When I was finishing up my Bachelor’s degree last spring, I took a class called New Trends in Counseling. I loved this class. Our final paper was to write about our lives as if we were writing a book. It was very strange to write about myself in 3rd party, but helped me know myself better by putting all these situations into words. I am sharing this with you as a way to get to know me a little better. I hope you enjoy!
When Laura was 12 years old she moved with her family away from the city to a very small town called Greensburg. Here she met a boy named Phillip. Laura and Phillip became very good friends and spent a lot of time together through middle school and high school. Laura was a cheerleader and very popular. Phillip played basketball and baseball. They never dated although neither denied there was an attraction, but for whatever reason they stayed best friends, confiding in each other about their lives and relationships. One day in the middle of their sophomore year Phillip came to school and informed Laura that he was going to have to move away. His grandfather had recently passed away and his grandmother wanted a fresh start somewhere else. On the day that he told her this, they both realized that the feelings they had were more than friends. He moved and they began dating. But long distance relationships are hard, especially in high school and especially considering this was in a time before cell phones and email, and it was expensive to call long distance. When Phillip first moved away neither of them had a driver’s license but they were determined to make it work. At first everything was fine and they talked as often as possible. As soon as Phillip got his license, the first long trip he made was to visit Laura. It was great. Even though when they were apart they had other girl/boyfriends, when they were together no one else in the whole world existed. Things got even more complicated after graduation when Laura was going off to cheer at college and Phillip was joining the Navy. Phillip came to Laura’s high school graduation (as he would’ve graduated with all of these people too) and it was as if they had just seen each other the day before. Their eyes sparkled with delight when they were together and no one doubted how they felt for one another. While neither really knew what went on in the other’s life when they were apart they knew they were meant to be together. A few short months after graduation Phillip went off to basic training and Laura moved to college. He was involved in Navy life and Laura was involved in college life. He wasn’t really a letter writer so their contact was few and far between, but when he did call her world stopped for those few brief minutes in time that he was in her life. When he was on leave between assignments he always made time to come see Laura at school. After two long years of living this way he finally got stationed in San Diego. They talked when they could but it was so expensive to call long distance, so the calls were few and far between, and when they did occur they didn’t last long. They missed each other so much that Phillip even asked her to move to San Diego, transfer to UCLA, and they would get married. As wonderful and romantic as that sounded to her she just wasn’t ready to give up the life she had in college, her friends, or her family. So, eventually she told him she couldn’t and they decided they would get married when he was home for good. Finally one day Phillip called and informed Laura that he was coming home. He had gotten a discharge from the Navy and would be home in a few weeks. He arrived back in Kentucky in early November. Laura was so thrilled, she knew they would soon be planning their wedding. Phillip began visiting her at school frequently and she would go see him at home when she could. They had agreed to spend Thanksgiving with her family that year. But then the bottom fell out so to speak. A few days before Thanksgiving, when Phillip didn’t show up at school for a visit, Laura got worried. She called his house and was shocked when he answered the phone. Of course, she realized at that point that he wasn’t coming to visit. In that same conversation Phillip informed her that he realized he didn’t have time for a relationship because he needed to go get a job and get his life back on track, and a relationship was just dragging him down. Laura, of course, was stunned. She was so taken back by his words, after all she thought they were getting married, that she didn’t know what to say. Basically she told him that she didn’t want him to feel like she was dragging him down and if this was what he felt he needed to do then she would walk away. But she did tell him that he was making the biggest mistake of his life and in 10 years he would look back and regret it. He said that he knew she was right, but felt he still needed to do this anyway. Somehow she hung up the phone without tears and that was it. She didn’t hear from him again for three years, and life went on.
