Monday, April 21, 2014

Life on the Otherside: Becoming Fearless

Jason and my experiences during our divorces left us with amplified fear. Here he is a highly decorated warrior and he feared opening his email for dread of what Jo would do next. We have hid from confrontation, sometimes betraying ourselves and each other, so as to not upset the balance and mistakenly thinking “we couldn’t handle anything else.” Our divorces were by far the most difficult years in each of our lives and our darkest days. Jason and I are stronger every day; we pray to become fearless. Two weeks ago I would not have dreamed of posting the following, but I am no longer afraid of consequences. I have to communicate the most destructive parts of our stories to express how we climbed out no matter how uncomfortable we or others feel; to help others journey through similar tragedy with more grace. We are called to tell our stories so we can be interconnected with one another. If we don’t how can we find and comfort each other in this vast sometimes overwhelming world?

After Peter had filed that first horrific motion leaving me utterly exposed and humiliated, I reached out to my family. As you know, I had been estranged for four years prior so not the best daughter or sister. But it was like my family put hand in hand, surrounding me as if walls of a mighty fortress. It did not take convincing of any sort, I told my story and what I was up against. They were there with absolutely no energy turned toward Peter. This was a war and I needed to find refuge somewhere. My support went out to even my extended family and David and Susan, longtime friends of the Walton family. 
Peter mentioned during a parent coordination meeting that he couldn’t believe my brothers wouldn’t talk to him; he had been friends with them nearly his whole life (Peter and my youngest brothers were both 9 when we met). The parent coordinator said that in cases like this it is completely normal for each family to take care of their own. I had that luxury; Jason did not.

When they learned of Jason, he was the only one. They were thrilled that I had something good finally, that there was hope of a happy ending. My family adores Jason and has a great deal of respect for him. Both nieces and nephews love their Uncle Jason; he is their hero.

Betsy and Jo were sisters-in-law for 12 years; Jason has only one brother. They never lived near each other so communication was generally by phone, email and Facebook. Jo had nothing good to say about anyone behind their back, especially her husband. She escalated to fever pitched disparagement after Jason filed for divorce. Betsy listened; Jason’s brother listened and both believed Jo; they thought the worst of Jason. I know this because I was with Jason when he received a two page hostile email from Betsy chastising him and defending Jo. Jason agonized over his response, hoping she could hear his story and asked that Betsy not communicate with Jo as he had recently litigated one of Jo’s motions with information that had come from Betsy and Jason’s brother. They had been quoted by Jo within the motion as a way of backing her allegations against Jason. “Even Jason’s family…..” Betsy and Jo continued to communicate by phone, texting and publically, and very actively, on Facebook.

I was introduced to Betsy in May of 2011; Jason and Jo were officially divorced and had been legally separated since 2009, Jason trying desperately that whole time to get divorced. Between that meeting in May and the Christmas from “The Family that Stole Christmas,” Betsy had done nothing less than campaigned against me. The flow of information went from Peter to Jo, Jo to Betsy and Betsy to the women in Jason’s family (I’m not saying that anyone accepted, just given the information). This information was from that first horrific motion that left me utterly exposed and humiliated. It was happening all over again……I had to endure the initial abuse, litigated it for a year, litigate it again in Jason’s case and now hear it was all over…re-victimized again. I had already disputed everything that was untrue, legally and formally, I thought it was done. In hostile divorces parties disclose the worst things about each other, Peter being so diabolical; our case had to be sealed. So my soon to be family was hearing about my worst mistakes, embellished stories and absolutely malicious lies….because Betsy would not allow me to represent myself or Jason himself and chose to communicate information originating from Peter and she gave credence to an embittered and jealous ex-wife. Jo, in her obsession, was using Betsy and the attention and energy Betsy gave was fueling Jo’s legal firestorm. Jo was able to keep her white knuckled hold on Jason and now me. I tolerated this as to not upset Jason’s family dynamic. I nearly left Jason on many occasions because of it.

After the NCIS investigation and Betsy continuing to give heed to Jo’s assertions and thereby hurt me and Jason, Jason trying to protect me and himself, implored his Judge to order Jo to stop disparaging him and me to not only the children but to his own family. The Judge granted his motion and ordered all harassment and disparagement to stop; she would be in contempt of court if she continued to contact Betsy engaging in this destructive talk.

