Our Depositions (Part 1)

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My second attorney hit the ground running and immediately set up a trial date. Finally, there was a light at the end of this long, dark, deep and ominous tunnel.

This mess of a marriage and divorce was nearing the finish line!

G minus 5 months and counting!!!

Prior to our scheduled court date, we had to give our depositions. Before the set-date was established, Dick was also subpoenaed to produce financial records from all the banks that  he either held an account in his name solely or jointly with another party. In his case, the other party was his mother. Being that I no longer had any funds in my name, I wasn’t required to produce the above-mentioned documents.

For those of you that don’t know,  a deposition is a session where each divorcing party is asked a series of questions by the opposing attorney.  It gives the other parties’ legal counsel the opportunity to gather information for the divorce proceedings.

Queries include requests for particulars such as name, address and work information. Then the questioning becomes more juicy and focuses on events that are pertinent to the divorce case. Areas such as finances and relationships with other people are fair game. 

Prior to answering any questions, the respondent will be placed under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth — you get the rest!

A court reporter is in attendance to document all the information that is presented. Following the proceeding, a legal transcript is written up that contains all of the answers given to the questions asked during the session. 

When all the aforementioned financial documents were secured, our respective attorneys scheduled a meeting at Dick’s lawyer’s office for a rousing session of She Said…He Said.  (My unofficial name for the event.)

Prior to the date of our depositions, I had the opportunity to go over all of the bank statements that Dick was required to produce.  There were definitely a few deposits that raised some Red Flags. I brought these to my lawyer’s attention. He assured me that they would be addressed and the monies would have to be accounted for.

Finally, our deposition day arrived.

To be totally honest, depositions are a nerve-wrecking experience.

There is so much on the line. The particulars of the divorce settlement will be riding on the information provided. Any screw ups can be costly in more ways than one.

Like there wasn’t enough pressure before this…

I gave my deposition first.

Actually, the questions I was asked  weren’t too difficult to answer. I had to share information about my education and work history. Since I wasn’t involved in a romantic relationship and I didn’t have any money — what I could be grilled on was limited.

Simply put — my life was boring and mundane.

Early in our marriage, Dick and I both agreed that when we would have kids  I would put my career on hold and become a stay-at-home mom.

So, in a nutshell, for the past 20+ years, I wasn’t earning a salary.  This became a major bone of contention for Dick when he made the decision to divorce me. Because I wasn’t gainfully employed and I didn’t have a source of income, Dick would have to provide for me financially for an undetermined amount of time.

Let me tell you, that didn’t make him a happy camper

BC, (before  children) I worked as an exercise physiologist in a hospital-based cardiac rehab program. After earning my Master of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation, I found employment quickly. Not to brag, I knew my stuff and I was very good at what I did.

Fast forward three decades —  my skills and my knowledge about cardiovascular pharmacology, treatments and modalities were rather rusty.

Let’s put it this way: If I just had a heart attack or underwent bypass surgery, I wouldn’t want me taking care of myself!

During the “Inquisition,” Dick’s attorney kept hammering me about getting a job as soon as possible. At one point, he cockily told me in no uncertain terms that Dick expected me to find a job within 90 days in cardiac rehabilitation.

Oh really!!!

That was it for me. I heard enough.

I responded back that if Dick wanted me to go back to working in cardiac rehab, he would have to pay my tuition to get my PhD in the field. I briefly paused to see what effect my statement would create. Not getting any response, I continued on that changes in medicines, procedures and rehab protocols have left my skills obsolete.

On top of that, there was a recession going on. Jobs, in general, were hard to come by — which was common knowledge to everyone present. Being out of the workforce for several decades left me unmarketable and unable to compete against those who were current in the field and who unfortunately were unemployed for whatever reason.

It was becoming clearer and clearer to me that I was going to be pretty much screwed when I would regain my single status.

Then I really got pissed.

Who was Dick to think that he could decide what I would be doing with the rest of my life? His rights to advise me on what to do, how to live or what type of work I should pursue were quickly being relinquished.

And how dare his attorney to present these expectations to me. He knew quite well that for the length of time that Dick and I were married, he would have to provide for me financially.

Then things got even more interesting.

I told Dick’s counsel that I was training to become a certified laughter yoga leader.

He looked at me like I should have been committed. I’m sure he was thinking, What the heck is laughter yoga???

Looking totally amused, he interrogated me about what went into becoming a laughter yoga specialist.

When I responded that up to that point, I attended a few weekend-long training sessions, he clearly snickered.

