I was guilty from the moment she picked up the phone to call the police. The truth never mattered, of course, and neither did the consistent hole in her ever-changing version of events. In one single night, I lost my wife, my home, everything I ever owned, and my freedom. It would take a few more months for me to lose my sanity — and, nearly five full years later, I still haven’t recovered.
Stunningly beautiful, intelligent, and accomplished, she was an absolute dream come true. We came from completely different worlds (Latvia is a place I still can’t locate on a map), and, basically, had little in common, but something just felt right about being with her.
Even though it was always clear that something wasn’t quite right.
She stood me up on what was supposed to be our first date. Days later, I found out she had a medical emergency (due to stomach issues) and was rushed to a hospital. She apologized through her friend, ‘Mark’; who told me she would be home by the end of the week. Six months passed by before she finally admitted that her ‘medical emergency’ was actually the result of her saying the wrong thing to her therapist. While I sat in a bar waiting for an attractive woman to show up for some drinks, she was being admitted into a psychiatric ward for a mandatory week of observation.
Eventually, I also learned that she met me after sleeping – and falling in love – with her engaged roommate ‘Mark’. The first version of events involved her getting drunk and waking up to him trying to take advantage of her. After a few on-the-spot rewrites, she finally admitted to seducing him… and that she originally asked me out in order to make him jealous (because he wasn’t willing to leave his fiancé). And, yes, I started to put together all of the times she was willing to be as loud as possible during sex — as long as we were at her place.
Writing all of this today, with the benefit of time and hindsight, I feel weak and incredibly stupid. I didn’t put up with a lot of shit because ‘I was in love’; I put up with a lot of shit because I was desperate to feel loved. I overlooked being lied to and being used because someone was willing to stand in front of me and say what I needed to hear. I wasn’t in love — I was in pain.
As expected, the lies and half-truths continued. She hid a nervous breakdown (and a suicide threat) that occurred during a weekend trip to New Jersey for her best friend’s wedding. She failed to mention unusual childhood traumas that would have explained her behavior. In light of everything else, I have every reason to believe her previous legal troubles involving an ex-boyfriend were misrepresented to cast her in the familiar role of ‘victim’. And, intentionally or not, she misled me about the type of professional help she was receiving during the course of our marriage.
“You have the right to remain silent.”
The legal process in reality is not the same one we enjoy when Stabler and Benson come to the rescue. Once you are arrested, that whole ‘Presumed Innocent’ is left behind. I was treated as an imminent threat from the moment police showed up on the scene, and I was both terrified and utterly humiliated. I can still see the gun pointed directly at my chest. I can still feel being thrown face-first into the wall right outside my front door. And I can still see my former neighbor and friend staring at me for the very last time.
I remember the officers who drove me to the courthouse, and the questionably helpful advice they offered. At the time, I was grateful with how they treated me, but, now, I wonder if they were just trying to get me to lower my guard and talk. I don’t know how often it happens, but I do remember one officer’s attempt to get me to smile and laugh while he took my mugshot. It’s rare for people to look good, but it’s really easy for someone to look guilty with a smile on their face.
I was arrested around seven on a Sunday night, and it was the day before Veteran’s Day 2013. I didn’t go before a judge until Tuesday morning; which means I shared a Brooklyn courthouse cell – and two sleepless nights – with 20-25 guys (many of whom were also suspects of violent crimes). I watched a grown man get assaulted over (and with) a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and I was able to experience a ‘lockdown’ after someone lit up a smuggled in joint. Afraid to make eye contact with anyone, I kept my head down and replayed the events that led me to being behind bars.
My ex-wife, a resident surgeon, came home Saturday morning after working a 24-hour shift. As per the usual, I had food and medicine waiting for her, and I tucked her in before watching a few movies. When she finally woke up that night, she was too tired to get out of bed, so I made her a quick meal of franks-n-beans, and we talked about our date plans for her day off on Sunday. We were going to get up and take the subway into Manhattan for an early movie, and, then, find a cute little eatery for a late lunch (with window shopping and people watching a natural bonus).
I woke up around 8 that day, and watched some TV for a bit. She first made a little noise around 10, but she was still exhausted. It took maybe an hour for her to actually get out of bed, and another hour-plus to get ready. I can easily admit that I was both selfish and annoyed. We rarely had quality time to spend together, and she was usually quick to fall asleep when we did. However, it was her insistence on always trying to look her best — regardless of how long it took. She could crawl out of bed looking like heaven, but it was never enough for her. Long story short, we got to Manhattan a lot later than expected.
