eNewsChannels BOOK SERIAL: “Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G: Chapter 37 – “Asunder.”
When I tell people that my marriage turned into an extended episode of “The United States of Tara,” some of them just smile. One reason is the poor job that TV program did in presenting the eerie-spooky aspects of living with a “multiple.”
Let me point out that I admire Toni Collette (who played Tara) for her superlative performances in many films. She seems to inhabit her characters with a totality that is uncanny. Just watch her playing the mom in About a Boy and her playing the mom in The Sixth Sense. Those two characters are not only distinctly different, they both feel like real people. Amazing work.
And she was okay in “Tara.” Certainly she was too good for that bungled show.
The series probably seemed like a terrific idea on paper: Collette plays a person with more than one personality. But the creators of the show, in a monumental suit-for-brains decision, totally screwed up the most significant thing about a multiple. Instead of letting the actress take us through the personalities in the blink of an eye, they had the Tara character leave the room while the other characters talked among themselves for a few moments until Tara re-entered the scene:
– wearing a different outfit
– with her hair in a different style
– using different body language
– employing different speech patterns and accents
– utilizing different personal habits
Taking that path was a cowardly committee choice, undoubtedly calculated to help “keep things clear” to moronic viewers. First of all, this completely negated the performance chops of the actress. Makes you want to grab the jerks at Showtime and say look, lamebrains, with all that going on, ANYBODY can play a multiple role. Toni Collette is talented enough to play different people without altering anything but her will power.
Second, and more importantly, your way ain’t how it happens in life. A multiple doesn’t go through all of those physical changes; they revise themselves right in front of you without so much as a muscle twitch. It can happen in the middle of a sentence.
Man, I would have given anything if the multiple in my life had made her changeovers by getting up, exiting the room, readjusting her hair/clothing/make-up, and then returning to begin speaking in a different style. That would have made things a lot easier.
But when someone you love changes into someone you do not know right in front of you, that’s a weirdness that goes beyond strange and twisted. Pay attention now, idiotic TV show producers: the true horror of this situation is that nothing outward is different except the coldness in their eyes and the fact that they don’t know what you just said to them. Or even what they just said to you. It’s spine-chilling. And that’s the reality of multiple personalities, you stupid worthless twits at DreamWorks. You have done a terrible disservice to every person who has the burden of coping with a family member who is a multiple. Not to mention ruining a great acting opportunity for Toni Collette.
People fall in love; people fall out of love. But in my case, two of us fell in love and a whole bunch of us fell out of love. I never learned the names of any of the entities inside my love’s brain. Whenever I asked her about them, or even hinted at it, there was an almost feral response. It started with an angry glance that could penetrate steel. That look of hatred was often accompanied by a low, barely audible sound (a subtle growl? a dainty howl?) The look and the sound suggested the danger you’d face if you suddenly stood between a pack of starving hyenas and a fresh carcass.
What brought on this psychological manifestation in a woman who had seemed relatively normal up to that point in life? We’ll probably never find out. I do know that she faced several stressful situations and many painful personal decisions that may or may not have been part of the multiple personality disorder.
She cut off dealing with relatives, hers and mine. She changed jobs a number of times. She got rid of all our mutual friends. She became a “minister” in a “church” that had created its own version of the Bible by inserting diagrams of chakras and descriptions of other new-age phenomena.
There were also traffic accidents, I guess because some of the other personalities didn’t know how to drive. One of the smash-ups involved her being taken to the hospital. She called me from the medical center, told me of the accident but said she was all right and would I come pick her up? I rushed over, she met me out front of the hospital’s main entrance, and we went home. A couple days later I received a call from the hospital saying she had been admitted but not discharged. Apparently, she had gotten up from her hospital bed, dressed, walked to the lobby, phoned me, and waited by the front door.
White as a Sheet
Perhaps her biggest shock came after the death of the people who had adopted her. All her life, they told her they didn’t know her birth parents. But when we were settling their estate, we obtained the contents to their safe deposit box. On the way out to our car, she pulled out letters they had exchanged with her actual mother. Yes, they had lied to her for her entire life.
The blood drained out of her face. She lost her balance and I helped her to the car where she could sit down, lie back, and attempt to regain her equilibrium. After that moment, I no longer saw very much of the person I had married. The other personalities began to take over.
The last time I saw even a remnant of my love was the week she decided to have me served with divorce papers. After a long period of celibacy (on my part, anyway; I have no idea what any of her personalities had been doing), she came on to me and we went to bed one last time. Not that I knew it would be the final fuck. When the process server showed up at my office door later in the week, it was quite a shock.
Looking back on our amatory dalliance, I guess I should be flattered, but instead there’s a feeling of having been conned. Hell, perhaps the entire marriage was a con. I may have been a cog in a master plan in which she helped me succeed to the point where it was economically beneficial for her to file for divorce.
One part of the marriage ceremony is the phrase “Let no man put asunder.” But women can do so with impunity. It is always assumed that the man “did something” to bring about the divorce proceedings. Plus, California is what is known as a No Fault Divorce state, meaning that you can simply write “irreconcilable differences” on a form and you’re good to go in terms of destroying your own family. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one who is screwing up the relationship, you can initiate the divorce without penalty or penance. And, as my attorney pointed out, the justification part of the divorce is basically a joke:
“If you question it, the court would ask ‘Can your differences be reconciled?’ and she would say ‘No,’ and therefore, by definition, you have irreconcilable differences. Simple as that.”
“Leads to more money-making opportunities for you guys,” I said.
“Yes,” said my attorney. “Yes it does.”
