Lets Duel

True to form, less than forty-eight hours of the temporary restraining order being served on him, did I receive notification that he had filed a dueling restraining order against me.  He was requesting that our son be returned to his custody and I vacate the home immediately. 

He falsified his declaration to the court to such an extent I went in prepared for the worst.   If you imagine the worst possible things you could say about your spouse, partner or parent of your child, he said it with such detail it was believable to an untrained ear.  I read his declaration and fell apart, inside and out.  He was throwing accusations out against me just as he has done to the mother of his daughter.  I don’t know why I expected anything different from him, however, I was understandably devastated. 

I contacted my current landlords and made them aware of the situation, had my name removed from the lease and agreed to be out by midnight on the last day of February, 2018. I had about two weeks to find a new home for my son and I.  I was in our garage packing boxes when two police officers approached me.  They advised me that my husband was down the street wanting to retrieve items from the home.  I advised the officers that he had previously had the opportunity to remove his items upon the initial service of his temporary restraining order.  The officers informed me that he had an order signed by a judge granting him permission to enter the home and retrieve his belongings.  I looked at the order and it stated he could remove items from the home that were work related, as he claimed he worked from home.  The officers allowed him to enter the home and remove more property.  While in the home, he disabled the home security system which included video surveillance. 

Both of our restraining order cases were heard on the same day in front of the same judge, on our sons first birthday.  We each had witnesses testify on our behalf, some were more honest than others.  After several hours of hearing evidence and testimony, my restraining order against him was granted and his against me was denied.  Based on evidence and testimony the judge heard, I was granted full legal and physical custody of our son.  He was granted twenty hours per week supervised visitation with an agreed upon supervisor, or a professional supervisor if a person could not be agreed upon.  It was agreed that I would move out of our home and he could return on the first of the month, taking over all rent payments that I had been making. 

I sat in tears while the judge read her decision, I was full of every emotion humanly possible.  Fear of retaliation, relief from the fear of having him abduct my son, anger over what had and was transpiring in my family and my sons brand new life. 

The birthday invitations for my sons first birthday had already gone out and I was amidst a life changing event.  The last thing I could imagine conquering at the moment was putting on a fake face for family and friends.  With everything down to the toilet paper in boxes, my very best friends and family members came to the rescue, TP in tow.  My home was decorated with “The Little Blue Truck” EVERYTHING, I picked up the smash cake I had ordered weeks prior and gave my son one hell of a first birthday party!

It was not more than five days after our court date when I was in the garage loading boxes into the POD when, you guessed it, two police officers approached.  He was there again to remove more of his property.  I informed the officers that this was his second attempt at entering the home, now with a permanent restraining order in effect and that I was not okay with it.  I informed the officers that the last time he entered, he disabled the home security system and that I did not feel comfortable with him in the home.  The officers agreed to tell him this was the final time he would be granted permission to enter the home and that he would be escorted into the home, only allowed entry into his office where his work items were located.  While in the home, he removed my professional camera gear and my old cellular phone. 

During my final few days in the house we once shared together, I was left to pack all of my belongings I entered the relationship with.  So I boxed every damn thing in that house and moved it into a POD in the driveway.  I was in the giving spirit and split the silverware, pots and pans, towels and left our sons belongings that were rightfully his: the handful of clothes and toys his friends had purchased for our son when he was first born.  He was left with his hoard in the garage and all of his daughter’s belongings. 

On the last day of February, 2018, in the rain, a moving company assisted my mother and I in moving my one-year-old son and I to a new home for what we hoped would be a fresh start. 

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind”

You’ve Been Served

This mama bear had been poked.  He had pushed the wrong button by removing my son.  You could say the ‘bitch switch’ was now flipped and there was no stopping me.  I would stop at nothing to ensure my sons safe and speedy return to me. 

I spent the night my son was absent from me in tears, wondering where he was and if he was safe.  He had never slept away from home so I was sure he was scared and unsure of this strange environment he had been placed into so abruptly.  There was no sleep happening on my end so first thing in the morning when businesses opened, I was on the phone with an attorney.  Who would know my husband’s tricks inside and out? Who would be able to utilize previous case history like a champion? None other than the attorney who represents the mother of his daughter.  I contacted the attorney’s office, spoke to the receptionist, let him know who I was and that I was hoping to speak to the attorney.  I was dismissed at first due to the ill relationship my husband has with this law firm; until I notified the receptionist that my husband had taken my son from me the previous night and I had no idea where he had gone, I was looking for help.  I had an appointment set that morning to meet with the attorney.  Separation paperwork was drafted up and a Restraining Order was filed against him, seeking protection for my son and I. I was told that the Restraining Order would take some time to process and I would be notified if a Temporary Restraining Order was granted by the judge.   It was done, my marriage was over, now I needed to protect myself and my son from retaliation. 

I left the attorneys office around noon, arriving home to find him home, with our son.  I ran around the house looking for my son, finding him upstairs sitting next to my bed as he was getting dressed, just out of the shower.  I picked my son up in a rush of emotion and brought him downstairs, taking his photo and sharing it with family, notifying them that he was safe with me.  My mother stayed in contact with the attorney during this time as we did not want him to know of our meeting, the Separation of Marriage and the Restraining Order being filed.  He monitored my phone so it was pertinent he did not know what was coming and take off again with our son in tow. 