In the meantime, Laura began dating a guy named Eddie. One drunken night at the end of the semester, when they were preparing to leave for the summer, Laura to Louisville and Eddie to Massachusetts, they took a chance and had unprotected sex. Four weeks later Laura took a pregnancy test that turned out positive. Needless to say she and Eddie both were shocked but wanted to do the right thing. He moved to Louisville to be with her and they decided they would get married the following summer. Laura planned to return to school in the fall and Eddie would stay with her dad and step-mom until the baby was born and they could get their own place. They spent the summer going on road trips and hanging out with friends, and in late August Laura returned to college. A few weeks later Eddie called her late one night saying that her step-mom told him that her mother was moving up there from Florida and he had to leave. That kind of put a damper on the situation. Being on a christian campus the only way they could live in family housing was if Laura was further along in her pregnancy or if they were married. So, they did the logical thing….went to the courthouse and got married. But that still didn’t solve all of their problems. Now Laura was considered a commuter and could no longer eat on campus so they needed jobs to support themselves and the baby on the way. Eddie tried and tried to find a job but it seemed that all the close jobs had already been snatched up by the college students and he was having no luck. About a month or two later, Eddie’s mom called with a proposition. He and Laura could move to Massachusetts and live with his parents until he found a job and they could get a place of their own. Although Laura didn’t exactly love the idea, she knew they needed to be able to be financially secure with the baby coming. So, she agreed. She withdrew from classes and they moved to Massachusetts. After living there for almost a year, Laura realized married life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, at least not being married to Eddie. Plus not having her friends and family close was taking a toll on her. One day, out of the clear blue, the phone rang and it was Phillip on the other end. His voice about knocked her to her feet. They spent about an hour on the phone catching up on life. His phone call told her that he missed her, but she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction he was looking for. So, even though she was miserable and unhappy in her marriage and wanted to come home, she told Phillip she was happy and in love, and that life was great. He had hurt her before and now she wanted the chance to hurt him as well. This time when they hung up she thought that was the end. Laura stayed with Eddie for another six months until she could take it no more. She finally decided to leave. She packed herself and their daughter, and whatever belongings she could fit, in her little Ford Tempo and drove cross country from Massachusetts back to Kentucky. This was May 1999. Since her mom had recently taken a job and moved to Louisville, Laura moved into the house she grew up in in Greensburg. She got a job working for the state (Social Services) and began to establish a life for her and her daughter. The divorce was final in August of 2000, and Laura felt she could finally do things her way. She began taking classes again to try to finish her degree. But all of her friends and her entire family were in Louisville, so she began spending weekends there, and eventually it became logical that she should move there. So in September of 2001 she bought a car, quit her job with the state, found an apartment and moved to Louisville once again. She loved the freedom she had. She put her daughter in daycare and found a great job with a surgery center. Although she was basically living paycheck to paycheck, she was surviving on her own and raising her daughter the best she could. After two years, in February 2004 she went to work one Monday and was told that her position was being cut and she was losing her job. She thought it was the end of the world, but when one door closes another door opens and in the long run losing this job was the best thing that ever happened to her. At the time her dad worked for Norton Healthcare and was trying to keep his eyes and ears open for a position that Laura would be qualified for. When she lost her job she had decided to go on unemployment to support her until she could find a job. She spent that summer casually looking for jobs, traveling with her boyfriend (who drove a semi truck), and spending a lot of time with her friends. In July her dad informed her of a class that Norton was having for their employees to pick up their medical transcription program. Even though she wasn’t an employee, she met all the qualifications and she applied. The person in charge knew her dad and let her enroll in the class. Six weeks later, in September 2004, she finished the course and was hired on as a medical transcriptionist for Norton. Her hire date was September 5, Phillip’s birthday. Every time she wrote that date on her new employee forms she couldn’t help but wonder where he was. For the next few weeks it seemed like everywhere she went and everything she did Phillip would pop in her mind, she couldn’t stop thinking about him. One day at lunch she picked up a magazine and it automatically flipped open to an article about high school sweethearts who had married other people and had children, then years later found each other on the internet. Needless to say this peaked Laura’s interest. That night she went on her computer and looked up all of the Phillip Pollard’s in the United States. There were 13 that she couldn’t rule out so she sent out a letter to 13 people asking if they were him or knew him. She included as much information as she could. As an afterthought, she also found his grandmother’s address (knowing that he would always be in contact with her since she had adopted him when he was 5) and sent the same letter to her as well. The letters were mailed on a Saturday, and she waited. Shortly after returning from lunch on Thursday September 30, 2004, Laura was waiting on her trainer to check on a report and she decided to check her cell phone. There were six missed calls from a number she didn’t recognize. Fearing it would be her daughter’s school, she excused herself to check her messages. As soon as she heard his voice she began to shake. The missed calls and messages were from Phillip. Her heart skipped a beat and she couldn’t stop smiling. She immediately called him back and they made plans to get together that evening. When he showed up at her door and she hugged him, it was like that past seven years had never happened, they were picking up right where they left off. And in those first few “magical” moments she knew she was holding the man she would spend the rest of her life with. They spent hours that day and night talking and catching up. He had tried to find her before as well, but he didn’t know her married name, and Laura’s family had all moved in different directions and he didn’t know where to start. But he was thrilled to find that she was looking for him. The letter she had sent to his grandmother was the one he received. When his grandmother had received it, she immediately put it in an envelope and mailed it on to him. He was also living in Louisville, less than 20 minutes away from Laura. It was as if it were meant to be. They spent that weekend together and decided on Monday that he would move in with her. Three weeks later they were married. Once they moved in together Laura’s two bedroom apartment began to close in around them and they decided to upgrade and buy a house. They found a perfect four bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house with a garage and a huge yard. They moved into their new house in March 2005. A week after they moved in Laura had another positive pregnancy test. They had recently bought a chocolate lab, which they had named Hershey. Laura was so happy, she had a great job, a great husband, a wonderful daughter, the cutest puppy, her dream house, and now a baby on the way. She felt so blessed and finally thought she had it all and her life was on track.
