Every week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via Amazon.com, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.
Chapter 46B: Divorcing A Sociopath—Round I
My breath caught. My chest tightened. Fear welled inside me. I swallowed, trying to coax moisture back to my mouth so that I could speak and conceal how scared I was of Paul in that moment and of what might happen in the future.
“Don’t move back in,” I said. “It won’t be good for the kids. It’s already hard enough. And I saw the check you wrote for $15,000 for three months’ rent on the condo. That’s crazy, but it’s even crazier to waste that money. We both need our space. I’ve also talked to a lawyer. She said neither of us is supposed to spend money that isn’t necessary until this all gets sorted out. That rent’s ridiculous, but if it’s already spent, stay there. Don’t come back.”
“It’s my house. They’re my children. It’s my stuff. I’m moving back! Sign this, or I’ll be back tonight after I have dinner with the kids. You better have them at my place on time! Anyway, I didn’t spend $15,000 on rent—a third’s a security deposit. I’m getting it back.”
“Paul, please …”
“Paul, don’t move back in.”
“I’ll do whatever I want!”
“I’ve changed the locks.” I wasn’t bluffing—both my lawyer and friends had advised me to do it.
“I’m not going to sit here and listen to this,” I said, the dryness of my mouth and my raging pulse making speech difficult. Avoiding eye contact with Paul, as well as that of any stunned onlookers, I fumbled for my wallet, slapped down enough cash to cover my bill, and walked out. This was the real Paul, and he was a monster.
As I drove the fifteen minutes back to the house, my phone signaled multiple incoming text messages. When I arrived home at about 10:00 a.m., I read them. All were from Paul.
You can’t change the locks. MY house. What YOU did is ILLEGAL. Be there at 11:00 to give me keys. If not, I’ll have you ARRESTED.
Shaking, I called my lawyer. She told me I should not give him a key. She also stressed that I should not be at the house when Paul arrived.
Will not be here at 11:00, I texted Paul back.
I insist! Paul said. What could you possibly have to do?
Again, I did not respond.
I expect you to give me keys @ 11:00. Called my lawyer. This is illegal!
Another text followed. You MUST give me a key. Leave it under mat!
Once again, I ignored him. I had never seen him like this before, cursing at me in public, demanding total control.
Racing around the house, I threw every financial and other document I thought I might need—old credit card statements, bank statements, tax returns, the title to the car, my passport, the kids’ passports, our social security cards, mortgage documents—into a box. As I did, I recalled that during a friend’s divorce, her husband had gained entrance to her house and destroyed family pictures and other sentimental items. I grabbed several picture albums of the kids and put them into the car as well. Others I secreted away, along with a few irreplaceable items inherited from my grandmother. Any extra keys to my car and the house that I could find I threw into my purse. My heart pounded, and my body dripped with sweat. It was 10:45 a.m. when I loaded the last item.
Taking a deep breath, I went to every door to make sure they were locked. A tightness rose from my abdomen to my throat as I looked at my watch—10:50. Would Paul be early? Had he bluffed about coming at 11:00?
My eyes scanned the driveway for his car. Nothing. If I did not get out before he arrived, he could block my exit from our narrow driveway, which was carved out of the side of a steep hill. There was no other safe way out with a car. I did not know who this man was anymore—had I ever? Our house was nestled in the trees and quite isolated. Would he hurt me? Would they find my lifeless body in a ditch?
My breathing quick and shallow, I drove out of the driveway at 10:52. I was so glad it was a school day and that Daniel and Jessica would not be home for hours. If Paul came the most direct way to the house, I would pass him if I exited the driveway by turning right, so I turned left, took a deep breath, and drove down the road.
The windows! I slammed on the brakes. I had forgotten about the windows! Were any of them unlocked? If so, with no alarm system in our house, all Paul had to do was slide a window open and he would be inside.
My pulse raging, my hands trembling, I turned the car around. Would I make it? I had to try. I stopped at the top of the driveway and peered down. Paul’s car was not there. I parked on the side of the road so Paul could not block my exit, locked the car, and then ran down the driveway to the house. From the outside, I checked every ground-level window, hoping they would all be locked. Two were unlatched and opened easily. Damn it! I hurried to the front door, raced inside to the problem windows, and secured them. Then I ran out and sprinted to my car.
I felt transported, as if I were above my body watching the scene unfold below me like a movie. But this wasn’t a movie. It was my life. It was real. It was now.
Halfway up the driveway, seconds away from the safety of my car, a thought flashed through my mind—had I locked the front door? I tried to replay my exit from the house in my mind, but with adrenaline coursing through my veins, I had no memory of whether or not I had secured the front door. I had to be sure. I ran back. At least if Paul drove in now, I could scramble up the rocky embankment that separated our driveway from the road above.
I reached the front door and turned the handle. I had locked it. Sweat pouring from my brow, I hurried back up the driveway, looked around for Paul’s car, and then jumped into mine. It was 10:56 when I drove away.
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Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.