooke from those closest to her. That fact alone greatly disturbed me, as in: Why should I have to protect my girl from the people she’s closest to?? Remember that text conversation from part 1. And that certainly wasn’t the only time Brooke talked about those people with me. Before I even met these people, the things I was told made me feel obligated to be on guard. I met Brooke’s family for the first time maybe a week-ish into dating her. Despite everything she told me, I kept to my principles, and I told myself to give them a fair chance and form my own opinions about them from my own observations. When Brooke brought me to meet them, it was on their farm – the farm that every single one of them works at to varying degrees.

When Brooke introduced me, she called me “a friend.” Of course, a long time later, Brooke’s mother would tell me that nobody believed her for one second when she called me a friend. But on that day, meeting these people for the first time, I most certainly got a bad vibe. Certainly not with the younger generation (and still to this day, I haven’t had a problem with any of them). It was just the adults that made me feel uneasy. Not uncomfortable, they didn’t scare me or something, just uneasy. I don’t remember if that was the day I met Jeff, Brooke’s stepfather, but whenever it was that I met him, I certainly didn’t like him at all.

It was September 19th that Brooke finally admitted to her relatives that she was dating me. She confirmed it via Facebook relationship status. The only reason I’m certain it was September 19th is because that day was my most-viewed day for my blog for several years. (It isn’t anymore, but it was for a long time.) As soon as everyone knew she and I were together, my blog (this very blog) got flooded with views. That was their easy way of getting to know me without ever having to actually talk to me. None of the posts I had at the time are still on this blog, I deleted them shortly after Brooke and I separated. The posts that got the most views, by far, where the few in which I talked about how much I loved Brooke.

The first time I felt I had to actually protect Brooke from someone close to her, was with her best friend. For the sake of this post, I’ll just refer to Brooke’s best friend as Shae (like Shae from Game of Thrones). If I remember correctly, Brooke told Shae about us dating before Brooke told the world through Facebook. In fact, Shae had contacted me before Brooke even moved in with me, just to make sure I wasn’t a creep. Brooke gave Shae my number, and she tested me by making a reference to Mean Girls. I don’t remember what Shae asked me exactly, but whatever it was, it made Shae feel better when I told her that I absolutely love Mean Girls and can quote pretty much the entire movie. So, why did Shae freak out when Brooke and I started dating? Because our dating meant that Brooke wouldn’t be moving back to her hometown anytime soon. Shae was angry that Brooke didn’t seek her approval before dating me. Shae was angry that Brooke didn’t seek her approval with Dylan, either (when Brooke first moved away from her hometown).

At least, that’s how Brooke explained it to me, and that’s how I interpreted Shae’s texts to Brooke.

Shae was the first instance of when I felt the need and the urge to protect Brooke. Since I already had Shae’s number, I decided to intervene, before Shae continued to harass Brooke and drive her to tears. I texted Shae saying something to the effect of, “You’re being a shit best friend right now. Back off! Brooke is free to make her own choices. She never needed your permission for anything!”

The second time I felt the need to protect Brooke from yet another person she was close to was about three weeks before our wedding, with her cousin Sally. Back then, Brooke liked to visit Sally somewhat regularly. We’d been over to Sally’s place once or twice before the incident I’m about to describe. So, about three weeks before our wedding, we went over to Sally’s place. At some point, Sally asks Brooke if she’ll have Jeff (the stepfather) walk her down the aisle. Brooke admits she doesn’t want him to, and that’s when Sally loses her shit. She didn’t just start harassing Brooke, she raised her voice at Brooke as well, and even tried verbally coming after me, but then stopped once she saw I have thick skin and it wouldn’t affect me.

When she harassed Brooke, she tried guilting her by reminding Brooke that it was Jeff who gave her a car when she moved away from home. (A filthy, worn-down car that was hardly worth any money.) Sally said other things to guilt Brooke as well, but I don’t remember the rest. I only remember the ‘car’ comment because I found it so remarkably asinine. When Sally tried yelling at me, the most she could do was mock the fact that I had changed my name from Zak to Michael… She brought up how, supposedly, the last time I had been at the house, I’d held up the empty Pepsi can I was drinking toward Brooke as if to signal that I was ordering her to dispose of it for me. I still to this day have absolutely no memory of this, and it certainly doesn’t sound like something I’d do. I’ve never been the type to signal to people that they have to do something for me like a servant… But Sally tried to use that against me, and I countered by saying it sounded like a bullshit story. All in all, though, Sally was hysterical that Brooke didn’t want Jeff to walk her down the aisle at our wedding, even though everybody, including Sally herself, knew full-well what kind of stepfather Jeff was toward Brooke.

Just like Shae, Sally didn’t care what Brooke felt or wanted, and drove Brooke to tears to make her do as she wanted. When Brooke started breaking down, I held her, and I said we should go. On the outside, I was calm as always, but on the inside, I was getting livid. If Sally had only gone after me, it wouldn’t have affected me at all (I might have even found that funny). No, I was starting to lose my cool because she was harassing someone I loved, in front of me, over something so stupid, and she just wouldn’t stop even after I physically shielded Brooke from Sally. Fortunately, Sally’s husband Brian came in, and asked Sally to leave, before then asking me to step outside while he talked to Brooke about why Sally was so hysterical.

That night, after we got home, I wrote a strongly-worded letter to Sally explaining why harassing Brooke was unacceptable and unjustifiable. I asked Brooke for permission to give it to Sally the next time I see her. Brooke read the message, and I saw her start to tear up as she read it. After finishing, Brooke looked at me and very softly said, “I don’t want anyone to read this.” And I always found Brooke’s choice of words in that moment to be very … odd. There wasn’t anything awful in it, only some comments on why it was shitty for Sally to harass Brooke at all.

But, I obeyed Brooke nonetheless. She said she didn’t want me to give Sally that letter, and so I didn’t.

This is how our marriage began, in essence. Very few people in Brooke’s circles were encouraging or happy for Brooke, they were only hostile. If someone wasn’t outwardly hostile, they were passive-aggressive about it. Human beings always look for a reason to be in conflict, and they always find it. Brooke and I hadn’t even gotten married yet, and I already saw firsthand the kind of people she had to call family. Not to mention, I saw the kind of person she called her best friend… No one in the ‘farm family’ (as I will call them for this post) is mature, nobody is intelligent or wise, and they all seem to hate each other. So, even before Brooke and I tied the knot, my view of these people was already beyond an impression, it was solid fact. I now agreed with Brooke when she said she had to escape from them, and when she said they treated her like a slave.

Shortly before the wedding, my best friend Mitch wanted to hold a “bachelor party” for me. Since he’s a Christian, and I’ve never liked the idea of actual, full-on bachelor parties …, all we ended up doing was playing laser tag for a night. When I got back home, I texted Brooke asking her to come to the front door so that she could meet him, and that’s when they met. Mitch then told me he approves of her. And in hindsight, I’ve come to realize that everybody on my side was positive and encouraging about me marrying Brooke, while nobody on Brooke’s side was positive or encouraging.

I got true support from my side, she got anger and guilt from her side. And Brooke still wonders, to this day, why I wasn’t a fan of most of the people she’s close to… Not to mention they hated Dylan for no reason at all.

I wanted a small wedding. Brooke said she wanted a small one too, but that ended up not being the case when she invited all of her friends and all of her relatives. Since that was what she wanted, I didn’t speak against it. A long time later, Brooke would admit that she wasn’t honest about wanting a small wedding. So, she lied about that, but I don’t hold that against her because I understand why. She wanted me to be happy. She made that sacrifice. It still makes me sad that she made that sacrifice, because I wanted her to have the wedding she wanted as well. She just … didn’t put her true feelings out there.

Brooke wanted her grandpa Walt to walk her down the aisle. She didn’t want Jeff. But since her stepfamily was going to explode if she replaced Jeff (like Sally already had), she decided to walk down the aisle alone instead.

We didn’t have a honeymoon… The main reason was because the wedding came so soon after the engagement, which in itself was so soon after Brooke and I started dating. There is also the fact that life got pretty difficult for us after our wedding. We needed to start finding a new place to live only a month after our wedding, we had both already quit the job we met each other at.