But like all things that seem to good to be true, the evil starts to show through. The baby was born in late October and around Mother’s Day Phillip began acting very strange. He would go to the store and be gone for hours, or get off work and not come straight home, all the while ignoring her calls to his cell phone. She began to think he must have a girlfriend and she was scared she was losing everything. He denied that he had a girlfriend and promised that he was happy being married to Laura, and she believed him. But the behavior continued and became more and more frequent. He always told her he had stopped to play pool and lost track of time. Then Laura began noticing money missing from their checking account, and the unaccounted for money was always on the days he was missing. If he was gambling on pool he was either really bad, cause he never came home with any money, or there was way more to the story. She finally got the answers she was looking for, but not in the way she had hoped. One Friday, Laura had taken Phillip to work so that she could have the car to run errands and visit her grandmother. He told her he was going to play golf that afternoon and that his friend Doug would bring him home. While she was at her grandmother’s she thought she would call home to see if he was there yet, or if he had left a message checking in. There were messages, but they weren’t from Phillip. They were from a guy named Tom. Apparently Phillip had borrowed his car around 2:00 to go cash his paycheck and hadn’t come back yet (at this point it was almost 5:00). He was beginning to get worried because he was supposed to pick his daughter up from school. Laura had made the joke to herself that at least this time he hadn’t taken her car. She visited with her grandmother a little longer and headed home. By the time she got home there were more messages, a couple from Tom and one from Phillip’s boss. Laura began to get worried because not only had he involved other people, but he had basically stolen someone’s car. She called everyone that had left messages and explained that this had happened before but she was sure he would show up at some point that night. She also told them that she really had no idea what he did when he disappeared, he told her it was gambling but she was beginning to think it was more than that. When he hadn’t returned by Saturday afternoon, Laura filed a missing person’s report. One of the cops told her that he figured he was on a cocaine binge and would show up in time for work Monday. In her heart she didn’t want it to be true but all the signs made sense. He finally called Sunday morning and asked if he could come home. The first order of business though was returning Tom’s car. Once the car was returned Phillip and Laura had a long, involved talk about what had happened over the past 24+ hours. She told him that his boss was now involved and that he needed to call the police station to tell them he was home. He confirmed what the police officer had told her, and also informed her that he only had $300 left out of a $1700 paycheck. Needless to say she was pissed. Because of his escapades they were already behind on their house payment and she was counting on that money to get it caught up. No such luck. Without that payment they knew they were going to lose the house. Luckily he didn’t lose his job. His boss just said that he had to go to counseling to get this under control and he had to publicly apologize to the entire company for what he had done. They also made it clear that he was not to leave work for any reason unless Laura had contacted them saying it was OK that he was leaving, and his paychecks were to be released to her and not to him. They were able to find a house to rent, smaller with a smaller monthly payment. But recovering from the financial downfall that he had brought on them proved to be harder than they thought. No matter what they did they couldn’t make ends meet and just when she thought things were getting better, Phillip would disappear again. They eventually ended up losing that house as well, and having their car repossessed. Laura had considered leaving and divorcing him numerous times. But she felt that she had made a commitment and she felt that she was supposed to be married to him. She was determined that they would get through this. But once they lost the second house they really had no where else to go and no money to move anywhere else. Phillip’s family (what was left of them) lived in Colorado and no one in Laura’s family had room. Laura’s friend, Tabby, agreed to let Laura and the baby live with her and in exchange Laura would watch Tabby’s son while she was at work. At this time Laura’s oldest daughter had gone to Massachusetts to visit her dad for the summer. Laura agreed to move in with Tabby, but because of his behavior Tabby wouldn’t allow Phillip to live there. He moved in to a roach-infested apartment in the ghetto with his dad, who was really no better off than Phillip, but there wasn’t much choice. While the disappearing stopped, the drugs were never gone. They were everywhere in the complex he was living in and he was struggling to find and keep a job. Laura had no idea what was going to happen and how in the world they were going to get out of this mess she had allowed them to get into. But she knew that somehow she would. Laura knew the cost of living in Greensburg was a