Wishing Them Well

I was reading a blog the other day. It was actually Betrayed Wives Club. Elle wrote,

…though it may seem counter-intuitive, being able to extend compassion for others’ dark sides, for those parts of themselves they kept hidden out of shame or fear or lack of awareness, releases the shackles we wear. It frees us to love the flawed person seeking to be better, or to wish them well while choosing to not have them in our lives. Either way, we’re liberated.

That’s a very nice way to look at things but unfortunately, I don’t wish him well. If I’m being honest I try not to think about him at all. But when I do think about him the last thing I’m thinking is, “Gee, I sure hope he’s doing well. I hope he’s being a better husband to her and a better father to her kids than he was to me and our kids.” Nor am I thinking, “Golly, I sure do hope he’s got a great job that he finds fulfilling and that the house he lives in is exactly what he’s always wanted. My prayer for him is a life filled with serenity and riches.”

No. Quite honestly it pisses me off that he’s living it up in his five bedroom house while his kids and I are still seeking refuge in my mother’s home. It pisses me off that our lifestyle has changed significantly since he decided to fuck a whore while his has never wavered. That is probably why I do my best to not think about things like that. Because it is grossly unfair.

Does that mean I’m somehow shackled? Will liberation always be out of my reach until I can hope for good things for him?

I don’t think so. I feel very liberated. I feel very free admitting I don’t wish him well. I don’t spend my evenings plotting revenge but him living a wonderful, blissful life is not my concern, or my wish for him. As long as he keeps sending those support checks I don’t give a shit if his life falls apart. I’m very liberated in acknowledging I don’t give a rat’s ass if people think it’s horrible I’m not invested in his happy future. I will never sympathize with him. I will never justify what he has done, nor will I ever excuse it.

I heard it said once that the only reason forgiveness gets the action it is does is because it’s got better quotes and better publicity. It’s not looked upon as favorably when you preach about not forgiving, or remark that it’s okay to not want great things for the person who betrayed you.

Somebody really needs to get to work on that! Maybe I should give it a shot. Stay tuned…

There Will Be Bad Days, Part 1

For any of you out there just starting this infidelity/divorce journey I am here to tell you that there will be bad days. It’s a process. One day you will wake up and everything will seem to be going swimmingly. You’ll be in a great mood and feel blessed to be alive. Then the next day you wake up and everything will come crashing down. Doubts will wash over you. You’ll feel like you’re at a standstill. You might even shed a tear or two. Hopefully, it passes quickly and you’re back to feeling grateful and blessed, and pretty darn content.

I had a moment like that on Thanksgiving morning. I was overwhelmed and worrying about things that don’t improve with worry.

The unfairness of it all welled up in me and I wanted to scream. I’m over here in Indiana, living with my mom. My son is dealing with crippling anxiety and I don’t know how to help him. It’s bad enough that even though he’s doing poorly in pre-calculus he can’t ask for help. The nurse practitioner who was willing to dispense anti-anxiety medication to Rock Star like it was candy is reluctant to prescribe it to him. As he said, “When I finally do open up and tell someone about my anxiety I’m told, ‘Well, you’re able to talk to me,’ and nothing else is done.”

I’ve been donating plasma twice a week since August to build up a Christmas nest egg so I’m not going into debt or worrying about how to pay for Christmas gifts. Then my daughter gets sick with some mystery illness.

When she called me crying on Saturday, not wanting to go to the urgent care because it would cost too much, I urged her to go. I have a check on my dresser for an overpayment of a previous medical bill. I have about $120 in my HSA account. Paying for that visit wasn’t going to be a problem.

But now she’s been to the emergency room. I don’t even want to know how much that visit is going to cost. I keep envisioning around $1000, but that’s probably going to turn out to be low. I have no fucking idea how I’m going to pay it.

Then on top of that she’s been to the regular doctor’s as well, which is another $87 I’m going to have to pay.

Meanwhile, Jerry Lee is living in his luxurious 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with a fireplace and granite counter tops, in a sought after subdivision.

He has no legal obligation to his daughter. He won’t be contributing to these medical bills. They all fall on me while he continues to pay whatever the fuck he wants to pay, whenever he wants to pay it.

