Category Archives: The Marriage

The Last Straw-Attempted Kidnapping of Our Daughter

The last straw in our relationship–the decision-making tie-breaker– (attempted kidnapping of our daughter) occurred one day in late winter. My grandmother had let slip to my now-ex, that my mother had said that he was lazy and wouldn’t work and that she now was starting to agree. My ex decided that I was to no longer speak to my mother until she apologized to him. A few days later, he was scrolling through my phone to
his sister’s new phone number” into my phone and found that I had called my mother. He was livid! He’d wanted me to tell her that I wouldn’t talk to her until she apologized. I didn’t. He asked, “Why not?! Why were you hiding it? Because you know it’s WRONG?!” He said he was going to drive to his office 45 minutes away to get some info off of his computer from where I’d left the first time. (Who knows what THAT could help!) When he saw that I didn’t seem to care, he said, “and I’m taking (our daughter) with me!” We moved to the bedroom. He ordered me to get her ready. True to form, I started getting her shoes on, then said, “No! I’m not helping you get ready to take her!” He put her shoes and socks on while saying, “I’m going to take her and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!” I said, “Well, I’ll do everything I can to stop you!” There was NO way I was letting him leave with her, as he had threatened to take her away before and said I’d never see her again. (Real good for your 2 year-old daughter, huh?!) He’d planned on running off to his family’s if CPS was going to take her away from HIM. (They never threatened to take her from ME, as I wasn’t the one being aggressive in front of her). At this point, he left the room and I got out my recorder. He didn’t know I had it out and was recording the altercation. Our daughter was still with me, of course. I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight. When the argument moved into the living room, I laid the recorder on the kitchen counter under some papers so it would be sure to record clearly and so I could have my hands free. He was getting stuff ready to go so I had a little time in between to arrange it. I tried to keep the conversation out of the kitchen, to avoid the looming proximity of knives. He grabbed her from my arms and tried to take her out the front door. I blocked the door. He opened it anyway. He pushed me out of the way. I yelled, “Help!” out the open door. No one was around. We lived in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors near. I grabbed the keys from the key-ring clock, sending it smashing to the ground. I didn’t dare grab for our daughter as I was afraid she’d get hurt and didn’t want her to be in the middle of a tug-of-war match. Then, my recorder malfunctioned (this could only happen to ME!) and started playing back our recorded conversation. We stood there for a moment trying to figure out what had happened. He was livid. He flashed me an evil look. I went for my cell phone which was laying on the counter. He knocked it off onto the floor, away from me. He said, “What are you gonna do, call for help?” I said, “no”. I knew that would be impossible. He said, “Good, because I’d be long gone before anyone got here.” I knew he was right. I reached for our daughter. He was holding her in his left arm. He had a crazy look in his eyes. With his right arm, he grabbed my by the neck, then instead of choking me, like I thought he was going to do, he just pushed me down onto my knees. Our daughter flew away from him from the push and she started crying. He didn’t drop her, but she was flung pretty severely and was pretty shaken up. I think he realized then what he’d done. I think his first instinct was to strangle me, but he couldn’t go through with it. He knew it was wrong and even HE couldn’t do it. (OR was it that he knew the consequences of killing me? or was he afraid he couldn’t physically DO it and I’d kill HIM?) He then said that I had the power to stop this, that if I called my mom and told her that I wouldn’t talk to her, he’d stay. Frankly, I didn’t want HIM to stay, but I wanted to keep him from taking our daughter. I wasn’t scared so much of him physically as I was that he’d take our daughter. He proceeded to tell me that this could all be stopped if I’d just call my mom and tell her that I was not going to talk to her until she apologized. I agreed to do it. He finally handed her to me. She had been crying and reaching for me. My mom knew the call was coming from our conversation a few days before, so she didn’t think anything of it. What she didn’t know was what had happened just prior to the call. I was hoping she’d hear our daughter in the background repeatedly crying to me, “Why did Daddy try to take me?” My mom didn’t hear her. After a brief, awkward, mostly silent conversation, one of us hung up the phone. My N-ex asked, “Do you WANT this to work?” At this point, I had NO desire to make it work, I just wanted to keep us safe, so I said, “There is nothing I want MORE than for this to be the relationship that I want!” That part was true, but I knew it would NEVER work if he didn’t make changes or even SEE that he had a problem. He backed off then. This took place in late morning. We had been having problems getting our gas to stay on. We had to keep going down and fixing it at the valve. Well I say, “we” because he wouldn’t let us out of his sight. I continued to be solely responsible for our daughter’s care but he watched me like a hawk, afraid I’d leave. And I WOULD have! So, three times, we had to walk about 1/4 mile downhill to check the gas. Me and our 2-year-old. Later in the day, during our daughter’s nap, as I was laying with her (as usual) the heating repairman came. I considered putting up a “Help!” sign in the window but I was afraid of how the repairman may respond. I was worried that he’d either tell my ex or that he’d not understand my sign. I hated to involve someone else but I was even more afraid that he would tell my ex somehow and it would make matters worse. So, I didn’t. He insisted that we go for a walk in the evening toward dusk. We walked out to the field. I was a little scared to get out where no one driving by could see but it wasn’t anymore isolated than in the trailer where we lived. We made hay houses out of the leftover hay with our daughter. It was a very tense walk.

