He Gave A New Meaning To Rock My World

IT ALL CAME DOWN LIKE A HOUSE OF CARDS

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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 five 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 nearly $150K a year.

I felt secure in the love of a husband that I absolutely adored. I had an impeccable professional reputation, excellent credit, and what I thought was a bright future. I had a comfortable home, nice savings account, and great health insurance. (Insert the theme song from the movie “Jaws” here for dramatic effect.)

Fast forward to today. Many would classify me as what Forbes termed the “unemployable” (displaced professionals over 50). Yet each day, I continue to get up, put one foot in front of the other, and determine that I am going to maintain my dignity and refuse to yield to the ever-present temptation to define my self-worth by my current circumstances. Circumstances that include roaming the US as a transient and dependent on a rotation of friends and relatives to lend me a place to live, I have survived thus far by working for less than minimum wage. I have no health insurance and face a dubious future.

A modern-day Job story of sorts—not that I am worthy to compare myself with the saint Job.

That said, I’m extremely happy that I am still alive because many people did not think I would be. Raised in church and convinced that hell is a very real place, I never entertained the thought of actually killing myself. But in all honesty, for some time, I lost all will to live. Rather than ending it quickly, I guess I subconsciously tried to accomplish the same thing by slowly eating myself up from the inside out with unresolved grief.

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED

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In February 2011, while running our normal weekend errands, my husband of 29 years pulled the car over, shut the engine off, tuned to me, and blurted out that he felt he needed to away and “see if anything that could make him happy” because my love for him “just wasn’t enough.”

Within 20 minutes after arriving back at the house, he was packed and out the door, leaving (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.

I would soon discover that he left with a lot more than just his clothes. As it turned out, he’d been putting money into “his” (separate) bank account for quite some time. And—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 learned that he even had an Ameritrade account!

Further, in an apparent effort to be as liquid as possible when he fled the country, he’d been buying gold for some time as well. I was the all too-trusting wife, happy to go to go to work every day and let him handle the details of our personal finances. This was easy for me as I had more than my share of obligations at work. For years I trusted him so much that I never even thought about looking into our personal bank accounts or balances. (Warning young ladies!)

Sadly, the money I was told that “we” were setting aside for college tuition for the grandson we had been raising since birth was magically re-classified as “his money”—money that he instantly scooped up and took with him when he left.

His departure (what I now satirically term D-Day) came just three months before our grandson’s high school graduation—and just weeks after he’d been accepted to the biomedical engineering program of large nearby university. Sadly, several months later in May, our grandson graduated with just my eldest son and me in attendance—a day he described as “the worst f****ing day of his life.”

My husband’s family? Well, they vanished quicker than mob informants going into a witness protection program, weighing in as “no shows” for the event. Their excuse? … “Not wanting to takes sides”.  Sides? … Um, Tthere are no “sides” in a unilateral decision—unless, of course, you count the blind side.

ABSOLUTELY NO WARNING SIGNS

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The odd thing is that right up until the day he dropped the bomb, I saw nothing out of the ordinary in his behavior. We’d had absolutely no arguments or disagreements. There was nothing that signaled a man dissatisfied with his marriage. Heck, we even worked together! Co-workers had often commented to me about what a good marriage they thought we had. You can imagine my surprise!

Walking down the sidewalk as he was leaving, he complained about “the commitment” (ha!) that he’d made to his second employer. (He had two jobs.) He lamented about how he was now going to have to stay in town and “honor” (rolling my eyes) the two-month notice that he’d agreed to give them should he ever resign.

As it turned out, there was nothing remotely noble underlying his decision to remain in the area. He was only staying in town because he had to. What I did not know was that he was waiting for his Visa to be processed. You see, in this fun-fest of intrigue and surprise, I had yet to discover that his plan included moving to overseas to cohabit with his yet-to-be-announced paramour—a well-heeled girlfriend that he’d dated back in high school. An old girlfriend whose company was opening an office in Mumbai, India. A paramour whose husband had apparently opted out on being her tag-along escort as she traipsed around the globe furthering her career.