To which I replied, “It’s laughter — not brain surgery. But if this isn’t to you or your client’s liking, we could talk about the expense of obtaining a doctorate degree. Then there’s the amount of time it will take for me to complete the process. Or I can try to recreate myself and establish myself as an expert in this new and interesting field.”

Dick’s attorney had clearly queried me enough.  My deposition was over.

It was time to put Dick into the hot seat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crisis and Opportunity

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The  Chinese word for  “crisis” is depicted by the symbols in the illustration above. Over the years, this two character word has frequently been recognized and interpreted  to mean “danger” and “opportunity.”

Disclaimer: *Since I don’t read or write Chinese, I can only assume that this information is correct based on the research I did online. 

During the throes of  my divorce, when my life was a series of one crises after another, I discovered this little piece of information. For some reason, it served to not only inspire me but kept me strong throughout my ordeal.

Being an individual who doesn’t believe in accidents or coincidences, stumbling upon this tidbit of wisdom appeared to have been the heaven-sent message I was waiting for to help  move the trajectory of my life forward in a positive way.

After all,  without a doubt I was in danger during  that  mother of all crises I was trying to survive.

I definitely got the danger part.

What I wasn’t quite seeing clearly was the opportunity part.

What wonderful occurrence could possibly come out of this test and trial of my existence?

For the past few years, I held onto this notion that out of danger comes great and wonderful opportunity.

Truth be told,  in the grand scheme of things, I was due for something amazing — like winning the mega millions lottery for all of my troubles.

Now that would have opened up some doors for some phenomenal opportunities!

However, to be perfectly honest, the opportunities that have been presenting themselves have not been the type I had in mind or hoped for.

Instead I kept being presented with more life lessons and experiences I never imagined were possible.

So I decided to revisit this notion about crisis meaning danger and opportunity.

Maybe I misinterpreted the whole thing.

What I found was a little surprising.

According to Wikipedia, this meaning which has been frequently used by Western motivational speakers as well as business consultants and politicians is basically  incorrect.

Just my luck!!!

It turns out that the correct interpretation is more like danger + a point where things happen or change.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that usually the case when danger presents itself?

When perilousness  occurs, things definitely happen or change — and rather quickly, I might add!

But then again, with danger comes the opportunity to face the circumstance in a new manner and develop a new perspective. Nothing will be the same as a result of experiencing some life-altering event.

That could be a wonderful thing!

Looking back over the course my life has taken over the past several years, I now realize that each of the calamities I faced, every road block that appeared on my path, all of the insurmountable set-backs I endured all conspired to shape and mold me into the person I am today.

Even though things did not turn out the way I expected, they turned out for the best.

Everything needed to happen exactly when they did and how they did to give me the skills, courage, experience and will to move forward and carve out a new life for myself.

To become the person I was meant to be.

Now if that isn’t a great opportunity, I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

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As a couple who were separated but living in the same house, Dick and I had a temporary schedule regarding what days and times we had “custody” of Ashley. With the assistance of our lawyers, everything was planned out as far as dining arrangements, carpooling schedules, etc.

On Dick’s evenings with Ashley, he took her out to eat. As an extremely chauvinistic man, he believed that cooking was women’s work.  He refused to learn how.

I actually relished and looked forward to when he was out with Ashley. It gave me some peace and quiet. I knew that for that short time period, I would not be disturbed, harassed or intimidated.

On the nights that Ashley and I dined together, more often than not, we stayed home and I prepared dinner. Being on a strict budget, I couldn’t afford the luxury of eating out very often. Plus, it was nice to stay home, enjoy a home-cooked meal, relax and talk in our own surroundings.

One would think that Dick would honor this arrangement, go out, do what he wanted  and allow us some privacy and alone time.

What — and miss an opportunity to stir the pot! (hypothetically speaking, of course) Not a chance.

One evening, I prepared one of my kids’ favorite meals — salmon patties, garlic mashed potatoes and corn.  I set the table for the three of us and excitedly waited till Josh came home from work and working out. As if like clockwork, when we were about to sit down for dinner, Dick came in to the kitchen. He proceeded to move my place setting and sat down where I was planning on sitting.

Josh asked Dick why he was eating with us. At that point, Dick went ballistic. He yelled back that this was HIS house and he could eat here whenever he wanted.

Josh proceeded to logically explain that when Dick took Ashley out to eat, I didn’t come along. Dick answered that I would NEVER be coming with him and Ashley, but he could do whatever he wants.

At that point I intervened and stated that we were trying to have a peaceful meal. I then proceeded to ask Dick if he was happy that he riled up the kids.