He asked, “Where are we?”

I said, “I think we should separate for a while. I have some sorting out to do.”

He replied, “So you think it’s better to work it out without talking?”

I said, “I just need some space to figure out what to do.” Then he tried to get me to admit that everything that happened that day was my fault. He wanted me to say that it was all my fault that “it had to come to this”. I eventually admitted that it was my fault, even though I didn’t believe that it was. I was afraid of telling him what I REALLY felt. Then he asked, “So, will you write on a piece of paper that this relationship problem is all your fault?” Finally, I got mad and I said, “No! This relationship problem is NOT my fault and there is NO excuse for what you did today! It doesn’t matter what I say or do to you, there is NO excuse for that!” He said, “Ha! I caught you lying on tape! I recorded it on my phone!” I don’t know what he thought he was going to accomplish with this. He probably thought he could manipulate me with it. Later that night, he gave me a hug and said, “Sorry about today. That was bad.” That was the first and only apology I’d EVER gotten from him in seven years of marriage. He was back to the guy I had loved. He was calm and loving. That night, after I got our daughter to sleep, he ran his fingers through my hair till I fell asleep as usual while we were watching the tv show he knew I liked, as usual. But I’d seen that look. That scary, crazy, insane look. My gut said “Leave”. I knew if I didn’t leave now, I may never get another chance. I knew I had to go.

#5- The Flea Market

We enjoyed going to a very large flea market that summer. They had everything from new socks to used junk to rabbits, chickens, etc. It was fun to see what they had. One day, we were preparing to go. We hadn’t set a time to go. We were just sitting around watching TV. It was a Saturday. He asked, “Are you ready to go?” and I said “Yes” and he walked out the door. Then I realized I had better use the bathroom before we left. The restrooms there were not very clean and I’d rather not have to use them. I was in the bathroom a minute or two, if that, then came straight out to him storming back in the door. “I thought you said you were ready!”

I said, “I just had to use the bathroom first”.

“Well, you SAID you were read!” He was mad. We didn’t go to the flea market and he pouted for days, maybe weeks. I was thrown off. I tried to apologize. I just wanted the fun man back that I had before. Where did he go? and why? It seemed such a minor infraction. As with many of our arguments, I was left wondering “what just happened?” I apologized until I was blue-in-the-face. Eventually, several days later, his anger started to slowly wear off, but I never got the same man back that I “had” to begin with. His mask had slipped. Perhaps he was just getting more comfortable with me and was letting his guard down, I don’t know.

#4-The Proposal Night-Coming Home

I said yes. Though I had some concerns, I was happy it was over with. I knew he wanted to be with me, he just had some mood problems. He was very insecure. I thought, I still have time to back out if it doesn’t work out. I thought I could help him feel better about himself and he’d calm down. I thought I could help him. I think I DID make a difference in his life. I think I did help. However, I couldn’t help enough and eventually, I wore down.