This same girlfriend had dumped my ex back in the day. As it turned out, this was ther same girlfriend he’d orchestrated a faux suicide attempt for in an effort to try to win back when they were both 17. Yep, he was leaving me to be with a girlfriend that he just “happened” (wink, wink) to reconnect with while trolling for a fresh source of narcissistic supply on Classmates.com.

I STILL CRINGE ABOUT HOW I GROVELED & BEGGED

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Like so many others who find themselves in this kind of situation, the anguish and heartbreak got the best of me. As a result, I behaved like the textbook groveling chump. I thought that if I just continued showing him unconditional love, or that if I somehow managed to demonstrate my undying love and commitment, it would miraculously resurrect the good that I was so certain was still buried somewhere deep within him. Ms. Pollyanna thought that he would see the error of his ways and snap back to his senses. Love conquers all, right? Nope—only in Hollywood romantic comedies.

I still am awash in shame whenever I look back on those days. The humiliating truth was that I did the “pick-me” dance—repeatedly pleading, crying, and telling him how much I loved him. I assured him that I had faith in him. I told him that I believed he was a good person who’d simply lost his way.

I had prior history on which to base this opinion, because before this happened we had long been very religious people … if you base religion on how many times we warmed the pews at church … three services a week for decades. My magical thinking had me assuring him that what he was going through was nothing more than a trial … sent to test his faith and build character in both of us.

His response was to laugh in my face and say: “Yeah, and you’re stupid too! You see, I am NOT a good person—and someday you’re going to find out just how much I’m NOT that good person.” To demonstrate his point, he threw the Bible and one of our church books on the floor and left.

Well, he was right. I did find out. And I am still finding out! I have learned that the famous Maya Angelou quote is all too true: “When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.”  This is more than just a pithy quote. It’s full body armor and it should be used as such.

MID-LIFE CRISIS? DEMON POSSESSION? PSYCHOPATHY? (Where do I put this bucket full of crazy?)

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Looking at it objectively now, he had to have been plotting his getaway for quite some time. But like the good little trusting chump I was, I was none the wiser.

This was all so very crushing to me. I loved him!

Throughout our marriage, I falsely believed I was the safest woman in town—so well-insulated from infidelity. My false assurance was based on the many times that my husband had tearfully recounted the events and abuses that (he said) had occurred in his childhood. His pain was almost palpable as he told graphically detailed stories of his parents’ tumultuous marriage and their nasty breakup and divorce.

He cried real tears as he told about how their behavior had scarred him emotionally. He told of a volatile marriage tainted with wife-swapping, sexual acting out, and his need to interrupt his dad’s suicide attempt … having to take the shotgun out of his dad’s mouth. He described a physically and verbally abusive father and his waif of a mother who played her teenage boys like a fiddle. (Long divorced from my ex-husband’s father, I witnessed how she repeatedly incited conflict with her various male suitors and then called and guilted her sons into running to defend her. My ex was usually the first to take the bait and do so.)

Dear Hubs pontificated about how HE would NEVER subject a woman to the abuse that his poor mother had gone through with his father. He berated pastors and other men in our church for misusing the Bible and misappropriating “subjection” scriptures to bully their wives.

Making this whole ordeal even more unfathomable to me was how that—for most of our married life—my husband was a Bible-thumping zealot, off the charts in religiosity. For nearly 20 years he had attended church three times a week, arriving an hour early and often staying in the sanctuary by himself for up to an hour after dismissal, to remain in prayer and meditation. Who knew?!

TURNS OUT THAT THERE WAS A DIRTY LITTLE BACK STORY

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There was a (related?) dark drama in my husband’s past that pre-dated this whole cataclysm. You see, before I ever met my husband, Uncle Sam had kindly requested that he exit the military “for the good of the corps”. The Marine Corps had officially diagnosed him with Borderline Personality Disorder, handed him his separation papers, granted him an Honorable Discharge, and sent him skipping on his merry way.

I learned of this a few years into our marriage. He jokingly played this off as nothing more than a simple Basic Training prank. His spin of the tale is that in attempts to get himself released with full government benefits from the rigors and discipline of Basic Training, he pulled a fellow recruit out of the chow line and beat him senseless to feign a mental breakdown. He said that to make it all the more convincing, he then went to his commander and pleaded to be sent to El Salvador, citing that “he was trained now” and wanted to go “kill people for his Uncle Sam.”

