Dementia, Abuse and Divorce – Part II

This is the seond part of a long article, much longer than most but, because the content and the story are critical, I’ve not edited it down but published it in two parts.
The author is a friend I’ve met on the Internet and her story is compelling.
Part One can be read at http://justaguymuddlingthrough.com/dementia-abuse-divorce-part/

This agony all came to a head on New Year’s Eve of 2017 while my oldest son was staying with us briefly. This son had suffered with severe PTSD for years after three deployments to combat zones while in the military and struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. He and his father started drinking around 1:00 that afternoon and it continued well into the night. They hung out in the basement shooting pool, listening to loud music and getting staggering drunk. My grandson had spent the night with a friend and I was thankful he was not home. The situation was getting worse by the hour and it felt like a run-away-train. I went down into the basement several times and pleaded with them to stop but to no avail.
My son was prone to terrible melt downs due to his PTSD and would frequently lose control when he drank alcohol. Now I had two unstable drunken men on my hands and no way to deal with it. I tried going to bed with a loud fan and even turned on the TV to drown them out but I could hear them over top of it. I lay in bed with my door locked in absolute fear not knowing what to do. At about 2:00 in the morning I realized I had to take control over the situation. I mustered up as much courage as I could, marched into the basement and yelled at them both to go to bed and sleep it off. I grabbed their beer bottles and poured them down the bathroom sink and took away their box of wine. I directed my husband toward the stairs and managed to get him to his bed where he quickly passed out. I made sure our son was in his bed and then spent the next few hours in a fitful sate of trying to sleep but not really able. I got up with the sun and took my coffee on the front porch and rolled over in my mind the nights events.
I knew I could no longer allow myself, or our grandson, to live under these kinds of conditions anymore. I was under tremendous pressure by people around me to care for him but I could no longer do it.
I had reached my end and decided to remove my husband from the house to protect my grandson and myself. It was the clear and obvious choice but the hardest one I’ve ever had to make.
My husband packed his bag and went and stayed at his father’s empty lake house with our son. Eventually they rented trailer and moved about twenty minutes from my house. The night after they left, and especially the next night, I slept better than I had in months. Within three days I kicked a cold that had plagued me for more than a month. My grandson and I could finally breathe and rest easy. It was like a calm after a terrible storm and I began to think clearly again. But it wasn’t to last very long.
When my husband realized I wasn’t letting him come back home he slung a load of insults at me and again slandered me to the public. He once butt dialed me and I overheard him viciously cussing me to one of our children. Every opportunity that presented he would either beg me to let him come home or sadistically torment me.
He convinced some of our mutual friends that I had kicked him out over a few petty incidents and that I wouldn’t give him any money, which was false. I still paid all his bills and gave him credit cards and checks but he still spread the lies all over town. He would still walk in the house at all hours and I would frequently come home to find the garage doors up and the entry doors wide open because he forgot to shut them.
I tried to maintain some kind of family time and would invite him to dinner so he could visit with his grandson. He would always berate me in front of our nine year old boy and one evening my grandson yelled at him to stop talking to me that way. I put a stop to the dinners when I saw my grandson ball up his fist after his paw paw laughed at him.
It was at this time that my husband began to speak about divorcing me and consulted with various local attorneys. This forced me to hire my own attorney and seek legal counsel. We kept coming back to the same question over and over: do I seek for guardianship or divorce him? My attorney was slow about giving me personal advice but after I pressed him he said that if I were his sister he’d tell me to get a divorce. And to get it soon while he still could. I also spoke with several other unbiased people and they all said the same thing.
I feared being dragged endlessly through the courts system by a demented man with a greedy, asshole attorney. I sought dissolution and used every tactic I could think of to get him to agree. I was manipulative and underhanded in every way. I did a great deal of bluffing to convince him to settle with me out of court.
After ten months, and much angst, we have finally come to an agreement on the division of assets and custody. The papers should be filed within a few weeks and the divorce finalized within a couple of months. I never, in a million years, imagined myself to be where I am at today and the life that I now have.
My father passed away four months ago and after cleaning out my parents’ house I am finally able to mourn their passing. I have no feelings toward my husband other than sadness and anger. I am sad because I realize he will eventually crash and burn and I’m angry because he has left me alone. He recently moved into a camper he bought and set it up behind my son’s office in town.
My son and his employees all keep an eye out for him and my husband seems pretty content to be there. I am seeing a counselor to help me deal with the after effects of the abuse I suffered. I hope that one day I’ll be free of the fear and anxiety that still plagues me from time to time. I’m learning to maintain my car, clean out my own gutters, operate a zero-turn mower and many other challenging things I’ve never done before.
My handsome boy is almost ten now and he’s thriving in school and looking toward his future. The things he has faced were not easy and stirred up many questions that most boys never think about at his age. He asked me one day if dementia was contagious because he had been forgetful and feared he was coming down with it. He’s also had anxiety that he would suddenly lose me too and questioned what would become of him if that did happen. He is also in counseling and I am hoping he grows into a happy, healthy man. We are still facing many challenges and hurdles and our future is certainly unclear. But at least I’m in control of it. I plan to sell our house and move into something more manageable. I’d prefer moving to another town, if possible, to put some distance between us and the small town gossip. My marriage of thirty years will soon be over and I will begin to build a new life for me and my grandson.

