Friday, November 29, 2013

treading lightly

I've been debating about a week how to write this, honestly more because I thought it was too good to be true (it was) than anything else.  If you've been cheated on, then blamed for your spouses may, somewhere down to road, expect to hear an apology.  I never expected it. Once everything had hit the fan and he was no longer pretending to be my husband and everyone knew what he'd done, he flat out told me that he didn't regret his affair.  There were a few late-night phone calls in the beginning full of his voice saying, "if only you'd been, done, were different..."

So, imagine my surprise when it happened. I'd always imagined myself coming up with some awesome, snarky, hurtful dig if he ever felt humble enough to he could "feel the weight of what he'd done."  What happened was, I burst into tears, became a blubbering idiot, and said nothing.  Well, for a few days anyways.  Thing is...he'd apologized when I found out about the affair the first time. A weekend-long sob session begging me to come home, followed with useless therapy, and half-assed attempts on his part. The second time I found out, he blamed it on me and wasn't sorry for one second.  So, even though he appeared to be sincere...I had to remember that he can't be sincere. In the past for me, its been so easy to get caught up in his apologies and for a few minutes, there I was again, guard down.  The next day, I waited for the typical hatefulness that would follow any of his kinder moments...yet it didn't come. Nor did it come the next day.

It came a few days later. It was sort of sneaky how he used my trust. He was casually asking me for "my" half of our car insurance. He has a truck and an SUV. I have a beat-up minivan. "My" portion is several hundred dollars less than his. He was banking on my softness, and trust, to just give it to him.

Aaaaand thats when I lost my cool.  At the moment I realized what he was doing, I flipped. Granted, I flipped through email and not in person which probably didn't have the effect I was going for. However, had it been in person I probably would have gone to jail.

So what? He tried to rip me off, right?  No big deal...same old story.  But that moment the anger I'd been stifling for my own "best interest" bubbled up, and every reason I could think of that I hated him came flying to the surface. Dumb things how he took our lawn mower (and left me with over 5 acres to mow!), how he took our shovels (which I didn't realize until I had to bury one of our cats), he took the rakes (uh...leaves), how he sends the kids back with dirty clothes on his weekends (that's 16 additional outfits for me to wash!), how he had this effing affair that has uprooted our entire damn lives and now he has the nerve to use a stupid apology to get my guard down to try and sucker me out of money when I'm already trying to make ends meet. Maybe its a stretch, but based on history, that's exactly what he did.  The tears were the same as the ones he shed when I first found out and he begged me to come home...and then three days later he ran back into the arms of his girlfriend (only I didn't know it yet).

I WANT to believe he can be a better person. There is not a cell in my body that would ever ever consider taking him back, but for the sake of our children, I desperately hope he can find healing.  Otherwise, his life will be full of these little games with various women.  I, sadly, was reminded that he can not be trusted. However, I will enjoy the little bit of peace it has brought.  He accepted my ranting email and didn't say a negative word to me. I appreciate that. Because every day that theres a positive interaction, it means theres been one less negative one.

The weird thing too is that he kept saying he apologized for "his part" of our marriage's demise. He never said he was sorry for cheating, or being abusive...just "his part."  I'd be more apt to believe it if he could say it out loud. When he says his "part," it feels like he's minimizing the horror that he made our lives into.  If he could verbalize how he'd scream, come at me, scare me, and torture me with his words, I might could take him seriously.  His "part" just doesn't do it justice.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Balancing the green

It is very easy to want more, want better. All the time, I look at seemingly happy families, and think I want that. Who wouldn't? Who would choose this chaos? I get jealous. Often. A lot of times, that jealousy clouds my ability to see the amazing GOOD I have been blessed with.

During one of my up-all-nights, I Googled "I suck at life."  Apparently a lot of other people feel the same way because I found a ton of links.  But the best one (and if I can find it, I'll post it) was basically Crappy Situation Survival 101.  It went on about how your perception of an event and your ability to remind yourself of and feel grateful for the blessings in your life will drastically effect the outcome and how you get through whatever mess you are in.  Seems basic enough. But when you're in the trenches, its so easy to forget all the good.