Now that I look back at this time in my life, I realize I was still depressed, just for different reasons than before. I was depressed with everything I was overwhelmed by. I already went through it, but I’ll list those things again: I was overwhelmed by not knowing how to secure the best future for Brooke and I, not knowing how to best serve my wife in general, not feeling I deserved Brooke in the first place, not liking Brooke’s stepfamily at all, and feeling the need to protect her from all the shitty abusive people she was close to.

Truth is, I never figured out how to juggle all of these things.

For 4 months, I was unemployed, and I had spent that time finishing my second novel. I thought having the sequel out would make the sales of both novels go up. I wrote a short non-fiction as well, and that one actually had about one sale per day, but that still wasn’t enough to call it an income.

Then, even after I found a job, I was mentally no better off than before. Brooke’s aunt Michelle and uncle Paul were starting a new division for their small business, driving non-emergency medical, and since they needed reliable employees to get it going, I signed up. I didn’t like Michelle, and I was still a little iffy on Paul, but they were family, and so I felt morally obligated to help them out. Sure enough, I actually ended up enjoying the job, despite the fact Michelle was my boss. But like I said, even though I was working, I was still overwhelmed and still not able to be the husband I wanted to be.

I tried getting my business started. I got the company incorporated (so yes, it was a real company that really existed, for a short while), I rented servers, I constructed a website, I poured money into advertising, I made a logo …, and most importantly, I worked hard every day trying to make products for the company to sell. What was the company’s purpose? Selling art and providing artistic services. Selling my books was meant to be the start, as well as photography provided by Brooke and myself.

I never have blamed Brooke for the company failing, because 70% of startups fail regardless… The fact still remains, though, that Brooke was very minimally helpful. She rarely helped, she rarely even talked about contributing. There was one day when she mentioned that her boss asked her to draw a portrait of his family, and Brooke said something to the effect of, “We can have this made in the company’s name,” or something like that. But that’s really the only instance I can remember of Brooke caring about what I was trying to do at all.

Honestly, I never wanted or expected her to do any heavy lifting for the company. She was my wife, I wanted to be the one who stressed about those things. But what I needed – what all men need – was for my partner to simply help make my life less difficult. Relationships aren’t a one-way street, everybody has a job to do. Brooke didn’t do much of anything in our relationship for the both of us – not cooking, not cleaning, not asking how she can help with something. I very often failed to focus on her as well. I was too focused on this business. And when I wasn’t working on the business, I was either at work, or sleeping, or seeking stress relief through video games or something.

In part 1, I said that our relationship failed because we were both immature. This is what I mean. Maturity when it comes to one’s self is about having composure and being rational, but there was immaturity when it came to us as a couple. Brooke and I were both so consumed with the stresses of life, from financial issues to family issues (and there were always a lot of family issues), that we very often failed to just focus on each other. That’s why I spent all of part 2 talking about how things were when it was just the two of us. When we focused on just the two of us, whether it was for a moment or for a whole day, it was like paradise. But we failed to do that nearly often enough. Sure, we lived together, and sure we slept in the same bed, but our minds were always all over the place.

I eventually realized this, too, during our marriage. This isn’t all just hindsight; even during our marriage I knew we didn’t put enough time into each other. And that’s the main reason why when, toward the end of 2017, when Michelle approached Brooke and offered to have us live with them, I insisted we accept. Brooke was against it, but I very much insisted we accept. I thought some financial relief would help tremendously.

When we moved in with Michelle and Paul, that certainly did help us stress-wise, but we were about to get hit with an additional stress load. Of course, I’m referring to our beautiful baby girl.

Part 4: She and I As One Person

I’ve wanted to be a father for most of my life, and I told Brooke of this fact before we’d even started dating. But, one of the many, many things Brooke has conveniently forgotten since we separated is this fact: I preferred adoption over childbirth. I wanted Brooke to be the mother of my child, and I somehow knew she would be, but what I wanted was to adopt. To be even more honest, a small part of the reason I wanted to adopt was to skip the first five-ish years of development. I never wanted to endure diapers and endless crying and just not being able to have a conversation with my child. Thus, I wanted to skip the first five years. The main reason I wanted to adopt, though, is because there are countless kids out there who need to be adopted, and need to be adopted by someone who’s been there. As a former foster child myself, I’ve always felt I have a moral obligation to adopt. And to be even more honest, another part of the reason I wanted to adopt is because the people I’m most closely related to have a wide variety of huge personal issues. As much as I always wanted a daughter, I thought my daughter would be better off not sharing my blood.

So, when Brooke’s current boyfriend can’t stop himself from revealing what Brooke has told him, and he tells me “No wonder Brooke left you after you used her to make a child,” it just comes to show how much he and Brooke have no clue what they’re talking about. I wanted to adopt. That was my priority, and I made that abundantly clear when Brooke and I started dating.

At the same time, I wanted to share a child with the love of my life. At the same time, I wanted to make a person with Brooke, as a spiritual and romantic gesture. I wanted us to make our greatest treasure. I wanted there to be someone in this world who is both she and I as one person. So, a little more than half of me preferred to adopt, while a little less than half of me wanted to make a beautiful child with the love of my life; a walking embodiment of my love for Brooke.

So, these are all the reasons I was on the fence about Brooke getting pregnant. I didn’t actively desire that she got pregnant, but I wasn’t against the idea, either. Two weeks into dating her, one day I very simply asked her if she was willing to stop taking birth control. I wanted the possibility to be there. When I asked her, she agreed to it no problem. I was surprised at how willing she was to possibly get pregnant by me, and so I asked her about it. She said she wouldn’t have dared to get pregnant by Dylan, which of course was when she first started taking birth control, but she said that it was different with me; she wasn’t afraid of getting pregnant with my child at all. And since she and I aren’t together anymore, I’ll add this as well: While we were talking that day, she told me the story of when she lost her virginity to Dylan, and that it made her cry, because she was terrified of getting pregnant by him.

She had a very late period in June and she was certain she was pregnant then. But she took a test and announced from the bathroom it was negative. Then, in July, she was late again, and this time was even more convinced she was pregnant. She took the test again, then walked very slowly downstairs to tell me that it read positive. I knew it read positive just from the fact that Brooke didn’t call it out from the bathroom. My reaction was … being lightheaded. The first people I told were Lana and Larry. They knew before anyone else. Brooke wanted to tell her relatives by ceremoniously announcing it.

Brooke waited until another day to tell her immediate family (as in mother, stepfather, half-siblings …, and grandparents since the bunch was living with the grandparents at the time). The day she told them, her sister offered her some alcohol for some reason, even though Brooke literally never drinks alcohol, and I reacted by strongly saying, “No.” It was at that moment her mother realized why we were there visiting. So, there was no surprise from the females when Brooke presented everyone with baby socks and announced she’s pregnant. Jeff, the wonderful stepfather he always was, had been working on one of his trucks the whole time, and when Brooke made the announcement, he didn’t stop what he was doing, or even so much as look up. He was fewer than ten feet away from Brooke at that moment, so it’s not possible that he didn’t hear her. All he could be bothered to do was give Brooke an awkward side-hug when we were leaving.

As for the other two branches of Brooke’s family, Brooke told them on other days. I remember we were outside at night, around a campfire when Brooke told her mother’s family (I don’t remember exactly where we were). And I think she told her father and his family via phone call, since they lived so far away and it would have taken too long to tell them in person.

I was extremely reluctant to have sex with Brooke while she was pregnant, because I feared what effect that would have on our developing child. Actually, come to think of it, I think Brooke wanted sex more often than I did during those 41 weeks. I told Brooke I was worried about sex possibly harming our baby, and Brooke chuckled at that, saying people have sex while pregnant all the time, which I knew, but I was still afraid. Around the point that Brooke’s bump became too large for her to sleep face-down, that was around the time we cut down on how often we had sex. Toward the end of her pregnancy, when her belly was enormous, Brooke had to urge me to have sex, since she read that it helps cause natural labor induction. I was more reluctant than ever at that point in her pregnancy.

(You’ll know why I’m talking about this so much when I post part 5.)

