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 51B: The Earthquake Strikes
Two weeks later, as Paul dropped Daniel and Jessica off at school after a mid-week overnight, Paul told them he had a girlfriend and that she was moving in. The moving van arrived from Chicago the next day, as did Linda Peters (the name from the UPS package), and her cat, Freedom. The cat’s name struck me as ironic, because anyone involved with Paul was doomed to anything but freedom. Paul told the kids he had started dating Linda after he left me. Did he really think they were that naïve? It was less than six months since Paul had left, and this woman had sold her house in Chicago and moved halfway across the country to be with him. I never told Jessica and Daniel about the UPS package with Linda’s name on it that had been delivered before Paul and I separated. What was the point?
Daniel did not like the idea of his father having a live-in girlfriend so suddenly, but he naively hoped that, now that Dad had some companionship, Ella could come back and live with us at our house, or at least travel back and forth with him. While sitting in the family room one day, he called his dad to make that request. From the adjoining kitchen, I heard Daniel’s side of the conversation.
“Dad,” Daniel started, “now that your girlfriend’s here, can Ella come back here and live with me? I really miss her … Please, you’re out of town a lot. I’ll bring her with me when I visit … Please … Dad, pleeeease … Ella was the family dog, not your dog … Of course she’s the family dog. We got her to keep Mr. Wrinkles company. He’s been so sad since she left … That’s not what happened … No, I’m not calling you a liar … I didn’t say that … That doesn’t mean I called you a liar … Of course Mom took good care of Ella … That’s not true! … Mom takes great care of her. She walks her, feeds her, brushes her, takes her to the vet when she eats stupid stuff. Please give Ella back … I can’t do this anymore.”
Tears slipped from Daniel’s eyes.
Even from hearing just one side of the conversation, I could tell that Paul was using manipulation and deceitful techniques against Daniel, unleashing a tapestry of lies, including that Ella was Paul’s dog, not the family dog, and that we had mistreated her. He also got Daniel on the defensive by accusing Daniel of calling him a liar, which Daniel never did. I knew Daniel did not stand a chance against Paul. I held up a sign that read, “HANG UP! This is not going to end well!”
Daniel shook his head and continued amidst his tears. “Dad, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this anymore. I want Ella back!”
I held up the sign again and put the most pleading expression my face to communicate, “STOP! GET OFF THE PHONE!” It did not work. I knew if I actually spoke to Daniel and Paul heard me, it would only inflame the situation, because Paul would accuse me of meddling or coaching Daniel. Their “conversation” continued.
“No way! No one here spurns Ella. Ella was always happy here. I want my dog back! … She’s the family dog. The family dog!”
Finally, something inside Daniel snapped. Tears poured down his cheeks as he screamed into the phone. “You stole my dog! You piece of shit!”
Daniel threw his cell phone onto the couch and ran out of the house and up the driveway. I let him go. My heart sank.
Minutes later, my phone chirped, indicating an incoming text. It was a message from Paul to check my email. I did. Paul’s email read:
Because of Daniels disrespectful behavior, I won’t allow him to do karate anymore. No more lessons or tournaments. Nothing! He needs to spend more time studying. His grades this semester are unacceptable. Please tell him. While he’s been living with you, he has become disrespectful, withdrawn, and argumentative. You have done a horrible job as his mother and obviously don’t care about him. What else should I have expected from you? Jessica wants to live with me and Linda. She says you are bitter and nasty and that you have shunned her and kicked her out of the house several times.
Daniel acts as if I’ve done something that I should apologize about. I haven’t done anything wrong or hurtful to anyone. If I didn’t spend much time with him before, it’s because you drove me away, making me feel unwelcome with my own children. You are obviously planting hostile ideas in him and turning him against me. You are a hateful, vindictive, horrible person and mother. If you persist in this illegal and amoral behavior, I’ll take you to court for parental alienation. You’ll lose! I no longer agree that you can have primary physical custody of him. He needs to live with me at least half of the time, hopefully more. You cannot provide a stable environment. I am the one who has a stable home with both a mother and father. You need to sell the house. You need to move. You may not even be able to afford to stay in town. This is likely to be very disruptive to Daniel, who is clearly already emotionally fragile due to you.
P.S. FUCK YOU!
I knew I should not let it get to me, but those words on the screen in front of me from Daniel’s father, from someone I had loved and supported were crushing. As if pinned by a rockslide, I fought to breathe. The accusation that I had shunned my own daughter and thrown her out of the house ripped out my insides. I had done no such thing, but would Paul try to make that case against me? I had heard of horrible things like this happening in contentious divorces. Would Jessica betray me and lie that I had kicked her out? I knew Jessica was falling under Paul’s spell. At her age, there might be little I could do, but I had to protect Daniel.
How perfectly, sociopathically ironic—Paul had manipulated me into moving to Utah while he was having an affair. Then he had run off with his girlfriend, introduced her prematurely into the lives of our children, stopped paying himself, drained our savings to pay everyday bills and to fund his even more expensive lifestyle, and scrambled our finances to buy a massive house, leaving me with a house that was too big and expensive and that I would have to sell. Now he had kidnapped Daniel’s dog and was trying to keep Daniel from the only activity he enjoyed, and he was bribing and manipulating Jessica with expensive gifts—jewelry and a credit card with no restrictions. And now Paul was accusing me of manipulating our children and creating chaos in their lives?
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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.