I whine a lot in my head, but try to keep it there and not burden my friends too much.  I whine about being lonely, about the financial strain this has put on me, about being straight exhausted raising four kids alone, about my stressful job...all kinds of things.  But what good does that do?  When I'm done with my pity party, I still feel lousy, if not worse, and the problems are still there.  Sometimes its easy, and sometimes it takes more effort, but when I sit back and think about how lucky I am, despite this BS mess my husband has put our family into, WOW! I am blessed!!!  Four healthy, amazing children (who are adapting well to this new life, thankyouverymuch), a roof over my head! A job! A relatively-reliable vehicle! A huge support system, full of family and friends!  I might not have the life I envisioned, or planned, but its still wonderful and full of great things that some could only wish for.  I've been hurt, my children have been hurt, our lives have been flipped all over the place...but look at us...all surviving and stuff!

 I think about some of my clients who don't have their children.  The families that  count on public assistance to survive.  The people who want to work but don't have a car.  Or the women who've become so isolated from family and friends because of their abuser, they don't believe they have a support system. (For those women, I just want to say, there is ALWAYS someone there for you.  Our local DSS has a Domestic Violence advocate who will walk with you through any court processes, and a lot of the courts have them as well...they can do everything from help lead you to safety, file protective orders, get funding and assistance, and just be a source of support).

Today was a rough day...a van with their little sticker family on the rear window drove by, complete with happy stick man and happy stick wife, and it just got to me. I cried all the way to daycare.  Then I got there and saw my four babies, happy and healthy, and remembered I don't need the stick man on the back of a brand new car to make my life complete.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Its ok

My purpose of posting all of these events is sincerely to help anyone who is going through this too to not feel as alone, or afraid to make the next move. I spent years in limbo...I knew I should leave, but for the kids, wanted to stay. There was a tiny part of me that was always hopeful, even after discovering the affair (the first time).  There was always a part of me that wanted to believe that THIS time he was really going to try to control his temper, and the words that he flung at me daily.  Most of the time, those promises were lost within hours, sometimes mere minutes.  It is so scary making that decision to disrupt your children's lives, your marital union, your financial stability, your home. My decision was made with the events of Christmas Eve, and expedited by the reveal of his girlfriend. Not everyone has such clarifying moments. Before that, I tried to just exist...telling myself it would be easier on the children to stay...counting down the years until the youngest would turn 18.  But then I got pregnant and reset that clock. I had moments where I felt strong enough to go, especially during my pregnancy when the abuse was at its worst. But the fear was paralyzing. Its easy from the outside to look in and tell another woman that they need to leave, that they need to set an example for their children and remove them from a toxic environment. Its easy to look IN and see the damage being created by one horrible person. But when you ARE in, it is so much harder to see out.  I will never judge another woman for not "just leaving."  If you haven't been there, you can't understand how hard it is.

Our custody hearing was 6 hours long. When I saw his evidence...much of fake or exaggerated, I realized he was going to play as dirty as he could.  He lied in court about his role with the children, trying to seem much more involved than he ever was. His evidence consisted of pictures that had nothing to do with me, but that I still had to defend. Bags of clothing I had set aside long ago for donation (and had been donated months before court), were described as "trash."  By looking closely at the pictures, you can see it is clothing, but for him to take pictures while we were still living was part of his plan.  This happened with several other items.  The judge didn't really care about these mundane things, but because I knew my husband had no qualms about lying to make himself look better, it was a difficult trial. You can't just stand up and yell that he's lying. If your lawyer runs out of time for your testimony, you may never get the chance to tell the truth.  It was awful.

His family was there supporting him. I never in my wildest dreams thought they would pick sides. Never. His mother knew what he had put me through. His mother knows what kind of "man" she raised.  I thought of them like my own parents, and trusted them. I am no longer "allowed" to call them, and they are forbidden to call me. Occasionally we run into each other, and its cordial. But, it cuts me to the core to know how much I cared for them and how they've shown me zero support after what their son has done. Because he lives with them, they help care for the kids when they visit, and for that I'm grateful. Even though they and I no longer have a relationship, I trust them with my children, and my children still adore them.