He says he got this diagnosis because he and a bunch of his buddies sat around drinking beer and fabricating group answers to the questions on the psychological test that he’d been given to take home and complete. In my naiveté (and again, like a good chump) I believed this explanation. I don’t believe this now. As many of my friends have since pointed out to me—how many psychiatrists do you know who give “take-home” tests?!

SO, WHO DOES THESE KINDS OF THINGS?!

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He was quite the little thespian. Right up until the day he left, he made certain that everything appeared to be normal to me in our marriage. Cruelly adding a serrated, more painful edge to the cut he was going to make, he (intentionally?) timed his departure to coincide with Valentine’s Day. We had just celebrated our 29th anniversary a week earlier and in honor of the occasion, he’d presented me with an array of expensive jewelry.

He was known for conspicuously sending me flowers at work and surprising me periodically me with “I Love You” e-cards in my inbox—something I now know to have been theatrics and choreography to keep me off guard and unsuspecting until he was ready to nuke everything on his way out.

Once he walked out the door, he went “No Contact” immediately, and has stuck by it, with very few exceptions, to this very day. Being “ghosted” like this was, and still is, very surreal. It was as if aliens landed, sucked out his very soul, and left behind only an outer shell with a wild vacant stare in its eyes.

Before he left for overseas to be with his long-lost love, he remained in town to work out his 8 week notice, yet I was not to be told where he was living. Impishly however, he would resurface for very brief moments—either arriving at my door or calling me up on the phone—barely able to suppress his delight as he delivered his gleeful announcements.

His giddy proclamations were such things as telling me that he’d taken my name off one of our joint bank accounts, or that he’d deleted me as beneficiary on his insurance policies. He even took the liberty of changing our auto insurance (without even asking me!), audaciously reporting me as living at a completely different city so as to attempt to raise my premiums dramatically.

Admittedly, I was always too blindsided by his display of hubris to form a cogent response. Most often, I just stood there stunned and bewildered, looking much like a mouth-breathing idiot. In retrospect, I see that my silence only enabled his runaway narcissism.

PUBLIC HUMILIATION THROWN IN FOR GOOD MEASURE

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Our lives were enmeshed in that he’d long done contract (IT) work for the business where I held the executive role. I’d gotten him the contract, as well as getting him several additional ones with the other practices in the building—through my reputation and introductions. During “The Dark Days”—the two month period when he was still in the USA waiting for his Visa to arrive so he could leave the country to join his awaiting love—he continued to come in and work in all the other offices in the building every day. However, he refused to darken the door where WE had worked together, essentially leaving my facility and 70+ users without the on-site support we’d contracted him to provide.

Back then, I was nowhere as strong as I am now and I admit that I did not handle things well. I was an emotional basket case, drowning in my mental anguish and torture, crying hours a day. I obsessed over trying to figure out what had occasioned such an abrupt calamity in my life.

Though I spent every waking moment and every ounce of life energy researching it, I could find no explanation as to why this had all gone down. My mind was stuck, perpetually indexing the massive database of every event in our 29 years of marriage 24 hours a day.

Why did such a formerly loving man now hate me so viscerally? What had I done to him? Why was I suddenly so unlovable? With no history of disagreements or fights, I was left to ruminate in the acid of my psychological cauldron.

Meanwhile, onlookers in the other offices in the medical building were in a one-up position, thinking they knew the facts about what was going on. That was because my husband was still coming into their offices and working with them on a daily basis … business as usual.

There simply are not adequate words in the English language to describe how humiliating and shame-inducing it is to find yourself in a position where essentially all the people around you (who are basically no more than strangers) know more about very intimate and extremely sensitive and painful details of your life than you do. Yet, that is exactly where I found myself for months on end. It felt like I was trapped in an emotional game of keep away.

UNABLE TO LOOK AWAY FROM WHAT WAS HAPPENING

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Suddenly single, and left with all our financial obligations, I HAD to continue to go to work in this sick environment. I couldn’t permanently crawl under the covers and hide, as much as I wanted to. I HAD to subject myself to this tortuous environment every day.