Another one of my mistakes during my marriage was not immediately looking into prenatal care for Brooke until about a month after we learned she was pregnant. It wasn’t until her aunt Michelle, the only person in that entire family who has any balls, got on our case about it and demanded we start. I had considered prenatal care, but I just assumed (without doing research) that it would cost too much, and Brooke was only 21 at the time, so I was over-trusting of her youth. I’m glad Michelle gave us the push we needed to get going on that.

Brooke and I almost never argued during our marriage, and even when we did, not even our worst argument at the end was that bad. We only ever really argued about one subject for the most part (which I will delve into in part 5). But there were about two or three times we clashed – not exactly argued – about Brooke’s diet while she was pregnant. Her diet always consisted of basic factory-made foods like cereal, ramen, and, her favorite, mac and cheese. I remember we were shopping at Winco shortly after finding out she’s pregnant, and she reached for handfuls of ramen noodles like she always did, but I said, “Brooke, I’m gonna have to make a rule… I can’t in good conscience let you eat ramen when you’re pregnant. Not when they make it out of the same stuff they make Styrofoam out of.” Brooke gave me a sad face, but it was her playful sad face, and so I interpreted that to mean she understood why I was putting my foot down about eating ramen pregnant, but was still sad about it.

When Brooke and I clashed about what she was eating during pregnancy, it was due to the fact she hardly changed her diet at all. On rare occasion, I saw her drinking fruit juice, but apart from that, she did nothing different. I felt like I had to push her to eat better foods. I remember at one point Brooke said, “I fell like, if she’s born and something’s wrong with her, you’re going to blame me for it.” And this was another instance of Brooke expressing something I didn’t want her to think. At the same time, though, I thought that if something is wrong with our baby, it very well could be from the lack of varying or nutritious foods… To exclude that possibility would have been unrealistic. She kept telling me that if she ate most healthy foods, she felt sick. I believed her, but I still worried about our child’s development. I remember one night Brooke ate some cereal and then ran to the bathroom to throw up in the toilet, and I rushed over to her to hold her hair back.

When it came to naming our daughter, Brooke had a few ideas, like Aurora and Artemis, but she couldn’t firmly decide any. For a long time, I couldn’t think of any names at all. But when I landed on a name, I knew it was what I wanted. I asked Brooke what I landed on, Brooke said she doesn’t like it or hate it. By this time, it was maybe 35 weeks into her pregnancy – it was close to delivery date – and so I waited for Brooke to find a name she was set on as well. But Brooke never landed on a name. So, I asked her if we can stick to the name I landed on, and she said okay, though she said it with zero enthusiasm. It was about a week before our daughter was born when I brought up the subject again, asking Brooke, “Was there a name you wanted more?” And Brooke reiterated that she didn’t, but she didn’t like the name I chose as much as she could have. So, the name I landed on was the name we stuck with.

Our daughter’s name translates to ‘peace, happiness, and gentleness.’

Brooke’s due date passed, and we scheduled to have her artificially induced. We both did some research as to why this would happen, and I kept running into dead ends that read things like, “It is still not known what exactly gets labor started naturally,” which was frustrating. But Brooke read about some things that might help our baby come along, and she wanted us to try those things, which included having sex and … let’s just say stimulation. Who knows if those things actually helped? I remember our baby kicked her mother a lot when she was still in there, and I had to tell our baby, “Don’t kick your mother.”

One night, for whatever reason, I wanted to sing to our daughter. I tried playing a couple ballads from my favorite band, such as “Swanheart” and “Sleeping Sun,” and I even tried singing those songs to her myself, despite my terrible singing voice. I thought at the very least, some music would help our baby not want to keep kicking her mother from inside the womb.

Just a day before we would have gone for Brooke to get artificially induced, she started going into labor. It was about 4am, and I woke up at random and saw her sitting up in bed breathing heavily. She said she was having a lot of contractions. We timed them, and sure enough, they were frequent enough to check in to the hospital.

Brooke was in labor from around 5am (officially) until 1am the next day. During that time, I did my absolute best to stay awake to remain supportive. She needed me to be her hands and feet, because all she could do for nearly 24 hours is push, when she had a contraction. When she was pushing our baby out, I saw a little hair on our baby’s head, which was happy news, because Brooke was born bald and she didn’t want our daughter to also be bald for a while. I think Brooke was pushing for five hours, and then she started losing progress (our daughter was going back in). That’s when the staff gave us the option of continue trying, use a vacuum, or do a cesarean. The staff left the room so Brooke and I could discuss it. I’ll admit I started crying, because by that point, Brooke said she was in pain, and she had just lost all her progress. If I remember correctly, doing a fully-natural birth was important to Brooke, and that made it even more emotional for me, because I thought the best option was a cesarean. I told Brooke I thought it was the best option, and she agreed, so that’s what we chose.

It was around 1am. When they brought her downstairs to the operation room, for some reason I was required to stand outside while the staff got everything ready. They let me enter right before they got started. They put a veil across Brooke’s chest, and I held her hand while they got going. Not long later, I heard one of the nurses say, “WOW! That’s a big baby!” Then, that was followed by the sound of a baby crying. Our daughter had just come into the world.

They lowered the veil so that we could see her for the first time. I squeezed Brooke’s hand in pure joy. They brought our daughter over to the scale for her weight and measurements. Brooke still couldn’t move, but I stood up to go over and hold our daughter’s hand – to feel her touch for the first time – before returning to Brooke’s side. At some point, they placed our daughter across Brooke’s chest, and I don’t remember if that was before or after they made the measurements… I’m fairly sure that was after the measurements, because I remember Brooke and I had small competitions when it came to our daughter, like if she’ll say “dadda” or “momma” first – things like that – and I remember thinking I scored one point by being the first with touch. (And Brooke’s own grandma confirmed our daughter said “dadda” first, so I got that point, too.)

That first night of our daughter’s life, she reacted poorly when one of us either touched her or spoke near her. If I remember correctly, on that first night, our daughter cried when Brooke touched her, but she cried whenever I spoke. I might have that reversed. But something like that certainly happened, and it was hilariously strange.

Lana and Larry were the first ones to meet our daughter. I will always be happy about that fact. They were the first ones, apart from Brooke and I and the hospital staff, of course.

The whole time we were there, I did everything in my power to stay awake, so that I could be Brooke’s hands and feet, since she was either in labor, or later was too weak to even roll over in bed. One time, I didn’t hear her calling for me because I had passed out, and when I woke up, I saw that she had exerted the effort to call a doctor. She was worried because our daughter’s fingertips were purple. I felt awful for not hearing her call me, and I still feel awful even though I know it’s not really a big deal.

I was physically and emotionally drained from everything that happened at the hospital, as happy as all of it was. So, the emotional impact of our daughter’s birth didn’t hit me until after we left the hospital. I remember it was two or three days after leaving the hospital, and we were preparing to go somewhere, and I simply looked over at our daughter, who was sound asleep in her car seat, situated on our bed, and that’s when I lost it. That’s when it hit me: My daughter is real… Frankly, to this day I still can’t believe she’s real. I still can’t believe I’m blessed enough to have such a treasure.

Part 5: Our Separation

This is the part where I talk about everything falling apart.

The plain, simple fact is: Brooke changed after our daughter was born. She became standoffish, she became easily irritated, she became … just outright hostile, in some ways. I expected this to happen while she was pregnant, because hormonal changes usually happen during pregnancy …, but that wasn’t the case. She changed after our daughter was born, and it mostly wasn’t hormonal change anyway, it was outright personality change.

(Still not as significant of a change as when we separated, but that’s for later.)

Like I said at the end of part 3, even though living with Brooke’s aunt and uncle made things easier for us financially, adding a child was a whole new set of stress. I could tell things on Brooke’s mind were heavier, and I know my mental stress virtually doubled.

Brooke made a colossally-asinine assumption after our daughter was born. Before stating what that assumption was, I’ll cover some things in the next paragraph.

