Monday, April 30, 2012

Deciding to move on

A few posts ago, I said something about still loving Jake. Even though I thought it was true, it sort of irked me to say it. I started asking myself throughout each day if I loved Jake. For instance, I'd be washing dishes and I'd think, Do I love him? Taking a shower, Do I love him now? Processing data at work, Is this love I feel?  The answer more often than not was I don't know. It is strange and rather disturbing to have spent so much energy on him in the name of love and suddenly not feel that love.

A week ago, I packed up a bag of things for Jake, like his bills and checkbooks. I included a letter. It was the standard letter that I've been sending to him while he was in jail. I talk about the weather, whine about all the crap I have to deal with because he's not doing it, and then try to add something positive so he won't get too depressed. This time I also added explanations about the condition of all his accounts that I had been handling. There have been problems with the escrow on the mortgage, so after realizing it was too complicated to explain in a letter I gave him an invitation to call me last Wednesday.

Wednesday came and I had to take a long drive, which is why I thought it would be a good day to talk to him with few interruptions. I told myself that it didn't matter if he called or not. I was just trying to help him and, really, I'd have a better day if I didn't talk to him. But I anxiously checked my cell phone to make sure I hadn't missed his call. I'm so lame. At this point, I already had it in my mind that I maybe didn't love him anymore. Should I tell him that? How can I tell him about something so big if I don't even know for sure?

He finally called when I was 5 minutes from my destination, of course. At first, we talked lightly about the mortgage. I asked if his parents were keeping him busy, so he told me about the projects he was doing. He asked me if I would come over and spend some time with him, just visiting. I told him I wasn't ready for that. To be honest, I wanted to say yes. I wanted to just relax in his company, talk, laugh.

He asked about how we are going to communicate in the future. I told him that I was assuming we would use his treatment provider as the middle-man for a while again. That's when he told me that all the letters we sent through her before he was arrested the second time were now in the District Attorney's evidence folder. I was a little thrown back by that. I felt somewhat violated. There was nothing I said that they could be interested in. I mean, when you know that a letter will be read by your therapist and his TP, you don't put a lot of personal stuff in it. But still, the idea that my words and my relationship with my husband was now part of the evidence in a felony trial . . . I feel a little dirty. Jake suggested that we talk without her - "Even if we have to mail letters back and forth" - just to avoid that happening again. I kinda agree.

The next day he called a couple times because he needed some family financial information to apply for the public defender. I tried to keep it really "down to business" because I wasn't sure I wanted to encourage these friendly talks any more.

Late one night I woke up to all the battery back-ups in the house beeping. I couldn't figure out what was happening, so I called Jake. He helped me trouble-shoot. It was nice to have his help. I could tell that he was proud to be able to help, too.

The next morning, though, I was ready to push our relationship back to letters. It's hard to explain what I was feeling, but there was sort of a war going on in my head and heart that was making me depressed. I was physically in pain and couldn't concentrate. That was last Friday and I had to work. Around lunch time, I saw that Jake had left messages on my phone. He wanted me to call his TP and tell her that we were communicating so that he wouldn't get in trouble for it. I used my lunch break to call her. She was her typical straight-forward, no bullshit self. I explained that I wasn't comfortable with our communication becoming part of evidence. She explained that the police took it with a warrant.

I said, "And that could happen again, couldn't it?"

She said, "Yes, it could happen again, as other victims come forward."

That wasn't the topic I was aiming for, but I took the invitation. "How many more victims do you think there are?"

I'm not a complete fool, I know that there are likely more victims. I also know that she is in the business of expecting these things. I just hoped that I could listen to what she had to say and decide that she was being overly pessimistic . . .

"Lots more. He has revealed them on his sex history."

I started to choke up. "What kind of victims? More high school girls?"


Now I was downright sobbing, "When?!"

"I haven't reviewed the file recently, but I believe these were kids he babysat when he was 18 to 20 years old."

