Category Archives: Our Marriage- 2008

It Was a Blessing in Disguise

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The IRS saga continued for almost 6 months.  We were forced to hire a top-notch accounting firm to represent us and thankfully, we had an IRS auditor who had worked in the same industry (magazine publishing) and understood our books.  A six month battle with the IRS cost us $20,000 in accounting fees to the firm that represented us.  Luckily, the accounting firm was able to prove that the IRS was wrong.  In the end, we owed $383 to the IRS and $20,000 to the accountants.

There was a period of time when I was so incredibly angry with my X husband.  If he had he just addressed the issue and cleared it up when the problem first presented itself, it would have never escalated to the point of our assets being frozen.  I was angry because he felt he was more powerful than the IRS and he ignored their letters, calls and notices.  He was above the IRS.  In that six month period, we lost everything: our home, our cars and both of our businesses.

In that time, I saw my X husband’s true colors.  I watched him borrow money that he knew he couldn’t pay back.  I watched him write checks for thousands of dollars that he knew would bounce.  I watched him hand employees their paychecks knowing that they wouldn’t clear.  I personally watched him manipulate and lie to people.  Many times, I learned of the lies after the fact.  Months after the IRS fiasco was over, I learned that he had conned his little brother (Brother C) out of $90,000.  This particular brother, a sweet, caring college student has carried the ramifications of his older brother’s actions.  His car was repossessed, his credit ruined and his life turned upside down.

Those are the things that I struggle to come to terms with.  The innocent people who fell victim to my X.  The people who found themselves in the path of destruction.  I feel guilt for defending him on so many occasions– I am not the only victim to his narcissistic ways.  Some people lost $500 and others lost thousands.  There seems to be no recourse for his actions.

What good could possibly come from this situation?  What “blessings” could come from this nightmare?  I recently heard something in church that stuck with me.  My pastor was describing life as a needlepoint.  When you are looking at it from one side, you see a bunch of knots, chaos and tangled strings.  Once in a while, you even get pricked by the needle.  It is hard to understand that anything beautiful could possibly come from the mess.  If you turn the artwork over, you see the finished product.  It makes sense.  The good news is that you are welcome to flip it over at anytime and appreciate the artwork of life.

That particular analogy is how I have chosen to view this particular trial in my life.  At the time, I lived in fear every day.  How would we pay the electric bill?  How would I put enough gas in the car to get my children to preschool?  My main fear; how would we make the health insurance payment every month for my Multiple Sclerosis treatment?  Without treatment, my arms go numb and become useless.  It was a horrible cycle because stress is the worst thing for my condition yet it was unavoidable.  At the time, I didn’t understand what good could come from this.  I questioned my faith and I felt sorry for myself.

Our house went into foreclosure and while we probably could have stayed there free of charge until the banks bolted down the doors; I couldn’t do it.  Mentally, I needed to be free of this fake life.  My X was furious.  He was still wanting to live this pretend life.  He wanted to stay in the home for as long as possible– he claimed we could stay there a year.  I spoke to our marital counselor.  He agreed with me– it needed to end.  I found a rental home and I packed our belongings.

As I packed our things, I had a lot of time to think.  I was moving out regardless of what he thought.  I was standing up for myself and putting my foot down.  I wasn’t going to live under his thumb any longer.  I wasn’t going to live a fake life.  I wanted a real life with real friends.  It was empowering.  I found my voice and I stood up to him.  The message was: we are leaving and you are welcome to join us if you choose.

We moved into a rental house in January of 2009 and our marriage ended the next month.

Someday, I will send the IRS a thank-you card for allowing me to live a life based on things that matter most: love, gratitude, kindness and being real.  While I couldn’t see it “in the moment” (or for three years after the moment)…I see it now and it makes sense.  I can flip that needlepoint over and I choose to dwell on the picture rather than the tangled strings.

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The Collapse of Our World

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January 2008

You can mess with banks and you can mess with people but you can’t mess with the IRS.