There was a surprise twist as we were leaving the apartment. She had to return a pair of work pants to H&M before we could enjoy lunch and a few drinks (with a movie no longer being a viable plan). By the time we made it to Manhattan, it was close to 1:30, and we went to an H&M that was directly across from a Barnes & Noble. I decided to go look at some books while she looked for a more work-suitable outfit. About fifteen minutes went by before I headed over to her, and it took another ten minutes of walking around a large department store to figure out that she was probably in a fitting room. And, when she came out, she was carrying two blouses, a jacket, a pair of jeans… and the original pair of work pants she had yet to exchange.
I was furious. She was wasting even more time, but, more importantly, she had no idea I was even there. Less than a week prior, I found out she was 1) back to having regular suicidal thoughts, and 2) now taking Adderall (on top of everything else) that was giving her extreme tunnel vision. I followed her around the store for ten minutes (many times walking right next to her), and she legitimately had no idea I was with her.
By the time we left H&M, it was around 3 PM. We walked for a bit in a vain attempt to find a place to eat, but, honestly, I was upset and drained. When she finally suggested stopping at Popeye’s, I flat out gave up on saving the day and said it was time to go home. Sitting down on the F train, she put her head on my shoulder, and I sat in a prolonged and sad silence. Arriving back in Brooklyn, she offered to stop at the Five Guys around the corner from home, so I could head straight to the apartment.
We ate our last meal together in silence while half-heartedly paying attention to the TV. I was upset, miserable, and somewhat lost. I knew being married to a doctor would be difficult, but I didn’t expect it to be so damn hard. After sitting in silence for an extended period of time, I finally looked at her and asked “So, you’re not going to say anything about today?”
The look on her face was full of an intense anger. She exploded and got even angrier; telling me she was sick of my mind games and bullshit. She unloaded every insult she normally held back, and every curse word she ever knew. So, I got up and began to pack a bag. It wasn’t my intention to actually leave her, but I was hoping she would realize that she could actually lose me. I took a few minutes to walk in and out of rooms while throwing random shit (toothpaste, dirty clothes, cans of Pringles) into a duffel bag… and she just sat silently on the couch.
I walked out the heavy front door that slammed behind me, and I stood in the hallway for a few moments. Arrogantly, I expected her to stop me from leaving, and, stupidly, I expected her to run after me. After a beat or two, I heard her at the door, but she was only there to use the chain lock. And, immediately, I suddenly realized that I walked out on my suicidal wife… who just locked herself in the apartment. I never had a panic attack before or since, but I freaked the fuck out. With the lock on, I could only open the door so far, and there was no way to see her. I yelled inside, rang the doorbell, knocked several times, and even called her phone, but she didn’t respond.
I ended up busting the chain lock by pushing my way into the apartment, but she was no longer in the living room. The bedroom door was closed, and I was hesitated to open it because I fully expected her to be bleeding out. As much as I wanted to help her, I was absolutely scared. To my relief, when I opened the door, she was just standing there; hysterically crying on the phone. I had no idea that was the beginning of the end.
She called the police because she was upset. The confused operator asked why she was calling, and she responded along the lines of “because we had a fight.” The operator, then, asked “Did he have a knife, or something?” And the woman I married said, “Yes.”
I was arrested for criminal mischief (for breaking the chain lock of my own apartment), menacing, harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon (because they found a kitchen knife… in the kitchen). Due to the circumstances of the incident, it was a domestic violence charge — which meant an automatic Order of Protection that would last for, at least, six months. I could not go home, I was forbidden from contacting my wife, and I instantly lost everything.
It didn’t matter that her story changed repeatedly. The night I was arrested, she gave a statement saying we never fought previously, and that I didn’t have a knife. Six months later, her Family Court petition claimed I was controlling and mentally abusive and prone to violence. She voluntarily dropped that case two months later, and eventually informed the DA in the fall of 2014 that she no longer wished to pursue the criminal court case. Those charges were finally dropped and the case was dismissed on January 23, 2015.
She was engaged three weeks later.
Without question, I don’t think I was a good husband, and I made more than my fair share of mistakes. I can be insanely stubborn, impatient, and impossibly difficult to deal with at the worst possible time (and more than a few women would love to agree with me)… but I didn’t deserve the fallout. I didn’t deserve to lose as much as I did, and truly no one deserves to suffer from depression. For more than two solid years, I woke up every day wanting to die. I’ve made a lot of really bad decisions, I’ve gotten involved with similarly-damaged and self-destructive women half my age, and I have had to fight harder than ever before to simply get to a place where I could survive.
Life goes on, and struggles persist.
And so do you.