Monday, February 28, 2005

The Bank of Erasmus

It’s taking me a little while to think of how I should start this. One of the fun things about divorce is money. How to divide it, who gets what etc. My wife is finding that the power she had over our money in our marriage is not the same as the power she wields now.

Two weeks before we were married my wife lost her job, and it was extremely stressful for her. Her boss was a real jackass, he fired her by leaving a message on the answering machine. He made her life very difficult for years after that. He owed her somewhere between four and ten thousand dollars which he refused to pay, he denied firing her when she filed for unemployment to prevent her from getting benefits. In fact, he denied she was an employee at all, he claimed she was an independent contractor. The stress he caused was probably the biggest factor in her decline in mental health.

So from day one of our marriage my wife was very concerned with money. Since she was not working she had a lot of time to worry about it. Over the year preceding my polite invitation by a State Marshall to leave the house she became virtually obsessed by it. She’d tape together two pieces of paper and basically make up a bank type statement outlining every withdrawl, fee, etc., and assigning my name to everything that I did, like any cash withdrawls. It would take her a couple of hours to prepare it – she could have done it in seconds using Quicken, which I’d installed for her, but she insisted on doing it by hand. When she was done she’d bring it to me and demand an explanation for every item that had my name attached to it. She’d often be in tears and angry. We’d often go through the same motions with my cell phone bill, where she’d demand to know who particular calls were to, why I stayed on the phone for X amount of time etc.

I’ll have to come up with some euphemism to describe the day I was ambushed, like D-Day or something like that. If anybody has any ideas let me know. Anyway, on that fateful day, despite the standard instructions issued by the court in all divorce cases, my wife cleaned out our checking and savings accounts. Until just a couple of weeks ago I gave my wife half of my pay each month to support her and my son – that’s $1700 per month for about 6 months. Despite the fact that I was providing her so much money, she took an extra $1000 before I managed to get my direct deposit changed. I have even gone so far as to deposit cash directly into her account (only once, since it’s about an hours drive to her bank) to make sure she could access it immediately. I’ve been giving her cash (and getting a receipt, of course) because if I gave her checks they would have a hold put on them.

She was upset the first time I gave her a reduced amount of support, even though she knew this was going to happen. She claimed that her attorney told her it was going to be more, and I told her that I was giving her what my attorney told me to give her. She wanted to argue about it, but I wouldn’t, I just told her she needed to call her attorney. I told her this as I was walking back and getting into my car. I was afraid she would get mad enough to make up another story. I’m not exaggerating when I say that as I drove home I was constantly looking in my rearview mirror for the police.

Since this all started I’ve gotten several emails concerning the state of her finances and how I need to deposit money soon or she wouldn’t have money to buy groceries, wood pellets for the stove (cheaper than electric heat) etc. I think I remember posting about one of them and how I sent her back an email because she was rude and implied that I was dragging my feet by not depositing the money directly into her bank account (even though I was giving her cash).

Last Tuesday showed me that no matter how nice I was to her and no matter how far I went out of my way to make her life easier it would never be enough. She, even after being told by her attorney that our visitation offer was very fair, refused to agree to it. Whether it was malicious or just part of her paranoia doesn’t matter – I know I will get the visitation, but now it’s delayed and it cost me a lot of money. I’ve done everything I can to cause no problems, mainly because I’m afraid she’ll make up another story. Unfortunately that’s just encouraged her sense of power over me.

So yesterday when I got another email from her telling me that her account was negative and she needed me to deposit the money directly into her account again I was a bit annoyed. She wanted me to deposit it today, but my paycheck is not deposited into my account until tonight at midnight. I sent her back an email telling her that and that I would deposit the money into her account tomorrow. The only reason I decided to do that is that the account I’m going to tomorrow is near a branch of her bank. I’ve decided, however, that I’ll deposit it as a check and let her worry about the hold. Maybe that’s still being too nice, but I can’t bring myself to be blatantly vicious. My attorney thinks I should just give her a check during visitation.

One thing I want my son to know later in life is that I didn’t cause the problems. My psychologist counselor tells me that my son will remember that I kept coming back no matter what the visitation schedule is in the short term. I see that even now. When the door opens and he sees me he just lights up and starts laughing. I love hearing the words “Hi Daddy!”. I have to admit a small amount of satisfaction the last few times I’ve picked him up. My wife seems a little annoyed that he is so happy to see me. When we leave I open the window next to him so he can say goodbye to mommy, but all he’s said the last few times is goodbye to the dog. I don’t think he means anything by it, after all he’s only two years old, but my wife’s condition leaves her vulnerable to making something out of virtually nothing.

I can hardly wait until I have my own place where he can stay the night. It might be hard for him at first, but it won’t take long for him to get comfortable with it. He’s such a happy little boy. I think about the things we’ll do together, like going out for walks and playing with his toys. He loves cars so much that I’ll have to get some kind of remote controlled cars for us to play with. I miss that little guy so much, I can hardly wait to spend more time with him.

Ok, time to hit publish and get ready for bed.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

So a King walks into a Barber Shop...

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that my wife has told me that the only time my son can get a haircut is during my Saturday visitation with him. Yes, I'm serious. During the 5 hours I get to spend with my son on Saturday she insists that I get him a haircut. Seeing that I get a total of 7 hours per week with my son right now spending time to get his haircut is not high on my list of things to get done. So today she asked me (in a kind of sarcastic way) if I was planning on getting him a haircut.

Here's what I wanted to say: "Why yes, I plan on taking an hour of my precious time with him to take him to a barber, wait in line, try to keep him calm and deal with a possible temper tantrum afterward just because you think that barber shops are only open between the hours of 1 and 6 PM on Saturdays."

What I said: "We'll see."

I would love to give sarcastic answer #1, but my lawyer insists that I keep things as civil as possible. Ah well, things will definitely get more interesting once I can tell her what I think of her visitaton and haircut plan. I don't think my lawyer will have a problem if I send her the hours of a local haircutting place (which happens to be open on Sundays) if she sends me an email complaining about no haircut.

So today my son and I nearly wore out the elevator at the mall. He used to love riding the escalator, but now the elevator is the big attraction. He especially loves pushing the buttons, then saying "Go!" when it starts. It's a glass enclosed elevator, so you can watch as you go up and down, and he loves that. We went for pizza and he amazed me. He turned 2 just last week and he ate his entire lunch using a fork.

While we were at the mall a woman decided she wanted to meet me. My son and I were sitting on a cushioned bench playing with his cars. We were having a blast - and suddenly this woman sits down on the very edge of the bench. This might not sound too bad, but my son and I were already on the end of the bench. I really didn't care that much so we moved over so she could have more room. She moved over and introduced herself, saying that she was shopping with her friends. I didn't really respond because I was playing with him, but she kept talking. I learned about how she doesn't really like children so she didn't want to have any. Luckily I was saved by a well-timed sneeze by my son - maybe she thought all children were disease vectors also, because when he sneezed on her it had the effect of Holy Water on a vampire.

If she happens to be reading:
  1. When you want to meet a man, look your best, a sweatsuit and bed-hair badly hidden by a dirty baseball cap doesn't cut it.
  2. If you don't like or want children, the fact that the man you want to meet is playing with his child might be an indicator of a problem.
  3. If you decide, despite #2, to proceed, don't tell the man playing with his child that you don't like or want children in the first few minutes of conversation. Wait at least an hour.
  4. Do your best to hide the fear that contact with any 2-year-old will result in an immediate and horrible death from a bizarre tropical disease.

On another note, I had the second appointment with my counselor the other day. It was even better than the first appointment. We talked about my week, especially the events of Tuesday. It was pretty hard, I miss my son and I was very upset that my wife was opposing me having more than 7 hours a week. There was a lot more we discussed, but one of the things he said was that the whole thing is a tragedy. He was referring to more than my wifes stories and her intransigence regarding visitation. It's something that I've talked to friends about, but I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here. Mental Illness. The problem that is behind everything. Can I blame my wife? There are times I do blame her, mainly when I'm on the receiving end of some ridiculous action by her, but I'm not a stupid man. I know my wife didn't decide to become mentally ill, that's one of the reasons I stayed with her so long. You don't walk out on your husband or wife when you realize their sick, mental or not. Despite all she's done, and all she's likely to do in the future, I still feel sorry for her. I can't imagine what it's like for her. I think the only people I can feel justified in being angry at are her family. They know something is wrong, yet they sit with their heads in the sand, probably thinking that the problem will go away if they ignore it long enough.

Well, now that I've been working on this for almost 4 hours I suppose I should go ahead and post it. One last thing before I do that, however. Do you know what the best thing in the world was today? The hysterical laughter of my son as I sat in the car squawking like Donald Duck. I sometimes think there's nothing so healing and healthy as that laughter. I just wish I could experience it for more than 7 hours a week.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!