So I envision my plasma Christmas money going down the drain. Instead of spending two days a week, every week, since August with a needle in my arm so that my family has gifts for Christmas, instead it will go to pay for an ER visit.

It doesn’t stop there, of course, because by this time I’m drowning in all the fears and doubts.

It moves on to the mobster. I fear that we are never going to be together, that I am doomed to never be with an every day partner. I spent 20 years married to a person that didn’t share life with me, and now I’ve found the love of my life and he lives 10.5 hours away from me. We do not spend day to day life together. We don’t spend holidays together. We’re not able to be together for the big events in life because of the distance. We see each other every two to three weeks, if we’re lucky. His kids live in Virginia and have no desire to move to Indiana. My kids live in Indiana and at least one of them has no desire to move back to Virginia. In order for us to be together one of us needs to move to where the other lives, and that means one of us is going to have to leave our kids behind.

Don’t get me wrong. I would rather spend every third weekend with him than 24 hours a day with someone else. I know what I’ve gotten myself into and I’m fine with it. As I’ve told him before, if we never live in the same state I’ll be okay with it. I’d rather have that little bit than to have nothing at all.

His new plan is to begin doing in home care. His parents used to do it and all three of his siblings do it now. It is a lot of money and you have a very flexible schedule which would be great, considering the distance. The downside is, unless the family of this person or persons, was willing to let him or her move he wouldn’t be able to bring this person with him when he moves up here. That means he will lose his income stream.

The bottom line is this: He’s got a house where he lives. He’s got a job that pays the bills and lets him buy pretty much whatever he needs; there’s a possibility he could increase his income by several thousand dollars a month. Three out of four of his kids live in his small town that I nicknamed the armpit of Virginia. He has to give all of that up in order to move up here and start all over. It’s crazy and it makes so much more sense for me to move down there.

I don’t need to sell a house. I don’t need to sell a business. It’s not like I’m working my dream job and there’s no way I’ll find another job making as much. But if I move I either need to get a place of my own which means I’m going to be living on a shoestring budget seeing as how I’m now paying rent, utilities, and all food, or I move in with him and must give up spousal support.

He knows I don’t want to rely upon another man once again. I cannot go through losing everything again if he decides he’s tired of me. Until I can live comfortably on my own I am not giving up spousal support.

On top of the money and the mobster fears, I’m frustrated and feeling invisible. I’ve been trying to get my high blood pressure medication called in since last Thursday. I’m still waiting to hear back from my case worker to learn what the hell happens after the county gets the case. After my lawyer quickly got back to me once I asked for her to refer me to someone else if she couldn’t take the case, I am again dealing with radio silence. And, Jerry Lee still has not sent the other half of his self-modified spousal support. Put all those together and you have one very frustrated Sam.

Does Intent Matter?

I’ve seen some people say their partner’s intent behind cheating on them does not matter one bit. As one person put it (and I’ll paraphrase): It doesn’t matter if you shoot me on purpose or if you shoot me accidentally; the end result is still that I’ve been shot.

Others seem to go with the idea that as long as their spouse didn’t intend to hurt them with their actions that somehow makes it better.

Aside from the fact that I have a hard time believing anyone thinks they can cheat on, betray, and lie to another person and it’s NOT going to hurt them, I have to wonder if the intent really matters.

If, when your spouse gets stressed, he drinks a bottle of Jack, gets stupid drunk, and knocks you around, do you excuse the behavior because he was stressed?

What if, when your spouse feels down, she goes out and runs up thousands of dollars on your joint credit cards? Or, maybe, when they’re overwhelmed with work they tend to make cruel jokes at your expense. Maybe, when hard things come up in life, like problems with health, children, or parents, their first reaction is to escape and leave you handling everything. Or to drink, or fuck others, or do drugs, or hit you, or mistreat you in other ways.

Look, your partner/spouse can pick a million different ways to cope with stress/anxiety/depression, etc. Instead of asking, “Did they mean to hurt me with that kind of behavior?” perhaps we should be asking, “Am I prepared to deal with that for the rest of my life?” Because as I said above I have a real hard time believing anyone is so stupid as to believe that they are not hurting the person they claim to love when they fuck around on them. And there will always be stressors. Rarely does life move along smoothy with no bumps. Are you willing to live with the way they cope with whatever for the rest of your life?

