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      Surviving and thriving, almost


In August of 2001 I made a decision. If my then husband did not go in for therapy to save our marriage of almost 20 years, it would be over in one year. I begged, pleaded, cajoled...... nothing. He was perfect, I was wrong.

I gave him 3 months. After 3 months I started to make changes. I began to lose weight, and work out. I made contacts with women in my situation, women who had lived with abuse in all manner for years, stay at home moms who's life was her family. I was an in demand studio vocalist and musical theatre performer before marriage. He didn't like this, not my friends, co-workers, my life. So I quit. Yep! Just like that, I gave it all up.

We married on June 18, 1982. We had lived together for 2 years. His mother wanted us to marry in the Catholic Church. I'm Jewish. She was very angry that we chose to marry by judge in a civil ceremony. No large wedding, just a very small reception. I knew the second I said, "I do"!
I was making a huge mistake, but being stubborn, and from a family where divorce didn't exist, I left my feelings behind. This was the beginning of putting my feelings behind closed doors. Things went along for 5 years, no real trauma, just small things, my cooking was not to his liking, he's Asian, I'm obviously Caucasian. I cooked for him. Including rice, 24/7! God, I hate rice! In 1986 I became pregnant with my daughter. She was born on February 16, 1987 by C-section. I give him this, he stayed with me in the hospital the whole time and stayed for a week at home. I had had no contact with babies, my mom and dad were gone, none of our friends at this point had had children. I was lost. He, being from a huge family, had had much experience with babies. He was a huge help for this week. Then he went back to work and I was left with this baby. I had decided to breast feed. This, as I'm sure you all know, is not an easy task! I nursed this baby almost 24 hours a day! When he cried, I hooked her up. I didn't leave the house for 7 weeks. The day I decided to take her to lunch for the first time with daddy, I locked her in the car! God, I panicked! I called the fire dept. They couldn't get her out, so I had to call him to bring the extra keys. Well, this is where the abuse began. I became the "evil mommy who locks her baby in the car". If you remember, my daughter was born in February, Mother's Day is in May. Ask me what I received for my very first Mother's Day........ go ahead, ask! NOTHING! Not even a card. At the end of the day, I asked him if he was aware of the day. He said yes. I said nothing. About 2 months later I received a huge inheritance. We used part of this money to fix up our house. My grandfather purchased a house for us when we married, (I'm from a wealthy background, his family is dirt poor). As soon as the house was done, we decided to move to a larger home. In 1987 we went from a 1400 sq. ft. home to a 3300 sq. ft. home. We used more of my inheritance. Everything went along fairly well for a couple of years, then I became pregnant with my son. He was born June 18, 1990. My husband paid no attention to him. He worked too many hours, he said, to have time for the new baby. At this time, his salary was in the 6 figure range. We had it all, beautiful home, beautiful children, money in the bank, Platinum American Express Card........ life appeared perfect! Appearances deceive.

Under all the trappings were a couple of very dysfunctional human beings. I was his stress reliever. No, not in a loving way. Mind you, I had gained a good 80 lbs. by this time. I rarely got dressed up and showers were catch as catch can. With a 3 year old and a newborn, time was not mine. He became more distant from me. And very stressed in his job. He began to isolate. I became more and more depressed. I'm from a long line of depressed women. My grandmother commited suicide at 64, my mom was diagnosed as bi-polar, but refused treatment. She also died at 64. Time marched on. I used some of my money to open a Children's Clothing store in the town we lived in in 1991. My timing couldn't have been worse. The recession hit. No one was buying beautiful children's clothing. I folded one year later. Oh boy, another failure! He didn't let me forget.

In 1993 he lost his job. After this, it all went to Hell in a hand basket. We lost our home and had to move to a smaller home. I hated this house from the second we bought it. It looked like a rectangular box. No personality, very dark, but he liked it. He finally found a job in 1995. For three years we had no medical insurance, no income. He got a real estate license and sold exactly 3 homes in 3 years! We went through all of our savings, my inheritance, credit cards....... everything! I worked in a clothing store, bringing in minimum wage. He would not allow me to try to get back into the thing I do best....... studio musician. So, I worked, and took care of the kids and the animals. I had 3 dogs, 2 cats, large birds and three horses in the backyard! Then, he found work. I quit the clothing store. Life went on. We had to file bankruptcy in 1996. No big deal. Just the way it was. The only big deal was that it was my fault. I was the one who spent all of our money. I bought ridiculous things! Geez, food, gas, clothing for the kids. You know, stupid stuff. I would not buy new underwear until the old literally fell off my body! One requires elastic to hold things up! I would never know from one day to the next what I would be blamed for. Oops! The sink is backed up, what did I put in there! We have no money, what did I spend it on! Why did I need the check book? He would handle it all. Why did I then need an allowance? He would take care of it. I kept the check book anyway! Stupid move! I was blamed for our lack of money because I was the one with the check book! When he would walk in the door at night, I would never know what his mood would be. I started to keep away from him. He became even more sullen and abusive.