I stayed home from work for the remainder of my work week, notifying my superior of the recent events.  I was not going to leave him alone with our son for an extended period of time.  I was terrified he would pack the important items and be gone when I arrived home from work.   We did little to no talking, only speaking if it was about our son.  We watched each other like hawks, never leaving one another alone with our son.  I stayed in constant contact with my attorney, who was advising me to leave the home with my son and head somewhere safe, but I was too scared to leave.  He would find me, he would take my son and concoct such an outrageous story to law enforcement and the courts that I felt I would never survive. 

I was notified that the Temporary Restraining Order was granted and that Law Enforcement would be arriving at our home to serve him the order along with an order to vacate the property until the hearing.  He allowed me to leave the home, taking our son on a walk around the neighborhood in his stroller.  My plan was to leave and have him gone upon my return.  No such luck, I stayed away from the home for a good hour, leaving what I thought was plenty of time for officers to arrive, serve him and get him out.  When I thought it was safe to return, I walked around the corner to find him still in the garage, none the wiser.  I went about my day, guarding my son.  I put the baby to bed and laid awake all night in bed listening.  He stayed in the garage till the early morning and went to sleep on the couch. 

When I awoke the next morning, I was now on day two with no real sleep and I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.  I got ready for the day and headed downstairs to prepare our sons breakfast before he woke up.  He was still sleeping on the couch and was awaken by me tending to the dogs and making breakfast.  He headed upstairs to shower and change.  I knew that today was the day he was going to be served.  I knew that today was the last day I would ever be in the same home with him.  I knew that today was the last day I would have to be victim to his gaslighting, manipulation and narcissistic attacks. 

I was in the kitchen feeding our son lunch, there was a knock on our front door.  It was Law Enforcement, it was time.  I answered the door, the male officer asked me who I was and I confirmed.  He requested that I leave the home with my son during this process so I grabbed some toys and the remainder of our lunch and we were escorted to a park nearby.  As I walked from the home, I could hear that several other officers had already made contact with him in the garage.  He was already arguing, claiming that the home was his, that he works from home and this is where he conducts business.  My son and I sat in the park for what seemed like hours while he was allowed to pack what he could and fill his truck.  As he drove away, I felt a sense of relief, I felt scared and I felt angry.  I could breathe, yet I was now alone in this motherhood thing and I was mad at myself.  Mad for not seeing the signs sooner, mad for allowing it to get this bad.  The first couple of nights, alone in the house with my son were probably some of the hardest.  I cried, a lot.  I stared at my son, playing on the floor with his toys, wondering if I had just ruined his childhood.  I questioned my ability as a mother, could I do this alone?  I did a lot of second guessing of whether or not I had done the right thing and I was beginning to feel guilty.    

“Making a big life change is pretty scary… But… Know whats even scarier? REGRET”

-Rudraksh Parey

Hes Gone

The beginning of February 2018, he was still adamant that he was not going to obtain work.  Still utilizing the excuse that his paychecks would be garnished for child support arrears dating back nearly six years and because now he was claiming to be our son’s primary caregiver.  He had been plotting this well calculated move for some time.  If I left him and he was a ‘stay at home dad’ as he now claimed to be, I would end up supporting him, providing him a paycheck each month in the way of child support payments.  In his eyes, this was his dream.  He had attempted it with the mother of his daughter when he sought full custody when she was just weeks old, but failed and was ordered by the court to undergo psychological evaluations for even suggesting such a thing.  Now was the time for him to make his move with me…

On February 8th, 2018 our lives were turned upside down.  I arrived home from work, per usual, after working a ten plus hour shift.  His friends scattered from the house after a day of drinking as I arrived.  We ate dinner and went through our normal bedtime routine with our son.  I showered with the baby, handed him off to him and completed my shower as he got our son dressed for bed.  He took him down and placed him in his swing in the garage to put him to sleep. 

I cleaned up the house and it was about eight o’clock, our son needed to be in bed.  I opened the door to the garage and found our son asleep in his swing and him talking on the phone with his friends.  I told him that the baby needed to be in bed, that he has been with his friends all day, should get off of his phone and help me clean the house.  I took our son out of his swing and carried him to his crib, returning downstairs to find him rage cleaning the pots and pans in the kitchen. 

In an attempt to steer clear of the warpath we were both now on, I sat on the couch and attempted to mind my own business.  He slammed his fists on the kitchen counter to get my attention, and announced that he wanted a divorce.  He went on to explain that I come home from work angry, I don’t show him any affection and that neither of us are happy.  In a rebuttal, I attempted to explain why I would be, possibly, unpleasant when returning home from work and that our financial stickiness was placing extreme stress on me.  I did not dispute the divorce, I stated I would leave the home with our son for the night and head to my mother’s home in Orange County.  I believe the words he used were ‘over my dead body, I am his primary caregiver’. 

He ran up the stairs to our son’s room, locking himself in his room.  I was extremely distraught, I had just been told that my husband wanted a divorce and now he was barricaded in our son’s room.  I contacted my mother, explaining the situation.  He thought I was on the phone with the police, so in turn, he called 911.  He notified 911 dispatch that he had just asked his wife for a divorce, that she was going crazy, that she was drunk and threatening to leave, driving drunk with his son. 

I could hear my son crying now.  I pushed the door to his bedroom open to find him holding our son, still on the phone with 911.  I continually asked him to give me our son, growing more and more frantic, knowing that he would manipulate this situation.  He refused, holding onto our son like a trophy, he walked downstairs, outside and awaited the police.  I followed to ensure he did not leave with our son, sat in the garage, keeping my distance from him and watched him pace around the neighborhood holding our son. 