He’s Moved On, You Should, Too

I wrote about Jennifer Ball’s blog post, Haunted (By) Houses, a few months ago. One of the things that people have said to her apparently is the title phrase, “He’s moved on, Jenny. Why can’t you?”

That phrase has stuck in my head. I don’t always express myself concisely or as eloquently as I wish the first time around but after ruminating on this blasted phrase for a while I finally figured it out in the shower this morning.

They didn’t have the same experience! It’s not just that he had someone else, ready and waiting. It’s not just that life went on for him as normal. The entire experience was completely different for each of them. He firebombed her life! He cheated on her. He tricked her into getting sterilized. And then he left her and their four kids in poverty and went on to live a life of luxury with his ho-worker and their own two mulligans. He had nothing to get over.

They were not both in a car accident and horribly maimed; he didn’t get on with his life, learning to live this new reality while she continued limping around, hanging on to the memories of pre-accident Jenny. No, he was the one in the damn car running her over!

It would be like someone running over my dog, and then mutual friends saying to me, “Look, that person has moved on after running over your dog. He’s not living in the past. He’s gotten on with his life. In fact, he’s got an adorable dog now. Plus, he’s got a cat. And some chickens. I don’t understand why you can’t move on and forgive and forget.”

Oh really? Let me tell you why.  It’s not the same! I didn’t run over his dog. He ran over mine. We’re not on equal footing; we did not suffer the same loss. This person has done something to me; he’s taken something from me. I have done nothing to him; I have not taken anything from him.

Jenny, if you ever read this I have a suggestion. The next time someone makes that comment punch them in the nose ever so slightly. Just enough to make their eyes water. Or maybe poke them in the eye. And when they react with shock, or cry, or ask you why you did that just shrug your shoulders and reply, “I’m already over it. Why aren’t you?”

Labels and Real Life

I was reading the other day and saw it posited that labels were unhealthy and harmful. We shouldn’t label people, so the theory goes, because it limits them. They are essentially reduced to that label. People especially don’t like the label, “cheater.” Some feel it diminishes that person, as though that’s all they are. More importantly, how can you effectively reconcile if you label your spouse that way?

Yes, because that’s the overall goal. We all want to get back together with that dreamboat.

Aren’t they a cheater, though? It seems to me that if they cheat on you, then they’re a cheater. You can call this acts of exuberant defiance if it makes you happy, but it’s just playing with words. Would it be easier if they were called adulterers? They committed adultery, therefore, they are adulterers. Is that too harsh as well? Do we pussy foot around with other labels?

If someone asked you to describe Michael Phelps you would probably say something along the lines of, “He’s a swimmer,” or, “He’s an Olympic athlete.” Is he more than that? I’m sure he is. But that’s what he’s predominantly known for.

If you saw your co-worker, Larry, beat the crap out of his wife would you call him a wife beater or an abuser, or would you focus instead on his other qualities? Sure, ol’ Larry beats his wife but I wouldn’t call him a wife beater. He is one hell of a dart thrower and he really knows his way around a grill. Let’s not focus on the negative.

Is “cheater” the only label that is detested? Is it okay to label a person who likes to have sex with little kids a pedophile? If someone breaks into your home and robs you can we label that person a thief? How about murderer? Rapist? Drunk driver? Child abuser? Embezzler?

Are all of those labels bad? Should we be looking beyond the rudimentary surface? Or do labels sometimes tell us exactly what we need to know?

I’ve told this story before. Shortly before I got married, way back in 1994, my future mother-in-law was not loving her job. She decided that she was going to pull out her retirement and hand it over to her brother-in-law and they were going to go into business together.

People begged her to reconsider. They pointed out that her brother-in-law had been convicted for embezzlement. They didn’t trust him. They didn’t feel this was a wise move.

Now, maybe others would say, “Hey, give the guy a chance.” It’s not like once an embezzler, always an embezzler, right?

In this situation you would be wrong. She handed him her retirement money. He spent it while talking up their business and telling her how much progress was being made. Once the money was gone he informed her that they didn’t have any clients and he was getting a job; she should do the same. My former in-laws never recovered financially and they lost pretty much everything.

