You’ve Been Served

January 

Now that Scott had sabotaged mimagey attorney, I was in the process of meeting with different law firms to represent me.  I was shocked that most charged for the initial consultation fee ranging from $200 and up.  More than once, Scott said he wanted to keep our divorce private, claiming that he didn’t want his employer to know, as he was afraid it might affect his job.  Scott repeatedly said to me that he wanted a “peaceful” process and preferred that our attorneys work out the details for the divorce. He was so adamant about keeping it quiet I had this eerie feeling he was up to something and I needed an attorney, pronto.

I was a nervous wreck.  It broke my heart that I couldn’t be with my father during his open heart surgery.  Scott was away traveling on another one of his numerous business trips (looking back I don’t think this trip to Dallas was for business).  And, my intuition was right; Scott had already begun to cast his evil web of lies, deceit and illegal activities.  The first was when the phone rang.  It was my sister-in-law, Allison, calling to tell me my father made it through his open heart surgery and is in recovery.  While on the phone, my son, Cooper, came to tell me there was a man at the door. With the phone to my ear getting the run down on my father’s condition, I went to see who was at the door.

The man standing on our front porch turned out to be a process server. He handed me an envelope in front of my son, and said, “You’ve been served divorce papers.”  Imagine if, at that moment, I had been told my father had died! What happened to “letting our attorneys work it out” as Scott said previously? 

I was steaming mad.  I was certain that this was a deliberate attack, planned for the day of my father’s open heart surgery and in front of our son, no less!  Scott also knew I didn’t have an attorney yet.  So much for letting our attorneys work it out.  He was a heartless bastard.  And that was only the beginning. Things quickly got worse; much, much worse.

Later that evening when reading through Scott’s filing for divorce I was dumfounded.  He now claimed that he was divorcing me, due to the fact that I’m mentally unstable, among dozens of other lies and untruths.  I was appalled to read that he also considered himself to be the primary caretaker of our children, (due to my mental instability) and that I had abandoned the family frequently.  I was literally in shock of the contents of his filing.  My original filing for divorce was your basic:  unreconcilable differences, joint custody, blah, blah, blah.  It was abundantly clear now that Scott was out for war.  And that he planned to follow through on his threats to destroy me and take our children away from me.

I also learned that Scott had submitted two other orders along with his petition for divorce.  One being an Ex Parte’ Mutual Restraining Order for the Preservation of the Marital Estate (MRO), and the other, an Ex Parte’ Order to Maintain the Status Quo (MSQ).  These orders stipulated that neither party could remove or sell any marital property or do anything out of the ordinary in our day-to-day activities.  I was fine with that as it protects us both. In fact, I had written something similar into my original filing.  Little did we know at the time, Scott had already begun selling off our E*Trade Stocks – hiding joint marital funds and violating the very MRO/MSQ Orders he had filed. 

Amicable?  Peaceful?  Let our attorneys work it out?  Scott was out to destroy me and I was scared as hell.

 

Staging #1 – Sabotage

person standing near lake

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 January – Time to Go Home   

I did as much for my father as I could.  I’d found a surgeon who agreed to do surgery in two weeks.  In the meantime, I’d hired a nurse to assist my father daily. The kids were now back in school after the Christmas break and Scott was back at work.  I couldn’t avoid it any longer, it was time to go home.

Scott assured me through texts that he would remove his things from the master bedroom before I returned home. We had agreed with our marriage counselor during our conference call that day I was at the hospital in Florida that he would remain in the home during the divorce (to my chagrin), and that he would reside in the guest bedroom.   I was still very apprehensive if we could both live in the marital home during the divorce.  Scott was still continuing to send me horrible texts messages, claiming what a terrible wife and mother I was.  I’m not sure what he was trying to gain by doing so?  His threats that he would destroy me if I ever left him, still echoed through my mind.  I’d hoped they were just that, threats.  Why would Scott want to destroy me?  I was a faithful, loving and supporting wife.  I gave up my career to support his and gave him three amazing children.  

