Several years ago, an acronym for FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real– became popularly used and  frequently quoted.

For the longest time, I too was one of the diligent believers in this saying. I habitually relied on it whenever trying situations called for some sage words of wisdom.

That is, until I started going through my own personal hell.

At that point, fear and I became inseparable. I didn’t deal with anything without fear being a part of the experience too. Back then, we really bonded and were quickly becoming BFFs.

Without fear by my side, I couldn’t have made it through my divorce.

Fear served as a reliable barometer for assessing the magnitude of the never-ending schemes that Dick continually dreamed up on how to torment me.

Fear warned me about potential danger in some very specific ways. When the little hairs on the back of my neck (as well as on the rest of my body) rose and stood at attention like well-trained soldiers and when my heart started palpitating wildly and forcefully out of the blue, like an urgent, ominous knock on the door from an unknown stranger, I knew that something was about to go down and to prepare myself in any way that I could.

I have fear to thank for that!

As crazy as this may sound, the more that I experienced this phenomenon, the more I realized that FEAR  was one of the good things I had going for me.

As a result, I had to go back and reassess the validity of the acronym that had given me comfort until I took it out for a test drive and it failed miserably.

In my case, False Evidence Appearing Real, was totally false.

All of the evidence that presented itself to me on a regular basis was absolutely real.

If I would have disregarded everything that happened to me, most likely I wouldn’t be here right now writing about my experiences or doing anything else, for that matter.

So I needed some other sage words  to hold onto to get me through my mess.

That’s when I found another acronym for FEAR – Face Everything and Rise.

That one was doable. At least the Face Everything part. Rising, on the other hand, remained to be seen.

If nothing else, it gave me something to strive for… which was a good thing  … considering I’ve always been an overachiever.

And it went well with my self-created mantra – I don’t think. I don’t feel. I just deal.

Facing everything and dealing became my dynamic duo plan of attack. My very own personal version of Batman and Robin.

Not thinking and not feeling became necessary to complete the process.

It was perfect!

Had I thought about what I was going through and  felt the emotions that were muffled and silenced below the surface, I would have been a total goner.

Then depression and desperation would have taken over. I’m sure there aren’t any good acronyms for those.

Without a good acronym, it would have been game over for me.

So I stoically carried on till the bitter end. And boy, was the end bitter!

But my acronym and mantra served their purpose and got me through the worst of things. They were no longer needed. It was time to retire them.

I needed something  to go along with my new life as a recently divorced, single woman who was put through the ringer.

Scouring the internet, I came across several hopefuls that were vying for the honor of becoming my chosen FEAR acronym – whose responsibility  would be to accompany me down this unchartered path.

However, nothing caught my attention and truly captured the way I was feeling.

So I decided to create my own.

Here it is:

FEAR – F*ck Entirety and Retreat.

More to come….







Actually, new beginnings can be quite painful too!

January (2011) was not only the start of a new year, it was also the beginning of my new life.

All of the chaos, bedlam and discord that were rooting themselves into permanent fixtures in my home, vanished instantaneously when Dick packed up his belongings and moved back home with his mom.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that everything in my life suddenly improved, became happier and more peaceful the moment that Dick vacated the premises.

Nor will I say that I was living the life of  the gay divorcee.

Quite the contrary.

Instead, I was faced with a new set of issues, challenges, and dilemmas.

First of all, when I was finally able to take a breather, not live in total paranoia, and wonder what off the rocker scheme Dick might have been planning for me, the major exhaustion that I had been fighting for so long, surfaced with a bang.

There was no denying it any longer.

I had been running on adrenaline fumes for so long.

Living the mantra of I don’t think, I don’t feel, I just deal was beginning to take its toll.

All I wanted to do was collapse.

On several occasions, that’s exactly what I did.

I gave in to the urge to sleep as often as I could. I felt as though my body was dragging around heavy lead weights. Every step was a major effort. Sometimes just the thought of having to walk anywhere was enough to deplete me.  I had to lie down and rest. Many times I was shocked to discover that several hours passed when I had planned to only  to close my eyes for a half hour.