Since our daughter’s birth, I very consciously kept myself out of things involving our baby that I didn’t understand/wasn’t highly experienced with. Why? Because it’s always wiser to allow people with better know-how to do it instead. There is also the fact that we had 3 baby showers for our daughter. Yes, 3. We literally did not have the space for all the clothes and accessories we got from 3 baby showers. So, I did not think we needed much in the way of ‘baby items,’ and I consciously allowed Brooke to do what she was better at. Brooke helped raise all of her siblings, so she had plenty of experience with this. There is also the fact that men are always hyper-sensitive to their babies. This is very common, and I deeply wish Brooke cared to understand this. Men are overly sensitive to their child’s fragility. Good thing too: We are much stronger than women and children, and we are not naturally gentle creatures, so it’s good we evolved to at least be overly-aware of the fragility of our babies. For example, I never wanted to change our daughter’s diaper because it required holding her legs up. (I asked to do it once or twice, for the sake of doing it for once, but Brooke didn’t let me, and I didn’t object to her objection.) Even though it’s ridiculous, at the time I believed that if I held her legs up, it would somehow hurt her. That is what being hyper-sensitive means. It means you exaggerate, in your own mind, how fragile your child is. Another example is when our daughter was sleeping at night. I kept having to check if she was still breathing, because I couldn’t hear anything or see her lungs inflate. I had to check at least once a night to make sure she was still alive, because being hyper-sensitive made me frightened if I didn’t see her making enough movement.

Brooke’s assumption with all of this was: I didn’t care. She assumed that since I trusted our daughter’s mother with … motherly tasks … that that automatically meant I didn’t care. This relates to what I’ve been talking about on this blog for a long time in how it’s a good thing women aren’t the same as men. Well, when it regards physical strength, it’s a damn good thing women are not the equals of men, because it makes women far less likely to be too forceful when handling babies. That’s why I was hyper-sensitive when our daughter was an infant. I kept being terrified that if I tried to handle her, I’d bruise her, or worse. The only thing I trusted myself with was cradling her in my arms.

One thing Brooke did that annoyed me was never – literally never – wanting me to try to comfort our daughter when she was crying, and I kept having to tell her, “Brooke, I should do it sometimes.” I always knew Mommy could do a better job making our daughter calm down, but Daddy still had to try sometimes, because our baby needed to know her father cared as well. I remember it didn’t work most of the time when I tried to comfort her, and I’d always have to give her to Brooke, but I think my point still stands: Babies still need to know Daddy cares.

When it came to the things our baby had, I almost never worried about it. When there was immediate need, like new diapers, I was always on top of that (I was still paying all the bills for a short while), but when it came to … whether our daughter had a car seat or something, we already had those things. And this would turn out to be one of the things Brooke uses against me in court; claiming that I didn’t bother with anything, ever.

But this wasn’t the only reason Brooke changed; not by a long shot. I now have to cover the last thing I’ve kept out of this story so far: My fear of Brooke cheating on me, and the arguments it led to.

Recall from part 1 when, at the time Brooke and I started dating, I made sure to tell her the one thing she should know about. Well, after what she did with Dylan behind my back, my insecurity problem fully emerged. At first, it was very docile, because I didn’t think Brooke had the personality of someone who’d cheat, but when she admitted to going behind my back to visit her ex-boyfriend, erasing all the evidence, and only telling me when I pushed for the truth… I questioned what I thought I knew about her after that.

After she did that, it was about once a month, all throughout our dating and marriage, that I brought up what she did and tried to figure out why she’d do that, and how she could think that was okay to do. Now, I really want to emphasize something: You’ll recall, and yes I also remembered at the time, that Brooke admitted it was wrong immediately after telling me what she did. So, ethically, I did not have the right to keep bringing it up. But I lived in fear after the night she told me. Fear makes people do stupid things.

Brooke reversed her position the very next time I brought up the subject. She insisted she did nothing wrong – a complete flip from what she said at first. So, that disturbed me, and was the majority of the reason I kept bringing the subject up. It wasn’t for nothing, but I still admit I shouldn’t have kept bringing it up at all. There came a point, about four months before we separated, that Brooke told me to stop bringing it up because she won’t put up with it anymore. I understood and agreed, and though it took a tremendous amount of willpower, I did not bring it up again. By that point, though, I think Brooke was greatly worn down emotionally by all the times we argued about it.

I’d say 9 out of 10 of all our arguments were about that one subject.

A very important fact: When Brooke and I argued, it never once got extreme. Not once did either of us yell, or even raise our voice. Not once was an object thrown. Not once was a fist thrown. In fact, not once were there any insults thrown, either.

Brooke does not heal. No matter what happens, light or severe, Brooke is not someone who ever emotionally heals from anything. I’m going to cover this extensively in the final part of this series, but for now I will just leave it there. Every single bad thing that happens in Brooke’s life scars her, no matter how small. This is important to keep in mind because it relates to why she wanted to end our marriage.

Before I start talking about when our marriage fell apart, there is one more thing I have to cover.

Two months after we got married, we moved into a duplex, and Brooke got a job at Red Robin. It wasn’t long after getting that job that she started frequently bringing up a guy she met at the job named Zack/Zeke. (She kept alternating between calling him Zack or Zeke.) Every so often, Brooke would randomly bring this guy up. “He showed me this song,” or, “Yeah, we talked about that at work,” were the types of things Brooke would say when talking about him. And she couldn’t stop talking about him. There was one time, only one time, when I asked about him, such as why they are friends on Facebook and have each other’s numbers. And since girls, especially Brooke, always have that one guy in their life who’s basically backup in case their current relationship fails (or they secretly want it to fail), she just told me they have each other’s numbers and are connected online … for work reasons.

We had just got married. I knew what was going on in Brooke’s head with this Zeke guy, but I think I was too scared to bring him up again. I was also too scared to walk out of my marriage when I should have as soon as I noticed how Brooke felt about this guy. So, we had just got married, and already Brooke was interested in another guy. So, since she let me have access to her Facebook, I went on there and deleted him from her friends list. I didn’t do it for my feelings, I did it for our marriage. That’s not justification, but it is the truth. If I had done that just for my feelings alone, I would have done nothing at all, and allowed this guy to destroy our new marriage from the inside naturally. My act of deleting Zeke from her Facebook was basically saving our marriage by tricking Brooke into thinking he deleted her. Yes, very immature, I know. Also very illogical in hindsight. If I had to resort to doing that to save my marriage, my marriage was already doomed anyway.

Now, this is the sequence of events that led to us separating…

We didn’t have a single conflict for several months before the end came. I finally got over the Dylan thing a few months before our separation, and I mastered pretending not to notice Brooke’s feelings for Zeke. We had a rather perfect streak for a while, before this…

October 2018. We had been asked to dog-sit for her grandparents for a week. Her siblings would just come into the house without forewarning or even knocking. Of course, we had a baby – a baby that was still breastfeeding. When nobody was around, of course, there was no reason for Brooke to cover up her chest. But one time, her siblings came into the house like they usually do, she was breastfeeding, and it was very obvious, from my perspective, that she didn’t try covering up until I looked up at her one or two minutes later. I had been typing on my notebook. So, it seemed she left her tits out for one or two minutes while her two brothers were walking around us.

We had an argument about that. I asked, “Why didn’t you cover up until I looked at you?” She denied it; she said she covered up as soon as her siblings barged in. It was during this argument that I asked her to ask her siblings to respect our privacy a little bit, such as knocking before they come barging in. I acknowledged that it wasn’t our house, but we were still living in that house for a week, and not to mention, we had a little baby that definitely needs her peace and quiet on a frequent basis.

She said she won’t ask that of her siblings. She didn’t even try to explain why. This was a rare instance when I refused to accept her answer, because it wasn’t even an answer, it was a dodge. She refused to ask her siblings just to simply knock before they storm into the place we were staying, and she couldn’t even do it for our the sake of our baby sleeping peacefully, during the day or night.

So, our argument got pretty heated. It was one of those on-and-off arguments, where it went on, then paused, then it went on some more, then paused. This lasted until nighttime, even when it was everybody’s bedtime. She started replying to me by saying, “Well, it just is,” or, “I just can’t!” … For example, when I started asking, “Why is it so hard to ask something so simple of your siblings?” she would respond with, “It just is!”

I used this ridiculous argument against her to prove a point, which I completely admit was immature. Our baby was sleeping, and I scooped her up from bed while Brooke was lying next to her. I scooped up our baby and walked into the living room, knowing it would upset her. Brooke was telling me, repeatedly, to put her back to bed. Our baby was still sound asleep, but she kept telling me to put her back. So, I responded with, “Well, I just can’t put her back. I just can’t! … See how logical that sounds now?” Then, I said, “I want to be out here with her, because our infant daughter probably cares more about what I feel than you do.” Brooke just gave up and went to bed.

