Zane

“Wake up. You have got to see this!”  That is how I woke up one spring morning.  I barely moved as I was so exhausted from nursing our newborn child.  Introducing Zane.  He and I have a special bond after everything we endured together.  From his first kick, I could tell this baby was different from Vivian.  He was very comforting to me during all those crazy times.  Like a good friend, he just seemed to hug me but from the inside.

We decided not to find out our baby’s gender but I had a feeling it was a little boy.  And I was right.  Zane was such a gentle baby, a true gift from God which is how we decided upon his name.  He had an ear infection which made nursing difficult.  So I had been up all night.  Crawling into bed at 4:00 a.m., I was woken back up at 5:30 a.m. by Vivian wanting cereal.  And now here my husband stood, trying to get me out of the bed.  “Come here now!” he said.

Begrudgingly, I put on my contacts and got out of bed.  As I walked down the hallway, I could see sunlight streaming in through all our windows.  I immediately recoiled and started walking backwards muttering, “No, no!  You have opened all the blinds.  Crazy is going to see us.”

“It’s ok.  I promise.  Just walk forward and look.  I swear it’s ok.”  I took one look at his face and knew something was up.  Slowly tip-toeing forward, I peered just past our hallway where I could see a moving truck parked in Crazy’s driveway.  Now you would think this would be cause to celebrate.  But back then, I wasn’t about to assume anything.  “They must be moving” my husband said next.

“Until I see someone else moving into that house, I can’t even get excited.  We have no idea what is going on.  They could be starting renovations or something.  Moving out temporarily…” my voice trailing off as I walked back into our bedroom.  As I laid in bed, I had tears streaming down my face.  I had prayed solidly for a year that our psycho neighbor would move.  And finally, it looked as if it might be happening.

Shockingly, the moving truck left within one hour.  Who on earth moves an entire house within one hour?  Crazy people do.  That’s who.  The second the truck left, neighbors started milling about on our front porch asking if they really moved.  How the heck should we know?  It’s not like we ever talked to them.  As the neighborhood curiosity grew, we finally allowed a neighbor to stand on our fence, where they could see into the house.  Yep, the house was empty.  And Crazy was gone.  Just like that.  In one hour.  Flat.

I have a lot of empathy for anyone having to endure such a situation.  Had I not experienced it myself, I would have never known the depths of how being harassed affects you.  What made this situation especially hard was that it occurred at our home.  Your home should be your sanctuary.  A place where you recharge your batteries.  A place where you can relax.  I had none of that during my pregnancy and following Zane’s birth.  None.

I wish I could say I handled it well but the reality is, the stress took a major toll on my health.  I landed in three ER’s with unexplained symptoms.  And finally was admitted to Cedars Sinai where they ran every test known to man.  They suspected multiple sclerosis.  Then Lyme disease.  Then a major nutritional deficiency from nursing.  Twenty thousand dollars later, I was finally diagnosed with a heart condition which was brought upon solely from…..stress.

As I laid in the hospital, I told my husband I didn’t want to return home.  Being in the hospital was the first time I had ever been away from V.  And the first time, I had ever been away from all the harassment.  I couldn’t handle doing everything by myself anymore.  And I felt I couldn’t keep up with the demands of parenthood.  Volunteering at V’s school and managing our household.  The sleepless nights and fast paced days had taken its toll.  The doctors wanted to start me on heart medications but I refused.  I never needed them before.  Plus it wasn’t safe for nursing.  If this was caused by stress, then I needed to fix what was stressing me out.  Not placate me with medications.

Sitting in my hospital room, I stared into my husband eyes and told him, “I need help. I am burned out.  I can’t do this anymore.  I’ve never had a day off since Vivian was born.  And now we have Zane.  I can’t keep up.”

“I will get some help.  I will hire a cleaner and find a babysitter so you can have a break.”  Looking back, I realize I put a lot of stock into those words.  And I do think that he meant it at the time.  But like all families, once you get back home, you get busy again.  Life resumes.  And we were no different.  Upon discharge, I came home.  He went back to work.  Nothing changed.

But that is where my resentment grew from.

That moment.

That is what it took.

 

 

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Crazy Times

I wish I could say the following year was a breeze.  But like all couples trying to work through the aftermath, it’s filled with a lot of hard moments.  I don’t profess to remember everything from that time.  Some things are honestly a blur.  And not just because I was suffering from baby brain.