Like the character Alex in the movie A Clockwork Orange—I had absolutely no escape from seeing that torture: my eyes were forced open and I was unable to look away from the terror. All I knew for certain was that my husband (and every aspect of my life as I knew it) was suddenly gone—and I couldn’t explain why.

I wrestled and wrestled with the agony. I felt as if I had been dropped onto the set during the filming of a twisted sick psychodrama. Apparently I had the lead role in this blockbuster as I was the one being affected by all of this, yet I was the only person who hadn’t been afforded the courtesy of being given a copy of the script and/or allowed to buy a clue. People who had no reason to do so, suddenly shunned me as if I had oozing wounds of leprosy.

YET HE WAS SUCH A CARING ABUSER …

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The only explanation I ever got from him (to this very day!) was his 30-second announcement and tearful proclamation that he knew he was leaving “undoubtedly the nicest person in the world”, but that “he couldn’t live with me anymore”. I suppose this may have been because the new woman had issued him an ultimatum.

Like so many other spouses dumped before me, I too got the standard “I love you … but I am not ‘in love’ with you any more” parting speech. I suppose the cowards who say this kind of thing must be so grandiose and narcissistic that they really believe that this is a coveted consolation prize and that we (the dumpees) should consider ourselves fortunate to have gotten it.

He saw me as a possession (chattel that he owned) and not a human being. He told me that he was having to “put me on a shelf for now“. He followed up with the caveat that he wasn’t exactly sure when or if he would ever be able to take me off that shelf. (Insert that same hand gesture here.)

He told me that “it wouldn’t be fair” to communicate with me anymore, because obviously I was still in love with him  and he “didn’t want me anymore”.  He assured me that he was only looking out for what was best for me. He said that he was only trying to protect my feelings.

How big of him.

FRANKLY SCARLET  I DON’T GIVE A DAMN …

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It was 2011, and I was living a modern-day version of The Scarlet Letter, only in this production I was the wife, not the mistress. I would get into a crowded elevator at work and suddenly you could hear a pin drop as all conversation stopped until after I got out. Dear Departed was making his rounds in all the other offices in the building, chatting everyone up like a frat boy during pledge week.

One day a “concerned” woman from another office in the building came to visit me. She said that since our marriage was likely to end in divorce anyway, she felt I should know that my husband had long had more than a professional relationship with another manager in the building. She assured me that it was, indeed, a fact. Being that other woman’s executive assistant, she’d overheard them booking a private room at a local swingers bar for an after-work hook up (this other woman was still married too). My mind went to the fact that this same woman had recently had a baby, despite her children being much older.

I got a knot in my stomach when I remembered that same woman sending pictures of her baby to “us” at our home—despite the fact that she and I were barely work acquaintances, let alone personal friends.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I saw the backside of human nature, up close and personal. People who’d been “our” friends abruptly stopped talking to me as my husband systematically recruited them as flying monkeys in his smear campaign. Not knowing what he was saying, and being so shell-shocked and hiding out in silence only served to provide him with the unchallenged bully pulpit and the power to exclusively define the narrative. Emails languished in people’s in-boxes without opening or reply. It was bizarre. It was as if everyone feared that they too might contract divorce or attracting sudden abandonment into their lives by osmosis or by association.

Having been blindsided with so many life-altering circumstances all at once, and not being able to find any logical explanations for any of it was impossible for my very analytical mind to process. Layering-on of the ostracizing was cruel and unusual punishment. Punishment for an undefined crime. Punishment for a crime that I had not committed, and for which I had not been indicted, tried, or convicted.

Even today after I have experienced a great deal of healing, this is still something that is hard for me to believe. I am a humanitarian by nature, yet I find that my disappointment and disillusionment with that part of humanity is so disheartening.

PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL EFFECTS

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I cried incessantly. My entire world had been upended. Prior to all of this, I had been known as a professional woman with ample confidence and gravitas. Yet after this, I found myself questioning everything I had ever thought to be absolute. What was true? What was an illusion? I questioned everything and everyone. I even questioned God’s role in this, if at all.

