I am a former White Collar Wife writing about my experience of recovery.

My photo

     I began blogging on the subject of white collar wives after experiencing the devastating consequences of my, (former), husband's financial crime.  My goal was to reach other women who are suffering or have suffered as I did so that they wouldn't have to walk this dark and uncertain path alone. The blog also serves to educate the public regarding the stigma wives and families face as a result of guilt by association.  The truth is that wives and children are the FIRST victims of many white collar crimes as a result of the acute breach of trust and ensuing financial ruin that is brought upon them by a man whose primary obligation is to protect his family.  As a result of the positive response to my blog essays I created a private on-line support group, The Secret Lives of White Collar Wives.  The purpose of the group is to provide a safe and private place of acceptance and empowerment. Our community continues to grow both nationally as well as internationally.  Please contact me at lawlerlisa1@gmail.com for a private screening into the group. (A request made directly to the group page will not be accepted). 

     In addition to my advocacy work on behalf of white collar wives and families I have developed a lecture on ethics in the workplace. I urge all who are serious about compliance and risk to contact me for a compelling hour of "Truth or Consequences: Easy Money Isn't Easy" from a new voice with a new perspective on enforcement. Humans are vulnerable to many temptations and too often fail to consider the dire consequences one bad decision can have on their and their families lives. 

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Desperately Seeking Susan Continues....

White Collar Wives and Their Criminal Husbands

     As summer winds to it's end so goes the long journey for Susan's quest for any kind of recognizable stability. I was so relieved when Susan surfaced a few weeks ago as it meant she was still here, still fighting for her survival. But after many years of living in limbo, Susan will be forced into a boarding house as she simply cannot afford to live "on the street" any longer.  At 75 years of age her monthly social security benefit barely allows her to eat, keep her phone turned on and find a roof nightly wherever she can. I have come to learn that Susan's disappearance was a result of being immersed in trying to help a fellow homeless person who was in need. She had little to give but the companionship helped as being alone in this kind of frightening situation is jarring. Her companion has since moved on, or more correctly, Susan had to move on as she could no longer support herself and a companion. 

     Susan's story is compelling and her situation dire to say the least. When innocent spouses have everything taken from them as a result of a partner's financial crime they are left with next to nothing to build a future.  The financial, legal and social fallout can be devastating for white collar wives and can too often result in complete isolation with day to day living impossible to navigate.  Susan's story serves as a cautionary tale for wives to take action at the onset of an investigation. I stress this with the women I mentor time after time and most understand the need to get out from under the fallout as best they can as quickly as possible but some wait too long as it all seems so surreal and denial can keep one from being proactive. So many white collar wives have not worked outside the home in many years and some went into their marriages having never worked a day in their lives. There are those that would peg a white collar wife as lazy or unrealistic but the truth is stay at home wives and mothers have committed no crime and have to pay the highest price possible for their husband's crime.  They are simply, completely unprepared. Most of the wives I mentor are saddled with legal issues and incur huge attorney's fees they cannot possibly pay. Many, if they are lucky, find one, two and for some, even three jobs just to keep the bare necessities in place. This begs the inevitable question of whether or not the once noble profession of staying home to raise children and or support a head of household by working inside the home should be a thing of the past. There is no rainy day nest egg for innocent spouses when life goes so terrible awry. They are left with nothing but shame and poverty. Marriage and partnership means having trust and honoring a commitment to care for one another. When that trust and care is broken so egregiously how can the innocent party recover if that trust has meant protection from financial ruin. At least when couples go broke together they are still together to weather the storm. 

     Susan's story is indeed a cautionary tale if ever there was one and awakens all of us to the fact that the homeless have little recourse for protection as waiting lists can be years long. Susan is being faced with calling the police to take her to a safe place. She is in debt to the tune of 1,000.00 to cover the motel room she is living in and may face jail time if the motel presses charges against her. Susan's daughter continues to shun her for reasons that are not clear to me. If anyone reading this blog today has a place for Susan or resources to help her in Los Angeles, please contact me at lawlerlisa1@gmail.com and I will pass any screened contacts to her. 