I’m sure some people would say that he wasn’t only an embezzler. I’d agree with that. I’d say he was a damn fine con artist as well. Certainly we are given the message that the cheater is more than just a cheater. How often are we admonished to not judge a relationship on one little, tiny mistake such as infidelity? That person you are harshly labeling a cheater is an onion. There are layers and layers to this person’s personality. He or she is so much more than just a cheater and you are being unduly harsh and unfair to only concentrate on that.

Funny follow up to the in-law story… Onion Boy ended up in jail. Again! If memory serves me correctly it had something to do with cars he was selling. I don’t remember if he was the actual salesman, or if he was a middle man, selling cars to dealerships. He may have been messing with the VIN numbers or something like that. Regardless, what he was doing was illegal and he was shady as fuck. Go right ahead and tell yourself he was much more than a guy who enjoyed fleecing people out of their money. He probably would have taken you to the cleaners with your Pollyanna attitude.

If you want to argue that a person is more than a label, especially if that label is “cheater”, that’s fine. I’m sure if you’re giving a person who betrayed you another chance there has to be something good about that person. I’m not saying they don’t have other delightful qualities. I would also never dream of telling someone that the “cheater” label is the most important thing about their spouse, or that that’s the only thing they should focus on. You can dress it up any way you want. You can ignore the behavior. You can convince yourself it was out of character or born out of toxic shame. You can believe with all your heart and soul that this “one” act is not the sum of who they are. That’s all fine. Not that you need my permission. That doesn’t mean the label isn’t accurate. It may not tell the whole story the way you’d like it told, or the way they’d like it told, but it tells a story. The reality is it did happen. The cheater may not be just a cheater, only a cheater, but they are indeed a cheater. Just like regardless of whatever good qualities he may have had Onion Boy was an embezzler, a thief, and a con artist.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I come across some truly horrific stories while reading through my Google newsfeed. For those who think that affairs are just two consenting adults minding their own business I offer up this story as a rebuttal.

Patrick Frazee and Kelsey Berreth were engaged and the parents of a one year old daughter. Sadly, despite the engagement Patrick apparently wasn’t a one woman type of guy. Turns out that getting engaged to be married didn’t exactly mean, “I’m off the market” to him. He was having an affair with Krystal Jean Lee Kenney. They had dated in college and apparently Krystal couldn’t get over the big sociopath! She was cheating on her husband with him and eventually divorced him. No big deal, right? It’s just a private matter between two consenting adults. Hey- if you’re unhappy in your relationship you owe it to yourself to find someone else. We no longer are subjected to long, miserable lives with someone who doesn’t make us happy.

Who cares if Krystal’s husband was invested in their life together and wasted who knows how many years on a woman pining for someone else? Who cares about Kelsey and her little girl and the family they had created with Patrick, the father of the child? Everyone deserves to be happy! If cheating makes them happy who are you to say it’s wrong?

That’s not enough for Patrick, though. According to investigators he wanted full custody of their daughter. My personal opinion? If he did want full custody he only wanted it to hurt Kelsey.

Okay, jackass cheats on his fiancee. Wants custody of his daughter. Wants to pursue this relationship with another woman. How to make this all happen….? Hmmm….. Patrick decides to ask his new girlfriend to kill his fiancee. Brilliant! Anyone still think affairs are just private matters between two consenting adults?

This story gets worse and worse. Dumbass Krystal is asked not once, not twice, but three fucking times to kill this woman! The first suggestion was poisoning a coffee drink from Starbucks. Krystal, who lives in Idaho, travels to Colorado where Kelsey lived, buys the drink, actually makes up a story so that she can introduce herself and gives her the drink, although it was not poisoned. She says she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She did, however, text him and apologize for not killing his fiancee as asked.

The second time he told her to take a metal pipe and bludgeon Kelsey with it. Again, Krystal waits for her, outside Kelsey’s condo, pipe in hand, and then backs out.

The third time he instructed her to beat her to death with a baseball bat. This time she apparently flat out refused.

