Craig came up finally to stay with us. Drina had made friends with the amazingly beautiful super model, Paulina Porizkova. It was August and Craig’s birthday. I invited everyone around to his party, including Paulina, and her children. Then I went to a farm down the road and got potato sacks for races, and pin the tail on the donkey, and all sort of jars to catch fire flies. I cooked and cooked and made everything that I had brought from our freezer in New York—ratatouille, veal stew, a real smorgasbord. Then there was a huge cake, and I still have the pictures of the splendid and beautiful Paulina, who had graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, Recently a man I told this too gave me such a look and said “Weren’t you jealous that you had a Super model at your husbands’ birthday?” I said “No.” Of course, I did not tell him how my husband had, in effect, “fired” me a year and a half after our marriage, when we had a death in the family. I also did not tell him that my husband was pretty busy with others from day one, and never wore a wedding ring. He also used to like to say “One is too many and a million is too few”. But I just thought he was saying that to be funny. But to be truthful, I still believe that if your husband cannot make a deep connection to you and your children, that he finds one too many, than that is about him. He actually did not seem to notice that I had invited a beautiful woman to his party. She is also an incredibly nice person, and has the most amazing way of expressing herself, one of the most intelligent and well-spoken women I have ever met. And she is pretty happily married to a rocker. She doesn’t even wear makeup. She is lovely. I could not possibly have been jealous because I would not know why she would want anything from my husband, anyway. Her life seemed pretty content and full, as far as I could see in our very, very brief friendship (like a few days!).
From the moment I got up in the morning in that house, until late, he was on the computer. Working, working, working, Ellen. ”SHHHH. I can’t think.” The children and I had to go outside.
I had to go to New York for a day for a medical appointment with our doctor, who we shared. While we were not a sharing couple, we shared the same dentist, the same internist, the same hairdresser, the same lawyer. We did not have the same bank accounts, the same credit cards (later I would find out I was the “guest” on all of our two cards, although he had a stack as thick as two packs of cards). We did not share our life together. Still, I had health problems and went alone to New York. It was late August. And I actually have a nearly 300 page journal from that period. My therapist told me to start keeping a journal of things, so that I had something on paper to mull over, she said. I know now, she was hoping I would see the patterns of abuse and abandonment, the language of rage and hatred, the recording of physical events, being locked in bathrooms, on and on. But I had no objectivity and that was what she was trying to get me to see.
August 23, 2001 I was in New York and it seemed dangerous. I wrote “I had the CREEPIEST cab ride ever. I had a driver from Alexandria and the entire ride he demanded I take off my sunglasses so he could see my eyes, what color were they?” “I am sure I saw they were really blue” he said. But it felt oddly threatening. He told me he was a doctor in Egypt. He was angry, he said , to be here driving a cab, sending that money back to Egypt. I forgot about that ride until a few weeks later. By then it would be September 2001, and the children were going back to school. One started on September 10, the other on September 11. I could not wait for school to begin so I could come up for air. I just was so confused by the whole summer, the whole meanness, the coldness that was colder, the pushing that was becoming more overt, less secretive. The “you are so stupid” vibe that was going at a pitch faster than 440. I had found a job as a radio announcer for the Guild for the Blind. Again, a non-paying job, but I was hoping to find a way to become independent, to contemplate what I had been discussing with my therapist. I was not going to make my husband be someone he was not. She had met him once or twice, at my insistence (god knows how many therapists and psychiatrists we saw …); she thought my situation was hopeless. She urged me to find a plan. She gave me the name of the first lawyer I would meet. I will call her Alicia Hitman, Esq. She only takes cash (I thought that was to protect my identity! Ha! It was to not pay taxes, and I would find out later, she could always say she never met me, and therefore he could be her client. There would be no paper trail to show I had been there. Just cash for her, all for her. But she gave me a booklet of the laws in New York, and she told me to go home and find every paper, document, tax return, datebook, on and on, and copy each and every thing, and then carefully put it back as if it had not been touched. I had no clue as to what I was doing, but I began to open drawers that I would never have opened. I would have considered that disloyal, like I didn’t’ TRUST my husband.
Instead I found documents, photos, and date books, Reviews, on and on. I copied them in a careful way, taking boxes of documents that were in a closet, that I had never seen, and using my hidden fax machine to copy each one, with the staples removed, then carefully re-stapling into the exact same holes. I secretly read the handbook she gave me over and over. In a million years, I could not have told you what it said, really. I was too terrified for my children and myself.
That is how afraid I was of this man, just a small glimpse. The still unseen e mails would show me why I should have been much, much more afraid. But I already was trying to find the smallest clues, through this one lawyer’s advice and with the support of my therapist.