It has never been my intention to write a “tell all” memoir about my life. If you had asked me twenty years ago, I would have laughed and said that you were absurd. But, here I am today, sitting in my apartment in Carbondale, Colo. working on my third attempt to write it. I have deleted word documents in the past; I even hired I screenwriter to help me, but that too has been deleted. You see, I have kids, and I don’t want them to know the pain I’ve suffered. Or that their Dad is a bully and a fraud.
Regardless, the injustices, the pack of lies, the betrayal and the crookedness of my ex-husband’s family are too much for me to bear any longer. I had gladly given most of my adult life to my former husband and our two children. I was that Mom who was at every soccer game, and home Friday nights waiting to hear when and where I needed to pick them up — either that night or the next day.
My children were acolytes at our small Episcopal Church when they were young. We were not perfect about consistently going to service, but we did our best to be part of the community. It was important to both my husband and me that they had faith in their lives — a sense of morals and values. From what I hear now from my family and close friends who are still in the loop, that experience has stuck with both of them, and that makes me happy.
Since I filed for divorce in January 2016, I have essentially been cut off from my children who are now 14 and 16 years old. My ex-husband and I were married for over 17 years and we are still slugging it out over our divorce settlement. Colorado is a no fault, 50-50 state.
Most of the delay has to do with natural gas resources (which I will get to some other time). It’s peculiar to me how the boxing gloves come off during a divorce (for him anyway). All I wanted was a fair settlement, and to sometimes see my children over the holidays and during the summer.
I moved to Carbondale to be closer to my own family, and didn’t expect my life to ever be the same as it had been. I did know, however, that I would most likely never move back to Denver (where I had lived most of my adult life), and that my children would continue to live there without me because it was their home.
However, at the end of my desperate and failed marriage, I knew that if I did not leave Denver, I would not make it on my own, ever. While we were separated and I lived in a dumpy apartment, I pleaded with my then-husband to move away from Denver, even if we ended up in divorce. I knew that I could no longer live there — there were too many triggers that led to my unhappiness, but I thought maybe he would grant me this last kindness– out of respect for our marriage and the relationship we had once had. Instead, my then-husband said that I was “crazy;” his business, his family, and the kids’ friends and school were in Denver. He also said that he was broke, and that my request was impossible.
The “crazy” was a reference to my suicide attempt on December 21, 2014 when I had tried to swallow a whole bottle of Tylenol PMs. I barely made it to the hospital where my stomach was pumped out. There would be other such unsuccessful attempts throughout the following year.
I was clearly drowning in my life in Denver.
Some people wonder why other people want to take their own lives. I did not want to take my own life. I had had a strong spirit and strength to live. Yet the emotional and psychological abuse I had dealt with from my ex-husband, his adamant denial that I was being harassed, and his destructive extended family dynamic was too much for me to handle.
Leading up to my suicide attempt, I suspected that my phone and emails were being hacked (the FBI showed up at my door in 2013 to suggest this was happening). My then-husband denied it, and that was the straw that broke my back. The hacking made me feel unsafe not only for myself but also for my children.
I love them more than anything or anyone else in this world. I imagined that some whacko would burn our house down with my kids in it; it was awful. What was even more awful was that no one believed me.
When I was suspicious about the hacking, and because I had a history of mental illness, I was shuffled from one doctor to another, trying one medication after another. My then-brother in-law, the only relative that I could trust, brought me a book about cognitive behavioral therapy on paranoid thoughts. At the time, I think he was trying to help me.
Now, I sometimes go back and look at the discovery emails from my divorce when my situation is too overwhelming. I believe my ex-brother-in-law wrote an email to my ex-husband’s lawyers saying that I was the “sickest” person he had ever known. This was conveniently during the time when my ex-husband and I were going through an ugly custody battle.
For over a decade, I went to the family ranch in Montana for two weeks every summer with my ex-brother-in-law, his wife and their two children. The kids nicknamed it “Camp Montana,” and it is (for all of us) still some of our best memories. My ex-brother-in-law and his wife were my family then, or so I thought.
After my suicide attempt, I was admitted to Colorado Recovery Center (CRC) in Boulder for extensive treatment. During that time, I didn’t hear one word from anyone in my then-husband’s “Christian” family — no cards, no notes, no phone calls to me or any member of my family to ask how I was doing. Later, in the parental rights interview of my divorce, my ex-husband said the reason his family did not reach out to me was because they could not understand suicide. I thought to myself then, do they not understand compassion?
Little did I know that my then-sister-in-law, my supposed friend, was collecting all the emails and texts I had been sending to her. She was a somewhat newly confirmed Christian (10 years) then, so told my then-husband that she did not want the emails and texts used as evidence against me. But, she also told him that she was already “on my radar,” and said that she would do anything to help him during the divorce. Disgusting hypocrite!
A year later, I texted her and asked why no one from their family had ever reached out to me after my attempted suicide. Her response was that they were all praying for me. In a number of unflattering (to say the least) emails, I told my beloved in-laws that I was going to write a book about the family saga for the past 19 years. My then-brother-in-law responded that he would sue me for libel, and I told him to “bring it!”
Nothing I have said about anything or anyone in my story is a lie. Ironically, the following year, when I was living in Atlanta for more mental health treatment, my ex-sister-in-law was chatting with her tennis opponent, someone she had never met before, and went on and on about what a lush I was and that one of my closest friend’s was a bad influence on me.
Little did she know that her opponent had been my neighbor and friend for over ten years, so I heard what she had said about me! I, in turn, had spent almost two decades keeping my mouth shut about the underbelly of my ex-husband’s evil family. How ironic that my ex-brother-in-law threatened to sue me for libel as his wife slandered me to a woman she didn’t even know.
Again, I had considered them family. I had known them for a long time – 19 years! My ex-sister-in-law and I had run together; we had trained for a half marathon, we did volunteer work together. I did consider her a close friend and a decent person. I thought she too was striving to raise her children with values and morals.
And yet, in my opinion, she sleeps next to a dishonorable husband, like I did. I’d like to believe that on some level, she does know how she has hurt me, but the deadly sins of greed, wrath, and pride are powerful. She, like the others in my ex-husband’s family, sees what she wants to believe.