     To the white collar criminal husbands sitting in prison thinking they have it bad, walk a mile in the shoes of all of the innocent spouses left to fend for theirs and their children's survival. I have little sympathy for the "mistakes", (which of course are not mistakes but calculated risks), white collar criminals make. Your concrete bed, three meals a day and a roof over your head sure beats what Susan is having to endure. 

With my deepest thanks to those who care,

Lisa Lawler

(Please read Susan's own plea in the comments section below)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

White Collar Wives and Their Criminal Husbands

What do you get when you cross a devoted wife with a white collar criminal husband? Stay tuned. Summer break is nearly at an end....

Friday, August 12, 2016

Desperately Seeking Susan: Epilogue

Susan lives!!!!! I just this morning received a comment from Susan on this blog post that "I have not yet left the planet!" and have asked her to contact me. "Desperately Seeking Susan" has been read world wide and has been the most widely read post to date. I've received many inquiries about Susan's well being and now I will be able to update all of you who have been so concerned about her too. Perhaps I'll ask Susan to write her own update and I will post it here.

Thank you all for your concern and private messages. I'll update as soon as I get the full story of her current state of well being.

With thanks,

Lisa Lawler

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Final Exit: A White Collar Wife's Surrender

          DESPERATLEY SEEKING SUSAN

    Being an advocate for those in need is never easy.  Most advocates have a calling of sorts and are drawn to issues where they feel they can do the most good. The work can be rewarding at times but it can also bring heartbreak.  It is indeed, not for the faint of heart. In this, my final blog before my summer break, I want to tell you about a woman I mentored for a short time this past year who was, like so many other white collar wives,  blindsided by her husband's crime and eventual incarceration. In denial  for too long, she was left with nothing but the clothes on her back, a few items locked away in a storage unit, a daughter whom she was estranged from and very few friends that stood by her in her time of need. With no place to live and very little income from her social security, she stayed with friends for a few months after her husband left for prison while she tried to re-group and wait for government assistance to kick in.  With food stamps, housing and health care she might just be able to get back on her feet.  She had been job hunting but nobody wanted to hire a woman in her mid-seventies.  After a couple of months her hosts were not willing to offer her permanent residency and gave her a deadline of one week to vacate. Susan does not drive so making arrangements to leave was difficult and she still had no idea if or when she would receive public assistance. Her future was bleak and uncertain.  Susan relayed to me that she understood her hosts growing weary of her company and that she didn't so much wear out her welcome as become too pitiful for her friends to endure. Surprisingly Susan's attitude was upbeat. Of course she was scared but she didn't see herself as a victim. She described herself as always having been athletic, quick minded,  and possessed a better than average sense of humor. She was generally optimistic. In fact in the short couple of months that I knew her,  I enjoyed her infectious optimism and thought with so much going for her that she would make it through.  She was one smart cookie.

    A week later her friend dropped her off at a seedy motel in Riverside which is a suburb of Los Angeles.  It was all she could afford and at that, just barely. I was of course outraged that her so called close friends had no problem tossing her out given her dire circumstances. Susan and I were in contact daily. I tried to find a room for her on Craigslist but she had nobody to take her to look at these rooms. I called a local Housing Authority hoping they may be able to help but was told the waiting list for the homeless in Los Angeles County was at least two years. Her social security check only lasted for three weeks out of the month and covered her weekly motel bill, limited food, her phone and her healthcare payment. Meaning that she would have to go a week without food at the end of the month until her next check arrived. Then the next blow came. The motel where Susan was living was scheduled to be demolished and she was given notice to vacate. Susan had thought she had hit rock bottom when she moved into the motel but now that her living quarters were going to be reduced to rubble, (a metaphor that was not lost on either of us), her only option was to go into a shelter. "I'd rather die than go into a shelter" was Susan's response. I told her that I had been an advocate and mentor for white collar wives for four years and hadn't lost one yet. Her reply, "Well, I just might be your first".  She said this with some levity but her words chilled me to my bones and I was helpless to help her from so far away so I upped our phone conversations for moral support. Where would she go?? What would happen to her?? Where are her options?????  

