One Year Ago . . . a day of reflection
I’m jumping ahead here to my journal entry from one year ago on 9/11. It seems to be a day of reflection. What a difference a year makes.
I had met Scott thirty years ago to the day. I remember vividly because it was my friend Karen’s birthday all those years ago back in college. And being that it falls on 9/11 also makes the date easy to remember. I will always remember 9/11 moving forward as my Liberation Day. The day I singed our Settlement Agreement.
Psychiatric Evaluation Results
Our attorneys had asked to meet prior to my deposition to see if we could finalize a Settlement Agreement regarding the few remaining issues prior to our scheduled trial to begin the following day: Child Custody, Alimony and Child Support. (Scott had already been disposed by that point.)
To my advantage and delight we finally received the psychiatric evaluation results that morning. Scott’s entire case was based on claims that I was an unfit and uninvolved mother — which, after his deposition, we knew was a lie. Scott couldn’t answer a single question regarding our children. Scott’s only alternative was to claim that I was mentally unstable, bipolar, delusional, etc…. Everything was riding on the psychiatric evaluation results. For us both!
I received the results literally as I was walking out the door to meet Kelly, my attorney a few minutes prior to our Settlement talks. I couldn’t read through the report fast enough as my heart pounded, with each sentence filling my heart with joy.
The results were even better than I imagined! Having just read the report myself, I couldn’t help but gloat. It was Scott’s final nail in the coffin. He had no case against me. He had to know that if we went to trial he would surely have lost taking into consideration both his deposition and his personal psychological assessment results. Then there was my boat load of evidence pertaining to his forgery, perjury, documented abuse through police reports, hacking, evidence of staging and lying to our co-parenting therapist, plus my documentation of over 100 violations. Scott really had no choice but to settle.
* * *
September 11 – Settlement Agreement, My Liberation Day!
During our final negotiations, we knew Scott wanted to avoid going to trial. However, his settlement offer was much less than what I wanted, but significantly more than his original offer of ZERO. Slowly over the course of the morning we made headway. During our negotiations I stood my ground and refused Scott’s last offer. I had calculated an amount that I thought was fair and refused to go below that amount. (It still wasn’t what I wanted financially, but I also wanted it to be over!)
My attorney, upset with my stubbornness, actually asked me to step outside into the parking lot. As we stood there, Kelly with her voice raised proceeded to tell me while pointing her finger in my face that I was making the biggest mistake of my life if I wouldn’t accept their latest settlement offer. It was much less than I was willing to go; especially after my research in talking with my CDFA and court ‘calculated’ recommended amount. I dug in my heels and for the first time I stood up to Kelly and said “I am willing to take my chances. I’d rather go to trial than compromise my integrity.” Which is exactly what I would have done if I had agreed to Scott’s pittance of an offer. Up to this point I’ve been fighting for my life. I was not about to quit, after everything Scott’s put me through not just this past year, but in all the years before. My attorney couldn’t possibly understand the pain and mental anguish I’d endured.
Kelly, not happy with my refusal, stormed back into the building. Throwing her arms up in the air as she walked into the conference room announced “We’re going to trial. Negotiations are done. Offer refused.” Following a few feet behind Kelly I sat down and clipped the mic on stating that I was ready to start my deposition for our trial tomorrow. I was not playing around. The look on Scott’s face was priceless, seeing I was dead serious, he stated, “I told you she would do this,” to his attorney and stepped out asking for a few words in private.
Approximately ten minutes later, they came back into our small conference room where I was waiting with the court stenographer who was there to record my deposition. Scott had agreed to our Settlement offer and alimony from our last round of negotiations (still lower than I hoped, but I could live on). There was no reason to continue with my deposition nor preparations for trial. We also agreed that we would continue the personal property and status quo violation issues with the arbitrator (Big Mistake – Huge.)
The four of us proceeded to write out the agreement around the conference table dividing the assets effective September 1st retroactively. We all were then required to sign the document. When the papers came around to me, I had a last-minute thought and refused to sign. The silence in the room was deafening. I proceeded to state “I will only sign our agreement today if I get the dog.” Scott had threatened all along to take the dog as well as the children from me.
Scott actually began to refuse and argue, when his attorney hit him on the arm and told him, “Give her the damn dog!” Scott reluctantly agreed, and I signed. I was disappointed in the final numbers, but happy that chapter was nearly closed. I actually felt guilty that I was so happy – so close to freedom! (I was so misguided — it was far from over.)
I was hopeful that the divorce was nearly over and the Judgement of Divorce (JOD) could be entered. (It wasn’t entered until January!) We still had a few loose ends with the arbitrator regarding our personal property and Status Quo violations, but I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I was nearly free! For the first time in what seems like ages I could breath and feel a sense of hope for my future.
Signing the Settlement Agreement was by far my biggest mistake leaving the rest of the issues in the mediator/arbitrators hands. I should have gone to trial. As part of our Settlement Agreement I agreed to waive all attorney fees. This was also a huge mistake. It wasn’t mutual. Meaning that Scott did not agree to waive attorney fees and would come after me for Arbitration and Mediation attorney fees later. Scott’s attorney fees were 2/3 higher than mine. But Kelly insisted that it would be difficult to get reimbursed given that the fees were already paid in full. But according to Kelly, going to trail would cost significantly more, and I would be taking a chance at recouping those attorney fees and sanctions. One can’t predict the future, but in hindsight, I had already come so far, I should have taken the chance. It wasn’t over. Not even close and Scott would continue to bleed me dry after signing the Settlement Agreement.
* * *
Scott lost the battle; we both did. The only winners were the attorneys. Finally, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I should have been relieved, happy that this war was nearly over. But I had this foreboding feeling that there was more to come. (There was!)
As anticipated, the malicious messages came rolling in immediately. Using all the manipulative tools Scott knew, he tried to shame me; guilting me by projecting his own insecurities onto me through a barrage of texts. Scott said, “I hope you’re happy. Now I can’t afford to support our children’s education.” He continued calling me greedy, claiming that the children would suffer because of me!
I couldn’t help but reflect how much money we wasted, literally thrown out the window, much in part to Scott’s actions (and significant attorney fees). Yet he blamed me, using the only weapon he had left to hurt me, the kids. Just as I feared. Just as he threatened. Scott had 14 days to write me a check for half the equity of the house, boat, cars and E-Trade compensation. (Having those funds allowed me the financial freedom to move out finally). Scott didn’t want to give me one cent, but he was a smart man, backed into the corner with his failure of a deposition and an even worse psychiatric evaluation in hand. He was a wounded warrior, out for revenge.
I should have refused to settle and gone to trial. What I didn’t understand at the time and do now is that the narcissist show their true colors in conflict. One should abandon all hope of a reasonable negotiation or mediation; the true narcissist does neither. The narcissist’s policy is to scorch the earth, destroying everything and leaving nothing behind.