Baby never woke up, by the way. I know that doesn’t make what I did any more mature, but I think this fact matters in the context of this post. This was our worst argument ever. Easily the worst. If either of us had been yelling, or throwing things at each other, or punching holes in the wall, or even God-forbid one of us tried to assault the other, at the absolute very least, our baby would have been disturbed by that and woke up. She didn’t wake up, because even this argument, our worst one ever, did not include yelling or violence.

A few days later, post-dog-sitting, that’s when Brooke said she wanted a divorce. She was sitting on our bed, doing nothing at all except stare at the floor. I saw this from my desk, and rolled my chair over toward her, asking her what’s wrong. She said very simply, “I think we should get divorced.”

It was all downhill from there.

I don’t remember how, but I talked Brooke out of seeking divorce for all of just a few days. But that argument at her grandparents house just wouldn’t leave her mind. (Remember what I said about how she never heals from big or little things.) I could tell, because she kept sitting silently on our bed. Each time she did, I approached her, and tried to talk about it. She insisted that we don’t talk about it. I said that’s absurd; couples need to communicate and talk their problems out. She said, “Well, that’s not what I do. I’m someone who needs to just let bad thoughts go away on their own.” That led to another argument, she concluded we need to get divorced (again), but then I somehow talked her out of it, again.

Frankly, when I say I talked her out of it, I don’t think I really did. I think her mind was made up from the first time she raised the subject. But she acted like I had talked her out of it. She pushed for it twice, then stopped pushing for it, twice. Until finally, the night she left me.

Even back then, I was convinced she hadn’t truly changed her mind. I chose to be a devoted husband in all things, even this, and so I got this idea to start looking for an apartment to stay in a little while. By that time, I no longer had my own car, so I asked Brooke to use our car (it was technically our car, but she never thought of it as such, and whenever I used it, it put her in a shit mood, as if I had stolen the thing). She did not answer the question when I asked to use the car. I didn’t say what I needed it for, because I was trying not to bring up heavy topics for a while. The plan was: If I found an apartment, I’d fill out an application to secure it, then I would ask her if she was willing to have space for a while, and if she wasn’t, I wouldn’t go through with it. I thought it would make her feel better. I wasn’t on the edge of giving up – she was my wife, which meant giving up was never an option in the first place – but I knew full well she wanted out of the marriage.

We used FB for contact when one of us had terrible cell reception. Good thing, too, because otherwise I wouldn’t still have this exchange saved anywhere.

But she needed a good excuse, in the eyes of her trad relatives, for leaving me.

After I asked to borrow the car, she didn’t answer. She came home in a very poor mood. I didn’t ask her why she was; I left her alone. But her mood didn’t improve as time passed. We usually hung out in our bedroom, but ever since she arrived home, she avoided any room that I was in. If I was in the living room, she was in the bedroom, and if I was in the bedroom, she went to the living room. Finally, I concluded that this was ridiculous, and I had to know what was wrong with her.

In the living room, I saw her sitting on the loveseat, which was strange, because she always preferred to be on the couch. She had our 7-month-old daughter on her lap. She was on her phone. Now, at this point, she wasn’t avoiding me at all. She was on her phone, on Facebook, sending messages to someone. I asked, “Who’s that?”

She said it was a friend from work. I immediately knew who it was. You can all guess it: It was Zeke. I asked her what they were talking about, and she said she was saying sorry to him; sorry for treating him poorly. I asked what that meant, and she, basically, explained that she treated him poorly because I made her treat him poorly, because I was too jealous to ever allow her to have male friends.

I tried reminding her of something I had tried reminding her of many times in the past: I just wanted her to let me know, whenever it came to things involving guys. She said nothing, and just kept typing. I think I said something else, but I don’t remember what, and she didn’t respond to that, either.

So, finally, I said, while she was still glued to her phone, “Why didn’t you talk to him before about this?”

She said, “Because it would have hurt your feelings if I did.”

Which directly implied something obvious…

Then, I asked her, “So, are you saying you don’t care about how I would feel now?”

She finally looked up from her phone, stared me in the eyes, said, verbatim, “No, I guess I don’t care anymore!” and then once again went back to typing.

That was when I snapped. Never in my life have I snapped before (or since).

Without thinking, I kicked her chair, pushing it back maybe 9 inches. Then, I stood up and threw one of our baby’s toys out of my way (the opposite direction of Brooke and Baby), and left the room. Then 5 seconds later, I walked slowly back into the room, starting to cry. I apologized for exploding (even I was shocked I did that), but Brooke wouldn’t listen, and commanded, “Stay away from me!” She packed her things and left, taking our baby with her.

I never blamed her for leaving in that moment, by the way. In the moment, if I were her, I wouldn’t know if I was about to be attacked or not. Personally, I think the fact she was so shocked by me kicking her chair makes it unmistakably self-evident that this was unusual for me. The fact she was surprised by this, in my opinion, proves beyond any doubt that I was not a violent husband. The fact also remains: I kicked her chair, not her.

That was the night of November 5, 2018.

From that point onward, she never came back, except to gradually gather the rest of her belongings. And from that point onward, I tried to make things better, but she never allowed things to get better. When we first separated, I was patient with Brooke. I was calm, for the most part. Right after we separated, I still tried to treat her as my wife, such as asking her how her day was, if she had a good sleep the night before, asking what she wanted for Christmas, and I even offered to pay for her gas one time (though I still don’t remember the context for that one).

But she was hostile. She did not want to give it a chance, from the very beginning, as soon as she left me. She never wanted to talk, and whenever we had to talk, she misconstrued my words. For example, she only allowed me to see our daughter on Saturdays and Sundays, and only while she was at work. So, I called her one day asking to have Mondays with our baby as well. I said, “Two days out of seven doesn’t seem remotely fair, so I’d like to have her on Mondays, too, which is still less than half the week.” She refused. So, for the sake of my baby having a father in the future, at all, I consciously chose to push. In other words, it led to an argument. Anyway, at one point, I said, “I’m her father. I deserve to have more time than just two days.” She argued even more. At one point, she said, “You think you deserve more time than me, when you don’t!” To which I retorted, “I never said I deserve more time than you! I said ‘I deserve more time with her than just two days.”

These kinds of things, which became very regular now, made me uglier as a person. That’s where that started.

I kept trying to talk to her, and she kept refusing, except one day, to my surprise, we met in the car (which she now claimed was solely hers) to talk. I’m guessing she agreed to finally talk because this particular request was buttered up more than my other ones. Whatever the reason, she finally agreed to talk one-on-one.

That was the moment I gave her a promise to not bring up anything she’s done since we separated, or anything else from the past for that matter, if it means keeping our marriage intact. I promised, basically, to surrender my individuality by never speaking my mind about anything she doesn’t actively desire to hear. She said she would think about it. The very next time I saw her, she said, rather calmly, that my promise isn’t enough, and that she’s choosing to get divorced simply because she’s convinced we would never work out. Then, the very next time I saw her after that, she had the papers with her.

Final Part

I lost track of what I originally started writing this series for. Nearly impossible to stay on track when I’m so focused on just simply remembering all the details I can. This 6-part series definitely turned into something solely meant for my blog audience. Oh well, at least I’ll have plenty written for notes for when I do come back to the original purpose of writing all of this.

Everything I have described in parts 1-5 have been based on what I remember. I don’t claim to have perfect memory, but I do claim to have reliable memory. I’m sure what I’m about to say will go ignored by certain parties, but whenever I wrote something in the previous parts for which my memory was fuzzy, I stated as such. It cannot be claimed that I am 100% certain of everything I talked about in previous parts. I said “I think” and “If I remember correctly” and things like that.

For the sake of argument, let’s be ultra-cynical and conjecture that I am 100% wrong, for any reason (like deception or stupidity), about everything I’ve said in parts 1-5: The fact still remains that I know my own heart. I know my heart better than Brooke could ever possibly know, or any guy she’s fucking, or any of her friends, or anyone she’s related to. And I knew my intentions and desires and wishes and goals, every minute of every day Brooke and I were together.