     During the last few days before vacating I was in contact with Susan at least three times a day via phone, text or e-mail. I had become her lifeline and promised her I would not let go. In her darkest hour she gave me permission to contact her estranged daughter who was a business owner in Los Angeles to plead for her to help her mother.  Susan's own attempts at contacting her daughter had failed so I wasn't sure how hearing from a total stranger might do any good but it was worth a try.  So I emailed Susan's daughter blindly, introduced myself as her mother's white collar wives advocate and explained how critical her mother's circumstances were and literally begged her to put aside their issues for the time being because her mother was within days of  living on the street.  I received no response.  With no reply from her daughter, her blood, her only remaining family on this earth, Susan was struggling hard to find any reason to continue on and stated once again that she would rather die than go to a shelter and if that's what was going to happen then she was ready to meet her maker.  She reiterated that if homelessness was all that was left for her then there was no reason for her to continue to live. As a trained suicide prevention counselor I knew to take her threats of ending her life very seriously. I also knew that if I were in the same position, my back up against a wall, with no hope, alone, broke and broken and facing life on the street in my mid-seventies that I too might consider ending it all. I wanted to drop everything, get on a plane and go get her.  But then what? I wasn't in any position to bring her back.

    There was a glimmer of hope as Susan's innate optimism kept breaking through her fear and despair and she was determined to make it.  I suggested she get a bus ticket out of Los Angeles and move to another county, another state even so that she could get out from under the too long waiting list for government assistance in L.A.  She said that although she had next to nothing, (but far more than she could carry on the street by herself),  that she didn't want to lose the only thing that mattered to her anymore which was familiar surroundings.  I understood on some level but I knew that she was facing a very dire scenario and tried to do everything I could from afar to help keep a roof over her head and just be there for her to keep her from being alone. I couldn't understand that given the circumstances why going back to her friends was not an option but Susan assured me that it was not possible and wouldn't discuss it further. White collar wives and their children are often judged harshly and rejected by friends and sadly, even family.  For those of you who wonder how people become homeless....wonder no more. Being homeless for anyone is beyond difficult and degrading but to suddenly become homeless in your mid-seventies with a newly incarcerated husband,  your home and all of your possessions seized through no fault of your own, unable to drive and in possession of all of your wits, no family to speak of, coming from an affluent lifestyle with what you thought was a solid circle of friends and a life to be envied, (her husband had not always been a crook), she was a true fish out of water. I begged her to hold on. Find another motel that would allow her a long stay. But Susan was losing her will to go on and I was utterly helpless to help her. Two months earlier she had told me with enthusiasm,  "I'm not giving up! I'm no quitter!",  but this was before she had been kicked to the curb and she had no idea that life was about to throw her yet another punch to the gut.

     When the fateful day came for Susan to leave her motel and I didn't hear from her I was racked with worry. Days went by and still I didn't hear from her and my calls went right to voicemail. I considered the possibility that she had no place to charge her phone but when days turned into weeks without a word from her I began to consider the worst case scenario because I knew that if she were still alive she would get in touch with me. It's been nearly two months since I've heard from Susan and with each passing day, her silence grows louder. 

    Soon after her disappearance I began scouring the Riverside and Los Angeles County police websites for news of Susan.  I searched obituaries but realized with no family and no real friends to speak of an obituary for a homeless person would likely never be written. In the beginning she spoke to me at length about herself and how except for the discourse with her daughter she had had a full life and knew how blessed she had been. But in the end her once idyllic life had morphed into something so surreal, so dark and unmanageable that her great optimism was now replaced with great fear. Nobody should ever be so utterly alone and without hope. How frightening her final days were. I can only imagine what became of my friend, my fellow white collar comrade and I will likely never know.  I have mentored and or advocated for over fifty white collar wives internationally who have at one time or another just wanted to give up. The hopeful words I had spoken to Susan telling her that I had never lost a white collar wife now haunt me as I feel that I have indeed, finally "lost one".  Of course Susan's circumstances and final outcome are not my fault and are of course out of my control but this loss was not in the least bit unavoidable and that's what makes it so tragic.