I contacted my father, just as two police officers arrived.  My father was on the phone with me the entire time the officers were on scene. Both officers spoke to him obtaining his statement, then one officer approached me in the garage.  I explained that he had asked for a divorce and that I offered to leave for the night, with our son, and that is when things went awry.  I was told that due to him holding our son, officers were unable to remove our son from his custody and they were allowing him to leave with our son.  I explained that he had been drinking all day and that he was in no shape to drive.  Officers stated that he had a friend coming to pick him and our son up. 

Officers escorted him into the home where he packed a suitcase for him and our son.  As he walked past me, I begged him to let me hold our son, he turned his back as if shielding our son from me.  My father spoke to the officers and obtained badge numbers, attempting to reason with them, explaining that this man they were allowing to leave with a baby has quite an extensive criminal record including abducting his own daughter.  While he was in the home, his friend arrived to transport.  This friend of his knows the custody case with his daughter well, he is his daughters God Father.  I pleaded with his friend not to let him do to me what he is doing to the mother of his daughter.  His friend understood what I was saying, yet fell into line with what he was being ordered to do.  I sat on a brick wall in front of my home, in my pajamas clutching my sons blanket and watched him drive away with our son, not knowing if I would ever see him again. 

“A horrible end is better than an endless horror.”

– Oliver Markus

Narcissism and Gaslighting

gerund or present participle: gaslighting
manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

– Oxford Dictionary of English

Let’s take a moment and reflect on the past seven years, 2011 to 2018…

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation, a common tool used by a narcissist to hide their abuse.  The end goal being, trying to make you feel like you are not remembering events correctly, therefore leaving you feeling like a loon.  The narcissist who is doing the gaslighting grooms his victim over long periods of time, leaving her vulnerable and deferring to the narcissist himself for accounts of what is real.  Over time, the narcissist, the abuser, is in control of your life. 

At the time, some words or phrases he used sound completely normal, but looking back, they were a tool used by him, the narcissist, the gaslighter, to completely distort my perception of reality.  I was being controlled, he was trying to get himself out of trouble. 

Narcissist lie and exaggerate to boost their fragile self-worth, the gaslighter does so to augment their domination and control. Narcissists and gaslighters project false, idealized images of themselves to the world, in order to hide their inner insecurities:

The majority of his business is run on several social media platforms.  He portrays himself to the community as an engineer, a designer of products in several categories, an innovator at the top of his game.  This man does not have a high school diploma, college degree or trade school certificate of any kind.   He is completely self-taught, thriving off of others ideas and claiming them as his own. He is showy with his personal life, flaunting items he has purchased, when the money he used to on said items should have in fact been spent on his family’s needs (food, rent and child support).   He boasts to the community to be an amazing father to his daughter, whom the courts have never allowed him to have any custody of. 

Narcissists and gaslighters refuse to admit their own personal flaws and become aggressive when criticized: 

When confronted on his social media platforms by ‘haters’, he retaliates with an online war.  He has numerous troll accounts to combat those who call his bluff and he contacts his loyal followers to help aid him in the online attacks.  These online wars escalate to the point he and his loyal followers are banned from certain social media platforms as punishment for their behavior. 

Narcissist will tell you that you are acting crazy when you emotionally react to the gaslighting. Narcissist will tell you that you are mentally unstable:

He cheated on me, I was newly pregnant, and he cheated on me.  I found out and confronted him.  He knew he was caught and he collaborated with those he knew he could bribe, manipulate and control in order to formulate a colossal lie.  If I at any time questioned him about the situation, I was verbally punished for questioning him and his actions.  I was told I had trust issues brought on by past relationships and my parents relationship and that I was ruining our marriage. 

Narcissists and gaslighters relish in getting away with violating rules and social norms:

He has an extensive history with law enforcement.  Accused of breaking and entering into an elementary school in an attempt to steal computers.  Numerous domestic violence cases involving him, both with men and women.  A bankruptcy that has been on hold due to an ongoing investigation into his finances for nearly three years.  DUI and drunk in public arrests.  And let’s not forget the failure to file taxes for at least the past three or four years. 

Narcissist will gaslight to play the victim.  Narcissist will gaslight to evade responsibilities:

These he has perfected.

Anyone he has a disagreement with was met with a restraining order from him or against him. From ex-girlfriends and friends to his sister and former business partners.  He has a mean streak and if you cross him, he tends to utilize slander in order to make himself look like the victim and or the hero in the situation. 

Countless times in the courtroom I witnessed him claim to be the loving and attentive father.  He was allowed a time frame on certain nights of the week to contact his daughter via telephone.  He always forgot to make that phone call.  In response, he would claim to the court that the mother of his daughter would refuse his phone calls when in fact this was not true.  He was busy tinkering in the garage, at the neighbor’s house or just simply forgot about his daughter.  Time after time, I would ask him if he called his daughter, he would scramble and say it was now too late to call. 

Narcissist use and exploit their victims in order to suit their own agenda and needs:

I hate to say it, even more I hate to admit it.  I am a tool and my son is a tool, used by him to manipulate his custody dispute with the mother of his daughter.  He married me to gain leverage, in an attempt to form a stable life for himself and look like a decent man in the eyes of the court.  We had our son, again, a tool that was always used by him and brought up to the courts as a way to gain leverage in his custody dispute. Towards the end, he would consistently tell me that he was now our sons primary caregiver, leading me to believe that I would loose my son if I were to leave.

