This is a longer story than the sexual abuse, before the affair, and the affair. My divorce from my first husband was not easy, and it most certainly was not a pleasant experience. I know that I am not the only person in the world to have a bad divorce, but it was made worse by there being a third person, and the drama being played out in a small town, “As Luxemburg Turns”.
Gary and I married on April 16, 1994.
Early spring of 1995, we were driving around Fish Creek on a Saturday, and Gary decided he wanted to look into buying a condominium at Fish Creek Condominiums. He had always spent a couple of weeks each summer there, and obviously, that’s where our affair started.
We met with a realtor in Fish Creek, and she showed us a couple of condominiums that were for sale. Soon afterwards, we were the proud owners of Unit H-1 at Fish Creek Condominiums, a three bedroom, one bath condo in the woods. We were also able to get a boat slip at the marina, so we could keep the boat in Fish Creek for the summer. The boat was, at nineteen feet, small compared to the larger yachts floating around, but we were happy with what we had. We would travel out to Chambers Island, down to Egg Harbor, down to Green Bay, up to Washington Island and Rock Island. I enjoyed our time on the boat immensely. On Saturday evenings during the summer months, we would invite friends or Gary’s parents up to enjoy dinner with us at the Greenwood Supper Club, and see a play at Peninsula Players Theater. It was easy to figure out that the bats flying around during the show were not a part of the show, and I hated bats!
After getting married, I went off the birth control, and we tried to get pregnant. We ended up having trouble getting pregnant, went through testing, and found that Gary’s sperm count was low. We kept trying anyway.
Little One, Hope Ann, was born on Friday, June 14, 1996, 8lbs, 13 ozs, nine months to the day after Gary’s 44th birthday. Guess what his birthday present was?! Labor was induced when I went into the hospital at 5:00 a.m. that morning. I was supposed to be on bed rest for the last two weeks of May because I was swelling so badly. But, being that I was the only one in the office handling real estate transactions at the time, and May being the biggest month of real estate closings, I couldn’t take off of work just to lie in bed. Little One was born at 4:50 p.m., and of course, she was beautiful. Those were the days you didn’t find out the sex of the baby beforehand. There was an ultrasound at week twenty, and the doctor could have told us then, but we chose not to find out. We wanted the surprise! We took her home on Sunday, Father’s Day, and Gary’s Father’s Day gift that year was a chainsaw. I went back to work full-time on Monday, taking Little One to work with me for the first six weeks until she could go to daycare in Casco. I gained fifty pounds from the pregnancy and now weighed two hundred pounds.
We lived life as a married couple, working together in the law office, and working together in the fields. Gary cash cropped six hundred acres of both owned and rented land. You can take the man away from the farm, but you can’t take the farm away from the man. We worked together well, and I enjoyed the real estate transactions, as well as the other legal work and income tax work. We both had a drive and a work ethic to succeed and to grow the business. I worked a lot on trying to lose weight, with pills from the doctor, diets, and exercising. I did well, but I couldn’t get all of that fifty pounds off. I got back down to one hundred seventy five pounds. Besides, I was busy with a baby and work, and everything else going on. I wasn’t happy with my weight gain, but I had too many other things to concentrate on and take care of in my life.
Gary and I would attend Chamber of Commerce Christmas dinners as a couple. I would mingle and talk to many people, and Gary would stand at the bar and drink. It was later I found that he was jealous as to the fact that I could talk to people, and he didn’t have any real friends. He never enjoyed himself at those type of functions.
In 1998, we started building a new, larger law office in Luxemburg. By that time, I had two additional staff to help me with the real estate work. I had expanded our coverage of real estate from just Kewaunee County to include Brown County, Door County, and Manitowoc County. We moved into our new office in late December, 1998 so we could be up and running smoothly for tax season.
During this time, the attorney on the board of directors for East Shore Industries in Algoma had left the board, and I was asked to take his place. I was honored to be asked, and readily agreed to become a member of the board of directors. I went to meetings once a month, and was able to enjoy their annual fundraising dinner. This is when I started to realize that I wasn’t so much riding on Gary’s coattails with the success of the real estate business, but I was becoming someone of importance in my own right. It was a fleeting thought though, as Gary always made sure that I was put into my place, and reminded me many times that he was the one with the law license.
Baby Girl, Grace Rebecca, was born on Wednesday, January 13, 1999, 7lbs, 15 ozs. Just three days less than nine months from our fifth anniversary. Guess what his anniversary present was?! I had been having contractions all through my pregnancy with her, but we went in for our doctor appointment on January 12th, and decided to induce labor that evening, mainly because tax season was coming, and I needed to be in the office. I went into the hospital at 5:00 p.m., and she was born at 7:55 a.m. the next morning. Again, we went for the surprise effect, not knowing the gender of the baby before birth. After telling her, her first “happy birthday”, my next words were that she looked just like Hope.