For me, Polaris had shifted in the heavens. My compass was spinning out of control. Everything I had ever felt that I had to fall back on for assurance and stability had been blown to smithereens … in nanoseconds. As a result, I was in an all-out free fall through hell, or so it seemed.

I grieved so much that I lost 80 pounds in about 4 months. I cried a hoarse gutteral cry that friends still tell me broke their hearts to hear. I cried so long and so loud that I completely lost my voice. I experienced horrific panic attacks immediately upon awakening in the morning and realizing that my nightmare was indeed real, and not just a bad dream. I was formally diagnosed with PTSD.

I managed a $16M business and had over 60 FTE’s. My bosses demanded that I “Get over it!”. (I don’t blame them for that. They had every right to do so. They were running a business and they needed me to focus and do my job.)

In retrospect, I never should have attempted to try to continue to work. But hindsight, as we soon learn, is always 20/20. I should have taken an immediate leave of absence. It was not fair to me and it was not fair for the business for me to try to function. Undoubtedly, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life was dragging myself in there and facing all these lecherous people every day.

I understand that human nature can be very base and self-serving and no doubt, it was titillating and empowering for all those people to think they knew something that I didn’t. Riveting news: The Boss Is Getting Her Comeuppance (!)

Everyone I’d ever counseled, disciplined, or fired was joined in a feeding frenzy, feasting like vultures on carrion. I heard them whispering every time I walked by. It was so hard not to break down and sob whenever I heard them doing it. I often had to leave the room abruptly to keep from vomiting. Sometimes, that was impossible.

No matter how hard I tried, my mind couldn’t reconcile the monster that my husband had become with my memories of the man that I “thought” I’d known for almost 30-years.

LAND SHARKS! 

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And the betrayal didn’t end there either. During this very trying time, three of my direct-reports (area supervisors) saw blood in the water and began circling like the land sharks they turned out to be. Gotta hand it to them, they saw their opportunity for a power grab, and like good opportunists, they went for it. One by one, they put a death grip on what they saw to be their Golden Opportunity, and held on to the brass ring for dear life.

These three good “Christians” would come into my office under the guise of care and concern and bait me into sharing the newest developments in my unfolding tragedy. (My bad. Lesson learned.)

Duplicitously, they would put their arms around me, hug me, tell me they loved me, and assure me that they were praying for me—then promptly leave my office, march down the hall and broadcast the details to capitalize on their new-found pearls of information.

It hurt me deeply, seeing as I had taken each of these ladies from line staff and promoted them into salaried supervisors with very significant pay increases. I still shake my head in disbelief at their ruse, but in the end, it has made me wiser and that’s what counts I suppose.

A professional staff member who had worked closely with the toxic trio informed of their co-conspiracy during her exit interview. Taking a risk, she said that she thought I “should know”. Sadly, their premeditation and orchestrated sabotage ultimately resulted in me losing my job. Other staff members corroborated this as well, so I know she was telling me the truth.

PHYSICAL AND FINANCIAL EFFECTS

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As if all of this weren’t enough fun, several months after D-Day, I discovered a baseball sized mass in my right breast requiring immediate surgery. (The mass turned out to be a fast-growing non-malignant tumor, thank God.)

While out on medical leave for surgery, my “position was eliminated” and my duties and salary was redistributed to my three direct reports who, once again, got very significant pay increases.

Bizarrely, I was notified of this fact at 10 PM, via email from the corporate attorney. I was instructed that any communication with anyone at the office and/or any questions or concerns I had regarding the business were to be directed to the Labor attorney ONLY. Here’s the kicker: literally within five minutes of receiving and opening the email, my husband (after nearly a year of no-contact) “just happened” to call from India saying that he’d heard I had surgery and wanted to check on me.

No one will ever convince me that the timing of that call was a coincidence.

At a time when continued income was paramount to my survival, I was forced to walk away from the three-month severance continuation that had been given to all previous managers, including those terminated for cause and even to those walking off the job in gross insubordination. In addition, I was told I would not be paid for my two months accrued/unused vacation time.