At long last, there was no one to torment me in my own home. I could finally let my guard down and relax. I just never realized that such a level of mental, physical and emotional depletion even existed.

Oftentimes I wondered if I would ever get my strength back and feel like a fully functioning human ever again.

In actuality, my surroundings and I had become the live version of  the card game 52 pickup. Bits and pieces of my life and belongings were physically and emotional scattered all over the place. It was overwhelming to figure out where to start sorting through the disorder and how to initiate the cleanup.

*Fifty-two card pickup is a practical joke using a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The dealer throws all of the cards in the air and instructs the unsuspecting participant to pick them all up. This tends to be quite amusing to the one tossing the cards. Obviously not so enjoyable for the one tidying up the mess.


And then there was the fear…











Moving Forward


After our day in court, our respective attorneys got busy and worked out the final agreements, arrangements, and specifics about our divorce and lives going forward.

Since Ashley was a minor – and in the best interest of all concerned –  I would have residential custody and Dick and I would maintain joint custody over decisions that pertained to her health,wellbeing, activities, and future college plans. Every negligable and major detail were spelled out so there would be no source of misunderstanding or conflict.

Now if that wasn’t wishful thinking for most involved parties concerned!!!

Maintenance (formally referred to as alimony or financial support) was determined. Even though my attorney petitioned for and the judge granted me permanent maintenance, I agreed to take only five years and a lesser amount than what my county’s calculated formula was because Dick insisted that he didn’t have any money and couldn’t afford to live (which we all knew was total bullsh*t). My attorney advised me to do this because he said that if Dick would think he had to pay me indefinitely, he would figure out a way to weasel out and screw me over. In other words, if he saw an end in sight, he would make good on his responsibilities.

Our mutual assets were divided up. As part of our settlement, I was granted our townhouse and all of the furnishings inside.

For the time being, my future was looking much better than my present circumstances.

Was it possible…could I actually start breathing a sigh of relief that this nightmare was going to end soon and I could start to live a life I deserved  and was entitled to? 

Again, who was I kidding!!!

Needless to say, Dick wasn’t sharing my sentiments about how his hereafter was going to improve.

While he was busy enjoying his philandering lifestyle, spending down our funds on himself and his lover and contributing toward securing our attorneys financial futures in an attempt to make sure I would be left with nothing, he wasn’t anticipating that there would be a price to pay for his actions.

Ahhhhbut there is karma.  And quite frankly, she can be a real bitch when the situation calls for it!

While I was enjoying a brief moment of victory and relishing the fact that the outcome was not what Dick had prophesied, desired, and planned for, I knew that there would be repercussions to pay for the legal resolution.

You see, even though the details for how life moving forward would be played out for the next five years, we still had to go back to our divorce process living arrangements until the day that Dick had to evacuate the premises (still several weeks away).

If I thought life was unbearable before, let me tell you, it was nothing compared to what went on until Dick’s departure.

Saying that he was majorly pissed off was an understatement.

Since things did not go remotely according to his plan, he chose to make up for it in other ways.

Dick decided to do major cleaning.  Since he was moving out and into his mom’s condo, (yep, you read that correctly – he was moving back home to his mommy) he needed to get rid of things that he no longer needed or wanted.

While he was in the cleansing mood,  he generously decided to take it upon himself to go through my documents, etc. and got rid of what he knew I still needed. Of course, I didn’t have a clue that he performed such a charitable act until much later on when I needed those files, papers, etc., and discovered they were long gone and irretrievable.

Being the equal opportunity offender that he was, he didn’t just pull crap on me.

No, he had to make Ashley’s life miserable as well.

The night before she was going to take the ACT test, Dick went to her room while she was preparing for the exam and proceeded to discuss his feelings with her about his moving out. He shared how it was so sad. He proclaimed that he didn’t want to move out of HIS house and take up residence in his mom’s condo, but he was forced to —and how lucky he was that he had a place to go — because I was now getting all of his money and he couldn’t afford to pay rent anywhere. To finish his diatribe on a bang and for extra good measure, he started sobbing, muttering in between wails how much he was going to miss her because he couldn’t see her as much as he currently did and how that was breaking his heart.

Mission accomplished. The results were exactly what he was hoping for.