     If Susan has made her final exit I hope she went out of her own accord and not at the hands of someone else, (women living on the street are often easy prey). I know she is in a much better place because her desperate struggle is at an end and she has found peace. The selfish man who claimed to love Susan is to blame for her pain and suffering and likely harsh ending because like every white collar criminal living a secret life he wanted MORE than what was already more than enough. He provided no opportunity for Susan to prepare, to make a new life, to have a fighting chance at survival. White collar wives are blindsided by their husband's criminal activity and often have little opportunity to get our from under the fallout unless they act quickly. Susan's husband may be incarcerated but he has a roof over his head, three square meals a day, the opportunity to make friends with his "peers" and a telephone at his disposal. Susan, like so many white collar wives was left far worse off than her husband and has seemingly paid the ultimate price for HIS crime. Were is the justice in that?

     I will always remember and admire Susan's fine sense of humor and optimism in the presence of such dire circumstance as well as her free will to live life, (or not), on her own terms. If there is a heaven she is surely courting the angels with her sharp wit and a lot of laughter. It was just her way.

Farewell you courageous warrior. 

    (Any white collar wife who is reading this, please act now! Do not wait for your husband's case to wind through the legal system before activating a plan for yourself and your children. Contact me. I can help you make a plan so that you don't end up like our dear Susan.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

"The Personal is the Political"

      When mechanisms begin to stop functioning properly they either make a noise that begs attention or they simply shut down and stop working.  It's been proven time and again that the squeaky wheel is usually first in line to get the fix.  Social activism is the squeak that makes the noise that promotes public awareness with the goal of getting the legislative grease it needs. At nearly sixty years old I've witnessed social activism at it's best during the 1960's and '70's with the civil rights movement, protests against the war in Vietnam as well as the women's liberation movement.  These squeaks turned into groundswells and were heard loud and clear across the land. The personal is indeed the political but one must participate to affect change. Heather Booth was a bold, vital and fearless participant in the women's movement and continues to play an important role in social activism. Her quote, "If it's happening to other people it's not a personal problem, it's a social problem,"  inspired this blog piece. 

     Thousands of white collar wives and children around the world are experiencing the confiscation of their homes and belongings and being cruelly stigmatized and humiliated through no fault of their own and with little to no recourse. They are shamed into the dark shadows of their lives where they willingly remain, quivering and paralyzed with the fear of what is to become of them and their children.  Innocent spouses and children are not only experiencing a personal problem but they are in fact also experiencing a social problem because it's happening to so many women around the world on an ongoing basis. Innocent women and their children are being cast out of their homes and out of their lives and left penniless because of the criminal deeds of their husbands.  This should be making headlines but because it is happening to women who formerly led comfortable and some even very comfortable lives in first world countries, it is of no consequence to the general public. In fact the public often takes pleasure from this unique fall from grace unaware or uncaring of the fact that the majority of white collar wives are innocent of any wrongdoing. The only guilt they own is by association. 

     Although white collar criminals come from all socioeconomic backgrounds the mere mention of a white collar criminal congers up visions of bankers, stockbrokers and the like. But the truth is that white collar crime knows no professional or economic boundary. None the less, white collar wives are mostly seen as entitled, spoiled and undeserving of pity and in most cases are not considered victims at all. There is a misconception that all wives are somehow in on the scheme and therefore are deserving of being left with little if anything to survive on. Most wives know nothing of their husband's schemes and those that do have an inkling are powerless to intervene because men who perpetrate these kinds of crimes on an ongoing basis share a clinical personality disorder that is nearly impossible to penetrate with reason and almost always, incurable.   