As Jason continued to deteriorate in the aftermath of the investigation, I’d had enough of playing family politics; I harshly confronted Betsy, the last portal where information about Jason flowed freely to Jo and information from Jo flowed freely back to my soon to be family. In that conversation Betsy relayed to me in a dismissive, minimizing and teaching sort of way “that divorces are hard and  Jo and Jason would figure things out” that “the boys do talk” [it has been ruled in Jason’s case that Jo questioning the boys so intensely has been more psychologically damaging than the issues she raises] and she knew things “were not going well” yet she was “neutral,” “she wanted to stay in contact with her nephews” [by liking and commenting on Jo’s Facebook page], and when I attempted to talk about Jason’s side of the story I was met with, “I don’t want to be involved. I don’t want to hear anything.” And a few times, “I feel sorry for her.” As one example, she went on to say that she “accepted my lifestyle as a lesbian. Her living in a liberal state, she was good at accepting people for who they were.” She did not ask one question, ask if I was indeed a lesbian, ask about how Jason was, ask how I was…she only defended her ongoing and public friendship with Jo.

Jason and I have struggled with Betsy all along, being so blatantly against us, but we decided to forgive and forget and focus on moving forward. With Jason retiring we looked-for a new found relationship with Betsy and his brother and planned to visit with regularity. At our wedding, a family member thought it odd that when she spoke to Betsy and Jason’s brother about how much they all loved, respected and were thankful for Jason she noticed that they were silent and looked oddly uncomfortable with her opinion. This was an innocent interaction as I had shared nothing with her about Betsy’s predilections toward Jo.

A few weeks ago I learned Betsy and Jo are still communicating. I tried to shake it, but I became depressed and couldn’t settle an uncomfortable feeling. So I thought I would ask Betsy if she was able to cut off from Jo. Even the slightest energy keeps the fire lit.  I received a voicemail the next day from Jason’s brother scolding me as if I had misbehaved like a child. Jason took a call from Betsy and she again spent the entire conversation defending her communication, asking no questions, stating passionately that she “was only being neutral,” and speaking as though she was a victim of mine as I had interrupted a date night. She repeated herself until Jason agreed. I had asked a question, wondering how vulnerable I could continue to be with her; I had been delighted to engage with her for a short time.

I realized the depression was about me betraying myself and continuing to act like a victim. I was afraid of Betsy and was paralyzed. Jason and I were walking on eggshells not speaking our thoughts and feelings for fear of the consequence, within his family. As an additional blow, Jason had just dropped another 6 thousand in litigating Jo’s attempts to “Abate all Parental Contact.” Jason, also concerned about continued communication, the fact that he was still litigating timeshare, and being alienated from his children for three months, shared his concern and also asked for an apology. Her response mocked that he had not spoken to his boys in over three months, a claim that she had done everything she could to support Jason then a request to delete her contact information. Just like that. This is a clear sign that we have accurately hit a deep seeded nerve that is about Betsy and Jason’s brother and not us.

From a fearless perspective, it’s simple. We can see plainly that we need to let Betsy behave as she will, communicate with whom she likes and it was incorrect for us to have asked anything of her. What would have been a healthier approach would have been to observe Betsy’s stance in that first email and to disengage. And then accept the pressure of a shift in the family dynamic until it resolved. It really could’ve been that simple. No more depression. Jason and I are stronger because of this.  A few days later Jason and I listened to a voice mail where his brother says that they need to work together to make sure “Betsy doesn’t receive any more crazy texts from me.” My fault, with Betsy and Jason’s brother, is that I love Jason with all my heart……

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The NCIS Investigation: Jason's Story

Jo about a year into the divorce returned to the city where she and Jason had lived for nine years of their marriage. She was good friends with several neighbors and had continued to disparage Jason (and later me) with any who would listen. With Jason on deployments and Jo left to represent the family, people were left with no choice but to believe her. It’s difficult for rational minds to think someone is lying, not so much a problem to believe embellishments, but not outright intentional lying. That’s why when Jo had her parents call Jason’s 93 year old grandfather and 89 year old grandmother to tell them stories of Jason’s “dishonorable discharge” from the military and having to “be escorted onto to base,” they were devastated. Of course they believed them; it’s unfathomable that adults would be so malicious? Jason’s career was exactly opposite of what Jo continually portrayed to his family throughout the years. Jason has been honored with a silver star and three bronze stars, in fact, when he wore his metals at our wedding his jacket was weighed down with so many honors. He had been the first picked Warrant Officer this past year, but decided to turn it down as we are not interested in parting for a deployment. When Jason called and explained all this they were relieved and filled with righteous anger. 

