Story of my Life: Part the Seventh

Posted: May 1, 2008 in Calvin, Drama, Headspace, Journal, Memory Lane

(Read previous installments: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six.)

The evening of my ex’s appointment, I received an irate phone call from the counselor. He was completely pissed that I used my ex’s appointment to have him served. But I truly, honestly thought that would be the best thing. I wanted my ex to have the support he needed to be talked down off the ledge when he flipped out. And flip out he did. While I was on the phone with the counselor, I heard my ex shrieking in the background. I heard from the process server later that the counselor had to cancel the rest of his appointments for the evening.

Suffice to say, I never went back to that counselor again. My ex continued for a few more sessions, and then he too stopped. I was sorry to learn that, because if ANYBODY needed psychological help, it was my ex.

Several evenings after the divorce papers were served, I was at home enjoying some peace and quiet, reading a book. I heard a polite knock on the door. Since the porch light had burned out, I could see nothing but blackness through the peephole. I cracked the door open and peeked out.

The door was forcibly thrust inward, nearly knocking me to the floor. My ex came bursting in, furious and violent. He grabbed me when I tried to run away. I wrenched myself away from him and raced up the stairs. I got to the bedroom before him and managed to shut the door and lock myself in. I raced to the phone and dialed 9-1-1. On the other side of the door, my ex was screaming that he had a knife, and he would kill me and then kill himself. I stammered the situation out to the 9-1-1 operator, simultaneously yelling to my ex that I had called the police. The yelling and pounding continued for a few more minutes, until sirens could be heard approaching.

All of a sudden, there was silence. Then I heard a voice I didn’t recognize calling from downstairs, “Ma’am?” I unlocked the bedroom door and peeked out – my ex was gone. I looked over the railing down to the front door, and saw two officers with guns drawn, cautiously entering the house. I called down that I thought my ex was gone, but they made me stay locked in the bedroom until they had checked the entire house, upstairs and down, all the closets, the garage, and the front and back yards.

I explained the situation to them and told them where my ex was staying. One officer left to track him down. The other officer asked if I had a light bulb for the front porch fixture. I said that I didn’t. So he left for a few minutes and came back with a light bulb he had purchased from a store down the street, which he then installed himself. I was so grateful to the police for their response that night that I was bawling my eyes out by the time the poor officer left. My ex’s viciousness didn’t break me down, but this act of kindness did.

The other officer found my ex where I said he would be, and my ex was promptly arrested for violating the TRO, breaking and entering (since the TRO specified that I had possession of the house), and assault (because he had threatened to kill me). He spent a couple of days in jail for his pains.

Not long after my ex was let out of jail, I was eager to remove him even further from my life. His belongings surrounded me at my house and I wanted it all out. Since I knew the provisions of the restraining order allowed for one opportunity for my ex to pick up his belongings, Calvin and I met my ex and his sister and her husband at my house so that he could do so. An argument ensued, my ex got out of hand, broke some things and threw a mug at me, and I ended up having to call the police again. My ex was arrested again, but this time I was also served with an order to appear at court (just paperwork, no handcuffs and sirens for me!). I didn’t realize an officer had to be present when my ex got his belongings, and as such I had violated my own TRO. I thought having the other people present would be enough. Hell, I was twenty-two and didn’t know how ANY of this stuff worked. But, my ex had to spend another couple of nights in jail, while all I had to do was go to court and be told by the judge, “What the heck are you even doing here? Case dismissed.”

Things carried on. I think the few times he spent some time in jail finally persuaded my ex to keep his distance, somewhat. Also, I updated the TRO to include that not only could my ex not physically contact me, he could not call me or write to me or contact me in any other way. I changed my telephone number. My ex got a lawyer and responded to my filing by filing divorce papers of his own – demanding not only all physical assets, but spousal support as well. So I had to get a lawyer as well, to combat his ridiculousness.

My ex’s sister also had (still has) a job at AcronymCo (that I got for her several years before, go me), and her position was such that she had access to my personnel file. She obtained my new, changed phone number, and gave it to my ex. And their mother. Who called me INCESSANTLY, especially during the first few weeks of our separation, but even well beyond. Her questions were always the same – why was I leaving? Why wouldn’t I give it another chance? Why couldn’t I overlook my ex’s flaws and give him another chance? Then my father-in-law called (which was a big deal, since he didn’t usually participate in the hub of communication in the family), and told me that The Family and The Congregation and The Lord (in that order, I suppose) would FORGIVE me for my sins, if I would just reconcile and admit I was wrong.

