Part of a 4 Week Series:
Week 2: The Downfall of a Business with a Sociopath
Week 3: Preparing for Divorce
Week 4: Divorce and Aftermath
The Downfall of a Business with a Sociopath
In 2009 we decided to buy another house to give us more space to store our tools, equipment, etc because we had grown out of our office and storage space. I was still running the business out of our home to try and save money. Also in a strange way I knew that as soon as we moved the business to an external location outside of our home, I would lose all accountability with the sociopath and he would go rampant with himself. He was and had been using gas lighting tactics on me already for 5 years by that point, and I think I was in my own denial of the fact that it didn’t really matter if we had an external office or not, he was already and had been uncontrollable.
2009 is when I fell very ill with an auto-immune disease that can be triggered by traumatic environments. I was glad that I was not clocking in somewhere because surely I would have been let go for failing to show up to work due to the illness. There were days and months on end that I could not even get out of bed until noon. People would tell me that I looked like a ghost. So running the office and management side of things for the business allowed me to work my own hours. In addition, I taught dance in the evenings 3 nights a week. Up until that point I had put aside my aspirations to keep dance in my life because it always happened in the evenings. I felt I couldn’t leave to do anything in the evenings in fear of him cheating on me. It had been like that since I had met him in college when we were dating. Looking back I have NO IDEA why I stayed with that person, but when it was happening, I just did it.
Things continued to go as they went for the next couple years aside from the normal oddities of running a business with a sociopath. I gave birth to a little girl in 2011 and that is when things started to change.
Loosening the Reins
My daughter was born with a partial chromosome deletion and she required a lot of attention and help. I tried for a year and a half to be a full-time stay-at-home Mom, work all of my duties in the business and teach dance 1 night a week. I would have to work while she was sleeping or have her with me on all my business errands of the day. I would work late into the night while she was sleeping and she would spend some of her wake time playing in my office. We built an extension of our home office off of our garage so we could hire some assistants to do data entry and such. I ended up hiring a college girl to help me towards the end of the 2012 to try and help me. She quit because she claimed the sociopath sexually harassed her. Yea, that happened.
The business was so convoluted and high maintenance I had a hard time giving up my control with it. There were so many things that had to be thought of, completed and done right in order for it to be successful. He just didn’t know how to do the things that I did for the business and I don’t even think he could learn if he wanted to. He kept a certain relationship with me when I controlled all the business and finances, but when I finally hired someone to take over my daily duties, he began to treat me differently. Albeit he never treated me well on the onset, things just became more egregious.
We finally moved to an external office and I hired a great office manager who was able to accomplish all the daily tasks and do them right. I trusted him. Of course no one takes care of your business like you would yourself, but I didn’t have a choice; my daughter required therapies, numerous doctor’s appointments, testing, and all the extra, daily care a child needs that has developmental delays. So I continued to keep tabs on my office manager on an almost daily basis and we had great communication; we also ran business the same way. But as time went on, I began to be more involved with my daughter and allowed the sociopath to work with my office manager. Note: I hired the office manager to help ME, not the sociopath. He was hired to do my duties, not his. I had set up that both myself and the sociopath get salary every week from the beginning, but somehow as time went on my salary became an “allowance”. This is typical of a sociopath to act as though you never contributed to something in order to receive that which you have earned. He tried to make me think that the salary I was receiving was a gracious gift of his, like I hadn’t worked to receive the salary I got. Like I had never been a part of the business, just a non-involved spouse that benefited from his hard work. It was unconscionable. Oh wait…yep that’s exactly what it was.
That Stay at Home Mom
The sociopath could not stand that I was home taking care of our daughter while he was at work and I was still collecting a salary. He tried to get me to leave my daughter with a nanny and work in the office part time on numerous occasions, but I refused. 80% of my salary was going to mutual bills that benefited all 3 of us. Um Hello? I paid ALL of the family bills and groceries and baby expenses out of my salary. In contrast, he only paid the mortgage with his salary and the rest was personal spending money, in which there was PLENTY of overage to make almost anyone satisfied.
In Winter of 2014, he along with my office manager, ended up opening some lines of credit and another credit card of which I had no part in. Prior to that I had kept the business debt free without using credit, but the sociopath decided to go against my recommendation to stay within our means. I think by this time I had checked out a bit and was just crossing my fingers. I knew that the budget was an issue as it had always been when I was running the office, and I was just turning my head away trying to be ignorant to what was going on and what would eventually happen. I was so drained as a Mom and then dealing with the sociopath and all that is involved in that, I just didn’t care anymore.
Subconsciously since 2009, I had had in the back of my mind that I wanted to create a scenario that eventually when this would all shake down, I could just disappear with no liability to him or that business. I knew that he would leave it like a scrambled egg and the responsibility to fix it would be so damaging, that everything would be lost and it would be a complete nightmare. Also I didn’t want to be held liable for his actions. Although I was definitely a co-owner and a co-founder of that business, after I hired my office manager, I made sure legally I was not liable. I did not press to have the LLC changed to a corporation and have my name added, I did not renew my name as a share holder for taxes, I did not act as a guarantor for material suppliers, and I did not put my name on our company leased vehicles. Some would say that being married I would have some liability, but that can swing both ways, so I had to take that risk.
I did not have access to the new lines of credit and credit cards they opened in the Winter of 2014 since I did not participate in opening them. Therefore I did not see the expenses…until April. Ah, there is was, the April billing statement for one of the credit cards. $5,000.00 was charged for the sociopath’s “play” with his mistress and whatever the heck else. Flight tickets to his country to take her to his home town and STAY WITH MY IN-LAWS, women’s clothing, concerts, rental cars, hotel rooms, you name it. And yes on the credit card statement it conveniently had his and her name as flight passengers along with emails I saw on his office computer planning their trip. So yes it was what it was.
A Means to an End
Now I knew why he was broke when I met him. As soon as he had control of the finances he began to do what he would have done before, which was spend the company into oblivion. If I hadn’t caught it and put a stop to it, he would have spent that company right into the ground in months. BUT he spent the company right into the ground anyway as all along I knew he would; however he destroyed the company in a different way. I caught him before cheating, but this was the big fish. In addition to the personal spending, the sociopath could not be controlled. He had no idea how much he was spending on outgoing expenses and was not allowing the receivables to catch up to the payables. He just saw money and he couldn’t stop himself; nor could my office manager stop him.
I had to file for divorce, enough was enough. By having the office manager in my place, I was able to set myself at a distance to not have to try and keep the business going and deal with the relational aspects of the disaster. Now it was deciding how to proceed. The downward spiral had begun to the end all of my hard work and dedication to build a successful, thriving, money making machine and I had to just get on and ride it. It was a freight train I could not stop; all I could do was manage the direction it was heading.