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 47: Divorcing a Sociopath–Round II
As I turned the corner and the house slipped from view, I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. Five minutes later, text messages and calls flooded my phone. I ignored them and kept driving. A few minutes later, I pulled into my bank’s parking lot and tried to breathe normally. I checked my phone. All the texts and calls were from Paul. I neither read them nor responded to them. I turned off my phone. To get my mind off the unfolding drama, I went into the bank to apply for my own credit card, something I would need for my new life. Recently, I had discovered, to my horror, that while married to Paul, only one of my credit cards was joint with him. The other two were Paul’s credit cards, on which I was only an authorized user with no actual authority to get records of previous spending or to even cancel the card. I had always assumed that all of our cards were joint credit cards. Nope! When and why had I stopped having my own credit card? I could not even remember.
I probably looked more nervous than a first-time bank robber when I applied for the credit card. My confidence was nonexistent, thanks to constant battering from Paul. Even the smallest effort on my behalf seemed overwhelming. I fought back tears at the bank, and my hands shook as I completed the credit card application. I can’t! I just can’t! my mind screamed. A Harvard graduate with an MBA from Yale lacking the confidence to apply for her own credit card? It seemed unimaginable that I could have fallen so far.
After years of Paul’s constant criticism, my fear of making a mistake was so palpable it immobilized me. Compounding the certainty of my incompetence was the conditioned fear of taking any action that would give me independence from Paul. For over a decade, he had subtly but consistently punished me for autonomous thoughts or actions, as if being my own person was a profound betrayal of Paul. Now, frozen with fear of making an error on the application and of Paul’s wrath for taking even a baby step away from him toward personal liberation, it took all the strength I could muster to hand the banker the completed form. What if I’m not approved? What then?
Wimp! Fool! an inner voice taunted. You gave Paul everything, and look how he repays you! Not even enough confidence to apply for a credit card. How pathetic! You’re pathetic!
I pushed past my self-defeating thoughts and continued with the task at hand.
As I left the bank twenty minutes later, I turned my phone back on. A multitude of new texts and voicemails from Paul registered. Without reading or listening to them, I called him back on impulse.
“What do you want?” I said. “I’m not giving you a key.”
“I don’t need one,” he said.
“Good,” I replied. “It’s better if you have your own space and I have mine.”
“Don’t you want to know where I am right now?” Paul asked.
“I don’t care.”
“Well, you should care,” Paul said. “I’m sitting in our living room. I like the way you rearranged the furniture. Nice touch.”
My heart sank.
“Don’t you want to know how I got in?”
My mind raced. Mentally, I visualized every room. I had locked every door and checked and locked every window. Oh my God! As I pictured the area near one of the doors, I “saw” my laptop on the desk. I had meant to take it but had forgotten. Would he notice it? Would he harm it? Would he take it? My whole life was on that computer. God only knew when it had been backed up last or where the backup drive was. Paul had always taken care of the family’s computer needs. He always had full access to my computer. There was no password protecting it and nothing I could do now but stay silent.
Idiot, an inner voice taunted. Left your computer. Don’t even know how to back up your computer.
Paul’s voice distracted me from my self-deprecating thoughts.
“Well, you should want to know how I got in,” Paul continued. “It was soooo easy. I just called a locksmith. My license shows that this is my legal address. This is my house. The locksmith was more than happy to help. It might even have been the same guy you used to change the locks. Ironic, don’t you think?”
The deep breath I took was probably audible to Paul.
“Onna, I can get into this house whenever I want! Anytime … day, night … anytime.”
A wave of despair broke over me. I tried not to signal my terror. The threats to my privacy and my dignity were real. Was he threatening me physically as well?
This is how ex-wives get killed, I thought. These men who appear so normal, so successful to the outside world, mask their need for total control. Experts say it’s always about control. Paul wanted control, to win—to drain our assets so there was less to divide, all while probably squirreling away tons of money in his company that would be his, and his alone, after the divorce. Unethical people who own their own businesses can do almost anything they want to hide money in a divorce, and finding out what they have done can be virtually impossible and cost a fortune.
I thought about the wire transfer of $30,000 to his company back in January and the “I’m suddenly unable to pay myself, so sorry, honey” story that followed soon after. I could only conclude that Paul had been planning this for some time.
Now he wants to get the kids away from me, to drive a stake through my heart and to avoid paying any financial support. And he wants me to agree to virtually no alimony. If I don’t capitulate on that point, he will shred me emotionally and financially. If I thwart him, will I end up dead?
My body trembled.
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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.