     Women are losing access to their joint marital assets in legal firestorms which can and too often do end in complete forfeit/seizure.  They are not afforded the courtesy of separating their fair share of marital assets but are instead losing the entirety of their personal assets to fines and victim restitution. These women and children have done nothing wrong but are being punished in the extreme.  Where is their day in court to prove their innocence?  A white collar wife can seldom afford to hire legal counsel to protect her marital assets because of lack of funds, a frozen bank account or because any and all available funds are going toward her husband's legal representation. Essentially, marriage makes a white collar wife a party to her husband's crimes but she has no recourse to protect herself against his actions. Instead of allocating an innocent spouse her portion of her marital assets, most women and children are forced onto welfare because long time stay at home mothers or under-trained older housewives who are suddenly forced into head of household provider status cannot easily find jobs and cannot afford training. Most white collar wives suffer from PTSD and are unable to function effectively. They don't have the medical insurance to help them cope with their trauma. They must do the best they can with what little they have.  White collar wives are at the mercy of the courts to NOT leave them destitute but "the system" makes no provision for these women and children. They are treated like criminals and suffer extreme consequences.  Families are the first victims of white collar crime because of the acute betrayal of a husband and the emotional and financial ruin he has imposed upon them. They are inextricably tied to the   criminal proceedings and ensuing consequences. Where is the due process for women in this scenario? I got out of my marriage early on in my husband's investigation because common sense dictated that I protect myself and my son.  But most wives are inclined to stand by their husband's either because they don't believe things will get as bad as they do or they refuse to believe that their partner and father of their children could be "a bad guy".  These women who do not disengage become forever entangled in their husband's legal snare. I am now past the worst of it but in mentoring so many white collar wives I have come to know that although grim and life altering, my experience was less daunting than others. I am an advocate for white collar families not only because of the devastation it caused my family but because of the gross miscarriage of justice innocent women and children must endure. The damage runs deep for all of us and at times can be utterly debilitating. 

    But change will never come about for the innocent spouse with just one lone voice. White collar wives must withstand embarrassment and public scorn, real or imagined, and come forward and protest on their own behalf if any change is to come about. But where are they? Where is their squeak to gain the grease they so desperately need and deserve? Where are the voices of the victims of this most egregious trespass of rights? White collar wives are hiding in victim status, (and they are indeed victims), working hard at one or more jobs, sometimes menial jobs, to keep a roof over their and their children's heads. They are in shock, they are ashamed, they are mired in fear and anxiety. They are exhausted. They are whispered about, pointed at and humiliated and broken. But they must make some noise to bring about change. I have been victimized. I have been shamed. I have been broken. I have been consumed with fear and anxiety. Yet I speak out for those who were/are too afraid. I can bring awareness but I cannot bring change by myself. I am asking innocent spouses to fight for themselves and others as I have done so that our collective voices can be heard.  I have provided the platform but others must step up now to aid in the cause. 
     

   I challenge white collar wives or family members or former white collar criminals who read my blog, particularly this post or who participate in our support group or who are still hiding in the shadows to come forward from that hiding place you believe is protecting you but is in fact only hiding you in plain sight and causing you further harm and humiliation, to write a guest blog about your own experience. I cannot continue to advocate on your behalf as just one voice will never affect change. Your silence is not a squeak but rather a roar and tells us just how personal your own experience is. Your collective silence can never be heard and your hiding will only guarantee that others will walk your same path. There will be no change until there is unification and activation.   It's time to make your personal very political. Make your struggle count for something. Stand up and fight for yours and your sister's rights for justice. The only purpose your silent struggle serves is to protect you from the shame of your husband's deeds. The reality is that you are hiding from nobody but yourselves and are helping to create a culture of guilt by association by not promoting your innocence which requires respect and not shame. Stand up and take up your space!!  I remember the hiding from the shame and how that only harmed me further. How is your shame and fear serving you? The worst has already happened. What else is there to fear??? The fear of not knowing where your next dime is coming from or how to keep a roof over yours and your children's heads is all too real. You have lost so much. Isn't it time to gain something back? I cannot present one voice or simply one signature for change. So please squeak ladies. And squeak loudly and often to get the grease you deserve. If you don't ask for the grease you will not get any and simply shut down and stop spinning. It's your choice really. I began this blog three years ago by saying, "I know you're out there." Many have come forward to seek help and I am glad to offer a safe haven in our group. So come out, come out wherever you are and take a stand now with your sisters or forever hold your peace as I will mine.  Unless others are willing to come forward to tell their stories and help change the status quo for white collar wives my lone voice will go silent on this issue.  My voice has squeaked about all it can and what we need now is a chorus. 


