Jen Mellon’s Prologue of our Journey to Trust Book Part 1
This is Prologue Part 1 of our Journey to Trust book series in which my wife, Jen Mellon, shares how our life had been as a couple and as parents before we started Trustify.
I am sitting in my rocking chair at five a.m., nursing our newborn baby and staring at her silent phone, wondering if my husband, Danny, is dead. The plush white carpet muffles my steps as I stand up and ease the baby into his bassinet, praying he doesn’t wake up. I pull my thin robe tight against me and tiptoe back into the chair, hitting redial, knowing it will go straight to Danny’s voicemail.
I look at my inbox and stare at the most recent email—a link to our home birth video, taken just a week ago, finally ready for viewing. I wonder if it will soothe me or rip my heart out. Tonight’s anxiety exists in such stark contrast to that beautiful day. I tap, tap, tap until I find the right link marked May 4, and I hover the tip of my finger over the grey triangle, feeling a new wave of tears well. My chin trembles and I slide down in the chair, pushing play a little too hard.
I see myself snuggled against an ecru headboard with Danny cradling me, his salt and pepper beard resting against my long chestnut hair. The arm that pulls me close has a dark Chinese dragon twisting amongst a full sleeve of tattoos. I can see a deepening crease between my eyebrows and the way my body twists slightly to the side, instinctively turning away from my worst fear: that even though he’s sitting right next to me, Danny won’t show up for me—emotionally, mentally—during the birth of our son.
In the video, I’m surrounded by tall, matching brushed-silver lamps, and above the bed hang four large canvas prints of babies. Morning light pours in through a filter of linen blinds and radiates off the celery green walls. I close my eyes and my hand finds Danny’s leg. My head falls forward as my fingers grip his knee. I breathe. In. Out. In. Out. His hand finds mine and our fingers intertwine. With his other hand he brushes my hair in long, gentle strokes. I distinctly remember relaxing into that moment, into him.
Watching the recording, I see the sweetness of our connection, but sitting alone in our dark house, I’m confronted by the harsh reality of everything the camera couldn’t capture. I had woken up that morning in labor, resigned to the idea that Danny wouldn’t show up. That just like last November when I puked out a taxi window on a cold rainy night as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, that he would be cruel. He knew I was two months pregnant, sweaty and cold from morning sickness that lasted all day. But he had tapped his thumb on his knee and stared out the window and not one part of him moved towards me.
“For God’s sake, get it together,” he had hissed as we pulled up to the hotel and he strode away from me. “You’d think no one before you was ever sick. Suck it the fuck up.”
That night in November had not been unique. The sharpness in his voice and his flat coldness were stinging prods I was well acquainted with. And now as I hold our five-day old son, I wonder why my silent phone still manages to surprise me.
Thinking back to a week ago, I remember pain zipping up my spinal cord towards my brainstem, where it knelled like the high striker strongman game at the fair. When it reached that final high peak, the pain was pure ice; it left me unable to move.
Danny had been the co-author of that pain and on that day, I blamed him for it. Mentally, my mind joined my body, and I felt like I was in a vice, crushed between my need for Danny to be there and my doubt that he could be. My mind held only one thought: Danny, don’t you dare leave me.
Meanwhile, my unpaid mortgage bill had laid downstairs on the counter, due two days later for a house I loved but didn’t live in and couldn’t sell since my divorce from Eli. The numbers on it reminded me of the vast sums we had spent defending Danny from his ex-wife’s lawsuit. On the iPhone calendar in my purse was the final hearing date: May 5th. The next day. On top of all the money pouring out, the three-month old company we founded together was still in the red and we were hanging by a thread, hoping an investor would come through at the eleventh hour. For the past six months, a blank District of Columbia marriage license application had sat on the same counter, inviting us to face reality. We had had a marriage ceremony all right—but I kept finding reasons to put off filing the paperwork to make it official. While it seemed as though we were responsibly weighing our priorities, the truth was that we both silently agreed that if our grand ship fell apart, it’d be easier not to have to deal with the legal entanglement.