Today was not a good day. Let's start with yesterday, however. I got a call in the afternoon from my attorneys office to remind me to be in court early the next day, no later than 9:15. "What's this?" I ask. "A court date tomorrow? I don't know anything about this - better check all the paperwork and letters from my attorney. "

I checked everything and found nothing referencing a hearing today. So I called the attorneys office, surprised they were working on Presidents Day. The paralegal I spoke to said she wasn't aware of how I was informed, but she thought my attorney had talked to me on the phone. She explained that I needed to be there early, but she didn't know what the hearing was for.

So what's the big deal? Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, but I was scheduled to be working with my manager - I'm in outside sales and every so often you have to do that. So I had to call my manager and let him know that I would have to meet him later, which he accepted with no problem.

So this morning I trekked to the courthouse and got there at the appointed time, still having no idea why I was there. I finally met with my attorney and she explained things. It seems we had to sign up for mediation, and not the mediation we had spoken about before. This was for visitation and custody. It seems my wife had decided I should not get any more visitation time, forcing us into mediation.

Now before I get much further, I want to remind you that when everything went down she opposed me having visitation at all. All she would say was that she was "afraid", though she wouldn't elaborate on what she was afraid of. That got squashed and I got some visitation, though less than what I wanted.

Fast-forward to several weeks ago when my attorney gets told by her (new) attorney that she is suspicious of me because I had not tried to expand the amount of visitation. "Suspicious of what?" you might ask. I wish I could tell you. My attorney explained to her attorney that despite what he might have been told I had in fact wanted more visitation, but that his client had opposed it. That was news to him. She explained that it was time to decrease the amount of money I was paying to my wife and that I wanted more visitation. My wifes attorney was very agreeable to it all.

So back to today. My wife, when presented with the proposed visitation schedule, refused. She's now suspicious about the fact that I want more visitation. "Suspicious of what?" you might ask. Again, I wish I could tell you. My wife was not present for this session, which was basically an interview to be placed into the mediation program. I was asked about what the issues were, and I said that it was visitation (this was all the mediation was for right now). Her attorney jumped in and said that he felt that my wifes refusal was due to "clouding" of her decision by my move. The "move" being me finding a place to live after my wife made up her story and had me removed from our condo. She was livid about that "move" - although the only alternative would have been for me to continue to stay with friends (which I had done for about a month). Her attorney explained that she would probably come around after one session.

So, let's review:

1. Opposes visitation because she is "afraid"
2. Tells attorney that she is suspicious of me because I am not asking for more visitation
3. When presented with a new visitation plan, refuses, because she is suspicious

Afterward, I headed to go and meet my manager. As I drove I fought a losing battle to keep my calm. Why? Because I'm sick of her bizarre behavior. I had just spent the entire morning in court because of my wifes strange suspicions. I had to call my manager and rearrange both our days. I estimate it cost me between $600-700 in attorneys fees alone. And for what? Even her attorney thought the proposed visitation was reasonable. Here's a clue: When your attorney has to make excuses for you, you might want to think about your behavior.

Now I have to deal with the consequences. I had a horrible day with my manager - I couldn't concentrate and it showed. On top of that, today of all days I needed my concentration, as I was visiting a very important account. My manager was not pleased with my performance today, and he was justified. That doesn't mean he was angry - he's been very empathetic and understanding - I could not ask for a better person to have as a manager. As a person who has been in a management position before I have to say that I admire how he has handled everything. That didn't make the conversation we had to have at the end of the day any easier.
The stress of it all really got to me. I've been brought to tears about the whole thing a couple of times, mostly on the way home, but sitting here typing has brought it back too. It was about a 2 hour drive home from the account, thankfully it gave me time to calm down some before I got home.

What do you do in this kind of situation? She's definitely got some mental health issues, and I've got to find ways to keep it from affecting my life more than it already has. I can't afford to have it affect my job performance anymore, if for no other reason than I have a son to support. I want to see my son more - I've done nothing and just by voicing these stupid suspicions she can interfere with it.

Right now I think I can assume one of two things: Either I'm paying back karma at a vastly accelerated rate or I've offended not just one, but at least three pantheons of Gods.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Much Better Today

A good nights sleep, a big cup of coffee, a couple of donuts and a plan to get things done. I'm definitely feeling much more like myself. Plus I'm watching Scare Tactics while I'm eating my breakfast. This show is utterly hilarious.

We're in the middle of a minor snowfall here (4-8 inches) and the roads are terrible, but going to Dunkin Donuts was absolutely critical this morning. I ran out of milk for cereal yesterday and even worse, cream for my coffee. As many of you know, drinking your coffee without cream (light cream, not half and half, not whole milk, not skim milk) is a crime in many states. Drinking it with skim milk actually rises to the level of a felony. Since I don't want to see myself on Law & Order someday, I made the trek both to Dunkin Donuts and the local convenience store. I have to say I'm not looking too good this morning. I haven't shaved and I put on a baseball cap to go out, so I looked like quite the criminal. The convenience store clerks were naturally suspicious of me.

Ok, I'd love to go into more, like the Simpsons episode that I saw (Whatchamacarcass Sandwich...they slay me), but I do have a lot to do today. For those of you wondering, I did receive another email from my wife, she was unhappy that I didn't get my son a haircut. I have now been informed that the only time he can get a haircut is during our Saturday afternoon visitation. Somebody stop the madness!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I Miss My Son

I'm a little depressed today - I had planned to do a whole bunch of stuff today and have gotten next to nothing done. Maybe it's that I've had very little to eat today. I've basically spent most of the day watching television. Maybe I needed a day like today to just zone out, to just sit and feel sorry for myself and get it all out of my system. I just ordered some food for delivery so maybe once I get some into me I'll feel better.

I saw my son yesterday and that was a very good time. I miss him, and I think that's part of what's bothering me today. He was thrilled to see me, he just started smiling and laughing. He used to get a little upset because he didn't want to leave his mother, but he's gotten much better. We went to go and get something to eat, and despite the fact that he'd already eaten lunch he ate a bunch anyway. N (the woman I'm dating) got him a toy truck (isn't she sweet?) and I gave it to him. It was a a semi truck with a trailer, and he loved it! The trouble was that it was very fragile. In the first five minutes several pieces of it had already fallen off. He was having the best time with it, but it was apparent that he couldn't keep it. Tiny little pieces of it kept falling off and to call it a choking hazard would be an understatement. As we got up to leave I "accidentally" left it on the table and told the owner (quietly) that I was doing it on purpose so he wouldn't come running out with it.

We went into Starbucks and sat down in the same comfortable chair where we napped the last time we were there. He was nowhere near tired, though. I sat him down in the chair and went and got in line. I basically stood in line backwards so I could watch him and wave back at him. He yelled out "Hi Daddy!" and waved, and the whole store started laughing. Then he decided that he no longer wanted to sit in the chair - as I watched he got down and ran up to where I was standing. When I got my drink we went back over to the chair and sat down. He got down again and went to sit in the other chair. He looked so cute just sitting there smiling. We started playing a game where he would throw himself back into the cushions and I would do the same. A woman sitting behind me was laughing and told me how cute he was. Finally he got down off the chair and started rolling his matchbox car along the windowsill.

Later on we went to Wal-Mart and found an enormous display full of thousands of matchbox cars. We had hit the motherload. He picked out a couple, payed for them and walked out to find the police surrounding an enormous (tall and muscular, not fat) woman. We had seen her earlier in the store going up to a register with a Compaq computer to buy. I remember thinking that I would never have bought the one she was putting in her cart. As we were walking by I could hear her saying that she had not tried to pass a bad check. The last thing I heard was the police asking her if she had ID that matched the name on the checks. My son was more interested in the police cars. I don't think he noticed anything else.

We went to get some ice cream to finish out the day. He decided that he wanted to use the spoon and eat it himself. Occasionally he'd get an enormous spoonful that did not have a chance in hell of fitting in his mouth. Those would go to Daddy. After the ice cream we watched the Ms. Pac-man video demo again. He absolutely loves watching that, especially when we count the ghosts and say "Go!" when the actual demo starts. We make a chomping sound when Ms. Pac-man gets one of the Ghosts after eating a power pill and he laughs and laughs. I stuck a quarter in and we played. He watched me play for about half a minute then he wanted to do it. It was one hell of a lot of fun to watch him - he'd shake the joystick back and forth while watching Ms. Pac-man move. I'd help him a little by moving him left or right so it would last a little longer.

When I dropped him off he was raring to go - he started running around the parking lot laughing. Definitely still on the sugar high. He was still happy when I left and waved goodbye to me.

So I've been eating (yes my food arrived, my favorite, Thai) and typing. I definitely feel better but not my normal self. If only I had ice cream. Why don't ice cream places deliver?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

So What The Hell Do I Write About Tonight?