I was in my home office one day and I came across a notice from the IRS.  It was partially hidden by a file folder.  They claimed that my X husband owed a lot of money.  The number was over a $150,000.  I called him.  I demanded to know what was happening.  He laughed at me.  That condescending, evil laugh that I hated so much.  The laugh that reminded me that I was nothing and I should be thankful for the life he was giving me…because I was so beneath him.

He said that I was crazy and that I was overreacting.  “Calm down, Tina.  You have no clue about things like this.  It’s an error on their part.  I had a carry-forward loss on the books that they disallowed and I have to fax them a few papers to clear it up”.  I wanted to believe him.  Believing him meant that I didn’t have to live with that pit in the bottom of my stomach.  It meant that I could focus on my daughters, my health and my business.  That is just what I did.  I believed what he was telling me.  Also known as living in denial because it was easier and less painful then living in reality.

May

I received a call from my nanny.  Two women came to the door and left a business card.  The IRS.  It was a Thursday afternoon.  I frantically called my X and again, he dismissed it.  I was overreacting.  He agreed to call them but upon doing so, he discovered that the agent was off for three days.  Within a few hours, we discovered that they had frozen his bank accounts.  Everything was frozen.  Everything.  I wasn’t going to panic, we could live off of the credit cards until he cleared up their mistake.  Wrong.  I then discovered that the credit cards were maxed out.  Completely.

I then discovered that the utility bills were all past due.  They were all on shut-off notice.  I sat in this massive house filled with beautiful things and I was terrified.  I hadn’t been overreacting.  Things were bad– really bad.

June/July

By the end of summer, he was still dealing with the IRS and our assets were frozen.  During that time, I watched him lie to employees and string people along.  I watched as his employees financial worlds came crumbling down because they were wanting to believe him and they were buying into his guilt trips.  I begged him to just find a job and leave this lifestyle.  I begged him to stop pretending and get real.  I begged him to start being honest with people.

At the end of July, he had a half-iron man race on the East Coast.  We were borrowing money to pay the electricity, gas bills and health insurance yet he justified flying across the country to run a race.  “You are being ridiculous”, he told me.  “It’s paid for already.  It’s insane NOT to go.  The plane tickets are paid for.  The beach house is paid for.  The race is paid for”, he justified all of it.  He said I was uptight for not wanting to take advantage of a “break and a family vacation”.

We went- all the way across the country.

The first two nights at the beach house were fine.  It was his race– his mistress and everything that mattered most in his world.  He was worlds away from the IRS nightmare.  He was in his zone.  Nothing else mattered.  He lived and breathed triathlons.  We came second to that world.

The third day at the beach house, we received a knock at the door.  He quickly slipped out of the door to talk to the manager of the beach house.  Despite his best efforts, I could hear the conversation.  The credit cards were declined.  I heard his sales pitch– there must be a mistake.  He had perfect credit he explained.  Money wasn’t an issue.  They walked further from the beach house to discuss the situation and I sat alone in the little cottage.  I was petrified.  We were thousands of miles away from home and we had no money.  None.  I sat looking at my babies– they were so little and completely oblivious to this hell that surrounded them.

It was in that moment that I first started having “the talk” with myself.  I could stay in this marriage and make it work for the girls’ benefit or I could get out and protect them from the dysfunction before it became a part of their world.  I knew one thing: I couldn’t live with this stress.

He came back in and was angry beyond belief.  They wanted us out.  They wanted us to pay or to leave.  He took his phone and his wallet and stormed out.  I started gathering our things and trying to figure out a plan– where to go….what to do….who to call.  I was cycling in and out of emotions– anger, sadness, fear and then back to anger again.  How could he put us at risk again.  How could he lie to me again.  Why were we spending money on a vacation when our entire world was falling apart?  Who does this?  Who puts their family at risk like this?

Thirty minutes later, he returned.  We stayed that night in the beach house and flew home the next day– back to reality.