“Unstable?!” Mom and Mariah questioned in unison.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
As I turned to face him, my soon-to-be ex-husband closed and locked the door in my face.
“Shayla, if you’re not going to do anything, just say the word. You know I will whoop his ass!” My sisters’ nostrils flared.
A huge lump grew in my throat. No matter how many times I swallowed, it just wouldn’t go away. “Come on.” I turned around and continued carrying my babies to the car.
“Shayla, you’re going to let him get away with that?” Mariah pressed.
“I just wanna get out of here. Come on. Help me get the twins in the car.” I opened the door and put Junior in.
Mom just watched.
Unstable? That’s what he thinks of me? That I’m “unstable?” If anyone is unstable, it’s him. Who threatens to take a mother away from their children? After everything he’s done to me, I’m the unstable one? Yeah, okay, we’ll see about that.
I need to call Howard.
“Mariah, you drive,” I told my sister.
“And Shayla, you sit up front. I need to spend time with my grandbabies.” Mom said as she got in the backseat beside the car seats.
Once we were on our way, I called Howard. Michael’s not forcing me to go anywhere. I don’t know where he got that idea.
“Howard Jordan,” My lawyer answered quickly.
“Howard, it’s Shayla. Michael threatened to take my children away from me.”
“Now, why on earth would he do that?”
“He accused me of being unstable.”
“Unstable? Where did he get that idea from?”
I shrugged. I’m still unsure as to where he got that crazy idea. “I don’t know. He said it because he wants me to go to counseling with him, and if I don’t, he won’t sign the papers. Guess that’s the only card to pull. A card that doesn’t even make sense might I add. He only said it so that he would get his way.”
“Seems pretty low for him to make such an accusation. For him to accuse anyone of anything is a stretch for him. But I won’t go there. Do you want my legal advice?”
“That’s what I’m paying you for, isn’t it?”
“Okay. You may not want to hear this, but I think you should give counseling a try.”
“Hear me out, Shayla. He wants to play hardball? Let’s go toe to toe. You don’t want to give him or whoever he has behind him any reason that you’re an unfit mother. We’ll play his little game for now, but once we go to court? He won’t know what hit him.”
I left the twins with mom and Mariah and made my way to the address Jamess relayed to Varg. It’s crazy how counseling at my advice was a no, but counseling at Michael’s demand was an ultimatum. Where the hell does he expect this to go? We’re not going to get anywhere with this at this point.
“I’m here to see Dr. Moore,” I told the receptionist as I pushed my sunglasses up the bridge of my nose.
“She’s been looking forward to your arrival. Follow me.” She stood up and proceeded to lead me down the hall. This is going to be such a waste of time. I can just feel it. “Dr. Moore, Mrs. Jackson is here.”
Dr. Moore and Michael looked at me as I entered. Relief flashed across Michael’s face as I entered the small room.
I sighed as I put my sunglasses on top of my head and sat on the opposite end of the couch away from Michael.
“Well,” Dr. Moore took a breath. “Now that I have the both of you here, we can begin. Mrs. Jackson, I’m Dr. Brenda Moore. You can call me Brenda or Dr. Moore. It doesn’t matter.” I nodded. “Everything said in these four walls stays right here. Mr. Jackson has already sent me extra precautions, but I promise you nothing leaves this room. So, how are you doing today, Mrs. Jackson?”
“Shayla,” I corrected her. “How long is this supposed to last? I have newborns, and this is taking away my time from them.” I informed her.
“We can stay here as long or as short as you want. Any day you all are on my calendar is freed up for you per Mr. Jackson’s request.”
“Great.” I rolled my eyes.
“Michael… do you want to tell Shayla what you told me before she walked in?”
I stared forward as Michael turned to face me.
“Shayla, I was just telling Brenda that while we may have our issues now, seeing you step through the door would mean that we’re taking a step in the right direction.”
I groaned. “Is that what he told you? He must have left out the part where he told me he’d take my kids away because he accused me of being an unstable mother yesterday. I had no choice but to come here today. At the behest of my lawyer, it’s only best that I show up. I’m here for the kids. Not for him.”
Michael sighed as Brenda began writing in her notepad.
“Starting off strong today… okay. Michael, why did you accuse Shayla of being unstable yesterday?” She asked.
“Yeah, Michael. Inquiring minds want to know.” It was my turn to face him.
“Brenda, ever since she gave birth to my children, she’s been irrational. She won’t talk to me. She avoids me-”
“Tell her why.” I interrupted.
“A couple of weeks ago, she brought my children to me screaming their little heads off. When I asked her what upset them, she said, ‘I don’t know.’ What kind of answer is that? ‘I don’t know?’ Seriously?”