When I sat down to type tonight I had no idea what I was going to write. I did a whole bunch of work tonight, and now that it's done I wanted to write something. It's becoming habit. I never thought I'd ever keep a journal, but I guess this is close enough to prove me wrong.

I sent my soon-to-be-ex a reply email. I was polite, but I made it clear that I'd like her hostile attitude to stop. I've gone far above the minimum in terms of support and I'm tired of the attitude that I'm somehow to blame for all of her problems.

So let me tell you a little about my childhood. I had a pretty middle-class upbringing for the first 10 years of my life, I lived in a quiet neighborhood across the street from a state park. The other kids who lived nearby were a couple of years older than me, and all of them were pretty decent kids. The worst they ever did to me was execute a vile snowball ambush on me as I was building an igloo. We had lots of woods around and my brother and I (I have two brothers, but one wasn't old enough to follow us around then) would explore all the time. We had a couple of main hangouts: The Big Rock, The Round Rock etc. My dad made an enormous wood pile with logs he cut with his chainsaw which turned into the Millenium Falcon the day after we saw Star Wars.

Elementary school was great for me. I was labeled a "gifted" child early on, but I was pretty immature because I'd never really interracted with kids my age before I started there. I ended up with one really good friend, somebody who is still my friend to this day. There are two events that really stick out in my mind when I look back.

One day I was walking (or marching, we all walked in lines through the halls) and suddenly somebody coming towards me stopped me in my tracks. I was looking at the first african-american person I had ever seen. I sometimes wonder what he must have thought seeing me standing there staring at him. Don't be too hard on me, I was only 6 years-old.

Another thing I remember was my fifth grade teacher. I decided one day to run my finger through the work assignment on the chalkboard as I walked out of the classroom, because I was just too cool in those days. I was trying to impress a girl named Jessica with my elementary-school James Dean impression. I'm pretty sure it worked. Later on that day our teacher asked us who did it, and she was not happy. She said that we would not be going out to recess until she knew who did it. Jessica and others were starting to stare holes into me. I quickly admitted I had done it and was told that I would be told what my punishment would be later. Talk about a good way to ruin a perfectly good recess. When we came in she pulled me aside and told me that she wasn't going to punish me because I had told the truth. She taught me a pretty valuable lesson with that - I've found that it's always better to admit your mistakes and face the consequences right off the bat than to try to cover things up.

When I was in the fifth grade my world changed. I had decided that I wanted to play Little League baseball and was trying to convince my mother to let me join. She wouldn't give, and finally told me that I couldn't say anything, but that she had decided to divorce my father. I had no comprehension then of how much that would change my life.

Sorry to cut this short, but it's time for bed.

Another "Friendly" Email

There are times I wish that people came with a Karma-meter, which would sound a shrill alarm when they are trending towards the negative. My soon to be ex-wife sent me another pleasant email last night. Basically, though it started with the word "Please", it was a demand for money. She wants it deposited directly (as cash) into her account no later than today, going on to say that anything else is not acceptable. She also complained that I "made a big deal" about getting her account number so that I could deposit the money directly into it, then only did it once. She also said that she has no money and needed to buy pellets for the wood stove.

I realize that it's hard to put this in context without knowing more of the background. I'll give a quick recap, please forgive me if some of it's a repeat of what you've already read.

Begin Recap: Since my wife started this entire adventure I've been very responsible, providing her with literally half my net pay to support her and my son while things slowly dragged through the court system. That started in August. If you just look at it as what I'd owe in child support, she was getting about four times what I was required to pay under the state calculation. Since I'll end up paying for half of daycare also, it comes to about double what she would be entitled to. So, finally, after six months of doing this, my attorney and her attorney decide that's long enough to voluntarily overpay support, and we went down to an amount that is very close to what I'll end up paying after everything is final. That started with the last pay period.

She is clearly unhappy with this, she originally had the idea that she'd actually get more money than what I was paying her. While my pay was being direct deposited to our joint account she would just withdraw the money. However, when I changed my direct deposit to my new checking account I had to provide her with a check. Since a personal check would take days to clear and I didn't see the need to make her life more difficult I went the first time and got a money order for the money and gave it to her. She called me in tears the next day - the bank said that they were now putting 5 business-day holds on all cashiers checks, money orders and the like. She told me she had no money. Since this is child support and I want to take care of my son, I told her that if she gave me an account number I would deposit the next payment directly into her account as cash so she would not have to wait for it to clear. After that I started bringing her cash and making her write out a receipt. So for the last couple of months I've been going to the bank and cashing checks (the amount exceeds the daily withdrawl limit from the ATM) and bringing her the cash to make her life a little easier. I could just as easily given her an out of state personal check to meet my obligations - imagine the hold on that!

End Recap

So after doing all of this to make her life easier, I get this email. I love how she states I made a big deal about getting the account number. She conviently forgets that I've been bringing her cash only to make sure she has access to it as soon as possible. So what I've decided to do is send her a very professional (not sarcastic or angry) email, copying it to my attorney of course, explaining my side of all of this. I'll also mention that once our attorneys settle on an amount I will set it up through direct deposit to make it about as easy as possible. I'd like to think she will see reason sometime, but knowing her mental condition I doubt it will happen. The way she thinks there's always an ulterior motive to whatever I do.

Heh heh, I just had a funny thought. I was thinking about her theories and what she considers proof:

I have personal experience in hiding bodies (This is my favorite). Proof: I criticized the body-hiding abilities of murderers on CSI and Unsolved Mysteries.

I am having affairs with multitudes of women. Proof: Women are within 50 miles of my position (I'm assuming here, it could be 500 miles)

I am plotting to kill her. Proof: Husbands kill their wives on CSI and other crime shows, which we both watch. I also own a knife with a 3.5 inch blade.

I am scheming with certain members of her family against her. Proof: Members of her family and I have been seen conversing.

I was in league with our various marriage counselors, convincing them to work with me against her. Proof: Marriage counselors would start to question her actions and/or thoughts. When she accuses me of planning to kill her they do not immediately rush to her side and hold me at gunpoint for the police (OK, I'm exaggerrating a little with this last one...)

On a totally unrelated tangent, I've been in touch with several other bloggers, including Murphy (I swear I'm not a stalker, Murph), Chris (GoodHusband/Return to Happiness), and Chuck (What's Up Chuck) and find that we have a lot in common. Yes, this is a blatant attempt to ride the coattails of their blogging success... The best thing I can say about what I don't have in common with Chuck is that my wife never tried to poison me. And no, I won't go for the almost obligatory comment on her cooking, mainly because she was a pretty good cook.

Ha! I just remembered I wanted to post something that happened to me yesterday. I was at a gas station which was right next to a distribution hub for UPS. There were several drivers inside, and they were talking and joking with the woman behind the counter. She was giving far better than she was getting, and they were all having a good time. I was laughing and smiling along because some of their insults and comments were pretty damned funny. They were including me in some of it because the line was moving slowly. One of them told me to watch out for the woman behind the counter because she was a "tough old broad". She was no older than 25. One of the drivers told her to get moving because "that man's obviously got important places to be". I wear a suit and tie every day, the good being that it's cool to wear a suit, the bad being I'm constantly being accosted by angry customers in stores who think I'm the Store Manager. Anyway, I said "Don't worry about it, I'm just going up the hill", obviously meaning the UPS distribution center. "I'm from Corporate." It was suddenly deathly quiet in the store. The drivers looked distinctly pale. I looked up at the woman behind the counter, smiled and shook my head slowly. She burst out laughing and said to them "He got you!" The drivers loved it - it was a pretty good joke. At least these guys were not your stereotypical truck drivers, they were all about my size and dressed in the UPS uniforms. One of these days my sense of humor will get my ass kicked, but I wasn't worried about it with them.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Nap at Starbucks...

Had a great time with the little guy yesterday. When I got there my wife had to wake him up from his nap and he was still very tired. He said "Hi Daddy", but no smiles. He was kind of out of it on the way to get some lunch, mainly just being quiet. We ate some lunch, but he really wasn't too hungry, he wouldn't even play with his cars. After he was finished he clearly wanted out of the high chair, so I picked him up. He immediately put his head down on my shoulder, which he only does when he's really tired and wants to go to sleep. In the time it took me to get up and pay for lunch he had already fallen asleep. I decided to go nextdoor to Starbucks and sit down in one of their comfortable chairs. I bought a Vanilla Creme (a warm steamed milk and vanilla drink) and sat down. The women at the counter absolutely melted when they say him sleeping on my shoulder, clutching his cars in his little hands. Anyway, I figured he would sleep for a half-hour or so since he had already had a nap. The chair was comfortable, so it was no problem letting him sleep. It has been so long since I got to just hold him - it was wonderful to just sit there with him. It was so comfortable that I ended up falling asleep too! I woke up and found that I'd been asleep for about an hour. I thought at first that the Starbucks people might be annoyed, but when I looked around at the counter all the women just smiled and beamed, so I felt better. The Little Guy woke up right about then - he lifted his head, looked around confused for a minute, then looked at me and said (with a smile this time) "Hi Daddy". I moved him around to a sitting position and he started becoming more animated. He started pointing at things and naming them, telling me what color they were (he loves to tell me that things are purple no matter what color they are) and playing with his cars. It was a great time!

