Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The truth

Life is made up of experiences. Some are happy, some are sad. Some of the thngs we experience are good and some are incredibly painful. The one thing I have learned in life is that it isn't so much about the experience but what you learn from the experience that counts. And it's not always just about what you learn but what you do with what you learn. I hope that by sharing my own painful experience in this journal, I can help someone else or prevent someone from going through a similar experience. It is important to note that I am sharing the facts and in many cases, my opinions.

It has taken me a long time to finally share my experience. I was afraid of what people would think of me, that I would be perceived as the vindictive ex-wife or that people wouldn't believe me. At the same time, I struggled with the notion that if I never shared my experience, that somehow I was enabling my ex-husband's behavior. In the end, I decided that just maybe, I could make a difference if I did share his story and what I learned from my experience.

I will never forget the day that I received a telephone call from the Private Investigator that I hired on the advice of my attorney. I needed to validate my husband's (now ex-husband) story for my own piece of mind. Rick had walked out on me on December 28, 2001. He came back the next day with three men and a truck and told me that he had rented an apartment closer to his office and that he was taking a few things from our house. He warned me that it might be painful if I watched so he encouraged me to leave the house for awhile. I tried to do that but found myself in the car crying so hard I could barely see. I returned home and tried to endure the pain of watching the man I loved move out. He wouldn't give me his new address and told me that I could reach him on his cell phone. I guess he had been preparing me for this the whole month of December. Early in the month, he began to tell me that he thought our marriage had problems and that he just didn't see how things were going to improve. He reminded me that we had had problems in the past but this time he just couldn't see how things could work between us. I was devastated and confused. It seemed to all happen so quickly. He stayed away for most of the month until the week before Christmas. Out of the blue, he called me one evening and said that he had thought about things and told me that he really did love me and he agreed to go to counseling so that our marriage could survive. I was so happy and relieved. My family was coming for Christmas that year and I didn't want them to know anything about our problems. Rick was as charming as ever when everyone arrived; I, on the other hand, was barely holding things together. I eventually fell apart during the Christmas week and my family couldn't understand my behavior. The last of my family members left on Friday after Christmas and Rick left on Saturday.

I can remember crying for days. I couldn't eat or sleep. I was devastated and confused. I tried reaching Rick on his cell phone and by email and it took him forever to respond. I couldn't understand what was going on and asked Rick repeatedly if there was another woman. He went out of his way to assure me that there was 'no third party'. He finally agreed to meet me at Starbucks one Saturday morning, three weeks after he walked out. He just kept telling me that he didn't love me anymore. I asked him again if there was another woman and the response was the same - NO! I believed him because I trusted him. But his behavior didin't seem normal to me. At one point, Rick accused me of taking money out of our joint checking account when he knew that I wrote a check to pay our property taxes. When I asked him what happened to the jewelry that was delivered to our house just a few days before Christmas from my favorite jewelry store in San Francisco, he told me that he gave it to the poor! Rick finally sent me an email at the end of January to let me know that he 'couldn't resurrect the love or potential love that he once felt' and that he thought we should go our own ways. He reiterated that there was no third party, that the woman's black sweater that I had found in the back seat of his car belonged to a woman at his company that was visiting from California. He had taken her out to lunch and she left the sweater in the car. I believed him! He went on to tell me how he thought we could divide things up and that he would support me for a short period of time, He wanted to put our house on the market and wanted to make sure that we didn't waste alot of money paying attorneys for work we could do ourselves. I couldn't believe this was happening to me.

I did contact an attorney to see what I shoud do. I showed him the email that Rick had sent to me and he advised me to do two things - to change the locks on my house to stop Rick from returning for his mail while I was not home and to hire a Private Investigator to validate Rick's story. I did both!!

It didn't take long for the Private Investigator to discover the truth. He called me the third week of February, 2002 to tell me that he had followed Rick on Thursday, February 14th and found that he was having an affair with a woman at the office. In fact, the apartment he rented when he left me was just four doors down from the woman. Her name was Gina.

I called Rick to confront him with the truth. I had to tell his admin to get him out of a meeting to talk to me - I told Melissa that it was an emergency. When he answered the telephone, all I said was 'So, how is Gina'? There was dead silence on the other end of the telephone. The first thing he finally said was that I would never be able to prove there was anything going on between the two of them before he left me. He wanted me to believe that because Rick knew that I could file a lawsuit against Gina for alienation of affection and criminal conversation if she played a role in the breakup of my marriage. North Carolina is one of a handful of states that allowed a spouse to hold a third party accountable in the case of extramarital affairs. By the way, 'criminal conversation' is having sex with another person's spouse!

After I was done screaming at Rick, I hung up the telephone and then decided to call his mother. I had spoken to her several times since Rick had moved out. During my marriage, I believed I had a good relationship with not only Rick's mother but his whole family. I always felt lucky to be a part of another great family. Rick's family was much like my own. I reached Rick's mother and told her that I had found out that he was having an affair. All she said was that she was going to kill him. Rick was divorced when I met him. He had two children with his ex-wife. His first marriage ended in 1993 when Rick told his wife that he had developed a relationship with another woman - a woman at the office! He never married that woman because he met me first - a woman at the office! Three woman, three different companies, three different cities.

Later that day, I telephoned the HR Executive at the company where Rick worked. He and Rick went back a ways in their careers. Rick met a woman at the office in 1993 in San Diego and left his first wife to be with this woman. The HR Executive eventually left that company and went on to work at a company in Minneapolis. He hired Rick in December 1994 to act as Senior Vice President of Technology at a subsidiary company. It was located in San Francisco. I had worked at the subdidiary since 1988 and in San Francisco since 1992. I met Rick in February 1995. Our romantic relationship began just four months later and we married in 1996. Frank eventually moved on to work for a company in Cary, NC and hired Rick in July 2000. Rick and I moved to Raleigh in October 2000 and by February 2001, Rick began an afffair with a woman another woman at the office - Gina, In fact, according to Rick's deposition during our divorce proceedings, it was Frank that introduced the two of them over drinks one night.

When I telephoned Frank the day I found out about Rick's affair, he did not respond when I told him about the relationship. When I told him that I thought the affair showed a complete lack of integrity on the part of an Executive, he said that perhaps it was just a case of poor judgement.