In a stark departure from established precedent, my payout was now going to be made conditional—payable only if I agreed to personally warrant in writing that the medical practice had always been in compliance with all federal Medicare guidelines. Further, the severance agreement was attempting to stipulate that I agree represent their interest in court and/or deposition (at my own expense) should such an occasion ever arise.

In my opinion, this was their (legal?) way of blackmailing me, seeing as this had been an ongoing issue in the practice. One particular MD (owner) and I often had lively “discussions” over compliance. He and I had differing opinions on when medical charts should be dictated and completed in order to be legal. He was openly known to be walking the razor’s edge by failing to completing the documentation on his patient charts for weeks (and sometimes months!) after seeing the patients and after billing for their visits—exposing the entire practice and the other partners to audit, fines, and unnecessary risks.

Ironically, that same partner served as the practice’s “Compliance Officer”. In frequent displays of braggadocio, he often put forth in Board Meetings that these kind of strong-arm tactics should be adopted and used as insurance against possible whistle-blowing by members of management leaving their employ. His suggestions were repeatedly vetoed by the other members of the Board—that is, until my departure. They knew I did not have the funds and wherewithal to take legal action because of what my husband had done. (And they were still allowing my husband to do remote IT administration from overseas.)

SO JOHNNY, HOW ‘BOUT A FEW PARTING GIFTS …

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My husband saw to it that I tumbled over into the financial abyss by leaving me on the hook for three (3!) brand new car leases, despite the fact that he was co-signed on the notes. Just two months before he left, he and I had just leased new vehicles, as well as one for the grandson going off to college. He knew that he was going to dump them and leave the country when we signed the paperwork.

I was unable to enforce payment of his share of the debts as he was essentially untouchable, securely tucked away with his love on another continent with no known forwarding address or contact info. To protect myself legally and financially, I had to divorce him in-absentia, via public notice in the local newspapers. More humiliation.

In the months that followed, my unemployment and remaining savings were depleted as I struggled to maintain a roof over my head for my grandson and myself. I went on to lose my residence and have since been existing as an itinerant, living sequentially with various friends and relatives in different parts of the country. For the first two years, I spent  most days sitting in my car in various parking lots or at Panera Bread applying for jobs on an IPad so as not to be underfoot in someone else’s home and to not wear out my welcome.

SEQUELA

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At this point, after five years of searching and not yet finding a livable wage job, I have now sold all of my things to survive (furniture, jewelry, all my household items). The only thing I have left to my name is my car, and it remains perpetually behind in payments, often at the brink of repossession due to absent/sporadic cash flow.

The woman who my husband was said to have more “more than a business relationship with” and who sent “us” the baby pictures, now holds the Executive Director position, influencing the physicians, their practice and their surgery center operations. My husband still has ties with the group. He has now moved back to the United States and has married his paramour who has since divorced her architect husband.

CATCH-22 – ALL DRESSED UP AND NOWHERE TO GO

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I’ve had a plethora of multi-level interviews for positions commensurate with my background and experience. I‘ve gotten as far as meeting directly with the hiring managers, and have even progressed up through the ladder to interview with health system CEOs and Board Members. However, when references are given and my credit is checked, I never hear back from them.

I have resigned myself to working multiple minimum wage jobs but even then, I am still viewed with suspicion: “Why … with all this experience … are you wanting to work here?” (What they also do not say is: “You have more experience than I do and I fear you will try to take my job.”)

Two doors: Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

To keep from losing my car, I most recently had to work $10 hour (1099!) That’s below minimum wage when you pay your own taxes. Now, even that source has run out.

KEEPING MY HUMOR ABOUT ME

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I guess it’s all in how you look a things. Although there’s a lot I do not have any more, there is also a lot that I still DO have. For example, I have a lot more wisdom and I am extremely proud to say that I’m no longer a chump. So in that respect, I’m very blessed.

In addition, my sense of humor has survived intact. In fact, is much better, albeit a bit darker. I enjoy telling people that they haven’t experienced the full spectrum of what life has to offer until they’ve had their debit card declined at Dollar General or until they’ve been placed in the position to do the “pick me” dance while interviewing with a fetus for an entry-level minimum-wage job.

But we do what we gotta do. Smile.