As if the above altercations weren’t enough to kill one’s appetite or desire to continue on with the meal, Dick ranted on by blaming the whole fiasco on me.

Being an equal opportunity offender, Dick turned to Josh and shouted that he paid for Josh’s college education. Josh didn’t owe a dime because of Dick’s generosity. Because Josh got a good job, he was now a bigshot and could tell his dad what to do.

Without missing a beat, Dick immediately went into his diatribe about how I didn’t work, but knew how to give advice to everyone else. I retorted that  my professional life was not the topic of discussion and he had no business moving my plate when I put it down.

Things continued to escalate. Believe it or not — as if that were even a possibility at that point.

We continued to rehash the same argument, ad nauseam, until the kids couldn’t take it anymore.

Ashley left her food on the table and went down into the basement.

Josh and I took our plates and went up to his room, closed the door and tried  to eat in peace.

After forcing ourselves to consume our cold, no-longer appetizing meal, Josh and I got busy on our laptops.

A short time later, Dick opened the door. He informed Josh that going forward, Josh would be responsible for his cell phone and  car insurance bills.

Josh responded that he would be happy to take them over.

Dealing with about as much as I could for one evening, I left the house, got into my car, drove to a park in the area and called one of my friends. I regurgitated the events of the evening (and almost my dinner) as I relived the experience.

After a few hours and feeling calmer, I made my way back home. At that point, all things were quiet. Being that it was late, all were in their rooms, hopefully fast asleep.

I then did what I did every night around 11:00 pm.

I sat in the family room, turned on the television and watched my taped recording of that day’s Oprah show.

At least I would end my day hearing something positive and life-affirming.

 

 

Desperate Husband?

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From that point on, I started to question what else Dick might tamper with.

Paranoia set in and I became suspicious of every beverage and food item in my home. Logic told me that he was only trying to “do me in” and wouldn’t do anything to harm or hurt Josh or Ashley.

However, until my divorce was final and Dick moved out, I was suspicious and cautious about what I consumed. I was extremely leery about bottled beverages. Repeatedly, I had to keep convincing myself that Dick wouldn’t do anything to put anyone else in jeopardy. How would he be certain that I would be the one eating or drinking tainted products? He wouldn’t. That reasoning kept me somewhat sane for the duration of the divorce process.

Which leads me to the following:

Dick was a huge fan of Desperate Housewives. He loved that show. Every Sunday evening, he was glued to the set and absorbed all of the shenanigans that were transpiring on Wisteria Lane, as if his life depended on it.

Season 7,  started airing on September 26, 2010 and concluded on May 15, 2011.

The reason I am bringing this up is because during that time period, one of the villains on the show — Paul Young  — was slowly being poisoned by his “so-called” caregiver. She was injecting antifreeze into food that was being whipped up and sent over by a well-meaning neighbor. Slowly, over time, Paul became sicker and sicker, until he finally keeled over, during the season finale, leaving viewers to wonder if that was curtains for his character.

While this made a fascinating story line for a television show, I shuddered to think of what would have happened if “life had imitated art.”

My divorce  ended at the beginning of 2011 and Dick  vacated our home before the specifics of Paul’s demise were revealed on Desperate Housewives.

Thinking back to that show and the detailed description and depiction about how to kill someone slowly via antifreeze ingestion, I often wondered, aside from being enthralling entertainment, did the writers ever consider that someone might copycat what they saw? Did they care?

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

But why give anyone any ideas???

 

My Lawyer’s Response

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I needed to call my attorney ASAP to share Ashley’s recent discovery.

The afternoon after I was enlightened about the probable identity of the substance residing on my toothbrush, I left the house so I could converse with my lawyer in private. Dick’s work schedule was so erratic, I didn’t want to take the chance of him coming home and overhearing my conversation.

That was the last thing I needed!

Figuring I could  (figuratively) kill two birds with one stone, I headed to the mall so I could speak with my legal counsel and run some errands simultaneously. Being out in public gave my situation a sense of normalcy and false security. Somehow  I reasoned to myself that  by being surrounded by so many other people who were out shopping, meeting friends for lunch or just enjoying the beautiful day, my life would miraculously revert back to the way it was before all the craziness started — doing all of the things I used to take for granted, without a moment’s hesitation.

As I was walking around the shopping center feeling somewhat energized, I pulled out my phone and rang up my lawyer’s office. After making polite small talk with his secretary, I was connected to him. What a nice surprise that was! More often than not, I would leave a message and I would get a return call somewhat later in the day.