Ashley was a mess. She too was sobbing and was a total wreck.

When Dick left her room, I approached him and asked him if he was proud of himself for getting Ashley so upset the night before her crucial exam.

He looked at me with an air of arrogance. Then he  stated very matter-of-factly, that this wasn’t bothering her at all and proceeded to walk away.

It was amazing how quickly he was able to turn off the water works.

Ashley, on the other hand, wasn’t able to sleep at all and was a basket case the next morning when I dropped her off at the testing facility.

Not the best way to approach an assessment that would determine her future educational choices.

Turning these experiences into teaching moments for my kids and myself, I tried to focus on what we could learn and gain from the hands we’d been dealt.

Who knew one of the major benefits of the divorce was that we’d wind up so full of character!



The Eleventh Hour


Dick and I walked away from the courtroom area and looked for a somewhat unobtrusive place to chat.

The vacinity outside of the restrooms was relatively quiet and private; so we settled in there.

In some sick, cosmic way, this actually seemed like the perfect spot to have a final discussion as husband and wife about our marriage that was rapidly going down the toilet.

Dick looked at me with  sad, puppy-dog eyes as he nervously took a breath.

At that point I couldn’t even begin to fathom what he could possibly want to talk to me about.

“Maybe we should reconsider this whole divorce thing. We’ve spent a lot of money and if we go through with this, we’re both going to suffer financially.  We have two kids whose lives are going to be extremely disrupted if we split up.  Take a moment to think it over before you decide to end things permanently. There’s a lot at stake here. Maybe we should just stay together and try to work things out.”  Dick gushed.

I looked at him with total disbelief. Was I actually hearing him correctly?

Did he really think that after everything that transpired, I would even consider continuing on as a married couple as if nothing happened???

At that stage of my life, I was hitting rock bottom on so many levels: my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence were almost non-existent. I was a shell of the person I used to be.

Even though I was petrified about what the unknown future would hold and how I would manage alone,  I was certain beyond a doubt,  there was no way in hell that after coming so far and so close, I would be so stupid as to even consider his outlandish request.

Let’s say that hypothetically  I would have caved in, agreed to Dick’s recent proposal and accepted what I had (as horrible as it was) and bypassed the opportunity for freedom with all of its inherent risks — I would have sold my soul to the devil. He would have me exactly where he wanted me: under his total and complete domination. As bad as I thought life was before, it only stood to get worse, if that was even possible.

I’m sure in his mind he thought, Why not try this approach. She’s such a dummy that maybe she’ll fall for it. I’ve got nothing to lose and maybe I won’t have to give her anything after all.

This little one-on-one discussion outside the restroom was taking on more and more significance on so many levels. I never heard so much crap in my entire life and boy was I getting pissed off.

I could barely look at him without seething.

“Are you for real?” I questioned Dick. “Now you want to reconsider staying together. You should have thought about all this before you brought Juanita into your life, spent a ridiculous amount of OUR money on her and practically gave away most of the rest of our savings to your attorney. It’s just now hitting you what this divorce has done and will do to our kids. There is no way  that I would agree to go back to the way things were. This discussion is over.”

With that, I gave him a disparaging look and walked back toward our courtroom.

Dick quickly caught up to me and tried to give it one more go.

One could never accuse him of not being persistent.

*For those of you who have never been inside a courthouse, there are security cameras everywhere capturing everything that transpires on the premises.

From the looks on our faces, body postures and general demeanors, it was clear to anyone viewing that our conversation was not friendly, productive, or positive.

I can only assume that someone contacted a bailiff in the courtroom we were waiting in front of because he came out and ordered us not to talk to each other or stand anywhere near each other.

With that I gladly walked away.

Within a millisecond, Dick meandered over to where I was standing and proceeded to hound me further.

“Did you hear what the bailiff said? He doesn’t want us to be near each other. Get away from me.” I announced.

“Forget what he said. I just want to talk to you a little bit. Do you realize that we’re about to let a judge decide what our futures will be. This is not a joke. Think this over very, very carefully.” Dick replied.

Again I walked away and again Dick followed me.

