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.