MEANWHILE, HE AND THE GOOD DOCTOR ARE PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ

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Meanwhile,  back at the ranch, my husband and his new love (recently partnered in a large international firm and also in receipt of her well-to-do-and-now-deceased parent’s inheritance) are traveling first class around the globe—living on her income, dining on her corporate expense account, staying in the finest hotels, experiencing the high life, and sleeping quite well at night, I suspect.

To add a bit more spice to this twisted tale (and it already reads like a bad novel!) she is a PhD psychologist—in a prominent international executive recruiting firm in a large city. Five years later, he still does not work, despite being amply degreed—Summa Cum Laude, times two!

YOU SIMPLY CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

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There’s more dark humor in this twisted black comedy. Get this: She is an ex-military psychologist skilled in, of all things, (wait for it!) psychological warfare. I kid you not. Many times I’ve pondered what advisory role, if any, she may have played in the orchestration and deconstruction of my life—or whether my ex was enough of a disordered character to think all this up on his own. The kicker here is that she is fully aware of my ex’s personality disorder diagnosis. Oh well … as they say, “Not my monkeys – not my circus.”

No deposit. No return.

MY NEW FOCUS AND PASSION

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I never dreamed that an otherwise intelligent and emotionally stable person could be brought to their knees and feel such intense pain. To try to help myself, I have done extensive research reading everything I could get my hands on to find out why sudden abandonment is so devastating to us as human beings. I guess I thought that if I learned enough about it, then I would be more empowered.

It has helped. I am now more empowered. But you know what else I have found? The past doesn’t exist. All we have is NOW. If we continue to go back and ruminate or if we choose to stay back there, then WE are victimizing ourselves and will never experience what’s YET to come.

Today, I’m happy to move over and let my ex and his live-in shrink “Sing and dance with one hand free … and have the world so easily” as Steve Winwood depicts in the song “Back In The High Life Again”.

I can only expend my energy establishing my foundations again, even if that means, like Tom Hanks in The Castaway, that it’s just me and “Wilson”. Smile. I am determined to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. Whenever and wherever I find the chance, I do everything within my power to help other women and men experiencing this heartache.

IN CLOSING

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This is a long post, yet it is but a brief overview (yes, there’s a whole lot MORE) of the unbelievable events and changes that have transpired in my life over the past five years. Every psychologist and counselor I’ve chatted with along the way has remarked that my story sounds more like a Lifetime Movie than something a person should be living in real life.

Others have told me that people experiencing the tyranny of narcissistic abuse heal much quicker by coming to grips with the fact that there REALLY are people out there with absolutely NO CONSCIENCE or empathy.

Personally I have found that we extend our pain proportional to how long we continue to project our goodness and sanity onto them. People who abandon others are not good and they are not sane. They are predators. Realizing that they are evil at their very core allows us to deal with their predatory nature. It no longer shocks and surprises us. It’s simply what they do. If we look at it that way, we can then be glad someone else has taken them off our hands.

Sadly, I have also discovered that we live in a predominantly narcissistic culture. Other people in our lives will leave us abruptly as well if we experience a sudden reversal of fortune.  That’s just facts. WIIFM rules the day. (What’s In It For Me?)

THE BOTTOM LINE

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At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, I can honestly say that I know a couple of things now that I didn’t know before:

  1. First, I know that setting someone up, blindsiding them, giving them no explanation, and never letting them have an opportunity to obtain closure is the worst form of emotional torture that one human (?) can inflict on another. No wonder the lowest level of Dante’s Inferno is reserved for those who do this. Hell is too good for people who do this.
  2. Secondly, regardless of what my ex or any of these people have done that was hurtful to me, that defines THEM and not me.
  3. Granted, I may have the smell of smoke on my clothes from rubbing shoulders with Dante’s crowd, but as the saying goes: “If you’re walking through hell … keep going”. There will be and end to it and you’ll come out on the other side a survivor with more character and self-respect.
  4. Lastly, never again will I place my locus of control and/or the validation of my self-worth in the hands of another human being OUTSIDE of myself. Only God our Creator owns that right.

Be well everyone.  Wishing you the best!