Again the bailiff came out of the courtroom and said that would be the last time he would tell us to stand away from each other.

This was just great! On top of everything else, this shmuck was going to have us arrested!!!

Fortunately, as if on cue again, our lawyers showed up together.

Dick and I met up again with our respective counsels and went off in different directions for one last time before our trial was set to start.

I shared the conversation that Dick and I just had with my attorney.  My lawyer looked at me with trepidation, took a deep breath and asked what I responded. I told him that the answer was absolutely not! With that, he let out a big sigh and said, “That’s good!” I then proceeded to tell him about the bailiff and asked if that was common. He told me that he never heard of that happening before. Much like he never heard of anyone pulling what Dick just did.

Apparently, the reality and gravity of the situation was starting to sink in to Dick. He was ready to start making some concessions.

His attorney notified mine and they went off to discuss the particulars.

Mine returned with the news. He didn’t like a lot of what Dick was offering. Basically, he wanted me to have as little as possible  for as little amount of time as possible.

This was not acceptable and the negotiations continued. Back and forth this went. He would return with some news, discuss it with me and then go back to continue the discussion with the opposing counsel.

In the end, we wound up settling before having the judge decide our fates.

We both gave things up and made concessions in order to move forward and end the divorce process.

To tell the truth, back then I was clueless as to what I was agreeing to and the impact that it would have for me long-term.  I relied on and trusted my attorney to negotiate and secure what I needed going forward.

The reality was, it was as if someone was explaining things to me in a foreign language. Every few words I somewhat understood. I tried to put the pieces together as best as I could and make sense of it all. However, I didn’t understand the implications of what it all meant. In the end, it was basically all Greek to me.

In many ways I got the short end of the stick. I’m sure if you asked Dick, his response would be that he was the one who got screwed over.

Even though neither one of us felt we had come out ahead, it was finally time to start moving forward and taking the necessary steps to becoming officially emancipated.







Trial Day



D Day (Divorce Day) had finally arrived!

Since Dick and I weren’t able to come to a reasonable compromise regarding “life after divorce,”  it seemed inevitable that at that point, our fate would be in the hands of the court.

From my standpoint, aside from the cost of a trial, I really  didn’t have anything  to lose and everything to gain from the process.

I was actually looking forward to having a judge review what transpired since I had filed for divorce. The paper trail spoke for itself. The records clearly indicated how many times my attorney(s) and I appeared in court asking for funds when Dick left me high and dry. I felt pretty confident that the ruling would be in my favor.

On the downside, by the time we reached our court date, a substantial amount of our marital financial  assets were nearly depleted. As Dick had threatened me for many years throughout our marriage, in the event that I would divorce him, I would get nothing, he would get nothing and the attorneys would get everything. He kept his word on a lot of that.

However, I knew better than to think he would screw himself over and wind up with nothing. His intent had always been to leave me penniless.

Without a doubt, when he realized that our marriage had an end date in sight, Dick got busy socking away funds for a future without me. I can assure you, he began that process well before I had an inkling that a split was inevitable.

Looking back, there were definitely signs that Dick was in the “saving without spouse mode.”

Instead of modernizing our home, fixing up what was deteriorating and broken, he always had an excuse why he didn’t want to upgrade our living space. Crying poor and claiming “we” didn’t have any money, amazingly a new luxury car for himself would soon after  appear in the garage. Funny how the funds always magically turned up for his lavish self-centered treats.

But, everything must come to an end. Finally, this long, drawn-out, painful, and expensive process was rapidly approaching the finish line. The light at the end of the tunnel was starting to shine very brightly.

Thank goodness!!!

On Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, in the early afternoon, Dick and I awkwardly stood in close proximity to each other waiting for our respective attorneys to arrive outside the family law courtrooms at our county courthouse. The time was nearing for us to get the show on the road to finalize the details and move forward with our lives as single people once again.

As if on cue, both of our lawyers walked toward us together.

Seeming a little too perfectly scripted,  I wondered how they coordinated that maneuver. Did they decide to cut back on expenses and carpool? That would have been ridiculous considering what they both charged and earned at our expense. For crying out loud,  they could have purchased new vehicles!

