Post by John:
My apologies for the long gap since my last post, but writing this is one of the more difficult things I’ve ever had to do. I mean I’m a pretty open person and I don’t usually have a hard time expressing myself, but ask yourself this, “Have you ever opened up your deepest, darkest secrets to the world?” It’s not as easy as it sounds. But here it goes….
In case y’all forgot, I last wrote about the months following the discovery that I couldn’t have children. To the outside world, Jenna and I were the same as always. But behind closed doors, we were roommates at best, only putting up with each other just enough to stay together. They always say that you shouldn’t assign blame, but I can honestly look myself in the mirror today and know that my inability to cope with failure was the root cause of our problems.
So it’s November 15, 2014 and it’s just another Saturday. The Price is Right was coming to Peoria that week, so Jenna went over to a girlfriend’s house to make some cool t-shirts. I was working around the house, watching college football, and just sort of being a bum. It felt like a red wine kind of day. Watching the game, the first bottle went down really fast. Then I had another bottle. Oh and by the way – we go big in the Hopkins household – so when I say bottle I mean one of those big bottles. What’s a guy want after two big bottles of wine? Chicken wings of course. Oh yeah – and more wine. Did I mention that I was by myself? There’s a perfectly good bar that I could walk to from my house and pick up some wings, but I decide I’m cooking my wings on my own. Jenna will be home soon so maybe she’ll eat some too. (We still did nice things for each other). So I get in the car (not one of my finer decisions) and head to the store to pick up another couple bottles of wine and some chicken wings. I get home and crack open another bottle and get to work on the chicken wings. I got them all prepped and stuck them in the oven to bake. Here’s where my memory starts to become a little fuzzy. Soon after that, Jenna comes home – honestly I don’t recall if it was before or after I put these wings in the oven.
Side story – Jenna is an awesome cook. Just ask anyone that knows her. She can cook anything, it’s usually from scratch, and it always tastes amazing. Well she’s had a few hiccups, but almost always amazing. With that being said, I’m an OK cook. I usually do a good job, but I get really self-conscious cooking around her because I always feel like she’s judging me. So I don’t like being helped by her when I cook – not sure why but I just like to try it on my own so I can learn.
OK, back to my other story. So at some point of this wing cooking process, Jenna tries to help. I’m sure I was screwing everything up in my inebriated state and she really only was trying to help. The actual events still to this day I cannot remember, but Jenna stepping in set me off. I remember shouting, screaming, and yelling. I recall bits and pieces, but it wasn’t pleasant – definitely not one of my finer moments. That was the last thing I remember.
I wake up on the couch in the middle of the night; everything is spinning and I need to lie back down. So I head up to bed and Jenna’s not there. “She must be sleeping in the bedroom in the basement,” I tell myself. The next morning I woke up with the most god awful hangover. I say it’s bad because I rarely, if ever, get a hangover. (I’m one of those people that usually can drink all night then be up at 6am like the night never happened – trust me all sorts of people hate me for it). Jenna is gone, she’s nowhere in the house. Where can she be? My friend Andrew calls me and picks me up to take me to the gym of all places. Apparently I called him the night before and he knew things went wrong and he wanted to get me out of the house. I figure out that things must have been really bad, I mean Jenna has never left before, so I knew she finally called my bluff and had enough. The feeling in the pit of my stomach was growing by the second. I pushed away the only person that has been there from start to finish, my best friend, my wife.
I finally decided it was time to look in the mirror – I had a problem. I could not deal with the failure and I was slowly ruining my marriage, and we finally hit our breaking point. I need help.
I made a phone call and got the number to our Employee Assistance Program and made an appointment to meet with a counselor on Tuesday. My encounter with him was not the best, as we didn’t really click, but I made a follow up appointment with a new counselor, a female. (It sounds weird but as a man I can usually relate better about ‘feelings’ with a woman as opposed to a man). I started meeting with her once a week to go through my problems, my struggles, and what to do with them. It was a combination of dealing/coping with failure, handling my anger, and expressing myself that she taught me the most. I went on to see my counselor for the next couple of months as I worked through these issues. To this day, I don’t know where I would be without her, as she truly helped me get through the deepest, darkest place I have ever been to. She taught me how to accept failure. She taught me how to control my anger. She taught me how to express myself when things weren’t going according to plan. For those of you who think counseling is overrated, I can first hand confirm that it works wonders if you are ready to change. The first step is accepting and understanding that you need help – but you really do have to make a conscious effort to change your lifestyle, your demeanor, your attitude.
In the meantime, Jenna came back to the house a couple of days later, and we started to talk. Our relationship was on the fritz, and I needed to get better and show that I was better before we would ever go back to being “us”. A week or so later she moved back in, but we were staying in different bedrooms. That graduated to the same bed, but we were really just sleeping next to each other, not with each other. That year, we went to Thanksgiving, Christmas Parties, and the Christmas holidays together – again to most people we were the same old John and Jenna – but really it was all still a show.
Finally, a couple months had passed and our relationship was starting to rebuild. By early 2015, we were back to being John and Jenna. I got the help that I needed and I got my wife back. We were ready to try alternative options to have children. Jenna was ready a year ago, but I was finally ready to try whatever it was that I needed to so we could reach our dream of having a family.