Epilogue
Hearings are moving along.
I wasn’t allowed to say that I was a domestic abuse survivor because my ex had dementia and “didn’t know what he was doing”.Tell that to my mental health and wounded soul

Tell that to my ten year old who still struggles with it.
How wrong and dismissive to those who have suffered.
Is that ok?
That I said I suffered?

25 thoughts on “Dementia, Abuse and Divorce – Part II”

  1. This story is heartbreaking. What concerns me most is that the ex-husband, with dementia, kept loaded guns in his home! Aren’t there any laws to stop people with dementia from owning guns in America?

    1. He has a carry conceal permit and it was up for renewal early this year. I made a trip to the sheriffs office to inform them of my spouses mental state to no avail.
      I was informed I had to have go through the process of having him declared mentally unfit before the state would pull his permit.

  2. Thank you.
    I’m not married but I have been assaulted several times and pack-raped, a long time ago (nothing to do with dementia BTW).

    I don’t understand why you didn’t charge him. Rape is rape. Assault is assault. To me they are basically police matters. Violence is not excusable, no matter where one stands on marriage, vows, etc.
    Or was the psychological abuse so gradual that you became used to it before you could see what was really going on?

    I completely understand your anger and outrage. No, it isn’t fair. Our rights compete. In your situation, you had virtually no room to breathe.
    Here in Australia we are counting the number of women murdered every year from domestic violence.

    I’m a care partner to someone living with living with dementia and an advocate for dementia rights, but I won’t tolerate violence under my roof. I’ll put up with anger, to a point, but then I walk away or shut myself away from it. I understand why the brain loses the “emotional lid” as dementia assaults it, and I know that people living with dementia can’t change that. I put up with sarcasm, criticism, complaints, meltdowns, rudeness, stand-offs and disregard for my needs but I also get smiles, “I love you”, “I like you” & hugs. I wish you had had some of that.

    Certain aspects of people’s personalities can become dominant in dementia. He was clearly a dominating “macho” man who enjoyed & vaunted his power before he became ill. FTD made him a monster.

    Please never blame yourself. Take care to heal your own memories of the traumas he caused you. You’re a brave woman. ❤

    1. Thank you Lynda for your comments.
      I do not blame myself not do I consider myself brave. I am a survivor and the love I have for my grandson has driven me forward.
      I agree with you…violence is violence and should never be tolerated. You answered my dilemma in part. It did creep up on me and I was under tremendous pressure because “he was sick”.
      I made a trip to the sheriffs office to explain in detail my situation to no avail.
      I exhausted every possible resource looking for answers to no avail. My only regret was not calling the police during a few of his more obvious episode.
      Again…thank you for your kind words

  3. How hard that was for you and grandson. Yes u suffered and only God will heal ur before
    I’ve been through the same with my hubby who has young onset Alzheimer’s diagnosed 2010 at age 48.reading your story i realise he got sick 8 years before 2010 because that’s when I faced such abuses and beatings .it was Hell. Currently he’s now so sick, can’t talk . Can’t do nothing for himself. I’m his full time caregiver which ain’t easy. I thank God for your story.it’s given me more strength.thank you.

  4. Vic, I’ve added a comment in most of the groups where the notice of this post was given and comments were made, asking people to repost here and you’ll answer.
    I’ve changed permissions here so you should be able to reply to any of the comments above.

  5. This is Vic. Thanks so much for the comments. I will definitely respond when I have some quiet. To gather my thoughts about it.

  6. You have been through Hell and I amazed at your ability to handle so much stress at home, work and through your parent’s illness. The abusiveness of your husband is really scary to read about. May I ask you a question? Looking back at those years in their entirety and now being out of the situation are there different steps you would have taken or would upur timeframe for divorce be different?

    I know when you are in the midst of it, it is hard to think of all options. Thank you for sharing your story do bravely.