I was crying and blubbering so much that I can't remember anything else. I was mad at her for telling me that, but it empowered me to do what I had been putting off. I called Jake and let my anger fly. Sitting in my car in the parking lot at work, mascara running all over my face, I screamed at him. I listed every evil he has ever done to me and anyone else I could think of. He was panicked, flipping back and forth between defending himself and apologizing. 

I told him what his TP had told me and he replied, "They weren't children, they were like 13 or 14 years old." I couldn't even continue that line of conversation because I was so appalled that he acted like there was nothing wrong with that!

I decided to stick to me. I told him that I didn't want his love because it full of lies. He denied lying to me. I told him he didn't act with any respect toward me when he was sleeping with other women. He denied cheating on me. I screamed at him "LIAR! LIAR!"

Then I finally released the one thing that I hadn't told him before. "I read you face book messages."

He didn't understand at first.

"You know, the ones where you were inviting women over to our house for sex because your 'wife and daughter were out of town'."

"That doesn't count! Nothing ever happened!" 

"It does count! If they would have said yes and come over, then you would have slept with them. It counts." I could tell that he still wasn't sure what I was talking about. I told him that I think he is lying to himself and not really facing up to the things he's really doing wrong. This part was more heated and argumentative then I can convey, but basically he defended himself against everything. He really doesn't see all the damage he's done. He really doesn't understand how hurt I am and that he might never be able to repair the damage.

I told him that his TP thought he was a real risk for molesting his own kids if he had a chance. He vehemently defended himself on this one. I brought up a certain video that the DA had described at his sentencing last November in which a 3-year-old boy was basically being raped. This is one of the videos that Jake had downloaded and watched.

"If that is something you'd watch, then maybe it's something you'd do to your own child!"

"Or maybe I watched it because I remember being raped at that age and I was trying to figure that part of my childhood out."

"Well, maybe you're one of those people who figures it out by doing it to someone else." It was a cold thing to say, I know, but that's on my mind and I was being as open as possible for once.

It sort of sent him over the edge. He started ranting about the things he had to do for that farm hand, the things he endured as a small child (the same age as our Elise right now). He ended the rant with "I KNOW I'M A MIND FUCK! I KNOW I NEED HELP!"

I think I said something like, "I hope you'll get help. I've got to go back to work."

And I haven't talked to him since that.

Basically, that left me sure that I can't wait around for things to get better. Looking forward, I see this cycle repeating agian and again of victims coming forward, jail time, court time, lawyers, treatment, prison maybe, and then when things seem a little settled another victim comes forward. I've thought about asking Jake to just give law enforcement a list of names for all his victims so that maybe there will be an ending to this madness. But he would never do it.

So the next day when I was talking to my parents I said, "I think I've made my mind up that I'm ready to leave. Will you please look at the listings for farm houses in your area?" They tried to hide their relief that I finally FINALLY came to this conclusion.

I don't have a plan and it may take months before I can concoct one (I don't move quickly), but my heart has flipped and my mind is set. I'm leaving. I'm moving on.

So, do I love him? I still don't know! I must, since he causes me so much heartache. Or maybe I don't since it feels so good to think about leaving. I just don't know. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who's paying for all of this?

Welcome to the end of another long week. Yet again, I am playing catch-up with laundry, dirty dishes, and a long "to do" list. On the bright side, one of my big chores today is to put together all of Jake's bills, statements, checkbooks, and whatever else he needs so that he can take care of them by himself (imagine that). I feel like I'm shedding old skin as I create the pile to send to him. The only problem is I don't know how I will get it to him. The last time he was living with his parents it was strongly recommended that I not use my in-laws as messengers. I could drop it off with his PO, but I didn't really like the results of that last time . . . So I think I'll mail it, which is so weird because they live just two miles away (in the country where there is only one house every mile, that isn't very far!). The post office is going to think I'm crazy.