Home

My first night home I was disappointed to find that all of Scott’s crap was still in the master bedroom.  He failed to move his things to the guest bedroom as he had promised. I ventured out of my bedroom to grab a bite to eat.  That’s when Scott asked to speak with me regarding our decision to divorce. Reluctantly I agreed, accepting the fact that I couldn’t put it off any longer.

 “Do you still want a divorce?” Scott asked, with tears in his eyes. He stated “I haven’t hired an attorney yet. It’s not too late to change our minds.” He seemed so sincere.

With a lump in my throat, I replied, “Yes, I want a divorce and I’ve started the paperwork.” Scott pleaded that I reconsider our divorce – almost a half-hearted last-ditch effort.  He finally conceded when he saw that I had made up my mind. 

Scott then asked “Oh by the way, can I have your attorney’s name and contact information?  Once I hire an attorney of my own we can have them work out the details. No need to bring the children or work into this.”  Thinking nothing of it, I shared my attorney’s contact and firm information with Scott. (Big Mistake.) Relieved to have that conversation done, I headed to bed.  

Little did I know that Scott had already found out I was filing for divorce from my friend’s husband, and he had hired a high-priced combative attorney out of Detroit.  Each time Scott’s attorney appeared in court, it cost more than $3,000 just for the drive time, paid with our joint account.  And there were many, many court appearances ahead.

Sabotage – Staging #1

Scott lied.  It was all an act.  Scott hired an attorney previously and tricked me into giving him my attorney’s name and contact information.  With that knowledge, he’d hired her firm for his company. That’s when my attorney called and claimed that, due to a conflict of interests, she could no longer represent me. Catherine pulled my filing for divorce.  

I was furious knowing it had to be Scott’s undoing.   It was too much of a coincidence. Catherine had been my attorney on retainer since 2014.  I had signed and submitted my filing for divorce more than a week prior, thinking it was entered into the court system.  To Scott, this was a game he had to win at any cost.  Scott sabotaged my relationship with my attorney and filed himself.  (I was able to verify Scott lied later when reviewing our finances and saw that he had hired and paid his attorney from Detroit 3 days prior.)

Narcissistic Injury

Now Scott becomes the Plaintiff, and would proclaim at every opportunity to anyone who would listen that he is divorcing me in the months to follow. It is all about his ego.  The termination of a relationship represents rejection and abandonment; two things the narcissist fears most.  Narcissists have a deep, inner fear of abandonment and will not make it easy for one to have any type of amicable break-up.  They suffer from what Sigmund Freud calls “narcissistic injury.”  Since the day I left on our anniversary and throughout the months to follow Scott would accuse me of abandoning the family over and over.

Over the following year during our divorce, Scott staged more than 30 events changing the course of our divorce through lies and deceit; making me look like I was crazy and/or attempted to put me in jail.  Sabotaging my attorney #1 was just the beginning.  Amicable?  LOL

 

 

Now What?

anniversary beautiful birthday bloom

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December 28th – (After my lightbulb moment) Happy Anniversary

Once I made the conscious to decision to leave Scott, letting the hotel screen door slam as I walked out, I wiped my tears and pulled myself together.

I was eerily calm riding in the back of the beat up old Uber van. The driver barely spoke English and couldn’t find the hotel I booked last minute. I had called my brother, who has a place in Marco Island. He said I could stay with him for a few days while I figure out next steps. So I picked a hotel midway between Sanibel Island and Marco, near the airport in Naples where my brother graciously offered to pick me up in the morning.

After Scott left me in full panic mode in that small hotel room to go have dinner with his mother and kids, his last words echoed over and over. “Suit yourself. You’re being selfish. You’re overreacting. You’re a horrible wife and mother. How dare you abandon your family. You’re a fucking psycho bitch.” Plus much, much more. Happy Anniversary.

Then the messages started rolling in from Scott. Most would think your partner of 30 years would be worried. Show concern. Ask if I was ok. Beg me to come back. Or, even give me space to breath. Nope. Instead I was inundated with hateful, spiteful, messages. Even lists. List of all the times he ‘claims’ I left the family. Lists of times he claimed I overreacted. Lists upon lists of mean, hurtful, hateful words.