Narcissist also commonly use projection as their weapon of choice. In the case of a narcissist, projection is an unconscious way of denying the existence of something inside of themselves, attributing it to another. Typically projection is done if the narcissist has unwanted or unacceptable thoughts, characteristics, emotions, actions or feelings:

He is also a master of projection. Because he was cheating on me, he would project his unacceptable actions onto me by saying it was my fault. According to him, it was my parents and past relationships that were causing me to believe he was a cheater and ruining our relationship. He projected his ill, incestual relationship with his sister onto others, which I will delve deeper into later.

“In the worst-case scenario, some individuals possess traits of both narcissism and gaslighting. This is a highly toxic and destructive combination of vanity, manipulation, bullying, and abuse — all unleashed in order to compensate for the perpetrator’s deep-seated sense of inadequacy and fear. “

– Psychology Today

Downhill We Go

June 1st, 2017 I returned to work full time.  I left our son in his care during the day because he was ‘working from home’ as he would say.  That phrase quickly changed to a ‘stay at home dad’ while I continued to pressure him into obtaining employment for a steady source of income.  This phrase was used in his custody battle with his daughter and our son was now being used as a tool to fight his six year long high conflict case.  Due to our financial situation putting a strain on our marriage, if I ever brought up leaving or separating, he would use this phrase and state he was now our sons primary caregiver… I began to tread lightly as I saw a pattern beginning to develop.

I would work four ten hour shifts and pull an overnight shift once a week.  During this overnight shift, I would come home with my duty gear and a work vehicle, responding out to emergency calls after normal business hours.  During the first few months of returning home from work, I was greeted with him holding our son in front of our home, smiles all around.  We would exchange how our days went and he would make dinner the majority of the time while I spent time with our son.  I would clean up after dinner, bathe our son and do his bedtime routine.  By that time, I was exhausted, showered myself and hit the sack.  He would head out into the garage after dinner and begin his tinkering on the dreaded drones, call his friends, visit the neighbors for a few drinks and a few bong hits.  I was still getting up for the night time feedings and diaper changes while I was on duty after hours and during my work week, with little to no help from him. 

When he would have court, my mother would come to our home and look after our son, which was at least once a month.  She arrived one morning after I had departed for work, he was in the garage, tinkering, and our son was in his mamaRoo swing inside the home, unattended.  This was a common occurrence, he felt that because our son was a boy, he should not be cuddled, as a girl should.  Therefore, he would place our son in his mamaRoo swing or in his playpen for bottle feedings, he refused to hold him.  The time spent laying on a hard surface during our sons infancy stages caused him to have a misshapen head.

As the months passed, when I would return home from work, I was greeted by his friends hanging out in our garage, our son sitting in a swing either in the garage or unattended inside the home.  You bet that my attitude began to change, my smiles upon returning home turned to disapproval.  I would enter our home to find that he had not picked up after himself or our son, or his daughter if he had her, all day.  Dishes and bottles stacked in the sink, toys everywhere.  Being that I strive to keep our home clean and tidy, the disorder inside the home began to trigger me.  I would now come home and have to clean the house rather than spending quality time with our son.  It appeared that rather than tending to our son and keeping up the appearance of our home, he was beginning to socialize with the neighbor and his friends. 

Each month that came and went came the same conversation… Where was his half of the money for the bills?  His answer was always the same, the checks in the mail.  The checks that he did receive went to the drones, not to our bills, not to our son and not to his daughter.  He was spending all of his time an effort in the drone world, attempting to generate something.  But that something was not coming.  He was not generating any sort of income from the drones.  The money that was coming in was still the minimal payments from his best friend for the sale of his company. Time after time, I continued to front the funds for us to keep a roof over our heads and the lights on by dipping into and eventually depleting my savings and inheritance.  With the financial aid of my mother, I traded in the big fancy SUV for a much more practical vehicle because, after all, he had me put the vehicle in my name and was failing to uphold his end of the deal and help make the payments.  Our cell phones were turned off for weeks at a time and I was missing important work related phone calls.   I obtained a new cell phone and a new cell phone line, on my own, separate from his.  This angered him, he felt that he was now stuck with a bill he could not pay.  I was no longer willing to pay his four-hundred-dollar cell phone bill.  The cell phone bill and contract was and had always been in his name, I had just transferred my telephone number over to his plan.  Now that I had a new, affordable plan of my own, with a working cell phone, he became jealous. 

It was now December of 2017, the Christmas season.  He continued to tell me that he had no money to spend on Christmas presents this year as I would rattle off ideas on what to get the kids. Yet the drone packages continued to arrive at our home.  I had begun my on line shopping months earlier in preparation for the extreme budgeting required this year. He was able to purchase a set of swings that were installed in our garage for his daughter, but he purchased nothing for our son.  I purchased every other present for his daughter and every single present for our son, along with presents for him.  We decorated our home with Christmas lights and put up our fancy tree.  It felt like a sham, in previous years, the bottom of our Christmas tree was overwhelmed with gifts for his daughter.  Our sons first Christmas was nothing like I had imagined.  It felt like he had given up on our son, he had no remorse over our son not having the best Christmas possible.  Christmas Day arrived, the majority of the presents under our tree were from my mother who came to our home for the day.  His best friend was also at our home.  Gifts were exchanged and without my mother, my son would not have had the amazing first Christmas he deserved.  He had a pity party for himself the rest of the day, rightfully so, he received gifts from everyone but did not give any. 