   For the past three years my squeaks have reached a wide audience and I hope I have been able to open minds and hearts to the plight of the white collar wife. Many women have found their way to my, (now international), support group because of my writings and I am glad for that and so I consider my time here well spent. I hope others will continue to find this crack in the pavement over time so that they can squeeze through the door of enlightenment and community and get the help and support they so desperately need. 

     To whomever is reading this I hope you will make your personal political. Get involved with a cause that is close to your heart and try to promote justice wherever you can. Do your best always to make this world a better place. To do anything less is a failure of citizenship. 


     

    


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THE SINS OF THE FATHER

This is a re-post of one of my most widely read blogs. This essay brings to light the utter devastation white collar criminals bring to their families:


This is the third and final essay in a three part series written by women from the group The Secret Lives of White Collar Wives who have described their own heart wrenching experience about the events leading up to their husband's incarceration.  There is no typical path to jail/prison for white collar criminals.  Each case comes with it it's own set of circumstances and law enforcement procedures. State vs. Federal, etc. The following is my own account of the days leading up to my ex-husband's incarceration. (My ex-husband is known in this piece as Tom).

The Sins of The Father by Lisa Lawler

     My husband Tom retained counsel when he learned he was being investigated for embezzlement and his attorney at the time told him he had a "better than good"chance of being summoned to court rather than arrested because he had been cooperating. This was because he had offered to surrender himself on more than one occasion and had given his change of addresses in a timely manner over the course of two years. I was newly separated from my husband at the time because what had begun as an epic mid-life crisis, (with all of the predictable accouterments),   had turned into a full on meltdown and Tom wasn't interested in help from me or anyone else for that matter.  In fact, he was under the delusion that he had his life well in hand but the sad truth was that he was dangling dangerously over a cliff that was beckoning him to jump and was woefully oblivious to the fact that if he fell his family would fall with him. The news of Tom's criminal investigation was the final blow to our marriage. I filed for divorce but remained actively supportive for the sake of my son.  Needless to say this turn of events was a rude awakening for a man who had thought he was on top of his "game".  When weeks of waiting for the grand jury to bring indictments turned into months we began to live our lives in an excruciating state of limbo. When would the blade fall and how deep would it cut? How the hell would we survive this nightmare?  Many white collar families agree that the waiting is the hardest part. That is until the next hardest part comes along.

     A year later there was still no word from the grand jury and the terrible waiting continued. With our divorce final we had sold our home and moved to another state where Tom and I both had family nearby. We sat our son down before the move and revealed to him his father's legal issues and possible outcome. He was of course shocked by this news. He had always looked upon his father as a man who was better than most and in fact larger than life. To see his father in this new light broke a part of his young heart and soul that can never be healed.  Once in our new town in our rented homes we were all trying to adapt to the fact that we were no longer the strong, happy family we had once been, our lives and surroundings now beyond recognition. We had become the walking dead going through the motions of living but not really alive.  Since our separation our son spent one weeknight and every other weekend at this dad's place and after our move we continued this schedule.  Tom and I attended our son's sports practices and games together and even went to dinner as a "family" once a week as a reassurance to our son, (and to ourselves), that all was not lost and that we were all still a "team", still connected.We made a gallant attempt to live life as normally as possible under acutely abnormal circumstances.
    
     We were living off the proceeds from the sale of our house during the pendency of the AG's investigation so money was tight. I had been job hunting for nearly a year but there were few jobs available for a "professional stay at home wife and mother." In hindsight I should have taken ANY job because if I'd had a crystal ball I'd know that the market was about to crash and there would soon be even fewer jobs. Tom was too paralyzed to look for work so he spent his days trying to keep busy with projects.  Another five months passed and another school year had begun for my son and still no word from anyone regarding the case.  We were all well beyond our breaking points as the stress, fear and anxiety were nearly unbearable.  Later that year, as it had been so long since we had heard anything about Tom's case we began to entertain the idea that maybe the AG had decided not to pursue charges.  Delusion is sometimes a great coping mechanism. We continued to live our lives the best way we could under the circumstances.