I've had to explain the new situation with several friends and family recently, so I think maybe I need to explain it here. Jake is out on bail for the current case against him (sexual assault against a minor). Last year's case (attempted sexual assault against a minor) ended with a sentence of 90 days in jail OR one year work release, either option being followed by ten years of sexual offender probation. He chose work release because it allows him to be out of jail twelve hours each day to earn an income. When he was arrested on the new charges, he was only a few months into his first sentence. Obviously, to be jailed for new charges meant that he couldn't exercise the work release option, so it reverted to a regular jail sentence. His first jail sentence is therefore served and all that is left is the ten years of probation. If you followed all that, you get a gold star!

His bail terms now are identical to his probation terms with the added security of an electric ankle monitor. Probation for a sex offender is much more intense than for any regular convict. I would even consider the probation to be more of a punishment than the jail-time. He is not allowed any contact with minors. He has VERY limited places he is allowed to go, approved by his PO and TP, and supposedly monitored by the anklet. I believe he has to call the local sheriff every time he arrives at a new location, too. He will attend treatment with a specially trained sex offender treatment provider (TP). He will have monthly "maintenance" polygraphs to make sure he is obeying the terms of his probation. He will also have one big "sex history" polygraph to set the foundation for his treatment and ensure that he hasn't done anything illegal. In preparation for the sex history polygraph he has to disclose all of his sexual activities (yes, I said ALL, legal and illegal from his entire life). That disclosure can be used in new investigations against him, which is likely how they found the accuser of the new charges.

Did I miss anything? The probation is pretty daunting, right? Well, eventually, a sex offender can work toward contact with his kids and other minor family members, if those people are receptive to it. And after a few years, with really good behavior, an offender can petition to be removed for the sex offender registry. So there is hope to someday lead a normal life. The problem is that the probation is very stringent for the sake of public safety and holds so much stigma that, in my mind at least, it adds more stress to the already injured psyche of the sex offender. More stress equals higher chances of offending. From what I can see, it's a lose-lose situation for the offender and our society. In fact, the legal system seems full of lose-lose situations. I don't know the answers, but I sure wish someone did.

Speaking of losing battles, the legal system is a financial trap for offenders and their families. After Jake's sentencing, when he was promptly jailed as part of his sentence, a bill arrived at his parents' house from the court. When I got a look at it, I was appalled. They sent Jake a bill for court, jail, and estimated probation costs that totaled more than $10,000 with a message at the bottom along the lines of "If you don't start making payments immediately, we will start adding fines." Um, they did realize that the man they were billing was in jail, right? That he wouldn't receive the bill? What a trap! So, of course, his dad started paying the bill. Then we found out that they don't actually supply anything for inmates beyond a set of clothes and food. Shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and anything else must be purchased by the inmate. How do they purchase these things? Their families put money in an account with atrocious processing fees or it goes on some mysterious bill that will likely be sent to their home with an absurd message like above.

I can't wait to see the bill for the electric ankle monitor!

While I'm on the topic of money, let me explain how bonds work. Jake's bail was set at $100,000. If someone wanted to pay bail, they could give the court the full amount as a sort of assurance that Jake would appear in court without fail. At the end of a trial (and someone can correct me if I'm over simplifying this), the full bail amount will be returned to whoever it came from. Most people can't afford to set bail, so that's where a bondsman comes in. To get Jake's bail, his grandma paid 10% of the bail amount to a bondsman. The bondsman then posted the full bail to the court and now the burden is on the bondsman to assure that Jake goes to court. At the end of the trial, the bondsman will get all his money back AND he will keep the 10% that grandma paid him as a fee for services. Except for the occasional hiring of bounty hunters for those people who do flee, the bondsman gig is pretty cush!

Anyhow, Jake finally did get out on bail yesterday. I have more to say about that, but all this explaining now has me burnt out. I'll try to write more tomorrow. Back to laundry!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Out on Bail

No joke. Jake is going to be out on bail any minute now.

Frankly, I'm a little blown away. The judge lowered the bail from $250,000 to $100,000 considering Jake's cooperation and previous good behavior on probation. That is not the part that shocked me though. I figured it didn't matter what the bail was because none of us could afford it. But after the hearing, his parents were having serious discussions about contacting a bondsman. I asked how they were going to pay for it and Big Rev said, "Grandma's paying for it." Jake's Grandma could probably pay the whole bail amount upfront in one check, but I never thought she would. Well, I guess people never cease to amaze.