I started briefing my counsel about Ashley’s findings. Before I could finish my whole spiel, he interrupted me and told me that I needed to bring him the container of Zeasorb AF.

“I can’t take that out of the bathroom. Dick will know that it is missing,” I retorted.

In an impatient tone my attorney shouted, ” I DONT CARE IF DICK SEES THAT IT IS MISSING, BRING IT TO MY OFFICE.”

“You might not care that he sees that it is missing. I, on the other hand, have to live with him and deal with him on a daily basis,” I answered back. “I guess that I could run out and buy another one and replace the one in the medicine cabinet so he wouldn’t suspect anything,” I continued.

With growing impatience, which I frankly didn’t understand where it was coming from, my lawyer admonished, ” Just take the container out of the cabinet and bring it to me. Who cares what Dick thinks?”

Realizing that reasoning with him was getting me nowhere, I agreed to drop off the Zeasorb AF.

Then, totally disappointed, disheartened and annoyed with where this discussion was going, I added somewhat dramatically, “If I die, Dick will get away with murder.”

Expecting to be calmed down with a response that I was over reacting, I was stopped in my tracks when instead I was told very matter-of-factly, that if I die, they will do an autopsy on me and that was why it was necessary for me to bring the “evidence” to my counsel’s office as quickly as I could.

Not quite believing what I was hearing, I shot back, “If I die, don’t bother to do an autopsy. At that point, who cares!!! It will be too late!!!”

The conversation quickly ended after that.

I was so caught off guard by what just transpired.

Was this how my life was going to end?

I was suddenly hit with the sickening realization that in spite of what was happening in my home to me, as things were spiraling out of control, there wasn’t anything that could legally be done until after the damage would have been done.

My mind started replaying many of the other accounts  I recalled hearing on the news of women who unsuccessfully tried to get out of abusive situations and were let down by the system. They paid the ultimate price. It cost them their lives.  I frequently questioned to myself how they let themselves get into such a mess and why they didn’t do something to alter the outcome. In reality, maybe they tried everything they could and there wasn’t anything that could stop their partner’s wrath until after the inevitable occurred.

Following the discussion I just partook in, I quickly left the mall to run another errand. I went to WalMart and picked up another container of Zeasorb AF.

The next day— when I knew I was going to be alone at home— I removed the original Zeasorb AF from the medicine cabinet and replaced it with the one I bought, after spilling half of the contents down the toilet, so that the amount would equal what was left in the original. I put the “evidence” in a brown paper lunch bag, brought it to my lawyer’s office and left the contents with his secretary.

 

 

 

 

My Daughter The Detective!

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I was completely beside myself after discovering that the composition of the powder on my toothbrush remained undetermined and that as far as my county sheriff’s department was concerned, it was a closed case.

At that point, I didn’t know how much more I could realistically take… or would be around to take.

My mind was working overtime; my nerves were beyond shot; and the end of the divorce was still nowhere in sight.

One evening,  while Dick was out-of-town visiting Juanita, I was doing  some heavy-duty multi-tasking by simultaneously watching mindless television and wallowing in self-pity.  While deep in the throes of a major Woe Is Me moment, Ashley came up to me and announced that she figured out what Dick was putting on my toothbrush.

“What are you talking about?” I queried with shock, as I quickly bolted up upon hearing her declaration.

“I think I know what Dad has been putting on your toothbrush,” she reiterated, speaking calmly and slowly as if she were dealing with a foreigner who couldn’t understand simple English.

‘I heard you,” I replied. “What, Wha… Huh…What do you mean though?”

Matter of factly, she continued, “I think he’s been putting Zeasorb-AF  on your toothbrush. I found it in his medicine cabinet.”

“Wow!!! … What the heck is Zeasorb-AF?  …I’m really impressed. … I’m so touched that you went to all of this trouble for me.  … When have you been snooping around your dad’s medicine cabinet? …  How did you figure this out?” I blurted out without stopping to take a breath, as the thoughts that quickly flooded my mind were rapidly leaving my mouth before being edited.

“Come on, I’ll show you,” declared my super-sleuth daughter.

“Okay, ” I responded, wondering when my outwardly appearing sweet, naïve  and innocent daughter became so sharp, shrewd and sneaky.

Upstairs in my bathroom, Ashley, confidently opened up the medicine cabinet,  removed a plastic container of Zeasorb AF and handed it to me so I could see what was written on the back label.