Our nightly routines had changed, I would arrive home from work and his friends at our home would scatter away.  Dinner was had, I bathed our son and he would take him and swing him in the garage until he fell asleep while I showered and tidied up the house. Once our son was in bed, I would soon follow.  He would come to bed in the early morning hours after working in the garage all night or hanging out with the neighbors.  If his daughter was at our home, she now spent her time at the neighbor’s house, yes the ‘drug dealer’.  He would sell off his personal products from his previous companies in bulk, attempting to get some cash in hand quickly at times.  But that money left as quickly as it came in and there was only so many personal items he had to sell.  The money he was receiving was continually being spent on drones and now he was attempting to hide the packages being delivered.  He knew he was doing something wrong.  He was putting his own self-interests before his children. 

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”

– Linda Wooten

Postpartum Fun

Postpartum kicked my ass.  I was trying to breast feed, which did not come easy at all.  My milk just took forever to come in and we had to supplement with formula which was not the route I had planned.  I felt like a failure out the gates.  We had tried so hard to conceive this baby, I was so in awe with his perfection, I just had to stare at him all day, and night.  I was so afraid something was going to go wrong with him I didn’t sleep, it was brutal and it wore on me.  He was a good baby, not very fussy, but when he did, I felt like I could not console him.  When he held him and rocked him, he would stop crying, again leaving me to feel like a failure.  The hormones from both the IVF and my pregnancy were leaving my body and wreaking havoc.  Depression set in and I cried, a lot.  I remember being on the phone with my mother, holding my crying son, pacing through my home, not knowing if I wanted to continue.  The hospital staff stressed the importance of seeking help if I had any of the symptoms of postpartum, and I did, but more importantly, I had my son, who needed a healthy mother. I spoke to my OB/GYN along with family and friends about the difficulties I was facing.  I had therapy appointments that helped by talking about the difficulties I was facing as a new mother and as a wife. 

Postpartum Depression

“This is an illness that takes away a women’s ability to access joy… Right at the time she needs it the most.”

Dr. Katherine Wisner

I had a cesarean section, thus my maternity leave was eight weeks.  I was scheduled to be due back at work June 1st, 2017, with our son being just 8 weeks old.   Again, the plan was always for me not to return to work, remaining a stay at home mom with our son.   I watched as he began to tank his third company.  Spending of the pre-sale money and not putting it back into the business.  He had packages made for his product, he obtained the packaging with a down payment and never paid the rest in full.   The gentleman who supplied him the packaging would come to our home in search of the rest of his money.  Again, he would hide out inside our home, or at times, he was not home and I was afraid to answer the door for this angry person with my newborn son in the home. 

Prior to his company failing, he offered it for sale to his best friend for a large sum of money, the amount was disclosed to me at a later date.  The payments for his company started coming in and instead of purchasing much needed household items, he got the wild idea to start manufacturing drones.  Mind you, he has no college education, no formal engineering background of any kind, yet his ego told him that he is capable of becoming a successful manufacturer of high performance drones.  He dove deep into the drone world, becoming obsessed.  Packages upon packages would arrive at our home delivering drone pieces.  He would spend countless hours in the garage tinkering, putting them together, taking them apart and flying them around the neighborhood.  His new home was now the garage.  If he wasn’t in the garage, he was across the street at what was nicknamed ‘the drug dealers house’.  The town weed dealer lived on our street and quickly became his best friend.  The neighbor had a son the same age as his daughter and the two kids would often play together. I suggested that his daughter not be allowed at his home for obvious reasons, and I did not allow my son to be there with him.  Pot was legal now so what could I say other than keep it away from the kids?

My cellphone number was put onto his plan and he had been making the four-hundred-dollar cell phone bill payments, yes, four hundred dollars. He has multiple lines, multiple tablets and a cell phones for his business.  His failure to budget caused our cell phones to be shut off more times than I can count.  I ponied up the money on numerous occasions to have our phones turned back on.  In the event of an emergency with a new baby in the home, phones were a necessity.  I was asking my parents for money to help assist with our overwhelming bills. 

With my maternity leave coming to an end and his money being thrown to the wind, I began to insist that he obtain what every other adult in this world has, a job.  I was met with hostility and excuses as to why he cannot work… His daughters mother will find out where he is working and harass his new employer or his paychecks will be garnished for child support.  My thought process went straight to- well good, support your child, but of course I could not say that to him because he would accuse me of conspiring against him.  I thought of ways I could personally bring in extra income, he was fine with me working and possibly having two jobs while he had none.  That frustrated me even more.  He would insist that this new drone business was going to take off, no pun intended. He had big plans for it, generating social media pages and attending drone events.  He built a drone that housed a Go-Pro, he took this drone out one day to fly and crashed it.  The Go-Pro he had mounted to the drone had the video of our son’s birth and all of the hospital footage.  It was all lost, all of it.  I watched my son’s birth video once before he lost it.  I now truly hated the drones. 

A Hospital Visit

Work ethic has never been and probably never will be a strong suit of his.  Dabbling in what interests him here and there, get in and get out appears to be his motto.  Could it be an attention deficit disorder?  Quite possibly, but I do not have an MD/PhD after my name allowing me to diagnose such behavior.  I do however, know what he has been diagnosed with by medical professionals and they hit the nail on the head. 

Once his parents were involved in his company, our daily conversations turned to how he believed in a conspiracy that his entire family was out to get him.  He believed his family was jealous of his new found success and wanted to take it from him.  This thought process escalated quickly and he could not be talked down.  This is when he divulged his family secret, that his father had molested his sister when they were younger. This went unreported to authorities and, according to him, was another source of his distaste for his father. From his mother and father, sister and cousins, aunts and uncles, all the way to his grandmother, he believed they were all conspiring to take him down.  He had heated conversations with relatives, tears running down his face, blaming them all for ruining his life.   He shunned himself from his own family.  He walked away from the company completely, refusing to work together with his relatives.  He was now, again, unemployed.