Six hours after court began, it ended with no resolution.  We had a substitute judge (who was recovering from a stroke and should not have been allowed on the bench!).  He "ordered" our visitation schedule, which was ludicrous and more than even my husband was asking for, and at the end of the day, just sort of waved his hands and said "let the lawyers figure it out."  It took four months, but they finally did last week. My spousal support was suspended because its a Circuit Court issue, not Juvenile Court....but what he told everyone was that it was cancelled do to me cheating on him.  Again, I didn't.  

I mentioned earlier about our psych evals. I never got the opportunity to read his (with it being illegal and all to snoop at another's medical information without consent), but enough came out during court to confirm what I had thought all along. The narcissism is real.  Do not ever ever underestimate the damage a ticked off narcissist can inflict on your life. Damage to their reputation, damage to their lifestyle, their image...makes them angry.  The things my husband would say, the lies he would spin, scared me. After court, he more or less would leave me alone, unless things were going south in his other world. Then the text wars would start. Its baffling to see their words, and to know they are lies, but also know how very much they believe in what they are saying.  I have learned this through much trial and error: do not participate in the chaos they are trying to create. If they text you a lie, leave it alone. They want your interaction. They want you to get upset and frustrated. Its a game, and you do NOT have to play!!

I'll give you an example of the skewed mentality he exhibits. A friend of his was dying of cancer. He called me, crying, saying that it was this man's final hours, and he was headed to see him to support the family.  And WHILE I'm on the phone with him, he passes me on the road going the other direction, opposite of where he needs to be. I ask him about it and his tone changes, just like that, and the tears stop, he's fine, and states he's checking on his goats. That a few had been killed and he wants to make sure they are ok.  Well the goats had been killed several weeks prior, not recently. And his friend was on his death bed, right?  My therapist explained that a narcissist does not "feel" the way "normal" people feel. They know what society expects them to do, and the reaction that is expected during tragedy, but they do not feel the losses the same others do.  All that was for show; to elicit sympathy and respect that he was such a "good" friend. Any emotion that I thought was "genuine" during the past nine years probably wasn't.

The only part of him that is genuine is his anger. Everything else is for show.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

As these things tend to do...

So, as these things tend to do, they got worse before they got better. I filed for divorce on my husband's birthday. Until we could get to court, he was able to come in the house, and he would do things like turn on a recorder and follow me around, narrating what I was doing.  One time, he got in my face (it was a common trick of get real close and scream, or to come at me with his chest, and then say "but I'm not hitting  you.").  I was on the floor changing the baby, and he was so close his knee was touching me. I pushed it away, and he jumped up and yelled into his recorder, "see that?? Mommy hit me! Didn't she???" And the kids just stood there horrified because they knew darn well what they saw, and it was NOT me hitting him. But, they were confused because he was telling them to say things. This went on until court. For almost four months, when I sent my children with him, I knew he was telling them to speak into his recorder. My oldest would tell me that it made her really uncomfortable because she knew he was hiding the recorder when I'd call and he'd make them talk on speaker phone. He'd take the younger children aside and try and get them to say things.  And there was nothing I could do to protect them.  This is par for the course when divorcing a narcissist.  They will do and say ANYTHING that makes them look better, or appear to lessen the impact of their behavior. They will shamelessly use their children.

Court came a few months later, and because of this behavior, he was ordered to stay out of the house for good. It was a relief.  Before, he would sometimes come and just stand there, just because he knew how much it bothered me.  Things with his girlfriend were not good at that point. I believe they broke up, reunited, broke up...who knows. I did know when things were bad with them though because  he'd get more erratic and unpredictable with me. His lies kept coming, and at first they would really bother me because it was affecting my relationships with his family and our friends. He told them I had a "retaliatory affair," and some believed him. I did not ever cheat on him.  I never even had so much as an inappropriate or suggestive conversation with another man.  At eight months pregnant, and then with severe medical complications following Austin's birth, the very last thing on my mind was getting back at him by getting with someone else!  Nevertheless, his words to others had an impact on my world. I felt betrayed by his family...they had been my family for the past nine years, and he wouldn't allow them to talk to me.  His sister, who I once admired, sent scathing emails, requesting everything back she had ever handed down to our girls. I didn't understand. I still don't.  I hadn't done anything wrong.  I will probably never know exactly what he's told people, but I do know those bits and pieces.  It was through a heck of a lot of therapy that I learned to let it go, and just trust that the truth will come out in time. This is God's plan, and I have no choice but to roll with it.  For someone in a similar boat, my advice is to surround yourself with those that believe in you, love you, and support you. Worrying about what other people are thinking only makes things worse for YOU.  Be the person you've always been, kill them with kindness, and carry on.  (By the way, nothing angers a narcissist more than seeing you happy).