I didn’t gain as much weight with Baby Girl as I did with Little One, but I was back around two hundred pounds again. I didn’t have time to exercise and lose weight with everything going on. And Gary liked to eat out at restaurants like Eve’s and Ziggey’s, as well as Northbrook and the Greenwood Supper Club in Fish Creek.
Tax seasons were hard, especially after the girls were born, as we were working hundred hour weeks. The girls would go to daycare early in the morning, I would pick them up and take them home to a babysitter at night. They also had a babysitter on weekends during that time. The business expanded and grew. We went to all of the family functions, and always took our yearly spring trip to Marco Island as a break from tax season. We were busy every day of the week. We had our home cleaned for us by a couple we knew because we didn’t have time to clean it ourselves.
A spring day in the year 2000 came, and we took the day off of work to celebrate Gary’s 25th year in practice. I borrowed a red corvette from a realtor in Denmark that I was good friends with, and we spent the day in Door County, driving around and taking a airplane flight around the county. We had a great time that day. Admittedly, going one hundred miles an hour down a back road in Door County turned my face a sickly greenish color. The thought did cross my mind that he was trying to kill me.
Things in our marriage started to go downhill around August, 2001. Gary’s fiftieth birthday was coming up in September of that year, and he had gotten his birthday gift from me early, in February, so he could enjoy it throughout the summer – a 2002 red Corvette T-top convertible. Oh, he enjoyed it alright. I heard several times from people that his car was seen parked on Prairie Lane in Luxemburg during the summer months. Yes, I knew. It was another affair. I just didn’t know who it was this time.
That summer, I had started finally taking some time away from work, as by that time I had three other staff members to help me with real estate work. I would take Fridays off, so after work on Thursday nights, I would grab the girls from daycare and head up to the condo for the weekend. There were few times that Gary would come up with us, he would come up on Friday night instead. There was always an excuse. He loved taking the girls in the trailer behind his bike though, riding through Peninsula State Park. We became good friends with our neighbors next door, Jack and Shirley Smith, who spent winters in Punta Gorda, Florida. We also became friends with Dave and Toni at the end condo, he was a teacher in the Sturgeon Bay school district.
The fall of 2001, Gary started being gone more and more. He had to go to Eis Implement in Two Rivers for something for the tractor, and that took three hours. Or he had to go to Riesterer & Schnell in Pulaski. He had a seminar in Green Bay. He had a seminar in Milwaukee. I honestly didn’t pay much attention, as I had the girls to take care of, and I gave them most of my attention. All I cared about was that he came home to me every night.
All of the sudden, Gary wasn’t happy with the cleaning people at the office. They weren’t doing a good job. He told me that he had someone else who could clean the office for us, and it didn’t matter to me, as long as the office was clean.
After Gary’s fiftieth birthday, we talked of having another child, and I went off birth control again in hopes that we could get pregnant. I wanted to do the old cliché, have another child to save my marriage. I found a notebook I had written in, in August of 2001. I wrote “without our children, we have nothing left.” I knew already then that our marriage was over. But I also honored my vows, and I was in this marriage until death do us part. I had no thoughts of divorce, as it wasn’t in my vocabulary.
It was in November of 2001 that suddenly the couple that cleaned our home seemingly wasn’t doing a good job, according to Gary. He wanted to hire the woman who was cleaning the office to clean our home as well – and she would do laundry also. Though I was suspicious, I went along with it, as it was what he wanted. As long as the house was clean, it didn’t matter to me.
Grace’s third birthday came on Sunday, January 13th, 2002. We had a birthday party with all of the family members over around lunch time. Finally, everyone had gone home and the girls were in bed for the night. I was cleaning up the family room, an addition we had put onto the house in 1997, and Gary was sitting on the love seat watching television. He turned off the television and got my attention. “I want to get a vasectomy”, he said. My response was a simple “ok”. I knew we really didn’t want to have a third child.
One winter night later that month, I picked up the girls from daycare in Casco, and was headed home on County Road C. There is one place where deer were known the cross, and I always went slow through that area. That night, as I drove slowly through that area in my red Chevy Impala, a deer ran out in front of the car and hit the front corner. The deer spun around and ran away. I quickly called 911, and then called Gary. Except he didn’t answer. I tried again and again, no answer. I dealt with the sheriff’s deputy that arrived, and finally got on my way home.