This is kind of like a story within a story, so bear with me.  I could devote an entire blog to this subject, but I can’t go into all the details.  It’s just too identifying and honestly painful thinking back on it.  However, it begs inclusion as we were not only dealing with my husband’s infidelity but also a neighbor from hell.

To this day, we still don’t understand how she went from being a quiet next door neighbor to a raving lunatic overnight.  But she did.  Literally.  Our guess was that she was schizophrenic and had stopped taking her meds.  Either that, or it was something spiritual.

For some reason, she was fixated on me and I had to deal with this on top of the infidelity.  All while being pregnant.  No sooner had I made the decision to stand by my husband and work through the infidelity, that our next door neighbor went crazy.

She showed up on our doorstep banging on our windows and doors one evening.  She was screaming nonsensical words and thought she was drunk.  My husband refused to open the door.  Neighbors watched from windows and were all wondering WTF happened.  We had no clue ourselves.  But it happened several times more with her antics escalating over several months.

She would erect speakers on our shared fence and start blasting YouTube clips of babies crying (she had no children, but visibly knew I was pregnant), talk in various voices over the fence whenever we were outside, try to run over neighborhood kids whenever she drove on our street…the list goes on and on.

Yes, we called the police.  Multiple times.  And yes, they informed me to keep a log.  And pretty soon, they said to get a restraining order after she kept going onto our property and banging on our windows.  And yes, my husband tried talking to her husband which only made her go even more mental (she never did this when he was home, only when he was gone at work–which was all time).  And yes, I met with a detective to see what we could do to protect our family.  There was no explanation for her behavior.  I had never even spoken to her, other than to say hello, as we had been in the house only a year.

The scariest incident occurred one afternoon.  And luckily Vivian had just run back inside.  She was speaking in two voices over our fence, while I was silently watering in our backyard.  One was a child’s, while the other was just pure evil sounding.  There is really no other way to explain it.  At first I thought it was an actual small child talking, until I realized it was her, speaking in two voices…and they were addressing……me!  The hair on the back of my neck stood up, it was that scary.

She hissed, “Youuuuuuuuuu (expletive)….Youuuuuuuu (expletive).”  I don’t even want to repeat the exact words because I believe it was the uttering of two demons, possibly more.  For real.  This was like something out of Poltergeist.  Not kidding.

The detective had asked me to start recording whenever she harassed me.  Apparently it would help them build a case.  She hadn’t said she wanted to kill me….Yet.  And unfortunately, as the detective explained, “Ma’am there is no crime in being crazy.”

I share this because it had a profound effect on me.  Being pregnant, I felt very vulnerable.  And I felt very alone in dealing with this crazy neighbor, plus trying to shield Vivian from it all.  My husband would leave for work and no sooner had his car pulled away, the harassment would start.  He would sometimes leave for work, only to park his car one street over, then sneak back to witness it himself.

Windows were kept shut, blinds were permanently left closed.  It was like living in a dark cave.  Overnight.  We had no choice because one morning, while trying to do Vivian’s hair in the bathroom before school, she started standing outside our window ranting and raving.  She would listen to wherever we were in our house, then stand on the other side of the wall hurling obscenities or just screaming nonsensically.  We were literally being stalked in our own home.

The recordings were given to a sound technician in Hollywood, who works on various movies.  He offered to clean it up after hearing from a friend about what we were going through.  Anyways, he enhanced just the audio portion since I was shaking like a leaf when recording it.  Working on it late one night, he finally called saying it was the scariest thing he had ever heard.  Hands down.  Having to listen to it over and over, freaked him out.  Once we got it back, we gave it to police.

Why didn’t you just move?  Well for starters, the housing market had tanked.  Selling wasn’t an option then.  And we couldn’t rent it for our mortgage either.  So we stayed, trying to figure ways to endure it.  This went on for the duration of my pregnancy and several months after our child was born.

We even had our home blessed by a pastor after that.  Him and his wife used holy water and oil on every window and door.  My husband was instructed to pray over the four corners of our property, every morning before he left for work.  So he did.  Rain or shine.  At 5:30 a.m.

Needless to say, in the span of a few weeks, our marriage was turned upside down.  And now our day-to-day lives were as well.  Looking back, I can see this contributed to my own desire to escape.  Something that fuels affairs.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20.