“Brenda, they were bathed, fed, and changed. How am I supposed to know what’s wrong when I’ve done everything a mother is supposed to do? I’m not the unstable one here. Michael is.”
He sucked his teeth. “I’m unstable?”
“Yes! And instead of poking the finger at me saying I’m this, that and the other, what about you, Michael? Don’t sit over there like yo shit don’t stank because it does. I’ve gone in the bathroom after you plenty of times to know.”
Brenda watched us go back and forth, silently writing down notes. No one has ever seen us bicker like this, much less a stranger.
“Michael, why has Shayla been avoiding you?”
He shrugged. “That’s something you’d have to ask her.”
“I’m getting to her. I want to know why you think she’s been avoiding you.”
We all sat in silence.
Oh, so he can cheat in public but can’t say it in private?
I chuckled to myself.
Brenda turned her attention to me. “Mrs. Jackson?”
“Shayla.” I corrected her.
“Shayla… While we’re waiting on Mr. Jackson’s response, why don’t you take the floor? No one can tell us about ourselves better than we can. So, why have you been avoiding-”
Michael sucked his teeth in shock as if I exposed him.
Did he expect me to lie?
Brenda tried not to show what she was thinking, but her raised eyebrows gave it away. “Avoidance is an understandable reaction to such an offense.” She nodded slowly. “Before I ask why you cheated, Michael, let’s go back to the first question. Why do you think Shayla is avoiding you?”
Michael closed his eyes and pressed his lips together as he collected his thoughts while we waited. Oh, I can’t wait to hear whatever crap he’s going to come up with.
“Simple.” He finally sighed. “She wants nothing to do with me anymore.”
I sucked my teeth. “Really?”
“Is it not the truth?” He retorted.
“Why do you think she wants nothing to do with you anymore?” Brenda interjected before we got the chance to bicker.
The room went silent once again.
The “perfect image” he built for himself was shattered once before at the hands of other people. This time, it’s all his fault. He was so vocal when it was someone else, but he can’t bear to utter the word when it's him.
He sighed. “Because I cheated.”
Brenda nodded, writing in her notes. “Now, why did you cheat, Michael?”
“Do we really have to discuss this in our first session?” He shifted out of discomfort from being put on the spot.
“It’ll save a lot of time in the future if you just say it now.”
Once again, the room went silent as he thought of what he was going to say.
He finally opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. “My wife and I have been through a lot. A little too much, it seems. Four years ago, I swore that’s when everything went left field. I was at the top of my career. I had a wife who was also at the top of her career. Everything was exactly how it should have been until… those ridiculous accusations. That changed everything for us. I just felt like everyone, and everything was against me. Even my wife sometimes.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Seriously?”
“Let him finish, Shayla.” Brenda quit writing and gave Michael her undivided attention.
“Shayla got pregnant after that, but she lost the baby. To this day, I feel like I’m the reason why she lost our child. I had her doing so much… Not long after that, the MTV kiss happened, and I guess everything boiled over for her. Shayla hit me. After I felt like I had already lost everything, I lost my wife. The years following that didn’t help. All we did was argue and save face. Every day I’d see some publication about how I was a pedophile. Everyone was against me, including my wife. I just… I wanted to feel good about myself again. I needed to feel wanted. It had been a long time since I had felt that way. Since I felt like the man… Shana made me feel like myself again. I needed that.”
My heart raced as anger overtook me. “So, me being your wife and number one supporter just wasn’t enough, huh?”
Michael shook his head before turning to face me. “Honestly? No.”
Anger had turned into sadness had turned into bitterness. After everything I’ve done for him, it was just never enough. I’ve bent over backward and forwards for this man. Endured ridicule, disrespect, and went against my right mind for my husband when I should have just listened to myself… But now he’s telling me it wasn’t enough? What the fuck was I supposed to do to make it enough? Die?!
He turned to speak to Brenda. “This is nothing against my wife. You have to understand that. I love her with every fiber of my being. I’m just… so used to having everything under control. I’m used to having the entire world in the palm of my hands. I’ve been a star since I was a child, Brenda. A child! I went from being the world’s most loved person to public enemy number one. It took a toll on not only me but my marriage. Not only did I lose my wife, but I lost myself.”
“And I just wasn’t enough, huh?” I reiterated, my right leg bouncing rapidly.
He sighed and hid his face in the palm of his hands. “You’re not listening.”
“Oh, I’m listening alright! You’re selfish! That’s what I’m hearing, and after all these years, you’re finally admitting it.” I stood up.
“Have a seat, Mrs. Jackson. You need to listen to your husband. He’s admitting something to you that you’ve probably never paid attention to despite how long you’ve been together.” Brenda tried stopping me.
“No. This session is over.” I walked out, slamming the door behind me.