I got home, fed the girls supper, and put them to bed. Still no Gary. I tried calling again. He answered. I told him what happened, and asked why I couldn’t get ahold of him. He said he was in a meeting. It was at that moment that I lashed out at him and said “you only want to get a vasectomy so you don’t get your girlfriend pregnant!” There was no response on the other end of the line.
It was early in the morning on a cold winter day in late January, 2002, and my wake-up alarm that morning was being severely punched in the head. I quickly jumped up out of bed and wailed at Gary, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” “Oh, oh, I’m sorry, I was having a dream…” was his response.
Monday, February 4th, 2002. It was 3:00 a.m., and it had snowed the night before. Gary had a plow on his Tahoe, so he crawled out of bed to go plow snow. Neither he nor I had been sleeping that night. We hadn’t fought, but things weren’t right between us. I went downstairs into the family room and sat in the rocking chair in the dark looking out the window into the woods. He came into the house when he was done plowing, and I went to the mud room to greet him there. “We need to talk”, I said.
I sat back in the rocking chair, he sat on the love seat, the full moon lighting up the room. He spoke first. “I can’t live with you anymore”, came out of his mouth. I was shocked, but kept silent, still looking out the window. He continued, “you are fat. I’m not happy living with you.” He continued on talking about how I had gained weight in the ten years we had been together, and that I never tried to take the weight back off. The entire conversation was focused on my weight. He left, went upstairs to shower and get ready to go to work. I sat in the rocking chair in stunned silence until he left for the office.
I slowly got ready for work, and got the girls ready and took them to daycare. I arrived at the office, rolling over and over in my mind what he had said. Gary told me he had to go to court in Green Bay that day for a client, and I asked if I could ride along. He agreed, and we talked all the way to Green Bay. He told me his mind was made up. I cried, as it had finally sunk in, and I just didn’t understand why. I didn’t feel that my being fat was a good reason for a divorce. He parked in front of the courthouse and went in to take care of his client, our cleaning lady at the office and at home, regarding a custody matter. I found it strange when he told me the case he had handled on the way back to the office after the hearing, as he didn’t handle family legal matters such as divorce and custody.
We got back to the office, and I followed him into his office and closed the door behind me. I sat down at his desk, across from him. “Look me in the eyes, and tell me there is no one else.” He looked me in the eyes, with a straight face, and said “there is no one else”.
That night, as we laid in bed together, we calmly talked about splitting up the funds in the checking and savings accounts, and filing for divorce. It was just as if we were having a normal conversation about planning our next day. I told him I would get all of the paperwork ready and filed. I told Gary that he could have the house, as he had built it, he had lived there, and he was surrounded by his family. He offered that he would buy me all new furniture and appliances.
It was then that he told me that I had to tell his parents, because he was scared of what they would say and do when they found out the news that we were separating and getting divorced.
Tuesday, February 5th, 2002. I called around in Luxemburg to find a duplex to rent. I found a three bedroom duplex on Church Road in Luxemburg that was newly built, and I could move in immediately. I also called his mom and told her that we were separating. That was not an easy thing to say, and she wasn’t happy about the news either. I asked that they just leave us alone for now while we worked through things.
That night, Gary didn’t come home. I called him around 10:00 p.m., and asked why he wasn’t coming home. He told me he didn’t want to face his parents, and I told him that his parents weren’t going to bother us. “I just can’t come home tonight”. I heard a woman’s voice in the background. “Who is that?” I asked. “Just the gal at the front desk of the hotel I’m staying at tonight.” I begged him to come home. “You don’t need to stay in a hotel tonight, everything is fine”. He wouldn’t come home. I knew what was really going on.
Wednesday, February 6th, 2002. I went to McMahon’s Furniture Store and picked out a new dining room table and chairs, a bedroom set for myself, and matching bedroom sets for the girls. I knew as soon as I went to the store and gave a new address for delivery, that the news would be out in Luxemburg that our marriage was done. But I knew I could walk down the street with my head held high, as I did nothing wrong.
Thursday, February 7th, 2002. I moved out of the house and into our new duplex, fitting what I could into my red Impala. The curio cabinet Gary had given me for my first Mother’s Day would have to wait, as it was filled with Precious Moments figurines that would have to be wrapped up, and I would need a larger vehicle to move the cabinet. I went to Rocky’s Appliance and purchased a new washer and dryer. I called Lemens Watercare to install a water softener.
Saturday, February 8th, 2002. Brother Leif and Sister-in-law Norma came up with a trailer to help me move furniture out of the condominium in Fish Creek. I got a babysitter to watch the girls for me, and we went to the condominium. I took a few things off the walls, the stained glass hanging in the window that I had picked out and purchased in Egg Harbor, and two end tables as well as all of our clothes. Not too long after leaving, I got a call that the end tables had to be returned. I refused, as they were minimal in the grand scheme of condominium furniture.