At this initial court hearing, we asked for psych evals to be completed. My point was to prove that he was a pathological liar and a narcissist.  I wanted to prove that he couldn't care for our children on any type of long-term basis. It was at this point that the children were assigned a Guardian Ad Litem as well (kids' lawyer).  If you're with someone who is playing mind games, and is particularly good at it, the GAL is essential because their only interest is the best interest of the children...they aren't on either parent's side. If you are unfamiliar with the court system, sometimes you need to request this service.  A good GAL will see through the BS and will represent the needs of your children in court.  Some judges take this recommendation very seriously, others not so much.  Its definitely worth the try though.

So because I asked for the psych eval on my husband, I had to have one done as well.  And let me tell you, it sucked. It took four hours, and I was emotionally spent afterwards. I couldn't go back to work that day. We talked about everything, from childhood to now, any traumas, any losses, everything.  I order these all the time for my clients at work, and after I'd actually been through it, I felt terrible putting them through it too.  But, it proved pretty insightful.  I'm mostly "normal," ;) with a tendency towards anxiety.  That was no surprise.  What did surprise me was the diagnosis of PTSD from the abuse. It wasnt until I laid it all out there on the table for the doctor that I realized how very bad it all was.  This is not the same form of PTSD as the soldiers who return from war, but its on the spectrum.  I have nightmares, and flashbacks.  I have triggers...especially sounds...that would cause panic attacks.  The sound of his truck, or any Ford Diesel for that matter, the sound of the basement door opening and our alarm beeping...silly things really...that would send me into a spin.  It didn't affect my day-to-day was fine, the kids were fine...but at night, it all sort of flooded in. My hair was falling out from the stress.  My blood pressure continues to be remarkably high.

Listen to your body...sometimes even when you think you are handling things well, its trying to tell you you need help.  Its easy to look back now...all the migraines, hair loss, nightmares, heart palpitations, skin bubbles (I had a reaction to too much cortisol (stress hormone) in my body, causing bubbles on my hands and feet.  Your body tells you when you've had enough and something needs to change.

 This has gotten remarkably long, and I apologize.  Its cathartic for me to get it out, and I'm hoping that someone will find me here and realize they are not alone.

More about the permanent custody hearing was a doozy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What happened next

Surprisingly, after all the drama of Christmas Eve, the children and I had a great Christmas. I finally had to fess up to my parents about...everything. They knew we argued now and again, but they had no idea that he'd cheated on me or that he was so cruel towards me. They were incredibly supportive and the day went well.  I hadn't pressed charges because I wanted him to see the kids on Christmas, but he did not take me up on the offer.  It wasn't until about a week later that I found out why.  

Sometime between Christmas and New Years, the baby got sicker.  The pediatrician wanted to hospitalize him, but I needed someone to get the girls. I called my husband and asked him to get the kids so I could take Austin to the hospital.  He had told me he was "hunting," and couldn't get them. Our baby was sick! What did he mean he couldn't get the kids??  He screamed through the phone that "this was the life [I] chose, and to figure it out (add in a few cuss words)."  The staff at the doctors office could hear every word, he was so loud.  

We ended up not going to the hospital, my in-laws later got the girls for the night in case the baby got worse, and the baby was on close watch.  My husband, who I thought was hunting...was really on a little trip in Washington DC with his girlfriend. Yep...the same one.

About a week after New Years, I got a phone call as I was feeding the children dinner.  I knew...the second I saw "blocked call" on the caller ID...I knew.  She told me her name, and told me that she had been with my husband for the past two years.  The reason she was calling NOW was because he had just told her about Austin.  His son, who was almost 7 months old, had been kept a secret...and she was mad.  So, she wasn't telling me about their relationship to help ME, she was telling me to hurt HIM.  