Jo returned, almost a year into her divorce from Jason, under the guise of reuniting with dear friends, to attempt to destroy Jason’s career and his reputation. We don’t to this day know the whole story; the Naval Criminal Investigation Services investigator wouldn’t tell Jason everything, just that his ex-wife had claimed Jason had secret information on a home computer; her allegations were so serious it initiated an NCIS investigation and could’ve led to being dishonorably discharged. She would’ve had to have plotted for years and downloaded information secretly from his work lap top. This is simply sinister. It was untrue and of course it came out in the end that this was a vindictive and jealous ex-wife and this was completely out of his character. When I spoke with the investigator, as a personal character witness, he said that everyone he had interviewed provided the same accolades about Jason; all information was consistent and if it had not, Jo just might have gotten what she sought. I now live in the house Jo lived in with Jason and have learned that Jo had openly discussed her wicked scheme to destroy Jason in this way. During this visit she claimed she “knew” Jason had a private detective following her and had stalked her. This was so obviously detached from reality and her intentions so cruel that friends encouraged her to move on and leave Jason alone. Most have long since refused to respond to any communication from her.  

After over a year of a full blown NCIS investigation (tax dollars in action), Jason was interviewed. Imagine how unsettling it was for him to realize his superiors were being questioned without his knowledge, he was so dangerously close to losing his career and honor, and realizing the depths of breathtaking intentional maliciousness he was up against. Jason was deeply affected; he was so overwhelmed he found it difficult to maintain normal daily activities. He was thousands of miles from me, his children and any support system. His world was falling apart. My heart was breaking for him.  

Oh Jo, You had Everything, On a Silver Platter.....Jason's Story

Jo and Jason only knew each other for a few months before marrying, something Jason obviously regrets. He was stationed in Hawaii and she was a senior in college. She moved to Hawaii where she became a temp for Temporary Agency. She had it made. She was employed for a few weeks when she was accused of stealing and fired. Five years later she took a preschool assistant job at a day care. She held that position for a few years and when the teacher position opened she was overlooked and quit. During those years all Jo did was complain about the school and talk about how she would do things better. Jason offered to take out a loan for her to establish her own center, but she wasn’t interested in really working at all. Jo has had the luxury of being a completely stay-at-home mother to this day; something very few women are afforded in this day in age. Jo didn’t like housework or decorating, she didn’t take care of anything outside, didn’t regularly go to the gym, Jason when home generally grilled. Jo was also frigid and proudly talked with friends and even Jason’s own mother about her withholding; mocking Jason. Jo disparaged Jason throughout their marriage. 

During the divorce Jo requested alimony to go back to school to become a paralegal because “she knows the law.” Since that statement, Jo has not returned to school and is completely unemployed. Jo won $350,000 in the settlement and receives $2,200 per month in child support. Jo is now not only out of money, but is in debt. She hasn’t worked so she has no retirement; she devotes her life to destroying Jason, whatever the cost, quite impulsively and with no thought of the next day. Jason is retiring in June, and as is the case with most SEALs, quite beaten up after 20 years and 250 operations. She will receive a portion of his retirement for the rest of her life and Jason is in litigation because she says he is choosing to be underemployed and does not need to retire and if he does he can continue in this line of work as a consultant. She also wants a cut of his disability. We have spent now over $6,000 just to reduce the child support to a fair amount. Jo feels entitled and does not seem to have an ounce of personal responsibility for taking care of herself. 
The first summer of visitation the boys were convinced that their mother was also a doctor. It was obvious they had been “prepped” to tell me this information. I asked “doctor of what?” They said she delivered babies and had even saved a baby. The baby had been born with the chord around its neck and Jo had delivered the baby and brought it back to life. They were sincere; it was sad.