Later, I was accused of leaving a dirty diaper under the bed. Keep in mind I didn’t even have the girls along with me at the condominium, and neither of the girls were in diapers at that point. And really, like that was something I would have done.
Sunday, February 9th, 2002. It was a new day, sunny, but with a winter storm blowing. Gary called me and asked me if I could take the girls to the sitter, as he wanted to talk to me. I called the babysitter and took the girls to her house. I came back to the duplex, and Gary was there waiting for me. We sat on opposite ends of the couch in the living room, facing each other. “I’ve lied to you. There is someone else”, he said, with the look of shame in his eyes. I stayed quiet. “Who is it”, I asked. “The cleaning lady – Shelly”. The first words out of my mouth? “You can do so much better than that.” Honest to God. He continued on to tell me that he loved her. He also informed me that despite my accusations of the reasons behind his vasectomy, she couldn’t get pregnant because her tubes were tied.
He told her I said he could do better than her. She now hated me, even more than she already did.
It was this day that Gary and I went back to his house to get my curio cabinet. As he loaded it into the back of his truck, I took a walk through the house one last time, to see if there was anything else that I had forgotten to take. I saw he had taken our wedding picture down in the living room, and turned the picture toward the wall. I then went up the stairs and into our bedroom, and lying on the bed was the Valentine’s Day card from Shelly to Gary. Gary came into the room and I broke down and cried. “Let’s just go and take your cabinet to your house, you don’t need to be here anymore”, he said.
I made the same threat his first wife made when they divorced – that he would lose clients because of this. He disagreed, but I knew better. During this time of the pending divorce, I spent a lot of time with my good friend, Lynne. She was a great support to me, knew just what she needed to say, knew just what I needed to hear.
Gary and I met with his parents the following Sunday early afternoon to talk to them and help them to understand that our marriage was over. They did not know about Shelly, but at this time, they found out. His dad had tears in his eyes as he begged Gary, “please don’t get married again”.
Gary and I agreed that he would pick up the girls in the morning and take them to daycare, and then he would call them at night before they went to bed. That arrangement lasted less than a week, until he asked if the girls could call him in the morning instead of him calling them at night. It bothered Shelly that he had to call my house and that I would answer the phone.
Every single morning I knelt by my bed and prayed for strength to make it through another day, and then went to work in the same office with my soon to be ex-husband.
Early in March, Gary came to me after he and Shelly had had a fight. He wanted a second chance and to try and make our marriage work, and he missed the girls. I told him that I would try, but that he had to agree to some rules, which I called Survivor: Last Chance Rules. The rules included not working alone at the office late at night, a weekend away with no children and no phones to interrupt us, no contact with Shelly, and he would write her a letter telling her that their relationship was over, which he did.
We were going about our days together, living in my duplex. Then one night, a week and a half later, he didn’t come home. I called the office around 10:00 p.m., and he answered. It was tax season after all, so he was working late, despite the rules. He was talking about everything going on, and he told me that someone was pounding on the side door of the office. He went to look, and it was her – Shelly. I told him not to answer the door, let her keep pounding, and call the police. He said he would call me back and hung up the phone.
He didn’t call me back. About an hour later, I tried calling the office again, and there was no answer.
Around midnight, I tried calling him at home. She answered the phone. “He’s with me now, bitch.” Click.
I called Lynne and cried over the phone. She tried to console me, but this time, it didn’t work.
In the dark, I went into my bedroom closet, taking a pillow with me. I sat down in the corner of the closet, and screamed and cried into that pillow for what seemed liked hours. I was finally broken. I couldn’t take any more. Suddenly I heard a soft voice, “Mommy?” Oh my, Little One had heard me somehow. The girls’ bedrooms were downstairs, and my bedroom was upstairs, as we lived in a split level duplex. I quickly got up, and hugged Little One. “Mommy is fine honey, what are you doing up”, I asked. “I had a bad dream about daddy”, she replied. “All is ok honey, Mommy will take you back to bed”. After putting Little One back to bed, I swore to myself that I would never, ever allow that to happen again; the girls would never see me in that position, they would never see me crying ever again.
As was customary for him, Gary went to Marco Island for a tax season break. This year, he went after tax season was over, and he took Shelly instead of me and our children. Before he left, I received a call from the clinic letting me know that Gary’s pills were called into the pharmacy. I went to his office, and laughing, told him his Viagra was ready at the pharmacy. He sputtered and denied that it was those type of pills he was getting. Yeah, right.