It was abuse – verbal and mental abuse at its finest. I’d already come to recognize the signs having read Patricia Evans “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” that really started it all on my path to understanding and breaking free. (If you haven’t read it, you should.) More on that to follow.

Both Scott and the kids had the following week off for “winter break.” So, I knew I wouldn’t be putting a burden on anyone with my absence. I just couldn’t fathom getting on that plane tomorrow. It’s difficult to explain how strong the feeling was — like a lightening bolt hitting me with complete clarity. Call it sick sense, panic attack, divine intervention, who knows. I had no doubt whatsoever I was doing the right thing. I knew I had to make a change and now. My life depended on it.

It didn’t really hit me until the kids called after their dinner. They wanted to know where I went. All I could think to say was that I wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay with my brother and family in Florida for a few more days while they headed back to the arctic tundra where we now reside in Michigan.

Now in the airport hotel room, the tears began to flow. This time in great waves. I cried for my children. I had stayed in this marriage thinking that by keeping the family unit intact, I was helping them.  Instead, I was doing the opposite.  I had hoped this vacation would bring us all closer together.  But it only verified what I knew to be true but couldn’t accept; our family was dysfunctional.  That’s not the message I want our children growing up with any longer.

I cried that my marriage had come to an end. The very foundation of my marriage was broken and couldn’t be fixed.  That became abundantly clear when my knight in shining armor wouldn’t go to battle for me.  He didn’t want to put a mark on that glossy veneer.  Scott’s threats over the years haunted me. He said he would destroy me if I ever found the courage to leave. And I believed him.  I cried because I was scared as hell. Now what?

My Lightbulb Moment

It was the last day of our Florida vacation.  I was running late.  All five of us, Scott, our children, and I, were crammed into a small hotel room with two double beds and a blow-up mattress. Our kids varied in age from twelve to twenty-one, and we were all ready for some space. The kids were in the hotel room and everyone was fighting and arguing. Our two oldest children were speaking to me like Scott always does — with complete disrespect. They learned it from him.  Or maybe I should say they never learned respect from him.  Then, I snapped.

I couldn’t breathe.  I was in tears and trying to keep my temper intact.  

Maybe it’s a panic attack?  

I don’t know.  I’ve never had one before.  

 “I‘m not feeling well,” I told Scott when he entered the room with his drink in hand, stepping over luggage and strewn clothes everywhere. “Something’s wrong.”

It was Scott’s responsibility to plan our anniversary dinner that evening, which turned out to be dinner with our kids and his mother and her husband. Our marriage counselor had suggested we take turns planning a date night, and it was Scott’s turn that night on our anniversary. I wasn’t expecting any grand gestures, but I was hanging on to hope by a thread.  I hoped that Scott would make an effort, knowing I already had one foot out the door.  I had met with the YWCA Domestic Abuse Advocate a few months earlier after Scott had beaten me — again.  I had also met with someone at the Personal Protection Order (PPO) office and had also considered filing assault and battery charges at that time.  But Scott professed his love, actually admitting he was wrong for the first time in our nearly 30 years together. I believed him.  

Earlier that day, our family had decided to take a trip up to Captiva Island to enjoy our last day of vacation at the beach.  I was exhausted having tried all week to make our family vacation a happy and memorable one.  It wasn’t easy.  I was hoping to end our last day of vacation on a positive note.  

On our way back to the hotel after the beach, Scott and Lindsey, our daughter, were arguing.  I tried time-outs, but tempers continued to flare. Cooper, our youngest son, was in tears in the backseat of the car as Scott and Lindsey got louder and louder.  In an attempt to divert or stop the argument, I suggested that Scott pull over at a nearby beach. I said that I wanted to search for driftwood, hoping we could all just breathe. Scott agreed, and our daughter, grateful for the reprieve, joined me.  