I was now on maternity leave, paying our bills out of my measly disability checks. I was determined to get our lives in order for our son.  I began with preparing his room.  I picked out the paint colors for the walls of his room, painting the room myself.  I laundered his clothes and bedding, hung art work, decorated his room and set up his crib and changing table that were received as a gift from my parents.  I purchased the stroller, car seat, bottles and every other item not received as gifts from my family and friends at my baby shower.  His family was so far removed by this time, they never sent any gifts celebrating our son’s arrival.

He was still represented by a fancy attorney in Family Court and needed help paying for him after the split with his sister and her company. I had inheritance money stashed away, and with the agreement he would pay me back, gave him ten thousand dollars for his attorney. He was still consumed with his daughter’s custody case and promoted his new ‘change in circumstance’ to the court. His family was growing, he was going to be a dad again and was requesting more time with his daughter.  Time after time, the court shut him down due to his legal history and poor psychological evaluation results that were court mandated.  I learned that he was ordered to take a psychological evaluation which revealed he has mixed personality disorder: Narcissist and antisocial features, histeroid, paranoid and histrionic features, among other concerns.  See, hit the nail on the head.  I feel the court and the mother of his daughter felt safer with me around and allowed him to have a bit more rein.  He was allowed every other weekend with overnights and every Wednesday after school.  For now…

Promising me I wouldn’t have to return to work, allowing me to become a stay at home mother, again a new spin off company was created, out of our garage.  He went to his old place of work to retrieve some items. The employees locked the office doors and contacted the Sheriffs Department. Deputies arrived and served him with a restraining order that his sister had taken out on him. Yes, his own sister obtained a restraining order on him. If that doesn’t set the tone for the family dynamic, I don’t know what will.

February 23, 2017 I gave birth to our son.  I paid the $600 co pay as he avoided eye contact with the intake nurse.  The hospital where I delivered is a women’s hospital and during their intake exam, they asked me routine questions.  One of those questions was, “Does your husband abuse you?”  My answer, of course, was no.  I found the question normal, routine in fact and told him.  He became irate, so upset in fact that he took his anger out on every nurse for the entire duration of our stay.  He complained about the couch he had to sleep on, it was too small and hard, he could not get any rest, requesting a bed of his own to sleep on.  I’m sorry the couch you are sleeping on is too small and hard, but I just had a human being surgically removed from my uterus, I am not very comfortable either.  I gave up the hospital bed to him on the last day. He made my time in the hospital, bonding with my newborn son, miserable.  He departed from the hospital one evening to retrieve his daughter so she could meet her new brother for the first time.  Several hours later, they arrived at the hospital, they had been out to a nice dinner with his best friend, failing to bring me anything to eat.  His friend took his daughter to his home that evening, and she stayed at his home, in his bed with him.  I assure you, her mother is now aware.  The next day he departed from the hospital to head home, shower and get some rest.  He returned with a ‘push present’ for me, but he had also purchased a more expensive gift for himself.  He did all the work after all.  He was with me in the hospital during the evening hours, during the day, he was out and about doing I do not know what.  My mother was with me every day and my best friend came to visit, nobody crossed paths with him.  I requested to be discharged from the hospital early due to his extreme behavior towards the staff, I felt embarrassed and just wanted to remove myself from the situation.  My request was granted and we headed home early. 

He hired a friend of his who relocated from New York for a position with him. The two worked out of our garage together, illegally. Code Enforcement was contacted regarding the business being run out of the home and he lied to them and to our landlords. Code Enforcement came out on two occasions, each time, he explained that he was just an enthusiast and the items in the garage were hobby related. He blamed the call to Code Enforcement on his daughters mother or his sister. His employee was sober for some amount of years and new to California, moving herself and her girlfriend across the country. He reintroduced his employee to drugs again, causing her relationship to end. He utilized previous contacts in the industry to front him money and production of product was made possible with pre-sale money.  The money he accepted for the pre-sales did not go towards product production, it was spent on himself.  His new, and only employee was left wondering where her paychecks were.  He constantly ran out of money at a rapid pace, budgeting is not a skill he ever acquired.    He informed her that he no longer had work for her and she was left to find work elsewhere, all the while still owing her money.  She would come to our home after she was dismissed from employment, requesting payment.  He would hideout inside of our home, avoiding contact with her, putting me and our newborn son in a risky situation. When that payment was never received, she took the issue to social media.  He retaliated and informed the community that he did not owe his disgruntled ex-employee money and that she had a drug problem.  Smearing her name through the mud and making himself look like the good person.  The community bought it. 

“Its not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.”

-Dorothy, The Golden Girls

Let’s Get Pregnant

With the wedding now over, we officially moved in together as husband and wife.  We were not living together our second time around dating because it went so well the first time.  He moved in with me again, into a cute town house I was renting in North County San Diego.  The spare bedroom became his daughters room and we were adjusting to our new lives. 

He fought tooth and nail to make it known the courts that he needed and deserved more time with his daughter because of his new change in circumstances.  He was a married man now after all.  His supervised visitation was lifted and he was now able to have his almost five-year-old daughter for the first time overnight. 