     Late one evening a few weeks before Thanksgiving my son came into my bedroom covered in red, itchy hives. He was miserable.  I asked him if he'd eaten anything out of the ordinary or been in the woods as he was highly allergic to poison ivy. He said he had not.  I thought it odd because he was fine before going to bed a couple of hours earlier. I gave him an anti-histamine and swabbed anti-itch cream all over his back and then handed him the remote control on my nightstand.   T.V. wasn't permitted after nine p.m.on a school night but I felt badly because his hives were inflamed and painful.   It didn't take long for the Benadrly to kick in so he said good night and returned to his room. He reappeared in my doorway twenty minutes later with his pillow,  "Mom can I sleep in here with you tonight?"  I pulled the covers back and he crawled in.  This was unusual for him but he fell asleep quickly.  I could tell that something was up and it wasn't just the hives.  I read my book for a while longer and then snapped off the light.  A few hours later I awoke in full on panic mode.  No nightmare prompted my awakening and I was so unnerved that I knew going back to sleep wasn't an option.  I got up and made myself a cup of decaff  tea and checked the locks on the door as I waited for the kettle to heat.  I sat on the sofa in the dark sipping the soothing hot liquid trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I thought about my son's hives,  his unease and my rude awakening and couldn't shake the feeling that somehow they were all connected.  I had to stop my racing mind so I turned on the television.  It's amazing how comforting Dan and Rosanne are in the wee hours and it made me sad but hopeful to see a reminder of how a regular, loving family operates.

     The next morning I was awakened by my son standing over me smiling from ear to ear as he lifted his shirt, "Mom my hives are gone!"  I was happy for him and relieved that it was just a fluke. Then he asked, "Mom why did you sleep on the sofa?"  It took me a moment to remember.  I could tell by the light outside that my son was late for school and realized in my haste to deal with the rash I had forgotten to set my alarm clock. We were out the door in twenty minutes.  Later that day after a thankfully uneventful stream of errands I arrived home to a ringing phone. Racing to answer it I tripped over our Yellow Lab, Max and dropped one of the bags of groceries I was carrying. I experienced the crashing of the glass marinara jar before it even hit the ground. An assortment of fruit rolled onto the floor and into the sauce that was now splattered everywhere.  I swore under my breath and told myself to slow down.  Yup, things were back to normal.  The home phone rarely rang.  I maintained a land line only because it was necessary with a child in school so I expected that the call was coming from the nurse to tell me my son's hives had returned, (or worse),  and that I needed to come pick him up.  I reached for the receiver and quickly glanced at the caller ID out of habit.  I was caught completely off guard when instead of seeing the school ID I saw Hays County Jail.  I quickly retracted my hand as if it had just been burned on a hot stove.  Taking that call meant life would be forever changed because the thing we never wanted to happen but had tried so hard to prepare for was about to be real   Tears filled my eyes as I reluctantly picked up the receiver.  "Hey. It's me.  I wanted to let you know that it's finally over. They picked me up about an hour ago at my house." I braced myself against the kitchen counter, bit my lip and tried to speak. "Did...how...um, are you okay?"  Tom sounded too upbeat and I realized he was doing it for me.  I quickly collected myself and returned the kind gesture.   "So,  do they have you in an orange jumpsuit yet?"  He laughed. And then we were silent. There was so much to say. So many emotions of care and concern but at the same time,  so much bad blood between us.  "You need to call my attorney and tell him to get in touch with me."   We were both relieved to get to the business at hand rather than struggle through emotions we weren't prepared to deal with.  The elation of having the horrific waiting finally be over was tempered by the crushing reality that the man I had known and loved since we were in our teens and the father of my child was going to be behind bars for an undetermined length of time in a place where nightmares can come true.  I tried to be strong for him. To reassure him that we would be okay for however long he would be gone. I told him about our son's bizarre rash and my panicked awakening from the night before and we both agreed that our connection was still so strong that they were likely a foreboding of his arrest. 