Knowing me as well as she did, Lynne convinced me to look into liposuction, to possibly help me to feel better about myself. I met with Dr. Schmitt at Green Bay Plastic Surgical Associates, and decided to have an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). After Gary came back from his vacation, I told him I was having surgery on a Friday, and that he would need to take care of the girls for a weekend. He agreed, and also offered to pay for the surgery. I scheduled the surgery for a Friday, and came home on Saturday around noon. About two hours later, as I was lying in bed resting and recovering, Gary called to make sure I was home, and he told me that he had to bring the girls back to me as Shelly didn’t want them there. He brought the girls back to me. I could barely move to get out of bed, had a drainage tube out of each side of my body, and I had a five and a three year to take care of. So much for taking any Vicodin for pain. But to me, the surgery was absolutely worth it. It did help me to feel better about myself.
Early in April, Troy’s wedding came around. It was awkward, but we agreed to go together as a couple, and put on a united front as we were still married. At the wedding rehearsal, I ended up having to leave the church because I couldn’t stop the tears.
The next day, I went and had my hair put up in a nice up-do, dressed in a beautiful blue dress, did my makeup, and put on a smiling face. Nothing was going to ruin my enjoyment of their wedding. Gary met us at the church. After the wedding ceremony was done, I took the girls back to the duplex and put them both down for a nap so they could enjoy the evening dinner. Later, we met up with Gary again at the reception at the town hall. Gary then informed me he was going to meet Shelly at Perkins, because she wanted him to spend some time with her that day as well. This led to him showing up late for dinner. It wasn’t easy, but I made it through that day with a smile on my face.
Gary and I agreed that after tax season was over on April 15th, we would meet for an hour every Wednesday morning to go over the divorce settlement. We had a lot to talk about, splitting up the assets which included the law practice and title company, the house, the condominium, the boat, the vehicles, life insurance policies, health insurance, and the farm machinery and land. We planned for the future of the girls, and that he had to include the girls in any estate planning that he did in the future. He agreed that he would pay two thousand dollars a month in child support. Our marital settlement agreement was over twenty pages long.
It was during one of these Wednesday morning meetings that he told me that I treated clients differently than I treated him. That I was friendlier to clients, and I seemed to care more about the clients than I did about him. That even though I wasn’t a native of Luxemburg, I knew more about the clients and their families, and who was related to whom, better than he did. He then said it: he was jealous.
Soon enough, his girlfriend was working in the office too, no longer cleaning, but sitting at the front desk greeting clients and answering phones. When she would get mad at Gary, which was often, her voice would travel all the way to Wyoming and probably beyond. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but I kept my office door closed as often as I could, and I stayed out of her path. I spent most of my time working on our divorce settlement, and counted out the 120 days that we had to wait for our divorce hearing, which would bring us to June 23rd, 2002, a Sunday.
One weekday, Papa Thor called to talk with Gary, to ask him why he was doing such terrible things to me and the girls. I didn’t know Papa Thor was going to call, but the phone call never got past Shelly at the front desk. She said “listen here, old man”, and said many other nasty things to him before hanging up the phone. That day, I think Papa Thor got a glimpse of what I was living through.
About a week later, Shelly was gleefully hopping through the office showing off her engagement ring. They were engaged before we were even divorced. That got me to thinking, and sure enough, he and I had done the same thing. We had gotten engaged before he was divorced from his first wife. I immediately called Sue, Gary’s first wife, at work, and quietly apologized for everything I had put her through. Now I knew what I had done to her ten years before. Through my tears, I asked her forgiveness.
I had gotten my real estate broker license in 2001, and handled all of the real estate sales, title work, and closings for Ted Abts. Ted was a farmer, real estate developer, custom operator, and all around good Belgian that could bullshit you until the cows came home and beyond.
Ted had developed a small subdivision in Champion where he built spec homes and sold them. Each home had a different layout, and they were excellent construction by Van’s Lumber, the local building company. Ted had a spec home built on the dead end edge of the subdivision, and it was almost finished.
On Saturday, June 8th, 2002, Gary called at 8:00 a.m., asking if he could pick up the girls for Shelly’s son’s birthday party at his house, which I agreed to allow the girls to attend. While Gary had the girls, I called Ted up and asked if I could take a look at the spec house. It was a beautiful home, split bedroom layout, laundry on the first floor, half of the basement finished. I told Ted I would buy the house that day. I was nervous, buying a house was a big undertaking on my own. I didn’t want to live in a duplex and keep paying rent, and I wanted the girls to have a house with a yard to play in. I was happy and excited, and didn’t want that feeling taken away from me.