We went to the mall and rode the escalators and elevators - he has the best time pushing the buttons to make the elevator come and the floor buttons. He pushes it and looks around smiling and the other people in the elevator would just laugh. We (of course) had our ritual ice cream and with the resultant sugar rush he decided that he wanted to run and play. We went to a big open area at the mall and I proceeded to chase him. He'd laugh so hard that he had trouble running sometimes. The people walking by definitely got a good laugh!

The woman I'm dating (N) and I were talking one day and she told me that I had to be turning quite a few female heads when I was out with my son. I was a little skeptical, but she explained that a man with a child is very attractive to women. So now, having heard that, I noticed at the mall that I was being checked out by quite a few women. I never really noticed before, probably because I was never looking. It was a nice ego boost, let me tell you. So is it true? I'm curious to hear what people have to say.

I met N on match.com a while after everything happened. For the last couple of years I was very faithful to my wife - even though she was treating me horribly and allowed no intimacy (physical or emotional) I kept my vows. To me it would have been just as wrong to cheat on her as it would have been to just walk out on her because she was having problems with her mental health. Once she struck her blow, however, I decided that it was time to see what else was out there. N was not the first woman I met - I met a physician whom I dated for a little while, but I didn't like the way that was going. She had gone through a very ugly divorce and afterward dated a man for about a year. While they were no longer dating, he was still very involved in her life, and wasn't very happy that she was dating somebody else. There were a couple of things that helped me make a decision. We were getting closer and closer and would soon have slept together, but one day I found out she had put her profile back up on match and had decided to start meeting other people. I guess she was going to get around to telling me sometime, but I asked her about it. She wanted to continue on the way we were going, but keep meeting other men. I've always been a "date-one-person-at-a-time" kind of guy, but since I was starting over, I decided to just go with it. So I put my profile back up.

I was conversing with several women, but nobody really stood out. They had a feature to match by personality, so I checked it out. I did a search and up came N's profile. She had no picture, but I liked what I read in it so I wrote to her. Later on, when she finally sent me a picture, I breathed a sigh of relief, and I believe my exact words were "Thank God". We are definitely a lot alike, the personality matching worked pretty well. I'll have to write more about her later - it's getting a little late.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Coffee and Another Pivotal Moment

I'm having my second cup of coffee right now, sitting on the couch. Coffee, for me, is vitally important in the morning and in the post-lunch afternoon food coma, but I won't settle for a cup of it from just anywhere. I have a little single-cup coffeemaker and usually its ground dunkin donuts coffee, but today I had some Newport coffee. Years ago I used to think it was the mark of a man to drink a strong cup of coffee black. I have since learned the error of my ways, finding that the true mark of a man is in admitting that only with light cream (not whole milk, not skim milk *shudders*, not non-dairy creamer *shudders again*) does a cup of coffee approach Nirvana. What about sugar, you ask? I choose not to candify my coffee that way. I love that word "Candify". It's a completely made-up word I blatantly stole from one of my coworkers who is still one of the unwashed heathen that drinks their coffee black. Should he ever read this he may, in fact, pick me up and throw me into the nearest body of water, but the chances of that are remote. One more question before I leave the subject of coffee. Is there a Patron Saint of Coffee? If not, why not?

Before I move on to another Pivotal Moment in my life, I'll give you the brief rundown on what's currently happening in my life. The woman I'm dating is on vacation in Florida, having a great time and staying warm. It's actually some kind of work-seminar, but they get lots of time off and have spent two days in Disney. I'm just a little envious. Today is going to be a great day because I get to go see my son! I haven't decided what we're going to do yet, maybe stop by a place that has little radio controlled race-car races. He loves that - it's so much fun watching him get excited and having fun. We'll have lunch, of course - he's getting to the point where he likes to feed himself with the fork, though it still gives him a little trouble. He also likes to occasionally feed me. We will have to stop and pick out a new matchbox car - that's one of the traditions that has developed on our day, the new matchbox car. When we're opening the box he'll get real excited, clapping his hands and saying "yaayyy!"

My wife has obviously been talking to her attorney and gotten news she did not like - she's back to nearly one-word emails. I always confirm by email the day before I pick up my son the time I'll be there. I decided to start confirming because she sometimes doesn't remember changes to the time, even when it's a change she's asked for. Usually she'll write a little more than "OK" or "That's fine". When she's down to those kinds of responses it usually means she's mad. I'll probably hear some complaints when I get there.

So on to another moment. I've said before that I'm a very optimistic person. The moment I decided to develop that kind of outlook on life occurred while I was in the navy. At the time I was an instructor, and I was complaining about something, I don't even remember what it was. I guess I complained a lot in those days. The person I was complaining to was several years older than I was and had a great outlook on life. He was listening, but then he interrupted me. He said "Stop - why are you complaining so much? You have so much more potential than that". Have you ever had something said to you that just stops you in your tracks? That was one of those moments. I did a lot of thinking about what he said over the following days and weeks. It led me to thinking about life in general and what kind of person I wanted to be. It made me think about how some people just seem to have it all together and love life. So I started becoming the person I wanted to be. I want to enjoy life most of all, I only get one chance to get it right. If I let myself be unhappy and dwell on what's unfair or wrong, what does it accomplish? The time I spend being in a bad mood or unhappy is time I could have been doing something I enjoy or just being in a good mood in general.

It wasn't easy going from where I was to where I am now. I had to learn how to avoid letting events get to me. If it was out of my control I learned not to worry about it. That doesn't mean I don't care, it just means I refuse to be anxious when it will have absolutely no effect on the situation. I don't hold anger in - when I recognize that I'm getting angry I think about whether what I'm angry about is worth giving up some of my life. Usually, it's not. It's not foolproof, but it's far and away better than letting events control my mood. I also decided that if I wanted to complain about something I had to earn the right to do it. Earning the right to complain means that when I find something good or positive about something or somebody I have to point it out. I figured a 10:1 ratio would be a pretty good start, but now I'm well beyond that.

I've found that it's helped me in my work and interpersonal relationships with people. People have commented to me on how I rarely complain about things and that I bring a positive attitude to the situations I'm in. My manager has noticed it and told me he appreciates it - there are times when a change at work could be taken either way, and I help bring a positive outlook to the team. My coworkers all know what has happened with my marriage and it amazes them that I've coped as well as I have with it. I think this has been the most severe test of my outlook on life I've ever experienced. I'm pretty sure I've passed the test. I can't imagine where I'd be if I was the kind of person to dwell on the half-empty cup.

Would I be the person I am now if not for that coworker in the navy? I don't think so - I owe him a lot. I think I can take some credit for doing all the work within me, but I also have to recognize the catalyst. I'm very interested what the counselor will think of all of this when we eventually get into it - and how he can help me improve even more.

Time to post this. I'm off to go pick up my little guy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Ice Cream and Pivotal Moments

I just got back from the grocery store. I had to go because of the evil writings of katriana, whom I just blogrolled. In her blog I read about mint chocolate chip ice cream and it hit me at a time when I was craving something sweet. I hereby officially announce that katriana has earned the first Curse of Erasmus. The fact that I blogrolled to her provides a tangible link between our two blogs, which should bring down the "property value" of her blog. That'll teach her.

Other than the preceding debacle it's been a good day. I did quite a bit of work today - I had an admin day to get some training material worked on. Have I told you all how much I like my job? Am I lucky or what?

So maybe as I sit here watching Law and Order: SVU I'll write out a little bit about myself. Where to start? I guess I'll start with what I'm like right now. I'm a very optimistic person - I decided a long time ago during my time in the navy that I wanted to enjoy my life. It took a while to do it, but I learned what I needed to do to keep a positive outlook on life. The only time I have trouble is times like what just happened. A "Monk" commercial came on and I had to sit and suffer through it. It really puts my self-training to the test.

Everybody has pivotal moments in life, some more than others, and they aren't always good. In fact, sometimes I think they might not be good or bad, but just choices that have major consequences. I can think of a few of those moments in my life that help make me into the man I am today. One was when I was very young. I was in the garage with my father. He was working on something, I don't remember what, and I got interested in a fan that was running. I asked my dad if a fan "made" air. He stopped for a minute and thought. Here's when a dad earns his pay - he could have just told me yes, because at that age you never stop asking questions. Instead, he said "No, a fan moves air". That answer may be the biggest influence in why I have such a scientific bent. I've always admired my father for that.

