Read Part 4 by clicking here.
By Dana Flournoy McGaw
Missy said she was just doing her part, “We ate here so I should help clean up.” After a decade of living with a partner who had no interest in domestic chores, the concept of sharing responsibilities was a wonderful relief to me. Missy seemed to be the whole package. She was sweet and respectful. She valued a clean house and helped with making it that way. She made me laugh-often. She was kind and gentle with her children. She was finishing her degree with good prospects of a professional job. She was in therapy learning to develop healthy boundaries with difficult situations and people. In short, she took responsibility for her life.
On top of all that–her lips! I would melt with one brush of her lips across my check. In her arms I felt safe, not trapped. All of the running away from her that I had done throughout my life only brought me closer to her. Although she did not like it when I moved away from her emotionally or physically, she never stood in my way or chased me down with guilt or demands. In allowing me this space to move about, without having to react to her reactions, I was left with the ability and responsibility to figure out what I wanted and needed. In one test after another she consistently said through her actions, “You are responsible for you. I am responsible for me. I will not try to make you do anything you do not want to do.” Is there anything more attractive than that?
The next day I went home. My partner was laying on the sofa. “I need a change,” I said. “I am going to be staying with Missy for a while. I need you to move out.” Her attitude was “Yeah. Whatever.” She remained laying there while I packed some clothes and left. It was not the first time I had packed up and left for a day or two. A few days later I went back home to get more clothes and love on my dog while she was at work. I left her a message reiterating that I need her to move out as it appeared that she had made no attempt to do so. She did not respond.
Thank God Missy and her ex agreed to let me live with them rent free because this went on for months. Even so, time flew by. I had started a new job as a high school teacher. My work day started at the crack of dawn but was over by midafternoon. Missy left for work at the same time I left for school. Some days I would catch a nap before the twin’s mom dropped them off at home to be babysat by me. On other days, I would spend the evening with my grandma. Missy got home around 11:30 PM. We were so new and in love that I would will myself to stay awake to visit with her when she got home. Visiting would often lead to other things – and let’s just say I did not get much sleep that fall.
I continued to go home every few days to see my dog, water the garden, and remind my ex that she needed to move out. She insisted that she could not move back home and that she had nowhere else to go. I told her she needed to move out by a certain date. We agreed that she would pay for utilities and for the second mortgage while she was living there. I would continue to pay for the first mortgage and insurance, etc. because I was the sole owner of the home.
Meanwhile, I spent more and more time with the twins. Their mom was earning a Master’s degree and had a girlfriend in a neighboring city. I babysat her kids when she had an evening class and when she had a date with her new girlfriend during the week. Missy had Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday off so she had the twins on the weekends while their other mom spent it at her girlfriend’s house. I had been babysitting since I was 8 and had a career working with children. Taking care of the twins came naturally to me. Our bond quickly and easily began to develop. After a while, we had our own routines, games and special things we did together. I knew I was beginning to love them but was surprised at how attached they were getting to me. Their mom brought them to see me during an open house at school one night because they kept asking for me. When one of the twins broke her arm a few months later, she asked for me at the hospital. Of course I left work to be with her in the ER.
My ex’s moving date came and went with no signs of her even packing. Finally, I consulted with an attorney. The news was not good. Since her name was on the deed to the house I could not force her to move. I needed to find a way to convince her to move out. How the heck was I going to do that?! She said she felt it was only fair to pay her for the time she had live in the house since her parents had given us money for the down payment and she would never see a penny when I sold it. Since she said she had no money to move, even though she had a full time job, I offered to give her thousands of dollars from my retirement fund if she agreed to quit claim her name off of the deed and find somewhere else to live. She seemed truly shocked by this. Years later, she said she never really believed we were breaking up until I was willing to pay her to move. Even then, and even when she did not want to get back together with me, she remained in denial that we were truly over. It took more time to figure out how to withdraw the funds from my retirement and actually receive the funds. Once I did though, we went to the court house to quit claim the deed and she found a room to rent a few miles away.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Missy and I moved into my home. The house was a dirty mess and most of the furniture was gone. Random waxy splotches were on the walls and floor. My ex had left most of her stuff that was already in storage in the basement. But my favorite roll top desk and baby dresser were still there and I really didn’t care about the rest of it. I was so happy to be back home!
The transition was more difficult for Missy. She was happy to not be living with her ex anymore, but not being with her children everyday broke her heart. She and her ex had agreed that it would be best for the kids to stay in their original home during the week so that their mom could take and pick them up from preschool near her work (40 minutes away). They spent every weekend at our house. Sometimes Missy would just sob from missing them.