At that point, the police restraint was over and he was headed home.  She told me as much as she could in 15 minutes, and when he got home, I pushed him right back out. I regret that my kids saw that. But, they did. And I dare anyone to tell me how to handle that situation any better. I had been through enough.  

Over the next three days, she spilled the entire contents of their we were friends.  And I let her. I sat there and listened to her talk as if it weren't my husband she was talking about.  And I thank God for every second of patience I showed that woman, because she gave me information I would later need.  I sat in a Target parking lot, nursing my son, listening to her describe the love he showered her with. It was excruciating.  I found out they had taken numerous trips together, that they'd even been to Disney World.  (He's never taken me anywhere...not even a honeymoon...and our kids have never been to Disney).  They went on ski trips, weekday and weekend trips, you name it. All the time I thought he was traveling for work.  And every Saturday night when he was "coyote hunting?" He was with her. And every night after work when he was "working late," he was with her.  At one point we sat down with calendars and could correspond the days they were fighting with the days he was trying harder to be nice to me. 

He had her in my home, in my bed. That vacation I posted with the beach pictures? During that trip, she was in my home, and she recalled no evidence of our son. He had hidden all the pictures, baby toys, and equipment and locked it in his room. 

She had been in my home while my children were asleep upstairs. There were no boundaries to his selfishness, his needs, his wants. He tortured me for years...not wanting me to leave but treating me like dirt, all the while he was with her on the side. He'd go from our therapy sessions, to sessions with her and her counselor. There were no limits to his deceit, his betrayal.  I have no idea how much money he spent, or where he got it, but God knows he spent a fortune.  

As painful as it was to learn all these things (and this is just the beginning), I will be forever grateful that she had the nerve to call me, even if she was being self-serving.  My fears, my doubts, my suspicions were all true. I wasn't crazy. I DID hear him talking on the phone with someone in the middle of the night. I DID catch him lying. MY INSTINCT WAS RIGHT.  

I also learned, I'm not dealing with a typical, "normal" man who's made a mistake. I'm married to a narcissist. He is incapable of feeling empathy, he is incapable of genuinely loving anyone. He loves things, he loves power and control. He will never truly be happy. It took a lot of therapy for me to begin to understand that.  All the "how could he's?" and "whys?" were eating me alive, and finally my therapist just will never understand because its not who you are. He will always be this way. Narcissists can not be cured. They are their own worst enemy. 

And divorcing a pure hell. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Its been a year since my last much has changed.  I guess I'll start by saying thank God that I'm not where I was a year ago, or even six months ago.  I didn't realize anyone had read the blog since my last post, so I apologize for not responding. Anne, thank you for your nomination...I didnt know it was there! ;)  I wrote that post, and then over the next two months, what I thought couldn't get worse, got much much so, and I stopped writing altogether.

Yesterday I got a letter from the IRS saying I was being audited because both my husband and I claimed our children on our taxes, which we filed separately.  It was just another blow in the "year from hell."  So while I couldn't sleep last night, I started looking up other women's blogs...its helped in the past to find women who've gone through this,  and shockingly I stumbled on my own...and realized that people were actually reading it. So, here we are.  I've decided to share whats happened in the hopes that another woman or mother can read what I've been through, and not feel so alone. If it weren't for those other women that I "bonded" with during my sleepless nights, I'm not so sure I'd be where I am today.  Seeing they survived their situations, and even came out better for it, and with a positive attitude, helped so tremendously I cant even describe it.

So, I guess the best place to start is the...middle...
We got up to October last year.  The time between then and Christmas was a nightmare. He had stopped going to marriage counseling, I was still confused. When I mentioned leaving, he would either threaten me, or beg me not to leave. And then on Christmas Eve, everything came to a screeching halt, and I knew everything...our lives together...was over forever.

That day, he was incredibly irritated, for no reason that I could figure out.  He was just calling, fussing, cursing...for nothing. I had decided to take the kids and leave for the day because this wasnt good for them to see. As I tried to leave, he blocked the driveway. When he did let me pass, he followed me, during which time I called his father and told him what was happening.  At some point, he disappeared, and I thought it was safe to go home. I was wrong. He must have been watching from somewhere because he blocked me again. (I know, it was stupid to go home!) This time I took out my phone to take a picture of him and when he saw that, he moved. The kids and I spent the day at his parents house. I knew we'd be safe there, even if he showed up.