Jake will have to follow all the restrictions that were a part of his probation terms when he was sentenced last year. He will have very limited places he can go, mainly his family's farm, and will have an ankle monitor. He will be allowed to go to treatment weekly.

I am unsure how I feel about this. I'm a little dismayed. I keep thinking I have a grip on my reality and then it shifts again. I haven't quite learned to embrace the change, I guess. I was getting comfortable with him being in jail. I was in control of everything. I had built-in boundaries that even I couldn't screw up.

I'm trying to remind myself that he will now be able to take back many of the responsibilities that I don't want. He can manage his own bills and business. I can stop wasting my time shoveling his shit, as my mother once said. I should be relieved.

Also, which I maybe should have mentioned first, his accuser was in court today and gave a statement. It hurt to see her. It hurt when she made eye contact with me. I felt like she was seeking some sort of approval from me. I felt like I was supporting the wrong side of the law. Her statement was simple. She just told the judge that she would always struggle with what Jake had done to her and she wants to protect others from the same thing, including me and my children. Honestly, I feel a little disgusted by her bringing my children up - I'm their mother, let me protect them. Mostly though, I felt guilty for supporting the man who hurt her.

After court, in one of the weirdest moments of my life, I drove over to the Social Services office and asked to see Umbridge. I detest this woman, but I didn't know who else to talk to. I told her that I wanted Jake's accuser to know that I'm not against her. I want her to know that she is doing what I would want my daughter or sister or friend to do in her position. I also made it clear to Umbridge that I DO NOT want to communicate or have any kind of relationship with this woman.

Umbridge said, "You want her to know that you're okay with this, right?"

"No, I'm not okay with this. I wish none of it was happening. Just let her know that this isn't her fault and she's not doing anything wrong."

I'm still not sure why I did that. Will I regret it later? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Feeling Spry (in an unwelcome way)

What is it I'm supposed to be doing right now? Oh yeah, pay the bills, that's right. Well, too bad, I feel like blogging. I have blog-fasted all week. I feel so starved that I don't know if I can even do it anymore, but I'm willing to try!

So the job is going well and I'm starting to get the household back in working order. The kitchen is getting cleaned every night and we're all putting on clean clothes every morning, so I haven't fallen apart completely, right? In fact, I have moments when I feel quite alive and vibrant (in between the moments when I feel like a dismal wreck). I'm trying to convince myself that those moments are the reality that I'm moving toward.

I've mentioned before that somewhere in my brain lurks thoughts of moving on in a romantic sense. Well, those thoughts have moved from my dreamscape to the forefront of my mind. I was embarrassed to mention this before, but I've been having moments of antsy feelings - the kind of pleasurable discomfort that normally leads to a person spending some romantic alone time with their significant other. Only, I don't have a significant other, do I? I mean, technically I do, since I'm still married, but it hurts to think about anything intimate with Jake because it opens the wound. So where does that leave me? I just tried to ignore the feelings for weeks.

Then I started this job. I'm surrounded by lots of people - a situation I'm unused to because I've been a stay-at-home mom for three years. It was heaven at first. I realized how lonely I had been. I'm working with a lot of women that I immediately targeted as potential friends. Being around people again was like drinking water after a long run on a windy day. I smiled A LOT for the first week.

But then the weirdest thing happened. I walked past a man at work and felt uncomfortable. It just barely registered at first. The next time I saw him I felt so uncomfortable that I could barely smile and nod, which I do easily to everyone else. I started mentally reviewing these feelings. It wasn't the creepy feelings I sometimes get from people. It wasn't that he had done anything out of the ordinary to make me feel weird. It could only be one thing - and I was really scared to admit it to myself - I was attracted to him! OH MY GOD, WHY? I had never even talked to this man and know nothing about him. There is absolutely no reason for me to feel like this.