Still somewhat dazed by the discovery, I realized that aside from occasionally cleaning Dick’s medicine cabinet, I never had the desire, inkling or need to go snooping around in there. I was very impressed that Ashley had the insight and  wherewithal to carry this out without any prodding.

Perusing the label, I discovered that Zeasorb AF was used topically to treat skin infections such as athlete’s foot and jock itch. As I read further, I developed that sickening, gut-wrenching feeling that results from receiving worst case scenario news.

Warnings

 Do not take Zeasorb-AF (miconazole powder) by mouth. Use on your skin only. Keep out of your mouth, nose, and eyes (may burn).

If swallowed, get medical help right away or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

This product contains Acrylamide, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer. 

Bursting with pride from her recent finding,  Ashley pointed out that Zeasorb-AF had to have been the mystery substance because (1) it was a white powder, (2) on the label it clearly stated that if it was swallowed to call Poison Control right away and (3) the product contained a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer. Continuing on, she logically surmised that all of the afore-mentioned matched up with what Dick had been discussing with Juanita the night I overheard part of their conversation when he confirmed to her that the answer was poison and cancer.

Vacillating between being totally impressed by my daughter’s new-found gumption and being repulsed beyond belief by Dick’s turn of character (or maybe I should say, Dick’s sudden display of this side of his character), my head was throbbing from this latest revelation.

I couldn’t wait to call my attorney and share this information with him.

 

 

 

 


 

Phone Tag

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After the officer took my toothbrush away to be analyzed, I waited with bated breath for the result to come back.

Then one day a few weeks later, I saw a missed call and voice message on my cell phone.

The number didn’t look familiar. As I  played back the recording, I discovered that it was the detective who was at my home, calling with information about what the lab discovered.

He said that I should respond as soon as I could and left me his contact number.

I returned his call. He wasn’t available.

I left him a message.  When he phoned me, I wasn’t available.

This continued on and on for the next several days.

The suspense was killing me! Figuratively speaking, of course. Suspense was no match for whatever Dick had up his sleeve!

It got to the point where the investigator was addressing me by my first name, telling me that “I was it” and that our little game of phone tag was continuing.

My “Officer Friendly” had a good sense of humor and a nice personality.

At least one man in my life knew how to communicate with me in a positive manner!

Finally, after several missed attempts, we were able to connect.

As  luck would have it, I was out riding my bicycle when I felt a vibration in my fanny pack, indicating that my phone was ringing.

There was no way that I was going to take a chance and miss the one call I was desperately waiting for.

I  stopped at the side of the road, pulled out my phone and saw my detective’s name on the screen. Since we were becoming phone buddies, I made him one of my contacts.

Finally!!! We were going to communicate with each other.

Nervously, I answered the call. Of course, being outside, with cars whizzing by wasn’t the ideal setting to hear the news I was desperately waiting to receive.

After making polite small talk, we got down to the meat of the call.

“It was discovered that there were no controlled substances or corrosives on your brush,” the policeman told me.

“Okay??? So what was the white powdery substance” I queried.

I was informed that the mystery remained a mystery.

“So, what was the next step?” I questioned.

“Well, since you are alive and appear to not be suffering from any lingering symptoms, the taxpayers of the county won’t pay to find out what the exact nature of the particles are,” my officer declared.

“You are free to take your brush to a private lab to be analyzed.” he proposed.

Without missing a beat, he continued, “However, I have to tell you that even if the  substance is identified, the evidence wouldn’t hold up in a court of law.”

WHAT THE F*$K!!! I silently screamed in the privacy of my own head.

“What do you mean by that?” I calmly queried out loud.

“You could say that your soon-to-be ex tampered with your toothbrush and the proof was that his fingerprints were all over it. However, he could claim that he innocently touched it while he moved it to a different spot . Without actually catching him in the act and having proof of the indiscretion, it’s just your word against his,” my detective retorted.

So that’s why the ER nurse was showing me the websites for nanny cams!

What good was all of this information after the fact?

Why couldn’t I have been privy to this knowledge before any of this went down?

Honestly, knowing myself as well as I do, even if I would have been forewarned, educated and alerted to the possibilities,  I wouldn’t have taken any action anyway.

Because, there was no way, that I would have ever believed in a million years that Dick could have dreamt up and carried out what he was doing to me.

Who was this man? Certainly not the one I married. I had no clue who Dick was anymore.

More importantly, I had no idea what else was  he capable of.

As unfathomable as it was, I was starting to fear that it was possible for him to get away with murder.  Equally disturbing was the fact that legally, at that point, the law was on his side.

Innocent until proven guilty.