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 45C: Whack-A-Mole Returns
The only topics Paul broached repeatedly were his company and our finances. Magically, as soon as we rang in the New Year, only six months after being assured of the financial success and viability of his company that would allow for this move and enable trips back East to see my aging parents multiple times a year—not to mention rebuilding our depleted assets—Paul informed me that his company was in trouble. In March, he stopped all payments to himself. Skeptical, I asked if Anne-Marie was doing the same. He danced around the answer in typical Paul fashion.
For the first fifteen years of our marriage, I had taken care of all the household finances—mortgage payments, credit cards, utility bills, and so on. However, a few years earlier, after I had searched the house in vain for a credit card statement so I could pay it, Paul offered to take care of all the credit card payments and bills via online banking. He also had to comment on how disorganized I had become. I trusted him—he was my husband—and I was happy to have that off my plate and to have Paul share in the household financial responsibilities, which had been up to me for so long. As a result of that transition, I had not seen a credit card statement for about two years.
The day after Paul told me of his company’s sudden financial difficulty, I tried to take an inventory of our assets, because I knew how quickly money could be depleted in a zero-cash-flow situation. I could not access our bank account online, because Paul had changed the password. I went to a local branch. There, I confirmed our balance and noted something odd. In the first week of January, Paul had transferred $30,000 from our personal accounts back to his company.
Now I was kicking myself for letting Paul talk me out of renting when we had moved to Utah barely six months earlier. With no money coming in, our savings and checking account would be depleted rapidly by the mortgage alone.
Another month passed. Paul hardly spoke to me, and unless he addressed me in a kind, civil manner, I did not initiate any conversations with him that were not absolutely necessary. He bristled whenever I brought up the subject of money, bills, or our finances, often using anger to avoid answering any relevant questions. He was gone on business a lot, almost always to Chicago.
Then, early in April, UPS called our home regarding an unexpected package delivery, leaving a tracking number on the answering machine and an estimated time of arrival—apparently a signature would be required. When no package arrived, I went to the website to check on the package. The item was not slated to be delivered to our house; it was scheduled for delivery in Chicago to someone named Linda Peters. I Googled her name and discovered she worked for one of Paul’s clients in Chicago. However, the package addressed to her was not being delivered to the company address but to a residential address. It struck me as odd. I kept the information about the package and put it someplace safe.
Paul returned from Chicago several days later. “I’ve put a deposit down on a condo,” he said. “I’m leaving. I’m done with this marriage. I’m going to Chicago for a week on business. We’ll tell the kids when I get back.”
It was exactly a year after Paul had convinced me to move to Utah, and nine months since our arrival in the beehive state. I was both relieved and panicked. This marriage had turned toxic again so quickly that it needed to end. But to accommodate Paul’s illusion of a second chance and a new life, I had put my plans to resurrect my professional life on hold. If we had stayed in Connecticut, I would probably have had a job and my own source of income already. I would certainly be surrounded by old friends and be near my family. Having moved to Utah only months earlier, and investing many of those months in getting the house set up and the kids settled, I was dead in the water. Now I was almost a continent away from much-needed emotional and financial support. Getting divorced in Utah would be hard, but as of that moment, I still thought of Paul as an honorable man. I assumed that divorce laws must be fair and reasonable and that Paul’s integrity, and the fact that we had two children together, would make for a reasonable dissolution of the marriage.
But disparate pieces of the puzzle kept rattling in my brain, clamoring for attention or an epiphany that would make sense of everything. I could not escape an increasingly unsettling, fearful feeling that now—when I could most use the support of my family and friends, a free place to stay, the comfort of familiarity, and a job or job prospects with some income or benefits—I was farther away from a port in a storm than I had been in my entire marriage.
Not only was I far away from any safe harbor, a hurricane was on the horizon. This couldn’t be an accident. Paul’s behavior had changed too quickly from romancing, loving husband, doing everything right to ensure his wife would give him another chance and move the family to a remote place he wanted to be, to expert Whack-A-Mole player, screaming at me about my choice of a towel. As if lightning had struck, providing energy to fuel neural connections waiting patiently for years to be made, my whole mental framework recalibrated. A new clarity emerged, and with that clarity came an overwhelming sense of despair and disbelief. Paul had isolated me on purpose. It had all been a setup. If the past year had been a setup, what else had been a fabricated manipulation? All of it? Oh my God! Had any of it been real? The thought drained air from my lungs and strength from my body. I collapsed to the floor.
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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.