We tried for some time to get pregnant, after a year of no luck, we looked into in vitro fertilization.  We found an amazing doctor in Orange County and it was determined that we were candidates for the process.  It was agreed upon that we would split the costly IVF payments.   I began hormone therapy for egg retrieval; a long, painful series of injections given over the course of several weeks.  Once my eggs were ready, they were retrieved and fertilized by his sperm.  My body was prepped again for the embryo transfer, more hormone injections.  Two of our highest quality embryos were implanted on June 14th, 2016.  Five days later, June 19th, 2016 I took a pregnancy test and received a very faint positive.  Each day the positive grew stronger, we were pregnant.  July 12th, 2016 I heard my sons heartbeat for the first time. 

June 25th, 2016 he flew to Abilene, Texas for a work related event.  When he returned, I received a message from an acquaintance of his.  This message informed me that he, my husband, had cheated on me while he was in Texas.  The story was corroborated by several other people who witnessed the action.  I confronted him, the action was denied and he paid off and bribed those who were witnesses.  The acquaintance who had notified me of his actions, redacted his statement, claiming he thought it was him, but it turned out it was simply someone who looked like him.  Apologizing for the commotion.  I bought it. 

During the IVF process, his father was staying with us in our home.  His dad was performing odd jobs at the warehouse, electrical work and construction.  I learned more about his relationship with his father during this time.  The two do not see eye to eye on anything, like oil and water.  I have never met someone who dislikes a parent as much as he does.  He accuses his father of not working during his childhood, forcing him to work and bring home money for the family.  He claims that the much needed money he brought home went to the Church, leaving the family without a means to survive.   He claims that the family lost their home and was forced to move. I had been told of a previous business venture that went south with the two of them.  He accused his father of taking over a construction business from him years ago, leaving him with no source of income.  Needless to say, the tension in the home during that time was thick. 

Our home was a two bedroom and we decided that we needed a larger home to accommodate the new baby.  We found a home in a family-friendly neighborhood in North County, a four-bedroom home with a very large yard.  We agreed that we could afford the payments on it together.  When we moved in, he got this grand idea that he wanted to fix up the home for the baby.  He purchased and installed a new shower door in the master bathroom and purchased a fancy refrigerator, dishwasher, stove and microwave, on the company credit card.  Bedrooms, living room, family room, dining room, bathrooms and the kitchen were all painted, down to the cabinets and drawers, paint and supplies purchased on the company credit card. He purchased a top of the line bunk bed for his daughter and completely furnished and decked out her bedroom, on the company credit card.  Everything was painted except the baby’s room, which remained untouched and barren. 

We were both driving pick-up trucks and he wanted to purchase a new, larger vehicle to accommodate the arrival of the new baby.  His truck was nearly paid off so I was asked to trade in my truck.  We found a lovely, fully loaded, SUV that was completely outside of our budget.  He insisted that he would be able to make the payments, I believed him.  The new car was purchased under my name alone and we drove off the lot. 

His company was now under new ownership.  Bought out by his sister for a minimal amount, this well calculated move was an attempt to hide finances from numerous parties.  His sister was to act as the front woman for the company and he was to still have all control.  With his sister now in control of the company, his spending was now being watched closely. She wanted to know where the company’s money was being spent, she was also helping her brother hide money in an attempt to avoid paying child support.  He was not provided a pay check, he was granted spending access on the company credit card, which he utilized to the fullest.  I was helping the company by designing and purchasing the apparel.  I would spend hours in the warehouse stocking, designing and ordering.  Again, the more I was around, the more I heard and the more I learned. 

October of 2016, he had a company event in Europe that I was also able to attend.  Flights and stay were paid for on the company credit card.  We were sitting in the airport awaiting our flight home when I received an email from a clothing distributor.  The email suggested that the order I had requested had been canceled by a manager of the company.  He went unhinged, calling his sister and demanding to know why money cannot be spent on the apparel.  His sister informed him that the two of them were going to meet with their attorney when he arrives home. 

The meeting with his sister and the attorney went over like a turd in a punch bowl.  He learned that his mother had been brought into the company and was running the finances.  To backtrack quite a bit, he and his parents have little to no relationship due to prior business ventures failing.  He was livid that his mother was now involved in this company.  He believed that his sister and his parents were conspiring to remove him from the company altogether.  Thus began his downward spiral and paranoia. 

“A paranoid man makes paranoid plans”

The Wedding Day

September 20th, 2015, our wedding day.  If you believe in signs, which I do, you will be asking yourself why the heck I didn’t head for the hills and never look back on this day. 

We were set to have our ceremony and reception at a posh golf course in Orange County.  I stayed on the property in the hotel the night prior, attempting to keep with tradition and gain some luck by not seeing my groom prior. 

I awoke in the late morning and started to prepare myself for the big day.  My hairdresser and make-up artist were arriving prior to my bridesmaids so I hopped in the shower.  Lights went out mid shower, shampoo in, one leg left to shave and the freaking power went out.  I proceeded to finish in the dark, completely annoyed.  I exited the shower, wrapped myself in a towel and peaked my head out of the hotel room door.  I spoke with a maid who was just down the hall who confirmed the power was indeed out.  Not that she cared at all, but I told her I had to get ready for my wedding and this was not acceptable and shut the door. 

I called my Maid of Honor, who just so happened to be staying in the hotel next door.  Her power was on and she suggested I come to her room to get ready.  Completely kind of her, however, I had a hotel room full of bridal gear to tote over.  Thankfully, the power was restored and I got to work on getting ready. 

