15 Sep Caught in the Quicksand Part 5: Deceit, Divorce, and Destruction
Becoming a Statistic
With my marriage apparently imploding and my financial future still unsure, I redoubled my efforts into something I did have control of — being healthy. [If you missed Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4] In January 2019, I dropped two of the few vices I had: alcohol and caffeine. My health was fantastic, which sustained me while my world fell apart. The events and emotions were so overwhelming that I processed all of it by authoring “I Can’t Do This Anymore,” which actually trended up on LinkedIn for a few days. I had never written publicly about my struggle with depression; it was risky. Thankfully, the response I got was positive and therapeutic; the outpouring of support soothed my frayed nerves in my time of need.
Amy stayed in the guest wing for nine months while she saved money for her own place. Sharing space, but not speaking, with your wife of seven years can be very tense. Sometimes, she would invite me to hike with her only to ignore me the entire time. Other times, she would initiate conversations about her work, but then give me the cold shoulder for days. In April 2019, I breathed a sigh of relief when she finally left me and our two dogs. We haven’t spoken since.
To cope with the raw emotions from the demise of my marriage, I began practicing yoga and meditation. This was very powerful for me and continued to help transform my overall health. Additionally, I found a skilled therapist who helped me process all of the chaos and loss. She was an amazing listener, had very good insights, and amazing book recommendations. I list some of them on my blog. I found her on OpenPath, which is a website that offers access to therapists at a discounted rate
Even after processing the events with my therapist, I was genuinely confused about why my marriage ended. Previously, when I had asked Amy what was wrong, she replied, “I just don’t love you any more.” She would cite examples from the past like how I was constantly on the phone during the first year of our marriage. She was right, I was; however, I was trying to sell the company and deal with the fallout from that event. I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t have some compassion for what I was trying to do for us. Rather, she acted like I was just spending all my time on the phone, talking to my buddies about nothing important. At other times, she also said, “I’ll always love you.” I was truly confused.
To deal with the uncertainty created by Amy leaving, the calming influence of writing/yoga/mediation and routinely seeing a therapist really helped. I used what energy I had left to do my best to break into Venture Capital. One of my favorite things in the world is working with startups and helping founders build their companies, so to do that and invest in them was a dream job. In an effort to get my foot into some doors, I started a scouting service for investors — for a small monthly fee, they received two or three opportunities they could invest in. I had been angel investing since 2013, so I was familiar with the space and had access to both investors and startups; doing this really made me want a full time VC role.
I was also still reaching out to Amy. I had been sending cards and letters trying to explain things from my perspective. I told her how much I missed her. I did anything I could to get some sort of response from her. I even showed up at our favorite place to celebrate our anniversary on September 15 — hoping she would show up because it had been a standing date scheduled on both our calendars for years. I waited, flowers in hand, hoping she would show up. She never did.
Around October, I discovered why Amy had suddenly declared that our marriage was over — she had been having an affair with our neighbor for over a year! She had a girlfriend who lived a few houses down from us; she frequently visited her. However, it seems that some of those visits were actually visits to His house instead. I suspected there was something happening, but every time I confronted her, she would deny it or accuse me of stalking her (which I never did). She would even flip it back on me and interrogate me about where I had been at certain times in the past. These confrontations always ended badly. It was with my therapist that I learned that she was a narcissist and this was typical behavior of someone with this personality. My therapist was able to teach me some valuable insight about narcissists and how they manipulate people, situations, and ideas to maintain control. She’s the one that recommended the book that I now recommend to everyone – the Covert Passive-Aggressive Narcissist by Debbie Mirza
When I discovered the affair, I no longer worried if she would come back, nor did I care — I immediately filed for divorce. What a huge relief this was. I had been beating myself up for months wondering what I did to deserve to be left like this. To know it was not me was a huge relief. But, I was shocked that my neighbor was involved! This man lived close by, and I walked my dogs past his home daily. I even had conversations with this man — he waved at me when I was walking dogs. I knew I needed to get out of that house/town/state. I needed a new start away from any emotional triggers, baggage, or clouds hanging over me. This was complicated by my financial situation. Moving is incredibly expensive and rent was unbelievable where I was moving. But, I needed to quickly change course to get out from under this cloud.
Funny enough, I didn’t know where Amy was living, so in order to serve divorce papers, I had to hire a private investigator to find her. Then, because the courts require the papers be sent by document service, I had to hire a company to serve her the papers at her place of employment (because she had refused service at her home). It was quite the charade! I did have the opportunity to stick her with 50% of my accrued debt, but I chose not to have any ties to her going forward. With all the paperwork filled out, by January 2020, my divorce was final. I breathed a complete sigh of relief, but I was sad. My marriage was something I worked on for seven years (we were together for 14!), and like the other losses, was a sad addition to my failures. Our marriage ended, and we became a statistic like all the other divorced people in the world.
As I continued to journey into venture capital, the feedback I got was not what I expected. I was told: you’re playing in the wrong game, you’re not wealthy enough, you went to the wrong school, and yes you have an exit, but it’s not big enough. Not only that, when I would meet with other VCs, you could tell they didn’t want to be in the meeting, or that they felt they were superior to me. In short, it really wasn’t the industry I expected, and I was unsure I wanted to be associated with it. Plus, according to most, I was destined to fail. This was not the feedback I needed. So, while I was still helping founders source capital, I needed to make some reliable money, and fast, if I wanted to move, so I decided to apply for corporate jobs again. My career was a ping pong ball at this point.
A New Path During the Pandemic
As the pandemic began to disrupt society, companies, and families, I was still trying to find a traditional job. With cases mounting, people being laid off, and businesses closing, I was starting to lose hope again. But, late February I was contacted by a recruiter for an interesting remote role! I received a job offer as Director of Vertical Development at Xero in March 2020. I gratefully accepted. Things were going well until about a month into my new role, my landlord told me that he had accepted an offer on the house I lived in, and I had to move out by May — another unexpected disruption. I couldn’t believe that he listed the home, let alone received an offer on it, during a pandemic! I had only 30 days to move, a terrible credit score, and literally no money, but I packed up my home, my car, and my two dogs and headed (back) to Newport Beach – where I remember being happy once.
Given my budget, I ended up at an extended-stay hotel on a 10 day reservation, hoping I could close something before then. It had a kitchen, so I didn’t have to order takeout every meal, but it wouldn’t work long term, especially with my dogs. We needed something fast. I ran into brick walls everywhere I looked. Trying to find places to rent with pets is difficult. If I wasn’t being denied for having my pups, I was being denied for having poor credit and/or not having enough money to put down up front. In Vegas, I had to pay first and last month’s rent, plus the security deposit, in order to secure a place to live. And, I had to get my dogs approved as service dogs so that the landlords had to follow the law and allow me to have them. I fully expected this process to be challenging, but I got lucky and found a place where the realtor vouched for me after meeting me — which secured the spot for me! We got to move in on June 9th, after almost 2 weeks in a hotel.
If the past few years had taught me anything, it was that there was always more to the story. After being basically kicked out of my home in May 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, I discovered that the offer on the home fell through and that a few months later, the landlord put it back on the rental market for $1,000 more per month! It was all just a charade to collect more rent money. I had been living there for almost five years!
But, I had come full circle. Newport was where I lived when I moved out of Wisconsin in 2008. It was where I fell in love with California in 2005 when I set out to find the next place to live. And it was where I wanted to be for this new life I felt like I had to live. Things weren’t great, but I was where I wanted to be, I had a job, a huge weight off my shoulders, a clearer mind, and I had my two best friends with me.
Things were looking up for once! But “how long could this last?” I thought.