I like to think my sense of honor comes from my grandfather on my fathers' side. He and my grandmother were always such decent, upstanding people. They treated everybody with respect and showed me that you should help people whenever you can. My grandfather and I got to talking one day and I learned a lot about him. He lived through the depression which changed him quite a bit. He was an electrical engineer and he worked for General Electric for years. He and some others noticed something, however, that they found disturbing. As their older coworkers approached retirement they would suddenly be fired, which would invalidate their eligibility for their pension. He and his coworkers felt so strongly about this that they quit as a group in protest.

My grandfather also inspired my sense of loyalty to a loved one. My grandmother died when I was about 12 years old. My grandfather died about 12 years after that. His passing was long and painful, and it was very difficult to watch. I was in the navy at the time and came back to say goodbye to him. He wanted to see a priest (or pastor, I don't remember what his title was) and when he was talking to him I sat a little ways away listening. The priest was telling him that soon he'd be in Heaven - whether you believe in Heaven or not, my grandfather was one of the people you had no doubt belonged there. One of the most touching things I've ever seen was my grandfather, in tears, asking the priest "How will I find my wife?" He died not long after that. I hope that someday I have a marriage worthy of that kind of love and commitment.

How long did I stay with my wife because I was trying to live up to what I witnessed that day? I knew there was something wrong, yet I stayed because I didn't like the kind of person I'd become if I walked out on a mentally ill wife. Does that make what I learned from my grandfather a liability? I don't think so. If I knew then what I know now, I'd still stay, I'd just do things differently. It's easy enough to look back and criticize my own actions, but I think I did the right thing overall, even if I could have done things differently or better.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Long update

It's been a busy week for me. Today there was supposed to be a big snowstorm here - the appointments I had scheduled were all cancelled. Instead it rained all day. Then, not too long before I'd have to leave for the hour and fifteen minute drive to see my son, the tempature fell below freezing and the rain that was still on the roads started to freeze. Then it started to snow. The weather report still says 1 to 3 inches, but there's already about 8 inches out on the deck. That's still far better than the 18-30 inches originally predicted. Anyway, I didn't get to see my son today. I've been sitting here doing a whole lot of nothing tonight.

I watched the movie Elf the other day. I didn't really have a Christmas this year, not just because of the situation with my wife, but because I got sick just before and ended up spending most of the holidays in bed. Elf was utterly hysterical, and I loved it. I did a lot of catching up in my Christmas Spirit watching it. Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Think of the movies you only see at that time: A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street. I could go on on on! And it's just after my other favorite time of the year: Thanksgiving. I spent Thanksgiving with family and it was great. Lots of turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Beyond that everything else is just gravy (no pun intended).

I've done a little thinking about what I want to do with myself in the future. I have to get my life straightened out of course, but that's already happening, and a lot sooner than most people thought it would. I have to get my finances in order - they've suffered pretty badly since this all started. I'll have to find a place to live closer to my son, the only reason I moved this far was to put some "safety" distance between my wife and I to make it harder to make up more stories. At some point we'll work out the distribution of assets and property and I'll end up with a lot of my stuff. I still have very little of my possessions. I've not been able to step foot into the house for months.

As for dating, before I get into that you have to know that I've been less a husband than a caregiver since my son was born. Sex pretty much ended during her pregnancy, and she would rarely even let me hold her hand. So it's been a long time since I've really been close to somebody. I started dating somebody about 2 months ago, and that has gone well. The hardest part for me is getting used to a "normal" relationship again. I'm finding out a lot of interesting things about myself and how living with a schizophrenic changed me. I still cringe when certain things happen. I was with my date somewhere and we had a friendly waitress. Not flirty, just friendly. With my wife this would have led to accusations of me having an affair with the waitress and a VERY long, vicious drive home. My date didn't even think twice about it. There are other things I'm sure I'll learn about in the future.

I've been doing some reading of several blogs, including Return to Happiness, Secret Exploits, and What's up Chuck. They're great reading. The others I've blogrolled are great as well.

The original title of this post was "A Short Update". Obviously that'll have to change. Sometime I'll have to write a lot more about myself - I'm learning all kinds of interesting things about other people, but I realized that I haven't really told people a lot about me and what I think about life in general.

Since I've been typing for about an hour it'll have to be another time. Heave a sigh of relief...

Animal Planet and a sense of humor

You might never guess from reading my blog that I have a sense of humor. I love to laugh, and my favorite humor is self-deprecating. Self-deprecating humor is most fun when you're with somebody who doesn't know you well. The utter look of confusion that crosses their face as their trying to figure out if you're serious is great.

Tell this one to your spouse (if you can trust him or her not to hit you over the head with a frying pan):

I was reading the other day about emotional triggers and how the same incident can trigger different emotions in different people. For instance, say you are watching Animal Planet and you see a Wildebeest being cut off from the herd by a pride of lions. You start to get excited. The chase is on. Your spouse, however is mildly disturbed. As the lions close in, the Wildebeest dodges left and right, barely keeping ahead of the slashing claws. You're getting more and more excited now, face flushing and sweat starting to bead on your forehead. Beside you, the horror grows, whimpers are heard, eyes are covered. You watch intently, actually jumping up to cheer the lions on. First blood is spilled as one of the lions scores a hit, but it's shaken loose. More lions are closing in, one leaps - and the screen goes blank. You turn to see the remote being hidden under a couch cushion, tears streaming down, sobs barely being held in check. You realize suddenly that this incident has triggered entirely different reactions in the two of you. You decide you need to do some fence-mending. As you are dialing the phone, you turn and say "Don't worry - I'm calling your dad now - he'll know if your mother got away".

I figured I owed a little humor to the world...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Filling in some of the blanks

After writing so much recently it’s a little strange not having time to do it right now. I’m at a business meeting, and the only reason I have time to do anything now is that at 5am I woke up. There’s nothing really new happening right now, so I guess I’ll go back and fill in some of the blanks.

A lot of what I’ve written has been the negative side of things, and that’s a result of trying to explain what is happening in my life right now. There were good things also, however. I’d say the best of it all is my son. I’ve always loved kids and knew I wanted about 50 of them, but I had no idea how incredible an experience it was and how it changes your life and your outlook on life.

When my wife went into labor I stayed at the hospital with her – it was an incredible birthing center. I had a little cot to sleep on, but it didn’t get a lot of use. They decided to induce labor, but at about 2 in the morning the room suddenly flooded with nurses. I decided that it was time to get up and find out what was going on. It turns out that his heartrate would go down every time my wife had a contraction. They made a quick decision to stop inducing and to do a C-section. Everything was moving so quickly that my wife was scared. She kept asking if the baby was going to be ok – she was really scared and nobody was answering her. The nurses were so intent on what they were doing (which I have no problem with) that I’m not even sure they heard what she was saying. Not wanting to interrupt them doing their job, I waited until I saw somebody who was off to the side observing and went over and asked what was going on and what I could tell my wife. She told me what was happening, and that it wasn’t that serious now, but if they waited it could get serious. They didn’t want to take any chances, so it was decided to do the C-section. I explained it all to my wife, and that helped a lot.

The C-section went off without a hitch. They put him in the warmer and I got to sit and watch him as they finished the procedure on my wife. He had cried a little at first, but once they put him in the warmer he calmed down and was just looking around. Later on I got to go with him to be weighed and measured. He was not happy having his first diaper change. The nurse said he was “madder than a hornet”. We had a lot of family come in during the next few days and he took it all in so well.

I was really tired over the next couple of weeks, but I had it easy compared to my wife. When he’d wake up I’d go and change his diaper and bring him over for her. I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep, but I was getting more than her. I found that I could put him to sleep pretty well. He liked to be “walked” to sleep early on. He would get mad if I sat down while holding him, he wanted me to walk.

I remember the first time he smiled at me. It was one of those rare times that I was sitting with him and he was relatively content. I was holding him with my left arm and using the mouse on my computer with the right. I was rocking gently, looking down at him every so often and smiling. Suddenly I noticed him give me a big grin back. It was about the time the pediatrician said that he would start to interact more, so I’m pretty sure it was a real smile.

Now he never seems to stop smiling. Every time I pick him up for visitation he just lights up. He loves to play games, like covering my mouth with his matchbox car. If I take one of his cars I can chase him with it. I’ll tell him “it’s going to get your belly!” and bounce it towards him and poke him gently in the belly. I’m rewarded with gales of laughter! He also loves to point out trucks, tractors and busses as we drive around. If something really impresses him he’ll let out a “Oooohhhhhh” or a “woooowwwwww”. How can you not love a little boy?

Monday, February 07, 2005

The first appointment

Wow. I just came out of my first appointment with the counselor. Wow. A lot of this was him getting to know me and my situation, so I got to do a lot of (directed) talking about my life, my situation, my son, my family and so on. I liked him a lot. We talked some about the situation with the domestic abuse charges and I think he's pretty at ease with that. I don't think it's often that he hears about domestic abuse complaints where the police and prosecutor declined to press charges. We started to go into some of my wife's behavior, and he stopped me and said "let's stay with you for the moment". We went over my family history, my education level, my life experience, it seemed like just about everything. When we started talking about my wife's behavior and things that had happened, it helped that I had the names and phone numbers for our marriage counselors and at least one of my wife's counselors. I think the fact that what I say can be checked into helps a lot.