The second summer of visitation the boys said that Jo would not be available for a week as she was going on vacation. We asked where she was going hoping desperately that it was with a man on a beach somewhere. Nope, Jo was going to Disney World, with her parents, for the week. I don’t think I even need to comment further. This past summer Jo “had started a business as an interior designer” and the boys were so proud. Jo was not employed.  

We had to get a court order to limit communication between Jo and the boys. The first summer she texted and called continuously and Jason says she uses actual interrogation techniques on them. She is ordered to now call once per day and has a limit of 30 minutes. We set a time and within the minute of 8:30 she calls; every single day. The boys even ask "does mom just sit by her phone and watch it turn 8:30?" They get very annoyed as it generally interrupts some fun summertime activity.  She also calls Jason’s phone and leaves a message at least once every single day. Her messages, when not slurred, are detached from reality and indicate, in her mind, they are still together and me a mistress. Her messages are downright mentally ill. And why would a person have a one way dialogue for so long?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jason's Brief: My Pen, His Words

In 2004, after enduring years of verbal, mental and some physical abuse, I decided to end my marriage to Jo and left. She stated that if I did not come back to her she would take my children as far away as possible and not let me see them. This way of returning to the marriage, under her threat, gave her power and control over me, which she exercises excessively to this day. 

In January 2009, just prior to my last overseas trip in support of the Global War on Terrorism, Jo was again yelling at me and this time said to me “I hope you don’t make it back from this trip”.  I said “you want me to die?”, then she punched me in the chest and I walked out of the room. This reminded me of a few previous interactions where she asked me to increase my life insurance. I am worth more to Jo, even now, dead than alive. Jo would antagonize me days before I left for deployments with threats and start arguments to unsettle me and leave me vulnerable right before engaging in life-threatening operations.
Near the end of 2009, after giving the marriage one last try by moving, and taking a position without deployments, in order to spend time together, I could not endure her abuse any longer and asked for a marriage dissolution. I filled out the paper work and brought it to her. She replied, “this is not how it’s going to happen.” She then proceeded to accuse me of domestic violence. During the divorce Jo stated several times “this can all go away if you come back to me.” Because of this unsubstantiated accusation and being in a state very behind regarding psychological issues, she was given sole custody of our children, giving her increasing power and control over me. And she did what she threatened, taking the children as far away as possible, creating even more control with geographical distance and me with limited time off from the military.

Jo’s first allegation was that I slapped her on the butt while going upstairs. During the divorce trial the allegation had morphed into me punching her in the lower back. She claimed to have sustained very serious injuries, but the hospital “lost” her x-ray.” She has claimed the incident included a black eye with some neighbors and friends, other stories with different people. The stories seem to change according the attention Jo receives or does not receive. The longer you simply listen to a sociopath the greater the stories will become; it’s like oxygen with fire. If she and the children were so afraid wouldn’t she be relieved of the news of me leaving and not to this day desperately wanting attention from me?

Jo said to me too many times to count, beginning in 2004 when I first tried to leave, that “I (Jason) will pay for leaving her.” Everything that Jo threatened (i.e. job, kids, finances, going after my family, going after my friends, ruining my life) has come to fruition. I, with all sincerity, believe she is not done with me or people that I hold dearest.

Jo’s moods always shifted from such extremes within short periods of time, I even tried to talk to her mother and several professionals thinking she might be bi-polar. Former friends have said these shifts were so extreme, she took on different personalities. Any attempt on my part to try and get her help was met with intense rage. Jo told me it was from menopause; at age 34. Jo would not get out of bed for days due to migraines, something she did not seek help for. When I was deployed neighbors tell me she and the children rarely left the house.

I approached Jo’s mother about Jo’s behavior in late 2008. Not knowing how to handle Jo, I called her and asked if there were any bi-polar relatives or history in the family. She said there was not. Fearing Jo’s reaction, I asked her, to keep this between her, her husband, (Jo’s stepfather) and me. I feared Jo becoming enraged, knowing how opposed she was about getting help. Her mother eventually told Jo about the conversation and, as anticipated, Jo flew into a rage, stating there was nothing wrong with her and she didn’t need any help with anything. I was genuinely looking out for the boys since she was spending the majority of time isolated and alone with them.