Gary brought the girls home at 2:00 p.m. that day. He had told Hope and Grace that he was going to marry Shelly on June 7, 2003. There was so much going through my mind that day, but even that news couldn’t take away the excitement of a new home, a new start.
First thing Monday morning, I called the bank, and got an immediate response that I could get a loan to purchase the house. The house was mine! It felt so surreal, and I was so excited. That night, I went and shopped for new appliances – refrigerator, stove, microwave – I was getting what I wanted, and it was so fun to do what I wanted to do!
The real estate deal on our new home closed on Thursday, June 13th, and the girls and I moved in. A new start! A totally new life! I told myself that I couldn’t let Gary bring me down because he was jealous or didn’t see things the way I did. He would probably be shocked because I took such a bold step on my own. But, it was my life!
The next day was Hope’s 6th birthday. Gary took the girls for lunch that day, and afterwards, we celebrated!
The following week, Shelly came storming out of his office and barged into my office. She was complaining and whining about something he had done, and she was angry. I sat at my desk and listened with a serious look on my face, shaking my head when it was appropriate in her tirade. When she finished her rant, I quietly said, “I’m sorry, but he’s yours now”. That statement made her even angrier, and she stomped out of my office, slamming the door so hard behind her that I thought the glass in the door would shatter. I breathed out a sigh of relief, and I felt vindicated.
Gary called me the morning of Father’s Day and asked to take the girls for a couple of hours. I agreed, he was their father after all. Gary and Shelly arrived at our new home in Champion and I brought the girls out, as I certainly did not want Gary or Shelly in MY house. Gary said they would be back around 11:00 a.m., but they didn’t come back until 2:00 p.m. The thoughts ran through my mind, and that was the first time I was afraid that he would take the girls away from me, and I would never see them again. A couple years later, Gary told me that Shelly just wanted to see the new house I had purchased.
I had scheduled our divorce hearing for the 121st day, Monday, June 24th, 2002. We had agreed on our divorce settlement terms about a month prior, so the hearing should have been easy. The day arrived, and my attorney, Larry, and I met at the courthouse in Kewaunee. I didn’t really have Larry do much with regard to our divorce settlement, but he was there as my support. We were standing in the second floor hallway, and Gary and Shelly arrived.
Shelly immediately laid into me, yelling at me in the hallway that I was insinuating that her boys were child molesters. There was language in our divorce settlement that the girls were to never be left alone with her sons. Gary obviously knew my history of sexual abuse, and in our weekly negotiations of the divorce settlement, he understood my position and agreed to the language. But, he had shared the divorce settlement with her, and she did not like that part. I thought the part she wouldn’t like would have been the fact that Gary owed me $325,000 as a divorce settlement. Her anger over that part came later.
I stood and listened to her extremely loud and boisterous tirade, with Larry by my side. When she finished, I looked at Gary, and calmly said “all you needed to do was show a little respect.” I turned and walked away and went into a conference room with Larry and closed the door. I was shaking. Larry just shook his head in disgust.
We went into the courtroom, and Judge Mleziva had me sit in the witness box while he asked questions about our divorce settlement. We had requested that Judge Mleziva not recuse himself from our divorce case, since we had all worked together previously, and he agreed to hear our divorce case since we had already agreed on everything. We also requested that our marital settlement agreement be sealed so that curious eyes could not read it in the future, and Judge Mleziva agreed.
The hearing didn’t take long, and we were officially divorced. I became a single woman. Gary and Shelly immediately left the courthouse, and Larry and I slowly walked out. I was in a state of shock. I obviously knew the day would come, but I didn’t know how to feel – relief or sadness, or what? Sad because the girls no longer had the father they once knew and loved. Relieved because it was finally over. I didn’t even know Gary anymore. I felt tense and scared about the next three months that I and my staff would continue to work at the office until we could move out and into our new building.
I had taken our divorce day off work, and I drove to Door County for the day, to be by myself and think through things. From what I understand, Gary went and celebrated by getting a tattoo on his arm of a dolphin with Shelly’s name written underneath.
The next day after our divorce hearing, the final separation of our physical assets, the physical separation of each of us to now be unmarried individuals, Gary hurriedly stomped into my office and harshly stated, “because of your insinuations and accusations that Shelly’s boys are child molesters, it will be very hard for me to see the girls because I won’t be able to have them around Shelly and the boys. And by the way, why didn’t the girls call me this morning?” I responded, “do you believe a six year old and a three and a half year old should be responsible for calling you?”, and turned back to my computer, asking him to close my door on his way out.