But I had said yes, and I was happy. Unsettled but happy. We had a glass of champagne with dinner to celebrate. Other than that, he got mad at me, something about the fake fireplace. I’m not sure what I did “wrong” there. Our engagement night was full of tension.

We came home from our trip to find our neighbor and friend Robbie walking down the road. Phil suddenly seemed happy about the engagement. That was the first time he seemed happy about it. His excitement waned quickly, I’m guessing, as soon as we drove away from Phil. At the time, I didn’t piece it together, that his excitement could be an act. It was a pattern that would repeat over the years. Why would he ask me if he didn’t want to marry me? (Also see “The Honeymoon”)

#3- The Proposal

We took a trip in August. We went a few hours away to a beautiful lake in the mountains. It was beautiful. We stayed at a German bed and breakfast and went for a boat-ride tour of the lake. I was pretty sure he was going to propose at some point on the trip but he was being so grouchy that I started to think that I was wrong. Because of his allergies, we couldn’t take the hike to the waterfall that he had planned. This seemed to make him angry. Something did anyway. I laid low and tried not to provoke him. I tried to make him feel better. He was quiet and seemed bothered. If he was going to propose, it didn’t seem like it. He didn’t seem happy with me, let alone anything else. He seemed frustrated.

We found a brochure on a wolf sanctuary that we wanted to go see but we couldn’t find it. We didn’t have very good directions and no one was answering the phone. On the way back from this little excursion, he was still grouchy. We stopped at a flower shop and he was in there for quite a long time. He wanted me to stay in the car. Finally, he came out with my favorite flowers. He didn’t hand them to me happily. He just gave them to me. I think there was something nice written on the card. It was a sweet gesture but seemed to have no feeling, almost as if it was a script he had to get through. I’m still puzzled by it.

Then we pulled off alongside the road at a shallow creek that ran close to the road. We sat there for a few minutes on a large rock in the creek. He proposed. I don’t even remember exactly what he said. Something like “I love you and I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?” He didn’t seem too into it. He showed no emotion. I didn’t now what to say. I don’t know why I said yes. I guess I felt sorry for  him. I justified his mood as being disappointed he couldn’t pull off his proposal as planned and his fear of an allergic reaction. I remember once thinking, “if I don’t love this man, who will?” I, to this day, have a lot of pity toward this man. It’s tragic. It’s hard to choose myself over him. He seems so pitiful, like a wounded animal that you must save, even though you know that it is likely to strike you if you get close. Still, you can’t stand to see it suffer and you try to help it and alleviate it’s pain… So, I said yes.

#2-School to The Proposal

So, eventually, Jason and I broke up. He moved away to a different school. I lost contact with Phil because he took some time off of school. I started dating another guy, Pete, who was very nice. We got along really well. We dated for three years in school and after school, I moved to where he was from. His brother had a business set up that he was expected to join. We had talked a lot about living somewhere in between where our parents lived. They were 8 hours drive apart. however, though we searched for a town that we liked to live in forever, we never found anything and it seemed his interest in compromising was waning. He started to value being near his family more, and so did I. We finally decided that it wasn’t going to work out. I was heartbroken. I had seen Phil once before we left for the town Pete lived in, and I sensed that he suddenly had “feelings” for me. (Looking back and from what Phil later said, his “feelings” started when he saw how some other guys at the restaurant we were at looked at me.) But, I was still with Pete, and Phil and I were just friends. I didn’t like how he was now looking at me like he was interested in me as more than a friend. I didn’t contact him until a year later, just after Pete and I broke up. I thought Phil would help me in my breakup with Pete. However, Phil had other ideas. He immediately assumed that I was interested in dating him. I had thought about it, but hadn’t made up my mind yet if I was interested. I had just gotten out of a long relationship and wasn’t really ready yet to date. I really just wanted a friend to talk to, and we had been friends before. However, when he said how glad he was that I had finally called, and that his heart skipped a beat when he read my letter (giving him my new contact info), I knew he was interested and he assumed I was too. While I tried to tell him that I wanted to take it slow (I wasn’t even sure I wanted to date him yet), he texted constantly and we talked on the phone for hours, often all night. While it was kind of nice having a distraction from Pete and having someone to talk to, I couldn’t help but feel just slightly violated by the lengthy calls. I felt as if he didn’t respect my time or the fact that I had to get up in the morning. We had very good conversations. There was never an awkward pause. It seemed the conversation just flowed. We started talking on the phone in January. By March, I was taking a beach trip with him. I drove 7 hours to where he lived and we drove the next 4 hours together the next day. On that trip to the beach, there was one occasion when I thought, “this is going to be a LONG trip” and “I wish I hadn’t come, but I’m stuck”.  I don’t even remember what the argument was about but I got the distinct impression that whatever my opinion was, it wasn’t okay that I had it because it wasn’t the same as his. However, we recovered quickly and we had a great time at the beach. We cuddled on the couch for hours watching movies. Then, when it was time to go home, I was sad to go. He was sad for me to go too, but we visited each other every other weekend, taking turns driving the 7 hours. By June, I decided to move down there. I always liked the area where I had gone to school for over 3 years. The weather was nice and I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t want to stay where I was and Phil said that we could move to wherever I wanted to after he finished school. It only seemed logical to go back down there. I was excited. It was great! He’d just gotten out of the military and I was starting a new business out of our house, so we ended up having a lot of time fixing up the house, cuddling watching seasons of my favorite sitcom, and enjoying each others company. He was confident that I was the love of his life, which was refreshing after Pete didn’t seem so sure. Phil moved fast and never wavered in his feeling for me. It felt good. Stable. By August, we were engaged, but by then, there were signs of trouble.

