by Sarah Grossbart | Thu., Dec. 19, 2019 3:00 AM
Her message wasn't entire clear.
To mark her birthday last year, Jenelle Evans posted a quick clip to Instagram of herself shooting pool. The caption was straightforward: "It's my birthday. #HappyBirthdayToMe" she wrote. But the symbolism was murky. Was she proving that she was a straight-shooter? Showing that she was on the ball? Or, perhaps, just flaunting the fact that she's pretty decent at billiards, a skill that eludes many.
Either way, she's calling the shots now. It's been nearly two months since the former star of MTV's Teen Mom 2 walked away from husband David Eason and the life they'd built on "The Land" their home in North Carolina. Accusing him of domestic abuse, she wrote in her request to obtain a temporary restraining order that "because of his recent threats, his history of violence, his erratic behavior and his large stockpile of weapons, I am scared for my life and my children's well-being."
Now settled with her youngest kids, 5-year-old Kaiser and 2-year-old Ensley (her 10-year-old son Jace remains with her mom Barbara Evans) in a new Nashville home, the 28-year-old is celebrating her first birthday away from the man she spent the last four years of her life with. And birthday wishes or not, she's already feeling pretty blessed.
"Being away from David has made her life a lot easier," an insider tells E! News. The owner of JE cosmetics is lining up future projects, has enrolled her kids in school and is keying in on some self-care, continues the insider. "She is really taking care of herself in ways she wasn't before. All the stress and the fighting was taking a toll on her and on the kids."
It's fair to say she's been through it the last 12 months. A year that began with her torching the CBD-infused hair products that fellow MTV star Kailyn Lowry sent over from her Pothead line as a peace offering began to truly blaze out of control some time around April.
That's when Eason, already booted from the series that had turned his wife into a household name for making derogatory and homophobic comments online, crossed a line that shocked even those fans who had long grown used to his wearying antics. (See: illegally towing a truck; referring to strangers on twitter as strippers.) It was Evans who first confirmed reports that her husband had shot their French bulldog puppy Nugget, telling E! News she was "considering divorcing" him over it. But Eason finally copped to it himself months later, claiming he had to do it after the pup attacked Ensley.
"This was something that nobody wants to ever have to do. The dog was aggressive," he explained to People. "Yes, she might not be huge or whatever, but you know when a dog bites a child on the face more than one time, then it should never be around the child again. If you give the dog up for adoption, one day it's going to be around children again."
YouTube / Jenelle Evans
He had already followed the story to its inevitable conclusion, he said. "If you call the authorities at that point, the law says the dog has to be euthanized,"
and he wasn't about to pay someone to do that "when I could do it myself."
Except that his runaround measure got his wife fired from the show she'd been filming for the better part of a decade and locked them both into a five-week custody battle for Kaiser, Ensley and his 12-year-old daughter Maryssa from a previous relationship.
The process was trying and meant that the couple missed both Mother's and Father's Day with their children, but when everything wrapped in early July, Evans was telling E! News how excited she was "to be moving forward" and claiming that the whole ordeal had made her nearly two-year marriage that much stronger.
The couple adopted new puppies and turned up at New York Fashion Week, and just went it seemed that maybe everything was going to turn out kinda all right, Evans signed online and dropped a bombshell of a statement.
Jenelle Evans for E! News
"I've mostly kept off social media these past few days because I've been focused on making some big life decisions," she started, explaining that her months away from reality TV cameras had given her some time to assess everything going on in her life. "I know I need to make changes. I'm starting that now," she revealed. "The kids and I have moved away from David. Nobody gets into a marriage expecting it to end but I know what is best for me, and for my kids. Today I've filed papers to start that process."
Her impetus, as she would later make clear in her request for a restraining order was her kids' safety. In her filing, she accused Eason of abuse both verbal and physical, alleging he once locked Kaiser in a running vehicle and often sent her threatening texts.
"She is looking out for her own welfare and the welfare of her children," an insider told E! News at the time. "She has had a lot of relationships and she really wanted to make this one work and did everything she could, but David really just dragged her through the mud. Some people just cannot be helped."
So, yeah, she's not going to get bent out of shape over him calling her "stupid" on social media now that she's ended their romance or get bothered by his claims that, actually, he never really loved her anyway.
"She's not hurt by anything David has said since she left him," the insider tells E! News. "She is just happy to be moving on and away from what was a very toxic relationship."
Besides, she has holiday events to carry on (she spent her Thanksgiving at a Nashville Cracker Barrel with all three of her kids, plus mom Barbara, their relationship back on the upswing following her split) and other exes to coparent with. Former fiancé Nathan Griffith, dad to Kaiser, recently counted his holiday blessings, tweeting he was "appreciative to finally have a healthy relationship" with Evans.
Mostly, though, she has a life to get on with.
"She is settling down in Nashville and has been there since Halloween," a source close to Evans tells E! News. "She really loves it there and is planning on staying. She won't be moving back to North Carolina, at least not anytime soon."
Returning to her roots, though, that's still a possibility. "She doesn't know what will happen with her and her future on the Teen Mom franchise," says the source, "but she would consider it if they asked her to come back."
This time around, viewers would get a peek at a new Jenelle, one who is "thriving in Nashville," says the insider, and a person who can't stop remarking how much easier her life has become now that she's excised some of the drama. She's tight, not just with Barbara, but also Griffith, both making the trip to Tennessee to visit with her and the kids whenever they'd like. And though legal battles likely lie ahead (she and Eason are due in court Jan. 13 to address the restraining order), everyone involved is thrilled to see how far she's come in just a few short months.
"She has really been focused on herself and the kids," says the insider. "She is genuinely doing her best to turn what was a horrific situation into a positive one." How's that for a birthday wish?
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