     Since Tom would be extradited back to another state he wasn't eligible for bail. We had long since discussed whether or not to have our son see his father in jail and had decided to have a wait and see approach. If he were going to have a very short sentence then we agreed that we wouldn't have our son visit him unless he really needed/wanted to but if it were to be a very long sentence then of course arrangements would be made.  "I'm not sure how long I'll be here before they fly me back."  Then silence. I knew what he was going to say next and it took everything I had not to release the pain festering in my soul from exiting my mouth.  "Do you think you guys will be able to come see me before I go?" The million dollar question that my son and I had pondered for two years in our sparse conversations about this subject had finally been asked.  I took a deep breath so that my answer would come out in words and not sobs.  "I thought we agreed that we didn't want Hunter to see you in jail." The truth was that I not only didn't want my son to see his father in jail, (a tormenting memory that would haunt him his entire life), but I couldn't bear to see him there either. "Tom this is so hard and I'm so sorry but I don't think we can come." It was difficult to get the words out. There was a brief pause and then he said, "No. I understand. It's okay. I know how hard this is for you guys." I could hear the disappointment and fear in his voice and it crushed me. I wanted to get into my car and drive to the jail to support him, tell him how much I loved him, be there for him. Say goodbye. But I couldn't afford to go back to that dark place in my soul where I could barely function.  I had worked too hard to come to terms with all that had transpired up to that point.  My husband's hateful treatment of me during his epic mid-life crisis which resulted in a "nightmarish affair", (his words), that led to his embezzling millions to begin a new life with his mistress and the grueling process of the investigation, our divorce, and the list goes on. No. I had to stay on the path of strength to protect myself and my son against any further damage. And I had to stay strong so that I could face what was yet to come.  "Tom let me get off the phone so I can call your attorney.  Get in touch with us when you can. I know Hunter will want to talk to you. And hey, we really will be okay. "  At that moment an awkward pause was inserted where  "I love you" should have been but we were both painfully aware that after thirty years it was something we no longer said to one another. 

     It's true that we reap what we sow. Four days later Tom was put in hand cuffs and leg shackles by two Massachusetts State Troopers and escorted onto a commercial jet like a murderer who had been hunted down and finally caught. This was done needlessly and at taxpayer's expense and served no other purpose than to traumatize  a young boy further.  So much for cooperating with the AG. It was an election year and Martha Coakley had to prove to the Commonwealth that she was tough on white collar crime.  Tom fired his attorney a week later. Although eligible for bail and wanting desperately to leave the jail, I persuaded Tom to accrue time served while waiting for his trial/plea date.  What else did he have to do? It turned out to be another year of waiting and wondering before his case finally got to the sentencing phase.  We were three years in by then and far, far from where we began in our bubble of happiness in the solid and secure life we had worked hard to build.  Home was a distant memory by then and a place none of us would ever truly find again.

      White collar crime serves no purpose other than to destroy EVERYTHING it comes in contact with. It destroys lives. It destroys families. It is utterly ruinous. And the fallout is without end...

(This is a modified version of a chapter from my book, House on Fire: A Cautionary Tale which is still in the works. )


Sunday, March 27, 2016

SPRING

     Spring brings with it the promise of the end of the dark, cold days of winter and the assurance for brighter and warmer days ahead.  Many white collar wives and families live far too long in the relentless grips of a never ending harsh winter that brings with it insurmountable struggles and suffering.  This  climate makes it difficult and at times, seemingly futile to continue to try to keep up with the harsh elements that require all of our energy and threatens to blow our houses down.  But Spring is here and brings with it the warmth of the sun and rains that will wash away all signs of the muddied,  cold ice and grit in the aftermath of a long winter season.  We can bask in the warmth of the sun that will provide sustenance for new growth and even the possibility of a garden. The longer, warmer days ahead will allow us time to recharge, rebirth and recommit to growing into the light. We can learn from the young roots that are pressing through the hard ground now after surviving a seemingly unsurvivable environment that no matter how long, how cold or how devastating a winter they had to endure they will indeed announce their arrival and take up their rightful space and share their strength and beauty with us. They will absorb and store all of the life sustaining nutrients they need in the months to come so that when they fall and fade and disappear back into the harshness of winter they can come back to us in their full essence once again next Spring. 
     

    I wish you all a Springtime of taking in all the beauty and promise of rebirth that this season affords. Winter will certainly come again so take in all of the light, warmth and color you can to recharge for the darker days ahead. So go ahead, get out in it, take up your space and bloom!!

Happy Spring!!!!