Category Archives: getting free

say my name, say my name

Today was all about traipsing from one government office to another (really just two) and to my bank and to the fax machine at the Stap.les store (twice for that one)—all in the name of the long-awaited legal name change.  I received the “certified” court documents for my divorce late yesterday afternoon.  Since my mail comes too late in the day, I wasn’t able to start the process yesterday, but I set my alarm (during my vacation even!) and spent a long day of waiting in line, talking to customer service reps on the phone, and getting stuff done.

Everything is official now, though it will take anywhere from a few days (bank cards) to a few weeks (driver’s license) to get my new stuff with my new/old name on it.

No more common-ish last name with the Jewish ending.  Back to the weird last name that was probably mangled at Ellis Island.  The only others with my last name whom I’ve ever met have been related to me.  It was nice for a few years to not ALWAYS have to spell my name for people, but I really don’t mind.  I’ve developed a new appreciation for it.

For a while I’ve been going by two names, depending on the context.  At work (mostly) and socially, I have been going by the name I was born with.  For “official” things, like paychecks, prescriptions, credit cards, etc., I’ve been going by X’s last name (which was actually his mother’s maiden name—we both took it when we got married—long story.) because I had to.  This led to a weird, schizophrenic state in which I would usually have to think for a moment before telling someone or signing my full name.

Now I am back to me, back to my name, back to not being reminded of X every time I write a check or pick up a prescription.

It was a good day, today.



The mediation is over.

We got through it much more quickly than I was dreading expecting.  Basically Mr. X offered me the exact same offer that I put on the table several months ago and he rejected (he still gets more than his fair share, but it’s over).  And we all signed a mediation agreement that Biff, the super-lawyer, says that a judge will enforce if X gets snakey.

And supposedly the house is in foreclosure.  Joy.

There are some more details I’ll share later when I have some energy.  I’m still pretty exhausted, and still not home.  I’m staying with a friend who lives in driving distance of the scene of the crime.  Flying out tomorrow.

Thank you all immeasurably for your good thoughts, prayers, etc.  I needed them.


So, first, I want to tell you how hard it is for me to put this out there and actually ASK for this.  Really, really hard.  Just to let you know up front.  Second, I’m not really sure how to ask…if I were standing in front of you, or on the phone with you, I would just do the blurt method and just hope you didn’t think that I sounded too dumb or too new agey or old agey or naive or whatever.  But this is a blog, and there is no blurting in blogging–or not much for me, anyways.  I tend to overthink what I write (please PLEASE don’t write in the comments that you couldn’t tell! Ack!).

So my request is for your prayers or thoughts or energy or meditation or whatever it is that you DO if you do something of that nature.  And thank goodness that I don’t have to come to you asking for that for someone’s physical health (though, in that case, I probably wouldn’t be shy about it at all).  I am ever so grateful that those near and dear to me are safe and sound.

What I really, really, REALLY need is for my house to sell.  This house is holding me, binding me to X, and it seems that he is doing whatever he can to sabatoge its sale and drag us both down with it.  There will be an open house on Sunday.  My realtor stated that he didn’t understand why we haven’t had more interest in the house, that it really didn’t make much sense to him.

So please take a few moments to put some thoughts, prayers, energy–whatever your vocabulary is–toward asking that the universe send someone to buy my house.  It will mean freedom for me.

the Great Escape: part 5, the end of the end

The saga continues.  Who knew it would take so long?  Look elsewhere for part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

When we last left off in this soap opera, I had just discovered that Mr. X had canceled/blocked my attempt to move half of our savings, which legally belonged to me, and my attorney advised me to move.  I made this discovery just before I was to go pick up X and drive him to the airport, which was to be our last time alone together, according to my plans.  I went ahead with the plan to pick him up and give him a ride (despite knowing he was onto me), partly out of shock, partly out of denial that anything could go really wrong.  I probably wouldn’t do the same today.  I also wasn’t 100% sure that he was reason the transaction was canceled–again, denial runs strong.

