This story is a hard one to write because it’s not completely mine. I’m a key character, but I hope I do him justice. This is the cliff’s notes version of Brett Helmbrecht. He did give me permission to share his story so no one get upset or think I’m a secret spiller!
When Brett and I met, we were both going through the end of relationships. His was a long term girlfriend with a yucky history together. Mine was my ex husband. When we met, the chemistry was so intense you could almost physically touch it. I have never experienced that kind of attraction or desire in my life. So we quickly spun out of control…hence why Liam came to be so quickly.
Brett seemed to be everything I could want. Loving, fun, exciting, all about me. And then he was served with divorce papers. It quickly spiraled out of control. I knew that the marriage ended in an affair. I knew it was he that ventured outside of the marriage. Before I knew it, I was in this twisted hurricane that I couldn’t even begin to see myself out of. His ex-girlfriend was a major issue in the divorce paperwork, so he was having to meet with her frequently. I sat on the sidelines and let him do his thing. She had nothing to offer him monetarily so I couldn’t understand why he was so insistent on including her. It was a very tough time, and I finally said I was tired of riding in the back seat on this. We could face it together or set me free. I was still so caught up in him that I couldn’t just walk away.
The temporary hearing finally came. I talked him up, wished him luck, and assured him it would be ok no matter the turn out. Boy was I wrong. The judge ordered child support and alimony to a tune of $1000 a month. Not that I judge Home Depot workers, but how in the HELL does a Home Depot worker get $1000 a month?! He didn’t OWN the store. He came home so defeated. I called him one night in a tizzy…I’d started my period, my clients hair didn’t turn out right, and I was starving. He was down, but listened anyway. I assured him I’d help him all I could and that it’d be ok. Next thing I know, he arrived at the salon with tampons and ChicFilA. He’d obviously been crying, but wanted to make sure I was ok. I fell madly in love with him in that moment as I just stood in the middle of the shop holding on for dear life.
Fast forward….we are making it. Barely. His check is $98 a pay period, but we are making it. Once I found out Liam was on the way, we moved in with my parents. I was still hopeful the final hearing would lean more in his favor. It did somewhat and payments were cut to $700. We were going to get through this one way or another. My pregnancy was relatively uneventful, he was there throughout the entire thing. Things were really good despite the drama. I’d never been so happy in my life. The day Liam was born was like magic. Brett held onto him so proudly as I was stitched up. He never left my side. The day before we left he mentioned he wasn’t feeling good and felt like he was getting sick. I brushed it off and we went on home with our sweet bundle.
Now I mentioned before that I was terrified this new baby was going to change us. I was breastfeeding, just had major surgery, and caring for a newborn. He had to work and couldn’t be up with us all night long. Not like he could do anything anyway. But I had this nagging in the back of my head that I needed to get up and do better because I didn’t want to appear weak. I didn’t want him to have a reason to have an affair. I was going to be mighty woman for him. I wasn’t going to be the wife I used to be. She was terrible to her husband. So I put my baby second and my man first. I pushed through the pain to quickly get back to his bed. But I still had this feeling. He would recommend we sleep in the living room another night or two, when I was so desperate to get back in bed with him. (I was sleeping in the recliner due to my surgery.) It’d been over a week since I laid in his arms and I was feeling desperate. I was feeling the distance growing between us. It felt like I was drowning.
He’d leave for work at 3am, come home and sleep a while, pick up kids, play his game, eat dinner and go to bed. I was nursing the baby on one hour and the second hour hooked up to a pump. I was miserable. I felt like we were quickly falling apart and I was a human milk machine. I just wanted to be drunk already. And back to my briefly single self. I didn’t want this life again. I was so close to having my kids in school when Liam forced me to start over. I couldn’t do this slave to a baby thing again. I was incredibly lonely. Still the nagging feeling….it was eating me alive. All I could think is I stupidly fell for this stranger who made me feel like we would take over the world and he was abandoning me right here in week two. So I picked up his kindle…heart racing. Begging God to not let me find anything. And there it was….the name of the woman he had had an affair with in bold letters in his sent box. A knot immediately formed in my throat as I clicked on the email…”Hey baby, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to talk much. I’m still sick. I’ll chat when I can.” Hey baby. Hey BABY. BABY. My head spun and I felt like I’d faint. I text him immediately and asked if she was the one he’d had an affair with. As soon as I hit send on the text, all of the emails immediately disappeared. I didn’t get to look at them anymore. It was gone….I was desperately clicking and searching and they were gone just like that. Was I imagining it??? He started calling. I couldn’t even begin to speak to him. I was so distraught. I didn’t know what to think. How long had this been going on?! Why was I so foolish to think that I could change him? Why in the world would I think MY love would be enough??? I’m no better than the rest of them. Why when I’m at my very weakest mentally, emotionally, physically??? I hate showing weakness and the very moment I become vulnerable, the slap in the face. THIS is why I don’t love people fully. God why would you allow this into my life?! It’s because of my marriage failing….right??? I’m being punished because my marriage failed. Must be.
I packed up my things and went to work. I didn’t want to look at him. I couldn’t. If he touched me, I’d become weak again….I was too far gone with him. I couldn’t hold my ground. So I needed some time to sort it out. I needed to be in my safe place behind that chair. And I worked my ass off and wore the fake smile and no one knew. If they did, they thought I was new mama tired. Meanwhile, a MILLION and one things are swarming in my head and I’m dying inside. We’d never gone so long not talking since the moment we met. My girlfriend was in from out of town, so that occupied more of my time. She snuggled on Liam while he sat in the bedroom. She offered to hold him a while so I could go have alone time with Brett. I just laughed…absolutely no way.
