A chapter from my autobiography…early 2006
Michelle Hits Bottom
I didn’t know it was coming when we moved from Barrie to Burlington. I had a new job and the move should be a fresh start. I looked forward to setting up our life away from my ex and being with the kids in a new place.
The first crack in my heart happened while we were still living in Barrie. My 11 year old son was devastated that he would have to move from his friends in Barrie. It was truly heartbreaking to hear his tears and I am pretty certain my ex saw this as an opportunity to save a lot of money. If my son Alex lived with him then his payments to me monthly could drop from 800 -> 400. He told my son that he would stay in Barrie for him so that he could stay with his friends. My son was so relieved and I could not force him to move to Burlington with me. I also knew that Alex was a very sensitive boy and he would not want his dad to be alone.
In the end they did not stay in Barrie. My ex was working at an airport an hour away from Barrie. He had no family or real friends in Barrie and he worked 12 hour shift which meant Alex would be alone half the time. I made it clear that the only way this would work is if my son and my ex moved near my ex’s mother. Then at least there would be a support system. My sister and my stepdad also lived in that area.
So before moving day, I had to accept that I had lost my son. This broke my heart at a level I will never truly be able to describe. I was so close to both kids, I couldn’t understand how my son would be ok without me but there was no way I was going to make him feel guilty for his choice. There was no way I was going to force him to be with me. My son’s learning disability worried me a lot; my ex had never been supportive of extra help for him. How would Alex get the support he needed. I was going to be an hour away from Alex how could I be that support for him. These questions tortured me, that heart ache never healed.
Moving day was uneventful I had friends and my father and his wife helping. I had been commuting for months back and forth for 3 hours a day so being 5 minutes from the office was a blessing. My daughter got on the school bus at the end of our street and I could make sure she got on there before I headed to the office. The landlord for our townhouse complex also did home daycare so Megan could go there after school until I got home. I had hope that this was going to work out even though my heart was breaking for the loss of Alex.
I had a new job in sales for a technology company. The base pay was very low but I was confident that I would be making good commissions in no time. I set my mind on becoming the best sales person I could be and making this new home work for us.
The first problem with the job was that I was tasked with setting up a new product and deliver it at an expensive price into the small business community. I had to convince small business owners to spend money to integrate their Hyundai with our Mercedes benz product. This was a very difficult sale that took a lot of time and relationship building to convince mom and pop shops that investing this money would grow their business. When I did make a sale the back office support to create the Mercedes benz product was not there. This was a losing situation that nothing I could do would resolve.
Money was not coming in at all, losing the 400 from my ex and making less that 30k as a base salary meant just covering rent at 1300 a month was almost impossible. I kept hoping that thing would improve at work so I started putting living expenses on my credit cards with faith that things would start to improve soon!
One night soon after we moved in, I fell asleep on the pull out couch one night around Christmas. I was awoken in the middle of the night by a large man standing at the bottom of the bed shining a flashlight on me. I was in shock and I pulled the blankets over me. All I could think was that my daughter was upstairs and I knew I had to get this monster out of my home without waking her or all hell would break loose. I asked him what he was doing in my house. He said he was looking for his girlfriend. It was clear he was drunk or high or both. I told him I was not his girlfriend and that he needed to leave. He said but aren’t you Michelle? This shocked me even more. I said yes I am Michelle but I am not your girlfriend. I stayed calm and told him he needed to leave or I would call the police. He said holy shit don’t do that…I repeated he needed to leave now! He headed back to the patio door he came in from. He just stood there looking at me and I growled get out! He stepped outside and I ran to the door to lock it. As I was getting to the door he stepped back inside and asked if I wanted to go to a party with him. I said No now Get out!
I was shaking like a leaf as I locked the patio door. I went to get my phone and found it had been unplugged. I looked around and saw that he had unplugged the Christmas tree lights and he had been through my mail. This is how he knew my name was Michelle. I plugged the phone in and called the police. I waited by the front door and asked them to keep voices down as i did not want to wake my child who was asleep upstairs. They checked the area and did not find my intruder but assured me that they would keep an eye on the area for the rest of the night.
Once the police left, I tried to settle down but was unable to get my heart to stop pounding. I realized how close I had been to a real disaster. If I had not stayed calm I could have made that large man react very differently and my daughter and I could have been hurt. I went online to the chat room and was so relieved to find some of my friends online at 3am. They were able to calm me down enough to fall back to sleep by 5am. It was a fitful sleep and I was awoken again by a screaming Megan upstairs. I ran as fast as I ever have in my life to her….She was crying and saying someone was in her room. I took a deep breath and told her to go sit on my bed while I checked her room. I stayed calm on the outside but my brain was going so fast, had he gotten back in, was there more than one guy? I checked her closet and the room next to hers and assured her no one was in the house…she settled in and went back to sleep.
I suspect Megan subconsciously knew what was happening downstairs and she likely had dreamed it. I knew I could never tell her about this break in, that it would send her anxious mind over the edge. Adjusting to the new location was hard enough without adding that to her stress.
The next morning I got in touch with the lady who had adopted our dog Joey from us. I needed Joey back to ensure no one snuck into my house again and I knew it would make the kids really happy. She of course didn’t want to lose Joey but I convinced her with how much we needed him. So one weekend when the kids were coming to me from time at their dads I went and picked Joey up. The kids were so excited to see him and he was happy to be back with us too!
Christmas was bought on my credit cards and they continued to accumulate interest charges. I kept telling myself it would get better soon.
After Christmas I started to realize that my family was spending more time with my ex husband then they were with me. That hurt a lot. No one seemed to care what was happening in my life, I thought that my family would forgive my affair but I started to see that I was very alone.
I started struggling to buy groceries and gas, I started putting those on credit too. Shortly thereafter, the creditors started calling, I wasn’t making my minimum payments, the gas bill, the water bill, the phone bills were all piling up…
I couldn’t afford to drive the 60 minutes to pick up my son for visits and that was killing me too.
Megan was miserable in our new house. I was miserable too. For the first time since being a teenager I contemplated suicide. It seemed everyone would be happier and better off if I was not there. My family clearly supported my ex. I could not provide for my kids, I could not afford the gas to pick up my son. I could not buy food or pay bills. What was the point of continuing?
I started hating myself so deeply. This was my rock bottom and I knew that on the day that my dog Joey just stood in a corner and watched me for a day. He would not come to me when I called him, he would not budge from his spot. His stare was intense and I got the message he was delivering. He was telling me that my depression was impacting him, he could feel it, and he was not going to let me go.
That is the day things changed for me. I called and made a doctor’s appointment to ask for anti depressants. I called my stepdad and confessed my financial problems. I quit the job that was making me no money and went on unemployment to find a better job. I was not giving up. I was not going to let this pain beat me. If my dog cared then that was enough to push me forward on that fateful day.