I arrived at the house, expecting X to be ready, with his bags at the door, as he would have been for any other trip.  I parked in front of the house and left my things inside, including my purse, the doors unlocked (we had a very safe neighborhood, and I expected to be back  in the car in a couple of minutes).  When I walked in the door, X was very unlike himself, hyper and not ready to leave at all.  The whole mood that day was very eerie.  We both knew I had tried to move the money, and we both knew he had stopped it, but neither of us acknowledged it.  We kept playing our “normal” roles as husband and wife.  I helped him get a couple of things together, we made small talk.  At the same time, he knew, he knew.  He had read the old blog already (I later got confirmation of this, but at the time I had no idea), and he played mind games with me the whole time.  I had moved my passport out already; he decided to take his passport for his in-country trip (why?), which is kept in the same place–so, I told him I would retrieve it for him.  He told me he was having a problem logging onto our bank account and stood over me as I “tried” to log on, also.  Then…

He told me he left some things in his car, which was parked at the side of the house where I would normally park.  The next thing I knew, he was walking to my car at the front of the house, going inside it…I was freaking out, because there were papers from the attorney there…but he was in and out so quickly he didn’t have time to get to any of those…he made up some flimsy excuse–he was looking for his ritual items for prayer (tallit and tefillin)–why would they be in my car?  As the attorney’s papers seemed safe I forgot about this and just tried to hurry him along to JUST LEAVE.

Somehow I got through the ride to the airport.  As I was pulling away, all I could think was–I never have to be alone with him again, I never have to be alone with him again.  On my way back to work I stopped by a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and as I went to pay, I discovered that my debit card was gone.

Suddenly, all the business with his searching for his “tallit and tefillin” made sense.  If I had parked at the side, as usual, he could have gone into my car without my seeing him at all.  His being in and out of my car so quickly–too quickly to mess with any paperwork, but just enough time to grab my debit card.

He stole my fucking debit card out of my purse.

Later, when I talked to Cherry and I told her about how weird and hyper he was that day, she said, well, sure, he was about to commit a crime.  A crime I could never prove, but he did it.  As my attorney said, the card was in my purse before he went to the car, he went to the car, the card was no longer in my purse.

Of course, I reported that card as stolen to the bank.  I had a new card by that Saturday (thank you Fe.dEx!) and used my new card, until Mr. X had my new card cancelled on Sunday.  Yes.  Yes, he did.

By that time, I was staying at DD’s.  I stayed at our house on Thursday after X left, but the aura or the energy or something in that house just wasn’t right and I couldn’t stay there anymore.  I slept better on her pet-hair filled couch than I did on my own king-size bed.  Oh, and all of my angst about X’s well being and his being suicidal (or practically so) after I left?  Well, after he stole the debit card I knew that he would be fine, just fine.  And that was when I decided that Miss Famous was coming with me.

So, the rest of the savings disappeared (no, not just “his” half of it) and I was actually locked out of it with some kind of password (“Oh, you should speak to your husband, ma’am.”).  You can believe I won’t be dealing with that bank anymore.  I took some of the checking, but left enough to cover the outstanding checks, but good old X emptied out the rest.  His last ATM withdrawal was for $60.  He emptied it down to the last little bit.  Bounced checks galore, bank fees galore.  Weird things also started happening, too, like our realtor calling me and telling me he talked to X, who told him we had split up (before I had even left).  My gut told me he found the blog; later my gut was confirmed by a friend whom he told that he found it.  I just wasn’t careful enough.  I thought he wasn’t watching.  He may have been watching everything for a really long time.

I hadn’t really been eating or sleeping, but staying with DD (which stands for the Dynamic Duo, which she and Mr. DD definitely are) took care of the eating, and the sleeping somewhat.  Mr. DD just cooked stuff and put it in front of me and I would eat.  DD packed my stuff for me (I was pretty distracted) and labeled all the boxes and Mr. DD taught me how to erase the history on my computer–a valuable life lesson.  Mr. DD packed my stuff in his truck and got it out of the house to keep at DD’s parents’ house, so it would be safe, “just in case” (lots of paranoia going around in those days).  DD made me lists and kept me sane (or what passed for sane in those days).  I told DD that they saved me, they saved my life the same as if they had pulled me out of a burning building, and I would never, ever forget it.  And I won’t.

My mom drove two days to get from where she was to where I was.  The original plan was to spend the night at DD’s parents’ house (no pet hair everywhere) and start fresh in the morning.  She arrived on Monday, March 30 around three in the afternoon.  We decided to forgo the restful night at DD’s folks’ house.  My mom, Miss Famous, and I left town that very night, and I haven’t looked back.

the Great Escape: part 4, deciding the decision

If you happen to be new to this saga, you can find the previous installments here:  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.X

So at the end of the last post on this story, I found my self in the ultimate, “Oh, shit” moment.  I had just started reading Patricia Evans’s  The Verbally Abusive Relationship (which I just happened to have on my bookshelf–thankyouverymuch social work education), and was in shock because I recognized myself in its pages.