There were many times that I was scared – scared he’d take my girls and I wouldn’t know where they were; scared that Gary and Shelly would try to hurt me further. I couldn’t believe how immature Shelly was and how she made Gary to be so immature as well. I left them alone, why couldn’t they leave me alone? Gary had been cut off at the knees and could no longer stand. God was testing me as he tested Job. How much more could I take? I cried out to God to rescue me, hold me up, give me strength and courage to keep on going. For the sake of the girls. The girls kept me going, I couldn’t live without them.
I started making plans with Van’s Lumber and the Bank of Luxemburg for constructing a new building for the title company, as since Gary often reminded me, he was the one with the law license, he would be keeping the law office. We had agreed that I could remain working in his office with my three staff members until my new building was finished, of course paying monthly rent to him for the time we remained.
It got harder and harder for me to go to the law office every day. Papa Thor kept almost daily tabs on me. “Keep business during business hours. If Gary wants to talk personal business, tell him you’ll discuss that with him after business hours.” Always love advice from Papa Thor.
Shelly was always in Gary’s office when she wasn’t at the front desk answering phones. I knew I had to stay out of his law office business and concentrate on the title company business. That was hard for me because I had always taken care of law office clients, getting their legal work completed for them, and the clients knew that I did their work for them. I believe a lot of clients thought that I was an attorney also, but unfortunately, I wasn’t, and I could no longer help them. I now had to leave the clients with Gary to get their work done. Many clients asked if I would do their income taxes for them, or do their legal work, but I had to decline. That hurt me a great deal, as I loved helping the clients.
I made the conscious decision to no longer do income tax returns, as I needed to concentrate on my girls and spend my time with them instead of spending one hundred hour weeks preparing income tax returns. I made a list of those clients that no longer wanted Gary to do their legal or income tax work, and offered that list to another attorney that prepared tax returns. That attorney told me he was comfortable with his practice at the level it was and didn’t want any more clients, but I do believe in the end that he ended up with a lot of Gary’s clients anyway.
There was a point one day at the law office that I was so afraid that I couldn’t concentrate on my work and I was shaking. Shelly was the office cleaning during the day, and Gary couldn’t seem to have a staff meeting without her included in it. I figured it was because he couldn’t stand to hear the truth from his staff, because they wouldn’t say anything in front of her. I left the office early that day, as work was caught up. That was the day I broke down and cried. I was so sad that he could hurt me the girls so badly and not care. How absolutely disgusting that he would uproot everything he had ever known for a tramp. A whore. I decided right then and there to get the bitterness and anger out of me. No more being nice and holding it in. He was a bastard. He was an arrogant ass. How could he? I hoped she dumped him like a glass of cheap wine, especially as soon as he ran out of money. May she grow to hate him, to loathe him. May God strike them both down for being such sinners, and unrepentant. She was a good for nothing, lazy tramp. A gold digging whore. Those two wouldn’t even make good trailer trash. I was sad. I was angry. I was broken. I HURT! I kept denying it and saying the girls were the ones who were hurt, but I just wanted to scream IT’S ME! I’M HURT! How could he?! I resolved to just be quiet, stay in my office with the door closed all the time, and be broken. I no longer had a heart. I felt betrayed. I was living daily with torture and going through a living hell. I hurt so much that I felt my insides were black with death. I cried to God to help me to survive.
Seeing this in myself, and feeling a black cloud of depression overcoming me, I started making plans with my staff to move out of the office and into the basement of my home in Champion to run the title company business until the new building was built. My main reason was to protect my staff from Shelly and her rants throughout the office on a daily basis.
A particularly quiet day in early July, both Gary and Shelly were gone out of the office. I didn’t know where, I didn’t care where they were. The phone rang in my office, and the receptionist at the front desk announced that Shelly was calling me. “I’m sorry, who is calling?” I said. “Shelly”, she responded. Questioning, I said “Shelly, who?” “That Shelly.” Oh boy, what is going on? Do I take the call? What does she want? I slowly picked up the phone. She was talking to me as if I were her counselor or therapist. I was stunned, wondering what kind of game she was playing. She had so many questions, she seemed so lost. She asked if I would come to the house and talk with her in person. I didn’t know what to think, how to respond, but I knew God would protect me – somehow. I went to the house, and we talked for over two hours, about everything. Gary, her growing up, the life she had led. I must have had a flashing ‘therapist’ sign across my forehead that day. There were cleaning people at the house washing all of the windows, so I wasn’t alone with her at least. But then, Gary arrived, coming in through the front door. I wish I could have had a picture of his facial expression, seeing the two of us sitting at the kitchen table. I immediately left, and from what I heard later, the window cleaners heard a lot of shouting and nasty words that afternoon.
