Thursday, December 19, 2013

The story of when my ex hired a PI to spy on his ex wife

My life with Rob the Great (Alcoholic) provides endless stories that leave me thinking "Oh My Gosh that was my life! What the hell!?!" I seriously cannot believe that I survived in that relationship for five brutally awful years. When you're living in an abusive relationship, it is really hard to see it for what it truly is. Once you escape and look back on it, you understand that none of it was normal or acceptable.

Which brings me to the story of the day.

One thing that really got under Rob's skin was the spousal support he was paying to his ex wife. When Rob's youngest daughter decided she would no longer live with us because Rob refused to stop drinking around her and his child support would be increasing, we had a consultation with an attorney. When that attorney saw what Rob was paying in support, he was gravely concerned. He told Rob that he wouldn't want to risk going to court because a judge would likely increase her spousal support significantly. He didn't think that Rob was paying nearly enough to his ex wife as it was.

Rob kept telling me that the second his ex remarried or started living with someone, he would file to have spousal support stopped.

One day I was at work and I got a phone call from Rob. He was positively giddy. "Guess what?" he said. He could hardly contain himself. "Terri has a new boyfriend and she moved him into her house!"

"Really? How do you know?" I asked.

"Nicole let it slip! She didn't realize what she just told me. Whoohooo, Baby, I'm filing papers to stop spousal support. Oh yeah!" He was literally whooping and hollering. Truth was, I was relieved and happy, too. Anything to try and lesson the huge financial obligations of Rob's that I could not keep up with.

So Rob hired my former attorney, Andy, to represent him. At one of those meetings, I got a call from Rob and Andy. They had me on speaker phone. "Liz, we need to hire a private investigator to stake out Terri's house to prove Jim is living with her."

"No," I said emphatically. "How much is that going to cost?"

Andy thought about $2,500. "It will take a year or more to recoup the costs, if a judge cancels support, of the private investigator, attorney fees, and court costs. I say no. Would she really lie about Jim living in her home?"

"Hell yes!" Bob said. "She'll lie about anything to get my money!"

"I say no," I repeated. But I was already so completely tired of Rob blaming me for anything and everything that went awry with his kids or ex wife that I knew better than making that final decision. "But do whatever you need to do."

And so Rob hired a private investigator and shelled out $2,500 to get photos of Jim taking trash out to the dumpster, opening the garage door, and leaving his car parked outside the home over night.

I went with Rob when it was time for court. And Rob's spousal support paid to his ex decreased by less than $200 a month. The judge looked at what Rob had been paying and thought it was far too low and that's why he didn't decrease it far more. And Terri didn't utter a single lie about Jim living in her home. As much as Rob portrayed her as Enemy #1 and the main reason he was an alcoholic and screamed and had so much stress in his life, I actually never saw much real proof that she was any of the things Rob portrayed her to be. And here was one more example. Shocker- she didn't seem to be a liar.

Rob and I were both sick about the ruling, though. We had shelled out close to $5,000 to have spousal support reduced by a paltry $200 per month. It would take two years to break even.

A year later, his ex and her boyfriend moved from her small condo into his large beautiful home with a pool in the back yard. Rob went back to court to try (again) to have his spousal support reduced or cancelled. This time, he represented himself. He was completely unprepared in court and stammered through the whole hearing. It was embarrassing to watch. The judge tossed out his request and spousal support remained unchanged.

Walking out of that courtroom was about as "fun" as I expected it to be. Rob was angry. I said as little as possible so he wouldn't start screaming at me.

"I'm not doing this again!" he nearly shouted on the sidewalk as we left the courthouse.

"No, you shouldn't," I said.

And, true to form, that evening, Rob came home with those glassy eyes and a mint in his mouth, angry and agitated and drunk. And he started screaming at me about something ridiculous again. Another drunken Rob screaming rant. I loathed him. He disgusted me. He sat on the couch watching TV and I couldn't keep my mouth shut one more second.

"Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?" I asked. "Look at you. You look awful. How's that beer working for ya?"

"Oh that's great! You think I'm fat!" he screamed.

Well, truth be told, he had gained more weight. His face was fat. His eyes glassy and bleary from alcohol. His favorite place to be was the couch or diving or a bar. Watching me cook and clean and do laundry and pay bills and walk dogs and take kids to doctors and go grocery shopping. All while he sat on the couch after drinking too much and screaming at me. Calling me awful names and trying to make fun of anything I did.

And, unbeknownst to me, my cancer was growing faster and faster and I was getting closer and closer to a diagnosis-- all thanks to a poisonous alcoholic who was poisoning my soul and my body.

Life with an alcoholic is a horrible, awful way to live. Life with an abuser- whether it be physical or emotional - is trauma beyond comprehension if you've never lived in it. Escaping is the only way to fix it. Not hope, prayer, counseling, therapy, books or retreats. Escape. Never looking back.