This was on Friday, March 13th.  I finished the book by the end of Saturday (while trying to keep the book hidden from X, no small feat, indeed).  On Sunday, I spoke to my friend, Cherry (the friend I refer to below), and to my mom.  Here’s what I said about it in my old blog:

And yesterday I called my mom.  I opened up a door there.  I don’t want this to be a secret anymore.  I’ve been hiding this, protecting him, and taking part in my own undoing for so long–because I never wanted anyone to think badly of him, of us.  Before today I had only ever told one friend about the things he has said to me, the belittling, crazy-making, scornful, sarcastic things he says to me.  I was so ashamed.

The next few days are somewhat of a blur.  I know that I was very much of two minds, and I was miserable.  I just kept saying , “No, no, this can’t be!”  This person I loved could not be an abuser!  I just could not integrate the information; it was as if I had been told he was an alien.  (After all, I helped other people who had been abused.)  And this, after everything I had been through.  Another part of me, the part that believed, the truest part of who I was, knew I couldn’t stay.  So I was split.  On Wednesday or Thursday (so March 18 or 19) I talked with my oldest friend by phone.  She commented that I kept saying that I didn’t know what I would do (stay or go), but I was talking like I was going to go.  My biggest grief was the dog, because I knew that leaving the dog would break me even more, but I didn’t see how I could take the dog from him.

Ah, yes.  About that.  You see, I was afraid that he would be a wreck if I left.  I was afraid that he would be suicidal.  Not that he had ever threatened suicide or anything like that, but I could just picture him in the corner with a bottle of pills and some razor blades or something…I now see this all as part of his manipulation from the beginning.  Always “afraid” I would leave.  Every fight mean that I was out the door.  So much of my agony during those days was about the pain I would be causing him.  As Cherry told me (in a different context, but still true), he trained me well.

At one point I found myself bargaining with God, offering to give up any chance for a child, ever, to just make him better.  Make it so I don’t have to do this thing.  Make it so he doesn’t have to hurt more.  (Trained very well, I would say.)

By the time a week had passed, by the next Shabbat, I… well, I’ll let the old blog tell you this one, too:

Around last Friday or Saturday I started feeling a peace about leaving.  And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my thirty-two years on earth, it’s to follow the peace.  When I think about staying, my stomach ties up in knots; leaving, I have peace.  Well, I should clarify.  When I think about having left, I have peace.  The actual transition process does not actually seem like a peaceful one to me.  But I am working on the details.

Over a week had passed, and I still had not opened up with anyone in my same city, and I knew I needed to.  Because of Mr. X’s position in our religious community, I knew that anyone in the Jewish world was out (again, I was protecting him–well trained).  That left people from work.  The problem was, I didn’t really have any friends–religious community, work, anywhere else.  I had work buddies, but nobody that I was really close with.  After some debate, and an insistent nudging in my brain, I spoke with my workmate, DD.  I hadn’t even known that she had previously worked at a domestic violence shelter, but there you have it.  Even though I had a “peace” about leaving, my time frame was quite fuzzy, and I was even thinking that I might stay a few months.  DD did her damndest to convince me to take advantage of Mr. X’s upcoming out-of-state job interview THAT COMING WEEKEND and get the hell out as soon as I possibly could.  I was still trying to pull the warm blanket of denial over my head, and didn’t think that I could get it together that quickly–I mean, in less than a week?  Was she crazy?

Well, all it took was really one evening together with X after feeling really committed to leaving and dealing with his mind-fuckery that I realized that the leaving date would need to be sooner rather than later.  The next day, I spoke with my supervisor at work, came clean about the fact that I hadn’t really done my job/paperwork  for about two months and explained why, got her blessing to get out of Dodge as soon as possible, and received some unsolicited advice to get an attorney ASAP.  Oh, yeah.  Mr. DD just graduated from law school (he was finishing up at the time), so DD was also pretty into the idea of my speaking with a lawyer.  I knew, also, that with some of X’s “issues” there would be no “trial separation,” and that divorce would really be the only way.  At this point I was still planning on leaving Miss Famous behind, as a “comfort” for him, as the last thing I could do for him.  Ahem.