Ours was not a lovely life. I surrounded myself with kids, animals and friends. Then one day, at the Talent Show my kids school put on I heard a voice. This little girl had the most wonderful singing voice I had heard in years! I talked to her mom, told her of my background and offered to be her voice coach. I charged $30.00 for 1/2 hour. I had a career! Luckily we didn't sell my piano. I have a gorgeous baby grand. I developed a nice client base and I could work from home! Then, the school lost their music specialist. Somehow the principal found out that I had been a professional musician and asked me to fill the spot. I was ecstatic! Not only was I being acknowledged as a musician again, I was teaching children! I was then asked to teach in 3 other schools.

The program I developed was new and different. I also taught choir. I had 85 kids in my Choir! I was making a small salary. Not enough to cover all of our expenses, not by any means, but enough to be able to keep gas in my car and food in the house. No new underwear yet! I was becoming a woman separate and apart from him. He hated it! I had friends and a job. He had a job. I took complete and total care of our kids. They knew his face. Then, in August 2001, we went to Hawaii (where he's from) for his parents 50th wedding anniversary and family reunion. At the dinner, which we helped pay for ($1500.00 was our contribution), I was told to sit with complete strangers while he and his family sat at a dais. Lovely. I was only family by marriage you see. He had promised me that we would go to the island of Lanai for 2 days by ourselves. We hadn't been alone in years! I was thrilled. On the day we had planned to leave, he called and cancelled the trip, saying that he had given the money to his family and there was none left. That was it!!! I gave him my ultimatum. Counselling or divorce. Again, I was not to be believed. After all, I had given this man over 20 years of chances. Why would I now take a stand? 3 months later, no counselling. I began my preparations for divorce. Off came weight. I began to care more about my appearance. I actually began to brush my teeth and wash my face! I started a work out program. Very slowly, mind you. I asked him to leave in November. He refused. It was HIS house, HIS kids, HIS life. I called the police. He still would not leave. He became abusive in front of the kids now. Before, he managed to hide it behind closed doors. No more. He called my daughter constantly asking her what I was doing, where I had gone, how many times did I take a breath! Poor kid. She unwittingly became his ally. My son he had no interest in and never had. I filed for divorce on January 2nd. He was served immediately. He went ballistic! He came into our bedroom at 4:30 AM and started to hit me with his fists. I was wrapped up in blankets and sound asleep. I was defenceless! I had him arrested. He was back in the house in 1/2 hour! He got clothes and, finally, left! The kids and I were alone in the house. Here, things began to get very very bad. My daughter hated me. I was to blame for her daddy not being home. I was to blame for the divorce. He had poisoned her for months. She became physically and verbally abusive. She's also a black belt. By this time I had lost about 70 lbs. I weighed about 135, from 200 lbs. She weighs about 180. I had bruises and cuts all over. The walls and doors all had her fist or foot put through them. She finally hit me one last time and I had her arrested too! God, I had my own daughter arrested! She then moved in with him. My son and I were alone. For 4 months we lived in this house. My income had dwindled to nothing. It's very hard to keep working when from one day to the next you had no idea what was going to happen. I couldn't have my vocal students come to the house, it was not safe. During this time, he gave us NO MONEY at all! He paid the mortgage so the house would not foreclose and that was it! They turned off all of our utilities. When the water was turned off, that was it! All the animals had to have water! Within 2 days I found homes for them all and my son and I got out. We moved in with a friend in a tiny one bedroom apartment 40 miles away from my sons school and my teaching job. I drove us in every day for 3 months! I couldn't teach as much, my salary was nothing. I managed to pay for gas. Then, my transmission went out. My car is 14 years old with 180,000 miles. This was going to cost me $5,000.00! I had to beg and borrow from everyone. I had to have a car! Well, the house finally sold and my divorce was final 2 months later... August 20, 2002. The end, right? NO WAY!

I received full custody of my son and 1/2 custody of my daughter. She hated me. Wanted nothing to do with me until recently. We've been communicating. I'm taking her and my son and a friend of hers out for her Birthday. My ex hates this!!! He has just filed a new motion with the court and hired a very expensive attorney. Oh, I forgot to mention that he hid money from me for years. It only came to light that he was making over $90,000.00 a year in the court papers. He told me he was making about $55,000.00. I could have had new underwear for God's sake! Where the money went, I have no idea. So, he has to pay child support and spousal support. Anyway, in this new motion, he is asking that I pay all the community debt and because I'm in a new relationship, he is asking to remove my spousal support. I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but, because all of the cards were in my name, I did not put his name down as co-debtor. Fair is fair after all! Right? WRONG!!! He now can sue me for this debt. Guess what, I still have time to add him as co-debtor, which I've done! I am now in the clear. As for spousal support, no way in Hell is he taking this away from me! I have earned every penny I get from him!

As for life at this moment? I am in love again..... not again, for the first time really. This man, my life partner, is teaching me that love does not equal pain. That love is healthy and kind. I am accepted for the woman I am. All my faults, and believe me, there are MANY! He doesn't blame me for his life, and doesn't make me feel guilty for living. He is good to my son. He is good....... period. I am blessed. I am learning the meaning of happiness. For me, happiness is simple, waking each day with no one telling me that I'm at fault, or useless, working out, having enough money to put gas in my car, but, the best thing of all I have a drawer full of beautiful underwear!!! I weigh 120lbs now and have for months. I'm singing again and still teaching voice. There is life, after all. Life that is peaceful and happy, most of the time. I went through Hell, anorexia, abuse, etc. but I came out the other side.

This latest thing of my ex's will be handled too. I will come out on top. I have no doubt.


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