Can you BELIEVE that shit?

Nothing I said to them, nothing I told them about their son’s behavior, registered with them. They absolutely refused to believe anything I had to say, and completely sided with my ex and whatever story he was telling them. Even my ex’s sister and her husband, who had witnessed some of his nonsense, sided with him. Apparently I had “changed”. Obviously I was “ill” to be behaving the way I was. They urged me to seek medical and psychological help so that I could “find my way back”.

Holy shit on a cracker. Those fucked up people.

I talked to Grandma on a regular basis, too. Now SHE supported me, wholeheartedly. I told her a supremely edited version of what had been happening (I was three thousand miles away and on my own, and I didn’t want her to worry, the sweet old lady), and the kind of person my ex turned out to be. When I told her I was divorcing him she said, “Good! You do what you need to do. Do you need anything?” And the constant refrain that had begun almost as soon as I left back in ’93… “When are you coming home?” (Actually, it was September of 1998 before I could actually get back to Maine for a visit… by that time Calvin and I were together, and OH MY LORD did Grandma LOVE HIM.)

So, life progressed, as it has a way of doing. The phone calls and psychotic messages slowed down a bit, but my ex would still randomly appear – parked across the street when I was at a store, circling the AcronymCo parking lot in his car, driving by the house at all hours. So I got a gun (a Lady Smith and Wesson 9mm, which I simultaneously love and am kind of afraid of), and I learned how to use it. Thank God I never had to, but having a weapon goes a long way toward making a girl living all alone with a crazy ex on the loose feel a lot safer.

I heard from my lawyer that my ex’s lawyer had dropped his case. That coincided with the time that my ex kind of fell off the face of the Earth. Which was fine by me – what did I care if my ex was letting court summons pass him by, and letting paperwork revisions go ignored? He was AWAY FROM ME and that was all that mattered.

I spent a GLORIOUS weekend finally removing all of the junk computer equipment from my home. By this time the stacks and piles had migrated to “his” computer room, all the closets, and the entire garage. Calvin and his kids (Marie and Michael, aged eight and thirteen respectively at the time) came over and helped me transfer armful after armful of CRAP from the house to a pile in the side yard. I hired “the guy” to come and haul it all away. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS THAT FELT SO GOOD. You have no idea. Well, maybe you can guess.

I went shopping for new clothes (omg!). I bought a bicycle (one of those random weird items my ex forbid me to purchase). I got a puppy (GYPSY! Should have gotten a Rottweiler but I always wanted a Beagle). I nested. I went to the gym. I got my hair styled. I took all of my books out of storage and put them on the bookshelves that used to be entirely occupied by my ex’s programming texts. I cooked every single dish that I loved and pestered my Grandmother for all of her recipes. I went out with friends. I traded in the piece of junk my ex left for me to drive (he took the “good” car) for a brand-new Camaro – the first new car I’d ever owned. I delighted in just driving around listening to music. Oh, man, did I buy a TON of CD’s.

I got a tattoo. Heh. And a navel piercing. Heh again. I started rocking my true personality. My true self. Man, that was one of the best times of my life. It. Was. AWESOME. It still brings a smile to my face.

Every now and then I would get a call from my ex. He’d say he was in Florida. Then he’d say he was in California. Then he’d be back in Maine with his parents. Or else he wouldn’t tell me at all where he was. Since I was trying to get our divorce finalized, I’d take these calls. A couple of times he behaved as if he was planning on killing himself as soon as he hung up the phone. I fell for it… ONCE. The first time he called back with a “FOOLED YOU! YOU STILL CARE!” I set that misguided belief straight right away. I’m ashamed to say that I was angry at being played, and said back to him, “You know what? BLOW YOURSELF AWAY. I couldn’t care less.”