At the end I told him that I had been doubting myself about the whole situation. I asked him if I was being unreasonable or if I was seeing things that weren't there. He said he felt I'd been very reasonable and that the important thing was that I should not blame myself for what had happened. I told him that I was angry at her family for pretending nothing was wrong and he said that it's common for families to ignore or turn a blind eye towards schizophrenia.

His opinion of my wife was that he felt that if even half of what I told him was true that an evaluation should be performed. He also said that the fact that I was afraid of how she'd react should not deter me. He's right, if I think there's a problem, I can't fail to do something because it's not just she and I involved, there's our son to consider.

As I left I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I guess in part it's that I pretty much laid everything out and I felt like he evaluated it all and let me know that I shouldn't blame myself.

As I sat in my car I suddenly found tears in my eyes. A lot of it was relief, both at just telling it all and discovering that my experience with the possible mental illness of a spouse is not uncommon. I finally got the tears to stop and called my attorney to leave a message. I told her that I'd had my first appointment, that I'd liked him a lot, and that I'd given him permission to talk to her if she felt she needed to. I also told her that he told me that we should definitely have my wife evaluated.

I'll keep you updated...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Putting my thoughts in order...

So here I sit in a Starbucks, typing away. I’m trying to think of all the things that were just not right with my wife’s behavior so I can avoid having to come up with it off the top of my head tomorrow with the counselor.

So when did this all begin? I can pinpoint pretty precisely when things started going downhill for my wife, at least when we were together. I have no idea how long she’s been having problems beyond that. First, I think that I ought to mention my wife’s first marriage, because there are a couple of parallels. I know very little about the marriage itself, my wife has told me very little about it. The things she has told me were very negative. She no longer has any pictures of her first husband, having literally cut his face and body out of any picture she kept, but most of them she just destroyed. She told me not long after we first met that at the end of their time together (I don’t know if this is before or after any papers were filed) that he raped her. When she told me this I had no reason to not believe what she told me. However, one day the phone rang and my wife ended up talking to the caller for about a half-hour. When she got off the phone she said it had been her ex-husband and that she was afraid he would come to the house. She claimed to be afraid of him because of the rape and his behavior during the marriage. After what she did to me I have to wonder how much of what she told me was the truth. My attorney has asked me to try to find out her first husband’s last name so that we can look up their divorce decree and possibly contact him. She also knows another man she told me had been very attracted to her, and the feeling was not mutual. She showed me his picture and told me that if I ever saw him to call the police.

She has told me some things about her childhood that I have to wonder about now also. As she described it, her mother was always extremely abusive to her, and she blamed it on the schizophrenia. She told me stories of being locked in her room for days at a time, being forced to relieve herself on the floor, after which she was beaten. I heard about how her father would hold her down while her mother pinched her, slapped or beat her.

Not long before I met her she went and had a full-body CT scan done because she was scared that she might have some kind of cancer. For as long as we were together she would constantly talk about how her friends were all angry with her, that they just didn’t understand her. She’d describe minor talks and how innocuous comments would have hidden meanings.

After we were married she started suspecting me of having affairs. She was sure that I was having affairs with various women, including friends (both hers and mine), neighbors, co-workers etc. I would often hear about her suspicions regarding me and “your girlfriend”. I’ve already mentioned the sudden comments about how if I killed her “they” would catch me.

One other thing that really sticks out in my mind was her continual attempts to “catch” me doing something on the computer. I’d be on the computer and suddenly the door to the room would burst open and she’d rush over to see what I was doing. When I started getting spam delivered to my inbox she was sure it was because I’d signed up for it. It was actually comical when she started getting some explicit spam on her compuserve account. She asked me how you got it to stop and I told her there wasn’t a way to get them to stop sending it. I thought that this would make her realize that you don’t have to do anything to get spam, but it made no difference.

It’s funny, when I sit and write this all out I wonder how I could live with it all. I guess that if all of this happens over the course of a couple of years that you don’t see it in the same light. I wish I’d done more research into schizophrenia before all of this happened, maybe I could have done something or convinced somebody that she had a problem.

An interesting statistic is that the chances of developing schizophrenia goes from 1% (in the general population) to 13% if one of your parents has it. The more I read about the disease the more angry I get at myself for not doing something earlier. Maybe tomorrow I can get some good ideas from the new counselor.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Lisa's question and more...

To answer a question recently posted, am I afraid for my son with my wife's behavior? Yes, but there’s virtually nothing I can do immediately. My attorney has asked me the same thing, and told me that we can try to force a psychiatric evaluation. I’ve thought about it, and I’m definitely considering it. There’s some questions I’d have to have answers to first – like will the marriage counselors records be examined? That would be very important because it would expose a lot of her strange behavior, and at least her violence towards me. How mentally ill would she have to be for it to help me? Would she be able to fake being normal?

One thing I can say is that my wife seems completely devoted to our son, but will that change in the future as she declines? Will she have an acute episode sometime? There’s so much I don’t know or understand about the disease. Families have an extremely hard time getting help for a loved one, in part because there’s no lab test or other concrete proof of the disease. Schizophrenia: A Handbook for Families explains some of the difficulties.

I quote from www.schizophrenia.com:

Many people with schizophrenia are literally unable to see that there's anything abnormal about them (this is commonly called 'lack of insight' or 'poor insight'). It's almost a hallmark characteristic of the disorder, like memory loss is for Alzheimer's disease. There are several physical explanations for impaired awareness - the important thing to realize is that your relative is most likely not being purposely obstinate, difficult, or defensive when they deny their symptoms and refuse help.

I have to say that I’m a little angry at her family. Years ago they went through a lot to get my mother-in-law help, and they know my wife is having some of the same kinds of problems. One of them (my sister-in-law) actually approached me and asked me about her. I told her about some of the things going on, like her paranoia, her violence, her suicide threats and she seemed very concerned. Later on, when my wife found out we had talked she confronted my sister-in-law on the phone. My sister-in-law denied it all, at least according to my wife. Her husband, my wife’s brother, once asked my wife why she was so mean to me. I don’t know what the result of that conversation was, I only know it happened, and only that because my wife lost it on me and claimed that I was lying to her relatives and trying to make her look bad. So the family definitely knows something is wrong but they don’t want to confront it. Maybe they had their fill of this with my mother-in-law.

I’ve written so much that I don’t know if I mentioned that I almost left my wife once. It was at her grandparents thirtieth wedding anniversary. The whole event was held at a resort and during the hour long drive there my wife was utterly vicious. When we arrived we started to go inside and my wife disappeared. I was talking to my in-laws with my son in my arms and I looked at the entrance to see my wife lugging in our suitcase, which was very heavy. My in-laws turned and saw this and were not very happy. My wife injured her back while rollerblading a couple of years ago and her parents have been kind enough to drive her to and from doctors appointments where she was receiving injections into her back. What bothered them was that she was surely going to injure her back again doing this and they knew she was doing it for attention because she was upset. On the way to the room she became so vicious that I stopped walking and told her she needed to stop or I was going to go home. She turned to me and told me to just go. So I did. I turned around and walked out. I went straight to the car, buckled our son into his car seat and started to drive home. I left a message on her cell phone that he and I were going home. She called me several times as I drove home, telling me that I had to bring our son back because he “belonged there” at the celebration. I refused. In the last call she told me that if I didn’t bring him back she would call the police. I asked her what she would tell them and she said that she’d tell them that our son belonged at the anniversary party because she was the mother. I told her I was the father. The last call I received was from my sister-in-law on my wife’s phone. She told me that the rest of the family wanted me to come back because it would hurt the grandparents to not have our son and I there. I told her that I was sorry, but that I wouldn’t be treated that way by my wife. She told me she knew and that they would talk to her. I went back and my wife and I had a pretty good argument, but the tides turned when her family let her have it for the way she was acting. I don’t know exactly what was said because I had taken our son for a walk while they all talked, but it must have been pretty good. For (literally, I am not exaggerating) the first (and last) time my wife apologized to me for the way she was acting and we actually had a great weekend together. I thought that maybe her family might get more involved, but that was the last time that I know of they did anything.

After I was served and thrown out of the condo I thought her family might feel the need to do something to help her (and me). They knew I was not abusing her, in fact they knew she had been abusive and physically violent with me. They knew her behavior was abnormal, at best. I know they did get very angry at her and there were some big fights about what she had done. I only know that because my wife complained to a mutual friend about their lack of support and how they didn’t want to hear her stories about what had happened. She complained particularly about my sister-in-law, who snubbed her, telling her that she did not want to hear about it – just get a job and talk to me about it in six months. Did her family ever think about what all of this was doing to me? Probably, but they did nothing. They knew I had been thrown out with nothing, that she was trying to keep me from seeing my son. They knew what she had done was wrong, and that it could have sent me to prison. Did they ever consider the damage this might do to our son? Do they think that my wife will somehow experience a miracle cure and that everything will suddenly get better?