*Note to self: In my next life,  I need to come back as a family law attorney. 

Dick and I were about to go off with our own lawyers to discuss the details of our upcoming trial,  when out of the blue,  he asked if he could speak to me one last time.

You’ve got to f*#cking be kidding me!!!

You’ve had months to talk to me, but you didn’t.

Now you want to have a conversation???

Totally, baffled about what Dick could possibly be conjuring up, I turned toward my counsel for some words of wisdom.

He told me that we had about an hour before our trial. I should listen to what Dick had to say and we would all meet up again outside of the courtroom in thirty minutes.

With that, both attorneys walked off together.

What was with these two???

I didn’t have a good feeling about this. I had a strange suspicion that everyone else was in on whatever was about to transpire except me.

Once again, it felt like my life was a surprise party and I was the guest of honor.





Heading Toward Trial





Tuesday, December 7, 2010 was set as our trial date.

Since neither Dick nor I had come to a workable resolution regarding our divorce settlement, it was clear that the next step would be to let the judge determine our fate.

It wasn’t that Dick didn’t try to convince me on several occasions to wise up and see things his way.

After being worn down by his persistence,  stupidly,  I actually acquiesced and sat through one of his tutorials.

What a mistake that was!

As ridiculous as this sounds, Dick took out a piece of paper and drew a house, four stick figures (representing himself, me and our two kids) and two cars. He penciled in a few $$ depicting  our dwindling finances.

That is all we have,” he looked at me and innocently proclaimed. “There is nothing to go to trial over. This divorce has eaten away nearly all of our money and if we go to court, there will be even more fees to contend with.”

As he spoke, I was getting angrier and angrier with myself.

Did he really think I was going to buy his sob story?

Why did I continually allow myself to be suckered in to listening to his bullsh*t?

When was I going to wise up? 

It was obvious at that moment that being commended for higher learning wasn’t in my foreseeable future.

Not only did I not gain knowledge from my previous mistakes, I downright backslided.

I knew in my heart of hearts that listening to anything Dick had to say was not going to be in my best interest. Trying to answer logically and attempt to have a sane, adult conversation also wasn’t going to lead to a positive outcome.

Knowing what I did and realizing that the best predictor for future behavior was past performance, I had no one to blame but myself for what ensued.

Honestly, did I really expect Dick to suddenly have a realization that there could be compromise and I SHOULD be entitled to anything when the marriage ultimately dissolved.

Where there was life, there was hope.

Miracles exist and I was definitely due for one. Maybe this was my golden opportunity.

After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Not surprisingly, the heavens didn’t open up and grant me my wish.

The end result of that confrontation was what always happened when Dick and I tried to communicate with each other.

Nothing was resolved.

Things only became more tense and strained between us. If that was even possible.

I reposted back to his declaration with, “If you weren’t so hell-bent on making sure that I would wind up with NOTHING, the lawyers would get EVERYTHING, and your little Latin lover wasn’t living so high on the hog on our marital assets, maybe there would be something to discuss now.”

Instead of  finishing there, keeping my mouth shut, and walking away with some dignity and calmness, I just couldn’t stop.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” I sarcastically asked.

To which Dick smirked, looked at me with total disdain and replied, “Yes.”

Totally shocked by his brazen reply, I volleyed back, “You are entitled to your opinion. Going forward, whatever you have to say, tell it to the judge.”

He shot me one of those looks that declared I’ll talk to you anyway I want. You’re not going to tell me what to do or say.

This behavior was what I got used to and expected from Dick.

However, in counseling, I was taught how to respond when Dick would try to entrap me into these unhealthy tete-a-tete. It all made such perfect sense: Don’t engage in the conversation. Walk away.

Why wouldn’t I just practice what I learned?

Why did I always resort to my knee-jerk responses?

What did I think I would gain by continuing on with my non-productive comebacks?

I was totally pissed off at myself. When was I ever going to learn!!!

One thing was certain. Dick would give me plenty of opportunities to practice my newly learned skill set.

They would continue until I would finally get it right.




Our Depositions (Part 2)


Prior to our deposition date, I got busy and did some “investigative work.”