For months, my lawyer was sending paperwork everywhere we thought we could intercept my ex. His sister’s house, his friend’s house, his parent’s house. My ex didn’t respond to anything. I don’t think my ex realized that there was a one-year statute of limitations for him to respond to a petition of divorce. The final court date was approaching, and my lawyer and I made a last-ditch effort. I had to announce my intent to divorce in the paper. More documents were sent to all the addresses we had available – even the paternal aunt he stayed with in Maryland.

There was absolute silence, for once, from my ex.

On February 12, 1998, I met my lawyer in the judge’s chambers at the Maricopa County court. She reviewed the petition with us. She asked where my ex was. We explained all that we went through trying to get him to participate in his own divorce. She reviewed the statutes. Then she signed the document, stamped it, and said, “You’re divorced in absentia.”

Blink.

I figured there’d be an extension. I figured there would be more rounds of documents and trying to track my ex down. It was obvious that he was trying to prevent the divorce by avoiding it altogether. It didn’t work.

After ALL THE DRAMA I’d gone through for YEARS, from the beginning of our relationship until that point, the finalization of our divorce was kind of anticlimactic. I drove back to work from the court house in a daze. Nothing had changed from how my life was when I woke up that morning, but at the same time EVERYTHING had changed.

Irony of ironies, after several months of not hearing anything from my ex, he called me at work the very afternoon that we were officially divorced. He wanted to “try again”. He missed me. He thought that after so much time apart maybe I was missing him too. I said, “Not only would my answer be “no”, but it’s too late. We were officially divorced this morning.” He freaked out, and then hung up on me.

Fini.

Now, after ALL this stuff, my ex didn’t just drop out of my life forever. I know that he wandered as a homeless person in California for a number of months, before coming back to Arizona and moving in permanently with his sister. His parents moved to Arizona from Maine, and also moved in with my ex’s sister. The whole family is currently living a couple of towns away from me. For years I got what I call my “Annual Asshole Update”, in which my ex would call me and inform me of how much BETTER his life is without me, and how much he despises and pities me. There were also several e-mail exchanges, and his merry little bonfire back in ’04. The last I heard from him was February of 2006 – a fun little e-mail which he wrote while he was “completely BLITZED” (words and capitalization his), in which he was STILL making “recommendations” on how I should live my life. I read it over again every now and then when I need a good chuckle.

Things have settled out. I am no longer looking over my shoulder. My ex went from the intimidating figure he used to be, to a pathetic bully that has no hold on my anymore. Dude, I could so totally take him. Still, I sometimes worry that there are long-lasting effects of my experiences (with him, with his family, with the Witnesses) that are going to pop up and smack me upside the head in the future. Some buried craziness or phobia or reaction that will come rushing up and burst out of me like that alien creature in the movie. Did I need more therapy? Was my self-imposed therapy (writing in my old hand written journals and here, talking about it and dissecting it with Calvin) enough to keep me from going crazy?

Eh. I think I’m fine. We are the sum of our experiences, and my experiences have served to make me a stronger, more together person. So even though it SUCKED to go through everything I did with my ex, I’m actually grateful for the things I’ve learned. I like the person I am today, and that person wouldn’t exist without the years that I lived that whole experience.

Still, if you can avoid brainwashing religions, marrying a crazy man, and marrying into a crazy family, I would highly recommend it.

THE END… NOT! There are so many more stories. I’m on a roll now, people! But this particular story starring my ex has now drawn to a close! Finally! Thanks for hanging in there.

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Comments
  1. Angie says:

    All I have to say is, “Wow!” And maybe, “Holy Shit!” Followed up, of course, with a “What Next?!?”

    Is this to be followed by the _Story of Calvin_?

  2. Taoist Biker says:

    The happy ending was worth the wait!

    Well, for me at least, and hopefully for you as well. Although I think I’d endorse your “If you can avoid it, don’t do it.”

    I’d say you’ve earned one of these shirts that I always wanted to buy my good buddy Michael when he finally shed himself of his psycho fiancee…

  3. Dianne says:

    What a story!! You kept me coming back for more! Almost like Portland keeps me coming back for Amato’s italian sandwiches.

  4. Jeanette says:

    Great story. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a inspiration for someone reading who is in a similar situation. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Laura says:

    Angie – 😀 Maybe…

    TB – Link didn’t work for the shirt… but yes, I would hope that this saga could serve to provide warning signs for All That Is Crazy, so people can avoid getting themselves into the mess I did.