It has been years since I've been attracted to anyone other than Jake. As a teenager I was constantly distracted by the opposite sex to the point that I even prayed for a while that God would take away my sex drive and let me be normal! Somehow I managed to not get into too many dead-end sexual relationships, but the few I had were enough to leave me shamed. I was glad when my sex drive finally diminished with marriage and motherhood. I was especially glad about it last year, since I felt like sex was the root of all our problems. Several times I have wished that sex would not so easily control people, the way it seemed to control Jake. I still wish it.

So why do I find myself suddenly as randy as a teenager? It's not because of loneliness. I've been feeling lonely for over a year. It must be the sudden contact with people. Yes?

And why this particular man? I have no idea. Unlike a lot of people, I don't seem to have a type. It's always just been chemistry with me. My personal theory is that I'm particularly receptive to some special brand of pheromones (the ones that belong to losers, as far as my past demonstrates). There are many men I pass in the halls at work. Several of them are around my age and good looking. I have no problem looking them all in the eye and holding a full conversation, except for this one man. His presence turns me into a blushing school girl who can't even squeak out "Hello."

At first, I was mad at myself for being so childish. I was determined to act normal around him. I was going to get over this hormonal BS and be mature. I held a few little conversations with him along the lines of  "Hi, how are you doing? What are you having for lunch?" I gave myself some mental pats on the back . . . Until I realized that acting normal around him did not make me any less attracted to him. In fact, it made it worse. I caught myself a few times having romantic daydreams about the man I know nothing about (except what he ate for lunch)!

Now I've changed tactics. I'm ignoring him. I'm going to pretend he doesn't exist. I've already gone out of my way to avoid places I know he'll be at work. Childish, I know, but it involves much less guilt!

After all, I'm a married woman - aren't I? In case you're wondering, all this new hormonal stuff has not taken away my love for Jake or my sense of commitment to him . . . It's just become more confusing. Oh lord, that's a whole other conversation that I'm suddenly too tired to have.

Well, expect to hear from me sooner than later because Jake has a hearing this Tuesday. It is very likely that nothing will happen. We spent the better part of last year waiting for hearings that never gave us answers to our questions. I've given up expecting any progress to happen in a courtroom . . . but maybe, just maybe something will happen this time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pictures for Jake

Jake can't have any contact with his kids, including photos. He requested some wedding photos, but in a rare moment of strength I told him no. However, as Spring wakes up our yard I'm reminded that caring for these plants is one of the things that he really did right, so I thought it was fair to give him some of their beauty.

Tulips in front of the house. 

 Nanking cherries in the windbreak.

An apple tree in bloom.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekend Blogger

As the title suggests, I think I will now become a weekend blogger. Working a full week just does not allow for any extracurricular activities. In fact, I barely have time to cook supper and clean the kitchen each night before it's bedtime. I had the day off today (Good Friday) and I almost screamed when I opened the bedroom door this morning because the house was so disgusting. Toys, dirty clothes, and other clutter covered the living room floor. The dining table was piled with unopened mail from the week. And the few loads of clothes I had managed to wash during the week were still in the basket getting wrinkled. I feel like a whining wimp saying these things because I know there are moms that handle multiple jobs and still keep the house clean, but that's just me. So I spent all day cleaning and you can hardly tell - mostly because the kids "helped" with everything.

I've already decided that weekend blogging sucks because during the week I had so many things to blog about, but I've now forgotten half of them.

Ah yes, I wanted to tell you all that I have lingering guilt over my last post about my friend who returned to her unfaithful husband. She called me the next day and, as I saw her name appear on my phone, I was prepared to give her a piece of my mind. But the instant she greeted me and I heard the happiness in her voice, I lost all my nerve. This may be a huge risk that will end in disaster, but I can tell she really wants to give it a chance. Who am I to judge her? Her situation is different from mine. Her husband is not a sex addict or a child molester. I don't even know their situation well enough to know if he has cheated more than once. Maybe there is real hope for them. Maybe a few years from now he'll have tears in his eyes as he explains to his son that cheating on the one you love is the biggest mistake you could ever make. Maybe they'll have a long, beautiful marriage. One can only hope, right?

