I was in my home office one day and I came across a notice from the IRS. It was partially hidden by a file folder. They claimed that Seth owed a lot of money. The number was over a $150,000. I called him. I demanded to know what was happening. He laughed at me. That condescending, evil laugh that I hated so much. The laugh that reminded me that I was nothing and I should be thankful for the life he was giving me…because I was so beneath him.
Seth said that I was crazy and that I was overreacting. “Calm down, Tina. You have no clue about things like this. It’s an error on their part. I had a carry-forward loss on the books that they disallowed and I have to fax them a few papers to clear it up”. I wanted to believe him. Believing him meant that I didn’t have to live with that pit in the bottom of my stomach. It meant that I could focus on my daughters, my health and my business. That is just what I did. I believed what he was telling me. Also known as living in denial because it was easier and less painful then living in reality.
May : I received a call from my nanny. Two women came to the door and left a business card. The IRS. It was a Thursday afternoon. I frantically called my X and again, he dismissed it. I was overreacting. He agreed to call them but upon doing so, he discovered that the agent was off for three days. Within a few hours, we discovered that they had frozen his bank accounts. Everything was frozen. Everything. I wasn’t going to panic, we could live off of the credit cards until he cleared up their mistake. Wrong. I then discovered that the credit cards were maxed out. Completely.
I then discovered that the utility bills were all past due. They were all on shut-off notice. I sat in this massive house filled with beautiful things and I was terrified. I hadn’t been overreacting. Things were bad– really bad.
By the end of summer, Seth was still dealing with the IRS and our assets were frozen. During that time, I watched him lie to employees and string people along. I watched as his employees financial worlds came crumbling down because they were wanting to believe him and they were buying into his guilt trips. I begged him to just find a job and leave this lifestyle. I begged him to stop pretending and get real. I begged him to start being honest with people.
At the end of July, he had a half-iron man race on the East Coast. We were borrowing money to pay the electricity, gas bills and health insurance yet he justified flying across the country to run a race. “You are being ridiculous”, he told me. “It’s paid for already. It’s insane NOT to go. The plane tickets are paid for. The beach house is paid for. The race is paid for”, he justified all of it. He said I was uptight for not wanting to take advantage of a “break and a family vacation”.
We went- all the way across the country. The first two nights at the beach house were fine. It was his race– his mistress and everything that mattered most in his world. He was worlds away from the IRS nightmare. He was in his zone. Nothing else mattered. He lived and breathed triathlons. We came second to that world.
The third day at the beach house, we received a knock at the door. He quickly slipped out of the door to talk to the manager of the beach house. Despite his best efforts, I could hear the conversation. The credit cards were declined. I heard his sales pitch– there must be a mistake. He had perfect credit he explained. Money wasn’t an issue. They walked further from the beach house to discuss the situation and I sat alone in the little cottage. I was petrified. We were thousands of miles away from home and we had no money. None. I sat looking at my babies– they were so little and completely oblivious to this hell that surrounded them.
It was in that moment that I first started having “the talk” with myself. I could stay in this marriage and make it work for the girls’ benefit or I could get out and protect them from the dysfunction before it became a part of their world. I knew one thing: I couldn’t live with this stress.
He came back in and was angry beyond belief. They wanted us out. They wanted us to pay or to leave. He took his phone and his wallet and stormed out. I started gathering our things and trying to figure out a plan– where to go….what to do….who to call. I was cycling in and out of emotions– anger, sadness, fear and then back to anger again. How could he put us at risk again. How could he lie to me again. Why were we spending money on a vacation when our entire world was falling apart? Who does this? Who puts their family at risk like this?
Thirty minutes later, he returned. We stayed that night in the beach house and flew home the next day– back to reality.
One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.
History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with over 100-chapters in five different countries. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level.
Tina Swithin offers annual retreats, coaching services and more at www.tinaswithin.com