Just writing this is bringing some of the anger I’ve been ignoring for months to the surface. When I consider what could have happened versus what did happen I see how unbelievably lucky I am. I’m glad I’ve got the appointment on Monday to see the counselor. I’ve held things together amazingly well considering what has happened to me, but I need to address the whole situation. As I wrote about her family I thought about writing them all a letter as a group telling them how I felt about their inaction and how hiding their heads in the sand will do absolutely nothing. I want to tell them what I’ve gone through and how much I miss my son. I want to tell them that they have a responsibility, if not to me, then to our son to address my wife’s behavior and do something. Hiding their heads in the sand will do nothing. Maybe that’s something I’ll ask the counselor about on Monday.

Of course, I have to ask myself, if I am feeling so self-righteous about them addressing my wife’s behavior, then why am I hesitant to try to force a psychiatric evaluation of my wife?

Paranoia and what it can do

I own a lot of hiking gear, such as a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc, including a hunting knife, which has a blade about 4 inches long. It’s funny, when I bought it I had about a million ways I could use it while out hiking, like setting up snares if I was lost and needed to catch my own food, building survival shelters, making a spear for fighting off rogue bears and cannibals (I’ve never seen a rogue bear, but cannibals are quite common where I hiked in Washington State), and all the crazy things a man can think of when justifying such a purchase to himself. Well, years later I was cleaning the garage and I found it in a box. I decided it needed a better place than that or it would get lost or maybe get wet and rust. It wasn’t cheap, so I decided that I’d bring it upstairs and put it in my armoire along with the other fifty-thousand or so other things I keep in there. Well, several weeks later I’m changing clothes and my wife walks by. She looks in the armoire and asks me “what is that”? I look to where she’s pointing, which is a pile of odds and ends, so I have no idea what she’s asking about. She reaches in and pulls out the sheathed knife with the tips of her fingers like it might bite her. I figure what she’s really asking me is “why do you have that?”, and tell her the story of how I got it years before. She looks interested, so I told her to be careful if she wanted to look at it because it is extremely sharp. I finished changing and went on my merry way without another thought.

Well, months later, in one of our sessions with the third (and last) of our marriage counselors it came up again. My wife had found out that a member of her family and I had talked about her strange behavior. She didn’t know who it was when it first came up, but called and confronted the most likely candidates and figured it out. The family member (actually a member by marriage, not blood), denied that she had approached me about it, but that I had initiated the conversation (I don’t agree with that, but it doesn’t matter). To my wife that meant that I had made up the entire conversation. So in our session she was claiming that I was delusional in thinking that there was anything wrong with her behavior. She said that I had been trying to convince people to help me get her committed like her mother had been years before. She went on that I had forced her to punch me in the stomach. Our counselor was trying to calm her down, but she was on a roll. Then she went into my plan to kill her. This was completely out of the blue and unexpected, and both the counselor and I just sat there as she outlined her proof. She described the “incident” with the hunting knife and described how threatened she felt by its presence. She was sure I had bought it just before she discovered it and that I planned to kill her with it. She took the fact that I had told her that it was very sharp as a threat to her life. She went on to say that I kept it in my armoire so she saw it every day and that I meant that as a continual threat to her.

For a few seconds after she finished there was complete silence in the room. I looked over at the counselor and saw a mirror of my face in hers, we were both confused. We started to discuss this, though it was more like the counselor asking my wife about what she felt made owning the knife a threat. At one point I mentioned that the knife was in the armoire and that the armoire doors were always closed. Also, the doors were only open when I was changing or getting something out of it. I didn’t understand how she could see it every day unless she went into the armoire. At the end I offered to give the knife to my father so it would not be in the house anymore. I would have done it too, if it didn’t disappear on its own. I have no idea what she did with it.

One thing I found strange about the whole thing with the hunting knife is that there are so many knives in the house that you would think she would be more threatened by – even the steak knives we owned have longer blades. We have a kitchen full of knives that are bigger and just as sharp, but she had no problems with any of them. And she never felt threatened by the ax in the garage, either.

Anyway, this was one of our last sessions. We had at least one more after that (my memory is a little fuzzy as to which session was which after this much time) in which we talked about her slapping me several times because I was loading the dishwasher incorrectly. She gave her standard “he forced me to hit him” answer, but also said she was just “fooling around”. Not too long after that she refused to ever go back.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Counseling

Not too long ago I had a meeting with my attorney, and after I told her I was feeling down about the whole situation, she suggested that I should see a counselor. I am in no way opposed to that, so I decided that I would. She went a little further, however, and said she had somebody in mind. She even called and asked him to take me on as a client, which was nice because I found out later he's pretty selective as to who he'll take on as a new patient. I spoke to him on the phone and we went through my situation a little bit. He said that he specializes in helping men learn how they get themselves into the situations they are in and how to avoid it in the future. It sounds great to me. We made an appointment and he told me he was going to pencil me in tentatively until I checked with my insurance to see if he was covered. It turns out he's not in my network, but I'm willing to pay for the difference. I get the feeling that this was some kind of test to see if I was committed in following through and getting something out of the sessions with him.

I am really looking forward to meeting with him. I've thought a lot about how I got into this situation and what I could have done differently. I think the biggest mistake I made is not reporting my wife's physical abuse. I did think about it. I actually went so far as to call a couple of domestic abuse hotlines to get advice. Let me tell you, I got absolutely no help that way. One woman told me to seek counseling to find out why I was angering my wife so much, another told me that since I wasn't actually injured that it wasn't that serious. They pretty much made it clear that they had no idea what to do when a man is being abused by a woman. Would their advice have been different for a woman who called? Probably. What do you think would be there response if a woman told them that in three different incidents her husband had punched her in the stomach twice, and slapped her several times?

I should have just called the police, but I thought I'd just be ridiculed because I'm a man and shouldn't be complaining about incidents that resulted in no real injury to me. At least then there'd be some kind of record other than the marriage counseling.

I also ignored what to me now was a huge warning sign. A couple of weeks before she went to the police, she again told me she wanted a divorce and that I needed to move out. I told her I was not going to move out. At that point I didn't take her divorce threats very seriously because I heard them on an almost daily basis for three years. After I told her that I wasn't going to move out, she said "There are ways to make that happen". At the time the remark confused me, but it's pretty clear what she meant now.

So hopefully this counselor will live up to his billing and really teach me something. There are a couple of things I'd like to change about myself, including how I pick the women I get involved with. In that regard I've made a couple of good choices and a couple of really bad ones.

I've been to two of the Family Violence Education Program meetings now, and I have to say that if you go in with the attitude that you want to get something out of it, regardless of how you ended up there or whether or not it's fair you'll do a lot better. I've already learned some interesting things, and it looks like from the schedule there's a lot more to come. One of the rules is that there shouldn't be discussion of anybody's particular cases, but there are some there who can't help themselves. I really think there's a couple of people who are going to be thrown out of the class because they're so argumentative. They keep coming up with extreme situations to try and show why the strategies and advice being presented won't work in every situation. I swear one guy was so bad I would not have been surprised if he started arguing that the instructor was wrong because in a situation where his wife was mentally controlling army ants and telling them to attack he would be justified...blah blah blah. One other really entertaining character started comparing his situation with the fight for civil rights and the assassination of Martin Luther King jr. He then went on to say that every social movement resulted in spilled blood. That's probably not a good metaphor to use in this type of class. One of the funniest things I heard was from one guy who was trying to argue against another's statement that it was a "woman's world". He said that the US was nowhere near as bad as England. He went on to say that this was because they had a Queen and a female Prime Minister. "Why don't they ever have a King?" he asked to prove his point. I thought about telling him that the United Kingdom has been known to have a King from time to time in the past, and would likely have one again, and that Margaret Thatcher was no longer the Prime Minister, but decided that I should pick my battles.

A lot of the men there feel that the laws are wrong. I don't agree, which may surprise some of you given what I've gone through. I think that where there is abuse there needs to be a way to get serious, immediate help. I've too often read about people who are seriously injured, even killed by abuse. My situation doesn't stem from the law, it stems from my wife's decision to manipulate and abuse the law. I can't recommend any changes because I honestly can't think of any way to prevent what happened to me without removing important, and in my opinion, necessary, protections against real abuse.

I think that the punishment for making a false report of domestic abuse should be much more severe, but in reality I don't think that would accomplish anything. How in the world do you prove that domestic abuse didn't happen? And how many police and prosecutors would want to take on a case going after a person who claims to be a domestic abuse victim?