I, however, will only have weird relationships for the rest of my days - either with a man who is sexually disturbed and can't ever be a part of my life as a normal spouse again due to restrictions of the law, or with someone else who will have to help raise the children of that sexually disturbed man, which will definitely be awkward. (By the way, one of my great character flaws is that I try to think too far ahead.)

I don't know if I've ever mentioned before that I write a column. It's very local, small time. It's a funny thing to be a columnist because I'm never surprised when complete strangers know who I am. For instance, my new office mate knew me from my column before we worked together. In my column, I recently revealed that my husband is not in the picture any more. For a full year, I had carefully concealed it, but it was getting too hard. Besides, most people had connected the front-page articles with Jake's mugshot to the columnist in the middle of the paper anyhow, so I figured I wasn't really going to reveal anything shocking . . . But in the last few weeks I have been amazed at the number of people who have NOT connected me to Jake. They must just flip to the columns without really reading the front page. Or maybe they don't think too much about two people having the same last name. Well, anyhow, my office-mate Sandra (who is very cool) is one of those people who haven't made the connection. I realized this one day when I stuck my foot in my mouth. A customer walking through our office heard my name and stopped to say, "Aren't you . . ." She looked so serious that I thought she was going to connect me with Jake, but then she smiled and continued, "the one who writes that column?"

Like an idiot, I replied, "Yes! I'm glad that's where you know me from!" She gave me a questioning look and I quickly said, "Oh, just joking." She nodded and waved good-bye, but my coworker continued to look at me strangely for a few more moments.

You know, I've skated along the last year and few months without a lot of social damage from this whole affair. Outside of his job, Jake wasn't very involved in our community and people hardly saw us together. That turned out to be a blessing for me because people who just know my face and my first name don't usually make the connection. For those that did make the connection, they've been completely charitable in their consideration of me as a person independent of my husband's wrongs. I grew quite comfortable with this situation and thought that I had grown past the fear of his crimes hurting my reputation. But now I'm feeling the fear because in two weeks he'll appear for a court hearing and, like clockwork, our local paper will print an update of his case on the front page with his mugshot and our last name in bold capital letters. Will everyone at work suddenly realize who I'm married to? Will they whisper behind my back? Will they treat me like a leper? I wonder if I should forewarn my boss. Would that help at all or just guarantee awkwardness?

One more story: I was at a thrift store yesterday and was juggling Sabrina alongside several shirts on hangers as I headed toward the fitting room. A woman noticed me struggling and offered to hold Sabrina while I tried on clothes. I said no thank you. She replied, "You can trust me, I'm a social worker." I repeated my answered as I tried not to make a face at her. You see, having a sex offender as a husband invites Social Services into your life, and not in a good way. I would have loved to tell her that her title only lowers my trust for her, but I didn't (because I'm nice). But really, isn't that a stupid thing to say. You know who else says, "You can trust me . . . " KIDNAPPERS!

. . . and sex offenders . . . and cheating husbands . . . 

Oh wait, I've got one more thing and then I'm done for the next week. Jake called today. Until today he hasn't called unless I've invited him to, which I've only done once. I answered, thinking it might be an emergency or something. He just wanted to talk. I did my best at giving him the I'm-not-that-interested-in talking-to-you attitude, but it's not like I hung up or anything. It just left me wondering about my boundaries. Obviously, they aren't very strong. The biggest problem is that I want to talk to him. I want to have him in my life. I struggle with the idea that this man I love to talk to is also the person who has hurt me the most. I know that I can't trust him, but I don't feel it in my heart. Damn it, just answering that phone made me feel like an idiotic. I think I'll have to tell him in my next letter that I'm not ready for phone calls. I may convince myself some days that I'm not a mess, but I really really am.

Now, let's all go celebrate the season of rebirth! Even in my un-Christianly spirituality, I love Easter and all it represents. I can't help it because it means hope. Hope that stems from nasty, dark death scenarios must be the best kind, right?