I loved my wife. I loved her more than anyone I’d ever known before. The only soul I’ve ever loved more than Brooke is the beautiful baby girl we created together. No matter how many people Brooke brainwashes with her victim complex, it will never change the fact that I loved my wife and I was fully devoted to her. You can say I failed as a husband, but you cannot say my heart was in the wrong place.

When I was a child, everyone loved me, and I loved everyone. Ask anyone who knew me as a child, and they will tell you about how altruistic I was, how generous I was, and how loving and affectionate I was. This was true even toward people I secretly didn’t like deep down. My siblings all agreed that I was our mother’s favorite child, and we think it’s most likely for the sole reason that I was the easiest child of hers to care for.

I have always loved people, I have always wanted what is best for the world. I am not selfish, I am not weak, I am not a liar, I am not a manipulator. I have always had a big heart. Too big, I would say.

Many people say that I changed when I grew up. I’ve heard people say countless times that the difference between who I was, and who I am now, is night-and-day. Well, I strongly disagree. I didn’t change, I only became more aware. I still care about the world, and about people individually, but growing up forced me to compartmentalize how much I care about different people. The world stayed the same, and as I grew up, it forced me to adapt.

And I most certainly adapted, but the person I’ve always been deep down has never changed.

Having a big heart doesn’t ever go away. In fact, I’ll make the claim that nobody ever truly changes who they are underneath. Who we are as children is who we are underneath as adults. I am an adult now, and who I am underneath is exactly who I was as a child, just like everyone else.

I come from a family of strong-willed, but short-tempered loudmouths. The fact I was born so quiet and thoughtful is an anomaly among my immediate blood-relatives. I’ve always been the black sheep. And as the black sheep, it is not coincidence or happenstance that I ended up nothing like any of my siblings. The worst of my siblings has been in and out of prison since he was a teenager, and he was first accused of something heinous when he was just 11, and that was before we all started going in and out of foster homes. I have no such history remotely resembling my worst relatives. Never even close. And as easy as it is for anyone, anywhere, to make accusations about anything, against anyone, I have never been accused of anything heinous … until my ex-wife decided to give it a try.

Most of my friends growing up were girls. And no accusations or charges. I’ve been in sexual relationships since I was a teenager. And no accusations or charges. (When Lisa left me, she outright stated that I did nothing wrong.) Even with my most tumultuous relationship, which was with the woman who was 16 years older than me, that one still did not end with the state getting involved in any way. Even with her, we simply went our separate ways and that’s it.

Brooke was special, but she wasn’t so special that she made me suddenly transform into something I’m not.

What is my history? Feeling I’m behind everyone in everything, feeling worthless and unloved, feeling overwhelmed, feeling hopeless, feeling like the worst will always happen to me… That is my history. Just because I became damn-good at hiding these things doesn’t mean they ever went away, especially during my marriage. Only one thing, in all my life, has brought me pleasure and happiness: Being there for others. Despite the numerous emotional troubles that have always weighed me down, the reason I was such a happy child is because I was ignorant enough to be optimistic, and ignorant enough to believe all people are more good than malicious.

The only time I enjoy a game is when I’m playing that game with someone else who is enjoying it. The only time I enjoy sex is when she is enjoying it. The only time I enjoy conversations is when the person I’m talking to is enjoying it as well. Pretty much the only things I enjoy doing alone is watching movies and writing books.

Brooke has made it obvious that she never trusted me or even loved me. She never even bothered to ask me questions, in the hope that she was wrong about something. Not once. Just like with Dylan, when she was done with me, I was completely dead to her.

Brooke did not live in a hostile environment when she was with me. That would have been strange, to say the least, since we were living with her own relatives for the entire second half of our marriage and they would not have tolerated shitty behavior from me like that. The evidence undoubtedly proves, and I remember clearly, that Brooke drove our marriage off a cliff, and she drove off that cliff at full speed to make sure it didn’t survive.

When Brooke left me, for the first short while, I was the only one who was kind and gentle and tried to keep things from getting worse. Hell, I was already doing that before she took off. The evidence is on my side with this. As soon as Brooke left me, she was nothing but belligerent, demanding, and stubborn. Read the following text exchange between us that took place in November 2018, the very same month that Brooke left me…

Brooke: I wanted to think about what day would work. You need to stop fucking throwing a fit when you dont get what you fucking want. Stop fucking baggering me when i dont fucking respond immediately. I was thinking about coming over friday but i really dont want to see your face or talk to you at the moment. I would be a lot less fucking pissed off if hadnt have been badgered all fucking morning.

Me: After my first text, I waited no problem for you to say something. No problem. I expected you not to respond for many hours like usual.

After you hung up on me, I only called back to kindly, gently ask why you were upset. To talk it out. Like civilized people do. Re-listen to the voicemail I left. I was calm and patient. I expected to leave a voicemail anyway. I wanted you to know I was prepared to listen.

Then you claimed it was because your dad was there. Assuming you were telling the truth and the FULL truth, I said I have until noon to talk. I assumed you were willing to talk since you said you hung up because your dad came. You said nothing else. So, because you gave no indication whatsoever that you cared to talk about this, I sent a little reminder that we should talk. A reminder for you to read when you get the chance or feel like it.

How is that badgering? Or is anything and everything I do wrong simply because you declare it so?

As this small bit of evidence clearly shows: I was the calm one who did not resort to, for example, dropping f-bombs for no reason, or saying things like, “I don’t want to see your face!” That was all Brooke, at the beginning. I certainly changed my tune after I’d had enough, but at the beginning, I was calm and kind, and Brooke did nothing but spew venom. She had no intention of working things out, no desire to discuss anything, no desire to work together as parents. We went to marriage counseling, but we only did after her family ordered her to go, and while we were there, she insisted we only talk about problems we already resolved, like a child who refuses to grow up.

And that never changed.

I loved my wife. I loved her more than I thought I could love anyone. Now, I don’t even see Brooke as human. She is now a soulless parasite in my eyes.

When we first separated (as in for the first 6 months at least), despite all of Brooke’s demanding, yelling, and outright refusal to discuss anything, she never accused me of abuse. It eventually became clear that our divorce would go all the way to court, once I made it obvious I would fight, fight, fight to stay in my daughter’s life. While I was talking to my lawyer one day, he presents me with a document a few pages long, written by Brooke’s lawyer, and at the end of this legal statement, Brooke and her lawyer stated that no abuse took place. They signed that document.

That document was made shortly before our trial. But despite the fact it said no abuse took place, once our case got to court, Brooke started going off about how I was an abusive husband. And of course, she never faced legal consequences for perjuring herself against her own signed document…

I wrote parts 1-5 to thoroughly demonstrate one simple truth: I did my best during our marriage. I loved my wife, and I had the best intentions for my wife. The worst of my actions during my marriage stemmed from fear, a lack of self-confidence, feeling overwhelmed, and just plain not knowing what to do most of the time. And the worst of my actions were still not even that bad. I never (literally never) struck Brooke, I never raised my voice at her, I never threatened her, I never limited her freedom. The only time I made an actual rule for her was (as stated in part 4), when she was pregnant and I didn’t want her eating ramen noodles because of what they’re made from, and even then, if Brooke refused to respect my wish, I wouldn’t have done anything about it.

As time has gone by, Brooke doesn’t screech at me quite as much anymore, but she has still gotten worse, in other ways. Her accusations, and her actions, have both gotten worse. When I thought she had the dignity and decency to refrain from playing victim, she started playing victim. Just when I thought she had enough of a soul not to try to take my child from me, she tried to take my child from me. Just when I thought she had at least a fragment of a soul not to do something extreme like … trying to get me arrested over nothing, well, she tried that too.

She tried to ruin my life. Whether it worked or not, the fact that she even tried demonstrates what a soulless creature she is. She tried to ruin the life of someone who never struck her, never destroyed her belongings, never insulted her (while we were married), never called her worthless or things like that … AND, probably most importantly, has never done any of those things to our child, either.