He called incessantly that day, but I refused to talk to him. After months and months of this drama, I refused to entertain it on Christmas Eve.  About halfway through the day, the baby (who was already sick), started getting worse, and I needed to take him to urgent care (he had pneumonia).  I texted him to let him know where we were, and that we'd be home in time for dinner. We got home, and, no husband. For hours, nothing. The kids and I ate, decorated the Christmas ornaments we had made earlier in the week, and I tucked them into bed.

And then he came home.  And he was very very angry.  He stormed into the house, screaming at me, throwing things, cussing...all in front of the kids who had just been tucked in and were ready for Santa to arrive. I was holding the baby, and he was throwing things at both of us.  I took the baby downstairs so the older children wouldn't see what was happening, and hoping that the sight of his infant would calm him down.  It didn't. He ranted and screamed, over and over telling me this would be a Christmas I would never forget.  I remember just praying that we would survive the night. He's raged before, but this was different. This was unfiltered, uncontrolled, and purposeful rage.  At one point, he had blocked the baby and I into the kitchen. I reached behind me for the phone, but he had taken them all off the hook. I couldn't call for help. The panic I felt in my heart at that moment, holding my baby boy, knowing my girls were listening and scared and I couldnt be with was a feeling I will never forget. Somehow, purely by the grace of God, his attention turned for a minute.  It was just long enough for me to get past him and to the panic button for our house alarm that I slept with every night. He chased me up the stairs, knowing full well what I was about to do.

There was a moment, where time stood still, when I had the button in my hand and he was looking at me, almost daring me to touch it. I had never called the police before.  I had flagged them down in the past (cant remember if I blogged about that one), but I had never called them to our home. He didn't think I would do it. But I did. It was literally the most empowering moment I've felt in our marriage. I had no idea what was to come in the following months, but for that moment, I felt stronger than I've ever felt.

He left the house, and I waited for the police. It was then, those seven minutes or so, that I lost it. I had been holding my son for hours at that point. My arm burnt so badly from the strain, but I wasn't putting him down. Seeing the police lights in my driveway was THE biggest relief I'd felt in a long long time. Finally, someone will know. Finally, he will be held responsible (not for the affair, but for the abuse).  I hadn't had a chance to check on the girls before the police arrived. I was hysterical downstairs and just hadn't gone up yet. One of the officers went upstairs to talk to them, and thankfully, he was so gentle and kind with them, that it eased their fears.  As the police were documenting what happened, my husband came home. They pulled their guns on him. And I was glad and just kept thinking "how's it feel? How's it feel to be on the other side? To be told what to do? To have someone have complete control over you??"

I didn't get a protective order that night. That was a mistake. The police asked him to leave our home for ten days, and he obliged, but he was under no court order to actually stay away (I'll share what he did during that time in a different post).  But by not getting the protective order, it allowed him back into the house after that ten day period was up. Down the road, it gave his lawyer the argument that "things couldn't have been that bad if she didn't get the order."  Things WERE that bad, but it was Christmas. I wanted the kids to be able to see him at some point. I was trying to do what I thought was right, and ended up sort of screwing myself in the long run.  He had put it in my head that, "a protective order is just a piece of paper.." My advice to anyone reading this, going through something similar, is get the order. Start the paper trail that documents these events.  (For the record, prohibiting someone to get away from you or for seeking help is unlawful and I could have sent him to jail that night. The officers wanted to take him to jail that night, and its actually in the police report that I was "non-compliant" because I refused to press charges. I had NO idea....he's held me hostage numerous times in our home, and never did I realize that was against the law!)

And that was it. The day I realized it was all over, for good. What happened next, I could never have even dreamed in my worst nightmare, but that day was a total game changer. The rest, I'll write about later.

So, here we are again! I'm still a mom, social worker, craft enthusiast...but no longer a wife.  (Well, technically we are still married, but you know what I mean!)

And for those of you who have been with me since the beginning....this little nugget (and of course, his sisters) has been my peace and sanity through this year. He's grown a little, eh? :)