So what's the solution? I have no idea. All I can do right now is thank my lucky stars that things went the way they did for me, it could have been much, much worse.

Wish me luck!


King Erasmus Explained

I had a pretty funny comment posted recently which referred to me as your majesty, and I thought I'd better explain the name of my blog before people decide I actually think I'm royalty or some other nonsense. In the first two days or so of life, this blog was actually titled "Saint Erasmus" Saint Erasmus is also known as Saint Elmo. St. Elmo's fire appears on mastheads during storms, and it was believed that this indicated that the ship had been placed under his protection. Since I was in the Navy, I've always been interested in St. Erasmus, it has nothing to do with him also being the patron saint of gastrointestinal and liver diseases.
I named the blog Saint Erasmus because I sometimes feel like I lead a charmed life. Yes, even with all that's happened to me recently. I've been extremely lucky, and it could have been a lot worse. So, even though I'm not catholic, I decided that Saint Erasmus was appropriate, because I felt like something was protecting me in the storm.
However, I've seen several religious blogs, and I didn't want people thinking this was one of them, so I decided to change the name. After a long and serious consideration that lasted about 4 seconds, I changed it to King Erasmus. Do I think I'm royalty? Hardly. To more closely fit me, the title should be something like Jester Erasmus, or even better Village Idiot Erasmus.

Make sense?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Ok, I figured it out...

Earlier today I was reading The Good Husbands new blog Return to Happiness. I liked it so much I decided to email him and tell him. I thought it was very interesting to read about another man's experiences in divorce and life in general. I just found out that he mentioned my blog in his latest entry - I guess that explains why I suddenly had the spike in readership. By the way, I had no idea I was a good writer. Me thinks that y'all is just bein' nice.

A huge thank you to The Good Husband. I don't know why, but it's different knowing that people actually read what I write.

What in the world?

I have no idea what happened, but it's been a busy day for my little blog. I got two anonymous comments that I'll have to figure out how to respond to, which really surprised me. I'd always had a few hits daily, but when I checked the meter just a few minutes ago it said that I'd had 43 today and 14 in the last hour alone. To the two anonymous posters from today (and the two previous from weeks ago), thank you.

Today was my visitation day with my son. It was just what I needed! I've always loved children, but I had no idea what being a parent could do to you - it is by far the best feeling in the world. When I picked him up he had a toy ambulance (he loves matchbox cars) that he just had to show me. I, of course, had a new matchbox for him, and he clapped his hands he was so excited. We drove to Friendly's and had some dinner. While we were waiting for it to come we played on the table with his cars. He was laughing and having such a good time that people were coming over from other parts of the restaurant to see what was going on. He took it all in so well - he kept showing everybody his cars and smiling. I'd hide a car up my sleeve and ask him where it went. He's learned that game, and it's one of his favorite. He'll look up my sleeve (I'm still wearing my suit and tie - otherwise known as the clown suit - from work) and see it and reach in and get it. He chowed at dinner - and insisted at one point on feeding himself. As we were getting ready to leave a pretty woman sat down at the table behind us and he was suddenly mesmerized. He said hi to her and she turned around and said hi back. He suddenly turned bright red and hid his face in my shoulder. I was amazed - he's never been this bashful. It only took a minute or so for him to go from bashful to full-out flirt. Full-out flirt for him is a huge smile, saying hi multiple times, showing off his cars and occasionally pointing at me and saying "daddy" to make sure she knew who I was.

As we were leaving he insulted another child I'm sad to say. Whenever he sees a baby in a carriage, he says "baby" and points. That has expanded now into kids up to around 8 years old. This poor little boy was horrified that he had been called a baby. His parents and I were having a hard time holding down our laughter because to their son this was serious business indeed. I decided it would be a good idea to retreat before he rallied his forces and attacked.

We next stopped for ice cream, because in my family it is a genetic weakness. I'm certain that the Human Genome Project will discover the Ice Cream gene. We ate some, but he had eaten so much at dinner that he wasn't interested in eating too much of it. He did get interested in the video games that were there, so we spent about a half hour at them. He thought that Ms. Pac-man was especially entertaining. We would count the ghosts as they came out and he would yell out "go!" as the demo started. "Uh-oh" would come every time Ms. Pac-man was caught.

I think the best part for me tonight was that he's decided he likes to hug me. It's the best feeling in the whole world.

When I brought him back he was very happy to see his mommy. She was not nearly as happy to see me. I thought it was because she had read the email I sent her, but after talking to her it was apparent that she hadn't read it yet. She was angry because of the amount of money I gave her. Her attorney is on vacation, so my attorney has been unable to talk to him for a week or so. She told me how much to bring this time, since we are going to a more reasonable amount that her attorney agreed to prior to going on vacation. Once I realized how much she wanted in child support and daycare (I will pay half) I thought the problem would be solved because it's pretty close to what my attorney told me to expect. However, my wife went on to say that the amount didn't include what she'd need to pay off her debt. It turns out that she is still thinking that she is going to keep all the assets (like the condo and all the equity in it) and that I'm going to take on a significant amount (if not all) of the debt. Instead of arguing I told her she should talk to her attorney. I didn't want to get into a discussion about it with her with no witnesses present.

One of the anonymous comments implored me (rightly) to be careful in what I write to my wife in email. I completely agree. It took me about an hour to write the email because I was being so careful to make sure it wasn't threatening in any way. I have to be careful not just because she's demonstrated a willingness to lie, but because she's extremely paranoid. Which rolls right into anonymous comment number two. Is my wife schizophrenic? I am not qualified to diagnose, but she's showing some of the symptoms. If she were evaluated today I think the worst they could say is that she's borderline. As I understand it, schizophrenia isn't just something you become overnight. A decline into schizophrenia is sometimes "triggered" by an extremely stressful life-event. The decline can take quite some time. There are several different types of schizophrenia. My mother-in-law was institutionalized for paranoia, and my wife's paranoia is my biggest cause for concern. For a while she was sure that her boss from her last job was going to come and kill her, and she still is very fearful of him to this day. Now I will admit he was a jerk, but I don't think he was planning to come kill her. I was accused of having affairs at least daily, with neighbors, coworkers, her relatives, even at one point a man (don't ask me why, I have no idea). When the show CSI started she started saying things like "you know if you kill me they'll figure it out". After watching Unsolved Mysteries one day I commented that I thought it was funny that the narrator would always say that the person "made a gruesome discovery". I also thought that one CSI show was particularly stupid because the criminals dressed a body up in a wetsuit and threw it in a tree in a forest fire so it looked like an urban legend come true. I had no idea that these comments would lead to my wife believing (and telling people) that I had a knowledge of ways to hide a body that could only come from experience. I could go on an on about the strange things she did and the increasing level of suspicion she held me in, but I'm sure you get the general idea. Her behavior is strange, even bizarre, but I don't think she's declined into full-fledged schizophrenia yet.

I suppose I should post this, as I've been sitting here typing for about an hour now. God knows I need my beauty sleep.

Better today

Well, a good night's sleep helps a lot. Plus a conversation with my lawyer. One thing I found out was that I misunderstood the reason for my wife's motion. That was a motion that her first attorney wrote up but never filed so the current lawyer is filing it. My attorney says it's basically a non-issue because I've been paying more than what would be expected of me for about 6 months. Also, my wife has not yet been presented with what we plan to offer (which I might change my mind about). I sent her a pretty pointed email last night because I had about had it with her pretending to be nice and that there were no problems between us. I wasn't nasty, but I made it clear that I was tired of the lies she keeps making up and that she shouldn't expect me to be extra nice to her anymore. She's not going to like getting that, but at some point she needs to realize that trying to destroy somebody's life is going to lead to consequences.

Anyway, much better today.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pain and Hurt

Tonight I had to deal with what, to me, has been one of the hardest parts of this entire ordeal. Somebody very close to me asked me if I was telling the truth when I said that I had not abused my wife. I was pretty hurt, but I guess I understand. I guess it's something I'd better get used to - I think just because of the nature of the accusation people will always wonder.

It's very painful. In the last few months I've been falsely accused, thrown out of my house with no more than (literally) 5 minutes to gather what I could, found that my wife had cleaned out all the bank accounts, listened as people told me my wife was telling them I was a danger to our son. I get to see him twice a week, but that's hardly enough. I miss him terribly.

It's only sometimes that I realize how much this experience has affected me. In the grand scheme of things I know that many people have gone through much worse, but that doesn't help much. I don't understand how somebody can do something like this - I just don't have the streak of cruelty necessary.

I know my wife's mental illness has a lot to do with what she did, but I can't bring myself to forgive her. I can be civil, but I'll never trust her again. She doesn't understand. She talks to me like nothing happened on the phone, she calls and emails me asking for help with her computer or other things. She tells people she feels bad for what she did to me, but continually does things and makes up more stories to make things harder for me.

I'm just rambling now. I need to get into bed and get some sleep.