After we got out, Scott decided that he didn’t want to stay. He sped off with a sting of gravel spraying in our faces.  It was a blistering hot afternoon, so we waved the cloud of gravel dust from our eyes and headed down a narrow path to the beach, with the understanding Scott would be back in an hour to pick us up.  I was hoping that would give everyone enough time to calm down.  It was a small beach, just under and around a small bridge.  There was parking for a handful of cars.  You couldn’t walk far and there wasn’t much to see as we ventured out, but I thought there may be a few pieces of driftwood, as it was an outlet to the ocean.  There were a few other people hanging out, fishing or taking in the sunshine.  Lindsey and I wandered awhile, then took a few pictures — she wanted a couple good photos of herself from our vacation.

Hot, tired, and thirsty we were disappointed that Scott never returned as promised, as it was now well-past an hour. I repeatedly called him and got no answer. Two hours later, needing a bathroom desperately, I called his mother. I asked her to tell Scott we were ready to be picked up.  Scott was not happy. Not only had I called his mother, but he was going to miss happy hour at sunset on the last day of our vacation.

 Okay.  

Now back in the hotel room the five of us were getting ready in a mad dash. We wanted to be on time for our anniversary dinner with his mother.  I was last in the shower with only a few minutes to throw myself together, thanks to our teenage daughter. The kids were being disrespectful and argumentative with me.  Instead of defending me and correcting their behavior, Scott jumped on the bandwagon with them. 

That’s when the light bulb came on.  That one defining moment was like the final drop of water into a billion drops collected over time that creates a flood.  The gates opened and there was no stopping it.   For the first time I dialed in and listened — listened to my inner spirit who was screaming with fire, fury and frustration.  Moved by such an extreme feeling of discontent I knew I had to do something.  Fueled by powers of prayer, I had a moment of clarity.  It was crystal clear.

To an outsider, it may have seemed like nothing.  So what?  A crappy day; dinner with the mother-in-law; no roses.  Big deal.  But inside, it was the culmination of years of abuse.  My heart and soul were screaming.  It was time to protect what little I had left of myself.  It was fight or flight — the physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. 

The very foundation of our marriage was broken.Living in my comfort zone was easy.  But as I sat there on the creaky, old hotel bed, I felt like I was buried in a pile of rubble, unable to breath.  The walls were crumbling around me.  No longer able to detach and deny, I accepted the truth.  My reality.  With this discontent rising up like a kettle about to blow, I knew that something had to change.  I had to change.  No more brokenness.  No more abuse. I needed to rebuild my life, not just for me, but for our children.

Not wanting the kids to see my distress, I told them to go ahead to dinner with Grandma and her husband without me.  I wasn’t feeling well and went into the bathroom and wept.  Scott knew I wasn’t ok, but it was apparent that I didn’t matter to him.  

“Suit yourself,” he said, leaving to take the kids to dinner. 

Now, I know that Scott is a narcissistic psychopath.  The universe is all about him and how things affect him.  But I didn’t know that then.  That night I gave Scott many opportunities to help me keep US together – a last-ditch effort to show me he could be different. That he could still change my mind and save the marriage.  Was I overreacting?  I didn’t think so.

A short while later, Scott texted me, “There’s a wait for the table.  I can come get you if you’re finally ready?” 

Again, I explained, “I’mnot ok.” I really wasn’t.  I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I was going to faint, breaking into a cold sweat.   I knew what I had to do.  Scott only got angrier.  How dare I stand him up on our anniversary; in front of his mother, no less!

“I can’t believe you’re acting like a child.  What am I supposed to tell my mother?” he said angrily. He wasn’t worried about me.  It was all about him.  

That’s when I knew I needed some space. I couldn’t fathom getting back on the plane the next day with Scott and kids bound for home. 

So, I told Scott, “I’m leaving.”  

 “What do you mean?  You’re over-reacting, being selfish.  You’re making a big deal out of nothing,”  he texted. Something I’ve heard all too often.

 “I need some space, time to think,” I replied.  He didn’t respond like some might, begging me to stay or making any effort to be reasonable.  

Instead he said, “You’re a terrible wife and mother.  How dare you abandon us. You need help, you’re a crazy bi**h.”  That was it.  My proverbial last straw.I collected myself as best Icould, packed my bags, and called an Uber driver, letting the hotel room door close behind me.  quote 8