    1. Margaret, writing my story was healing for me and brought me relief from the burden I carried. And it is hard to think clearly when you’re in a constant state of stress and panic.

      I would do nothing different because I didn’t know what I was doing until each situation presented itself. We were in a constant state of flux so I learned to think on my toes.
      My one regret was that I didn’t call the police during one of his scary episodes.
      This would have undoubtedly captured his attention for a while and it would’ve been a bit easier to gain complete custody of my adopted grandson.
      In the world of dementia there are no wrongs or mistakes made. Just the best we can do at the time
      Thank you for your comment

  7. Thank you. You are brave. You are wise. You are strong. Thank you for saying the truths out loud.

    Laws and societial norms can not comprehend the extent of the inappropriate, violent behaviors that can come with dementia and thus are like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Cannot see it for what it is. We cannot see it clearly as spouses, either. It sneaks in on a slippery slope and is only clear upon hindsight.

    My husband has EOAD. His personality changed incrementally beginning 10 years ago. Like yours, he focused his frustrations & anger towards me. Like yours, no one could comprehend the truth of what was going on. I couldn’t. It was unimaginable. The diagnosis of EOAD was a relief. It let me off the hook. I had been wondering if I had married another abuser (my 1st spouse was an emotional abuser), and that I’d fooled myself. Nope. It was him and the EOAD.

    For now, he is much more kind. He seems relieved to have the secret revealed. During the decade leading up to dx, I distanced myself from him emotionally, psychologically. I will never be close to him again. I don’t have a partner. I have a person I care for and look out for who is my children’s father. It is sad. But it is the truth. I wonder how long this season will last.

    1. Crazy wife (not), thank you for your kind words. As I commented in a previous post, I don’t consider myself brave or wise. I am a survivor and have learned to be cunning and resourceful.
      And you’re right…the public has no idea what caregivers go through on a daily basis.
      It needs to be brought to light and I am relieved to speak about it. It has dealt a blow to the shame that has coated me and empowered me to move on.

  8. I am so glad I ran into your story. I am a wife of a verbally abusive 65 year old man diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. I should have left him long ago, before this dreadful diagnosis. Unless one is faced with the type of abuse you were faced with you can’t possibly understand. I am so sorry you have had to go through this abuse, then the fact that he belittles you in front of friends and relatives. I think we who are in these abusive situations will always suffer from PTSD ourselves. I get lots of advice from loved ones, social workers-they all say to leave him. I know there is that possibility that I will reach “the end” of my limits. I’m trying to find words of comfort to offer you. Please continue with your life, heal and love your grandson. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

  9. Dear Karin B, I am sorry to hear about your situation. It’s sounds similar to mine. I had to stop rolling over so many “ should’ves and could’ves” because it was driving me mad. It also hindered me from dealing with current situations and making decisions that presently at hand. It’s hard to let go of the past.
    I also was advised by a couple of attorneys and a social worker to leave him about a year prior to the actual split. I couldn’t do it until I was ready…and even then I felt like I was jumping off a cliff into and unknown, dark abyss. Free falling and not knowing where I would land. I only knew I had to jump and whatever the outcome it would be better than what we were enduring.
    I hope you find the answers you need and for your peace. Life is short.
    Thank you for you kind words of support. Vic

  10. Vic, you are an amazing woman!
    I am so glad that you and your grandson are seeing a counsellor. I see a therapist every week, but my problems are nothing by comparison with what you’ve gone through.
    I find it extremely frightening that your husband is allowed to retain his guns – I would have assumed that a medical diagnosis of any type of dementia would automatically disallow someone from gun ownership. I know that you already have a lot to deal with, but I would probably contact the Alzheimer’s Organization for assistance in this matter. I think it would give you peace of mind to sort out this matter.
    I wish you and your grandson all the best going forward.

    1. Dina T, thank you for your comments.
      It is frightening to think that so many mentally ill people in this country still have access to firearms. I have called and spoken with anyone, and everyone, I could think of about this matter. The only option given to me was to have him declared mentally unfit, and have him placed under the care of a guardian.
      His paranoia has diminished some and he isn’t as physically aggressive as he used to be. His memory is really in decline now and he is losing more and more of his filter.
      I’m not living in fear of him like I once was and finally have some peace for me and my grandson.
      Thanks again and I wish you the best.

  11. A very good and enlightening read. We never know what one is going through. Never. Not even our children, parents, or close friends. Much love to you.
    Take care of that boy.

    1. Sorry to take so long to approve this comment. I was out until just recently.
      Once you’ve had 2 comments approved and posted, any succeeding comments will be seen immediately.

      Lew

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