Since Dick and I still shared the computer, I was able to log in and gain access to charges and bills paid by him.

What I discovered was simultaneously both revealing and disgusting.

It appeared that Lover Boy was quite busy romancing, entertaining, and living the good life in general with his new amour.

On our “marital assets,”  I might add.

I found statements for roundtrip airline tickets, (purchased just days prior to departure, no less) from Phoenix to Chicago and vice versa. There were also several changes for hotel rooms, theater tickets, sporting events, restaurants and flower delivery — on several occasions. You name it — if it was an opulent purchase, extravagant last-minute indulgence or any other opportunity to shower his ladylove and deplete our savings, Dick was all in.

One of Dick’s closest friends confided in me that Dick was paying Juanita’s bills and footing the tab for her weekly cleaning lady.

Considering the fact that throughout my marriage, I was the cleaning lady, and I wasn’t allowed the lavishness of having someone else tidy up my abode, this parcel of information made my blood boil.

Actually, everything that I was uncovering that Dick did on the sly was making my blood percolate, my stomach churn, my head throb, and my blood pressure rise.  I was  completely overwrought  over what I was discovering.

It was his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona that was throwing me into a tailspin.

Over the years, Dick would vacillate from being my worst nightmare to being  my Prince Charming— many times within a matter of a few hours.

I was brainwashed into believing that I was the reason he became so upset and angry.

If I had only…

If I didn’t do…

He wouldn’t have been so furious… It was all my fault…

Then once he would regroup and regain his composure, he would always apologize for his behavior, swear that it wouldn’t happen again, and look at me with his sad, mournful, puppy dog eyes and beg for forgiveness.

Since going through our divorce, things were different.

Mr. Hyde had left the building. Dr. Jekyll was the permanent resident.

It was downright frightening.

I provided the spending information to my attorney and couldn’t wait to see how Dick would justify these inane expenses when it was his turn to play “To Tell The Truth.”

I was glad that I gave my deposition first.

When I was done, I was able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show — so to say.

Dick was then sworn in to tell the truth.

*For the record, that was the last time “truth” made its appearance during the remainder of the testimony.

When asked about the expenses, he made up excuse after excuse. At one point, my attorney questioned Dick about the flower purchases, making a point of throwing in that they obviously weren’t for me. Without flinching, Dick made up some ridiculous, totally unbelievable answer and stuck to it.

Observing Dick tell lie after lie made me question whether or not he even knew that he was fabricating the facts or if he honestly believed everything that he said.

After several hours of this, I needed a break and had to go to the bathroom. There wasn’t a restroom in the attorney’s office so I had to use the one that was located in the hallway of the office building.

After my much-needed break, I headed back to Dick’s lawyer’s office only to discover that the door was locked.

The proceedings were lasting so long, it was after normal business hours and the rest of the staff had left. Not only the counsel’s workers had gone for the day, but the other occupants of the premises had vacated as well.

I knocked on the door, but since the conference room was in the back of the office, no one heard me.

I was literally trapped in the hallway. The exit to the building was locked as well.

To make matters worse, I tried calling my attorney’s phone number, but it went to voicemail. I tried calling Dick’s number and I got the same response. I even tried contacting Dick’s attorney’s office — but to no avail.

I pondered how long it would take before someone realized I was gone for way too long of a time and would send someone out to find me.

You might wonder why I didn’t try texting these individuals.

The simple answer is — I would have if I could have.

As hard as it is to believe, Dick had one phone plan for him and our kids and another one for me. His plan was with one carrier. It was a family plan and included texting and other data usage. My phone was with another and only allowed for limited phone usage, no data and no texting. Mine was for “emergency use” only.

Yes, you read that correctly. I wasn’t allowed to send or receive texts!!!

How perfect was it that both attorneys got to witness this lunacy together.

I couldn’t have scripted it better if I had tried.

The dirty little secrets of our personal family life were slowly being exposed.

After what seemed like an eternity, my lawyer answered my call. He let me back into the meeting room, commenting to all present that I should have texting abilities like the rest of modern-day society. At that point, we finished up the last-minute details.

Everyone had said and heard enough.

It was time to call it a day.