Wait for it! He got angry with her each time she refused to kill his fiancee. Maybe it’s just me but I’m thinking when a guy you’re dating asks you to kill someone, anyone really, that’s a big fucking red flag. You are not in a good relationship. This is not a good person. You should go directly to the police station. This person needs to go to prison. He not only asked her to kill for him, but he also had a fucking plan! He had a multitude of ideas of how she could get rid of his “problem”. The cherry on top was actually getting pissed off at her when she didn’t go through with it. That is a serious problem. How stupid do you have to be when you stay with a person who not only wants you to kill someone for them but also gets righteously angry when you don’t? One news outlet reported that Krystal said “he was angry each time she failed to act. She loved Frazee and wanted to make him happy but could not hurt Berreth.” Sweetie, you need to move on! He gets a little upset because you forgot to pick up his dry cleaning or you signed him up for ballroom dance lessons without his knowledge? That’s understandable. He’s upset because you won’t kill someone for him? You need a new love interest. Seriously. Do most people even need to be told this, or is it instinctual for those of us who are sane? 

It’s nice that her conscience prevented her from actually killing the woman. You know what would have been better? If it had led her to the goddamn police station where she reported the sonofabitch! It sure as hell didn’t prevent her from helping him clean up the aftermath. Yeah, I told you, it gets worse.

Kelsey Berreth was last seen alive on Thanksgiving Day. Patrick allegedly murdered her that day by blindfolding her with a sweater and then beating her to death with a baseball bat. It was also reported he put her body into a black canvas bag and stashed it among bales of hay while he enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner.

According to Kenney’s account to police Patrick told her, “You got a mess to clean up.” And two days later she arrives in Colorado from Idaho, hauling latex gloves, a white suit, booties, bleach, two trash bags and a hair net. She came prepared. Good thing because it was, as she puts it, a “horrific” scene with blood splattered on the walls and floors of the woman’s town home. Another news article claims she was even asked to look for a tooth near an air vent. She reportedly spent hours cleaning, and discarding blood stained toys and other items. One report says she spent four hours cleaning and bagged up curtains, toys and pillows that were too stained to be cleaned. Yet another claims she threw away a tooth with the root intact.

She also helped get rid of Kelsey’s cell phone. She took it with her to Idaho to throw off the investigation. She did draw the line, however, at helping him dispose of Kelsey’s body. The reports are fuzzy on whether or not she was present when Patrick moved Kelsey’s body to a water trough, added gas and wood, and burned it. Initial reports seemed to indicate she wasn’t there but was told what happened; later reports have her there when he burned Kelsey’s body. Afterwards, he disposed of the remains in either a dump or the river. At least he had the good sense to whine to Krystal, “You don’t know how hard it is to have Thanksgiving dinner after killing her.” Who says the man doesn’t have a heart?

I do not understand these women who seem to be flattered that a man “loves” them so much he’s willing to kill the current girlfriend/wife for them. Are they really so stupid they think they’re special? Maybe I’m one cynical bitch but I would be telling myself, “Self, if he’s willing to kill her to be with you, what do you think he’s going to do when he’s tired of you?” Hell, I know he’s killed somebody for me! I’m a liability! That’s not how they think though.

Patrick is one sick, sadistic sonofabitch. I hope someone gets him alone with a blindfold and a baseball bat. I really don’t think Krystal is any better. If that woman had even a small conscience she would have hightailed her ass to the police the minute he began asking her to kill his fiancee. I’m not sure how many people would not consider that a deal breaker. Obviously it wasn’t for Krystal. I’d like to believe there aren’t many people that stupid, selfish, and sociopathic.

There are many who believe she either helped him kill her or encouraged him to do so. I’m sure there are just as many who believe she knew beyond a doubt that he was going to kill her. Naturally, she lied when confronted by the police. “Patrick who? No, I’m not sleeping with him.” Then later she ‘fessed up, probably when her DNA was found at the crime scene. Her story now is that she deliberately left clues behind so he would get caught; she was just so scared of him and believed she had to go along with what he wanted for fear he would kill her as well.

As far as their story goes I don’t know what I believe. Does it really matter? A beautiful, vivacious young mother is dead. Her fiance could have walked away, shared custody. His dipshit mistress could have alerted her, or the police. Anyone, really. None of that happened.

What I do know is that this story once again illustrates how affairs are not simply two consenting adults minding their own business. Anyone who thinks differently should try telling that to Kelsey Berreth’s little girl.

The Pity Party Conundrum

After listening for almost 25 years to the stories my patients tell me about sociopaths who have invaded and injured their lives, when I am asked, “How can I tell who not to trust?” the answer I give usually surprises people.

