Seth traded our luxury home to our business partners in an effort to keep his company. We found a home to rent and moved into a normal neighborhood. Nothing fancy- just a regular middle class neighborhood where kids rode their bikes in the street and everyone waved to each other as they passed by. I was content. We could actually afford this house and live within our means. I was hopeful that the roller coaster had come to a halt. This is the part where I lift the bar and exit to my left.
I gave birth to my second daughter while living in this home and shortly after, I felt the tensions start to rise. Less than six months after moving into the rental home, he wanted out. It started with a Sunday drive to our local coffee shop and a few glances through the real estate section of the local newspaper. Then it turned into a “lets go look at a few houses to kill time.” Within a few weeks, he had a realtor and was looking at homes. Not just any houses but very high-end houses. Originally, we agreed to a home price of $800,000 or lower. This was our compromise. I couldn’t handle the stress of another huge mortgage and he couldn’t handle the embarrassment of living in a home that wasn’t up to his standards.
He found a gated community and begged me to drive through with the realtor and just look. We were greeted by a magnificent gate and a guard who eagerly greeted the happy, blonde couple in the Mercedes with two bouncing baby girls in the backseat. The all American family. We drove through the most amazing neighborhood complete with tennis courts, plans for an equestrian center, lakes, trails and multi-million-dollar homes. As we made our way through the 550 acre neighborhood with rolling hills and breathtaking vistas, I felt like crying. It was happening again.
We pulled our car into the driveway of the house which sat on the highest hilltop of the community. The happy realtor pulled in next to us and I realized that I needed to put on my “public face” which is also known as the fake smile, on-cue laugh and trophy-wife persona.
I followed them into the house and I was in awe. This was the home that famous people would have lived in. Rich people live in homes like this. We couldn’t live in a home like this. Seth lit up. He walked through the home room by room and I followed behind him with a newborn and two-year old in my arms. He looked so happy. He never looked this happy. In fact, he always looked depressed. I wanted to be happy again. I craved happiness. My happiness was dependent on his mood– his day and his world. If he wasn’t happen then he was miserable to be around. I felt a glimmer of hope.
Seth wanted this home. If this is what it took for him to be happy then I would support him. He claimed that he could make it work and told me 150 reasons why it was such a brilliant investment. It was listed at 1.2 million but appraised at 1.6 million. He talked over me which I was accustomed to– real estate lingo that he knew I didn’t understand. He promised me that he would never touch the equity– never refinance the house again. He promised. He told me of his plan to pay his parents back the money he gambled (and lost) from their retirement (their entire retirement). He rolled his eyes at me when I pressed him to understand how we could afford this. It was the same look he always gave me, “you are so stupid— leave the money and business decisions to me”. His perfect SAT scores, his pre-med background and college education. Who was I to question him?
I wanted to believe him. I wanted so badly to be happy.
One month later, we moved into the home.
One Mom’s Battle: Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), Custody Evaluators, therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children.
History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2009, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother, (Tina Swithin), navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth. Tina’s battle spanned from 2009 – 2014 during which time she acted as her own attorney. Ultimately, Tina was successful in protecting her daughters and her family has enjoyed complete peace since October 2014 when a Family Court commissioner called her ex-husband a “sociopath” and revoked his parenting time in a final custody order.
Tina Swithin: Divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon (print, Kindle or audio format). Each year, Tina offers life-changing weekends of camaraderie and healing at the Lemonade Power Retreat. Tina also offers one-on-one coaching services and a private, secure forum called, The Lemonade Club, for those enduring high-conflict custody battles.