In the Beginning

flowersOur relationship was always up and down. VERY “up and down”. When I first saw my ex, Phil, (all names have been changed for privacy) I was attracted to his dark eyes and hair, tall, athletic build, and his confident demeanor. However, within that same first impression, I could see that he was downright arrogant. He seemed completely unaware of others, other than how they might revere him. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the man.

It all began when his friend, Jason, seemed to take an interest in me. He would find ways to chat with me in the halls of our school. (We were in grad school at the time.) When our school’s big homecoming event came up, he invited me to a “big party at Phil’s”. It wasn’t a big party at all, just a group of maybe four older graduates that had come to visit for the homecoming weekend.

My relationship with Jason was normal, nothing out of the ordinary. He was a very kind man. We would sometime double date with Phil and his girlfriend, Melissa. She was a nice girl about my age, about 22 at the time. One instance in particular stands out in my mind. We were all going to meet at Phil’s and go out to dinner together. Jason, Melissa and I were there waiting for him. He always left the door open, so we waited inside. Hours later, still no Phil. Melissa and I chatted while Jason took a nap. Hours later, Melissa said that she was pretty angry at Phil for being so late and not calling. She asked if I would be angry if I was in her shoes. I agreed that I too would have been angry. Finally, Phil comes stumbling in about midnight, obviously drunk. He had been out drinking with a buddy from the military, obviously not concerned that we were sitting there waiting for him for hours. No trouble. He hadn’t forgotten. He apparently didn’t care.

When Melissa saw him, she asked where he had been, etc. and she said she was going to go home. Obviously, at this point, we were just waiting to be sure that he made it home and when she saw that he was safe, she got up to leave. They walked outside and I’m assuming had a rather heated argument about how he should have called, etc. When he came back in, he was furious. He yelled at me, “Thanks a lot! Why did you tell her that you would be mad too!” I left feeling guilty. This was my first experience of is projecting blame. Never did he apologize to us for being hours late and not calling. This was the second red flag that I missed. I blamed it on the alcohol. The first red flag was the obvious cocky attitude.

He, on several occasions, bragged that everyone at school knew who he was and he didn’t know anyone, implying that he had a good reputation for being so adept at martial arts and everyone else were just peons. He mentioned on several occasions his martial arts training and how grueling it was, and how people always underestimated his strength for his size. He was about 5’11, 145 pounds and self-reportedly, very strong. He was an extremist, which would show up again and again in his life with me… with his (supposed) martial arts training, his overzealousness for his chosen profession (which he didn’t end up finishing), and his child rearing over-protectiveness.