My Groom arrived with his daughter, dropping her off in my hotel room to get her hair and make-up done and to put her dress on.  He and his Groomsmen were in the hotel room next door getting ready as well.  Hair completed, make-up in progress and I started to have an emotional melt down.  Crying for reasons unknown to me, at the time.  With the support of my Bridesmaids and some champagne, the process was completed. 

My parents and I made our way down to a town car that was awaiting. The driver of the town car started doing laps around neighborhoods because we were told the officiant had not arrived.  I was then notified that the officiant was a no-show, unreachable.  The planned start time of the wedding had come and gone.  The wedding planner had contacted a second officiant who had gotten in a car accident on his way to the wedding and, you guessed it, could no longer make it. It just so happened that a woman who worked for the wedding planning company was ordained and she offered to marry us.  The driver approached the aisle, I spoke with my Maid of Honor who had no idea what was transpiring.  She has been my best friend for fourteen years and she did what any good friend would do, she offered up a getaway car.  I ignored all the signs and continued with the ceremony, crying all the way down the aisle, for reasons unknown to me, at the time. 

We said our vows to each other, him holding his daughter the entire time, and it was over in a flash.  He wanted his daughter to stay with us in our honeymoon suit that night.  I was taken aback by the suggestion and quite frankly offended.  It was decided that his sister would take his daughter to her home so he and I could enjoy our first night of marriage together, alone.   

It was official, we were married. 

“Of course you didn’t see the red flags. You were using them as a blindfold”

-Erin Van Vuren

Self Annihilation

About a year passed, I dated here and there, met some real winners in the dating pool and decided to call it quits.  I reached out to him, disastrous decision on my part. 

He was still in the area and he asked me to meet at his friend’s house.  I declined the offer at first, but he informed me that if I didn’t, that he would not talk to me further.  Afraid of losing him completely, I met with him.  He was still not working, had been staying with this friend and his friend’s fiance, living on their couch.  He had lost all custody of his daughter after he abducted her, failing to return her after one of his scheduled visitation days. He informed me that when he got his daughter, she had a cough that he believed was not being treated in the mother’s home.  He opted to keep his daughter in hopes of getting proper treatment.  He removed his daughter from San Diego County and failed to inform the mother where he had taken her.  He had been court ordered to return her to the mother. Yet I still continued to see him. 

He and this friend had put a plan in place to start a new company together. His part in the company was to design and market vaping devices.  A prototype was created and I spent endless days with him going to vape shops all over Southern California to help him promote his new product. I wanted to help him succeed and I was determined to push him. 

September of 2014, his company put on a huge event in San Diego.  Hundreds of people were in attendance and it was live streamed on social media.  He called me up on stage in front of everyone, beer bottle in hand, got down on one knee and proposed.  I of course said yes because I apparently am a self-annihilator.  The ring? You ask, well there wasn’t one.  We were congratulated all night and as the event patrons began to depart, the alcohol was still flowing.  He was hungry, so me being one of the few sober people there, took a group out to eat in his truck.  In his intoxicated state, he was directing me on how to drive.  I asked him to be quiet and that set him off.  He jumped out of the truck and ran, literally, ran.  The rest of us finished cleaning up after the event and called it a night, never hearing from him. Turns out he had walked to a friend’s house and passed out.  It was a lovely ending to our engagement evening. 

The product was a huge success along with his company, for about a year.  He and his business partner had a falling out and he was being accused of spending all of the company’s money.  Lawsuits ensued, he was paranoid that his former business partner was trying to have him murdered.  He filed a Restraining Order against his former business partner, paid off some shady witnesses and the RO stuck for three years. The company shut down and he immediately opened another in the same industry.  This time, he enlisted his sister to manage the finances.  His sister moved her family to San Diego to be a part of his new company.  He used the new company credit card to pay for everything, from expensive dinners, to supplies for his daughter.  The more I was around, the more I heard and the more I learned. 

He was hiding all income, being paid completely under the table to avoid child support payments.  At this point, he was not making any of the court ordered payments to the mother to help support his daughter.  The mother would contact his employer, seeking some sort of information about his income in order to obtain child support, but was met with hostility from him and his sister. 

Court for child custody was still an ongoing issue and a time consuming event for him.  He would return from court saying how great it went and how he was making progress.  His new line of defense in the child custody dispute, he was getting married so he must not be such a bad guy. Supervised visitations were now in effect and he now had legal representation.  When we would go out with his daughter, we were accompanied by a third party who monitored and documented all of his interactions with her.  

As time passed, I planned the wedding, he had little to no interest.   He spent a large amount of money on a new suit, new shoes and several accessories for the occasion.  I purchased his daughters flower girl dress and my parents paid for the venue and the entire event in full.  He had filed for Bankruptcy in an attempt to get his financial messiness in order. My parents insisted on a Prenuptial Agreement to protect my inheritance if things were to go haywire. They insisted on not proceeding with the marriage until the Bankruptcy was finalized. The Prenuptial was drafted and signed by both of us, an agreement was made that I was not responsible for any of his debts. His Bankruptcy was challenged by several people, halting the process until an investigation into his finances was completed. The wedding date had been set and I was adamant that I was protected under the Prenuptial Agreement and went against my parents wishes and continued with the wedding planning. To this day, the Bankruptcy is still open and under investigation.

September 20th, 2015 was our wedding day.  If I didn’t see the opportunity to run then, I never would…

You can ask the universe for signs all you want. But ultimately we’ll only see what we want to see, when we’re ready to see it.