When she claims that I was controlling, I can’t help but wonder: To what end? When people are controlling, it is to get a certain result. By ‘controlling,’ is she claiming I was intrusive or demanding when it came to sex? She almost never said no to sex, and the two (literally just two) times she did, I didn’t complain or pressure her otherwise. The only times she gave me a blowjob was when she offered. (I never ask for those, in any relationship, because it would feel hypocritical, since I’d never want a dick down my throat). So, what other end goal could I have had in controlling Brooke? Not getting her to cheat on me? Okay, by doing what, exactly? Never letting her leave the house by sealing the door shut? Keeping her gas tank empty? Not letting her have her own phone? Ordering her to never visit her relatives or friends?

None of those things happened, not once.

Or maybe the argument is that I was using her to make a child? This is by far the most asinine accusation I’ve heard. Brooke was very open about her disinterest in being a parent. She wasn’t against it, but she was certainly disinterested. If I was just using her to make a baby, I would have fucked her over and over (which I did) and then once she gave birth, I would have tried to take our child and ditch (which I did not do). Remember I described in an earlier post how Brooke told me she was going to give up our child to me if we had split up before she gave birth? That would have been the best time, the absolute best time, to kick her out of my life if I was just using her to make a child. Brooke outright told me I would have the child all to myself if things fall apart before she gives birth. But I didn’t do that. I did the opposite: I tried to keep Brooke around. At the very least, if the truth even remotely resembled this accusation, I would have married her with a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing our child would solely be mine. I did marry Brooke, but there was no prenup, at all. So, these are all the obvious reasons it’s beyond retarded to claim I was using Brooke for her womb.

I wanted a family, and I wanted to make that family with Brooke. Period.

(Also don’t forget I had a greater preference for adoption.)

Let’s further discuss the “controlling” accusation, because I want to bury this nonsense once and for all. When Brooke came home from work 4 hours late, I would ask why it took so long. I never phrased my question as, “Were you REALLY at work?” or something like that. When her great-grandpa died, she said she was going to visit him to say goodbye (without inviting me to also say goodbye, which I resented), and even though she said she’d be gone for one hour, she was gone for closer to 5 or 6 hours, and part of me thought she went somewhere else before visiting her great-grandpa. Things like that stem from paranoia. It is not controlling to ask questions or to doubt. The most, the absolute most, that I would ever do is ask Brooke why it took so long to get home, nothing more, nothing additional. If she worried I’d overreact, she never showed it, but if she felt that way deep down, there was nothing I could do about it, because nobody has any say in how someone else feels about anything.

Around the beginning of our relationship, while we were still just dating, there were 2 times that Brooke was supposed to get off work at 10, where she had stayed until around 1am, and I went to go see myself whether she really was at work or not. Not okay; I know and acknowledge that. The reason I did this? She was a hostess, so I naturally wondered why she’d stay an extra 3 hours when guests stopped coming in at 10. This was after she went behind my back to see Dylan. Again, I acknowledge that was not okay to do, but 2 things can be true at the same time: I should not have gone to see where she really was, AND that is still not an example of being controlling.

After the second time I did this, I realized it wasn’t mature, or ethical, and I never did it again. Brooke never told me it bothered her. She never brought it up. And I still realized, on my own, that it was wrong, and I stopped.

Lastly, for the idiots who want to believe I was controlling and I was just using Brooke… I think nothing proves that belief to be nonsense more than the thing Brooke loved to do most: Photography. When I was still getting to know Brooke (as described in part 1), I was both pursuing her and trying to encourage her to do what she loved most. I encouraged her to practice it more, and to even do it for a living through the business I wanted to start with her. When we were still just dating, I invited her to take some scenic pictures at the second place we all went to for swimming. I wanted her to take some pictures at the coast as well. When we started dating, that’s when I started encouraging her to get into photography as a potential way to make a living.

Speaking of that business I wanted to start with Brooke… One of the things that made me think Brooke and I were a perfect match (and that it wasn’t just feelings that brought us together) was the fact we both loved art. I love writing books, and I was trying to get into photography, while Brooke was already into photography and illustrations. She illustrated the back cover of my second novel, Resurrection.

I’m not going to talk about how Brooke almost completely flaked on the business and preferred to just sit around home watching reruns of the same shows. That doesn’t matter nearly as much as the plain, simple fact that I worked hard to make a financially-secure future with Brooke. That is NOT the behavior of a man who’s just using an “innocent, naïve young girl who doesn’t know any better” for her womb and for sex. The sex was awful anyway, you’ll recall. If sex was of any level of importance to me, I would have kept several phone numbers for booty calls and cheat on Brooke repeatedly.

Did I mention Brooke never worried about me cheating on her? Not even a little. In fact, during one of our arguments (about what she did behind my back), Brooke said, “Michael, I KNOW you would never cheat on me.” So, add cheating to the list of things I never did in my marriage.

Okay, enough buildup. Time to get to the crux of this whole story…

Monsters deserve to lose their child. Monsters deserve to get the police called on them and the state used against them.

I did not lose my child, I did not end up behind bars. You know why? Because I’m not a monster. Everyone sees this, even the people who pretend to believe Brooke’s bullshit. In fact, our daughter’s third birthday is not far from now, and after she turns 3, I get to have her with me for 4 days out of every week. Courts do not grant that kind of arrangement for a parent, especially a father, when they have a history of being dangerous, or careless, or disinterested.

Every minute we’ve spent in court was a waste of time and money. Every minute I’ve had to spend trying to get Brooke to tell me something I need to know as a father, or trying to tell her something she ought to already understand as a mother, has been a waste of time.

Want to know the reason our marriage fell apart? Want to know the reason it never had a chance of being saved? Because Brooke never gave a shit.

She never trusted me, she never loved me, she never truly knew me. You know the number-one thing people do when they care and they want to understand? They ask questions. They ask questions. They ask questions.

They ask why. They ask how. They ask to know more. They ask what’s going on in your mind.

Brooke never asked me questions, and she never asked me questions because she never gave a shit. She intentionally allowed all the bad stuff, both real and perceived, to just build up and build up until she had an opportunity to take off and take from me.

Yes, take off. The very thing I would have done if I was any of the things she accuses me of being. She was the one who took off, she is the one who uses people, and she is the one who tries to control people, including but not limited to me. When she took off, she became demanding, in order to control me. She accuses me of not listening, when she is the one who refuses to ever listen. She accuses me of being controlling, when she is the only one of us who has gone to the state capital, multiple times, to have the government do her bidding.

Weak people like Brooke are always, without fail, the EXACT things they are so terrified of.

They see threats where none exist, and they became threats themselves. They fear being destroyed, and so they try to destroy the threat first.

I don’t know if Brooke ever truly feared for her safety toward me, but what I do know is that she tried to destroy me in the only way she could: By manipulating others to cause the destruction for her, like the government. If she were born a man, she would have tried to destroy me herself, physically. The ONLY thing that stopped her was the mere fact she couldn’t have.

I am a lot stronger than she is, and I never struck her, before, during, or after our marriage, and I never will. I am a lot smarter than she is, and I never went to the government to ruin her life for me, nor will I ever. Brooke has no idea, absolutely no fucking idea, the things I could have done if I had wanted to. Things that never took place, and never will take place. If I had wanted to do any of the things she tried to do, I would have been a lot better at it, and those things would have already happened by now. When she left our child in a zipped-up tent on a 100-degree day, or when she just, in general, proves over and over how incapable she is of surviving completely on her own, or the stories she told me about her abusive stepfather… I could have made Brooke, and her stepfamily, look godawful if I really, really wanted to take things to the extreme like she tried to. If I wanted to ruin Brooke’s life, or actually harm her, the past 2 years would have looked very, very different.

But all I did was stand my ground (and bitch on my blog about what a shitty person she is). That’s all I did. The mere fact that I never did anything else proves that I have immensely-better character than she has.

What makes me better than her is the fact that THIS ENTIRE TIME, the only thing I have done is stand back and defend myself while she is endlessly on the attack. The most, the absolute most, that I have ever done is criticize her. The latest example of criticism she deserves: I noticed she never checks up whenever our daughter is with me and she has the flu, or a fever, or anything else. But nonetheless, all I have ever done apart from standing my ground is criticize her. I don’t take actual measures, ever. All I do is speak my mind about the kind of person she is.

