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 51A: The Earthquake Strikes
The devastation of the sham that was my life—of the betrayal, of my naivety, my weakness, my precarious financial predicament, of some of the qualities that I like most about myself being turned against me (my empathy, love of the country, mountains, and a simpler life) was overpowering. I did not want to kill myself, but I wanted to die to escape the searing pain of the treachery and of the wasted investment of the past twenty years. I see now why so many women do not fight for what is legally and financially theirs in a divorce. Even more than the hope of financial solvency, they need the emotional pain to stop. They need to avoid drowning. Only the need to be there for my children kept me going.
Legal wheels turn slowly. Lawyers have many clients, and courts are overbooked. Before my lawyer could file the paperwork to freeze our assets, “cash-strapped” Paul bought a $1.1 million house. He used some of our assets as part of the down payment, and he used our brokerage account as collateral for a loan to cover the remainder. It was profoundly unethical but not illegal. In making the financial arrangements, he scrambled our finances and misrepresented the loan to the point that I was unwittingly paying for part of his mortgage until months later when our divorce became final and our accounts were divided. Our financial advisor, a close friend of Paul’s, had to know exactly what was happening, but he never told me. When I started digging into the details of the transaction, the advisor was evasive and confusing. He knew who would have money and who would not when the dust settled.
On Jessica and Daniel’s first weekend visit to their father’s new palatial home, Paul encouraged Daniel to bring Ella along “for the weekend.” Ella had always been Paul’s favorite of the two dogs.
On Sunday evening, when Paul dropped Jessica and Daniel back at my house, I got to the front door just in time to catch the end of a conversation between Daniel and Paul. Paul’s car was idling in the driveway, and Paul was leaning out the window as he spoke with Daniel. Jessica looked emotionless as she approached the front door, leaving Daniel alone with his father. Something was wrong, but what? Then it hit me. Where was Ella?
Jessica pushed passed me, barely nodding hello, perhaps thinking that if she kept herself from witnessing what was transpiring it would not be real. Maybe it was her seventeen-year-old way of controlling cognitive dissonance and allowing her to maintain the belief that her father was a great guy.
“Don’t you care about me?” Paul said to Daniel. “I’ll be all alone in that big house. I need Ella’s company. Don’t you care that I need companionship?”
“Dad, I want my dog back!” Daniel sobbed. “I want Ella!”
Without another word, Paul’s car pulled away, leaving Daniel alone in the driveway.
I ran to him.
“He’s keeping Ella! He’s keeping Ella! He won’t let her come back.” Daniel gasped for air between words. His chest heaved, and tears cascaded down his cheeks. I drew Daniel to me in a deep hug. In seconds, my shirt was soaked with tears.
I called Paul. There was no answer. I left a message and then texted him, saying that Daniel was beyond distraught and that Ella needed to come back to be with him. Daniel needed both dogs to stay with him, because they were his best friends and his emotional anchors. With our family in chaos, the dogs were even more important to Daniel than ever before. I emailed Paul. Hours later, there was still no reply.
That night at 2:00 a.m., I heard Daniel rummaging around the kitchen, and I went down to investigate. His eyes were red and puffy. He looked exhausted.
“Have you slept at all?” I asked.
Daniel shook his head.
We both had a mug of hot milk and put on a mindless television program to distract us from the day. An hour later, I went to my bedroom to try to sleep. Daniel stayed on the couch. By the look of his face the next morning, a Monday morning, a school day, he had not slept at all.
I got my lawyer involved in trying to get Ella returned to Daniel. She proposed to Paul’s lawyer that Ella move back and forth from Paul’s house to my house with Daniel. Paul’s lawyer even tried to convince Paul to return Ella to Daniel, but Paul would not budge. I did not know what else to do. Daniel was devastated.
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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.