He then went on to tell me that family law firms have a department that handles final resolutions. “When the two parties have spent most of their money fighting each other, the attorneys turn things over to the resolution department.”
“So the divorce can actually get finished?” I asked.
“So the attorneys are certain to get paid,” he said. “And, well, sure, so the divorce can be concluded,” he added.
Avalanche of Paperwork
In my closet are a number of manila folders labeled “Divorce.” Just for the heck of it, I took out the folders, stacked them up, and put them on the scale. They total just a little over 14 pounds. My editor, who has not experienced divorce herself, didn’t believe me about the weight until I sent her a JPEG of the stack and began e-mailing her quotes from the Orders to Show Cause, the Declarations, the Form Interrogatories, the Requests for Trial Settings, the Demands for Production and Inspection of Documents and Tangible Things (gotta love that wording), the Notice in Lieu of Subpoena Duces Tecum to Appear and Produce Documents at Trial, etc. And then in the second manila folder . . .
Okay, I admit that this 14-pound pile includes a bunch of documentation of working our way through the more than $30,000 the little dear had racked up on our credit cards. And it also includes pages of the journal my attorney made me keep during the process, which enumerates a number of times she threatened physical violence and swore like a sailor. “Awww, what poor widdle sensitive ears you must have,” I hear you saying, but the point is that she made those statements while in the presence of our son.
Perhaps the most interesting documents are printouts of cybersex sessions which she sometimes left around the house. Some of these online liaisons involved her and a girlfriend with a third person, usually male. What’s weird is that both of the women used their real names. Not sure about the guys. Another oddity is that the printouts are on the letterhead of a prestigious private university that also managed a national research laboratory (where the other woman worked). Hey, did some of our taxpayer dollars help pay for any of these clusterfucks? I’m just asking.
Aftermath of Paperwork
Also in my closet are folders labeled “Kid Journal” and these weigh about seven pounds. There are photocopies of cards, notes, and letters I wrote, summaries of phone calls I made, reports of my attempts to be involved with parent-teacher conferences, reactions when learning of school pageants or programs to which I was “mistakenly” not invited, and so on, year after year.
For the first year of our separation, I was under the impression that my son was receiving the letters and cards I sent for his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter, graduation, and so on. As soon as it became evident that this was not the case, I made two copies of everything (I always made my own cards), mailed one, and kept the other to give to him when I saw him.
Other than for writing this chapter, I haven’t been through these files because they represent one of the most depressing experiences in my life. It is just too painful to consider the lack of human decency that would cause someone to hide or destroy a kid’s birthday card. The same thing happened with birthday and Christmas gifts. If he took anything home with him, it somehow “got lost” within a day or so. Once I learned of this, I only got him gifts that would remain at my place for him to enjoy when he came to visit.
Some advice from my Uncle Man might be helpful right now.
“You can’t trust women,” he told me.
“Well, I obviously shouldn’t have trusted this particular woman,” I said.
“It’s a mistake to get married.”
“You got married lots of times.”
“And every one of ’em was a mistake!” he said. “But none of ’em were ever like this broad. I mean good-god-damn-all-mighty what a bitch. ‘Losing’ a kid’s Christmas presents. God damn!”
“And ‘losing’ a kid’s birthday cards. What the fuck?!”
“I said okay.”
“And his birthday presents.”
“All right!” I wanted to hit something. “Jesus.”
Uncle Man was shaking his head back and forth, muttering “Shouldn’t have married her.”
“Damn it,” I said. “This isn’t helping me now.”
“And your pre-nup was a killer.”
“There was no pre-nup,” I pointed out.
“Sure there was,” he said. “Biggest pre-nup in the world.”
“No, Uncle Man, there wasn’t.”
He cocked his head and looked at me like I was a microbe under a microscope. “Okay, kiddo, listen now and listen good. When you sign a marriage contract, that’s exactly what it is, a contract. And it says your contractual obligations are contained in the marriage laws in your state. All the marriage laws. You hear me? All the laws.” He leaned toward me. I thought he was going to say something at a lower volume. “ALL the laws!”
I jumped. “Whoa,” I said. “So, uh, what are you saying? Or yelling? Your point is, um, that a pre-nuptial agreement is . . . I don’t know, what, what are you saying?”
“Look, a pre-nup carves out which laws pertain to your marriage. A pre-nup says, ‘You can forget all those bookshelves full of laws about other peoples’ marriages!’ A pre-nup says, ‘Here are the rules that are gonna apply to us.’ If you don’t block out what applies to you and what doesn’t, then your marriage contract involves every law, every decision, and every minor legal footnote that has ever happened in the state!”
He paused for breath.
“Kiddo,” he said to me, “I am so sorry I wasn’t here to guide you about this, but I thought your dad told you.”
“No,” I said slowly. “Dad didn’t tell me. I think he thought my marriage would be as strong as his.”
“Yeah, well, I would’ve warned ya.”
“So,” I said, and just let it hang in the air.
“So,” he said, “look at it this way: every marriage has a pre-nup. It’s just that some pre-nups are bigger than others. And some of you damn fools don’t understand that.”
He just stared at me. I mostly stared off into space. He said quietly, “You really loved her, didn’t you?”
The silence was an abyss from which it was difficult to crawl.
I tried to speak but there was no sound. I tried again and managed a whisper: “Yes.” Once again, this time almost at an audible level: “Yes,” I said.
And returned to the abyss.
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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G, is Copr. © 2011-2012 by JSG, all rights reserved under U.S. and international copyright conventions. Commercial use in any form is forbidden without express written permission of the author. Originally published on eNewsChannels.com with permission. Credits: Book cover design: Phil Hatten.