lot cheaper than Louisville and getting Phillip away from all of the negative influences of the big city would surely help. Plus she knew that she needed to move to a place that she could afford on her own in case she left him, not to mention that she couldn’t rely much on his income anyway. So, Laura began contacting friends and looking for places to rent in Greensburg. Laura’s mom still owned two houses in Greensburg, the one Laura grew up in (which her mom still used on the weekends) and the one next door that she rented out. In early November Laura’s mom called to say that her tenants had moved out of the rental house and that Laura and Phillip could move in if they wanted to. Laura immediately agreed and decided she was going with or without Phillip. If this was the end then so be it, but she had to do what was best for her and her children. Surprisingly enough Phillip agreed. They spent the next couple of weekends going down to Greensburg painting and cleaning to get it ready to move in to. Laura’s oldest daughter had decided to spend the school year in Massachusetts with her dad, but by November she was ready to come home. So the house came at the perfect time. In November of 2007 Laura and her family moved to Greensburg into a small three bedroom house, but the rent was cheap and at the time they really had no other options. Once they had moved Laura decided that she would re-enroll in college and finally finish her degree. She started back to college in January 2008 and quickly found out that she would be able to graduate with her BA in May 2009. Once she decided to go to school full time, while also working full time from home, they decided as a family that it would be best for Phillip to just stay home. So he quit the job he had started at Amazon and stayed home to help with the kids while Laura was working and going to school. Laura and Phillip, along with their two daughters, have been in Greensburg for almost nine months now and slowly things are looking up. Living on just one income hasn’t been easy and they still struggle from time to time. But the disappearing and the drugs have stopped. They have an agreement that Phillip will never go to Louisville without Laura and therefore he will resist the temptation. While money is always tight with just one income and Laura going to school, they feel they have reached a new chapter in their lives. Laura will graduate in May and they have a baby due in December. Once she graduates, and hopefully soon after finds a stable job, Phillip wants to go back to work part time and possibly start back to school himself. This is no where near where either of them saw themselves at this point in their lives, they have a roof over their heads, a reliable car in the driveway, food on the table, and healthy children. They still struggle with the trust issues that were created early in their marriage but they are getting past them. They are still happy and they are still in love. After being married for almost four years now, they both know this is where they are supposed to be and they know that soon enough life will turn around for them and all of the negative will be a distant memory.
*****This was written in August 2008, so the following is the update*****
Phillip and I have now been married a little over 5 years and while most days we are a happy family doing our best to survive, the personal relationship between Phillip and I isn’t always so great. We live in a small house with limited space and intimate moments are few and far between. Our bed hurt his back and he has slept on the couch for 2 years. We got a new bed and started sleeping together again, but the baby shares our room so that still didn’t help our sex life. We don’t fight often but when we do it is bad. He is an overall angry person and says things just to be mean. Then if and when I cry (cause I am a crier – not out of weakness, I just cry) he makes fun of that as well. The past year, since having Brady, has been the hardest on me. I have wanted to leave numerous times. But where in the world can I go with 3 kids? I don’t have the money to leave and get my own place. I work from home and the house we live in is my mom’s so most of the time I feel stuck. Then I remember my vows “for better or worse” and I know that if we work on it we can get back to where we were….but we both have to work on it. Last week we had a rough day when there wasn’t enough money and my ex-husband stopped paying child support. Phillip decided he had had enough and when we got our taxes he was leaving. He was tired of living paycheck to paycheck (who isn’t these days) and tired of depending on my ex to send money and just being let down. Needless to say I was upset. Not really about his decision to leave but more about the fact that I had stayed through all this crap and was determined to make my marriage work and he was so willing to just throw his hands in the air.
We have since talked and he doesn’t really want to leave because he wants to be in his kids’ life everyday and not be a part-time dad. But there are things that were said and done that aren’t so easy for me to let go, so I guess we will just have to wait and see where the next chapter takes us. But for now, I know that no matter what happens me and my children will be healthy and happy and we will make it through.
**Sorry this was so long, but I felt a need to share this with everyone.**