Wednesday, March 25, I met with my attorney, whom friends of DD and Mr. DD helped me find.  I was about 95% sure about the whole thing, so he said he would draw up paperwork, and I could come back two days later to sign, or discuss it with him.  He also advised me to get half of our savings out, as it legally belonged to me.  That evening I started moving half of the money (online only account, it takes time to process).  The next day X was to leave for his out of town trip and was to be gone until Tuesday.  I felt fairly safe trying to move the money, as I was basically “mommy” with the money and took care of all the finances.  Much of the time X didn’t even seem to know how much was in the accounts, as every once in a while he’d have a minor freak-out and we’d have to sit down and look at everything together and then he’d calm down and see that we weren’t broke, after all.  The thing is, I could have blocked him out of the savings account, changed his password, etc., got my half of the money out, but I didn’t.  I purposefully didn’t.  I just didn’t.  Stupid, but I didn’t.

A couple of other things happened that Wednesday night.  I finally got a weird vibe about him and Dolores, the “friend” and married neighbor with whom he had been spending so much time.  She had come over for something, and, I don’t even know, something just struck me as off about the situation, that there was more going on there that meets the eye.  But my thought was, “Well, at least she’ll be here to comfort him.”

The next day was Thursday, March 26.  I went to work, and just before leaving to go pick up X to take him to the airport I went online to check on my transaction (to move half the savings out of our joint account per my attorney’s instructions).  Something looked like it had gone wrong with it.  Yep, he found it.  And cancelled the transaction.  And then I had to go drive him to the airport.  Freaked out?  Um, yeah.  Just a bit.

I suppose I could have called him and feigned an emergency meeting and asked him to get someone else to take him to the airport, but that denial was still good and strong.  He had never gotten physical with me, and so I just told myself that he never would.  Now I look back and I think how dangerous it was for me to go back to the house alone with him and drive in the car alone with him.  But I did it, thinking the whole time, that it would be my last time to be alone with him, that I just had to do this one last thing and I would be free.

To Be Continued…

The Great Escape: Part 3, desperate survival leads to awakening

You thought I’d never get back to this, didn’t you?

Previous two installments are: Part 1, The Beginning of the End and Part 2, Painful Realizations.

When I left off the story, I had been making some big realizations: 1–my family seemed to accept me more than my husband (which was the opposite of what I had been thinking for, oh, years), 2–Mr. X had some big-time problems with how he dealt with stress and how he treated me and our problems were mostly stemming from that fact, 3–as good as he looked on the outside, to other people, he had never given me unconditional love and acceptance and he would be an albatross of a helpmate if a child were ever in the picture.

I had gone to visit my family in late February, and immediately after returning, Mr. X would be leaving to go on a job interview in the same city where he grew up and where all his family lives (since his family was there, he would be extending the trip to make it into a visit, as well).  At that time, our lives were really up in the air because he had decided not to renew his job contract after the middle of the summer, so we didn’t know where we would be living, we had put the house on the market (in this economy!  Aaaaaaagggh!!), and I couldn’t even think about looking for a job until we knew where we were going.  I really didn’t want to move to that city, but a big part of me just wanted to have something settled.  Of course, I was really happy to have the break from X for so long.  During this time there would be some outward displays of affection (such as cooking meals I wasn’t hungry for), but they always seemed like tests to me, and my reaction had to be just so, or the passive aggression and cruel insinuation would kick in.

So you can see why I was looking forward to the break.  I was also looking forward to a break from the, ah, “community obligations”–X is clergy (nice, huh?  I knew you’d like that!), and when he would be gone, I would also take a break from my role as the “lovely wife.”  This element of the relationship is enough for ten blog posts so we’ll just leave it at that, but you should know that I was really excited to have my weekend to myself, among the other days.

(The one thing I didn’t like about being apart from X, were the phone calls.  Phone calls when his mood was ok were fine.  Phone calls when his mood was not ok–which could come without any notice, really–were pure torture, and somehow I got the blame (how did that always happen?).  When I had been at my mom’s on that last trip he would call me up and literally not say anything.  I would tell him about what was going on (with the nieces and such), and he would criticize me for not talking about things of more substance.  Right…)

During our time apart, I ate a lot (if you know my history, food is my numbing mechanism of choice) and I read a lot of fiction and a lot of blogs.  I felt a little sick from a cold, but I think I was mostly sick with grief, though I was still covered up with denial about that.  X was excited and happy about his job possibilities and very excited and happy about living in that city.  I didn’t like the thought of it, but did like the thought of being able to start planning for the future.  I was really worried about X’s job, however, as I thought it was too big of a change for him, too different, and was worried about how stressed he would be if he got that job and how that stress would come out on me (this last part was not so clearly articulated in my mind at the time, but it was there).