Still not knowing what to do, I talked to my Command Psychologist about her irrational and unpredictable behavior in March of 2009 and again October 2009. One minute she was pleasant to be around, then like the turn of a page she would become very hostile and verbally abusive to either me or the boys. This psychologist, taking my concerns seriously, said he will have a statement taken by the JAG in San Diego if needed. I wish I had done more, professionals were available to help. 

I also talked to a medical Doctor about Jo. I spoke with him, from my command, on multiple occasions (July and October in 2009, January 2010). I described her mood swings and abuse toward me and the children. He gave me his professional opinion of what may be the causes and encouraged me to have her tested. I told him how tired I was of living with Jo’s abusive and aggressive behavior toward me and the boys. This MD said he would make a statement to our JAG in San Diego. Later, he would offer to testify in our divorce case about this and the fact that Jo’s records, following her claim of DV showed nothing. I was poorly represented and my attorney, for some reason, did not call upon him for testimony.

Jo remains opposed to any sort of therapy for her or the boys. The few times she saw a therapist was to, I believe, document her false DV accusations. I believe this because this is the only time Jo has “sought help,” and coincidentally right at the time of her accusations. Jo creates road blocks to any attempt on my part to get the boy’s professional help in this difficult situation. Even with the initial court’s order that I only see my sons (for a few hours a day) with the condition I take them to see a professional while visiting for Christmas break 2010 was met with obstacles by Jo. It was quite difficult to get everything worked out from so far away and in the end Jo refused to allow the boys to participate in the court ordered therapy with the therapist I selected and she refused to participate. After I left she found a different therapist for the boys, but only took them a few times. I have talked to the boys about it and they relay, from their mother, that “there is nothing wrong with them and they don’t need to talk to any therapist.” With Jo having sole custody, she again, has control over this as well; therapists are not able to meet with the boys without her consent, which she will not give. We have taken the boys to family therapy where all of us are required to be in the room.

During 2003-2009 I noticed that Jo’s verbal and physical abuse against my sons was escalating and increasing in frequency. Jo, while in a fit of rage, would not accept reason or help. Former friends have seen this, her parents have seen this, and so have mine. I would come home from work and my oldest would be in tears at the dinner table while writing. Even my father and step mother commented that they had overheard her harshness toward him while doing homework. They have also commented on how she verbally abused me right in front of them. Jo yelled and screamed a lot. According to my mother, during a visit with the boys after the divorce, she told me Jo screamed at the boys quite frequently. Jo, throughout the boy’s lives, makes them promise “to never leave her.” My mother has talked about her saying this as well and her extreme mood swings. I have observed, on several occasions, Jo yelling at the boys until they cried and slapping them in the face. This mostly happened during homework time while she forced them to re-do homework until it was perfect.  

Here is just one example where I was particularly disturbed. Jo took a plastic bottle of catsup and poured a large amount of catsup into her hands and rubbed it into my then 6 year old son’s hair (she rubbed it in like she was shampooing his hair) then she smeared it all over his face. This took place while at dinner.  Both of the boys were present. This is Jo’s response after “disciplining” my youngest for breaking the plastic lid off the catsup bottle: 

Jo): I warned you, I take the time to do what I do and you ruin my stuff, I’m sick of it.

Jason (to Jo):  Is he alright?

Jo: Oh he is fine, he is just shocked I did it. 

Jason:  I can’t believe you did that.

Jo:  Are you kidding me?

Jason:  No I am not kidding you.

(I could hear my son crying in his room)

Jason:  That was kinda,

Jo:  Kind of what?

Jason:  Over the top

Jo:  Are you kidding me?

Jason:  No I am not.

Jo:  Are you kidding me?

Jason:  Rubbing Catsup all over your kids head, you do not think is over the top?

Jo:  I warned him, if he breaks it I would rub catsup on his face, I told him that.  So he took the lid and cracked it open and broke it.  So what was I supposed to do not do it?

Jason:  I don’t think I would have come up with a punishment that hey I am going to rub catsup on your face if you do that.