I don’t think Brooke even knows what love is. I think all she understands is using people. Using people to survive, using people to feel better, using people to give her attention, using people for their money, etc. When Dylan was no longer useful, she ditched him like it was nothing. When I was no longer useful, she ditched me like it was nothing. Maybe that’s the true reason never worried about me cheating: She probably wouldn’t have given a shit if I had.

You know how I know for a fact that I loved Brooke and wasn’t just using her? Because part of me still loves her, and always will. Despite all the shit I’ve described in this series, and on this blog, there will always be that small part of me that just can’t help but love her forever. Even when she doesn’t deserve it in the slightest, she still has a little bit of my eternal love.

Brooke stopped loving me as soon as she left me, and most likely even long before that. On November 7, just two days after she left me, at 5:51pm I texted her “I love you” and she never responded. The next morning, at 11:53am, I asked her, “Do you prefer I stop saying that completely?” To which she replied, “I would, because i cant say it back.”

Someone who truly loves does not lose it so quickly, and they never lose it completely. There was no struggle; she just stopped.

In my strongly-held opinion based on endless observation, Brooke is incapable of truly loving anyone. She cannot sacrifice for love, she cannot do what is best for someone even if it means she does not benefit. She does not love, she only uses. When the guy she’s currently fucking is no longer useful, she will do the same to him. Chances are good that his usefulness is primarily (though not quite fully) dependent on how much he tells her things she wants to hear. Once he stops simping for her, he will no longer be useful in her eyes.

Which brings me to my conclusion here…

CONCLUSION

Brooke will never improve. She will never be a real woman anyone can look up to and say, “I wish I was more like her!”

Brooke can never – I repeat never – be with any man who is actually a real man. She can never be with a man who helps her grow as a person, or who is a true partner to her that works together with her in all things mutually. The only thing, the absolute only thing, Brooke can handle is being babied. She is a child who is raising a child. Anything anyone does that is not some form of babying, damages her. And frankly, I don’t know if this is her fault or not. All I’m certain of is that it’s true.

When Brooke was a child, sometime before she turned 10, she had a near-drowning experience. I don’t remember the exact details, but I’m very certain she didn’t experience some kind of attempted murder or something. All I remember she told me was that she nearly drowned one day as a child, or she thought she nearly drowned. And ever since that day, she cannot mentally handle water touching her face. Not a gentle splash in the shower … nothing.

When Brooke and I took showers together, I could not help but notice every single time how she made damn sure the water never splashed on her face, or even trickled down her face. Sometimes, as an innocent joke, I’d put my own face directly in the shower water, and even that bothered her. She didn’t freak out, but she did comment something like, “I don’t know how you can do that!” Yes, it disturbed her just seeing someone else’s face covered with water.

In hindsight, Brooke’s water problem shows me something monumental. It proves that she never heals, not even a little bit.

And before you say, “Well, Michael, how about YOU try almost-drowning at an early age!” Well, guess what? That did happen to me.

This incident was the first time I ever pondered the subject of death and mortality. I was 5, maybe 6 years old, and living at my first foster home. I went swimming one day with two of my foster-brothers named Matthew and Andrew. While Andrew was out walking around the front yard where we were, Matthew and I were in the pool. At one point, I decided to dive under the water, because that’s just what I do, and Matthew thought it’d be a good joke to float above me and keep me stuck under him. Whenever I swam over to resurface, he followed. I remember even trying to push Matthew away, and when I really started losing air, I started hitting him. He still didn’t move. By that point, I lost so much air that I actually wasn’t panicking so much anymore. I started feeling peaceful. But, right before the point where my reflexes kicked in and forced me to swallow a bunch of water as a total last resort to take in air, I tried kicking the bottom one more time, and this time, Matthew was finally not hovering over me. I was livid beyond belief, as expected, and I made damn sure our foster mom knew about this. But you know what didn’t happen after that incident? Fearing water for the rest of my life. In fact, I didn’t fear water for literally any length of time after that incident. If I remember correctly, I went back into that same pool shortly after this happened (once I made sure Matthew got in trouble). Nor did I ever become too afraid to dive under, or even dive near other people again.

I know that not everybody is the same. I’m sure it would have been normal for me to fear being underwater for a long time; years, even. But to be so terrified of water, for the rest of my life, that I can’t even let water touch my face in the shower when I’m in my 20s?? That is not normal. It just isn’t. And remember, I say this as someone who experienced someone actively trying to keep him trapped underwater as a child.

By any reasonable metric, I was not a horrible husband. I made mistakes, and I’ve owned up to all of them. I made mistakes I didn’t even cover in this 6-part series, but only because they weren’t as severe as the ones I did mention here, and they aren’t very important to mention. Yet, despite the fact that I was simply an imperfect husband with some maturity issues, Brooke took my mistakes and my immaturity SO severely that she interpreted all of it, literally all of it, as abuse. Once someone put the idea of calling herself a victim into her head, she ran with it.

Someone who is that fragile, someone who is so easily scarred, someone who cannot heal from the slightest bad experience, someone who colossally-exaggerates every bad experience … that is someone who can never grow. That is why she can’t, physically cannot, be with any guy who is actually a good partner. She can only be with guys who put themselves beneath her, worship her, and only tell her exactly what she wants to hear.

I assume a lot of people who’ve read up to this point are probably thinking, “Well, if you know she’s just really, really sensitive, then shouldn’t that make you pity her instead of hating her?” To which my answer is: Not after what she’s done.

Just because Brooke tried to ruin my life through the government instead of beating me to a pulp, that doesn’t make her any less of a piece of shit. In fact, I would have GREATLY preferred if she beat me to a pulp instead of putting me through years of fear of losing my child, and years of being forced to give her money for absolutely nothing. She knows my responsibilities as a father would increase if we had joint custody, but she manipulated her way into getting sole custody (her only victory in all this) because it gives her money AND power. Hefty tax refunds, free money every month, and the power to make decisions for our child whether I approve or not… That’s what it’s about. It has nothing to do with doing what’s right. Money and power. The things weak people crave the most. She doesn’t respect my wishes with anything. She doesn’t give a shit.

People can be weak and still be a good person. I used to be friends with one such type, and his name was Sam. A very weak person, even more fragile than any of my female friends growing up, but Sam never did anything shitty, toward anyone. Sam was like Piglet (from Winnie the Pooh), in that he was very weak but he remained a good person. He still had a good heart. So, that’s why I don’t care if Brooke can’t help how sensitive she is: Character supersedes a person’s inner strength, always. Sam is a weak person, Brooke is a weak person, but Sam is a great person, Brooke is a shitty person.

I will never be able to count on Brooke to apologize for anything, or simply admit when she does something wrong. She started our relationship being humble (or maybe it was fake), but that quickly changed. Just like how she cried and apologized about going behind my back with Dylan, but then completely reversed her position the very next time I asked her about it again.

Our problems as a couple built up because Brooke was literally against communication. It’s not just that she didn’t know how to communicate, she outright told me she was against it. And that still hasn’t changed in the 2 years we’ve been separately raising our daughter.

I think all the things that made me fall in love with Brooke were just an act. She did what she needed to keep me around, for as long as she wanted me around, but it all flew out the window once she no longer needed me.

She is willing to give our daughter a broken family, going back and forth between parents, just like she went through. She tried to rob her daughter of her father; a father who has no criminal history, or history with drugs, or alcohol, or even goddamn cigarettes. Brooke is willing to do whatever the hell she wants, whenever the hell she wants, simply because she wants to do it. She can’t even refrain from attempting shitty things even for the sake of her daughter’s healthy development. She’d rather be hostile. She’d rather win, at any cost.

By no means do I believe she’s done trying to win. She’ll never stop. I’d bet she’ll look for some way to use this 6-part series against me. Just wait.

When Brooke threw Dylan away like a cold bitch, he asked me (through her) if I would talk to him. When Brooke went to work, he called me, and all he wanted to know was… “Why did Brooke leave me like that? We were together for 4 years…” And the only thing I could tell him was, “…I honestly don’t know. I’m disturbed by it, too.”

Well, now I do know how she could do that. (And then go see him again behind my back.)

Last thing I will say:

If I’m wrong about anything I believe and perceive, if I am shown to be, I will happily own up to my misperception. As certain as I am that I understand things just fine, most of this stuff I don’t want to believe. But as life shows me over and over, expecting the worst is the best way to predict the future.