During that time, or right after, I also realized that I could not have children with X.  In my old blog, I alluded to this, but not nearly as clearly it was in my mind.  In my mind, it was crystal clear:  regardless of fertility treatments, adoption, or miracles from heaven, I could not have children with this man, not before he got some serious help.  For someone who wanted a baby as badly as I did (do?), that was perhaps the most painful part of this whole thing up to this point.  No wonder I couldn’t spell it out on the old blog as clearly as I might have.

When X returned from his trip, he was certain he had the job, and would just have to wait a few days for the confirmation.  Well, the job fell through, after what seemed like an endless waiting period, and his stress turned inward initially, but then found its favorite victim again soon enough.  We were already well into March by this point, and my life was endless drama at home.

I now look back on this time period very differently because, of course, he found the old blog.  I don’t know when he found it, however.  Everything was always a mind game with him (I see now), but I don’t know when the blog started to be a part of it.  I’ve looked back over at my old posts and remembered conversations we had, and wondered if he was just throwing my own words back at me.  I’ll never know, probably.  I know for sure at the very end, this is what was happening, but I don’t know if already at this point it was.

During this time, X’s friendship with “our” friend and neighbor, Dolores, seemed to be strengthening.  I, for one, was just happy when she would come over so that I would not have to be alone with Mr. X.  They were hanging out more and more, and I wasn’t thinking much about it, even when they would keep hanging out after I would go to bed, or not even start hanging out until after I went to bed.  I really don’t think there was anything physical going on with them, at least not before I left, but emotionally?  Who knows?

As March progressed, my desperation deepened.  I mentioned going back to counseling to him at least twice, and he was extremely cruel the last time, so I didn’t bring it up again.  During this time, my migra.ines had really ramped up, and I was having them every day.  I had seen my doctor, and she had tried a couple of different medications, including a daily medication for prophylaxis, and I had started to see an acupunc.turist.  Even now as I type these words, I feel the shaking returning, which I haven’t felt in a long time.  If I had to use one word to describe those weeks, I would have to say, “survival.”

One Friday evening, in the middle of March, just before Shabbat (sabbath) started, for some reason I cannot explain rationally, I picked a book off of my shelf.  It was one of my social work books that I had from an internship I did at a domestic violence counseling center (yes, irony, I know).  I think I was just looking for some idea, for something to make things better, even just within myself.  The name of the book?  The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans.

I read about three pages and said, “Oh, my God, this is my life.”

To Be Continued…

Pesach flashback #3: freedom time

♦I have just a few more thoughts about Pesach that didn’t really fit anywhere else, but I didn’t want to neglect them.   I also wanted to wrap up these Pesach flashbacks before the next Jewish holiday, Shavuot (Pentecost), which starts, um, tonight.  Nothing like getting it in under the wire.  I’m kind of looking at this as my omer project.  (The omer is the period of time–49 days–between the 2nd day of Pesach and Shavuot.)

♦The first Jewish holiday I celebrated was Pesach (when I was first learning about Judaism).  I was totally overwhelmed.  Totally.  Nobody told me that I should eat BEFORE going to the seder (because we wouldn’t actually get to the food for hours), and nobody told me that we would be there until well after midnight.  Like I said, totally overwhelmed.

♦I became Jewish on Rosh Chodesh (first of the month) of Nisan.  (Nisan is the month in which Pesach occurs.)  So, the first holiday I celebrated as a Jew was Pesach, as well as the first holiday I celebrated while just learning about Judaism.  Now also the first holiday after getting my own freedom, my own voice.

♦Pesach is called zman heruteinu–the time of our freedom.  It celebrates when we went from slavery to freedom.  I believe I will be celebrating my journey to freedom, which began at Pesach-time for the rest of my life.  The haggadah tells us that we are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus as though each of us were personally liberated from Egypt, from Mitzrayim, from the narrow place.  I have been.  And I will.

♦Now, on to Shavuot, which with its being known as the “converts’ holiday” (for it’s connection to Ruth, the convert), and focus on dairy foods (mmmmmm, dairy…), is also a big favorite of mine.  Chag sameach!

ETA:  Many apologies for the non-user friendly nature of this post.  I’ll try to be more careful in the future.