I made arrangements with a company to deliver a copy machine to my home where it was set up in my dining room. I had Stahl Electric come in a run a few separate circuits for the new computer system and computers that were being set up. I went to the KI clearance warehouse and purchased a couple of tables to use as desks. The phones were set up so that when we were ready to move into the basement, all we had to do was move the service.
The day we moved out is when I told Gary of the plans. We all knew immediately the second he told Shelly. The shout of “there is a God!” rang through the office, and then she said to me, “this is the best day of my life”.
I didn’t take anything more than I was supposed to from the law office, and we got set up in my basement, with file cabinets and boxes of files lined up in my garage. It didn’t two days to get a phone call from Gary that we stole a typewriter, books, or stole this or that. I would remind him to look at the list of items that I was allowed to take, and he would realize that I didn’t steal anything from him, and that I didn’t want anything more from him, which I made completely clear. Shelly grabbed the phone from him and called me a fucking cunt thief and a fat bitch. She made me sick to my stomach all over again.
There were many times that I would work through the night in the basement. Baby Girl would come down in the basement and sleep on the couch to be near me. We hired a receptionist during the time we were in my basement, and the first day she started, we opened fifty-two new files, and now had five of us working in my basement.
During most of the month of July, I kept in close contact with Gary’s secretary Michelle. I was trying my best to keep Michelle from being totally frazzled, and she was ready to quit. I couldn’t answer my own question as to why I was still taking care of Gary’s business, but I knew it wasn’t Michelle’s fault for what he had done and the choices he had made.
Early in August, I saw Gary, and he had a black eye and cuts above his eye. Shelly had done it to him, as she had gotten angry with him. I didn’t understand why anyone would live in such a world, an abusive relationship. At that point, I was afraid that she would kill him, or he would kill himself. Why was I still so concerned?
On Tuesday, August 6th, I called the law office and had Gary’s secretary, Michelle, ask Gary if he would like me to stop by with Hope and Grace so he could see them, as he hadn’t seen them for almost a month. Michelle called me back and informed me that Gary didn’t have time to see the girls. The following Monday, I called the office again to see if Gary wanted to see the girls, he said he would. A few seconds later the phone rang again, and he said he shouldn’t because it would involve seeing me as well. I agreed to stay out in the parking lot while the girls went in to the office and spent about ten minutes with him.
The first divorce settlement payment of $66,000 was due to me the last week of August, 2002. He and Shelly had gone on another vacation to Marco Island, and Federal Express delivered the envelope to me on the day it was due, Sunday. Inside the envelope was the cashier’s check, along with diet pills and a tweezers. The note said “Shelly said you need these.” The tweezers were because Gary had seen small hairs on my chin and told Shelly about them. You know, because Shelly was perfect and didn’t have small hairs on her chin and she was skinny, not fat like I was.
My staff and I moved into our new office building in late September, 2002. We had an open house celebration, and more people came than I ever expected. It was an exciting and happy time; but now I had a new fear – I was now one and a half million dollars in debt, a single mom, running my own business, and supporting four staff members.
Monday, December 23rd, 2002. I was working in my office around lunch time, and the phone rang. It was the daycare in Casco, letting me know that Gary had just picked up the girls to take them to lunch. I had primary custody of the girls, and any visitation was to be approved through me first; this visitation was not approved by me. Gary hadn’t seen the girls since August 11th.
I immediately drove to the daycare, and waited. Gary and Shelly arrived back at the daycare with the girls, and I went out the door of the daycare and immediately put the girls in my truck. I calmly told Gary that taking the girls from daycare like that was not acceptable, and that it wouldn’t happen again. It was then that Shelly stepped in front of me, stuck her finger in my face, and threatened to take me down and beat me to death. The girls heard every word from inside the truck. I just stood there, not saying a word, and they started to walk away. Gary turned around, looked at me, and said “we’re sorry your surgery didn’t work”, referring to my tummy tuck. I had lost forty pounds, but it was his way of hurting me yet once more. I went home and called the sheriff’s department to make a report of the threat on my life, and spent the remainder of the day at home with the girls.
It was New Year’s Day that I learned that Gary had married Shelly two days earlier in Las Vegas. He had called his parents that night, right after they had been married, waking them from sleep, saying “guess what I did?” I wrote in my journal, good for them, woop de do. Now I knew he wouldn’t come crawling back to me, but yet, in a way, I was sad because he was being so stupid.
Life moved on, as it always does, until that surprising day, Thursday, July 29th, 2004.
Love to you all! ~Erika~.
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