    Dianne – OH MAN, wish I had an Italian right now. SIGH.

  6. Laura says:

    Jeanette – I hope so! Thanks.

  7. cariskicker says:

    Blogposts like this 6 part series are exactly why I love reading blogs.
    You are great writer Laura!

  8. Jen says:

    (Oh, and remind me to share with you a funny story about the couple of times that Witnesses have come to the door when Calvin and I were home.)

    consider this your first reminder. :p

  9. Elissa says:

    You still work at the same company as your sister in law?!?!? How often do you see her? What are your interactions like?

    You are a great story teller – sounds like you deserve and earned your happiness!

  10. Helene says:

    Congratulations on your strength and ability to make it through.

  11. Jayne says:

    Reading your story has been absolutely fascinating. You went through the worst of this around the ages my girls are now (19 & 23) so it makes it all the more poignant to me. I just want to hug you – but can’t! I’m so happy that having read your journal now for so many years, I *know* you’re OK and that this story truly has a happy ending. In the absence of a physical hug please know that I’m sending you my love …I’m so proud of the way you handled all this!
    Tantalisingly, you say ‘there are so many more stories’. Well I, for one, would love to hear them.
    And one last thought, I’m with Elissa: You still work at the same company as your sister in law?!?!? How does that work out?!

  12. Megan says:

    ‘What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.’ Around here we usually apply that trite wisdom to homework struggles and face first trips down the slide. Laura, how very strong you are!
    I had been thinking that the running out of the house bit would be the climax, but I can’t believe how much went on after that! I remember the whole tack box episode and the strong impression I had that something was not right with that individual. (Plus the messy garage and why take all the time with the photos and not sweep or even pick up the papers/wires all over the floor.) Now he’s all fleshed out in my mind and the tack box has become MINOR.
    It seems mighty big of you not to report your X-sil to HR.
    I second Jayne on the request for more stories.

  13. Jean says:

    The Crazy is a powerful thing, isn’t it??? And it’s alive and well in many corners of the world. I have three siblings with varying degrees of The C. It used to be a constant heartache for me, but now it’s just like a bruise that I’ve learned to live with – it doesn’t hurt unless I poke at it.

    Congratulations on surviving the journey to where you are. It tells me lots about you.

  14. Taoist Biker says:

    Crapola. The T-shirt says, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to live with a PSYCHO for the rest of your life.” 😀

  15. Mary says:

    As I’ve been reading, I am very happy to know that it all has a happy ending. Your ex was a real piece of work. Thanks for writing this, I did a lot of thinking while reading it, and came to appreciate the Sometimes Adorable Husband a bit more. And your writing? Is awesome.

  16. Laura says:

    Cariskicker – Thank you very much!

    Jen – Didn’t I tell you that story?

    Elissa – Thanks! Hope I answered your question.

    Helene – Thanks, you’re very kind.

    Jayne – I often look at Marie and think, “Gee, when I was her age, I got married!” Or, “Gee, when I was her age I was moving across the country…” It’s weird to put it in perspective like that.

    Megan – There has been no shortage of drama in my life, that’s for sure. Don’t worry, more stories to come!

    Jean – If my sister had a blog, it’d get a million hits a day! The Crazy is alive and well in her life.

    TB – Okay, gotta get me one of them!

    Mary – Thank you so much!

  17. Dawn says:

    I remember that WONDERFUL feeling of being able to respond “it’s too late, dude” to the last-minute pleas of the Ex.

    Didn’t you once tell me that the pile of computer crap in the side yard got RAINED ON? I seem to remember that, which only adds to the AWESOMENESS of the part of the story where you put your life back together.

    Does your ex still keep a blog?

  18. […] – “So, would you like her to have written a whole saga like I did?” Calvin – “Well, yeah. I think it would have been… I don’t […]

  19. […] the whole sordid tale, here’s part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, and epilogue. Keep in mind I was still using nom-de-nets back […]

  20. Oregon Sunshine says:

    Yep… roll ALL the exs into the final dramas there, complete with recurring contact!

    I am so glad that you (and I) came out alive on the other end!

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