Finally she left and the kids went to bed and I had to face him. He begged me for forgiveness. Swore on everything he had that it was only emails and he didn’t love her. He couldn’t even tell me why, he just got caught up in it because it was her. I couldn’t even think straight. We went to bed in tears, not speaking. The next day we argued about it most of the day. I had no clue what I even wanted. I know I couldn’t imagine my life without him and he certainly wasn’t sticking me with yet another kid to raise by myself. So I asked him to just give me time. He came home that night agitated that I wasn’t the old me. If you have ever had a baby, the old you is no where in site for a good long while. Add this kind of torture to it, and old you may be dead forever. Who really knows?! He looked at me and said “If you can’t get over this, I’ll go. Life isn’t a fairy tale, I made a mistake and you have to move on from it or I leave.” The thought of him leaving was a fate worse than death to me. I couldn’t choose that. No way. I was too attached.
So one day at a time. Eventually I pried and begged and pushed enough for him to open up to me. I don’t know that I really wanted to know the answers. I promised I wouldn’t get mad, but we needed to talk it out if we were going to survive it. Turns out, she wasn’t the only one. One of them had even befriended me for a brief period of time. She was commenting on our pictures together and messaging me like we were besties. At the time he’d told me they were just good friends so I rolled with it. They weren’t. They were lovers at one point. They broke it off and disappeared a while. Apparently her and I came into the picture around the same time and instead of picking one, he rolled with both. But there was also another. She was from Hendersonville. I remembered him telling me he was going for work a few times up there. Turns out it was her. When she found out we became serious, she disappeared. And then the one that ruined his marriage. I’m sitting there thinking we are not even a year in…we have a baby…he clearly has settled for me or he wouldn’t need to get whatever high he gets from these other women. I was baffled.
Why in the hell are you with me?! Why did God put this on me??? Clearly He was mistaken on my blessing because this shit was nuts. I was not strong enough for this and definitely not secure enough. I kept pushing him for an answer…why me???? Finally he unloaded on me. Rewind to chicfila day….the day he was my knight in shining armor? He’d woken up that morning completely broken. He briefly went into work and left for a personal day. Got his dog and climbed in his truck and drove. He made it all the way up to bald rock where he just sat. Numb. Broken. Defeated. His dog ran off and he didn’t even flinch. There was nothing left for him. He’d failed two marriages, going through a second nasty divorce that left him beaten down, and no way to get himself up out of it. Why did he want a family so badly when he just pushed it all away. He sabotaged everything good in his life in a self destructive manor to keep it away. So he decided to jump. It was time to just end it all. His relationship with his family was broken, his wife wanted him to fry, his dog ran off, so why be here?? As he sat there on that cliff ready to end it all, a text message came through from some crazy girl in Greer who’d started her period and hated life. The really miraculous part here is there is no service on that mountain. I’ve been numerous times and it’s a dead zone every time for me. But somehow, my message came through and he felt the loving grace of angels surrounding him and they brought him off the edge. He came straight to me that night. So that is why me. I saved his life. He said “I’m screwed up, I’m dark, I push everything good out of my life because I don’t deserve it. I’m begging you to not give up on me. Please don’t let go. I promise you I’m going to be the man you deserve.”
And I realized THAT’S why God put this on me. Because Brett was so far from God….he was so resentful for the way his life was going. Where was God when he needed him??? Just seemed like a silly fairy tale. And I couldn’t blame him for feeling this way…..he never knew anything different. So I promised him I’d never let go….we’d learn and grow from this. And we did. And we became stronger than we ever were before. We had to learn to trust each other and become completely vulnerable to each other. I had to learn true forgiveness….I couldn’t forgive and never forget. I had to forgive him just like Jesus would.
One morning we woke up and he was in tears. He couldn’t explain why, but he was just overwhelmingly sad. He knew he’d been a terrible husband and he was still carrying around the burden of it. He was carrying the burden of many hurts from his past. I held him while he let go, then I asked him to get dressed and take me to bald rock. It was the first time we’d been since he shared his near death experience with me. He and I sat on the rock and I asked him to write down all the things he was holding onto on a piece of paper. Liam and I snuggled while he wrote. Once he was done, we prayed and he asked Jesus into his heart. Then we burned that piece of paper with all of his sins and watched the ashes fly off into the sun. I was so excited for him….he was clean again! Jesus wrapped his armor around him and renewed him. And I got to witness it.
You see I spent so much time questioning God and His purpose by placing this man into my life. I didn’t need this baggage. I had enough of my own. But in the end, I’ve learned forgiveness on a whole new level, I’ve learned how to love on a whole new level, I’ve witnessed Jesus WORK on a whole new level. I have been completely blown away by this entire journey. It wasn’t me doing the saving that day Brett was ready to jump…it was ME that was about to be saved. Sometimes God brings us a mess as a message. Don’t be so quick to shut it out. There were a million and one reasons to walk away….a million and one. I am so very thankful that I was mature enough and willing enough and motivated enough to make it work. I asked God to help me BE STILL. Because I needed that lesson in my life. I needed to know what it was to forgive someone that left you so broken you couldn’t breathe. I needed to learn how to be completely vulnerable to someone. I needed to learn how to let go of the control, and let someone love me. Brett showed me the very raw side of him. I was able to reciprocate and give myself to him. And in the end, I gained a husband, partner, best friend, lover, and amazing father who has been more than willing to make himself better for our family. It’s a journey I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars. Are you listening when God is speaking to you? Because honestly I was convinced God made a major mistake…