Jo:  Well (Jo putting food into her mouth) I should of rubbed his face in it.  The same kind of thing you do with a dog right!  Rub its face in it! Or a cat.

Jason:  You are going to compare your son to a dog or a cat.

Jo:  Yeah I am right now, because let me tell you how much shit he breaks around here, or gets his little nose into and he gets away with it, so if you have a problem with it you debate it with me at a different time and a different place.

Jason:  I just think that is a bit extreme. 

Jo:  (while eating) I warned him, he made the choice, he did it.  You want me to go and buy a new catsup?

Jason:  Did he really do it?

Jo:  Yes!  I watched him! Right here go like this, and peel it right off, that’s harmless.  (Jo continuing to eat)

Jason:  Where is he?  (I then left the room to go to check on him)

My son was laying in his bed sobbing and was still covered with catsup. It was burning his eyes, he had it up his nose and in his ears; he was covered. He was crying hard, the kind of cry when it seems difficult to catch their breath.  I held him and calmed him back down.  I felt so badly for him and his brother who had witnessed their mother’s abuse. Jo offered no help in cleaning him up and offered no apology. This incident is a good example of Jo’s manner in dealing with people in general: Jo thinks she is never wrong, Jo is always the victim (even with her 6 year old son) and Jo thinks she always knows best. In hind sight, I should have immediately called social services; I regret that deeply.

During our divorce trial, when this incident was brought up, Jo said that she had laughed about it with Jay and it was no big deal and her attorney quickly dismissed the matter. I don’t know any adult, with sound mind, that would laugh at any time about an incident like this. I don’t find child abuse funny; I’m not sure why Jo and her attorney thought this incident was funny or could be laughed about with a child. My hurt child. I know no child, having been treated like a dog, who would find this funny and laugh. I don’t think either have experienced holding and rocking a hysterical child covered in catsup. If I would’ve taken a bottle of catsup and rubbed and smeared it on her attorney, I would’ve been in contempt of court and charged with assault, but this behavior is laughable for a child? Her attorney made light of this abuse, evidence that he cares more about money than for the protection of a child. He should also be held accountable, professionally, for putting a child at risk of further abuse. I tried desperately to be heard at the divorce trial. If she did it once, I’m sure she’s done comparable things, which is one more reason I’d like my boys in therapy. I cringe to think of what goes on in their home without any accountability.

I found in marriage, that Jo would resort to any means to win an argument or make sure she wasn’t wrong and that often included lying. I believe Jo to be a compulsive liar. Jo did not want to divorce in 2004 or in 2009, though she seemed to have more contempt for me than anything else throughout our marriage. Jo, with absolute certainty, did not want a divorce throughout the entire marriage, to the very end, though she strongly asserted otherwise to others. She raged and vocalized, up to the day she filed the false claim of DV, that she would do anything to prevent me from divorcing her. “I would never leave her.”

We had been legally separated for over a year when I learned from my youngest that they had just celebrated our wedding anniversary; buying wedding anniversary cards and having a special night. I found this information to be disturbing for several reasons: 1) What Jo said and did during our excruciatingly long divorce runs completely contrary to this action indicating Jo was lying throughout the divorce 2) This action does not seem mentally sound 3) This was a very confusing action for my sons and furthers parental alienation with her being the victim and me being the bad guy. Jo has since shared with the boys that she will never marry again, she’s waiting for me, I am lost, and the only reason we are divorced is that I wanted it.

When I returned to the home where she had lived with the boys, where I had not entered without a witness following the DV accusation, so as not to be accused of anything again, I found on every mirror, drawings, stick figures of me, Jo and the two boys, some had messages. I had not known her to ever do that, so these messages were likely for me. I don’t know exactly why; I just find them disturbing. Photos of the drawings are attached to this post.

There are so many contradictions. Jo has nothing good to say about me to anyone she talks to. She continues to attempt to besmirch me to anyone that will listen, yet sends my family Christmas cards and birthday cards like we are still together. After hearing about my mother’s visit to see the boys, and not only Jo’s disparagement but that of her mother and step father, I found it unsettling to receive a 2012 Christmas card from them as if we were still married and they were still my in-laws. These examples seem to be detached from reality, evidence of extreme shifts in emotion, and further evidence that Jo’s words cannot be trusted.