The natural expectation is that I will describe some sinister sounding detail of behavior or snippet of body language or threatening use of language that is the subtle giveaway. Instead, I take people aback by assuring them that the tip-off is none of these things, for none of these things is reliably present. Rather, the best clue, of all things, is the pity play. The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might image, at our fearfulness.

It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy.”

-From the Sociopath Next Door

I can’t say that’s how CF gained my trust. We didn’t start our relationship off with his stories of woe. Instead I heard how he had been the captain of the football team, captain of the baseball team, captain of the wrestling team. I heard stories from his mom and stepdad as well about how the paper had written an article about him when they played against the #1 team in the state and upset them. I learned he was class valedictorian, president of the National Honor Society, and, of course, class president. I heard how he had been recruited by the Cincinnati Reds, got an appointment to West Point, and was awarded a full ride scholarship to Boston College (or maybe Boston University- I never could remember) for pre-med. He could have been a doctor or a professional baseball player but he chose to serve his country and went to West Point.

His pity party didn’t come until he had been caught with Harley the first time. Then he was all about the tears and telling me how broken he was. I remember the text he sent to me telling me how he was sitting on the couch our son had bought and he was crying. I’m pretty sure he sent me a picture of the tears falling down his face.

I noticed in hindsight that any time the conversation became too tough he would resort to telling me he was worthless. He would insist he was a horrible husband and a terrible father and it was no wonder his own father had disowned him.

My all time favorite though was when he told me that all this conversation about Harley and his affair with her had ruined his hard on. That must have been terrible for him.

When he finally decided to discard me he was in full blown pity party mode. It was non-stop crying and talking about what a horrible person he was, how he had killed so many people and God would never forgive him. He couldn’t forgive himself. He told everyone I hated him.

I’m pretty sure when he decided to go visit his mom in May that what he was really going to do was meet up with Harley. For whatever reason he couldn’t do it. He sent me pictures of himself crying; he was supposedly having issues with being able to drive. He turned around and came back home. I went out the next day to switch cell phone companies and get new phones because I felt terrible that I hadn’t received his message and had no idea he was “struggling”. We had never had a problem with our cell phone company when we lived in Utah, but they did not have great coverage in our new area. There were areas I had absolutely no service and many times calls either wouldn’t go through or they would get dropped.

Towards the end we couldn’t go out to dinner without him breaking down crying. He refused to leave the bedroom. He loved telling people how I neglected him, despite the fact I was helping to make appointments with therapists and psychiatrists for him and attending those appointments with him.

It went hand in hand with all the other accusations that would follow: I hated him. I turned the kids against him. I made him leave the state. I wouldn’t let him take anything from the house. I threw him out. I tossed all of his things out.

A commenter over on Chump Lady pointed out that another way to protect yourself and to try to wade through the good and the bad was to listen closely when a person describes why they are no longer with their ex. Do they give you a short and to the point answer? Or do they offer up vague explanations with little to no detail? We grew apart sounds so much better than I cheated and he/she threw me out. She’s turned the kids against me sounds a lot better than I walked out on my kids and haven’t seen them in three years.

Generally, if a person has nothing to hide and is not the one at fault you’ll hear things like: He beat me. She slept with my best friend. He had a gambling problem. She drank too much. He had an untreated mental illness. She had a drug problem. He gave me an STD.

If they’re the one at fault though, it’s not uncommon to hear: We grew apart. I needed to find myself. She didn’t appreciate me. He wasn’t supportive of me. I loved him but I wasn’t in love with him. It was complicated.

Ironically, I think both CF and Harley are masters of the pity party. He undoubtedly treated her to his tales of woe regarding me. I was such a horrible housekeeper. I bought extra clothes instead of doing laundry. I treated him like a handyman and a wallet. We never had sex. I hated him.

She started off their relationship the first time around by letting him know that her marriage wasn’t all that rosy. She told him that she worked 60-80 hours a week because her husband spent and spent and he had bankrupted them.

They must be delighted at the idea of rescuing one another. I say, “Thank God!” because it keeps them away from innocent people.

The lesson today? Beware of those with sob stories. Sociopaths use pity to play upon your emotions. And pay attention when people talk. If you ask a direct question and get a vague answer that’s probably your cue to cut your losses.