Just When You Think It’s Safe To Come Out Of The Water

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never know what will happen when you get up in the morning. I say this because just a few short years ago I was happily married [or so I thought], gainfully employed, established in a great career, and pulling down a nice salary of my own at nearly $150K a year. This was just my part of the household income.

I felt secure in the love of a husband I absolutely adored. I enjoyed the benefits of having an impeccable professional reputation, excellent credit, lots of friends, and what I thought was a bright future ahead of me. We had a nice comfortable home, several nice savings accounts, and even great health insurance. Little did I know what was lurking just beneath me in the water.

D-Day

In February 2011, while running a few errands, my husband of 29 years pulled the car over, and shut the engine off. He then unbuckled his seat belt, tuned to face me and blurted out that he needed to “go away” to “see if anything could make him happy”.

I placed my hand on his shoulder and assured him that whatever the problem was, he could be certain that I was “there for him”. Like an insane person, he started crying hysterically and screamed at me “But [sniff,sniff] …. your love [sniff,sniff] …is not [sniff, sniff] …  enough for me!”[sniff sniff].

Well, okay then. Point taken.

3, 2, 1 … Switch Personalities

Then, very strangely, it was as if someone had loudly snapped their fingers to get him out of a trance. He jarringly rocked back in the car seat and shook his head back and forth as if he’d been slapped by someone and looked as if he was having to get his bearings.

After taking a second to collect himself. he then turned, looked at me sweetly, and kindly said, “You hungry? … I’m hungry … What sounds good to you? … I’m thinking salmon.”

He then opened the car door, exited the vehicle, and walked into the grocery to buy fresh salmon—leaving me sitting there stunned and bewildered. And so began my crazy journey.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I’d just been served up my first dose of a power tactic that until that day, I knew nothing about—gaslighting.

Initiate The Sea Bag Drag

I sat in the car—wondering what to do next—wondering what to expect. I decided to remain quiet as was my custom, and just see what transpired. He came back from inside the store with deli-wrapped salmon in hand. He started the car and drove home. We arrived at the house, went inside, fixed dinner together, and ate our salmon—all in silence.

Then, within 20 minutes of standing up and putting his dishes in the dishwasher, he was packed and out the door. He left [it appeared] with only the clothes on his back and whatever things he was able to cram into a duffel bag as he ran around the house snatching up things like a crazy person.

Reality Makes A House Call

I would soon discover that he left with a lot more than just his clothes. As it turned out, I was unaware that he’d been putting money into his own separate and individual bank account for quite some time.

In addition—arrogantly thinking that he knew more than the financiers who crashed and burned on Wall Street—he’d also been dabbling in day trading. It was only when our tax preparer scolded him in front of me about the number of ‘wash’ sales in his Ameritrade account that I even learned that he had an Ameritrade account!

Further, in an apparent effort to be as liquid as possible when he fled the country, he’d also been using his cash paychecks to buy gold for some time as well.

A Naive Ninny

A day late and a bunch of dollars short [pun intended], I was the all too-trusting wife, just happy to go off to work and let him handle the details of our banking, credit cards, and personal finances. I had more than my share of obligations to attend to at work. I just to work and had  my checks electronically deposited—many times not evening opening or looking at my paycheck stubs for months at a time.

Sadly, the money I was told that ‘we’ were setting aside for college tuition for the grandson we had been raising since birth somehow mystically-magically got suddenly re-classified as only being ‘his money’—money he scooped up and took with him when he left.

Happy Valentine’s Day Dear

His departure [what I now satirically term D-Day] coincided with the Valentine’s Day holiday—and just three months before our grandson’s high school graduation. This was a huge slap in the face because several weeks earlier our grandson had just gotten accepted into the biomedical engineering program of large nearby university.

Sadly, in May, our grandson graduated with my eldest son and myself being the only family members in attendance—a day he described as “the worst day of his life.” My husband’s family? His only living grandparents? They didn’t even bother to show up, send a card, or send a present. Nah, they disappeared quicker than mob informants in the witness protection program, weighing in as “no shows” for the event. Their excuse? … “Not wanting to takes sides”.

Sides? … Um … That’s interesting … The way I see it, there are no ‘sides’ in a unilateral decision … Unless, of course, you’re counting the blind side.